Friday, April 13, 2018

Dead End Branches: 52 Ancestors

Every family tree has them: aunts, uncles and cousins who had no children. When you come to the end of a line, how do you react? I feel disappointed, relieved and disoriented. There will be no new cousins and no new clues. Perhaps a child died, a women died in childbirth or a soldier in a war. Conversely, the research on that line is at an end, fortunately. What branch is next? How many generations back is the next branch to research?

The Swedish part of my tree is full of those dead end branches. One branch came to America, yet still ended with no living descendants. My great-grandfather's younger brother, Ernst Viktor Leonard Ekstrom, came to America in March of 1889. He was born at Kristineholm, Björsäter, Östergötland, Sweden on January 27, 1865. Ernst trained as a tailor and brought that skill with him to the thriving Swedish community in Chicago.

A Swedish seamstress named Maria Charlotta Wenberg found her way to America in 1893. Lottie was born in July, 1868, in a parish yet to be discovered. I don't know how Ernst and Lottie met, but it may have been through their work. They married in Chicago on July 18, 1896. To their union two daughters were born.

Grace M Ekstrom was born on July 25, 1898, and her sister Lillian Efrusine Ekstrom followed on October 21, 1899. Grace and Lillian were second generation Americans with one foot in Sweden and one in Chicago. They and their mother traveled several times between the two countries.

The girls, rather than marrying and raising a few children, instead helped raise hundreds of Chicago-area children. They both became teachers by the time of the 1920 census. Grace married Fredrick F Lech between 1932 and 1935. By the time of the 1940 census, she was no longer teaching. When I interviewed their cousin after her death, he said that Grace never had children. I've found very little about her online.

Lillian taught for many more years, as she never married. She attended Northwestern University during summer sessions and, in August, 1935, was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Education degree. She taught physical education at Kelvyn Park High School for many years. Lillian had signed the 1953 yearbook that was scanned into the Ancestry yearbook collection.

Lillian acquired from her parents the small apartment building that they owned at 4107-09 N. Greenview Avenue. The address is seen throughout the records for the family, starting in 1920. Based on the census, it appears the building had four to six apartments. Lillian lived there for most of her life.

Ernst Ekstrom died in Chicago on August 30, 1939. His obituary was carried in the Swedish American newspaper.
Svenska Amerikanaren Tribunen
Torsdagen 7 Sep 1939
På Ravenswood lasarett avled den 30 augusti f. skräddaren Ernest Ekström, boende i 4107 Greenview ave. Slutet föregicks av en tids sjuklighet. Den avlinde var född i Sverige och omkring 74 år gammal. Han sörjes av sin maka Lottie samt av dötterna mrs Grace Ekström Lech och Lillian Ekström. Hans begravning ägde rum den 2 sept. och omhänderhades av Edgars likbesörjningsbyrå i 4821 N. Damen avenue. Platsen för jordfästningen var Rosehill.

Lottie Wenberg Ekstrom died in Three Lakes, Oneida County, Wisconsin, in August of 1958. There was a brief funeral announcement in a Chicago area newspaper.
Marie C. Ekstrom. Three Lakes, Wis., beloved wife of the late Ernst; loving mother of Grace Lech and Lillian Ekstrom. Services Wednesday, Aug. 13, 11 a.m. at funeral home. 5303 N. Western avenue, corner Berwyn. Interment Rosehill cemetery.

Lillian Ekstrom died in Chicago on March 30, 1992, and is buried at Rosehill Cemetery.

Grace Ekstrom Lech died on April 28, 1993. No further information.

And so ends the Ernst Ekstrom branch of the Ekstrom family from Björsäter, Östergötland and Chicago, Illinois.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Where the Blacktop Ends: 52 Ancestors

One of the fun experiences during a genealogy field trip is visiting the homestead where your ancestors lived. Visiting with a local guide enriches the experience, as they can add so much context that otherwise you would never know. For this week's prompt -- Homestead -- I'm dusting off one of those wonderful visits.

Barb Dahman of the then Morgan County Genealogical Society took my cousin and me on a tour of Scott County, Illinois, including a visit to the Maddox farm. She had talked to the current owner in advance of the tour, so she was able to tell us all about the farm as we drove through in 2003. A couple of years later, in a family history writing seminar, I wrote the following paragraphs about my impressions.
If you follow Merritt Blacktop Road west from Merritt and turn north on Turkey Farm Road, you will find yourself sliding on dirt and gravel. Of course, the turkey farm at the top of Maddox Hill has long been abandoned, Maddox Pond next to Mauvaisterre Creek holds no water and the Maddox farm and the Maddox family have disappeared, absorbed into neighboring farms and into the soil of Scott County. As you descend the steep hill to the creek, a fine brown cloud will rise up and surround you with the smell and taste of the rich Illinois farmland.

In summer, you will find wild roses blooming red, wrapping round the broken gatepost north of the creek, to mark the old entrance to the farm. No trace remains of the house and barn, their bones carried away long ago by scavengers. The house is now found only as a dot on the surveyor's plat in the foreclosure file at the Winchester courthouse. Weeds and brush have reclaimed the apple orchards that once climbed the hill north of the house. Much of the long forty acres that once comprised the widow's portion  is now overgrown, occupied only by snakes and other wild creatures.

South of the house site, a few fertile acres sprout corn on land that has been repeatedly flooded by the creek. It was here that the pond ebbed and flowed before the creek was dammed upstream at Jacksonville. The banks of the creek and the adjacent bottom land are a dark red-brown, in contrast to the lighter brown of the surrounding land. The covered bridge that once spanned the creek has been torn away and dragged downstream, leaving only a concrete and timber crossing barely wide enough for one car.

Across Turkey Farm Road to the east, two hundred acres that once were farmed by the Maddox family are now covered in soybeans, guarded by a large sign that announces this is private property. The owners have built a large house in the midst of the soybeans and you will wonder if the wood from the Maddox farm has burned in their fireplace. They will tell you they don't know anyone named Maddox. Yet they will also tell you, over 125 years after the Maddox family moved north to the next county, to drive down past Maddox Pond and climb up Maddox Hill to get back onto the blacktop road.

Nancy Jane Webb Maddox was the widow that asked for the long 40 acres on the west side when the farm went to foreclosure. That request resulted in a survey that shows the layout of the farm in 1876.

Nancy was born in Maryland about 1821. Her mother, Nancy Townson (Townsend?) died young and Nancy and her father, Elijah Webb, moved to Ohio by 1830.

Nancy married William W Maddox on February 21, 1840, in Pickaway County, Ohio. She had at least seven children: John, David, Louis (Lewis), William, George, Joseph Allen and Margaret. Only three of those are known to have descendants: Louis, George and Allen. Each of those three gave her one grandchild prior to her death.

After William's death in 1869, Nancy had to keep the farm running. She also had to raise the money to bail out and defend Louis and William, who were charged with killing their father. The family mortgaged the farm, but lost most of it to foreclosure, due to inability to pay their legal bills.

Nancy became the fifth wife of Joseph Pease in Brown County on September 15, 1878. Tragically, she died of pneumonia in Versailles Township just a few months later, on February 4, 1879. She was buried in the Lavina Henry Cemetery in Versailles Township.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

March to the Sea: 52 Ancestors

War changes the world.

If there had been no Civil War, how would life have differed for the Maddox family of Scott County, Illinois? What would have happened if David Maddox had not died and Lewis Maddox had not served?

David Maddox was the eldest son of William Maddox and Nancy Jane Webb. He was born about 1843, making him about 18 at the start of the war in 1861. There had been an older brother, John, who died before his second birthday. Therefore David was the oldest and, no doubt, the leader of his younger siblings.

David was born in Pickaway County, Ohio, moving with his family to Scott County, Illinois, when he was about 10 years old. He enlisted for three years on August 13, 1862, in Company F, 129th Illinois Infantry. The company muster roll tells us that he was 19 years old, 5 foot 7 inches tall, dark complected, with dark hair and blue eyes. He was a farmer and supposedly married, though no marriage record has been found.

The Illinois Adjutant General's Report gives a brief history of the regiment, which spent the early years of the war first in Kentucky and then in Tennessee. In May of 1864, the regiment joined Sherman's army and began the march to Atlanta.

David was wounded in the side at the Battle of Resaca, Georgia, on May 15, 1864. He recovered and stayed with the regiment as they fought the Atlanta campaign and occupied the city. On November 15, Sherman's army began the famous march to the sea. The army was large and the soldiers had to scour the countryside for food. It was probably on one of these expeditions that David was captured near Madison, Georgia, by some Confederate soldiers on November 20, 1864.

His captors took his weapons and then turned him loose with an agreement known as parole. David had to agree to not resume fighting. His absence was noted as desertion in the company records. However, the final notation in the muster roll was that he had been a prisoner since that date. It also states that no discharge was furnished.

There is no further record of David. By the time of his father's death in 1869, he was not living. It is probable that he died trying to make his way home from Georgia to Illinois.

The loss of David as the eldest brother and leader forever changed the dynamics of the Maddox family.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Psychic: 52 Ancestors

"What did you bury under that tree?"

With that simple question, Effie Lake proved her psychic ability to her future husband. Or so the family legend goes. He had stopped out of sight of her home and buried her ring under a tree as a test to see if she truly was psychic.

Effie A. Lake had a short but storied life. She was born to Aaron Lake and Sarah Elizabeth Bosseck on April 26, 1868, in Morgan County, Illinois. She had four older sisters and several younger siblings. When she was about 11 years old, the family joined a wagon train from Illinois. Many members of the Lake family first settled in eastern Kansas, in Wilson County. By the time of the 1885 state census, the Aaron Lake family had moved on westward and had settled near Kingman, Kansas.

Family legend swirled around Effie and is remembered to this day. She had an electrical current flowing through her body and when she placed her hands together the current would shock her. People from miles around came to her for assistance with finding things. Without these legends, she probably would have passed into obscurity.

Effie A Lake and J George Smith

Effie first married the publisher and editor of the local paper, the Cunningham Herald. J George Smith wrote a lovely paragraph after their wedding on May 05, 1888, in Ninnescah. Strangely he didn't name his bride, though wrote with flourish about his decision to marry.

George battled health problems and, at one point, suspended publication of the newspaper while the couple traveled to New Mexico for his health. After their return to the community of Cunningham, George died on October 11, 1895. Effie buried him in the Lake family plot, which strikes me as a humorous payback for his omission of her name in his marriage notice.

At some point the widowed Effie became the postmistress of the Cunningham post office. Herman Krell, a widower, became the owner of the nearby livery stable. They married in Kingman on September 11, 1900. The 32-year-old Effie died just two months later, on November 8. She had a lovely obituary in the newspaper:

The Kingman Weekly Journal
16 November 1900
The Silent Messenger

The funeral of Mrs. Herman Krell, whose maiden name was Effie Lake, was conducted during the noontide hour, last Sunday, by Rev. Clark of Kingman.

Deceased was well known in this community [Cunningham], having resided here for many years, and at one time having charge of the post office. She was 32 years of age, and united in marriage with Mr. Krell two months previous to the date above mentioned.

Her last illness was attended with severe suffering, and her condition so complicated that the best efforts of physician and surgeon proved alike unavailing, though the most painstaking efforts were put forth for her recovery. She was conscious of the approaching end, and in accordance with her request the funeral was conducted from her home.

The attendance was unusually large, a procession of carriages nearly half a mile in length following the snow-white casket to the cemetery south of town.

Effie was buried in the Lake family plot with George Smith and her parents. Effie had no children, though it is possible that a child is also in the plot. The lovely marker in the Old Cunningham Cemetery is unclear. The Lake family was left with just a few photos and the memorable legend of a family psychic.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Seventh Wife: 52 Ancestors

Would you marry a man who had buried six wives? In the twenty-first century there are many better choices for women; however, in the years after the Civil War, options were limited, especially for widows. So in 1870, the widowed Susan Ann York Bond took a risk and became the seventh wife of Lindsey Lake.

Susan's life is revealed through an extensive collection of government records: her own Civil War pension file, her son's Civil War pension file, Lindsey Lake's chancery court case file, Illinois land records, and her Eastern Cherokee claims application (rejected).

Susan Ann York was born on April 22, 1834, in Morgan County, Illinois, the youngest child of William York and Elizabeth Kitchens. She was probably born near the community of Meredosia. In the 1860 census of Howard County, Missouri, the census taker wrote that she was born in Louisiana, probably a misunderstanding of her claim to have been born at Meredosia.

Before her 15th birthday, Susan married John H Bond or Bonds. Both spellings are seen in the records. They married in Brown County on December 24, 1848. That date is misinterpreted in the Illinois marriage index online, but is confirmed in the pension files.

Susan and John had six children between 1848 and 1864: William Charles Bond, Mary Ann Virginia Bond, Martha Elizabeth Bond, Sarah Ellen Bond, Thomas G Bond and John James Bond. All the children were born in Illinois except Thomas, who was born in 1862, in Missouri. The 1860 Missouri census shows that John Bond was working as a laborer and owned no land. The family returned to Illinois before the birth of the youngest in 1864.

In the closing months of the Civil War, both John H Bond and his son, William Charles Bond, joined the military in service to the Union forces. John joined the 28th Illinois Volunteer Infantry on March 21, 1865, and died of dysentery on November 1, 1865. The fourteen-year-old Charlie joined the USS Ouachita as a First Class Boy [cabin boy] on August 26, 1864.

Susan found herself widowed at age 31, with six children. She listed her address as living in Cass County, Illinois, with her post office at Meredosia. She applied for a widow and children's pension for the five younger children. She was granted a small monthly sum. As each child reached the age of 16, the monthly payment would be reduced. Susan's remarriage would also stop her portion of the pension.

In the Cass County area lived Lindsey Lake, who was related to Susan by marriage. His sister, Precious Lake, was married to Susan's brother, John York. The York and Lake families had been allied for many years, not only in Illinois, but previously in Indiana. Susan had watched as Lindsey had married wife number five in 1859 and wife number six, Elizabeth, in 1863. At Elizabeth's death in 1869, Lindsey was left with three children born between 1861 and 1866.

Susan and Lindsey married on January 13, 1870, in Morgan County. Susan's older children were living and working in other households in the 1870 census, so probably had been sent out to work before the marriage. The small sums from the pension were certainly not enough to live on. Since Lindsey was financially comfortable, Susan may have seen the marriage as her best option to achieve stability for herself and the younger children.

Susan bore at least two children in her second marriage. A child named Liney Lake was buried at 15 months old. A daughter named Susan Lake was born about 1872 and died before 1907.

Lindsey Lake died on August 19, 1876. His will specified bequests to his minor children, but did not include his adult children. This omission triggered a battle in chancery court over the assets of the estate. Susan asked to have her dower portion of the land set off, but unfortunately the surveyors decided the land could not be divided without harm. Susan lost her bid to keep Lindsey's home as her own. That must have been a crushing blow. Between 1878 and 1889, Susan sold some small parcels of land that either were part of Lindsey's land business or had come to her or her daughter from the estate.

Susan lived with her children after Lindsey's death. She applied for and was granted a resumption of her widow's pension that had been forfeit at her marriage.

She married again on September 3, 1893, at Webb City, Missouri, to a man named Peter Wright. She divorced him ten years later on the basis of his desertion in 1898. Susan again had to petition for her widow's pension.

In 1914, Susan gave a supporting statement for her son's Civil War pension. She listed four living children, having buried the other four. She was living with her youngest son, James, at the time.

Susan lived a long life, dying short of her 83rd birthday. She died on February 26, 1917, at Webb City, Jasper County, Missouri, and was buried in Oronogo Cemetery in Oronogo, Missouri. Her name was inscribed on the grave marker of Lindsey Lake in Beauchamp Cemetery, near Meredosia, but according to her death certificate, she was not buried with him.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Umlaut or Not: 52 Ancestors

A missing umlaut could have cost me a new DNA cousin connection this week. My tree had the umlaut, while his did not. Ancestry did not consider them the same surname and rightly so. Fortunately, I recognized the Anglicized surname and investigated the tree.

But then I also noticed that my own tree is full of the same sort of inconsistent spellings. It's a nuisance to spell foreign words correctly on an English keyboard, but I'm starting right now to clean up my act.

I'm starting corrections with my very first Ekström ancestor -- my 3rd-great-grandfather, Eric Andersson Ekström. He was born on December 20, 1770, in Björntorpet in the församling (parish) of Björsäter in Östergötland, Sweden (Sverige). Did you count those non-English letters? He has several source citations which also need to be spelled correctly.

Before Eric, the surname changed in every generation under the patronymic system in use at the time. He was the youngest son of farmer Anders Jönsson and Lena (Helena) Pehrsdotter. At some point he and at least one of his brothers took the surname Ekström, rather than keeping the patronymic Andersson. However, the Björsäter records are very inconsistent as to his names. His birth record says both Eric and Erick. His mother is named as Pettersdotter in the birth record, though never again.

Anders Jönsson died on August 30, 1776, leaving a widow and six children, including the 5-year-old Eric (spelled Erick in the probate). Lena remarried on September 3, 1780, to farmer Hans Jöhansson (another name with random spellings). She died on October 3, 1824, at nearly 85 years of age

The church records say that farmer Eric Ekström married Anna Brita Salomonsdotter on November 8, 1796. Baby Anders was born to Eric Andersson (not Ekström) and Brita Salomonsdotter on June 12, 1798. It was indeed challenging to find all the records for the family! Starting with the fifth child in 1807, all the births were recorded with Eric Ekström as the father. The church record that shows all the children of that marriage is a household survey record (husförhörslängder) from 1810-1814.

Eric's wife, Anna Brita, died on August 25, 1813, five months after the birth of  their seventh child, Carl Peter. That child died less than six months later. Left with six children under the age of 16, Eric remarried to my ancestress, Stina Cajsa (Christina Catherina) Olofsdotter, on May 14, 1814. They added eight more children to the Ekström family, with seven shown among the changes recorded from 1823 to 1829.

Of the fifteen children, six died before Eric's death on July 02, 1842. His living family is listed in his probate (bouppteckning), which was recorded in Bankekinds Häradsrätt (district court) book FII:32. The children of his first marriage (första gifte) are listed first, followed by his widow (who died on February 14, 1850) and the children of the latter marriage (sednare gifte).

Son Salom. [Saloman] Ekström
[married daughter] Anna Lotta Ekström
Children of Son Anders Ekström
      Jöhannes August Ekström 4 years
      Jöhanna Lovisa 9 years

Enkan (widow) Christina Catherina Olofsdotter

Son Olaus Ekström
Son Carl Ekström
Son(s) Gustaf 20 years
Adolph 15 years
Fredrik 12 years
Daughters Anna Lisa 25 [years]
Sophia 17 years

Two names in Eric's probate provide new research opportunities. Responsible for the interests of Eric's minor children was Carl Gust. Larsson. Responsible for the grandchildren was Pet. Bergqvist of Grebo parish. Interestingly, the Bergqvist family of Grebo somehow circles back to my new DNA cousin. I'm eager to see how many connections we find when our spelling is consistent!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Where's the Proof: 52 Ancestors

This game of Clue starts in a Wichita attic in 1949.

The first topic of discussion between cousins old and new in one branch of my family is whether any proof of our Native American ancestry has been found. We have a strong family legend and a rumor that there was proof, last seen in 1949 by my grandmother's first cousin. This blog post is shameless cousin bait to see if someday, someone, somewhere knows what that proof is and where it is now.

Where do you share your knowledge, your private proofs, in a way that you know will persist?

One of the challenges of blogging and of the many family history sites is that web sites come and go.

I would lean toward Family Search as the one web site that will exist in perpetuity. It's not a commercial site, but rather a church-sponsored site. However, the ability for anyone to edit the master tree does make for a mess. I shudder each time I look at my family branches in that tree.

Ancestry and MyHeritage and similar sites are commercial. They could cease operation at any time and all the data could just vanish.

WikiTree was non-commercial and may still be. Someone has to pay for and support it. It also is at risk of vanishing. And of course comments posted to this blog are moderated by me. When I leave this earth, the blog may remain, but no new comments would be visible to anyone.

So if you have private proofs for any part of your family tree (or mine), please share them online somehow. Please place a copy, or the originals, with a local archive. Your family will be grateful.

Who Has the Proof? Spelling Doesn't Count!

Here are the surnames involved in this puzzle. If you've arrived at this post from a web search, take a moment to look at the list because you may be distracted by spelling later.
  • Maddix, Maddox, Maddux
  • Greaton, Guaton, Gratan, Gratton (many variations)
  • Knoles, Knowles
  • Long, Neff, Alkire
  • Davis, Schroeder

This branch of my family has as the current root couple Lazarus Maddox and Elizabeth Greaton of Pickaway County, Ohio. Due to an unclear name in the marriage book, her name was listed as Elizabeth Guaton in an important Ohio marriage index. Her father signed a marriage consent for her with the signature David Greaton, so that is the spelling that I use.

They had eight children, four sons and four daughters. The daughters married men named Knoles, Long, Neff and Alkire. The proofs for this family are in the Pickaway County land and marriage records at the courthouse and at the Pickaway County Historical and Genealogical Library.

The supposed proof of the Maddox family Native American ancestry was found in the Wichita, Kansas, attic of their great-grandson, William Aaron Maddix (Wid Maddix), at the time of his death in 1949. Wid's ancestral story was told in the post telling how he got the nickname Wid. But it is to his descendants and siblings that we need to look to find the private proofs. So today I'm describing what I know of Wid's extended family.

Wid Maddix had two younger brothers and four children. Four of those six branches have died out, leaving two branches that may hold the answer.

Brother Pearl Edwin Maddix married Jeannette Moore in 1903. They had one son, Edwin, and soon divorced. Pearl moved away and Jeannette remarried to Bret Hart. Young Edwin took the Hart name. He died in Texas, without issue. Pearl died before Wid. It seems unlikely that any family documents would have come to this branch.

Brother Gerald Embry Maddix married twice and appears to have had two children, based on census records. He died in Barton County, Kansas, in 1952. There is a slim possibility that this branch holds the family documents.

Son Harold Thomas Maddix never married and left no known issue. He died in Kansas in 1978.

Son Ralph Ellis Maddix married, but had no children, He died in Orange County, California, in 1988.

Daughter Grace Evelyn Maddix never married. She was very likely to have taken the proof. She lived and worked in the Washington D.C. area, so might have deposited documents in one of the many archives in that area. After retirement, Grace returned to Kansas, dying there in 1986. So Kansas archives also might hold the documents. Her burial arrangements were made by a nephew, Tom Davis, which leads to the most likely branch.

Daughter Edna Lucile Maddix married twice, first to Elbert W Davis. They had two children: Patricia A Davis and Thomas A Davis, both of whom are now deceased. Lucile second married Preston E Diehm, but there were no children from that marriage.

Patricia Davis married Virgil D Schroeder and had at least one son.

Thomas Davis retired as a Lieutenant from the Wichita Police Department. His marital history is unclear. His 2016 obituary lists two sons: Roy T Davis and Michael W Davis. Three grandchildren are also listed.

So the question goes to my distant Davis, Schroeder and Maddix cousins: do you know where the proof is of the Maddox (Maddix) family Native American ancestry?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

They Won a Wedding: 52 Ancestors

It was 1946 and the war was over. Most of the military members had returned to their home countries. Young women wanted to get married and young men wanted to get a different kind of action. A Los Angeles radio station decided to sponsor a contest to give away a wedding to one lucky couple. My great-uncle was one-half of the winning couple. They had a lovely wedding, but they were far too young.

Thomas Merrill Allee, Jr. was born in Oklahoma on May 27, 1926. He was the youngest of eight children, my grandfather being the eldest. His father had been born in 1877 and his mother in 1884. They were horse and buggy and farm, while Tommy dreamed of fast cars and big cities. He and his father never got along. He wished his parents were like my city-dweller grandparents: a farm boy turned schoolteacher and a flapper turned office worker.

In 1928, the family moved from the dust bowl of Oklahoma to the high plains near Pueblo, Colorado, where they continued in farming. In 1942, Tom (senior) took a job with the city of Pueblo and the family moved to town. Tommy still couldn't wait to go see the world. At 17, he convinced his father to give permission for his enlistment in the Navy. He enlisted in December, 1943, and served on a troop carrier in the Pacific.

In the spring of 1946, Tommy was assigned to a small boat in the Los Angeles area. He and his girlfriend entered the radio contest and surprisingly won. She was not quite 18 and he was not yet 20 when they married. Their attendants were other couples who had entered the contest.

The young couple had a baby about a year later, but he lived only two days. It was heartbreaking and the marriage did not survive. They divorced soon after.

Tommy loved the sunny southern California lifestyle and decided that was the place to live. He went back to Colorado only to visit. He was a warm, friendly, charismatic man who made friends wherever he went. I know very little about his working life, but do know that he spent some years in sales and service for the specialized raised floors that are used in computer centers.

In the early 1950s, he was on a double date with a friend. His friend's date was Marilyn Rozycki Zwolinski, a divorcee a bit younger than Tommy. The two of them decided that they were with the wrong dates. It was the proverbial love at first sight.

Tommy and Marilyn married in 1955 and raised a family of lovely daughters. Their marriage survived much heartbreak, as they buried three of their four girls. He adored Marilyn and cared for her through her declining health. She died in 2011.

Tommy was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2012 and died on July 28, 2013.

Throughout Tommy's life, he called his first wife each year on the anniversary of their son's birth. Nonetheless, he asked me to keep his first marriage private as long as Marilyn was alive, though she knew about it. He wanted his sweetheart to never be embarrassed by gossip about his past.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

She Died Far From Home: 52 Ancestors

When a birth, death or marriage occurs in an unexpected location, it adds challenges for the researcher. In the family of my Swedish Great-grandmother, Agnes Fors Ekstrom, there were two such events. A younger brother, Eric Anton Fors, was born in a parish where their parents never lived. And Agnes' young daughter, Edna Ekstrom, died far from her Chicago home.

Edna's name came up in all my family interviews. Everyone knew that she was my grandfather's sister and that she had died as a child. She appears, as a baby, in the 1900 Chicago census, living with her parents and siblings at 1353 Belmont Avenue, in the Lakeview area.  Her birth month is listed as May of 1899.

Edna's death record eluded me. She wasn't buried in the same cemetery as her parents. The only possible death certificate did not match their address nor did it name any parents. I was unable to locate the records from the Swedish Methodist Church that they likely attended, as the supposed archives claimed to not have them. Edna's story was unfinished for many years.

Recently, I decided to spend the time to follow Edna's grandfather as he moved from parish to parish, thanks to his job on the Swedish railway. There, in the Swedish church records, I unexpectedly found the rest of Edna's story.

By 1904, Agnes and Gustaf were well settled in Chicago after 13 years. They had added one more child to their family -- my grandfather, Alvar (Oliver). Gustaf's brother, Ernst, had been in Chicago for 16 years. Their tailor business must have been doing well, as their wives went traveling that summer.

Agnes and her two youngest children and Lottie, Ernst's wife, and her two children sailed to Sweden. Edna and Alvar got to meet their maternal grandparents, who were living in Kullerstad, Östergötland. While in Sweden, or on the voyage, 5-year-old Edna became ill. She died at the home of her grandparents, with the cause recorded as croup. She was buried in Linköping, most likely with her two older siblings and her father's first wife.

The records baffled me at first. Why would a little girl from Chicago have her death recorded in Sweden? However, with the thoroughness of the church records, it all finally made sense. The death of one small visitor generated a half-dozen records.

The first record that I found was the church book (församlingsböcker) that showed her grandparents' household. Edna was listed, not directly in the household, but a couple of lines down. Why was a five year old from Chicago by herself with her grandparents? Her birth (född) was recorded as being in Chicago on May 18, 1899. She both died (död) and entered (inflyttad) the Kullerstad parish on June 25, 1904. At first I thought maybe this was a courtesy entry for her grandfather.

But no, it was real. Her death was in the parish death book, with the notation that she was visiting (på besök).

Additional records showed that Edna was registered as entering the parish, probably because the records would be unclear without that information. More likely the family had been there longer, but the minister had no need to record their entry as they were merely visiting. Her death also appears in the Linköping death abstract for 1904, as the minister recorded the burial (begrafning), noting that the death had been in Kullerstad.

Having sorted out Edna's death, the next question was who was traveling along with her. Searching ship lists, I discovered that her mother and younger brother entered the port of Boston on the White Star Line's RMS Republic on September 30, 1904. I can only imagine that having lost Edna to illness, Agnes must have been terrified that little Alvar would also get sick. No doubt she was grateful to return to Chicago.

I found Agnes' sister-in-law, Lottie, and her daughters on a different ship, sailing into Boston a few days after Agnes and Alvar. It does seem strange that they would sail on different ships. Perhaps it is similar to families today who won't all fly on the same plane due to risk of accident. Finding Lottie's ship record was a bonus that shed additional light on the financial success of the family business.

With this serendipitous discovery, I can finally lay to rest the puzzle of what happened to Edna Ekstrom. Her story is now complete.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Who's Your Daddy Meets 52 Ancestors

How do you measure the accuracy of a census record? It's a snapshot of just one moment in time in your ancestor's life. Is it accurate? If it is earlier than 1880, what relationship does each person have to the head of household?

It's important to put that moment in time into context of your ancestor's entire life. Other records are needed to understand that context. What other records exist and for what locations do they exist? Elizabeth Shown Mills asserts that the most records will be found in the earliest location where you KNOW they lived. For this week's ancestor, that seems to be true.

Who's Your Daddy - Part Four

The Cass County, Illinois, census of 1850 is a record that definitely has to be examined in context. In the Who's Your Daddy series of posts, it has a starring role as an inaccurate record. One man, Israel Lake, gets no love from his descendants, thanks partly to an inaccurate census and largely to some researcher's inaccurate conclusions. This post will look at several records about Israel.

In part two of the series, an obituary proved the parentage of Ellen Lake Williamson,  William Harrison Lake and Jonathan Lake to be Israel Lake and his wife, Margaret Ann Long. Israel and Ann married in Perry County, Indiana, on March 12, 1829. However, that's not his earliest known residence.

The census records of 1860, 1870 and 1880 all show that Israel was born in Pennsylvania about 1809. The 1850 census does not agree. The 1880 census also shows that Israel believed both his parents were born in New Jersey. Working on the assumption that Israel is a son of Aaron Lake of the area around Perry County, there is an 1811 tax list that shows Aaron was living in Breckinridge County, Kentucky. So Israel was born in Pennsylvania, but moved to Kentucky as a very young child. There may be a birth or christening record in Pennsylvania church records, but that is not a location that is known to me.

The next location to look for records is Breckinridge County. There we meet a young man who got into a little bit of trouble, but made it right. As you look at these court records, recall that he married in March of 1829 in Indiana.

At a circuit court began and held for Breckinridge County at the courthouse in the town of Hardinsburg on Monday the 20th day of April 1829 and in the 37th year of the Commonwealth ...

The Commonwealth of Kentucky against Israel Lake and Greenberry Burnett
On an Indictment for an affray
This day came the attorney for the Commonwealth and the Sheriff having returned on the alias summon in this case that it was duly served on the deft. Lake and that the Deft Burnet was not found and the Deft failing to appear. It is ordered that a Capias issue against the Deft Lake with an Indictment that he may be admitted to bail for his appearance in the sum of $50. and that a pluries summon issue against Deft Burnett and that the cause be continued.
(Circuit Court Book 7, Page 437)

July 20th 1829
The Commonwealth of Kentucky against Greenberry Burnett and Israel Lake
On an Indictment for an affray
This day came as well the attorney for the Commonwealth as the Deft Israel Lake and the deft Lake for plea saith that he is not guilty in manner and form as in said bill of Indictment is charged against him and of this he puts himself upon the Country [sic] and the attorney for the commonwealth doth the like. And thereupon this cause is continued until the next court. It is further ordered that a pluries summon issue against the defendant Burnet.
(Circuit Court Book 8, Page 3)

Monday April 19th 1830
The Commonwealth of Kentucky against Israel Lake and Greenberry Burnett
On an Indictment for an affray
This day came the attorney for the Commonwealth and as to the Deft Greenberry Burnett, It is ordered that this cause be Continued and that a pluries summon issue directed to the Sheriff of Hancock [County]
And as to the Deft Israel Lake came a Jury to wit ... [twelve men listed] ... who being elected tried and sworn well and truly to try the issue joined upon their oaths assessed a fine to the Commonwealth of $1.00. It is therefore ordered by the Court that the Deft Israel Lake make this fine to the Commonwealth by the payment of $1.00 and pay the costs and may be taken.
(Circuit Court Book 8, Page 83)

From this series of court records we learn one member of Israel's FAN club: Greenberry Burnett. We also learn that Greenberry resided in (or near) the part of Breckinridge County that was split off to become Hancock County in 1829. It's likely that Israel also had been living in that area at the time of the affray, which must have happened before the county was split.

What records did Israel leave in Hancock County? Israel was never listed in the tax records of either Kentucky County, so he did not live in Kentucky after he turned 21. Some of the records of Hancock county have been destroyed, but there is one court file from April, 1831, that survives in the county archives. It's multiple pages with pieces missing.

On November 29, 1830, Israel Lake filed suit against William Richey, Jr. for trespass, with damages stated as $3000. Called to testify were John Burnett, Elisha Johnston, Mariah Nichols, Philemon Davison, Henry Williams and James Shrader.

Israel had served as a witness for John Burnett and against William Richey, Jr., in a previous court case. Richey had gotten upset and spoken maliciously against Israel, accusing him of perjury. Israel had another complaint against Richey. In the words of the case file:
Afterwards to wit on the day and year aforesaid at the state and circuit aforesaid the said plaintiff was possessed of a leather bag containing $100 in silver marked and being so possessed on the day and year aforesaid at the state and circuit aforesaid casually lost the said bag of dollars out of his possession which said bag of dollars came to the hand and possession of the said defendant by ?? yet the defendant well knowing the said bag of dollars marked as aforesaid to be the proper property of the said plaintiff did not deliver the said bag to said plaintiff but afterward to wit on the __ day of  __ at the state and circuit aforesaid converted the said bag of dollars to his own use wherefore the said plaintiff saith he is injured and hath sustained damage ??? $3000 and therefore he sues.

The jury found for Israel and awarded him $1000. Of course, collecting that sum in 1831 was pretty unlikely.

No other records turned up in a search  of the Hancock County archives and deeds. The 1830 census was in order by the first letter of the last name, so it's not useful for neighborhoods. However, the 1840 census shows Israel's brother, Harrison Lord Lake, living near the Burnetts and Richeys. Since Harrison owned a farm, the exact location can be determined, provided more hints for researching Israel's FAN club.

Israel apparently lived in Perry County, Indiana, as an adult. The early tax books are not in the courthouse in Tell City and an email to the historical society did not return an answer about the location of those tax books. They may have been lost in a flood. However, several records are available in Perry County. The earliest is the 1829 marriage record of Israel and Anna.

The History of Perry County, by Thomas James De La Hunt, published in 1916, has two brief sentences about Israel. Coal Haven, the town that has been replaced by Cannelton, was destroyed by fire in 1839. Israel held property in that area, so it is possible that he and his family were touched by that tragedy. In the chapter on these towns, we learn on page 92 that Israel Lake and his wife hosted Methodist services at their home, "in the river road", before the log school house was used. The chapter also reveals that William Ritchey was tried for arson in 1844 for the destruction of a store in Cannelton. Apparently he made mischief on both sides of the Ohio River.

Page 258 informs us that the pioneer Israel Lake was the original owner of a sawmill at the "extreme upper edge" of Cannelton. The 1861 map reprinted by the historical society shows only one saw mill. The meaning of upper edge is unclear, but in river terms it would be upriver, so that might be the right spot. The saw mill was still operating in 1861, so it is certainly possible.

Hawesville, the county seat of Hancock County, sits directly across the river from Cannelton. Ferries were critical to the trade between the two towns. Israel had a piece of that ferry business for a time. In January of 1842, Israel sold a ferry for $60. The sale was recorded in Perry County in deed book C, pages 243 and 244. The deed, signed by Israel and Ann Lake, and witnessed only by a JP, described the location of the ferry.
... sell unto the said Edwin Cornelus his heirs and assigns a certain ferry, across the Ohio river being opisit [sic] Lot No 26 being a part of school section sixteen belonging to township No seven South of Range No 3 West in said County ...
In November, 1847, Israel paid off a piece of land in the Cannelton area. It was recorded in book D page 71, as lot Number one of school section sixteen in Township seven south of Range three west consisting of 31 acres and a half and 24 poles (31A2R24P). The Perry County auditor deeded it to Israel who had acquired the rights to the land third-hand. One fourth of the price had been paid in advance. Israel paid $521.85 to close the deal.

On page 73 of the same book, a deed names as grantors Israel Lake and Margaret Ann Lake his wife. They quickly sold the same land for $1550 to Hamilton Smith of Jefferson County, Kentucky. The witnesses were JB Maynard and Frederick Boyd.

In  the spring of 1848, Israel appears to have acted as a broker to purchase 100 acres from the land office at Vincennes and sell it to a man from Boston, Samuel M Allen. Four records for those transactions appear in Perry County Deed Book D, pages 139-142. The witness was IC Porter.

Israel Lake was also found in the probate index, but it's not his probate. Probate Order Book D tells us on page 348 that Rosanna (Roxena) Davidson, heir to William R Davidson, asked in 1847 for Israel to be her guardian. The bondsman with Israel was Nicholas Vaughan. The 19-year-old Roxena Davidson married William B Jagars in May, 1848, with the consent of her mother, Emily Davidson. The marriage took place in Hancock County.

These transactions show that Israel was a businessman in the Cannelton community and apparently respected and wealthy enough to serve as a guardian, with a bond, to a teenage girl.

In July, 1848, Israel Lake was a resident of Cass County, Illinois. He purchased 77 acres from his presumed brother, Lindsay Lake, for $150. The deed in book C, page 522, lists buildings as part of the assets transferred. Israel also bought public land from the state of Illinois in June, 1848. The land transactions focus the migration of Israel and Ann to the period between April and June of 1848.

Turning to the earliest census records, how many children did Israel and Ann have? In 1830, in Perry County, they had two teens with them that could not have been their children. They also had a male in the house under the age of 5. If that was their son, I don't have a name and would appreciate input from other researchers.

In 1840, the Lake household of Perry County had nine people:
Males - Under 5:     1
Males - 5 thru 9:     1
Males - 10 thru 14:     1
Males - 20 thru 29:     2
Males - 30 thru 39:     1
Females - 10 thru 14:     1
Females - 20 thru 29:     1
Females - 70 thru 79:     1
The elderly female could be a mother or aunt of either spouse. One male aged 20-39 was Israel and there are two other adult males in the household. That leaves a potential for three sons and a daughter. Jonathan Lake was born in 1831 so he was 9. Allen Lake was born about 1835, so he was likely under 5. The other two children are unknown at this time.

The 1850 census of Cass County is inaccurate. Moving to the 1860 census of Brown County, Illinois,  Ellen was born about 1844, Sarah was born about 1846 and Israel was born about 1849. We also know that William Harrison Lake was born about 1842. The only child born in Illinois was Israel. The others were born in Indiana, according to various census records. There is quite a gap between Allen and William. We have to wonder if there were other children who died or if perhaps there was a series of miscarriages.

The 1870 Cass County census includes a young man named Henry Lake, but he was not a child of Israel and Margaret Ann. He will be discussed in another post. The 1880 Cass County census shows that Ann had died and Israel was living with a grandchild, a son and a daughter-in-law.

Israel bought, sold and farmed land during his years in Illinois. In 1881, a deed was filed in Morgan County, Illinois, with the grantor, Israel Lake, living in Mercer County, Missouri. His descendants claim that he died in 1883 and is buried in Sullivan County, Missouri.

Hopefully these bread crumbs will provide useful clues to Israel Lake researchers and help his descendants give him some love.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Kidnapped: 52 Ancestors

The ship sat along the coast of England, awaiting high tide. It would set sail in a few hours on the long journey to the Virginia Colony. Ashore, the sailors enjoyed the last taste of freedom that they would have for perhaps two months. In addition to looking for fun, they were looking for something else -- children to kidnap. Two young boys playing near the waterfront were just right. They were old enough to work, perhaps 13, yet small enough to be easily snatched.

Evan Ragland and his friend found themselves aboard ship, torn from home and family. When the ship reached Virginia, they were sold into indentured servitude. Evan was well educated and became a secretary to his master, a planter of the middle class. Eventually he married one of the planter's daughters and inherited, with his wife, 500 acres of land. Together they were the progenitors of the Ragland family that today spreads throughout the United States.

Is this family legend truth or fiction? It has been repeated in the family for over 300 years. It has also been discussed and debated for many years. Thousands of children were kidnapped and brought to the American Colonies in the 17th century, so it is certainly possible.

If I could invite an ancestor to dinner, it would be Evan Ragland. His story is unique, engaging and horrifying. I'd love to hear his tale in his own words. Was he the Evan born in 1656, the son of Thomas Ragland and Jane Morgan of St. Decuman's Parish in Somerset? Was he kidnapped or did he sign on willingly? How was the voyage? What was his education? How did he transition from servitude to marriage?

Evan Ragland's death was recorded in the records of St. Peter's parish, New Kent County, Virginia. He died in 1717, just over 300 years ago. Only Y-DNA testing may eventually be able to prove his ancestry. Unfortunately we'll never know the truth about the family legend of his kidnapping.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Analyzing Ancestry DNA Matches on a Snowy Day in the South

What is the relationship between the number of matches at Ancestry DNA and the number of matches that are 4th-6th cousins or closer? It seems as if those numbers should correlate, but they don't. Rather the variation seems to be related to ethnicity.

I'm learning a new (sort of free) data analysis tool and, during today's snow holiday, I took the opportunity to experiment with my own data instead of my employer's. Here are my results and thoughts, gathered while ten inches of snow fell and interrupted by a two hour power outage.

A contact told me that a very large number of pages -- a large number of matches -- tend to belong to testers who have heritage from the American South. My heritage is about 30% American South. Of the 14 tests to which I have access, only two have that high a percentage. But others of the tests have higher page counts. One of my in-laws has a normal page count, yet an absurd number of close matches, as shown above.

I used Excel to collect all the statistics. I gathered the ethnicity percentages for each test. The number of close matches came from the main page. Then the fun part was estimating the number of pages, typing the page number into the page number box, hitting enter and seeing what happened. Then paging backward or forward to see the total number of pages. All page counts were rounded up.

In the graph you can see how the number of pages is a fairly close range, but the number of close cousins does not always move in the same direction. Not what you would expect, is it?

What is the ethnic breakdown for the person with so many close cousins? That person is of Hispanic descent, as are some others in the graph. Choosing Europe South, Iberian Peninsula and Native American hits the high points for that person. Now there is a clearer relationship between the number of close cousins and the ethnicity. It seems that this could be due to endogamy in the Hispanic population coupled with a high birth rate and a curiosity about ethnicity within that population.

Just to round out the exercise, here's a similar look at how European ethnicity relates to match counts. Notice that higher Scandinavian ethnicity (darker blue) results in fewer close matches and fewer pages.

It was a good day to spend some time thinking about the characteristics of Ancestry DNA matches and, in the process, to learn more about the tool.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Long Life Well-Lived: 52 Ancestors

Longevity is the prompt for week three of the 52 Ancestors challenge. I'm dusting off an old scrapbook layout for this one. In 2007, this was my response to a scrapbook challenge that asked my thoughts on aging.

Whenever I think of long-lived family members, my great-aunt is the first to come to mind. Effie Arvilla Crispen, born in 1896, was named for two aunts: her maternal great-aunt Effie Lake and paternal aunt Mary Arvilla Crispen. Effie married three times and had two children and two grandchildren, via her son. Her 100th birthday was celebrated in her community. I never lived near Effie and saw her only occasionally and briefly; however, my Grandmother often spoke fondly of her older sister.

No original photos were harmed in the making of the page. All photos were copied so that lumpy embellishments could be included. The text over the bottom right photo is an excerpt from the song referenced in the journal block, which says:

Aunt Effie

Effie Arvilla Crispen Knapp [Tonkin] Scherrer

August 27, 1896 - December 26, 1997 

My great-aunt Effie was the longest-lived member of her family, living to 101. Until the end, she was sassy and stubborn and eccentric. She was a prolific letter writer and just loved to write about her family, her dogs and her home. She was the family’s oral historian, though we are not quite sure how true her stories really are. The country tune, “Don’t Blink” reminds me of her and of the stages of life we each walk through.

Life does pass so quickly and it amazes me how it speeds up each year until the days seem to fly by. It’s my hope to live each day, each year, to the fullest. To focus on what’s important. To age with dignity. To maintain my eccentricity and alertness. In short, to follow in Aunt Effie’s footsteps.

Elizabeth Richards
December, 2007 

In my files is a fuzzy photo of Effie, taken in about 1960, that always makes me smile.

 She was truly one of a kind!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Following the Line: 52 Ancestors

Imagine you are standing in a railway station in 1880, waiting for a cousin's arrival. Can you see the steam engine coming down the line? It's huffing and puffing and hissing as it comes into the station with a screech of the brakes. The fireman is shoveling coal into the engine while baggage is unloaded and passengers step onto the platform. The conductor makes the final boarding call as new passengers board. The engineer pulls on the whistle and the train rumbles away, billowing noxious black smoke. As you brush ash from your clothing, a porter carries your cousin's luggage to your wagon.

You've seen a handful of railroad workers in those few minutes. But did you give any thought to the thousands of workers that created that infrastructure and manage the railroad line? Construction workers built trestles, blasted tunnels, laid tracks and built stations. Station staff now sell tickets and assist passengers. The line workers run trains, inspect tracks and manage signals and switches. Office workers manage schedules, staff and accounting.

One of the thousands of workers on the Swedish railroad lines was my great-great-grandfather, Eric Edward Fors. The government of Sweden was late to start building railroads, beginning only in 1855. Edward, born in 1840, in Björnlunda, Södermanland, found a job with the railroad about the time he turned 20. He became a järnvägsarbetare, a railway worker. The first few years of his career are a mystery, as he was moving around Stockholm, a large and challenging city to research.

1864 finds Edward moving away from the city to Södertälje, marrying and becoming a father. His occupation in the church records hints at the job he was doing for the railroad: mureriarbetare, a bricklayer. For the next 10 years, Edward moved from town to town as a bricklayer. Many of the railway stations were built of brick. Edward must have been building those railway stations as the lines were extended.

From 1875 to 1881, Edward had the occupation of banvakt, a line worker. A 1906 book describes the responsibilities of a banvakt to include managing signals and switches and walking part of the line to ensure that no obstacle to the safe passage of the train was found. He would also supervise the telegraph lines along the track and provide assistance in case of accident.

In 1881, at the age of 41, Edward received a promotion. He became a banmästare, an overseer of a railway line. He was a supervisor of the banvakt workers. His overall responsibilities included the safety of the train and periodic inspections.

The only photo I have of Eric Edward Fors shows him in his banmästare uniform with his wife and three youngest children. Gerda was born in 1879, so the photo was taken in the early 1880s.

Eric Edward Fors with wife Matilda Wilhelmina Wiberg
and children Arvid Edward, Eric Anton, Gerda Matilda

Edward and his family lived in the 1880s in the town of Boxholm, Östergötland. The old railroad station is still standing today, though it is not in use for that purpose. There is no record that Edward helped build it, but it is an excellent example of the many stations that were built using the same design.

The family may have lived in the railroad station or in a home nearby. They were recorded as living at Järnvägstation (railway station), which is also the name of the street that runs next to the old station. My cousin, Claes Nyström, visited Boxholm a couple of years ago and generously took photos of the old station for me. Behind the station you can see the tracks, a railway car and the lines that power the electric trains today.

Old Boxholm Railway Station, Östergötland, 2015
Courtesy Claes Nyström

Old Boxholm Railway Station, Östergötland, 2015
Courtesy Claes Nyström

Edward held the job of banmästare for 23 years, retiring in 1904, at the age of 64. He and his family moved from Boxholm to Huddinge, near Stockholm, in 1889. His final posting was returning south to Okna Järnvägstation near Kullerstad in 1896. In Okna they lived at the Banmästerebostad (Banmästere Residence). Edward had come a long way from his start as a järnvägsarbetare.

Edward and his wife, Matilda, moved back to the area southwest of Stockholm where they had lived early in their lives. Matilda died in 1922 in Frustuna, Södermanland. Edward died in 1927, also in Frustuna.

This map shows in red the places where Edward served as banmästare. The blue markers show all the other towns where he lived throughout his long career following the railway lines. Click on the map to see a live version.

The Railroad Career of Eric Edward Fors (1840-1927)

Taking the time to follow Edward down the railroad line also revealed the answer to a long-held mystery. That, dear cousins, is a tale for another day.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Aaron Lake: Starting a New Year of 52 Ancestors

Amy Johnson Crow has started a new challenge in 2018 for researchers to share 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. This year she's giving prompts, the first of which is simply one word: Start.

Aaron Lake (ca 1770 - ca 1828) seems like a good candidate to start off 2018. I've written about his presumed descendants throughout 2017, but starting on Aaron himself is a challenge. Rather than writing one long post with everything I know about him, I'll share smaller pieces.

We know little about Aaron Lake. He appears on the 1820 census of Breckinridge County, Kentucky. He seems to also be listed on the 1820 census of Perry County, Indiana, right across the Ohio River. We do know his daughter married in Breckinridge County in 1813. I spent several hours digging in the Breckinridge and Perry County courthouses in 2016 and 2017 with limited results.

Aaron did not own land in these two counties, but he did sign a mortgage in Breckinridge County in 1825. It raises more questions than it answers. It does help locate Aaron within the county, as he must have lived near Micajah Dowell. An image of this mortgage is at the end of this post.

Breckinridge County, Kentucky, Deed Book G Page 235
Know all men by these presents that I Aaron Lake of the County of Breckenridge and State of Kentucky for and in consideration of the sum of $51.66 do hereby sell transfer and make over to Micajah Dowell the following described property to wit about six acres of corn now growing on the place I cultivated this year, one pided [pied] cow two heifers, one a pided and the other a Dun heifer, one bed and furniture. Two pots and a Dutch oven, two water buckets a flax hackle, an axe two Iron wedges and a pair of Hairus [harrows?] -- to be the sole and exclusive property of the said Micajah Dowel, But with this express condition. That whereas some time since said Dowel became my security for the payment of several Debts to wit one to Ben Pate, one to Pullan and another to Churchill, which he was compelled to pay in all amounting to the sum of $51.66. Now it is understood that if I should at any time within six months repay to the said Dowel the said sum of $51.66 with interest thereon from this date then the above sale and transfer to be entirely void and of no effect. and  the property hereby transfered to return to and revest in me. This being intended only to secure the said Dowel in the payment of said money and to have the operation of a Mortgage only. and it is the express understanding that the said property is to remain in my possession until the time herein limited for the payment of the money expires. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 22nd day of July 1825.
Aaron Lake [seal]
Kentucky Breckenridge County Sct?
Clerks office July 25th 1825
The within Deed of Mortgage from Aaron Lake to Micajah Dowel was this day before me in my office duly acknowledged by the said Aaron Lake to be his act and deed for the purposes therein. and thereupon the same is admitted to record
Att Samuel C Jenings Deputy Clk
Breckenridge County Court

The county archivist was able to show me where Micajah Dowell had lived. In 1825, he had been taxed on some 400 acres of land in the Dorridge (Dorretts) Creek watershed. The area she identified is northeast of Hardinsburg, where Meadows Creek flows into Dorridge Creek.

Some questions come to my mind. What was the relationship between Aaron Lake and Micajah Dowell? Was Aaron perhaps a tenant farmer or sharecropper on Micajah's land? Was there a family relationship? Who were the men to whom Aaron owed money and what were his business dealings with them? There are new opportunities for researching these men who were part of Aaron's FAN club: his family, associates and neighbors.

For my cousins' files, here is the mortgage image.