Monday, July 16, 2018

The Bugler: 52 Ancestors

When you think of a military bugler, what do you hear and see in your imagination? Perhaps it's the mournful sound of Taps at a military funeral. Maybe you see the Cavalry galloping across the landscape to the notes of Charge. Or maybe you hear the perky notes of Reveille mingling with the groans of weary soldiers rising from their beds.

As an Army bugler in 1846, my third great-grandfather had to learn to play dozens of signal tunes, though Taps wasn't composed until after his death. However, you won't find his name on any lists of Arkansas soldiers -- at least not his correct name. The name of Josiah Allee, Bugler, Company I, Arkansas Mounted Volunteers, has been incorrectly written and/or misread in most records.

Captain William K Inglish of the same regiment signed an affidavit on May 4, 1850, stating:
... that he is the identical Wm K Inglish who was Captain of Company "I" in the Regiment of Arkansas Mounted Volunteers commanded by the late Colonel A. Yell afterwards by Col. John S. Roane, that in said Company "I" there was no such person as Josiah, also Joseph Allen, and if such name is entered on the muster rolls, the same is erroneous and instead thereof, the name of Josiah Allee should be inserted...
Josiah was born about 1821. His parents are believed to be Merrill Allee and his wife, Esther or Easter. He had several siblings, including an older brother, Abraham, born about 1818. The family lived and farmed in Lawrence County, Alabama. By 1840 they had moved to Davis Township in then Saline County, Arkansas. Today that land is in the southern part of Grant County. The Allee family had a tannery, as well as farming.  The family was musical, with nephews of Josiah in later years remembered for their musical talents.

Abraham was also a country lawyer, so it's likely that Josiah likewise had some education and was able to read and write. How Josiah met his wife is a mystery, as she lived some 30 miles away, near Benton. They may have met through family connections or Josiah might have hired himself out. Regardless of how they met, on December 29, 1842, Josiah, age 21, married Mary Jane Pelton, age 15.

Mary Jane gave birth to their only child, Andrew Lafayette Allee, on August 24, 1844. By the spring of 1846, Mary Jane was sick and being visited by a doctor. Also in the spring of 1846, on May 13, 1846, the United States declared war on Mexico. The call went out for volunteers to serve for one year. Josiah volunteered, joining on July 1st as a private and stating his age as 24. Did he need the money to pay doctor bills?

The volunteers from Saline County traveled first to Washington, Arkansas, where they were formally mustered into service. Josiah was appointed as a Bugler on July 25, replacing Miles Haley, whose rank was changed from Bugler to Private.

The Arkansas regiments marched to San Antonio, Texas, where they arrived on August 28. They joined the forces under the command of General John E. Wool and spent the rest of August and most of September drilling.

The topographical engineers, led by Captain George W Hughes, left San Antonio for Mexico on September 23, a few days ahead of the main body of the Army. General Wool and his forces followed. Captain Hughes reported that the whole army crossed the Rio Grande on [by] October 12, 1846.

Here I must diverge from other articles on the internet. Captain Hughes and his engineers documented latitude and longitude for the area of the crossing, as well as distances between locations and dates of travel. Other internet articles will state the location of crossing differently.

The location of the town nearest the river crossing was known to Captain Hughes as Presidio del Rio Grande. That name no longer is in use, but has led to bad assumptions. The closest readings reported by the engineers were made four miles from the town and are 28°20'48.5"N 100°31'12"W. The location was also documented as being about 25 miles from Nava, which is slightly northwest of that location. Today the town near the river crossing is known as Guerrero, in the Mexican state of Coahuila.

The true location of  Presidio del Rio Grande is important to my family. Captain Inglish's affidavit continues with the sad tale:
...The said Josiah Allee died at Rio Grande Crossing, or Presidio, on or about the 18th day of October 1846.

Josiah had served less than four months and did not die in any documented battle. In the early part of the war, illness was a bigger threat to the soldiers than battle, but his cause of death was not included in his service file. No doubt he was buried near where he fell, somewhere near the town of Guerrero.

Josiah's wife had also died during 1846, leaving their son an orphan. Josiah's brother, Abraham Allee, fought the Army to obtain an orphan's pension for Josiah's young son. That fight created a wealth of documentation about Josiah, including proving the correct name of this Bugler who served his country.

Source list:
  • Traas, Adrian George. From the Golden Gate to Mexico City: the U.S. Army Topographical Engineers in the Mexican War, 1846-1848. Office of History, Corps of Engineers and Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1993.
  • Allen, Desmond Walls. Arkansas’ Mexican War Soldiers. Conway, AR: Arkansas Research, 1988.
  • Book Committee (Plano, Tex.). 1985. Plano, Texas: The Early Years. Wolfe City, Texas: Henington Pub. Co. 
  • Service File of Josiah Allee [Allen]
  • Service File of Miles Haley
  • Pension File of Josiah Allee
  • Marriage records of Saline County, Arkansas
  • 1820 census, Lawrence County, Alabama Territory
  • 1830 census, Lawrence County, Alabama 
  • 1840 census, Saline County, Arkansas
  • 1850 census, Saline County, Arkansas
  • Land records of Saline County, Arkansas
  • Land records of Lawrence County, Alabama  
  • Tax rolls of Saline County, Arkansas
  • Probate of Josiah Allee, Saline County, Arkansas
  • Probate of Samuel Pelton, Saline County, Arkansas
  • Wikipedia article: Taps
  • Google Maps 
  • Family stories about Abraham Allee

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Much Too Young: 52 Ancestors

She was married at fifteen, a mother by 17 and dead by 19. Mary Jane Pelton Allee, my third-great-grandmother, was on this earth for too short a time.

She was born about 1827 to Samuel Pelton and Martha Adams Pelton, who were living near Little Rock, Arkansas. They had lived in Cadron at the time of their 1824 marriage and by 1834 had moved south to Saline Township, near Benton, in Saline County. The Pelton family farmed the land and  attended the Spring Creek (Benton) Baptist Church. No doubt Mary Jane was a typical farm girl of the time.

On December 29, 1842, Mary Jane Pelton, age fifteen, married Josiah Alley [Allee], age 21. Their son, Andrew Lafayette Allee, was born on August 24, 1844. The local doctor last visited her in the spring of 1846, based on a bill in the probate file of Josiah Allee, who died in the Mexican-American War in late 1846.

The marriage record in Saline County marriage book A, page 53, is the only official document known to exist for Mary Jane. Her cause of death, date of death and place of burial are all unknown.

This girl, who lived too short a life, today has dozens of living descendants, her lasting legacy.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Hunting Accident: 52 Ancestors

Was it really possible for a man to accidentally shoot himself in the face with a muzzle-loading rifle? Not knowing much about guns, I sat down with a co-worker who is a competitive shooter. He explained how the rifles popular during the Civil War were loaded with gunpowder, bullets, a ramrod and a percussion cap. He also felt it was highly possible that such a rifle could misfire.

The discussion reminded me of a 19th century pistol that I found in my grandmother's dresser. The local pawnshop owner was able to date it and warned that it would be dangerous to actually fire. It might hurt or kill the shooter.

So, yes, it does seem possible that a man could shoot himself in the face accidentally with a muzzle-loading rifle. That was the fate of my great-grandfather's older brother.

Young Joseph McFarlane, Jr., went out hunting alone in 1882 and was found dead, with a rifle on one side of his body and the ramrod on the other side, indicating he was loading the weapon when it fired. I don't know the age of the rifle, but it was probably older than Joseph's 24 years and may have been fouled from years of use.

His father had immigrated to Wisconsin from Scotland in 1849. He probably didn't bring a rifle with him on board ship. He purchased his farm on the Wisconsin frontier in the next ten years and would have needed a rifle for protection and hunting. He likely purchased his rifle sometime during the 1850's. Being farmers, I doubt the family would have purchased another rifle, unless one of the boys saved up to buy his own gun.

Joseph McFarlane's death was certainly a tragedy for the family, as he left behind only his 18-year-old brother to farm with their aged parents. The Sparta Herald published the following account on December 26, 1882.

Tragedy in Jefferson [Township]

The tragic death of young Joseph McFarland, of Jefferson, in this county, is a forcible instance of the danger attending the carless [sic] use of fire-arms. He started out hunting, the 17th inst., and that was the last seen of him alive. His dead body was found in the woods next day, his face and head blown to pieces with the charge, which seemed to have entered his mouth, the gun lying at his right hand, and the ramrod on the other. The inquest jury determined that the shooting was accidental, as no cause could be assigned for suicide, and the deceased was a quiet, steady young man, not likely to be impelled to self-destruction. He was the only support of his parents, to whom the event must be a terrible blow.

An earlier, shorter news item stated on December 23:
... from the positions the coroner's jury rendered a verdict of accidental shooting.

Joseph had not married and left no known issue. His place of burial is not known. Following is a copy of the longer news article that reported on this tragic death in my family.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Father's Gift: 52 Ancestors

In this tribute to Father's Day, here is a scrapbook memory of my father. Dad was a linguist and musician. Our relationship was strained, so it's difficult to remember him in the same way as my mother (sorry, Dad).

Quick drop template and elements from The Blues, May 2015, ClubScrap

For his memorial service, I focused on his musical gifts.
My relationship with Dad was complicated. We rarely agreed about anything, but one thing we did agree on is that music is an essential part of life. I thought his preference for hymns was limiting and he thought my preference for bubble-gum rock was silly. We were both right.

I recently heard about a study that found the music we listened to as teens is the basis for our life-long musical preferences. Dad, growing up in Christian boarding schools and attending Bible College, was immersed in hymns. He loved those hymns and didn’t like at all the recent movement of churches away from hymns to praise music. He loved to sing and also enjoyed writing his own arrangements for choir.

Dad started playing hymns on the harmonica as a child and he learned trombone and keyboard instruments as he got older. As a young adult, he played in a brass trio with his brothers. He played his accordion or piano for family and church. One memory he shared was of taking pipe organ lessons while in college. He must have been thrilled to have the opportunity to fill that church with the powerful sound of his favorite hymns.

Dad felt that hymns sung in English were much less meaningful to [non-English speakers] than if the words were in [their native language]. He added to his projects translating and updating existing translations of hymns, resulting in an updated publication of a [native language] hymnbook. I believe the hymnbook was second in his heart only to the [native language] New Testament, as it was a way to share his beloved hymns with the [native] people.

Recently, as I worked with my tile saw, I thought about the gifts that my Dad gave me. One of those gifts was knowing my way around tools. When Dad needed an assistant, one of the kids would help. I'm grateful that he helped me be more prepared to hang curtain rods and do minor home maintenance.

Dad gave me the gift of planning and list making, though certainly not intentionally. He had what was probably ADD and so had great trouble with planning the sequence of everyday tasks. I learned young to plan whenever he and I were doing something without Mom. To this day I make lists when I feel scattered.

He gave me the gift of maps and geography. Since Mom was blind and Dad drove, he needed a navigator. He taught us how to read maps and guide him on family trips. He absolutely would have hated Waze. He wanted to see and plan his route in advance.

He also taught me to drive a stick-shift. That was definitely a labor of love! Thank you, Dad!

He gave me Wisconsin. Dad tended to be serious, but occasionally the whimsical came out. By the summer before I entered high school, we had traveled in or through about 20 states and much of Mexico. Wisconsin was not one of those states. While staying in Chicago that summer, we visited a cousin who lived north of the city, not far from the Wisconsin state line. At the end of the evening, Dad agreed to drive over that state line. Before heading back to the city, he let us out of the car and had us touch the ground. We could now add Wisconsin to our travel tally.

Dad gave me the gift of family history. He loved to tell the story of taking an ocean voyage in the days following the Pearl Harbor attack. He was a child, but vividly remembered that risky voyage. Though he was an orphan, he also shared what he knew about his family of aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings. His curiosity and knowledge are part of the foundation of my family history adventure.

As I ponder this first Father's Day without Dad, I know he gave me many gifts.

I am not sharing personal and identifying details about my father at this time. I am still keeping a certain level of privacy for my parents, though both have passed.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Mother's Gift: 52 Ancestors

In the final weeks of her life, my mother shared a special disappointment in our last deep mother-daughter talk. In the previous five years she had spent most of her time in bed, with her brain ravaged by a series of strokes. The strokes had damaged her memory and her verbal capacity and changed her personality. Mom told me how sad she was that her strokes had deprived her of the joy of singing. They had destroyed her perfect pitch and she could no longer carry a tune. She felt that was her biggest loss.

In this late tribute to Mother's Day (May was a bad month for my family), here is a scrapbook memory of my mother. She was partially sighted -- legally blind. One of her eyes was a glass eye, so her eyes don't track together for the camera. She was always game for photos, though. 

Quick drop template and elements from The Blues, May 2015, ClubScrap

For her memorial service, I focused on the gifts she gave as a mother.
... Today I'd like to remember Mom through the unique gifts she gave me: gifts that arose from her own interests and passions, gifts given with a full measure of her love, gifts that are uniquely from Molly.

My Mother gave me the empowering gift of words. Mom was a writer and an avid reader. I remember how the words of Talking Books filled our house from the time she woke up until the time she went to sleep. She listened to novels and biographies, science fiction and news magazines. By the time I started school, I was privileged to have heard the words of authors such as Pearl Buck and Isaac Asimov. Talking Books were Mom's ticket to the universe, and her family was fortunate to share her journeys.

Mom also read books and magazines by holding the page close to her face and using a magnifying glass. Her example inspired me and I asked at about age four to learn to read. Mom acquired a reading primer and she patiently taught me the alphabet and phonics. With her limited vision, it must have been very hard for her to share a book with me — a squirming child, yet she spent the time and effort to give me a strong start.

Mom's old manual typewriter stood always at the ready for writing letters and articles. As a child, I marveled at how fast she could type, although she could not see the keys. She had learned to touch type as a young child, when she first started school at the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind. In turn, when my hands grew large enough to type, she patiently taught me touch typing, though I was a most reluctant pupil.

Mom also taught me writing skills by example and instruction. She was on the writing staff of her high school newsletter and continued to write for newspapers and newsletters throughout her life. When she wrote, she asked us to review what she had written. Mom used those times as a teaching tool, to discuss the structure of sentence and story.

She taught me to love words, to acquire a broad vocabulary, and to use words correctly. She taught that words have the power to inform, to entertain and to provide escape.

My Mother gave me the gift of inquisitiveness. I remember going on a family outing so Mom could research an article on the local reservoir. As I played at the water's edge, she talked about finding the answers to the "W" questions: who, when, why, where, what and how. She used those questions throughout her life, not only as a writer, but also in her personal life to draw people out and expand her world. She made sure I knew the right questions to ask.

My Mother gave me the gift of self-sufficiency. She was a child of the Great Depression and came to young womanhood during World War II. She watched her Mother and other women struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. She knew true hardship. I was a child of the 50s and 60s who idolized the TV fantasy of June Cleaver. Mom lectured me many times on my foolish attitude. She knew from experience how important it is for each adult to be able to support themselves and a family. She encouraged me to study, to go to college, to learn a skill, to establish a career, and to know that marriage and family are an option, but not the only option.

My Mother gave me the gift of music. When the Talking Books weren't playing, music filled our home. At nap time and bedtime she played classical recordings. On Sunday mornings, as we got ready for church, she played religious music. Sometimes she played old American folk songs and patriotic songs. She made sure that her children were exposed to fine music, as well as to the music that is our nation's heritage.

Mom had a beautiful voice: a clear soprano with a wide range. She claimed to have perfect pitch. She played piano and had at one time experimented with Hawaiian guitar. She wanted her children to be musicians, also. I must have been quite a challenge to her, since my musical abilities are merely adequate. Yet she patiently taught me basic piano skills and how to read music. She gave me her old guitar and helped me restring it as a Western guitar. Since my pitch is so poor, I struggled to tune it, so Mom taught me how to tune by resonance, rather than frequency.

My worst musical challenge was when my voice deepened and I could no longer sing the melody. I despaired of ever being able to harmonize. Mom used her wonderful talent to rescue me. We played records and sang with the organ for many hours and many weeks. She patiently guided me along the alto part. In church, she would sit next to me and would guide me by singing the alto part an octave higher, her clear, pure soprano soaring over the other voices.

When she was a senior in high school, she wrote a poem for her school newsletter that reflected her love of music. I'd like to share with you the last verse of that poem:

School is what you make it. / Life is what you do. / Music adds a richness / All your long life through.

I am not sharing personal details at this time, as I am still keeping a certain level of privacy for my parents, though both have passed.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

He Bought the Farm: 52 Ancestors

In the previous post, land records positively identified the eight children of an Ohio farmer. However, the parents of the farmer, Lazarus Maddox, are not as easy to identify. A male Maddox descendant of Lazarus has graciously agreed to take a Y-DNA test, which should help identify his family. One of the puzzles for his descendants is whether there is a meaning to the Pickaway County farm that Lazarus bought.

Lazarus Maddox was born about 1787, probably in Kentucky. The first known record for him in Ohio was his service in the War of 1812, along with men from Pickaway County and Ross County, under the command Captain Robert Bradshaw. Some of the  names of his fellow soldiers are names that appear in other records associated with the Maddox family. Familiar names include Hayes, Knoles, Alkire, Baker, Webb, Wilson, Boggs, Burbridge and McAlister.

Marriage book 1, page 82, shows that on November 3, 1816, Elizabeth Greaton married Lazarus Maddox. The marriage was celebrated by Joseph Hays, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Elizabeth's father, David Greaton, gave consent and Lazarus signed an affidavit that he was over 21. Interestingly, the legal paperwork was dated November 5, 1816. It is possible that the minister reported the wrong date to the county clerk.

Starting in 1822, Lazarus appears on the Pickaway County tax rolls, paying tax on land. But the farm of interest didn't exist yet.

In 1823, Lazarus joined a survey crew, acting as a chain carrier for survey 12346. In the DAR abstract of surveys, it is the only place his name appears. The survey was being done for a man named John L. Wilson.

Generally the chain carriers were young men who happened to live in the area. Lazarus was in his mid-30s. Why would he join the crew? In 1821, Lazarus had been sued for a debt of $51. He swore to the court that he had no money and no way to get any. Did he take the work of the chain carrier just to earn some cash?

In 1841, Lazarus bought that exact farm from John Wilson. Why that farm? What is the connection? Did he just like the land after he worked on the survey, or is there a family connection?

In 1830, Lazarus had words with a neighbor, Timothy Wale, who had set fire to Lazarus' stable. There is a court case about the words spoken, but not one about the destroyed stable. I wonder what they argued about!

Lazarus and Elizabeth had eight children. Their exact birth order is not fully known. The children were:
  • Clarissa (1818-1903, married Knoles)
  • John
  • William (about 1820-1869, my line)
  • Eliza Ellen (1820s-1840s, married Long)
  • David (1826-1907)
  • Joseph
  • Mary (1834-1907, married Neff)
  • Susannah (1837-1917, married Alkire)

Lazarus died in March, 1850, of dyspepsia (indigestion). The information given to the census taker was that he was 63 years of age at death and had been born in Kentucky. As he did not provide the information, it may not be correct. His burial location is unknown, but may have been at the nearby Methodist Church cemetery or on the Hayes farm where his grandson was buried. If there was a marker, none is found today.

And so ends the story of a Pickaway County, Ohio farmer, until the day that DNA adds another chapter.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Elusive Deed

You're thinking "Not land records again!"

Yes, land records!

If you have ancestors who were land owners, the land records are an important resource. However, they are not always simple. Metes and bounds deeds continue to challenge me. It took me twelve years to find one elusive deed.

You don't want to make the same mistakes I did, right?

First, here are 14 quick tips and then I'll take you through a long tale of my steps and my errors.
  1. Deeds can be wrong.
  2. Indexes can be wrong.
  3. The in-book index and the master index book may not have the same information.
  4. Use the tract index if one exists. 
  5. Read every single deed for the property and time frame.
  6. Get photocopies of all pertinent deeds, not notes or abstracts or transcripts. Consider photocopies of the indexes if cost permits.
  7. Know every number and name that might identify the property: patent, warrant, survey, township, range, section, addition, subdivision, lot, tax ID.
  8. Find a copy of the original recorded survey where possible, not an abstract.  
  9. The recorder/register office may have other resources. Ask for a tour.
  10. Collect maps, both those relevant to the time being searched and a current map from County Engineering or the office that is mapping the land.
  11. Court cases can trigger deeds. If you find one, look for a copy of the court case.
  12. The tax assessor knows more than you think.
  13. The local genealogical society may hold or know of special resources. Ask for advice.
  14. Early census records can lead to invalid assumptions.

The Twelve Year Quest

My goal was to identify all the children of an old farmer who died just before the 1850 census. The probate did not list the heirs and did not mention disposition of the land. I was working from brief notes jotted by a distant cousin.

First, did she even have the right family? My ancestor (the murder victim) had sold some land, but was it his father's land? Neither man was listed in the grantee index as buying the land in question. After reviewing the deeds for the land the old farmer purchased, I discovered the grantee index was wrong. It listed the 90 acres that he purchased in 1841 with a number that matched not one single thing that was in the deed. If I had not looked at each deed, and had just looked at the index, I would not have seen the connection. I wish my cousin had provided copies or even a note about the index error. I also didn't understand why the maps and deeds had different numbers. I wouldn't learn that for several years.

Working from her notes, I quickly found where each of seven children had sold a one-eighth undivided part of the land within the family. Some of them sold part of 90 acres while others sold part of 50 acres or part of 55 acres. How much land did the old farmer really hold at his death? He had sold 13.75 acres and 38.5 acres from the same tract of land. To this day I don't know the answer, but the deeds with 90 acres were definitely in error.

In 1860, the sibling who owned it sold his 7/8 undivided part of the farm outside the family. The eighth sibling was still unidentified. I began to follow the land as it passed from owner to owner. In 1869, 3/4 of an acre was set aside for a school lot. I failed to read the deeds for the school lot. This was another error.

One of the deeds made no sense. After being lost to foreclosure in 1863, the 7/8 part of the land was auctioned. Yet in 1881, the owner's widow signed a quit claim and dower release for the 7/8 part in exchange for a sum of cash. Had she not lost her rights in the foreclosure? Apparently there was a need to create a clean title through a quit claim.

Unfortunately, this quit claim led me astray. I presumed the missing 1/8 was still missing in 1881. It wasn't. But it took several more years and a couple more courthouse visits to find the missing piece.

Fast forward a few years to year eleven of the search. Technology had advanced and the genealogical society had moved. The society had been in cramped quarters and accessing much of the collection had been a problem. However, I delayed checking out the new larger facility and talking to the staff. This was another error.

Based on the census records from 1820 to 1840, I had concluded that the eighth child was a daughter, born 1820-1825 and married after the 1840 census. I had listed all the young women of the surname who had married between 1840 and 1850. I returned to the recorder's office and checked the deed index and deeds using the husbands' surnames. No luck. The conclusion, based on the 1840 census, was wrong.

Next I decided to start with the present and work the deeds backwards in time. Who owned the property now? The recorder didn't know, so sent me to the tax office. What was the tax ID? I had no clue, so the tax office sent me to engineering to get the parcel number from the current maps.

Engineering was an amazing resource. Hanging on racks around the office were many large maps of the county. The staffer asked for the survey number. I had no clue, as all the early deeds had been written based on the military warrant number. My copy of a D.A.R. survey abstract had the warrant number, but not the survey number. I had never looked for the original survey. That was another error.

She pulled out a copy of a ledger that cross-indexed the surveys and warrants. I was stunned when I saw the survey number matched the number on the landowner maps. Why had I never seen that cross-reference index? She told me where in the recorder's office I could find copies of the original survey book and of the cross-reference ledger. These books were stored above my eye-level and I didn't know they were there! Had I ever had a tour of the recorder's office? I should have asked.

Having found the survey number, she pulled out a lovely color-coded map of the area that included the property. She made me a color copy, zoomed in on the farm. Since she had no way to charge for the copies, she just gave me the copy!

Survey 12346 (green boundary), Tax Parcel 376-01, Part of Military Warrant 6498. Map as of 2014.

With map in hand, it was back to the tax office. They gave me not only the name of the current owner, but also the deed book and page number where the owner's purchase had been recorded.

The newer deeds each listed the previous deed, so it was fairly quick to follow the deeds back to 1881. The land was being transferred as a whole parcel, so the missing 1/8 had been sold to an owner at some point. Why couldn't I find it?

I went through the survey book and bought copies of each survey of interest. I also wrote down warrant to survey cross-references. Notice that, in the survey, the number 12346 is written inside the plat diagram. When D.A.R. abstracted the written information, they missed documenting the survey number, which is vital information.

Survey 12456 for Military Warrant 6498, in 1823

In the final hours of my visit to the county, I went to see the new genealogical society facility. It was now a wonderful research library. The volunteers had indexed many of the holdings. The staffer on duty took me on a tour and showed me the storage area where the volunteers were cataloging and indexing old court records, which was a collection in which I was interested. But that would be another visit. In the meantime, I purchased, on CD, an index to the marriage consents and affidavits. I also purchased some printed indexes.

When I returned home, I reviewed my purchases. There, in the marriage consents index, I found the answer. The missing daughter had married in 1839 and her father, the old farmer, had signed a consent. I should have included earlier marriages in my search. I sent off for a copy of the consent for my files. If I had found that consent during the visit, I could have concluded the deed search that trip.

A year later, in year twelve of the search, I returned to the county. First stop was the recorder's office. With the new clue, I found a handful of deeds. But there was still a missing link. Why couldn't I find it?

There were two more road blocks to remove. One deed was indexed incorrectly. It covered two parcels of land and only one of the parcels was in the index -- the other parcel. And lastly, the consolidation of the land into one owner was only understood by reading a court case.

The eighth daughter had died, leaving two children. In the sale of the school lot to the Board of Education, those two children had been two of the grantors, each owning a 1/16 part. Had I read that deed years ago, the puzzle would have been solved.

Although I had the genealogical answer, I wanted to understand how the land was consolidated. The answer was in the court cases held by and indexed by the genealogical society.

The son had a guardianship that referred to him as an imbecile. In 1874, his father petitioned the court to partition the land. This may have been the best legal way to deal with the 1/16 fractional ownership by his handicapped son. The daughter had already sold her 1/16 to her father. The appraisers determined that the partition could not be done without damage to the property and so the entirety of the land was ordered sold at auction. The 7/8 owner bought the entire parcel at the sheriff's sale. Reading the deed alone didn't clarify the ownership. In fact, it made no sense to me. Only by a combination of the court case and the deed could I understand the puzzling transaction.

Along the way I collected some landowner maps that I share here for cousins, along with my own index of the transactions. I am also happy to share scans of the deeds and the court case with any cousin who asks.




Click on image below to see a larger version.

Deed Index for part of Military Warrant 6498, Pickaway County, Ohio, 1841-1881

Please use the contact form to send me a message. Include your email address to get a copy of the index in Excel format and copies of deeds and court records in a pdf format.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

After the Flood: 52 Ancestors

In 1928, one of the deadliest hurricanes in American history devastated the area around Lake Okeechobee, Florida. Hundreds of people died from the storm surge that flooded the farms south and north of the lake. One of the results of the disaster was the construction of flood control channels, gates and levees around the lake. Nearly ten years later, a young man lost his life when he drowned at the Chosen Locks near Belle Glade, near the southern tip of the lake. Without the flood control changes, would that family tragedy have occurred?

NOAA has provided a map of the devastated area that can be found at Wikipedia (the county lines on the east side of the lake are not drawn correctly). The areas circled by the blue lines were flooded by the storm surge.

By NOAA - From,
Public Domain,

I write often about the Lake family and the Maddox family, but rarely both families, as with today's story from the Tyner family of Florida.

Dottie May Maddox, born in Kansas on August 5, 1881, was the second child of Elizabeth Lake and Joseph Allen Maddox. Dottie married John Newton Tyner on February 9, 1899, in Garfield County, Oklahoma. The Tyners farmed in both Oklahoma and Florida throughout their marriage. They had ten children, the seventh being Ruth Elizabeth Tyner, born October 22, 1914 near Goltry, Oklahoma.

Dottie May Maddox and John Newton Tyner with seven children, about 1915

Because the family split their time between Florida and Oklahoma, records for the family members can be found in both states, as well as Kansas and Arkansas. However, Florida seemed to be preferred by the children when it came time to marry and raise families. Ruth was certainly no exception.

On May 2, 1931, Ruth Tyner married John Edward Winne in West Palm Beach. On December 12, 1933, just a few days after the birth of their second child, Ruth died. Young John, only 20, was left with two young children. Five years later, the children were orphaned when John drowned in Lake Okeechobee. The children were raised by their widowed grandmother, Dottie Maddox Tyner.

Newspapers tell the story of the tragedy that took John Winne's life.

Source Unknown, Clipping in possession of cousin Lori N.
FATHER SEES SON DROWN IN CANAL,  Belle Glade Man Falls From Lock at Chosen
     Belle Glade, FLA, Jan. 28--John Edward Winnie [sic], 25, lost his life late today when he fell from the Chosen locks after opening the flood gates.  Ross Winnie, his father, was near the scene and dragged his son from the water.
     Winnie was born in Fort Lauderdale and has spent most of his life in or near Belle Glade.  His wife died four [sic] years ago.  He is survived by a daughter, Gertrude, 6, and a son, Milton [sic] 4; also his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ross Winnie, two sisters, Miss Dorthea Winnie and Miss Mary Winnie and three brothers, Ross, Jr., Herman, and Milton.
    The Everglades Funeral Home, Pahokee, Fla., is in charge and burial will be at the Mayaca Cemetery Sunday.

Palm Beach Post, 30 January 1938, page 2
     PAHOKEE--Funeral services for John Edward Winnie [sic], 25, of Chosen, who drowned at 4:30 o'clock Friday afternoon after falling from the flood gate at the mouth of the Hillsborough Canal, will be held this afternoon at 2 o'clock at the Everglades Funeral Home.  The Rev. J. O. Jameson of the Methodist Church in Belle Glade, will officiate.  Burial will be at the Port Mayaca Cemetery.
     He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ross W. Winnie, a prominent Everglades family of Chosen, who survive him.  Other survivors include his children, Fred and Gertrude, of Chosen; two brothers, Wilton Winnie, Pensacola and H. C. Winnie, Chosen; and two sisters, Mary and Dorothy Winnie, Chosen.
     According to attaches of the Everglades Funeral Home here, upon falling he apparently was knocked unconscious when his head hit an obstruction.
(Remainder omitted)

Ruth and John were buried together in the Port Mayaca Cemetery, a site where many victims of the 1928 hurricane were also laid to rest.

Ironically, in another water-related tragedy for the Winne family, son Frederick Wilton Winne drowned in 1970, in the St. Johns River near Jacksonville, Florida. He was only 36 years old.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Death and Taxes: 52 Ancestors

Don't you hate filing your taxes? Our 19th century ancestors paid taxes, too, but they didn't have to fill out a dozen forms. Every time and place had different requirements. Kentucky is one of the states with extremely useful tax records. The Family Search wiki on Kentucky tax records says that the records are very complete for the pre-1850 period and mentions some of the early state tax laws.

The extensive Breckinridge County tax rolls reveal a little about Aaron Lake's life and even provide a clue to his death. In some years, he was not taxed as being a male over 21. Those may be years he evaded the tax assessor or years that he lived in Indiana. He was taxed on land only once. Since there are no deeds, it was probably leased land. He owned one horse for awhile, but not every year. He must have used another type of animal to plow the land he farmed.

Aaron did not appear in the tax rolls for 1809 and earlier. This is consistent with Israel Lake being born in Pennsylvania about 1808 to 1809. Unfortunately there is no 1810 list for Breckinridge County and Aaron is not found on the 1810 census at all. Aaron is first listed on the tax rolls in 1811.

Aaron's sons began to appear on the rolls as they reach the age of 21. Aaron Lake, Senior, is listed in 1827 for the last time. In 1828, only one Aaron is listed, most likely Aaron Lake, Junior.

The death date for Aaron Lake, Senior, can be inferred as 1827-1828. That date can be analyzed along with the assertion of Lindsey Lake that he came to Morgan County, Illinois, in 1828, and was a native of Breckinridge County, born in 1813. Only one Lake family lived in Breckinridge in 1812-1814, so Lindsey must be Aaron's son. Lindsey also named his eldest son Aaron.

It is possible that Aaron Lake, Senior, moved to Illinois, taking his youngest children with him. However, being in his 50s, it is more likely that he died in Breckinridge County, not long after paying his taxes for 1827. Read more about Aaron at this link.

Following is a list of abstracted tax records found for Aaron Lake in Breckinridge County, Kentucky. It is possible to view the microfilm images at the FamilySearch website, where the film number is 7834405.

Breckinridge County, Kentucky, Tax Roll Abstracts for Aaron Lake

1810 - None Available
1811 - Aaron Lake, 1 white male over 21
1812 - Aaron Lake, 1 white male over 21
1813 - Not on roll
1814 - Aaron Lake, 1 white male over 21, 1 horse
1815 - Aaron Lake, 1 white male over 21, 1 horse
1816 - Aaron Lake, 1 white male over 21, 1 horse
1817 - Aaron Lake, 1 white male over 21, 3 horses
Also 50 acres  (leased?) on Dorret's [Dorridge] Creek, chartered and patented by Bibb
1818 - None Available
1819 - Aaron Lake, 1 white male over 21, 1 horse (Jesse Lake is first listed)
1820 - Aaron Lake, 1 white male over 21
1821 - Not on roll ([Harrison] Laird Lake is first listed)
1822 - Not on roll
1823 - Not on roll
1824 - Not on roll (includes Jesse and Harrison)
1825 - Aaron Lake Sr, 1 white male over 21 (includes Jesse and Harrison L)
1826 - Aaron Lake Sr, 1 white male over 21 (includes Jesse, Harrison and Aaron Jr who is first listed)
1827 - Aaron Lake Sr, 1 white male over 21 (includes Jesse, Harrison and Aaron Jr who now has 2 horses)
1828 - One Aaron Lake, probably Jr, as he has 1 horse (includes Jesse and Harrison]
1829 - Not on roll. Hancock County was formed, taking part of Breckinridge County.
1829 - On Hancock County list is one Aaron Lake, probably Jr, as he has 2 horses (includes Jesse and Harrison L]

Breckinridge County, Kentucky, Delinquency Abstracts for Aaron Lake

Each year a list of delinquent taxpayers was presented in court.

Abstracts from the Breckinridge County court books from 1813-1823 were published in Breckinridge County, Kentucky Records, Volume 3. The books were authored by Michael L. Cook and Bettie Anne Cook, and published by Cook Publications, Evansville, Indiana, 1984. The Family History Library call number is 976.9854 V2c v. 3.

Aaron Lake was listed twice in the delinquency records. He was delinquent for 1819 and listed as delinquent and insolvent for 1820. For the 1821 tax year, reported in 1822, [Harrison] Laird Lake was listed as having "removed over the Ohio". In other words, he moved to Indiana. That is a clue to where Aaron and the rest of the family went in the early 1820's.

These tax records provide information that is not available in the census or any other known record. They are a vital part of the proof case for Aaron Lake of Breckinridge County being the father of the Lake men and women who lived in Breckinridge County, Hancock County and in Perry County, Indiana.

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.