Thursday, October 30, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #41 Lewis Maddox, The Killer at Mauvaisterre Creek

140 Years Ago, Winchester, Illinois

In the Scott County Circuit Court, October Term, A.D. 1874
The People of Illinois vs 
Lewis Maddox and Wm Maddox etal
Indict. for Murder

Oct 30th. Jury sworn to try issue, against Lewis Maddox, defendant arraigned and pleads not guilty.

Murder at Mauvaisterre Creek

How did an ordinary farmer come to kill his father, have his name splashed on newspapers all over the midwestern United States and fuel family legends that persist to this day? Did the jury make the right decision? There are no surviving transcripts of the trial, but we can read the evidence presented to the grand jury.

As we meet each family member over the next few months, bear in mind that there is a family history of alcoholism, especially in the 19th century. Our Native American heritage left our ancestors unable to metabolize alcohol. My great-grandmother, niece of Lewis, claimed to have one-eighth Native American blood. That would have made Lewis one-quarter and his father, the victim, as much as one-half. There is no proof to date of these claims; however, the oral tradition lives on in several diverse branches of the Maddox family.

Meet the Killer

Lewis (Louis) Maddox was born in Pickaway County, Ohio, in December, 1846, to William Maddox and Nancy Jane Webb. His oldest brother, John, had died as a toddler. The next oldest brother was David and several siblings followed Lewis. This birth order made Lewis a middle child, while the death of John left behind the enduring promise of a perfect child that his living siblings could never achieve.

In about 1853, the family moved to Scott County, Illinois, living on a 270-acre farm adjoining a deep bend of Mauvaisterre Creek. Lewis worked on the farm and attended school, according to the 1860 census.

As a middle child, Lewis likely would have lived and died an obscure farmer, if not for the Civil War. When his older brother David enlisted at age 19, Lewis tagged along. He claimed his age as 18, though in the summer of 1862, he would have been only 15. If his birth was actually in 1845, which is possible, he would have been 16. Nonetheless, he was underage. Did he want the enlistment bounty money, the excitement of war or just to escape the drudgery of the farm?

The muster roll for Company F, 129th Illinois Infantry, shows that Lewis was 5 foot 6 inches, with black eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion. Later documentation shows him as taller, so he had not yet had his final growth spurt. No man is ever prepared for the horrors of war, but a 15-year-old is even less so.

The 129th served first in Kentucky and Tennessee, engaging in skirmishes and protecting the railroad. Lewis was medically discharged on July 22, 1863, having served less than one year. He had chronic diarrhea, likely dysentery, which was the most common disease suffered by troops on both sides of the conflict. He also claimed to have fallen from a railroad trestle onto rocks, injuring himself internally. He was sent to a hospital in Gallatin, Tennessee, where he was observed having convulsions on a daily basis. Did he suffer a concussion? He was discharged from the Army with a certificate of disability.

Lewis returned home to heal, then enlisted in Company B, 133rd Illinois Infantry, for a period of 100 days in 1864. That time was spent guarding prisoners at Rock Island, Illinois. David, staying with the 129th, marched south with General Sherman's Army as it swept through the South, burning Atlanta and making the march to the sea and Savannah, Georgia.

David died during or shortly after the war. With David's death, Lewis moved from a middle child to become the eldest of four brothers. I think that he was uncomfortable with being in the leadership role. He seemed to be a follower, rather than a leader.

Lewis and his next youngest brother, William H. Maddox, together leased land from their father and began farming for themselves. Lewis applied for a marriage license with Melissa Boss on September 14, 1867. There is no indication that this license was used.

Lewis married Ellen Taylor on September 22, 1869, and their brief union was blessed with one son. John Alexander Maddox was born on July 18, 1870. His mother died while he was young.

Lewis and his father argued often about partitioning the farm. Lewis and young William wanted their birthright. William the elder did not agree. Fueled by alcohol, their arguments turned bitter on the day of the shooting.

The rest of Lewis' story will be told only after the evidence is presented. Lewis Maddox died in 1915 and is buried in a remote cemetery in Brown County, Illinois, with a military marker.

Quick drop page from Recollection by Joanne Brisebois Designs for Digital Scrapper, 2011

Saturday, October 25, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #40 Elizabeth Childers Wilson Vossler

Elizabeth M. Childers was the fourth of ten children born in the area of Blount County, Alabama, to Kezziah D. Fry and James Childers, a farmer and sometime Justice of the Peace.

Template and components from Comfort Zone, ClubScrap

Born about 1834, Elizabeth married the farmer John N. Wilson on December 10, 1853. He was the father of 7 children and had 5 more with Elizabeth. The Wilsons relocated to Searcy County, Arkansas, about 1858. 

When the rumblings of war began in 1860, John Wilson joined an Arkansas Peace Society, also known as the Yellow Rag Boys. Along with others, he refused to enlist in the Confederate forces, but was forced to serve on pain of death. After making his way home partway through the war, he was bushwacked, likely by Confederate sympathizers. His teenage son escaped the attack and watched as his father was hanged.

The Wilson boy ran from Arkansas, joined another traveler and ended up in Illinois. Seeing a place of peace and plenty, he returned to Arkansas for his family. Elizabeth Wilson sold the farm for Confederate dollars and took her young sons to Illinois. The Wilson family legends are silent on the the intervening time before her marriage to George Vossler. How did she survive with small children and worthless money? Did she regret selling the farm?

George Vossler and Elizabeth Childers married in Macon County, Illinois, on October 30, 1866, and are last found in the 1870 census. Wilson legend says they went to Missouri and disappeared. The youngest Wilson boys were placed into the guardianship of their elder siblings in Searcy County in January of 1875. The two Vossler children next turn up in the Chicago city directories in the early 1890s.

Elizabeth's story is still unfinished. I want to know where she went and what happened to her. I am waiting for the day the right records come online. Then I can close the chapter for myself and all our collateral relatives.

The Childers family photo is an image of a daguerreotype scanned from
"Just a Branch" of the Cox, Yarborough and Childress Families.
Author Nelda Cox Eastman (deceased), Grand Prairie, Texas.
Courtesy of Suzy Burt, an editor of Blackburn and Fry family association newsletter.

Monday, October 20, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #39 Mary Jane Smith Pryor

The 1863 Civil War map of the vicinity of Jasper, Tennessee, is both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing to see where various branches of my family lived in the 1860s. However, the existence of the map means the Union Army was active in the area. It's a curse to wonder what horrors the families endured during the war years.

Mary Jane Smith was just nine years old when the first skirmishes took place in the area in the summer of 1862. No doubt she was terrified. Did she hide? Was she or her mother assaulted? Did soldiers carry off the chickens and livestock from the tiny family farm? The Union and Confederate Armies battled heavily in Tennessee. By the end of the war, did the family have anything left?

Mary Jane was born on January 12, 1853, the eldest living child of George Fraker Smith and Nancy Alley. Her father may have been loyal to the Union and may have even fought for the Union. From being a tenant farmer in 1860, he advanced to being a land owner and court official in 1870.

One effect of the war was a shortage of young men. Did Mary Jane fall in love with the wealthy, older, tall, dark and handsome Benjamin Franklin Pryor? Or was she focused mainly on his wealth? The couple married  on December 1, 1870, when she was 17 and he was 35.

Frank's wealth didn't last. He lost a lawsuit and, in turn, all his property. In 1879, the couple moved to Palo Pinto County, Texas to start over.

ClubScrap components: Natural Resources, Hydrangea; frame Attic Antiquities by Irene V Alexeeva

Mary Jane and Frank had five daughters before they were blessed with a son, who was named Green Hill Pryor after his grandfather. After Frank's death in 1889, Mary Jane carried on farming for a time, as best she could. Eventually she moved to Oklahoma to live with her children.

Mary Jane Smith Pryor died on March 28, 1934, in Oklahoma City. She was buried with her husband in Elmwood Cemetery, Mineral Wells, Palo Pinto County, Texas.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Autosomal DNA Matching 101, Class Two: A New Word

While reading the latest post from Roberta J Estes at DNAeXplained, I had to stop and look up a new word as it relates to autosomal DNA matching. Here's another look at my autosomal matching results so far. Those yellow boxes are areas of my ancestry where this new word applies.

Roberta shared and commented on the perspective of  Tim Janzen, a conference presenter:
"... endogamous relationships are a tough problem with no easy answer. Polynesians, Ashkenazi Jews, Low German Mennonites, Acadians, Amish, and island populations. Do I ever agree with him!  I have Brethren, Mennonite and Acadian in the same parent’s line."

Endogamous is a new word to me. However, seeing the words Mennonite, Amish and Brethren really got my attention. Wikipedia tells me that endogamy refers to the tradition of intermarriage within a cultural group. The ancestors who are the source of my matches in the yellow blocks fall into these specific cultural groups.

I know that there are many more matches in both those areas of my tree. The Swiss-German Peffley family at the bottom right is strongly associated with many other such families, yet I can't find the common ancestor with matches from those families. It must be due to those multiple intermarriages to which Roberta and Tim are referring. Now I understand that these groups are challenging and the answers may not be as easy as I had supposed.

As you work with your own difficult autosomal matches, be sure to notice and consider such clusters and remember this concept. Endogamous cultures may be a challenge for you, also.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Using a Timeline to Untangle Your Roots

Sorting out people with the same name is one of the challenges the family historian faces. Aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews and cousins, oh, my! Sometimes the sorting is simple and other times complex. The proliferation of bad information on the internet has made the task much more difficult.

To sort out the David Maddoxes in Pickaway County, Ohio, I used a timeline, which is a tool suggested by professional geneaogists. In this exercise, I listed by date each piece of evidence that I had found and a few assumptions.

When building a timeline, an important concept is to ignore the spelling on the records. Most spelling before 1900 was phonetic: the clerk wrote what he heard. Capture all documents that you think may apply. Try to ignore the online noise, except to find clues. Look for more evidence than the census. Only one third of my collected evidence consisted of census records.

The goal was to answer two questions.
  • Who served in the Civil War?
  • Who bought land in 1847?

I started with the 1850 census, which listed three individuals named David Maddux/Maddox. I assigned each one a number, based on birth order:
  • David Maddox/Maddux #1 was the brother of my 3rd great-grandfather. 
  • David Maddox #3 was the brother of my 2nd great-grandfather and the nephew of #1.
  • David Maddox/Maddux #2 is unknown, but likely was a distant cousin of the other two men.

I then assigned a person to each document where it was clear to whom it applied. This document applies to David #2, this one to David #1, etc. At the end, I rearranged and color-coded the list to group the documents by the person they pertained to. It then became easier to assign the unclear documents to the right David. Most of the fuzzy documents don't give an age, so have to be examined in the larger context. I also searched out and found other evidence to add facts and build the proof case.

At the end of the exercise, it was obvious that David #2 and David #3 served in the Civil War, while David #1 did not. David #1 is the only one of the three who was old enough to have purchased land in 1847. I also checked the 1840 census to see if there was an earlier David, but there was not a good candidate.

Here's the latest timeline for the three men.

# Date Recorded Name Location [OH assumed] Record Age Event
1 08 Oct 1847 David O P Maddox Monroe Twp, Pickaway Deed DV22-393 [21] 38.5 acres purchased from Lazarus Maddox
1 20 Sep 1850 David Maddox Monroe Twp, Pickaway 1850 Census 24 Owned land $500, with Elizabeth age 52 land $900
1 31 Jan 1852 David Madox Monroe Twp, Pickaway Deed DV27-435 Sold 1/8 part of land of Lazarus Maddox [deceased] to Joseph Madox
1 23 Jun 1853 David Maddox Pickaway County Marriage [27] Maria Tammadge [Talmadge], bride
1 02 Jun 1853 David P Madox Monroe Twp, Pickaway Deed DV28-126 Joseph W Madox sold to David P Madox - 5/8 of Lazarus' land
1 25 Feb 1854 David P Maddox Monroe Twp, Pickaway Deed DV29-004 With wife Mary Maria, sold 5/8 of Lazarus' land to John A Maddox
1 est 1855 D P Maddox Pickaway County School roll Parent of Jas Talmage
1 09 Apr 1856 D P Maddox Pickaway County Deed DV31-472 With wife, final land sale in Pickaway (bought from Bolin, sold to Kendrick)
1 25 Aug 1860 David P Madux Pleasant Twp, Madison 1860 Census 24 Wife Mary M age 27, land 890, Rebecca J 6, John W 4, Orpha 1
1 02 Jan 1862 D P Maddux Pickaway County Tombstone, wife of D P Mary M Maddox death, buried Yankeetown Cemetery
1 04 Dec 1862 David Maddux Madison County Marriage [36] Mary [Watson] Moler, bride
1 01 Jul 1863 David Maddix Fairfield Twp, Madison Civil War Draft 35 Class II registration
1 18 Jul 1870 David Maddux Fairfield Twp, Madison 1870 Census 43 Wife Mary 32, Rebecca 16, John 14, Arthur  (Orpha) 11, Daniel Moler 10
1 25 Sep 1872 Madison County Marriage Rebecca J Maddux marriage to Albert A Gray
1 6 Jul 1880 David Maddux Fairfield Twp, Madison 1880 Census 54 Wife Mary 52, no children
1 2 Jun 1900 David Maddux Fairfield Twp, Madison 1900 Census 73 Birth Sep 1826, widower, boarding with William Knowles age 84
1 31 Jul 1907 David Perry Maddux Columbus, Franklin Death Certificate 80 Birth 30 Sep 1826, son of Lazarus and Elizabeth, informant Rebecca Gray
2 31 Oct 1850 David Matux Perry Twp, Pickaway 1850 Census 13 With [Asa] Collins 40 and Mary 37, William 11
2 28 Nov 1858 David Maddux Pickaway County Marriage [21] [Mary] Elizabeth Timmons, bride
2 12 July 1860 David Maddox Monroe Twp, Pickaway 1860 Census 22 Wife Mary E age 21, no land, no children
2 10 Oct 1862 David Maddux Camp Chase, Columbus Civil War Enlistment 25 Enlisted in Company G of 113 Ohio Volunteer Infantry
2 18 May 1865 David Maddux Civil War Discharge Discharged early from unit
2 David Maddux Date and place of death would be in pension files
2 17 Nov 1866 David Maddox Civil War Pension Widow Mary E Maddox files on David Maddox, 113 OVI Co G
2 23 Jun 1870 Monroe Twp, Pickaway 1870 Census Elizabeth Maddux (servant) 30, Mary 9, living with George Timmons 63
2 10 Nov 1872 Pickaway County Marriage Mary Elizabeth Timmons Maddux wed to Robert Spencer Leach
2 9 Jun 1873 David Maddox Pickaway County Guardianship Robert S Leach guardianship of Mary E Maddux, age 12
2 30 Jun 1873 David Maddox Civil War Pension Minor child by guardian Robert S Leach on David Maddox, 113 OVI Co G
2 14 Jun 1880 Monroe Twp, Pickaway 1880 Census Mary E Leach 40, spouse R.S. 34, Mary Maddux 19
2 4 Nov 1880 Pickaway County Marriage Mary Elizabeth Maddux marriage to William J Porter
2 01 Jun 1890 David Maddux, dec'd Monroe Twp, Pickaway 1890 Veteran Census Mary E Leach, widow of David Maddux
2 27 Jun 1900 Monroe Twp, Pickaway 1900 Census Mary E Leach 62, spouse R.S. 54, grandson CW Porter b. Dec 1882
3 20 Sep 1850 David Maddox Monroe Twp, Pickaway 1850 Census 7 With William 27 and Nancy 26, Lewis age 4, Willliam infant
3 15 Aug 1860 David Mattock Scott County, IL 1860 Census 16 With William 41 and Nancy 39, Lewis 15, Wm 11, George 8, Joseph A 4
3 13 Aug 1862 David Maddox Exeter, Scott County, IL Civil War Enlistment 19 Enlisted in 129 Illinois Infantry, Co F, Nativity Pickaway, Ohio
3 15 May 1864 David Maddox Resaca, Georgia Service File Wounded in side
3 20 Nov 1864 David Maddox Madison, Georgia Service File Taken prisoner and paroled, never discharged, no further records

Saturday, October 11, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #38 David P Maddux of Ohio

Sorting out the Maddox and Maddux families of Pickaway County, Ohio, could be a lifetime's work. Only DNA may eventually untangle the branches. This week I'm introducing a Maddux branch that has potential to contribute knowledge to the gene pool.

I'm grateful that my earliest proven ancestor, Lazarus Maddox, has a unique name. Unfortunately he was not in the least creative when naming his eight children. I've identified several of them, the most recent through positive identification of his third son, David Perry Maddux.

David was born on September 30, 1826, in Pickaway County, Ohio. His parents, Lazarus Maddox and Elizabeth Greaton/Gratton, lived and farmed in Monroe Township, near what is today the triangle formed by Yankeetown Pike, Hall Road and Crownover Mill Road. He had two older brothers and two older sisters and was followed by another brother and two more sisters.

David was a landowner by age 24. This is rather unusual, yet it appears he bought land from his father when he turned 21. In the 1860 census, his trade is listed as master mason, though in 1850 and 1870, he was a farmer. Perhaps he followed both pursuits.

He married twice, first to a woman whose name is a bit unclear. She appears as both Mary and Maria, with a deed showing her name as Mary Maria. Her name was alternately spelled as Tammadge and Talmadge. The couple married on June 23, 1853, in Pickaway County.

David and Mary had four children: Rebecca, John, Orpha and Mary. Baby Mary was born on Christmas Eve of 1861. Her mother died a week later, on January second, with the baby dying on February first. The two Marys are buried in the small and beautiful Yankeetown Cemetery, along the border of Pickaway and Fayette Counties. They share a four-sided marker. Mary's parents, Henry and Nancy Tammadge are buried adjacent.

Quick drop page from Our Everlasting Love by Studio Manu for Digital Scrapper, 2014

Left a widower with three small children, David remarried on December 4, 1862, in Madison County. His bride was Mary Watson Moler, a widow with several children of her own. No known children were born to this second marriage.

David had sold all his land by 1856 and moved to Madison County before 1860. He did not serve in the Civil War, though that can be mistakenly assumed due to the records of another man of the same name. David Maddix of Fairfield Township, age 35, did register in 1863 for the draft.

The 1880 census lists David's occupation as Huckster. I'd love to know the story behind that career change.

It was the 1900 census that convinced me this was the right David. He was a widower, boarding in the household of one Willliam Knowles. You'll see that name again next year when I explore the story I call "Murder at Mauvaisterre Creek".

David Perry Maddux died at the home of his daughter in Columbus, Ohio, on July 31, 1907. His parents' names were garbled by his daughter, Rebecca Maddux Gray. The death certificate says his parents were "Lacrus Maddux" and "Elizabeth Gratin".

David was buried, with his second wife, in Pleasant Hill Cemetery, near West Jefferson in Madison County.

At this writing, his FindAGrave page says he served in the Civil War. Unraveling that story took some effort and I am working to get that correction made.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #37 Agnes Emilia Fors Ekstrom

My Swedish great-grandmother, Agnes Emilia Fors, was born August 29, 1864, in Södertälje, Stockholm, Sweden, to Erik Edvard Fors and Matilda Vilhelmina Viberg. Erik Fors was a stationmaster for the Swedish railroads, so the family, though financially comfortable, moved frequently.

As was the custom in Sweden, Agnes left home as a teenager to make her own way. She emigrated to America as a servant, but returned in less than two years. She married the widowed tailor Gustaf Emil Ferdinand Ekstrom in Linköping, Östergötland on May 20, 1888. He had buried two babies and a wife and, with Agnes, buried yet another baby.

The scarcity of food and resources in Sweden, along with the desire for religious freedom, drove the Ekstroms to emigrate in 1891, joining many of their countrymen in Chicago, Illinois.

Agnes raised her five children and a step-daughter with a deep and abiding love of God, as well as a love of fun and laughter. Her grandson remembered her enjoying afternoons of tea, cards and gossip with her neighbors.

She saw four more of her children buried during her life. She raised two abandoned grandchildren, as well as helping to raise her youngest son's five orphans.

Quick drop page from Big Deal by ClubScrap

Her life as a tailor's wife and widow was comfortable until her assets as a building owner were destroyed by the Depression not long after Gustaf's death in 1927. She grew bitter and resentful of her reduced circumstances.

Agnes died on November 01, 1946, in Chicago and was buried with her husband and daughter in the historic cemetery of Rosehill.