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.