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 http://www.srh.noaa.gov/mfl/newpage/Okeechobee.htm.,
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=358954


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
JOHN EDWARD WINNIE
     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.