Saturday, December 27, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #49 Joseph Allen Maddox

My great-great-grandfather, Al, was just a boy of twelve when his father, William Maddox, was killed by Al's older brother. His life was forever changed on that day in November of 1869. With his two older brothers in jail, the responsibility of a 270-acre farm rested on the shoulders of 16-year-old George and 12-year-old Joseph Allen Maddox, along with their mother, Nancy Jane Webb. Previously, Al and George had attended school, but no doubt the spring planting season of 1870 put an end to their schooling.

Joseph Allen Maddox was born on October 24, 1857, in Scott County, Illinois. He went by the name Al later in life, though all the records found through 1878 show his name as Joseph. His escapades as an adult indicate that he was a bit of a rascal. The image I have in my mind is of a prankster who tried to bring some levity to a stressful family life.

His first documented adventure was his marriage on June 13, 1876. Under the age of 21, he needed permission to marry from his mother. His bride, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Estella Lake, barely 15, also needed parental permission. The couple went to the Scott County courthouse with this single permission note, written in pencil:
"Mr Marten please let Joseph Maddox have his licence and it will be all right we are perfectly willing for them to get married. (signed) Mr Aaron Lake and Mrs Sarrah Lake"
The marriage license itself stated that Lizzie was 18 years old and that the mother of the 20-year-old groom had given her permission. The couple was married in the little community of Merritt by the minister George W Simpson, likely a lay minster of the M.E. Church.

This combination of marriage documents implies an elopement, with Lizzie lying about her age when they found out that Al needed a permission note. The couple must have lied and said that the note was from Al's mother. Additionally, it appears that Lizzie wrote the note herself. The signature of Aaron Lake is too neat and does not match his signature in the chancery case he filed against his father's probate. The misspelled name of Lizzie's mother and the use of pencil rather than ink also lead me to think that Lizzie wrote the note.

The young couple lost a pregnancy early in their marriage and the next child, Daisy Myrtle Maddox, was born in Morgan County, Illinois, on February 16, 1878. Between the birth of Daisy and the 1880 census, Al's mother remarried and died. Lizzie's grandfather's estate was resolved in chancery court about 1877.

The families decided it was time to leave Illinois and move on, joining a wagon train to Kansas. Al had been working as a miner, as well as a farmer. The 1880 census of Wilson County, Kansas, finds Lizzie and Daisy living with her parents and siblings. The home also included her older sister Nellie and her husband, George Maddox, the older brother of Al. However, the whereabouts of Al in 1880 has not been determined. Was he off mining somewhere? Was he looking for farmland?

Daughter Dottie May was born in 1881; Della Mable in 1884; Deora Maud in 1887. The last child and only son was Archie Franklin Maddox, born in 1890. Al had turned to farming by 1885, as he suffered from tuberculosis or miner's lung. By the time of the 1885 Kansas state census, Al had leased a farm in Kingman County, Kansas. He reported his holdings to the state census taker:
  • 160 acres of rented land
  • 25 acres of corn
  • 5 acres of oats
  • 1/4 acre of Irish Potatoes
  • 20 tons of prairie hay
  • 100 pounds of butter made last year
  • 5 horses
  • 2 milk cows
  • 3 other cattle

Lizzie's parents and family also settled in Kingman County, Kansas, by 1885. This single known tintype of Al was likely taken during the early Kansas years. The tintype is in the possession of my cousin Roger Wright. I've edited it to make it more visible than the original dark image.

Template and elements from Outdoor Dad kit by Brandy Murry for Digital Scrapper, 2014

Al wasn't satisfied with leasing a farm -- he wanted to own land for his son. When the opening of Oklahoma's Cherokee Strip was announced, Al knew he had the perfect opportunity. In 1893 he joined thousands of others on the Kansas/Oklahoma border and raced for his own piece of land. He was able to claim 160 acres in what is today Major County, Oklahoma, not far from the town of Enid.

Joseph Allen Maddox had another problem besides his lung problems. He was an alcoholic. On a trip to Kansas in 1895, he became sick and died in the wagon. My great-grandmother, Daisy, stated in an insurance application that her father had died of alcoholism, leading me to think that he was drinking on the trip and died directly or indirectly due to the drinking.

Al died on March 19, 1895, and was buried in a Kansas cemetery known as Hunt Cemetery. He, along with his brother George, was later moved to Walnut Hill Cemetery in Kingman, Kansas. Although Al and his family spelled their name Maddox, his brother and wife spelled their name Maddux. Al shares a plot with his brother and sister-in-law (Lizzie's sister) under the Maddux name.

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