Once Upon a Time

Today's story will be a little different. At least one of the parties involved would be very upset to be connected to or named in this story. So out of respect I'll only be taking the names in this genealogy so far down the line and then I'll stop. I'll be telling the story in such a way that even if the persons involved read this story, they would not know it was their story. So forgive me if it's a little vague at times.

Once Upon A Time
Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl...but it's not what you think. They were brother and sister- Rebecca and William HENDRY. They were two of at least eight children born to George and Deborah (BORDEN) HENDRY. The children grew up in Virginia. I'm not going to go into a lot of details about their childhood since my information is conflicting on some points and I don't want to pass on bad information. So their marriages are where their lives begin to diverge and that's where we'll go with this story.

The Girl
In the girl there's a room,
in the room there's a table,
on the table there's a candle
and it won't burn out.

In the woman there's a song,
in the song there is hope,
in the hope, revolution.
~ Sara Groves, In the Girl There's a Room

Rebecca HENDRY grew up and fell in love with Jeremiah Dungan.

Jeremiah Dungan Mill in Tennessee.

Rebecca and Jeremiah were married in Pennsylvania. One of their fourteen known children was a daughter, Sarah DUNGAN. Sarah was born in Tennessee. She married Zebulon SMITH. One of Sarah's and Zebulon's six children was a daughter named Elizabeth SMITH. I can't go any further than this with naming names as I wish to try to maintain some anonymity for the person I mentioned above. So I will tell you that Elizabeth was born in Tennessee and was still there when she married. She and her husband- we'll call him “Steven”- had ten children and one was a daughter named “Ann”. Ann married “Paul” in Indiana and together they had seven children. Paul and Ann's son, “Mark”, was born in Indiana. Mark and his family moved to Missouri. There he met and married “Haley” and they had a daughter- “Lorene”. Lorene was the fourth of eight children. She married “Bill” in Arkansas and their daughter “Katherine” was born there. Katherine married “Tad” in Arkansas and their daughter was “Shelley”. Shelley married “Edward” and their daughter was “Lana”. Lana married “David” and they had a daughter named “Mary”. Remember Mary- we'll come back to her later.

The Boy
In the boy there's a voice,
in the voice there's a calling,
in the call there's a promise
and it won't quiet down.

In the man there's vision,
in the vision is a road,
it's the road to his freedom...
~ Sara Groves, In the Girl There's a Room

Log cabin built by William Hendry, refurbished about 1985

Remember Rebecca HENDRY's brother- William? Let's talk about him now. William HENDRY grew up and fell in love with Elizabeth JONES. They were married in Virginia. Like William's sister Rebecca, William and Elizabeth moved to Tennessee where they had a daughter named Mary Ann HENDRY. Mary Ann was the middle of three children. She married John BEAGLES. John and Mary had a son named Edmund who was born in Tennessee. Edmund was the third of four children born to John and Mary Ann. Edmund BEAGLES married two women and I'm not sure which is Julia's mom so I'm going to call Julia's mom “Malinda” for now. Edmund had quite a few children- numbering in the teens. For this story, I'm only interested in his daughter named Julia Ann. Julia was born in Tennessee. Julia married a man I cannot name for the reasons listed above. We'll call Julia's husband “Johnny”. Julia and Johnny had a son- “David”. David was born in Indiana and he married “Angeline”. The first of David's and Angeline's four children was a son named “Monroe” who was born in Arkansas. Monroe married “Lizzie”. The oldest of Monroe's and Lizzie's sons was “Isaac”. Isaac married “Lillian” and together they had eight children one of whom was “Donald”. Donald married “Irene” and together they had “Ruthie”. Ruthie was married briefly to “Allen”. Together they had two children, one of whom was “Terry”. Remember Terry- we'll be coming back to him.

The Girl + The Boy = A Dream
Tell me what you know
about God and the world and the human soul,
how so much can go wrong
and still there are songs.

In the man is a work
and the work is his future
and the future is his children
and he won't slow down.

In the woman there's a faith,
in the faith there's a prayer,
in the prayer there's a promise...
~ Sara Groves, In the Girl There's a Room

Sometimes when a boy and a girl meet, they fall in love. They marry, they have children. They dream of a long, wonderful life together. Sometimes that long, wonderful life happens- and sometimes it doesn't. Then their children grow up and the cycle starts all over again. Boy + Girl = Dream.

We started with a sibling set- William and Rebecca HENDRY. They started life together as siblings and we watched as their families expanded and traveled until both families ended up in Arkansas but neither family knew anything of the other. Now, we've made our way to another boy and another girl, “Mary” and “Terry”.

Another Boy + Another Girl = Another Dream
In the boy is a dream,
in the dream he is standing,
and he stands without fear
and he won't sit down.

In the girl is a song,
in the song there is hope,
in the hope there's defiance...

Tell me what you know
about God and the world and the human soul,
how so much can be wrong
and still there are songs.

In their hearts and souls
an unstoppable refrain,
Hope sings in defiance.
~ Sara Groves, In the Girl There's a Room

Mary and Terry didn't grow up together. In fact, they didn't know each other until shortly before they married. Mary knew nothing of Terry's family. Likewise, he knew nothing of hers. They fell in love. They got married. They had children. Neither one ever knowing that Mary's 8th great-grandparents were George and Deborah (BORDEN) HENDRY- parents of William and Rebecca; neither one ever knowing that Terry's 8th great-grandparents were the same George and Deborah (BORDEN) HENDRY- parents of William and Rebecca.

The Moral of the Story

Adam and Eve painting by Domenichino

Know your family. Know your family history. Know your mate's family history. And if you're the one yelling, “Gross!” right now- this story IS yours. It happens all the time. Don't think you're exempt. You'll never find anyone to whom you AREN'T related. Besides, if you're a Christian you should have known that we all go back to ONE BOY and ONE GIRL – Adam and Eve- and ONE DREAM- to love and be loved and have a long, wonderful life.

Love the ones your with- they're the ones God gave you. In the lyrics at the beginning of this tale it says, “in the hope [is] revolution” and at the end of the lyrics it says, “Hope sings in defiance.” So sing out in defiance of hate and loneliness. Sing out – and reach out - with love. Love is the revolution we need. Be defiant:


Until next time,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

My Beloved Wife Mary and My Two Daughters

Screen shot of Frederick FOSTER's will.

To support my genealogy habit, I'm a teacher by day. This week was spring break week and it was much needed this year. On Thursday and Friday my husband and I took small day trips to get in some genealogy time. On Friday we went to Mt. Vernon, Missouri, and my mom went with us. We went to research Charles SEELY and his father-in-law, Frederick FOSTER. Both families were living in Lawrence County, Missouri, in the 1850's and 1860's. We enjoyed our time together and were able to find a couple of documents while there. This blog post examines what we found- a marriage certificate for Charles SEELY and Sintha FOSTER and a record of a will and probate for Frederick FOSTER.


Death- especially one's own death- has a way of cutting through to the heart of a matter (or a life). Being faced with one's own mortality causes a whole new mindset that others who haven't done the same cannot understand. And sometimes in life, no matter how hard we try, we end up having favorites- and more importantly, showing favorites. I'm not sure in this case if Frederick FOSTER was showing favorites or if, after coming face to face with his own mortality, he was just disposing of his possessions in such a way as to meet everyone's needs the best he could.


I work with a teacher and she is constantly telling the students, "Fair is NOT everyone getting the same thing. Fair is everyone getting what they NEED." I love that. I'd like to think that was what Frederick was doing- being fair to everyone- meeting everyone's needs the best he could at that time. (But then, as I've said before- we always want to think our ancestors were the nicest people rather than face the fact that some of them were NOT.) Having said that, here is a transcription of what his will says.

"Will of Frederick Foster, Deceased
State of Missouri, Lawrence County,
"This being my last will and testament
Know all men by these Presents that I Frederick Foster; that I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Mary Foster, my household and kitchen Furniture her lifetime or widowhood, and after her death to my two daughters Nancy L. Foster and Sarah E. Foster, I also give and bequeath unto my wife her lifetime or widowhood and at her death to my two daughters Nancy L. Foster and Sarah E. Foster, one forty acres of land with a Premson (?) on it; and also four acres of land where my house Stands, offen my eighty acre peace, I give and bequeath unto my wife and two daughters two cows and calves to wit: Nancy L. Foster and Sarah E. Foster. I give and bequeath unto my wife and two daughters one hundred dollars to wit: Nancy L. Foster and Sarah E. Foster.
"I give and bequeath unto the rest of my children the remainder of my Estate to wit: my cows and land, horses, notes and money if any to wit: Martha Stephens, Jemima Foster, Jane Paige, Susannah Bundy, Elizabeth Hicks, Cynthia Sealy, Mary Weldy, Delila Anderson I want them to hold after my death and all my just debts are paid, this being my last Will and Testament, and I hereby set my name and seal,
"Given under my hand this 27th day of February 1863.
"Frederick Foster (his mark)

"Testes.: Henry Johnson (his mark)
John Anderson (his mark)"

As you can see, his daughters were married except Nancy and Sarah so I would like to think that is why they received more than the others. I'm waiting on the probate record so we can learn more about this family at this time in their lives. Until then, you can think this one over and come to your own conclusions. (And by the way, Mary FOSTER's maiden name was BURNETT- in case you want to research on your own. The John Anderson who witnessed the will was Frederick's son-in-law who was married to Delila. John and Frederick seemed to have a close relationship.)

I Give and Bequeath Unto My Children...Cynthia Sealy

Frederick FOSTER's daughter, Sintha SEELY (her first and last names are spelled many ways), married Charles SEELY on 15 October 1845 in Lawrence County, Missouri. They were married by Presiding Judge Joseph SCHOOLING. Theirs was one of the first marriages officially recorded in the county. This was also the other record we found on our visit. Sometimes women are hard to find and while I already knew about Sintha, this is just one more official record connecting her to her husband and her father. Old records are generally based upon the male's transactions and activities so connecting a woman to the men in her life is very important when looking at older records.

SEELY-FOSTER marriage certificate.


While we were in Lawrence County, Missouri, on Friday we found some other miscellaneous information but I'm still looking through all that so maybe another time I will post on that information.

Until then,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

We All Have Secrets

Genealogy is like a big puzzle. Each of us has a piece- or pieces if we're lucky- that we can share with each other. It's midnight. I really should be sleeping. Instead, I want to share some puzzle pieces with you before I call it a night.

Recently, Annie Blanchard contacted me via Ancestry to talk about our common connection. You may remember Annie. I linked up to her Digging Genealogy blog in this post about Samuel Williams. Samuel's father is mine and Annie's common ancestor. Annie had puzzle pieces I didn't have. (THANK YOU, ANNIE!) Specifically, she had a letter written by John WILLIAMS' third wife (her ancestor; his first wife was my ancestor). She posted this letter along with a transcription of it on her blog. I read through the letter. Thought on it for a couple of days. (It's book fair time at school so finding time to even think about the letter long enough to process it is hard.) Then this evening I got back to the letter and re-read it. I always find something new when I take the time to read it again after letting it settle in for a bit. I began to be very interested in the various people she mentioned in her letter. Some of them were relatives and Annie had done a good job of keeping track of those people but my ever-curious mind wanted to know about the OTHER people. (Surely you remember that particular bent of mine from my notoriously long 2 part post on Nicholas REITER, right??)

In any case, here I am hours later to let you know what I found. I was plugging along looking up each name trying to match up Mr. FOSTER with the most likely FOSTER listed in the records (or Mrs. CROSBY, or "old man LINGO", etc.). And then I got to the name of Fannie HERRINGTON. I plugged her name into the Ancestry search engine and got quite a shock. Fannie was widowed and her second husband was...SAMUEL WILLIAMS! I thought, "Surely NOT!" So I dug around a little more. It's possible that this really is MY Samuel WILLIAMS, but I don't know for sure.

Let's Reason This Out

1. According to Annie's information, Samuel was disowned by his father when he married my ancestor, Eliza Emeline BELL (also known as Emma or Emeline in some records) because John (Samuel's father) didn't like her.

2. Samuel and Eliza had a hard life together. If you recall, they averaged a loss of one significant person in their lives every 1 1/2 years. Some people even speculated that Samuel committed suicide as opposed to his death being an accident.

3. Timeline:

12 August 1903- Armazinda WILLIAMS, the woman who had raised Samuel since he was 8 years old, passed away.

1903-1904- Fannie HERRINGTON was a widow living near Samuel's dad (John WILLIAMS) in
Upton Township, Texas County, Missouri. Samuel and Eliza WILLIAMS were a married couple living in
next-door Roubidoux Township, Texas County, Missouri.

Late-May/Early-June, 1904- Eliza became pregnant with hers and Samuel's last child, Mart.

6 September 1904- Samuel's dad, John, died.

2 October 1904- Samuel WILLIAMS and Fannie HERRINGTON get married.

February, 1905- Samuel and Eliza's last child, Mart, was born.

1905- Family oral history states that sometime around the 1904-1905 timeframe, Samuel was hit and killed by a
train. You may also recall that I have not found one single source of information that backs up that
story. No juicy newspaper article, no obituary...I can't even find his grave.

So conceivably, he could have impregnated Eliza, faked his own death, and then married Fannie HERRINGTON in October of 1904. Alternatively, maybe Samuel and Fannie somehow became romantically involved, Eliza found out so he and Eliza split up, and in order to satisfy Eliza's religious family they made up the story that he was killed rather than face the social shame of a divorce or of everyone knowing their personal business.

As I said before- I'm not sure it's the same Samuel WILLIAMS. There were other men with the same name in that general area at that time. (If you've tried finding someone with the last name Williams, Smith, or Jones you understand completely what my dilemma is here.)

I'd love for you to chime in with your thoughts on the matter. Was he really killed? Or did he fake it so he could finally satisfy his dad even though his dad had already died? Sometimes regret does funny things to our decision-making skills. I'll definitely be trying to follow up on any leads. Hopefully Annie will have some ideas of her own when I tell her all about this tomorrow. Oh wait...it IS already tomorrow. Well- later today I'll let her know and then I'll pass any new information on to you. For now, it's 1:15 a.m. and I'm tired. Now that I've got all this off my chest, I think I'll go to bed.

Until next time,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

I Love a New Year

Each year I try to close out the old year with a recap of the year's goals and my progress toward those goals. Then I begin the new year with a new set of goals. The close of 2015 and opening of 2016 was rocky to say the least and the blog was definitely not at the top of the list. But, it's the weekend and I'm trying (unsuccessfully) to get warm by sitting on the couch under a blanket and in front of the heater. So why not write that post now.

Last year's goals:
1. To learn more about my great-great-great-grandmother's family (Mary Elizabeth LANE). (Research goal)
2. To blog consistently using No Story Too Small's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge as an inspiration. I will be doing this alongside my sister-in-law who will be using the same challenge and blogging at Down in the Root Cellar. (Writing goal)
3. To start over in reviewing and organizing my family history utilizing ideas from Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over Challenge. (Organizing goal)
4. To share some of the family history and research with relatives by publishing. To help me with this I'll be attending Thomas MacEntee's and Lisa Alzo's Genealogy Self-Publishing Bootcamp online. (Sharing goal)
5. To attend a conference/workshop/educational event. This year's choice is Family History Conference of Northwest Arkansas 2015. I'll be attending with my mom and hopefully my sister-in-law. (Self-Improvement Goal)

Goal #1 (research) Learn more about Mary Elizabeth LANE's mother.
BIG WIN!! I blogged about the LARKIN-LANE families several times this year and was so fortunate to even get to take two short trips to Ohio to research the families. It seems like each year when I advertise my goals to the universe, somehow those goals come to fruition to some degree. I love that! My very first blog post about Mary Elizabeth LANE LARKIN was posted on 25 April 2012. After that post (and sometime before the next post that included her) I made a second trip to locate the cemetery in which she was buried and the area in which she lived (Camp Bliss Hollow, Barry County, Missouri). I spoke with the woman who owns the property and she did not have any knowledge of a cemetery on or near her property. I went armed with a map of the location. I also had copies of photographs of the probable location of the cemetery thinking it might be possible to visually identify at least the general location of the cemetery. (I was wrong, in case you're wondering.)

Camp Bliss Hollow map

You can see the photos I took with me here. (McDowell Mill Cemetery dowsing photos and a photo of the Old McDowell Mill.)

The information above was what I took with me on the second trip to McDowell, Barry County, Missouri. I feel I got much closer to the gravesite but was ultimately unsuccessful. I'd like to return and try again some day- maybe when I have time to talk to some local researchers and learn more about the area. You can find the gravesite and mill photos plus a little extra information about the family at this link. I have tried contacting Donna Haddock Cooper who hosts the link and photos but she did not respond. (Just for the record- I never found that rattlesnake again. Thank God!)

On 18 July 2015 I wrote about the LARKIN family. The post included a tiny amount of general information about the LANE family as well as information and history about the area in which they lived in Ohio. I haven't yet written about what I learned about the LANE family on my 2016 trips to Ohio but I will hopefully write about that soon. But back to the research goal to find the mother of Mary Elizabeth LANE- the answer is Nancy CONKWRIGHT LANE. This information comes from Ancestry.com but I am confident enough in the information to post it here. I am continuing to research the family and, in case you are wondering, her father's name is James LANE.

Goal #2 (writing): To blog consistently using No Story Too Small's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge as an inspiration.
I'd call this a win, especially compared to the previous two years on the blog. I did great until the last month of school when everything was going haywire at work and I was just hanging in there trying to survive. I recovered a little in June but was never quite able to catch up. In July I became obsessed with learning the true story of Theodore Clay LARKIN and that pretty much completely derailed the process as it took me about 2 months of research to write the blog post. Starting in June through to the end of the year I did quite a bit of traveling when I wasn't at work. So after the August blog post about Theodore, I only got in two more (long and very involved) blog posts about Nicholas REITER. Nicholas was the subject of my 2012 research goal. Better late than never, right? It just so happened that in 2015 Bart worked a job in Woodward, Woodward County, Oklahoma which provided me opportunities to go down on the weekends to visit him and also get in some very productive research time. See? The universe DOES listen. :) So- I'm calling this win #2 for 2015.

Goal #3 (organizing): To start over in reviewing and organizing my family history utilizing ideas from Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over Challenge.
Yeah...total fail. I am still following this challenge's Facebook group though and I will eventually get to it. (Because the universe really does listen, right?!)

I'm 2-1 going into Goal #4 (sharing): To share some of the family history and research with relatives by publishing. To help me with this I'll be attending Thomas MacEntee's and Lisa Alzo's Genealogy Self-Publishing Bootcamp online.
I wasn't able to get into the online Bootcamp so that failed almost immediately. Once again, I didn't get anything published in 2015. I'm going to have to work harder on that this year. However, if I count this blog as "publishing", I at least got that done. So this one is just going to cancel itself out. I didn't publish in the format or way that I wanted/intended but I did get a lot of the stories out there in a public forum and that's important.

So we're still 2-1 going into the final goal (self-improvement): To attend a conference/workshop/educational event. This year's choice is Family History Conference of Northwest Arkansas 2015. I'll be attending with my mom and hopefully my sister-in-law.
BIG WIN!! I was able to attend this conference with my mom and had a great time. I went to one workshop where I got a sample of a product called D/2 to clean gravestones. It was fantastic!! See before and after photos below of one of the SEELY gravestones that we cleaned.

This was Charles SEELY's gravestone in May of 2015. (His wife Synthia SEELY's was even worse!) This is what the stone looked like before we cleaned it with D/2.

This was Charles SEELY's stone approximately two weeks after we sprayed it with D/2.

This was Charles SEELY's stone in December, 2015. Looks great, doesn't it?! D/2 is biodegradable and is used by monument conservationists. I was introduced to the product by conservationist Rusty Brenner. You can learn more about his business and purchase D/2 from him here.

So I say goodbye to 2015 which happened to be a fabulous genealogy year. And I usher in 2016 which, frankly, hasn't been a good year so far- but we won't muck up the blog with all that.

So here is 2016 in 200 words or less. (It's less- so keep reading.)

1. To learn who my great-great-great grandfather Charles SEELY's parents were. (Research goal)

2. To blog at least once per month. I think that is a much more achievable goal to create as full and complete of a story as possible. My goal is to have more interesting and complete stories versus a quick introduction. Also, to convert some of my blog stories to articles and try to get them published in small local or specialized genealogical or historical publications. (Combined writing and sharing goals)

3. To start over in reviewing and organizing my family history utilizing ideas from Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over Challenge. (Organizing goal- keeping the same goal since I didn't meet it last year.) You can learn more about the challenge here.

4. To attend a conference/workshop/educational event. This year's choice is Family History Conference of Northwest Arkansas 2016 (same as last year). It's a free event with some good workshops. If you're interested you can find more information here. (Self-Improvement Goal)

So there you go, universe. Let's make it happen. (Also- a better year than what I've had so far would be totally awesome. Thanks.)

~ Lisa at Days of Our Lives

Lost and Found, Part 2

Early Day Mooreland

I want to begin with a couple of photos that I was excited to find on a Facebook group called Preserving Mooreland, OK History.

Earliest known photo of Mooreland, Oklahoma, circa 1902.

Photo dating between 1902-1907 Mooreland OK

The above photo shows early day Mooreland about the time Nicholas died (circa 1902-1907). You can find this photo and others at Preserving Mooreland, OK History, in the Early Day Mooreland album.

Heirs of Nicholas REITER, Deceased

John Wesley RITER
John Wesley RITER was Nicholas and Sarah (DAVIS) REITER's first known child. He was born in 1854 in Perry, Pike County, Illinois. John married Lottie(RYAN) DAVIS in 1892. She had two children from a previous marriage when she and John married. In 1900 the couple was living in Webster Township, Woodward County, Oklahoma with Lottie's two teenaged children. Based on the address in the probate file plus a brief paragraph in a local newspaper, I believe he moved from Mooreland, Woodward, Oklahoma to either Florilla, Douglas County, Missouri or Mountain Grove, (not sure if it was Texas or Wright County), Missouri in March of 1904- just 7 or 8 months before his dad died.

In 1910 they were living in Welch, Craig County, Oklahoma where Lottie died.

John died in Sulphur Springs, Benton, Arkansas in the summer of 1928. I have not been able to find much information about John. Final accounting documents on Nicholas REITER's estate show that of the funds that remained after debts had been paid, John W. RITER received $60.02.

Rachel D. (RITER) AKIN
Rachel RITER AKIN was born to Nicholas and Sarah (DAVIS) REITER in 1856 in Perry, Pike County, Illinois. Rachel married John AKIN in 1884 in Pike County, Illinois. Right after marrying, John and Rachel spent a short amount of time living in Kansas. Their oldest child was born there in 1885. The next child was born in Missouri in 1888. The third child was born in Kansas in 1890. Their last child was also born in Kansas in 1891. Some time after that, the family moved back to Illinois. John and Rachel stayed there until their deaths as far as I can tell. In Nicholas' estate file, Rachel's last name is spelled 'AIKEN'. Her name is often also seen spelled like this: Rachael AKINS. Final accounting documents on Nicholas REITER's estate show that of the funds that remained after debts had been paid, Rachel AKIN received $60.02.

William Sherman RITER
William Sherman RITER lived with or near Nicholas REITER until Nicholas' death. He then traveled to Arkansas where he met and married Laura Ann BULLOCK. William and Laura (BULLOCK) RITER are my great-grandparents. William was a veteran of the Spanish-American war. He died in Arkansas at age 63 from blood poisoning. In Nicholas' estate papers, William is referred to as Will. Final accounting documents on Nicholas REITER's estate show that of the funds that remained after debts had been paid, William RITER received $60.02.

Jennie Hurst (RITER) FULLER
Lastly, there was Jennie Hurst (RITER) FULLER. Jennie was born in 1859 in Illinois. She married James Franklin FULLER (also referred to as “Frank” or “J. F.”) in 1887 in Kansas. James was born in 1857 in Michigan. James and Jennie lived near both of their fathers in 1900 in Oklahoma. Other FULLERs in the Woodward County, Oklahoma area in 1900 were Charley FULLER and Willis FULLER. Willis owned land considerably south of Woodward and Mooreland on Sharon Shattuck Road just East of Sharon. Charley owned land several miles to the southeast of Nicholas REITER and Chester FULLER. Chester's land was separated from William RITER's by one section and was to the east of William's. (Chester Fuller's Homestead Claim.) The FULLER's have been difficult for me to trace and I am uncertain whether Chester, Willis, and Charley were family or not.

The terms of the estate sale are listed in the court documents. The sale was to be held at “Frank Fullers place two miles and one half west of Mooreland, Oklahoma Territory. On the 10 day of March A. D. 1905”. Frank's brand was on some of Nicholas' cattle that were sold. According to documentation in the probate file, the sale actually occurred 19 March 1905. J. F. FULLER was one of the successful auction bidders who purchased 2 of his deceased father-in-law's cattle. The cattle he purchased had Mr. FULLER's brand and he paid $46.50 for them. James F. FULLER filed a Creditor's Claim against the estate for feeding and caring for some of the cattle. Final accounting documents on Nicholas REITER's estate show that of the funds that remained after debts had been paid, Jennie (RITER) FULLER received $60.02.

All the articles in this blog post came from either Newspapers.com, the newspaper archive of The Mooreland Leader, or the Gateway to Oklahoma History website at http://gateway.okhistory.org/.

Other Family Members of Nicholas REITER (most of whom are not mentioned in the estate papers)
The CHENOWETH's in Mooreland, Woodward, Oklahoma in 1900 were distantly related to Nicholas REITER's mother-in-law, Rachel CHENOWETH DAVIS. Charles H. CHENOWETH and Charlotte J. CHENOWETH owned land southwest of Woodward, Oklahoma. It's possible that Charlotte J. is not Charles' wife but perhaps a sister-in-law. I have not found anything to indicate Charles was ever married to someone named Charlotte but he did have a sister-in-law named Charlotte. Charles' wife was Jennie and I did not find her ever called by the name Charlotte anywhere. Also living in the area was Amelia (DULING) CHENOWETH (widow of David M. CHENOWETH) who owned two sections. Her sections were directly south of Chester FULLER's and were separated from his by one section.

Nicholas' father-in-law, John F. DAVIS, was born in New York. The DAVIS families in the Mooreland area in 1900 included Judge John T. DAVIS, Charles DAVIS, Mack DAVIS- all of whom were closely related to each other- and Frank P. DAVIS. Short biographical sketches of John T. and his sons Charles and Mack are included in Part 1 of this Lost and Found blog post.

Charles DAVIS owed $2 to Nicholas at the time of Nicholas' death and Charles paid the debt to the estate. If I'm reading the records correctly, there are at least two men by the name Charles DAVIS in the area at the time Nicholas lived there. There is one Charles DAVIS who lived in the same census district in 1900. This Charles lived closer to Nicholas' son, John. I think it is likely that this is the Charles DAVIS mentioned in the probate file. It is my opinion that these DAVIS families are probably related somehow to Nicholas' in-laws although I can't say for certain at this point. Some of the estate documents were notarized by Frank P. DAVIS who was the director for Mooreland's Security State Bank in 1904. You will find Frank's biographical sketch below.

Friends and Neighbors Who Were Mentioned in the Estate Papers

Frank P. DAVIS was a notary public who notarized some of the documents in the probate file. Mr. DAVIS was born in Ohio in 1853. He and his wife Mary and their children were living in Webster Township, Woodward County, Oklahoma in 1900- the same township as Nicholas REITER. The DAVIS family left Ohio sometime after 1881 after their first child was born. By 1892 they were in Oklahoma. Mr. DAVIS' occupation in 1900 was grocer. At one point, Mr. DAVIS also owned “a fine hall for opera and ball purposes.” (Facebook- Preserving Mooreland, OK History, post dated August 27, 2015.) Mr. DAVIS donated the land for Curtis Cemetery located four miles east of Mooreland, Oklahoma. He has several children buried there. The cemetery was established in 1901.

John H. LAWRENCE was one of the appraisers of the estate property. Mr. LAWRENCE also signed the final settlement documents in the case. He was a member of Mooreland Red Cross (1918). I have been unable to find any other information about him. There were other LAWRENCE families in the area including Naomi LAWRENCE and Jacob H. LAWRENCE who both owned property in the section north of Nicholas. In 1900, Naomi was living with her brother, Jacob, and their aunt was also living with them. They were living 7 residences away from Nicholas in 1900.

Alois S. JENISCH was another one of the appraisers. He also signed the final settlement documents for the estate of Nicholas RITER. Mr. JENISCH's residence was separated from Nicholas' residence by one other home in 1900. His homestead claim was in sections that are now bordered on the south by Highway 50B, just west of the Mooreland Cemetery. Highway 412 now separates the original JENISCH and RITER claims. Mr. JENISCH was born in Austria. Like Nicholas, Mr. JENISCH's native language was German. Mr. JENISCH ran for County Commisioners' Trustee on the Democrat ticket in the fall of 1904. He was Vice President of the A.H.T.A. Lodge No. 263. He was also the D.D.D.M. officer in the Mooreland Lodge, No. 128, IOOF along with Treasurer Jesse WYCKOFF (see his profile below). The IOOF met every Saturday night at Mr. DAVIS' opera house.

Fred WELLS signed as a witness on the estate documents. I have not found any information anywhere about Mr. WELLS. The only WELLS in the 1900 Woodward County, Oklahoma census is James A. WELLS. He was boarding with the HURLEY family in Marum Township. He was working as a stock herder.

Jesse Almon WYCKOFF successfully bid on and purchased 7 of Nicholas' cattle for $75.30. In 1900, Mr. WYCKOFF was single and boarding with the BOUYACOT family. He was born in Iowa. He was a grocer in 1900. Mr. WYCKOFF came to the Oklahoma Territory in 1899 by covered wagon and homesteaded a claim north of Mooreland. His “general merchandise” business- Boguss & Wyckoff- was the first business in Mooreland, Oklahoma. He had previously owned a grocery store. Shortly after going into business together, Mr. BOGUSS and Mr. WYCKOFF dissolved their partnership and Mr. BOGUSS returned to where he had come from. Mr. WYCKOFF formed another partnership right away with his brother, Henry Martin WYCKOFF, and they ran a general merchandise store. Henry WYCKOFF came to Oklahoma Territory sometime between 21 June 1900 and 24 August 1901. The WYCKOFF brothers also had a sister living in Woodward County- Ada “Addie” Nora MOODY, wife of Merrick Green MOODY. Sometime between May of 1899 and 12 June 1900, Merrick and Addie moved to Oklahoma Territory and in 1900, they lived in Webster, Woodward County, Oklahoma. Their other brother, John Elmer WYCKOFF, never left Iowa. By 1906 Mr. WYCKOFF was in a partnership with J. J. BOUQUOT buying and shipping livestock. Ms. Eda KNITTEL worked at the Wyckoff Brothers store for a while. She was in charge of the dry goods department. If you recall, Ms. KNITTEL later married Omer SCHNOEBELEN and helped him run the newspaper (see Lost and Found part 1). Ms. KNITTEL was in charge of the dry goods at the Wyckoff Brothers' store. In addition to his business, Mr. WYCKOFF was the Treasurer of the Mooreland Lodge, No. 128, IOOF. He was also a Mooreland Red Cross member (1918). (http://discoveramericasstory.com/sample/mooreland-4.pdf; Facebook- Preserving Mooreland, OK History, post dated August 27, 2015.)

WYCKOFF business ad.

Julius C. (“J. C.”) TRIPLETT successfully bid on and purchased 4 of Nicholas' cattle for $76.50. Julius was born in Illinois in 1844 according to the 1900 census. In 1868, he married Ella R. CODDINGTON and together they had at least 10 children. In 1900 they were living in Macedonia Precinct, Chase Township, Nebraska. I can't find a specific year the family moved to Oklahoma but they were there by the time Nicholas REITER passed away in 1904. Ella passed away in 1919 and was buried in Iowa. A couple of years before she passed away (1917) the couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.

Julius passed away in 1926 and was also buried in Iowa. However, Julius' estate was probated in Oklahoma so I know he was here when he died. An ad in a 1907 edition of The Mooreland Leader gives some indication of Mr. TRIPLETT's line of business.

Elijah Harrison RICHARD successfully bid on and purchased 6 of Nicholas REITER's cattle for $133.00. Mr. RICHARD was born in 1822 in Indiana. He first married Hannah CURRENT in 1844 in Indiana. In 1862 there was an epidemic and Hannah, along with their children Sarah and Charles, died in the epidemic (influenza or typhoid- it is unclear which). In 1863, Mr. RICHARD married Elizabeth JONES. She helped him raise the 7 living children that he had with Hannah and together he and Elizabeth had 13 additional children. Mr. RICHARD moved to Oklahoma sometime between 1900 (in the 1900 census he was living in Kansas) and 1904 (when he bought Nicholas' cattle). In 1906 the “Richard Brothers” were doing business in Mooreland selling millinery goods (and possibly more- I can only go off of the newspaper ad). I have been unable to determine if Elijah RICHARD was one oaf the brothers doing business together. In 1907 he was definitely selling real estate for a living. Mr. RICHARD died in 1910.


Annie E. ELLIS successfully bid on and purchased 1 cow for $25.50. Mrs. ELLIS' homestead claim was to the south and east of Nicholas' and William's claims. If I have found the correct Annie ELLIS, she was born in March of 1849 in Indiana. In 1900 she lived in Renfrow, Kay County, Oklahoma and later moved to Woodward County where she lived out the rest of her life.

Michael Jhan DUGGER successfully bid on and purchased 4 cattle for $55.30. Mr. DUGGER was born in 1849 in Tennessee. In 1875 in Clay County, Kansas he married Sarah Elizabeth KAISER (known as “Sadie”). They had four children that I could find. Their daughter, Belle, died at a young age leaving behind two very young children. Michael and Sarah DUGGER raised Belle's children after Belle died, at least for a little while. I haven't been able to find them in the 1910 census so I'm not sure if the DUGGERs raised these grandchildren to adulthood or if one of their children took over and finished raising the two children. In 1900, Mr. DUGGER and his family (including his two orphaned grandchildren from his daughter, Belle) lived in Sherman, Clay County, Kansas. In 1915, Mr. DUGGER bought Mr. Frank P. DAVIS' home in the west part of Mooreland. Mr. DAVIS planned on moving to the Northwest. Mr. DAVIS was featured in Part 1 of this post. Mrs. DUGGER died in 1917. Mr. DUGGER died in 1923. They are buried in Mooreland Cemetery in Mooreland, Oklahoma. The DUGGERs seem to have been well-liked and respected in the Mooreland community.

Roy A. SMITH (one of the attorneys) filed a Creditor's Claim against the estate. Mr. SMITH filed some affidavits in the estate's case and an appeal in the land office to obtain patent to Nicholas REITER's homestead which had been deeded to Peter MARTINSON. Receipts were included in the file for Mr. SMITH's “appeal & contest”. Mr. SMITH was born in 1878 in Missouri. In 1900 he was living with his sister and brother-in-law and their family in Judkins, Woodward County, Oklahoma. He was a practicing attorney at that time and was single. I am not certain he stayed in Woodward County very long as I have not been able to find information about him. I have found that in 1902 he was appointed as a Notary Public in Woodward County. He and a B. B. SMITH were both attorneys working in Woodward County in the 1902-1903 time period.

Sherman Mix SMITH was the attorney who did the financial accounting for Nicholas' estate. He was a collector of historical documents. He applied to be a notary public in Woodward County, Oklahoma. He was a Scottish Rite Mason and was the postmaster of Woodward, OK from 1910 until early 1914 Mr. SMITH was born in 1867 in Ohio. In 1900 he lived with his wife and kids in Chillicothe Ward 1, Livingston County, MO. Mr. SMITH married Emma Della ESTEP in 1894. He died in 1941 and is buried in Woodward, Woodward County, OK. His wife died in 1948 and is buried in the same cemetery as Mr. SMITH.

Harry E. FINCK was an auctioneer who helped sell Nicholas' possessions at auction after Nicholas' death. Mr. FINCK was born in Iowa about 1867. He married Mary May “Mollie” HARDMAN. In 1905, Mr. FINCK was hired to fix the road leading from the new bridge into Mooreland. In 1906 Mr. FINCK was selling Advance threshing machines with J. I. WHEELOCK and was the Manager of the Advance Threshing Machine Company in Mooreland. There was also an H. E. FINCK who was a confectionary. It is unclear if these men were the same person. Here is a Wikipedia photo of an Advance Thresher:

In 1906 Mr. FINCK served on a lot of committees. He was a part of the committee appointed at the business men's meeting in February, 1906 to investigate the matter of incorporating Mooreland. His fellow committee members included William LAIRD (who is profiled below) and John DAVIS (who was profiled in the first part of this blog post). Mr. FINCK also served on the July 4th fair committee for at least one year along with fellow citizens John HOOVER, John T. DAVIS, Omer SCHNOEBELEN, and Dr. Harry COCKERILL (all of whom were profiled in part one of this blog post), as well as Frank DAVIS and Jesse WYCKOFF both of whom are profiled above. It appears that by 1907 Mr. FINCK had moved to Arkansas. In Pitkin, Washington County, Arkansas he raised raspberries and was described as a “farmer” and “horticulturist”. He later lived in Kansas. He died in 1936 in Rocky Ford, Otero County, Colorado. Mollie died in 1949.

William Franklin Laird notarized some of the documents in Nicholas' estate file. Mr. LAIRD was born 17 February 1870 in Kentucky. As a young teen, he learned his father's part-time itinerant photography business. He also worked his father's farm because his father was not well enough to do it himself. Mr. LAIRD arrived to the Cherokee Strip in 1893 and was a participant in the land run of 1893. Mr. LAIRD's land was in a section adjoining the section in which Nicholas' property was located. He became a clerk and then manager of of mercantile and milling business until 1899. Mr. LAIRD married Myrtle B. in August of 1896. In 1899 he organized and was a partner in Alva Rolling Mills Company. He was connected to that business until 1903. In 1900, Mr. and Mrs. LAIRD and their son lived in Medford, Grant County, Oklahoma. The census that year indicates they had one child that died in addition to the one son that was with them at that time. Mr. LAIRD's occupation at that time was “Lumber Dealer”. In September 1903 a charter was issued for Mooreland's Security State Bank. Mr. LAIRD was one of the five incorporators of the bank. His residence in 1903 was Medford, Grant County, Oklahoma. In November of 1903, Mr. LAIRD was a cashier at the bank as well as a Director at the bank. In December of 1903 he was issued a notary license (presumably to conduct bank business) and in 1904 he became the director of the Security State Bank. In 1905, Mr. LAIRD was elected President of the bank. He was a member of the IOOF Mooreland Lodge No. 128 at that time (along with John DAVIS and Dr. COCKERILL, both profiled in part one of this blog post) and was appointed as a trustee for the new lodge building that was being planned. Also In 1905, Mr. LAIRD was appointed to a committee to “look after the purchase” of land for the Santa Fe Railroad which was planning to build through and serve the area of Mooreland. Also on that committee was Mr. John T. DAVIS who was profiled in part one of this blog post. Mr. and Mrs. LAIRD adopted a three-year-old girl that year as well. In addition to all these responsibilities he presided as “President” over the July 4th parade/festivities that year. In 1906 Mr. LAIRD retained his Presidency of Security State Bank. That same year, The Flour Mill Company was organized and Mr. LAIRD was appointed as President of that company as well. In addition to working at the bank, Mr. LAIRD clerked some auctions in the area for Mr. FINCK whose profile appears above. Mr. LAIRD seemed to have some political interests. He attended the 1906 congressional convention in Woodward along with Frank DAVIS (whose profile appears earlier in this blog) and several other men from the community. In addition to all of these duties that year, he was also appointed to a committee to see to the incorporation of Mooreland. He served on that committee with John DAVIS (profiled in part one of this blog post) and Harry FINCK (profiled earlier in this post). In 1907, Mr. and Mrs. LAIRD traded their land in Oklahoma for a walnut grove in Anaheim, Orange County, California. They departed Mooreland on April 15, 1907 en route to California. Soon after, he went into the real estate business in Kern County, California with partner J. B. McFARLAND. The 23 April 1909 edition of The Mooreland Leader states that Mr. LAIRD was the President of Pacific Slope Oil Company in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, and that he had “oil land” in the Santa Maria oil district in California. In the 1910's Mr. LAIRD worked as a promoter for an oil company. In the 1920's Mr. LAIRD worked as a rancher, real estate dealer, and sanitation inspector. In the 1930's he worked as a police court judge and it is said he never had a ruling overturned (although I'm not sure that would even be an issue for a police court judge). Mr. LAIRD was an active Mason and a member of many masonic organizations. Together Mr. and Mrs. LAIRD raised at least 8 children. Mrs. LAIRD enjoyed public speaking and even competed in local public speaking competitions. Myrtle LAIRD died in 1943 and has lodge-type symbols on her gravestone. William LAIRD died in 1961 in Bakersfield, Kern County, California. His gravestone has a lodge symbol on it also. Mr. LAIRD was a lifelong Republican.

Security State Bank, 1903

Mr. and Mrs. LAIRD's wedding photo.

Mr. LAiRD.

Arthur L. OSGOOD was born in Illinois in May of 1876. In 1900 Mr. OSGOOD was 24 years old, single, and still living with his very large family in Bear Creek, Hancock County, Illinois. His occupation was listed as “farm laborer”. In 1910 he married Ida Lee WHEELER.

Arthur and Ida OSGOOD


Throughout their marriage they took care of several different family members. They adopted twin girls – Helen and Ellen. They girls were born in 1918 but were not adopted until 1920. Mr. OSGOOD was active in the Knights of Pythias lodge- Palo Duro Lodge No. 166 at least during the years of 1911-1912. He may have also been involved with Shriners as he served on a Shriner committee in 1924. Mr. OSGOOD became a “monuments dealer” (gravestones). There is a receipt in Nicholas' estate file billing $40.00 for Nicholas' gravestone. Acknowledgement of all the other receipts showed up in court documents, however this particular receipt didn't show up in any official document other than the receipt itself being in the receipt envelope. The company name on the receipt is Osgood & Gordon. The Osgood & Gordon Monument Company was located in Amarillo, Potter County, Texas. I'm guessing the headstone came from Amarillo by train. I loved the following ad where Mr. OSGOOD billed himself as “The Monument Man”.

It was a nice nod to the real monument men/veterans.

Mr. OSGOOD must have been well-connected in the community. I'm guessing the OSGOODs were Baptists as they hosted a large farewell party (200 guests in their home!) for members of a group from First Baptist Church in 1924. Additionally, Mrs. OSGOOD was elected Secretary of the Circle C group at the First Baptist Church in 1913. Mr. and Mrs. OSGOOD appear to have been active community and local business members. They participated in/sponsored various local events within the community throughout the years. In 1930 Mr. OSGOOD served as a pall bearer for the late former judge of Potter County, T. W. McBRIDE. Ida passed away in September of 1949. Mr. OSGOOD died in Amarillo in January of 1953. They are buried in Llano Cemetery in Amarillo, Randall County, Texas.

Nicholas REITER's Close Neighbors Who Were Not Mentioned in the Estate Papers
There were neighbors of Nicholas' who owned land joining his land but were not mentioned in the estate papers. If you are interested in knowing more about Nicholas' close neighbors, you can research the following people. I've included a little information to get you started.

James Corwin WINEBURNER: There are multiple James Wineburner's in Mooreland. I believe the James WINEBURNER in question was born in September of 1830 in Ohio. Mr. WINEBURNER married Sarah Elizabeth "Libby" MARSHALL in 1856 in Indiana. He owned property in the section north of Nicholas. Mr. and Mrs. WINEBURNER are both buried in Mooreland Cemetery. Libby died in 1908 and James died in 1910.

Jacob J. SMALLWOOD owned property in the section north of Nicholas. Mr. SMALLWOOD was born in 1856 according to his gravestone but according to the 1900 census he was born in May of 1852 in Indiana. In 1900 Mr. SMALLWOOD lived in Webster, Woodward County, Oklahoma and he was a farmer. He was living with his stepfather and mother, Henry and Catherine GARNER, and his siblings. Mr. GARNER was a brickmaker. Later in life Mr. SMALLWOOD was a wholesale shipper. In 1906 he used auctioneer house Long & Finck to sell his property. I haven't found anything that identifies this FINCK (of Long & Finck) as being the above profiled Harry E. FINCK or a relative of Harry E. FINCK. Mr. SMALLWOOD married Nettie May CUMEFORT sometime around 1906. Mr. SMALLWOOD was a member of Mooreland Red Cross in 1918. He died in 1929 and is buried in Mooreland Cemetery.

Charles H. GARTEN owned property catty-corner to the northwest of Nicholas. He was born in August of 1860 in Kentucky. He married Lillie May LAWRENCE. Mr. Garten was still living in April of 1928. At that time he was the administrator of Leon GARTEN's estate. He also lost his wife that same year. Mr. GARTEN died in 1952. Mr. and Mrs. GARTEN are both buried in Mooreland Cemetery.

Sherwood S. GUY owned property catty-corner to the northwest of Nicholas. He was born in June of 1866 in Illinois. He married in 1892. In 1900 he and his wife Harriet Louise "Hattie" BARKER GUY were living in Webster, Woodward County, Oklahoma. He was working as a locomotive engineer and she was listed as a farmer in that census. By 1905 the family had moved out of Woodward County. Mr. GUY died in 1940 and is buried in Shawnee, Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. Mrs. Guy lived until 1966 and is also buried in Shawnee, Oklahoma.


Nicholas' estate was finalized and discharged on 28 December 1905. Finalization of his estate involved many people. I'm sure James and Jennie FULLER were probably glad when it was over. They had taken care of their fathers in the men's final years and had dealt with both burials and both probates at virtually the same time. It must have been a relief to be done with it.

None of Nicholas' immediate family remained in the Mooreland area. James and Jennie stayed the longest but by 1910 they were in Benton County, Arkansas near Jennie's brother (and my granny's dad), William.

I hope you've enjoyed getting to know the family, friends, and neighbors Nicholas had during the final years of his life. If you're interested in doing your own research, I got my information from the following sources: Ancestry.com; Newspapers.com; gateway.okhistory.org; The Mooreland Leader's archive database; Facebook; various small websites devoted to preserving the history of Mooreland and it's early residents; Findagrave.com; and Google Books.

Until next time,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

Lost and Found

I was in Mooreland, Oklahoma for several weekends in September and October. I was able to find a couple of newspaper articles, some citizenship documents, the grave site, and the probate file of my great-great grandfather, Nicholas REITER. The most exciting thing I found though, was the location of the piece of land he homesteaded and the general area where my great-grandfather homesteaded land in the Cherokee Strip. Regarding the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893, Willie T. COOLEY had this to say, "Boy, it was the darndest race I ever saw! Some men rode their horses to death. We passed several dead horses. I rode a spirited Spanish horse." (http://wt-cooley.net/WT.htm) You can read more about Mr. COOLEY below.

My original goal was to tell you the information I found in the probate packet and then give you a brief background on each person other than Nicholas who was mentioned in the paperwork. I had no idea so many people participated in probating an estate!! Nor did I expect so many of them to have such interesting histories. The post has become quite long so I'm going to break it into two parts. Each part will begin with information about family members who are mentioned in the probate file and then end with short biographies of other people mentioned in the file. Before we start though, here are a few photos of Nicholas' homestead claim land:

Standing at the southeast corner of Nicholas REITER's homestead, looking out over his land.

Me standing at the southwest corner of Nicholas REITER's land. I'm not sure why this picture came out sideways and I can't seem to rotate it. Sorry!

Looking out over the section of land where William RITER made his homestead claim.


The probate file for the estate of Nicholas REITER starts with a listing of Nicholas' heirs, their ages, and their addresses at the time of the court case:

* John W. RITER, 50 years the 28 of January 1905, post office Florilla, MO (Florilla, Missouri is in Douglas County near Cabool, East of Springfield.)

* Mrs. Rachel AKIN, 48 years the 14 of January 1905, post office Perry, ILL (Perry, Illinois is where the REITER family originated and is where Nicholas' wife was most likely buried.)

* Mrs. Jennie H. FULLER, 46 years Feb 20th 1905, post office Mooreland, O.T. (Oklahoma Territory)

* William S. RITER, 40 years November 16 1904, post office Mooreland, O.T.

The Petition for Letters of Administration dated 17 November 1904 does not give an exact death date for Nicholas- only that he died in 1904. His obituary published in The Mooreland Leader states he died on the night of Wednesday, 26 October 1904. His gravestone says he died on October 27th. The funeral was held on October 27th according to The Mooreland Leader and he was buried at Mooreland Cemetery. He shares a stone with Chester FULLER. Nicholas' daughter, Jennie, was married to Chester's son, James, and both men (Nicholas and Chester) died within 5 months of each other. One of my questions- which may never be answered- is why did they bury him so soon? Any family that lived far away had no opportunity to pay their last respects- especially his son John who had just moved to Missouri a few months prior and his daughter Rachel who had remained in Illinois when the rest of the family moved away. Jennie and her husband had just lost her husband's father- Chester FULLER. I suppose you could argue that grief causes you to to make decisions you wouldn't otherwise make. Whatever the reason, Nicholas was buried right away and he shares a headstone with Chester FULLER.

Nicholas REITER's side of the headstone.

Chester FULLER's side of the headstone.

The initial paperwork in the probate file did not list a final residence more specific than just Woodward County, Oklahoma Territory. There was a handwritten note in the receipt envelope dated 11 January 1905 showing that John J. HOOVER (who was appointed administrator of the estate and was also a next-door neighbor to Nicholas in 1900) wrote a note to Judge WHITE indicating that he believed Nicholas REITER's estate “[would] not amount to very much in case the Government does not accept the final proof on his claim.” Mr. HOOVER goes on to say, “[Nicholas Reiter] signed the claim over to Peter Martinson who also holds mortgage on other property. I thought perhaps you would not appoint appraisers until we get the Governments decision about the claim.” In trying to figure out where he might have lived in Woodward County, I looked at his 1900 census entry which said part of “Webster [Township] west of Rangeline between Ranges 18 & 19”. It showed that he and his son, William (my great-grandfather), were living with Nicholas' daughter and son-in-law, Jennie and James FULLER. Initially, I didn't have any information to indicate he was not living with James and Jennie when he passed away. There was another document in the probate file that said the auction of Nicholas' personal property would happen at James FULLER's residence two and one half miles west of Mooreland. After reviewing the file more thoroughly I found a legal description of property Nicholas owned, specifically: s e 1-4 sec 32 & 23 n r 19 w. My husband and I consulted several maps and we found the location of the property. Although the property is leased and we couldn't go onto it, we were able to drive on the section line road around two sides of the property and we were able to look out over the section where William RITER owned his homestead property even though we didn't know exactly where his property was within the section. (Nicholas REITER's Homestead Claim in the Cherokee Strip; my great-grandfather William RITER's claim in the adjoining section to the south of Nicholas; James F. FULLER (Nicholas' son-in-law) owned property in the same section as Nicholas.

The probate paperwork lists his property at the time of death as “a small amount of Kaffir corn and hay” that “probably” does not exceed $150 in value. By the time the estate was through being probated his inventory read:

In the end, Nicholas' estate brought in well over the $150 originally estimated by Mr. HOOVER. (Again, I apologize for the sideways picture. It wasn't saved that way and I'm not sure why it won't rotate.)

The probate file did not show that there were any problems in the process of probating the estate. It took just over a year to probate and make final settlement. Below I will give a little detail about the people whose names appear in the probate file.


John Jacob HOOVER was appointed administrator of the estate. In 1900 he was living next door to Nicholas RITER. At that time Mr. HOOVER was living with his brother, Howard. Both of the HOOVER brothers were single in 1900 and both were born in Virginia. Mr. HOOVER's homestead claim was in the same section as Nicholas RITER's. (Henry GARNER also had a homestead claim in that section but he was not mentioned in the probate file.) Although Mr. HOOVER did not seem to show up in the newspaper a lot nor did I find any stories on the internet about his life on the internet, he did seem to be on very good terms with his neighbors. He shows up often on legal papers including homestead claim proofs, probate cases, etc. He was a witness for Mr. BORCHARDT (see below) when Mr. BORCHARDT filed his final proof for his homestead claim. He seems to have been a very good and trusted neighbor. If you've ever lived in the country, you know the value of a good and trusted neighbor. They're worth gold! I have found nothing to indicate why Mr. HOOVER was chosen to administer the estate.

In regard to Peter MARTINSON who wrote the note in the probate file, he immigrated to the United States from Sweden. He lived with his wife and children in Judkins, Woodward County, Oklahoma Territory in 1900 and was a merchant/grocer. His homestead claim was about 13 miles to the south of Nicholas' claim. Other than this property transfer mentioned in the probate file, I don't know of any other connection between Nicholas and Peter. The museum in Woodward has the sign from outside the MARTINSON grocery displayed. You can see it here:

I think this is the Martinson sign while it was still on the store. Photo from the book Woodward County, by Ian D. Swart.

Peter came to America with 25 cents to his name. You can read a short summary of his achievements in America here and also see the building he built that housed his grocery store. Incidentally, Peter's daughter Hanna married a man named Walter Arthur "Art" FULLER. I don't know if Walter was related to Chester (meaning he would be related to Jennie (RITER) FULLER by marriage). You can read a couple of paragraphs about Walter and Hanna here (Scroll to the bottom of the page. The article is continued on the next page as well.). Walter, who was called Art, played baseball for a local team. Here he is with his team in uniform:

From the book Woodward County, by Ian D. Swart.

In 1921, Peter MARTINSON and his daughter, Esther, applied for passports to go see Mr. MARTINSON's 90-year-old mother in Sweden (Esther's grandmother). Their plan was to depart fom the port in New York, USA, pass through England and end up in Sweden. Apparently his father, Hans, came to America and died here. I'm not sure why his mother did not also come. In 1921, Mr. MARTINSON was 60 years old. On his passport application he was described as 5'9, with a regular forehead, straight nose, blue eyes, gray hair, small/regular mouth, round/regular chin, round/full face, ruddy/light complexion, and he had a crippled and crooked index finger on his left hand. Here is Mr. MARTINSON's passport photo:

Peter MARTINSON held a deed to some of Nicholas' land when Nicholas died. Peter paid the estate the remainder of what he owed before the estate was settled.

Probate Judge Joseph Andrew PATTON acted as the probate judge at the initial filing of the case. Although he was the judge when Nicholas' probate case started, he was quickly replaced by a different judge due to an election. He was a lawyer in Woodward, Oklahoma. He was born in Kentucky. He was a Captain during the Civil War. He was a post-battle hospital worker after the Battle of Perryville and he fought in the battle of Chickamauga where he was wounded.

Probate Judge Charles W. WHITE presided over the case after Judge PATTON. He was born in Wisconsin. He was a lawyer in Woodward, Oklahoma. In the fall of 1904 he ran on the Republican ticket along with W. T. COOLEY running for Sheriff (R), and C. C. HOAG running for County Clerk (R). Apparently the Republicans won big or this was a largely Republican area since all three of these men were voted into office. Mr. PATTON did not run for office in the fall of 1904 (or if he did he was not advertised as a contender in the August or September 1904 editions of the paper).

As mentioned above, Willie T. COOLEY ran for sheriff of Woodward County in the fall of 1904. He ran on the Republican ticket and won. He is listed on some of Nicholas' estate documents as the Woodward County Sheriff. Mr. COOLEY was born in Kansas. He tells his own story at http://wt-cooley.net/WT.htm. He has connections to a couple of different FULLER lines as well as a PAGE line (my husband's family). I have not been able to make any direct connections to mine or my husband's family yet but his story is worth reading. It seems he was in his mid-90's when he told the story and it was written down. An article in The Curtis Courier (Curtis, Oklahoma) described him as “honorable and upright in every respect” and claimed he would “make a vigorous and level headed guardian of the law.” In 1900 Mr. COOLEY still lived in Garfield, Oklahoma. He lived with his wife and children. In 1900 his little boy Earl was one year old. According to the website where Mr. COOLEY's life story is, Earl died just before his second birthday. The year 1900 was heading into a period of Mr. COOLEY's life that he said was his favorite. In 1903, he was appointed Postmaster of Quinlan, Woodward County, Oklahoma. I loved his description of the Cherokee Strip run of 1893. If Nicholas and William RITER did indeed participate in the run, Mr. COOLEY's description is helpful in understanding what it was like.

Mr. COOLEY as Sheriff. Mr. COOLEY is the adult male without a hat.

Mr. COOLEY with his wife, Clara (TOMLINSON) COOLEY.

As mentioned above, Charles C. HOAG ran for County Clerk of Woodward County in 1904. He already held the position from the 1903 election. I am assuming he won since his signature appears as the probate court clerk and notary on a document in the estate file. In 1900, Mr. HOAG was still single and living with his parents. One of his siblings was also living there. They were living in Kremlin, Garfield County, Oklahoma. In 1909 President TAFT sent a nomination to the Senate for Mr. HOAG to be the new receiver at the Woodward Land Office. Mr. HOAG was described as “an able man, loyal to his party, and will undoubtedly give universal satisfaction as receiver.” Mr. HOAG was born in Kansas.

From Newspapers.com

William H. KINGTON (sometimes written as 'KINGSTON' in the probate file) was an appraiser of Nicholas' estate. His homestead claim was in the same section as William RITER's- the section south of Nicholas'. Mr. KINGTON was born in Illinois. In 1900 he lived two residences away from Nicholas and William RITER. In 1900 Mr. KINGTON was 52 years old, single, and living with his elderly parents and siblings. I could not find any evidence that he ever married or had children. I was unable to find much information about him at all.

Adolph F. (“A. F.”) BORCHARDT was one of the people giving surety (presumably for John HOOVER so he could administrate the estate?). Mr. BORCHARDT's homestead claim was in the section between William RITER's and Chester FULLER's claims and was to the east of William RITER's claim. (Chester's relationship to Nicholas is described above; Chester FULLER's Homestead Claim. Chester's land was separated from William RITER's by one section. Chester's land was to the east of William's.) Mr. BORCHARDT was born in Wisconsin. Although I couldn't find Mr. BORCHARDT in the 1900 census, his future wife (Daisy COVINGTON, whom he would marry in November of 1900) lived four residences down from Nicholas that year.

Above is Mr. BORCHARDT.

John Franklin (“Frank”) CALDWELL was the second person giving surety. Mr. CALDWELL owned property in the section between William RITER's and Chester FULLER's properties. In 1900 he lived 8 residences away from Nicholas. He was born in Iowa and had a large family. Mr. CALDWELL “cut and hauled cedars to Kansas. In his later years he was a night watchman for Mooreland. Being a father of twelve children he did not believe in sparing the rod.” You can find photos of his family and his homestead along with a little more information here.

John T. DAVIS Sr. was the Justice of the Peace in Woodward County. He ran on the Democratic ticket in the fall of 1904 for Justice of the Peace for the Mooreland Precinct. He signed and notarized some of the probate documents. John T. DAVIS Sr. (as well as Charles H. DAVIS- possibly a son of John T.) owned property kitty-corner to the northeast of Nicholas. A Charles DAVIS owed Nicholas $2 when Nicholas died and Charles DAVIS paid the estate prior to the closing of the case. Mr. DAVIS (possibly the father of Mack DAVIS who was also a close neighbor of Nicholas in 1900) certified that the witnesses were who they said they were. Mack DAVIS signed as a witness on estate paperwork. John T. DAVIS Sr. was born in Illinois. In 1900 there were two residences in between the Davis residence and Nicholas' residence. He was a trustee of the First Methodist Church in Mooreland when it received it's charter in 1905. If the Charles DAVIS and Mack DAVIS on the estate papers are really John DAVIS' sons, Charles (“Charlie”) was born in Missouri and Mack was born in Kansas.

Article about a fight Mr. DAVIS was in in 1903.

John T. DAVIS Sr. as a young man.

John T. DAVIS Sr. and his wife. (The photo's original caption says this is "Emma" - Sarah "Emma" GUESS- but the photo is him as an old man which would indicate the wife in the photo is his second wife, Eliza M. JENKINS.)

Harry Scott (“H. S.”) COCKERILL was Nicholas' physician prior to Nicholas' death. Mr. COCKERILL was born in Iowa. Like John T. DAVIS Sr., Dr. COCKERILL owned property kitty-corner to the northeast of Nicholas. Dr. COCKERILL took some hay in lieu of money to cover some of Nicholas' final doctor bill and then requested the remaining $12.40 in cash (the original bill was $25.85). Highway 412 now separates the original COCKERILL and RITER homesteads.) In 1900 he was living in and practicing medicine in Iowa but within several years he had a practice and a homestead claim in Mooreland, Woodward County, Oklahoma.

An ad that ran in the paper for Dr. Cockerill's services:

James Everett SMITH was born in Indiana. He graduated from Purdue University and was a teacher of mathematics at Northwestern Normal School. He was a member of the Masonic lodge and an active member of the Commercial Club. He moved to Alva in 1898. In 1903 he left the school, moved to Woodward and became the editor/publisher/part-owner of the Woodward Bulletin Weekly. He was a member of the Methodist church. He published notices for the estate of Nicholas RITER. Mr. SMITH was involved in politics in Woodward County and was a Republican. In 1904 he ran for Republican National Delegate. In 1900 he was single, a boarder with the EMBERSON family and living in Alva, Oklahoma. You can read a little more about him at this blog. Mr. SMITH was once excused from jury duty on a murder trial. You can read about the jurors here and some history about the murder here (several different blog posts on this page). The murder happened in the “Old Opera House”. The Old Opera House was the upper story of Peter MARTINSON's grocery store. You can read about Peter MARTINSON above. You can read alumni-type articles about Mr. SMITH here. He graduated in the Class of 1893.

Omer Furman SCHNOEBELEN was publisher of The Mooreland Leader newspaper. He printed sale bills and notices for the estate of Nicholas REITER. Mr. SCHNOEBELEN was born in Iowa. In 1900 he was living in Iowa with his parents. In 1903 at age 19, Mr. SCHNOEBELEN left Iowa and moved to Mooreland, Oklahoma, where he founded The Mooreland Leader newspaper. In 1914 he was appointed to the position of Postmaster in Mooreland. Mr. SCHNOEBELEN was a Democrat. He was active in politics and in his community. He was one of the first members of the Board of Trustees for the town of Mooreland and also served on the town council. He worked as an assistant cashier at Security State Bank in Mooreland, Oklahoma. You can read more about him here (Scroll down almost all the way to the bottom.). A short biography also appears in the book, A Standard History of Oklahoma, Volume 5 found here. I suspect that Mr. SCHNOEBELEN was Catholic. Several of his siblings professed Catholicism and he had a sister who was a nun of the Order of dePaul. I don't know for certain what religion Mr. SCHNOEBELEN was – or if he professed any religious allegiance at all- but I do know he went to bat for the Catholic community in Mooreland in 1967 when a proposal was made to close down the Sacred Heart Catholic mission in Mooreland. The Catholic mission was established in Mooreland in 1904. Mr. SCHNOEBELEN stated, “When I see every trend being toward large centers or big cities, I also see every evil consequence of such congestion of population. I think it just as reasonable to require that the Woodward people come to Oklahoma City or to Tulsa as to require our people of the Mooreland Mission to go to Woodward or Alva or Enid- and some of them will not, because they deem it an imposition to take from us the thing that we have worked for and sustained all these years.” (The Road to Renewal: Victor Joseph Reed and Oklahoma Catholicism, 1905-1971by Jeremy Bonner) In all descriptions of Mr. SCHNOEBELEN that I could find he was described as being an impartial reporter and a man who cared deeply for his community. Mr. SCHNOEBELEN's newspaper that he founded is still in operation today and is owned by 3rd and 4th generation family members. (The Mooreland Leader Case Study, July 2015) If you go to this link, you will find a nice article on page 13 about the linotype machinery Mr. SCHNOEBELEN used as well as photos of his descendants with the equipment. Here is a 1903 newspaper.com clipping about Mr. SCHNOEBELEN:

Mr. SCHNOEBELEN's wife, Eda (KNITTEL) SCHNOEBELEN, notarized the estate documents he signed. Like Mr. SCHNOEBELEN, Ms. KNITTEL was born in Iowa. They both came from Riverside, Iowa. In 1900 she lived in Illinois with her widowed mother, Barbara, and her siblings. In 1900 she was 15 years old and attending school. She did not marry Mr. SCHNOEBELEN until early in 1904. Mrs. (KNITTEL) SCHNOEBELEN was a Notary Public and worked with her husband at the newspaper. She worked briefly as the assistant to the Postmaster and also worked for a time at Wyckoff Brothers' general merchandise/grocery store.

George E./H. WHITE posted notices of the sale of Nicholas REITER's property as required by law. On 13 February 1905 he posted notice of the Order for Sale of Personal Property in three public places including the front door of the Woodward County courthouse, the Mooreland Post Office, and the John Redman School House. His fee for posting was $1.00. Mr. WHITE was a next-door neighbor to Nicholas. Mr. WHITE was born in New York. In 1900 he was Nicholas' next door neighbor. There is a detailed article about the historical schools in Woodward County. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.

I'm going to end part 1 of this blog post here. Part 2 will be coming up shortly. I hope you've enjoyed getting to know the neighbors and friends of Nicholas REITER, William RITER, and Jennie RITER FULLER- many of them pioneers of Woodward County and some who participated in the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893.

Until next time,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

Take Me Out AT the Ball Game?!

(I would apologize for the length of this post except I'm not sorry! Yes- it's a little long, but it needed to be this length to tell the whole story.  I found it interesting.  I hope you do, too.)

Death by a Blow from a Baseball Bat
OR, How a Republican Governor from Ohio Changed My Family's History

Everybody has something to offer the world. Even...murderers, and politicians.” ~ This Book Has No Title, Jarod Kintz

If you've been reading my blog this year, you know I'm not above featuring the less-desirable moments in my ancestors' lives as well as the shining moments. I feature the ancestors you wish you had...and the ones some might want to forget. I can't change history, but I can advertise it so that some in my generation (and maybe future generations) will learn and not re-live the less-distinguished moments in our shared history. I'm going all the way back to the May blog theme I missed- “black sheep”. In the beginning I was somewhat uncomfortable writing the story about Theodore Clay LARKIN because when I looked at the surface story it appeared to be the story of one man who was a regular joe and one man who had some serious political connections and then used those connections to get out of some serious trouble. That didn't sit well with me. But things are rarely what they first seem to be, are they? Join me in revisiting the lives of two men- my 3rd great grand uncle Theodore Clay LARKIN (brother of my 3rd great grandfather, Joseph LARKIN) and his fellow baseball player, Charles SCHOCH.

Here's your last chance to get background information if you missed it or want to refresh. I wrote about Theodore's mom Mary Angeline here, his sister-in-law (Joseph's wife) Mary Elizabeth here, and his grandmother Mary M. here.

Charles SCHOCH (also spelled SCHOCK or SHOCK)

First I want to tell you the short story of Charles SCHOCH. Charles was born about 1850 in Germany. Sometime between 1850-1857 he immigrated to America with his parents and siblings. He had three sisters- Wilhelmena, Caroline, and Magdalena. Charles' dad was George SCHOCH and his mom was Stevana (Stephania after she came to America). Early in his life, Charles was a tinner by trade (worked in a tin shop). Later in life, he was considered to be one of the prominent merchants in Neville, Ohio. He was a merchant there for about 20 years prior to his death. His family appears to have been known and liked in his community. His dad was a Village Trustee a couple of times, was on the school board, and was a Noble Grand in the IOOF Vesper Lodge #131 twice. Charles had a penchant for making bets and possibly for drinking. He also enjoyed playing baseball. When Charles was 27, his father passed away. In 1880 at age 29, Charles was living with his mother and 10 year old sister - presumably taking care of them. Within the year, he married, had a daughter, and his mother died. Charles and his wife Matilda had five daughters and a son: Mamie S. “Mary” (b.1881), Blanch (b.1883), Bessie (b. 1886), Frank (b. 1887), Prudie L. (b. 1889),and Annie Mary (b. 1891). Of Charles' children, Blanch died just after her first birthday and Frank died at age 5. Three years after Frank's death, Charles also lost his wife. Three years after his wife's death, Charles was killed in a fight at a baseball field over bets he was making on the baseball game. Charles' living children that were orphaned in 1899 include Mary (Mamie), Prudie, and Annie. I don't know what happened to Bessie. I haven't been able to find Bessie in any records with extended family. Annie was only 8 years old when she was orphaned. She went to live with her maternal grandmother and uncle- Anna and Lewis LAUGH. I believe Prudie went to live with her maternal uncle and aunt- Sam and Sadie LAUGH. Prudie stayed with Lewis until after she turned 18. Mamie was 18 at the time of her father's death.

Theodore Clay LARKIN

Now I want to tell you a story about Theodore Clay LARKIN. Theodore went by Clay. Clay was born in 1844 in Ohio. He had six siblings- Augusta, Joseph, Mary, Lea, Benjamin, and Laura. Like Charles, Clay suffered some losses in his life. When Clay was 13 years old, his dad passed away. Clay's dad died at the age of 40. After the death of Clay's dad, he and his two oldest siblings were required to go to work to support the family. Augusta became a domestic servant in someone's home. Joseph and Clay went to work as common laborers. Based on census records it looks like Mary stayed home and tended to the smaller children and household duties. Their mother also went to work to support the family. When the Civil War began, Clay and his brother Joseph both enlisted and went to war.

In 1881, at 37 years old, Clay married Martha Ann CONOVER. (Martha went by Anna.) They lived in Moscow, Clermont County, Ohio.  There is a daughter named Orbie listed on Ancestry's website as being Clay's. The daughter was born in 1880- the year before Clay and Anna married. Orbie does not appear on any census record that I have found but Clay and Anna are listed as her parents on her marriage record. Together Clay and Anna had four children- Orbie (b. 1880), Edna (b. 1884), Albert (b. 1885), and Charles (b. 1889). In 1884 when Clay was 39 years old, his 9-month old daughter Edna died. Five years later, Clay lost his mother and a 5-month old son. Clay and Anna were still living in Moscow, Clermont County, Ohio in 1890 but in the 1900 census Clay was in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio.  Anna was still living in Moscow, Ohio with their son Albert in 1900. Clay lost his sister (Laura) that same year. Like Charles, Clay was a baseball player and liked making bets. Clay drank and fought on more than one documented occasion.

While Charles had family who held local public offices, Clay had an extended family who was very well known in the public sphere. Two of Clay's great uncles- Elijah and Moses LARKIN- both held elected and appointed public offices including city trustee, mayor, postmaster, Justice of the Peace, and Associate Judge of the Common Pleas Court. One of Elijah's sons was Mayor for one term immediately following Elijah's mayoral term. Moses was influential in both politics and religion.

Moses LARKIN portrait found in the History of Clermont County book (see below).

Moses' son, Joseph, was “one of the most prominent men of Cincinnati in his day, and was a familiar friend of many of the great men of his times.” Remember last week when I wrote about Ulysses S. Grant being born in Clermont County? According to the Clermont County history book I found, Joseph and Ulysses were playmates when they were school-aged. Little Joseph grew up to be a wealthy and very influential financier/banker in Cincinnati, Ohio. Clay had another cousin (a second cousin) also named Joseph who was a very wealthy and influential banker and financier as well.

The LARKIN brothers- Moses, Elijah, Elisha (my ancestor and Clay's grandfather), and Joseph- were described as “men of original thought, decided convictions, [having] great influence in shaping the tone and character of the community. The cause of justice and virtue ever found champions in them, and they clung tenaciously to the truth and the side of public morals."  (The information and quotes about Clay's and Charles' parental/extended family backgrounds comes from History of Clermont County,Ohio, by J. L. Rockey and R. J. Bancroft; Rootsweb; Genealogical and Family History of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Pennsylvania, edited by Reverend Horace Edwin Hayden, M. A.; and, History of Clermont County, Ohio, with illustrations and biographical sketches of its prominent men and pioneers, by R. J. Bancroft and J. L. Rockey. Basic biographical data comes from Ancestry, FamilySearch, and Find A Grave.)

This is the background from which Clay came. The family connections listed above do not include the connections he had through his mother's and great-grandmother's families. I don't know if he lived a privileged life but he certainly had connections to influential relatives.

12 August 1897- Trouble Brewing

August seemed to be a bad month for Clay in the years leading up to 1899. On 12 August 1897 (keep the August 12th date in mind- it shows up again later) The Hocking Sentinel (Logan, Ohio) newspaper ran an article about Clay. Sometime between 6 August and 12 August 1897, Clay and a man named John BENNETT had been drinking in Moscow, Ohio. The article says they “became intoxicated and began abusing each other”. Clay pulled a knife and cut BENNETT across the arms, chest, and back. Clay punched BENNETT so hard it broke BENNETT's right jaw. BENNETT got in his own punches. He punched Clay in the face to the point that Clay would be “disfigured for life”. BENNETT was taken to his home and was in critical condition. Clay “escaped to Kentucky”. Kentucky is not very far from Moscow, Ohio, and I believe Clay had family there.

Found at Newspapers.com

12 August 1899- A “Game Changer”*

Murderers are not monsters, they're men. And that's the most frightening thing about them.” The Lovely Bones, Alice Seabold

August 12th the forecast was for cooler weather (low 70's in the morning ranging to mid-80's in the afternoon) with a possibility of rain for some of the areas surrounding Cincinnati, Ohio (which would include Felicity, Ohio). Front page headlines in the Cincinnati paper told of the San Ciriaco hurricane headed toward Florida. Baseball was big in the Cincinnati area and it was a perfect day to play ball. Clay had been appointed as a special policeman/Marshall to ensure security and order at the ballgame in Felicity on 12 August 1899 between the Neville and Felicity teams. Two weeks prior there had been some disturbances and trouble during a game due to people betting. It was Clay's job to make sure there wasn't a repeat 'performance' of this behavior at the 12 August game. As Clay was policing, he came upon Charles who was rooting for his team and enjoying the game. Charles was making small bets on various players and events of the game (who would make a hit or a base and who wouldn't, etc.). Clay had been intermittently participating in the bets and Charles had won a small amount of money off of Clay in these bets. Charles made another bet against a “colored man named Belt...as to whether a certain player would make his third base”, according to reports. The bet was for a quarter and a young boy was holding the bets for the men. The run was made and the boy handed over the money to the winner of the bet- Charles. Belt began making a scene and became violent. He said it wasn't a fair bet and the money belonged to him. He used “profanity and abusive language” against Charles. Charles stated he would not allow any man to curse him. About this time Clay came back around and heard Charles' statement. Clay's response was, “Curse him all you damn please, Belt!” Charles told Clay that it was in bad taste for him to make such a remark when it was his job to keep order at the game and that Clay's behavior was contrary to his job. Clay walked away “a few steps” and Charles stayed where he was on the perimeter of the baseball diamond watching the game. After a bit Clay returned, walked up behind Charles and, “with no word of challenge or warning dealt him a frightful blow from the rear”. Clay hit Charles in the back of the head with a baseball bat. Charles dropped to the ground instantly and was unconscious. The crowd was in tumult. There was a lot of threats to Clay, shouting, “terror and confusion”, and people running away from the scene. Officials broke up the game and Clay was rushed off the field and straight to jail. A large crowd gathered outside the jail threatening to take vengeance for the murder of Charles. Clay was under heavy guard due to the angry mob. At 7:34 p.m., just two and a half hours after the incident, the sun set. The moon was a new moon so it would have been a dark night.i Half an hour after sunset- just three hours after the blow to the head- Charles died never having regained consciousness. About midnight the coroner and prosecutor showed up on the scene to begin the investigation. By Sunday morning everything had calmed down. An autopsy was performed on Charles and no abnormalities were found so the blow to the head was found to be the sole cause of his death. “The verdict as rendered was in accordance death by a blow from a base ball bat in the hands of Clay LARKIN.” Several witnesses stated they saw Clay hit Charles with the bat.

Clay would not say why he had killed Charles and no motive was known for the murder at the time it was committed. Clay appeared before a magistrate judge, waived examination, and was held in jail awaiting a grand jury to be held in October of 1899. The case apparently went to a jury trial. The trial commenced about 16 February 1899. There was considerable trouble finding a jury. Thirty-six prospective jurors were called and only four were allowed to be on the jury. The judge called up an additional forty prospective jurors. Around 20 February 1900 the closing arguments were given and the jury began deliberating Clay's guilt or innocence. The jury was out 24 hours before returning a verdict to the judge. Clay was found guilty of murder in the second degree. The penalty was life in prison. 1900- the same year Clay's sister died- Clay was sent to Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio to serve out his time.

Photo of the old Ohio State Penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio taken in 1900 (the year Clay went to prison). Photo was found on the Library of Congress website. Details about the 1897 and 1899 incidents involving Clay LARKIN as well as some of the information about his release were taken from newspapers found at Newspapers.com.

Ohio State Penitentiary's heyday was around 1900. It was considered a model prison and tours were given to tourists. There is some very interesting history about it at Forgotten Ohio. The cells were so small that a grown man could sit with his back against one wall and his feet would touch the opposite wall. You can read a little about the interior of the prison at Illicit Ohio. Famous writer O. Henry was imprisoned here beginning in 1898. His first story (a short story) to bear the pen name “O. Henry” was written while he was in the Ohio State Pen. You can read it at Literature Collection.

On 8 January 1906 (Governor Myron T. HERRICK's final day in office) Governor HERRICK extended executive clemency to Clay. Clay's life sentence was commuted to 15 years. A commutation for a prisoner is rare. The sentences of six men were commuted that day by the governor. All six men had murdered someone and all six life sentences were commuted to between 10-20 years. All six sentence commutations were recommended by the State Board of Pardons. I was curious as to why the governor would commute not only Clay's sentence but the sentences of 5 additional murderers. I think the answer lies in a document Governor HERRICK was looking at in his final months in office. The document was the Annual Report provided by the state Attorney General. Within the report, The Habitual Criminal Act was discussed. This act was repealed by the state legislature in 1902. After the repeal, some of the affected prisoners (prisoners who would not have been given a life sentence had the now-repealed Act not been on the books) applied to be paroled and their applications were rejected. They filed a lawsuit that was eventually brought before the Ohio Supreme Court (1904, In Re Kline, 70 O.S. 25). The Ohio Supreme Court decided that even though the act had been repealed the State could not go back and review the cases of all the prisoners who had been convicted under that act and that the prisoners' only hope of being freed or receiving a reduced sentence would be executive clemency from the governor. (Note: If this Act really did apply to Clay, that means that somewhere there will be court records about him regarding other criminal actions by him.)

Governor HERRICK chose to extend clemency to a few men.  Clay's sentence began in 1900. With the clemency, and based on time served and good behavior, Clay was soon released from prison.

bloggovernor herrick ohio memory collection.jpg
Portrait of Govern HERRICK found at Ohio Memory Collection's website.

Clay's “After-life”

We are all descendants of murderers...” ~ Amanda Sledz

Before Clay was released from prison, Anna separated from Clay. Some statements from both Anna and Clay say they divorced but I have not found any divorce record. Sometime between 1906 and 1910, Clay was released from prison. Oddly enough, it was Anna's family who took him in. In 1910, Clay was living with his ex-wife's nephew and working as a farm laborer. The nephew he was living with was Charles Clay REED. Charles REED was the son of Addie CONOVER REED, the sister of Anna (Clay's ex-wife). I'm not sure if Anna's family really loved Clay or if the names Clay and Theodore were really popular at that time. Anna's parents named a son Theodore after Clay and Anna married. Then Anna's sister gave one of her sons the middle name Clay and another son the name Theodore.

By 1912, Clay was getting sicker. He checked in to a National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Dayton, Ohio. Clay was 67 years old. He was described as being 6'3, ruddy complexion, brown eyes, and gray hair. He was a Protestant and his occupation was Farrier. He stated that when released, he would be living in Piqua, Ohio. He stated he was married but listed his nearest relative as his son, Albert, who lived on Gladstone Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio. His health disabilities are listed as, “Cardiac Dilation of Heart. Actionweak. Slight Def. Vision Hyperthropsy Arteriosclerosis Left Varicocale Frequent mucturition.” He was admitted on 3 July 1912 and discharged on 22 October 1913. He was discharged “at request”. When he was discharged his paperwork went to the address of 500 College Street, Piqua, Ohio. I'm assuming that was his address in 1913.

Despite Clay listing himself as married, I've found no evidence that he remarried nor that he and Anna reconciled. In 1900 he stated he was divorced. In 1912 he stated he was married. Anna stated she was a widow from at least 1902 until her death in 1916. Three years after Anna passed away, Clay died. He died just a few months after his brother Joseph died.

Some Final Thoughts

In the month or two that I've been working on this blog post I've spent a lot of time sorting out the different people with the same names. I believe I have presented an accurate story and kept all the Clay and Anna LARKINs straight (kept the right ones in the story and the wrong ones out). However, if you find errors, please let me know.

Thank -you's: In the beginning I called on my sister-in-law Becky for help because I was having trouble. She had access to a newspaper database that I thought could help. It did and this whole adventure really started moving after that. Thanks, Becky! Thanks also to my brother Jared who copied, edited, and messaged me a photo of one of the more famous ball players named Ted LARKIN. Initially we thought that Clay was one of the famous baseball players. As it turned out, he was not “Big Teddy LARKIN” who played for the Philadelphia Athletics team. There were actually two Ted LARKIN's playing baseball in the late 1890's to early 1900's. Our Theodore LARKIN is neither of those men. Lastly, I would also like to thank a new digital friend- Stephen McClanahan- whom I met on the FindAGrave website. He was so kind as to drive to a library in Clermont County, Ohio and copy a news article about the murder for me. That one article had details that all the other articles did not. If you are interested in looking at Charles SCHOCH's memorial that Stephen manages you can click here.

Above is NOT our Theodore LARKIN. Thanks to Jared for his efforts to edit this photo for the blog even though it turned out not to be our relative. This photo came from the book The National Game, by Alfred Spink. It's free as a download if you're interested in reading it. It was copyrighted in 1910. It's a history of baseball in America and might give a good idea of the game from Clay's era. As a side note, apparently death by baseball isn't that uncommon. There's a whole website dedicated to it- Death at the Ballpark. Charles' name is there.

Final thoughts on Charles: There were some inconsistencies in Charles' death date. I chose 12 August 1899 because I believe that to be the correct date due to all the newspaper articles that were printed at the time of his death. Other sources say 11 August 1899 (FindAGrave) and 17 August 1899 (Record of Deaths, Probate Court, Clermont County- accessed on FamilySearch). (Note: Even though FamilySearch transcribed this date as 12 August, when I enlarged it it was clearly 17 August.) The Probate Court record gives his name as Charles SCHOCK. The cause of death was “Fracture & Concussion”.

Final thoughts on Clay: I've had some time to think about that life-changing decision Clay made at the ball game in August of 1899. Charles and Clay were both described as baseball players- perhaps they had run-ins on the field during games. I believe that the night Charles died was not the first run-in that Clay and Charles had. Surely there must have been some long-term bad blood between them- either on the baseball field or off- for Clay to kill Charles that night over a little bit of money. I also believe that Clay knew John BENNETT long before they got into a fight in 1897. I'm not sure if they went out together that night and then got into it or if they never liked each other and just ended up in the same place drinking that night.

Last night as I was gripped with yet another night of insomnia, I was thinking about Clay. He grew up without a dad and I don't think he had a particularly easy time of it. I wonder if, sitting in that tiny prison cell day after day, he thought about his own son who was growing up without a dad. Until 1906 he had no hope of ever parenting his children or being there for them in any real way. Surely he must have thought about that. I may never know if he regretted killing Charles- I'd like to think he did- but surely he must have regretted sentencing his son to the same childhood he endured. (Don't we always want to think good of people related to us? If we look at the reality of the world though, evil exists- and some people are just evil. They feel no regret or remorse for what they've done. We may never know which description fits Clay.) Then my thoughts turned to his son, Albert. Albert was only about 5 years old when his dad went to prison. Initially I thought he must be a very loving, forgiving person. It seems he looked after his mom until her death and also took care of his dad until his dad's death. Albert was described in a newspaper as being a war hero (World War I). However, other information I've found suggests perhaps that may not be the entire picture. Albert had an alias. He used it to get into the military. His stepson, George NISONGER, had an alias as well and spent time in Folsom and San Quentin prisons. So perhaps we are looking at a family of criminals as opposed to a family of people who "just made a mistake".

I'm going to drop the story here and let you decide for yourself. I hope you've enjoyed the story of Clay and Charles. One last side note- in Ohio today, a Warrant of Commutation is issued in triplicate if/when a prisoner's sentence is commuted. The prisoner gets a copy, the prison keeps a copy, and a copy is filed in the Court of Common Pleas in the location where the original sentence was handed down. If there were any conditions placed on the prisoner for his release, those will be included in the warrant. Facts regarding the case or why the prisoner's sentence was commuted may also be in these documents. If you are interested in seeing those documents for yourself, you can check with the courthouse in Batavia, Clermont County, Ohio to see if they have one for Clay. Also, if you are interested in seeing his prison record you can forward a request at Ohio History's blog.

Don't forget to check out Down in the Root Cellar. Becky's been busy cranking out blog posts over there!

Until next time,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

A Larkin, A Wedding, and a Wedding

Toward the end of June I started this blog post. The goal was to do at least one June theme during the month of June. That didn't work out for me. I'm determined to get it done this weekend and posted. In trying to finish it, the phrase that came to mind was “water, water everywhere, and not a drop to spare” which is actually a mis-remembrance of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: “water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink”. There is a lot of information out there in the world but scarcely any to be found about Mary Angeline WEDDING. I'm choosing to go ahead and post what I have and hope for more in the future.

The first week of June's theme was wedding. I thought about it for several days and felt like I wasn't coming up with anything except my mind kept coming back to one couple- my fourth great-grandparents, James and Mary Angeline (Mam's great-great grandmother). Finally it occurred to me why I kept settling on Mary Angeline. Her maiden name was WEDDING! So there you have it. A bonus is that my post will be different than others for this blogging week/theme because others will most likely be writing about wedding ceremonies.

In an older section of my blog, I posted about my 3rd great-grandmother and Mary Angeline's daughter-in-law, Mary Elizabeth LANE LARKIN (wife of Mary Angeline's son, Joseph LARKIN). In the newest section of my blog I also posted about Mary Angeline's mom, Mary McATEE WEDDING.

Mary Angeline Wedding

Mary Angeline was born in 1819 in Maryland to John and Mary M. (McATEE) WEDDING. She was likely born in Waldorf, Charles County, Maryland, as that is where her family lived before her birth. In 1820 (right after Mary Angeline was born) the family moved to Frederick County, Maryland. They stayed there through at least 1824. I am uncertain exactly when they moved to Ohio, but in 1830 they were censused in Mill Creek, Hamilton County, Ohio. From there, they moved to Clermont County, Ohio (about 1832). During this time, Mary Angeline's mom, Mary M., had other children. I believe Mary Angeline had 9 siblings and there are 4 or 5 more who were possibly her siblings as well. In order of birth the children were: Ralph, John Wesley, Thomas Lawson, Rebecca Ann, Matilda Ann, Mary Angeline, James William, Elizabeth Jane, George Washington, and Nackey Ellen. The four who MAY be siblings are: Charles, David, Frank, and at least one other child who has not been identified by name.

Mary Angeline, my 4th great-grandmother, married James H. LARKIN on 23 June 1839.

Blog Larkin Wedding marriage record.jpg

This is the best photo I have of their marriage record.  Thanks to my sister-in-law, Becky, for finding the image.  (You should visit Becky's blog at Down in the Root Cellar).

The LARKIN family was considered to be of good moral character. The WEDDING and LARKIN families were among the early settlers of Clermont County, Ohio and were very prominent. The LARKINs were considered very influential in the county, especially in the areas of religion and politics. They were largely instrumental in the growth and development of Washington and Franklin Townships. The family was Irish through the WEDDING line. The first LARKIN immigrant in our family emigrated to America in the early part of the 18th century and settled in the Maryland Colony. Subsequent generations (including my ancestor, John) moved from Maryland to Kentucky briefly and then settled in Ohio in the very early 1800's. In Clermont County, the LARKINs became bankers (at least one was a very notable and influential banker), justices of the peace, mayors, associate judges, and postmasters, among other occupations. This influence would serve various family members well throughout several generations (this will be a topic for a future blog post). Mary Angeline's son, Joseph (my ancestor), married a LANE. The LANEs were early settlers in the area as well.  (Information found at Hathitrust and Rootsweb.)

James and Mary Angeline LARKIN had seven children together: Anna Augusta, Joseph L. (my ancestor), Benjamin F., Theodore Clay (who went by “Clay” and will be featured in a blog post soon), Mary M., Leo J., and Laura A. James died the year after Laura was born. Mary Angeline outlived her husband by 31 years and did not marry again. She lived long enough to see the births of at least 25 of her grandchildren. She also lived through the loss of at least 3 of those grandchildren (2 of Anna's and Abner's children and 1 of Clay's and Martha's. Laura and her husband Walter were expecting a child when Mary passed away.

Because of society's views about women during Mary Angeline's lifetime, it's difficult to learn about female ancestors. The best that I can do when telling her story is to research the people with whom she was connected, research the social history of that time and place, and research the history of people connected to that locale and time for general tidbits about their lives. I wasn't able to come up with much more than general events that happened during her lifetime that may have had some affect on her life.

I've already told a little of the history of Port Tobacco, Maryland when I told Mary McATEE WEDDING's story in the link above. So I'll begin with Clermont County, Ohio. Clermont means “clear mountains and hills” which describes Clermont County as it was when French explorers first laid eyes on the area.  (Information found at Clermont County, Ohio, Government website.) About 20 years before the WEDDING family moved to the area, Clermont County was the site of the Battle of Grassy Run that occurred in 1792 between pioneer Simon Kenton and Native American warrior, Tecumseh, on April 10, 1792. Clermont County was inhabited by quite a few Native American tribes up until about 1811- just a little more than a decade before the Wedding family moved into the area. You can read about the Battle of Grassy Run here. Ulysses S. Grant was born in Clermont County about the time the Wedding family moved there.

The early settlers of the area who were from Maryland and Kentucky (as the LARKINs and WEDDINGs were) were staunchly anti-slavery. The Underground Railroad was very active during the time the WEDDING and LARKIN families lived there. I found this picture to be very interesting. It is called the Freedom Stairway and leads up from the river to an Underground Railroad Conductor's home.

Freedom Stairway Ohio.jpg

Photo can be found at Ohio Memory and also at Ohio History Central.

The Freedom Stairway is located in Brown County, Ohio where the LARKIN family lived for a very short time around 1849-1850. Felicity, Ohio (where the family spent the most time) was very close to the Brown County line so it's possible the family didn't move very far at all when they moved from Clermont to Brown County and then back to Clermont County again.

Daniel Boone went on hunting and warfare expeditions into Clermont County. George Washington once owned land in the county. John Hunt Morgan and his Confederate raiders invaded the county in 1863 when Mary Angeline's son, Joseph L. (my ancestor) was about 21 years old. The following year Joseph enlisted and went to war for the Yankees. Mary Angeline saw her sons Joseph and Theodore go to war. I have been unable to track her son Leo so I am uncertain what happened to him after 1860. Her son Benjamin would have been too young to go to war during the Civil War and I have been unable to track him after 1880. I have not found any evidence that her sons-in-law Abner (Anna Augusta's husband) or Walter (Laura's husband) went to war.

Another famous person with ties to Ohio is John Chapman, a.k.a Johnny Appleseed. I was able to find the map below in an old news article and from the looks of it, it appears that Johnny Appleseed did make one trip through southern Ohio and was possibly in the area of the LARKIN and WEDDING families.

Johnny Appleseed map2.jpg

I found this map at Newspapers.com (the Mansfield News-Journal, Vol. 57, No. 203, Mansfield, OH, 25 September 1941, Page 1, "Route Johnny Appleseed Followed to West").  I cropped and enlarged it with the Paint program on my computer.  The footprints show the paths Johnny Appleseed traveled.  You can go here to learn more about Johnny Appleseed.  Johnny Appleseed was in the southern part of Ohio near around 1844, just a year before his death. At that time, Mary Angeline had two children and another who was born in 1844. Our ancestor Joseph would have been about 2 years old at the time.

The temperance movement as well as the suffragist movement both occurred during Mary Angeline's lifetime and both groups were present in Ohio.

blog temperance mvmt ohio.jpg

This was a Women's Temperance Crusade in Waynesville, Ohio, about 1873-1874.  Photo found at Ohio History Central.

Blog Let_Ohio_Women_Vote.jpg

This was a postcard found at Ohio History Central.  The Ohio Woman Suffrage Association was one of the women's suffragist groups in Ohio.  The women's suffrage movement gained strength in Ohio after the civil war.

The LARKIN and WEDDING families were present during a time when a lot of history was being made in Ohio. One day I hope to find more information about Mary Angeline. It would be great to know how, or even if, these movements or events affected her life. It would be nice to be able to confirm Mary Angeline's and James' deaths and burials in Ohio.  In the meantime, I leave you with a poem from a poet who came from Clermont County, Ohio during the time that the LARKINs and WEDDINGs lived there.

Drift Away
by Abbie C. McKeever

Drift away, oh clouds of amber.
Crimson-lined in billowy mass;
Drift away, in silent footsteps:
I shall watch you as you pass.
I shall watch you- yes, and love you-
For the beauty that you gave:
Beauty dying in the twilight,
Like the lilies on his grave.

Drift away to unknown heavens,
Crimson clouds along the west;
But remember that you are bearing
In your downy amber breast,
Hopes that whisper softly to him
Of a love that never dies-
Love that tires of waiting lonely
Ere the call to other skies.

Drift away, oh, clouds of sunset,
Purple with the later light;
See! The stars are all about you-
Diamond eyes of early night.
Drift away; but while you are passing
Bear this message up to him.
That the earthly skies that fold me
Soon shall part and let me in.

Please visit: Down in the Root Cellar, Theology for Mom, and Recipes from Lena.

Until next time,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

The Commencement of My Davis Line as I Know It: Corporal John F. Davis, 1810-1863

"While a battle is raging, one can see his enemy mowed down by the thousand, or the ten thousand, with great composure; but after the battle these scenes are distressing, and one is naturally disposed to alleviate the sufferings of an enemy as a friend." ~ General Ulysses S. Grant

Everyone has a few ancestral family lines that don't go back very far. Information becomes harder to find after a certain time period. The farthest back I can go on my DAVIS line is John F. DAVIS. So for this week's theme (“commencement”- and actually it's one of the May themes that I missed) I'm going to talk about John, the beginning (commencement) of my DAVIS line as I know it right now.

John F. DAVIS was born in 1810. Most researchers say he was born in Onondaga County, New York. However, the 1860 census and his Civil War Draft Registration state he was born in Kentucky. The earliest record I can find about him is his marriage to Rachel CHENOWETH on 15 January 1835 in Perry, Pike County, Illinois. The 1840 census only shows the name of the Head of Household which, in this family, was John. The rest of the family members only show up as tic marks on the form. The 1840 census shows three John DAVIS families living in Perry, Pike County, Illinois in 1840. Only one is going by John F. In John F.'s household there were two adults (one male and one female) in the age “20 & under 30” category and two girls in the “under 5” category. The two young daughters were Sarah C. (my great-great grandmother and wife of Nicholas W. REITER whom I wrote about in this blog post http://happy-girl-24.livejournal.com/16813.html) and Chloe Jane.

In 1850, John and Rachel are still living in Perry, Pike County, Illinois. In addition to Sarah and Chloe, they had Jonathan, John, Nancy, and James in 1850. John's occupation was “laborer”. Sarah, Chloe, Jonathan, and John were attended school that year. Three-year-old Nancy and 5-month-old James stayed at home with Rachel.

In 1860, John, Rachel and children- Jonathan, John, James, Nancy, Charles, Alpheus, Harvey, Horace, and Susan- were living in Perry, Pike County, Illinois. John was a farmer. Sarah had married Nicholas REITER 8 years prior to the census. Chloe had married John REEDER 2 years prior to the census. All the children from Jonathan down to Alpheus had attended school the year of the census. Harvey, Horace, and Susan stayed at home with Rachel. In this census there are a few details that are changed from the previous census. Those details are that John's birthplace was listed as Kentucky and that children Nancy and James have been reversed in the order of children AND so have their ages. This census lists James as being the older (and being the age Nancy should have been) and Nancy being the younger (and being the age James should have been).

Don't You Know There's a War Going on Here?!

Dear Brother & Sister I write these few lines to you to let you know that I am still alive...” ~ Letter from Thomas Barnett, Alton, Illinois

Kurz and Allison Siege of Vicksburg color lithograph.  Found at www.loc.gov.

In July of 1863, John completed his Civil War Draft Registration. He listed his birthplace as Kentucky. He stated he was 51 years of age and was a farmer. He gave his physical description as: 6 feet 10 ½ inches high, fair complexion, grey eyes, and light hair. He listed his former military service as Company F, 99th Regiment, Illinois Volunteers, Civil War. He listed his residence as Perry Township, Pike County, Illinois. He was a Corporal in Captain Eli R. SMITH's Company F of the 99th Regiment of United States Volunteers (Infantry). He was enlisted by Lemuel PARKES at Perry, Pike County, Illinois on 2 August 1862 to serve three years. He mustered in on 23 August 1862 at Florence, Illinois.

The timeline leading up to his death:

Battle of Port Gibson- I Hope God Will Remember Us In Mercy

Such a day I never saw before. It made it so very Horrible to us because we had to go in and fight in the same place all the time, where the ground was already soaked with the blood of our comrades. But I hope God will remember us in Mersy.” ~Diary of Job H. Yaggy, Plainfield, Illinois

1 May 1863
Battle of Port Gibson (Mississippi).
Despite Union forces losing more men than Confederates, the Union won this battle. General GRANT had an elaborate plan to take Grand Gulf and deceive enemy troops in Vicksburg but had to make a change in plans when he was unable to gain a decisive victory over the Confederates on the first attempt. In the end, however, he was victorious. Wirt ADAMS' cavalry (CSA) was the only one in the area. Major General John S. BOWEN (CSA) decided to perform a reconnaissance. BOWEN moved south from Grand Gulf and positioned troops just southwest of Port Gibson near Magnolia Church. The terrain the Confederates were in consisted of “one-hundred-foot-tall (30 m) hills separated by nearly vertical ravines choked with canebrakes and underbrush”. Just after midnight on 1 May 1863, the first shots were fired in the battle. You can read more about this battle at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Port_Gibson or for a more detailed account: http://civilwartalk.com/threads/battle-of-port-gibson.85379/. You can also read more here and see photos of the Schaifer House and the Old Magnolia Church site: http://www.nps.gov/vick/learn/historyculture/battleportgibson.htm. Still interested? This blog has an article about the battle. Scroll down not quite halfway. https://mississippiconfederates.wordpress.com/category/mississippi-regiments/. For some great book recommendations, look at this site: http://www.illinoiscivilwar150.org/chronos/chrono1863.html.

Battle of Port Gibson drawing from http://www.nps.gov/vick/learn/historyculture/battleportgibson.htm.

Champion Hill, Hinds County, Mississippi – Grant's Crown of Immortality

... for a while the bullets came like hail stones but we soon got down onto the rebs and drove them up, took meney of them prisoners and left a great meney laying, killed and wounded.... This is called the ‘BATTLE OF CHAMPIONS HILL’ ” ~ Diary, Job H. Yaggy, Plainfield, Illinois

"Grant's crown of immortality was won, and the jewel that shone most brightly in it was set there by the blood of the men of Champion Hills ...... Six thousand blue and gray-coated men were lying there in the woods, dead or wounded, when the last gun of Champion Hills was fired.” ~ Major S. H. M. Byers, Fifth Iowa Infantry

16 May 1863
Battle of Champion Hill (Hinds County, Mississippi).
Wikipedia describes this battle as “the pivotal battle in the Vicksburg Campaign”. It began about 7:00 a.m. on the “beautiful and cool” morning of 16 May 1863. To give you some idea of the number of men present, the Confederates alone had a defensive battle line of men that ran about 3 miles long. The defensive line was along a crest of a ridge above Jackson Creek. At 1:00 p.m. Union forces took the crest. Confederate reinforcements showed up and the Confederate men trapped on the ridge utilized the one escape route that was left open to them. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Champion_Hill; http://www.illinoiscivilwar.org/cw93-hist-ch4b.html) An excellent website to learn more about this battle is: http://battleofchampionhill.org/. Among other things it includes diary accounts.

Battle of Champion Hill drawing found at www.battleofchampionhill.org.

Map of Champion Hill battlefield area.  Found at www.illinoiscivilwar.org.

Aerial view of Champion Hill, http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~abney/mshistory.html.

Battle of Big Black River Bridge – My Army is Starving

I have been up to see the Congress and they do not seem to be able to do anything except to eat peanuts and chew tobacco, while my army is starving.”~ General Robert E. Lee

The Confederates who were able to retreat only made it to Big Black River. They spent the night there at the bridge and the following day fighting began again in what would be the “final battle before the Siege of Vicksburg”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Big_Black_River_Bridge). In front of the battle line, they placed trees with the trunks formed into sharp points as obstacles. The points were facing outward toward oncoming Union troops and the branches were facing inward. Typically the tree branches were interwoven with wire and/or other obstacles. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abatis). However, once engaged by Union troops, Confederates began withdrawing via the railroad bridge and a steamboat. To delay Union troops, the Confederates burned the bridge and steamboat after they crossed. Later that day, the Confederate soldiers arrived in Vicksburg, Mississippi. “Fewer than half of the Confederates who had fought at Champion Hill made it into the defenses at Vicksburg. This battle sealed Vicksburg's fate: the Confederate force was bottled up at Vicksburg.” (Wikipedia, see link above.)

Photo of Big Black River Bridge after it was burned.  Found at http://www.battleofchampionhill.org/history/big-black.htm.

Siege of Vicksburg – The Key in His Pocket

"Vicksburg is the key. The war can never be brought to a close until the key is in our pocket." ~ Union President Abraham Lincoln

"Vicksburg is the nail head that holds the South's two halves together." ~ Confederate President Jefferson Davis

Vicksburg is taken Glorious more Glorious most Glorious.... I may live a thousand years and not see a more glorious 4th.” ~ Letter from Francis W. Tupper, Minooka, Illinois

Corporal DAVIS most likely fought during the first part of the Siege of Vicksburg as his illness did not commence until about 25 May 1863 and the Siege of Vicksburg began on 18 May. The Siege was the final major action of the Vicksburg Campaign. After being aggressively pushed back by Confederates, General GRANT decided to besiege the city of Vicksburg on the day Corporal DAVIS became ill. Corporal John DAVIS was honorably discharged at a hospital in Vicksburg, Mississippi on 4 June 1863- one month before the Confederates surrendered at Vicksburg. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Vicksburg) You can find a much more detailed account of the history of the 99th Illinois Infantry here: http://www.old-new-orleans.com/ILLINOIS_CW_reghist.pdf or here: http://genealogytrails.com/ill/pike/milcivil99.html.

Corporal DAVIS was discharged due to chronic bronchitis and diarrhea. These conditions were contracted during his military service and in the line of duty. Military records state that he suffered from chronic diarrhea until the time of his death and that this was the cause of his death. He was able to make it back home to Perry where he died on 17 November 1863.

Rest in Peace – Then the Cries for Water Ceased; We Could Not Help Them.

As private soldiers we considered that the day was lost but Grant said 'No!' As we had no Breakfast, dinner, or supper on Sunday, and were on guard Sunday night, we were about all in. Never-the-less we went after them on Monday morning. That Sunday night was the longest I ever experienced. I will never forget the cries of distress of the wounded who lay on the battle-field that night. They called for mother, sister, wife, sweetheart, but the most piteous plea was for water. One would be praying and another singing. Some one started the old hymn, ‘Jesus Lover of my Soul’, singing the first verse. Another sang the second, another the third, and still another the fourth. This continued until sometime during the night when it began to rain; then the cries for water seased. We hoped that many were refreshed. As the wounded lay between the battle lines we could not help them.

We were promised medals of honor for our service on this special work but we never received them.... I suppose that the order never reached head quarters.” ~ Memoir of George O. Smith, Monmouth, Illinois.

When Rachel filed for a widow's pension the information listed in that packet stated John was born Onondaga County, New York, although he gave his birthplace as Kentucky on his draft registration. It took Rachel a year to get the pension approved and it amounted to $8 per month. The only children that Rachel listed on the pension documents as belonging to she and John were James T., Charles D., Alpheus B., and Harvey D. Since there were only a few of the children listed, I made some preliminary theories about why all the children weren't listed. I hypothesized that the form listed the children still living at home with Rachel. Sarah and Chloe had already married and moved out. Jonathan and John were over age 18 and likely had already moved out of the home as well. Nancy was young but still old enough to have possibly been married and out of the home at the time of the pension process. Horace and Susan, the youngest two children, were also not named. Either they were deceased at the time of the pension application, or Rachel had been forced to give them up after the death of John in order to keep the rest of the family together and support them all. As I continued reading through the file, I found out why only certain children were listed. The only children that Rachel was supposed to list on the application were those children living at home AND under the age of 16 as of a certain date. She also had to sign a sworn affidavit that she had not given up any children for adoption nor had she abandoned the care of any of the children. So it stands to reason that Horace and Susan were deceased by the time Rachel filed the pension application.

Nicholas REITER (my great-great-grandfather, listed as 'Nicholas RYDER' in the pension file), who was then 36 years old, gave a statement in support of his mother-in-law, Rachel, in the pension documents. Nicholas apparently could not write as he had to make his mark in lieu of a signature. Sarah REITER (my great-great-grandmother, listed as 'Sarah RITER' in the pension file) also gave a statement in regard to the legitimacy of Charles being John and Rachel's biological child. Sarah was 29 years old at the time of her sworn statement. In regard to his disability, the military records showed that he was first unable to perform his duties at Houston, Indiana in January of 1863 and was unable to perform duty at any point after that time although it appears that he stayed with his unit up until the Siege of Vicksburg. John himself attributed his illness to old age and exposure during the winter, according to the military's statement. At the time he became ill, he was stationed at a camp near Vicksburg. He was described as being debilitated and emaciated at the time of the onset of his illness.

Life Lessons in Tenacity and Courage

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

I can't imagine what it would have been like to be 50+ years old, intermittently deprived of food, exposed to the elements, people dying violent and painful deaths all around me, marching from Indiana to Mississippi- ill, dehydrated, in pain, emaciated. I admire him for his tenacity. I am so glad for him (and for Rachel and the children) that he made it home before his death.

One year after burying her husband, Rachel lost her two youngest children. Seven years later she would bury another daughter (Sarah) and eight years after that, another daughter (Nancy). Rachel did not marry again. I am certain she was well taken care of in her final years because as late as 1880, four of her adult sons were still living with her and (presumably) taking care of her. Living with her at that time were Jonathan (a laborer), James (an engineer), Alpheus (a blacksmith), and Harvey (a blacksmith). She passed away in 1883.

I am thankful to have such incredible examples of tenacity and courage in the face of difficult life circumstances. Have an attitude of thankfulness this week for the privilege of coming from a long line of strong, courageous people!  

Until next week,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

There's a Way

Today you're going to get a small glimpse of how my crazy mind works. I'm going back to the second week of May to make up that week's blog post. The theme was “there's a way”. In my mind I kept thinking “the way”. Do you remember playing a game where someone says a word and you're supposed to say the first word that comes to your mind (no filtering)? Well this is how that worked for me on this blog post. My mind said “the way” and then responded with “the truth and the life”. (The Holy Bible~ John 4:16, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.) So that thought led to Christianity, which led to church, which led to preachers, which led to Reverend Charles SEELY. So I present to you today, my Baptist minister ancestor- Charles SEELY.

Charles SEELY and wife, Synthia Arrena FOSTER

Charles SEELY was born in 1826 in Missouri. I don't know anything of his childhood and I don't know anything about his parents, siblings, or any of his family. The first time he shows up in any record that I can find is on 15 October 1845 when he married Synthia Arrena FOSTER in Lawrence County, Missouri.

The marriage record started on one page and ended on the next, thus the reason for two photos to show one record.

Synthia was born in 1824 in South Carolina to Frederick FOSTER and Mary (BURNETT) FOSTER. Her family moved from South Carolina to Tennessee sometime between 1830 and 1840. Sometime between 1840 and 1860 they moved to Lawrence County, Missouri.

Finding Their Way from Missouri to Arkansas

Both SEELYs and FOSTERs were present in the area at the time Lawrence County was created. There is an annual “pioneer families” reunion each year in September. The reunion is a big deal complete with printed t-shirts, a day for genealogical information exchanges, etc. See these two websites for information about previous years' reunions: http://www.genealogy.com/forum/surnames/topics/wormington/44/ (2013 gathering and includes a contact name and email address) and http://www.genealogy.com/forum/surnames/topics/spilman/361/ (2014 gathering). Although neither of our families are listed as pioneer families that are included in the reunion, another SEELY researcher said that she went one year and she seemed to feel it was profitable to her research.

Charles and Synthia had eight children together- Fifth Sergeant Elijah SEELY, blacksmith William, blacksmith James (who went by Frank), farmer John, baby George who only lived 8 months, Mary Ann (my great-grandmother and wife of George BATES), Elzora (who went by Josephine and married a HARRELL), and farmer Charles. They resided in Lawrence County, Missouri until the late 1860's. Charles owned land there as evidenced by a land patent issued in 1860 and a deed dated 1867. You can view the land patent at this link along with a map of where the property was located-


Around 1868, Charles packed up his family and left Lawrence County, Missouri for Benton County, Arkansas. On 7 April 1869, Charles was licensed as a Minister of the Gospel in Benton County, Arkansas. He was the first preacher at Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church located in Gravette, Benton County, Arkansas.

The Way, The Truth, The Life

The recording of his credentials:

I've transcribed it here the best I can, leaving any misspellings as they appear in the record:

      Credentials of Seely: Credentials of Charles Seely- Benton County Arkansas This is to certify that we being duly called as a
          presbytary have examined into the carcter, call qualifications of our beloved brother Charles Seely and with the consent of the
          Church of Christ at New Sili (?) to which he belongs have by prayer and imposition of hands set him apart to the great work of
          the gospel ministry and he is hereby authorized to excrise himself in the several parts of the ministerial functions where he may
          be called whether occasionally or Slated by Given under our hands this the 26 day of October 1868

          E. T. Willingham, J. Dungan, Presbytary
          Filed and recorded the 7 day of April 1869
          J. R. Rutherford recorder

The Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church was organized in a log school house above Cash Springs in the Gravette, Benton County, Arkansas area on 28 May 1870. The church moved to it's present location in 1880. The story I read was that Charles was an elder in the church and moderator of the organization committee when he was chosen as the first pastor. I have contacted the church and am waiting on a response. Maybe soon I'll have an update with new information if the church has any.  I wasn't able to find Cash Springs on any map but I found Cash Springs Road in Gravette so I'm going on the assumption that Cash Springs is nearby.  Here is a map showing the distance from Cash Springs Road (Where the arrow and pinned spot is) to the current church location:

I know Charles performed marriages while he was licensed. He was the minister who performed the wedding ceremony for Greenberry BATES and Eliza PENDERGRAFT in 1872. (Greenberry was one of the sons of John C. BATES. You can read about John BATES in a previous blog post found here: http://happy-girl-24.livejournal.com/16413.html. Charles SEELY's daughter, Mary Ann, married George BATES- another of John C. BATES' sons). Later in Charles' life (after the death of Synthia), Charles himself married a PENDERGRAFT. Two years after Synthia's death, Charles married Mary Ann (PENDERGRAFT) SEAMSTER. She was the widow of Williamson SEAMSTER who was also a Baptist minister.

Rock Island...Haven't We Been This Way Before?

One interesting story I found while researching for this blog post was the story of why Charles' son William packed up his family and moved to Texas and what happened along the way. The story goes that William and his family were living near Gravette, Benton County, Arkansas. He was a blacksmith there. His house and shop were next to each other. Crews were blasting out a path for the Rock Island Railroad nearby (that is possibly the same railroad company that ran the train that hit my great-great-grandfather Samuel WILLIAMS whom you can read about in the blog post at http://happy-girl-24.livejournal.com/20385.html). The crews were having to blast through a hillside to make a deep cut for a section of the railroad and the rocks from all the blasting were falling on William's house and blacksmith shop. William said he wasn't going to live where they were tearing up everything so he packed up his family and set out for Texas in a wagon. Somewhere along the way Indians started to attack the family. William's sons were big boys and they scared the Indians away with their guns.  That's all of the story I know.  I have to believe they made it to Texas alright since there is now a large branch of distantly-related SEELYs in Texas.

I love this postcard found at
http://ahc.digital-ar.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p16790coll7/id/112/rec/ depicting a railroad cut similar to the one being done (maybe the actual one being done??) near William's home that made him decide to move.  I also love how Rock Island crept into my stories again.  If you'll remember, Rock Island was where John BATES (referenced above) was imprisoned during the Civil War.  Also every day on my way to work during the school year, I pass a Rock Island caboose that's been restored.  I don't have a photo of it but here is another Rock Island caboose for you to look at:

I also found this great picture of the old depot in Gravette, Benton County, Arkansas at myoldtownpics.com:

And I couldn't help but post this 1901 depot sign:

Finding His Way to His (Heavenly) Home

In addition to being a preacher, Charles was a farmer. He died on 29 June 1891. He had a very short obituary which reads:

      Rev. Charles Seeley died on the 29th of June and was buried on the day following at Gamble's
          grave yard. Mr. Seeley had lived here a number of years and had lots of warm friends to mourn
          his death.

The obituary appeared in The Bentonville Sun on 11 July 1891.

I hope you've enjoyed learning about Charles SEELY and "the way" he lived his life.  Here's hoping you find your way to a safe and happy weekend spent with loved ones.

Until next week,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives