Consanguinity: (kŏn'săng-gwĭn'ĭtē) , relationship by blood, whether linear or collateral.

Primarily concentrating on my Browning family from Harrison County, Ohio (and their subsequent move to Crawford County, Illinois) but I've got Plymell, Crago, Eagleton, Garrard, McConnell, Nichols, Swan, Nevitt, Huls, Markee, Depperman, Papstein/Popstein and Hamilton in there too. And that's just the beginning......

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another Famous Name in My Browning Trial?

A sharp-eyed reader (Cathy at Detour Through History) commented today on a small tidbit of information I'd included concerning my account of the trials of my Samuel Browning (and Julia Ann Browning his daughter) versus James Beck. I am ever so glad she did because I certainly missed it completely.

The list of jurors convened for Samuel's trial against James Beck included one Emanuel Custer. Cathy wondered whether this Emanuel Custer could possibly be the Emanuel Henry Custer (1806 - 1892) who was the father of George Armstrong Custer!

Well, I can't be absolutely certain of course, but it is definitely a possibility. Emanuel Custer was married twice, both times in Harrison County. His second wife was Maria Ward Kirkpatrick, who became George's mother. The couple married in New Rumley in Harrison County, OH in 1836. George was born in New Rumley on 5 Dec 1839.

My Sam's trial was 1837. New Rumley is only a township away from Cadiz, the county seat and location of the trial. It is completely possible that Emanuel, aged 31 at the time, was called to sit as a juror. If so, that makes two brushes (the first being Sam's lawyer Edwin M. Stanton) with the famous for my little old Sam!

Thanks for bringing this interesting bit of (possible) historical connection to my attention, Cathy!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Serendipity?

I found two exciting pieces of information last night on one of my elusive German families, the family of August Carl Papstein and his wife Anna Marie Louise Koehn.

I got a call from my local Family History Center letting me know my naturalization index film was in. Unlike the last roll for the Koehns (Anna's parents) this one was a hit! I found August in the index (Vol E, pg 56, Kankakee IL County Court, nat 9 Apr 1894, wit James J. McMahon.)

Of course I ordered the film. I can't wait!

When I arrived home I did some scanning and in the course of the work I had to go looking for another piece of information for another family in an old box of loose papers my mother gave me some time ago. In doing so I ran across some photocopies of four small pages of torn-out notebook paper. And here I thought I'd looked through that box!

The four small pages were a small biography on August and his wife! They were written on the occasion of an "anniversary" and the wording implied that they were "honored guests." The end of the sheets wished them more happy anniversaries and mentioned they had two great grandchildren. After a turn in my database I saw the two grandchildren (David Depperman and Florence Schannon) were born 1922 and 1936. This narrowed the time frame of the writing down to after 1936. As August and Anna would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on 16 Oct 1937 and August died before their 60th anniversary in 1947, I believe I can say with some measure of authority that these small sheets of paper were written on the occasion of the party in honor of their 50th anniversary.

Ah, the information I've learned from these sheets! August was born 6 Sept 1864 in "Drumberg" Germany (other sources are more specific -- he was born in the Koslin District, Neu Lobitz, Kreiß Dramburg, Hinterpommern, Prussia (now part of Poland) and was one of a set of twins! He was confirmed on 28 Sept 1878. His father's name was Friedrich/Frederick Papstein. He served 3 years in the calvary before marrying Anna (on 16 Oct 1887) soon after his discharge. Anna (see left, picture taken one month before her death in 1952) was the daughter of Johann/John Koehn and was confirmed on 17 Apr 1881. He and Anna arrived in America on 29 Mar 1889.

Again with the serendipity! I was just doing some research on this family when poof! and I find another hidden gem. I must have a very friendly and generous Genealogy Fairy. I wonder what they eat so I can make sure he/she/it comes back again? :D

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Hair Book Families pt 3 - The Nichols Family

We continue my series of posts about the families whose names are in my Hair Book with the Nichols family.

Joseph Nichols was born in Greenbrier Co., VA (now WV) on 20 October 1823 and died in Crawford Co., IL on 12 Jan 1912. According to his death certificate he was the son of John Nichols and Susan Merritt.

According to an article printed in the Robinson (IL) Daily News on 4 Sept 1973, "The great-grandfather Nichols (John) had migrated from Natural Bridge, Va. He was one of the few migrants in the overland party left from the ravage en route of that year's Spotted Fever epidemic."

Natural Bridge now lies on the border of Botetourt County and Rockbridge County in Virginia. If this account is an accurate one -- and I'm not sure how accurate it actually is -- John Nichols must have lived in Botetourt County prior to the 1830 census. His son Joseph was born in Greenbrier County in 1823, though, so if this is accurate John must've moved back and forth. It's not beyond the realm of possibility, of course.

I haven't done much research in regards to John's life before he moved to Crawford County yet. He is found living in Greenbrier County VA in 1830 and by 1840 he is residing in Crawford County, IL. I located a marriage between a John Nichols and a Susanna Merritt in Bedford Co., VA on 12 Dec 1804. I'm not at all certain this is the correct couple. Bedford County does border Botetourt Co, though. Hm....

Joseph came to Crawford County with his parents by 1831, when his father John purchased land from Wilson and Nancy Lagow. As I've posted on this blog before, on 7 Nov 1831 John Nichols purchased 40 acres (the SW 1/4 of the SE 1/4 of Sec 2, T6N, R12W) in Robinson Township in Crawford County. By the April term of 1849, though, John had died. His lands were due to be divvied up in 1/7 increments to his heirs -- his daughters Lucinda (the wife of John Guinn), Mary (the wife of Wiley Emmons), Levisa (the wife of Abel Mann), and Eliza Jane (the wife of George Hartwell); his granddaughter Eliza Ann (infant daughter of Reuben Nichols, deceased), and his sons Merritt and Joseph. This division never happened, though, because the court's commissioners decided that the lands were "so circumstanced that a division thereof cannot be made without manifest prejudice to the proprietors thereof."

It was decided by the Court that the land would be sold at public venue by James H. Steel as commissioner, the sale being at the courthouse door in the town of Robinson. This was done on 9 June 1849 and Joseph purchased the entire 40 acres at the sale for $249, with an initial $88 up front at the time of sale. The rest was to be paid by June 1850.

Joseph married Delinda Jane Plymell -- born 21 Jul 1822, the daughter of James Plymell and Margaret (rumored to be half Wyandot, a Native American tribe) -- on 24 Dec 1844 in Crawford County, Illinois. I've featured this family a couple of times on my blog already. Joseph and Delinda -- along with a picture of their tombstone -- can be found HERE. Above is my favorite picture of Joseph. I've cropped it; it is actually a 5x7 sheet. It's completely striking. Everyone must've stayed incredibly still to get such precise detailing!

Joseph and Delinda had the following children:

1) Eliza Ursula (b. 6 Jul 1847, m. James Madison Swan 4 Aug 1873, d. 16 Feb 1931)
2) Missouri Ann (b. 30 Apr 1849, d. 11 Sep 1933)
3) Jane (b. 4 May 1859, d. 11 May 1859, bur New Hebron Cem., Crawford Co IL)

Eliza Ursula was the first author of the Hair Book and was my 2nd great-grandmother. Her daughter Estella Jane was the second author of the Hair Book and was my great-grandmother.

Only one other Nichols family member other than Delinda, Joseph, Eliza Ursula and Missouri is mentioned in the Hair Book. This family member is Ann Nichol. I'm not certain who she is but I believe she may be the "Eliza Ann, infant daughter of Reuben Nichols (deceased)" that is mentioned in the original deed between John Nichols and Wilson Lagow. At the time of her inclusion in the Hair Book she would have been around 11 or 12 years old and would have been Eliza Ursula's first cousin.

Next time, the Plymell family itself (though I've covered them already in some detail and will be highlighting those older posts as well)!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Madness -- Browning Misinformation Soup

I've spent the better part of two days trying to contact everyone on Ancestry that has the misinformation posted about the family of Samuel Browning and Margaret Markee. I've only received two replies and one told me (in a clipped, irritated reply) that it wasn't their fault and that automatically feeds information from Family Trees already in the system to any new ones.

Is this true and does Ancestry actually just place data that's already been input into the family trees of other researchers into your tree without your express permission to do so? If there are any readers that are on Ancestry and build family trees there, I'd appreciate it if you'd leave me a comment and tell me if it's true or was this person just blowing smoke up my you-know-what?

If true, that sounds very counterproductive to me, and that's why I'm not sure I believe it. We all know things are bad enough as they are without developing a environment where unsourced and unproven information leeches through entire systems without checks and balances. Like a virus....

It's driving me crazy!

I finally got sick and tired of posting messages to everyone and just referred them to the following link:

I hope that helps.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The World In Color

I want to share a gallery of photographs I found. It's "The Empire That Was Russia: The Prokudin-Gorskii Photographic Record Recreated" that you can find here.

As genealogists, we oooh and ahhh over all sorts of old photographs. Catching a glimpse of the corner of a faded sepia-toned photo stuffed in a crumbling album or along the side wall of a g-grandparent's trunk makes our hearts leap with joy and anticipation. What others view as merely a passing curiosity, we treasure. Websites like Maureen Taylor's The Photo Detective, Brett Payne's The Photo Sleuth, and fM's Shades of The Departed are testament to what holding an old photograph means to all of us. We clutch these tangible links to our ancestors eagerly, scouring the foregrounds and backgrounds of each photo for clues and studying each detail with dogged determination. It's forensics to us, isn't it? We look at the curve of each nose or the shape of a chin and compare it to what we see in our mirrors, trying to find the "like-ness" between those long-ago faces and our own.

We spend so much of our time analyzing all the minutia of our pictoral family histories -- Who is that man? Is this person a relative? When was this photo taken? Where? -- that we might let other details slip past us, especially if they are obvious ones. It was one of those obvious details that the gallery of photographs I found today brought to vivid life for me.

Our ancestors lived in a world full of color.

Is it just me, or when you think of your ancestors alive and well, have you also found yourself imagining them moving through a world of shades of browns and greys? Have I alone spent so much time attaching myself to my forebears through old cabinet cards and CDVs that the imprint of these -- and my associations with the people in them -- are toned the same old-timey brown? Oh, of course I rationally KNOW they lived in color! It IS obvious, isn't it? Even saying this aloud here on my blog I'm laughing at myself. But in the hallways of my mind where I store my memories and thoughts and imaginings of the people I sprang from, the only real human intimacies I've had the privilege of having with them have been in black and white.

That's why I think this collection of Russian photos from the early part of this century is so striking. The colors are brilliant! Young and old alike wearing the traditional garb of their times in breathtaking shades of blue, pink, purple and red. The grass is emerald, the earth a deep cocoa, the water cerulean. The process by which Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii accomplished his photography is fascinating and I urge you to go view the images yourself. He photographed the same scene three times in sequence using a red filter, a green filter and a blue filter, intending to blend the three to create color. Wow!

I'm thoroughly fascinated. But I have to confess I've yet to totally adjust to letting color into my imaginings of the world of my forebears. It still doesn't feel quite.....real? Right? I guess I still have some ways to go before I can get that sepia-toned "old" world out of my head.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday -- My Very First Rant!

Disclaimer: I am beginning a rant. Reading this rant implies that you are prepared for angry, insulted, disappointed or frustrated feelings to be aired and written down. This rant will not adhere to all the standard polite societal niceties. You have been warned.

I assume all of us at one time or another have discovered erroneous information about our ancestors floating around the Net, propagated from family tree to family tree on services like GenForum and Ancestry and the like. I've long been aware of the phenomenon and, while irritating, it was an understandable aspect of this ancestoring business. I was able to deal with it in that manner up until now but it's never really hit me like it hit me this weekend. It's been percolating for the last couple of days and I have to admit I'm a little hot under the collar.

What was different? It became personal. How, you say? Well, it wasn't someone else's random family -- it was mine. This time it was about my Samuel Browning and his wife Margaret Markee.

I've been researching Samuel and Margaret for over ten years now. About five years back I wrote a book about them entitled "The Leaves Do All Come Back: The Family and Descendants of Samuel and Margaret (Markee) Browning." It was a small run, self-published book on CD (I wasn't made of money, hah!) that only sold about 30 copies, mostly to cousins and any other family members interested in our lineage. I won't state unequivocally that I'm the foremost expert on this family just because I've published a book, but I can say that unless I'm mistaken I'm about as close as there can be to one.

One of my major goals for this family in the last decade has been establishing proof positive for the parentage of Samuel Browning. As I spoke about in my posts here and here, there's some amount of circumstantial evidence suggesting that Samuel's father may be the John Browning found in the Harrison County (OH) census in 1820. I've had other working theories and other ideas and possibilities bouncing around in my head but that's par for the course when you're trying to find something like this.

This weekend I happened to look at the Ancestry MemberConnect feature and found, to my utter surprise, that apparently MANY people now have Samuel's parents listed as (take your pick) Samuel Baker Browning and Rebecca Shipley, or alternately, Nancy Hobbs!


I looked all around for proof (initially excited that someone, somewhere, had found something I hadn't and I would finally solve my mystery) only to find a convoluted ring of OneTrees and WorldTrees and personal webpages that referred back to OneTrees and.....well, you get the picture. In other words, no actual documentation. Not a speck. Just an initial someone's assumption that Samuel fit somewhere in the Maryland Browning tree and then just throwing him in there and having that somehow became a "fact."

Now my cousin Pat (RIP) owned William N. Hurley's "Our Maryland Heritage, Book 12, The Browning Families," which is a great resource for those of us looking for Brownings. She scoured the book for any clues about families that our Samuel could fit into. We never once saw our Samuel's name in that book and I think sticking him into Samuel Baker Browning's family is presumptive barring documentation to the contrary. If Hurley didn't do it, why should anyone else? Just to say they have another generation back? Grrrr. Don't get me wrong; I do understand this sort of thing often propagates because a lot of people don't care to do the research or are collaterally connected at best. But lest we forget, it had to originate somewhere for it to be passed about like it has been.

All I'm saying is that people need to look and think before they place something like that down; even to the layperson unfamiliar with the Brownings, some of what I read obviously has holes I could drive a truck through. Take Samuel Baker Browning and Rebecca Shipley, for one. Even a cursory look would reveal that Samuel Baker Browning and Rebecca Shipley could almost certainly be eliminated because my Samuel was born around 1796 and this couple didn't even marry until 1807.

The second couple (Samuel Browning and Nancy Hobbs) is a better fit, I'll admit. I don't know where my Samuel was born (MD is all I know) but Samuel and Nancy were married in Maryland in 1792. It's possible. It's equally possible that Meshach Browning's uncle John (listed in Hurley's book, old enough, in the right state, and Hurley does not have any further information for him) could also be Samuel's father. The name is at least a fit for the mysterious John that actually was in Harrison County. In other words, all we really have right now is guesses.

I'd love to be able to go through the internet like the proverbial bloodhound, sniff out all the places where I see this being spread, and inoculate the carriers. I know I can't do that. What I can do, though, is present the information that I have on this family here on my blog and maybe someone doing some serious research will see it.

If anyone has located documentable proof that my Samuel is the son of either one of the couples I mentioned above (or even of an entirely new couple, I'm flexible!) I'd ask them to send it to me posthaste, after which they'd become my new hero and I'd hug them and kiss them and call them George! However, until that happens and such proof is located, these connections sound like a lot of assumption and not much more.

And we ALL know what it means to assume....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Madness Monday - All My Germans

Of late I've become more and more drawn to research my mother's father's German side of the family. When Randy Seaver had us list our Sweet 16 a few weeks ago the listing made me realize how little I knew about that side. There are many reasons for that, of course; some that involve distance (geographically and emotionally) and others that don't belong in a public forum. Suffice to say that my mother's father's side of the family were the stereotypical taciturn Germans.

My mother's parents divorced when she was an infant. Her mother Clementine initially tried to gain custody of her children (my mother and her elder brother) and when that failed, she tried to gain visitation with the same result. My grandfather, my mother and her brother moved in with his mother Minna after the divorce and Minna became my mother's surrogate mom as well as her grandmother. My mom moved back in with her father when he remarried but that didn't last long; after his second wife became pregnant my mom was told to move back to her grandmother's house. Basically, she was shuttled around. There's a lot more to the story but it doesn't really need to be shared here. The moral is that none of this really fostered any sense of familial closeness.

There's a part of me that mourns this. When I was about seven I spent two summers at my grandfather's house and spent some of those evenings in front of the TV eating ice cream with chocolate sauce, drinking Pepsi, and watching the Cubbies with my aunt. I didn't know at the time that my aunt's mother and my mother's mother weren't the same person because no one in the family ever said anything about it. You just didn't speak about such things. Come to think of it, that sentiment -- buck up, soldier, don't cry, keep your chin up, don't be weak! -- was essentially the attitude of the German side of my family. You couldn't afford to let your guard down, that's for sure.

Still, memories of those two summers stay with me. They are the only times I remember feeling close to my mother's father or any of his immediate family other than Freddie, his brother. I've written about my Uncle Freddie in this post so I won't revisit what he meant to me. I have a few other memories, too -- I remember my great-grandmother Minna would allow me to go down in her basement to play, or to use her Vicks Inhaler. She seemed stern and I would never dream of crossing her but she was sometimes indulgent with me. I suspect it was because I was her "Dolly's" little girl.

When Minna passed away she took a storehouse of memories with her. I was too young to ask her the things about her German ancestors that I should have and to my knowledge there's precious little left from her life. Her children sold most of her things to pay for her last days in a nursing home (she lived to be 98) and whatever was left was parceled out amongst the kids or thrown away. I remember she kept a huge portrait of Alvin, the son she had that died young, in her basement. She had a beautiful big bible written in German that had been brought over from Germany by her parents. By the Bible she always kept a picture of her father in his red German calvary uniform, posed next to the Lippanzer stallions he trained for Kaiser Wilhelm I.

All these things -- it seems -- are gone. At least all my inquiries as to their possible locations have come to naught.

It wasn't until I was about nine that I learned there was another woman in this story. My mother took me along with her to meet a woman in a mobile home park and I played and quietly watched the two older boys that were also there while the two women talked. I was told this woman was my mother's mother -- my grandmother Clementine. I've written about her in the past in this post. I remember only being curious and a bit confused about the relationship but it must've been a very emotional time for my mom. That visit marked the first and last time she ever met her mother. By that time Clementine had remarried and had gone on to have five more children -- my mother's half-siblings.

After their meeting the two corresponded for a few years or so but Clementine eventually stopped writing and the cessation wounded my mother deeply. I remember hearing my parents speak of it in their room (yes, I was a nosy child -- surely a personality trait of any good genealogist?) and the pain in my mom's voice. As an adult I've spoken to her about that time and she said she never understood why her mother stopped writing. I wish I had an answer for her but the same thing happened to me. I decided to try to locate Clementine again after I had my own daughter in the early 90's. She and I wrote back and forth for a few months (her letters to me remarkably resembling those she wrote to my mother two decades earlier) and then the letters stopped.

In the late 90's I managed to locate her nephew, who by happy coincidence lived fairly close to me. We went to dinner at his house once and he gave me photos and shared some memories. One of the most important ones to me was his rememberence of a picture on his "Aunt Tootie's" mantlepiece of a flaxen-haired baby girl in a pink dress (see picture at right.) He said as a boy he'd always wondered who that little girl was. I told him I had a copy of that picture and it was my mother.

It seems to me that in her way Clementine did mourn her lost children and I'm sure she was ashamed of her inability to go up against the force that was my great-grandmother Minna. I don't think she knew how to move past those mistakes and embrace her older daughter while simultaneously managing to maintain the children she had with her second husband. I think her desire to love us was stronger than her actual ability to do so. I don't hold anything against her for these things -- people are what they are and the past shapes them. Then again, I think I probably have the luxury of feeling that way about it because she wasn't my mother.

I found out one day last year that Clementine died in 2002 by putting her name into the social security death index.

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post -- the madness that is the entire German side of my family. I had names of the places they were all supposed to be from that -- until this last week -- I'd never been able to find! Incidentally, one of my most promising discoveries is that none of them would be considered "Germans" any longer if they'd stayed put in the villages they came from. Many borders have changed since the late 1880's. They'd be Polish now. (Yes, I know, grandma Minna, I can almost hear you rolling about in your grave and saying something about you'd never be Polish, so I'm very sorry about that, hehe!)

I know there are many bumpy roads ahead of me. I've never done this sort of research before so it's uncharted territory. I have maddening issues, of course. Alternate spellings of all the surnames (Papstein, Depperman, Koplen, Koehn, Sanglam/Sennhousen, Schultz, Vierkow) abound. A death certificate I have is faded in the exact place where names of parents are. I have no idea what ports any of them came through when they got here. Passenger index searches have come up empty even though in one case I have an exact immigration date. (Maybe I'm not looking in the right places, though, so when I discovered recently that a few of them were naturalized I ordered naturalization indices. Waiting on them now.)

Funny story of a convoluted relationship I've found in this family: one of my 3rd g-grandmother Henrietta's sons (Franz) married her step-granddaughter Minna. That makes Franz and Minna's children both Henrietta's grandchildren AND her step-great-grandchildren. How messed up is that!

In the coming weeks I'll be posting some of what I'm beginning to discover. I'm growing excited about all of it. I do love a good challenge. It's a good thing I do, too, or my hair would be all over the floor on a daily basis!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ahhhh, Serendipity!

I know I’ve mentioned the word before on my blog -- specifically regarding my Browning v. Beck casefiles and the location of Margaret (Markee) Browning’s tombstone -- but once again I find myself putting the word to good use.

As usual, background! This weekend has been a free one for me and since my calendar appeared open I decided to scamper off to Quitman, a tiny town in east Texas, to attend a Cemetery Preservation Workshop presented by Gerron Hite, the Director of Cemetery Preservation of the Texas Historical Commission. It was a 5-hr presentation on Texas cemetery law with a focus on access issues, procedures to follow when surveying a cemetery, and the process required to get your local cemetery designated a Historic Texas Cemetery. We broke for lunch and the last hour was taken up with a brief overview of gravestone cleaning. Most recommended for those of us preferring something we can buy over the counter, unlike the BioWash or D/2 (sold online)? Orvis. Available from your local feed store or quilt/rug cleaning store, it’s a non-ionic soap that, along with a good amount of water and some soft wooden craft scrapers, should solve many of the basic issues like moss or lichen that plague old stones. I’m going to try my hand with it as soon as possible.

Of the 50+ people there, one man stood out because he was wearing a Chicago T-shirt. I couldn’t help but notice because as everyone who reads my blog knows, I’m an Illinois girl. I mentioned the shirt and soon discovered it was a gift; he was a native Texan after all. (Ah well, nobody’s perfect!) He introduced himself as Deason Hunt and he and his wife and I talked genealogy for about ten minutes or so, exchanging pleasantries and interesting stories. I mentioned I wrote a blog and he said he did too and that he was rather new at it. He wanted to check out my blog and asked if we could also exchange blog addresses. Sure! After we did so the workshop began again and except for a few smiles and nods on our way out he and I didn’t get to speak at length again.

I recalled our conversation a few hours after my return home and decided to look up his blog. I went there and I could tell at first glance it certainly didn’t seem like the amateur effort he’d made it out to be! I enjoyed reading an entry or two and then thought to click over to the section he has labeled as “Family Bios.” It was there, with the listing underneath his own name -- HUNT, Annie Elizabeth (Fears) -- that a bell began to ring loudly in my head.

I scrambled to open my genealogy database, hardly believing that it was possible for something to be that random. It couldn’t be…..but in a moment, with the click of my mouse, I knew that it was. I knew I’d recognized the name!

I got very excited and pulled out the card Deason had given me in order to give him a call. I introduced myself again and reminded him we’d met this morning at the workshop. I then explained that I was pretty sure he was related to my ex-husband and therefore, my daughter, through his Hunt side. We tossed a few names about and it didn’t take long for us to make the connections and realize he and my daughter were indeed related! I did some quick calculations and figured out that my daughter and Deason are (if I’m not missing a generation here, and it’s very possible since my database on this is sketchy) 3rd cousins, 4x removed.

Serendipity at work, once again. Had to be. I only decided this morning at 5 am that I was even going to drive the 2.5 hrs one way that it took to get to Quitman and believe me, decisions don’t come easy at 5 am when remaining all cozy and comfy in the covers sounds like the plan to follow! And then consider my decision to pick Deason out of the crowd to choose to talk to. Honestly, part of that decision was that Chicago shirt he wore. If he hadn’t worn that shirt (and had a vague look about him of my mother’s uncles as well) I don’t know that I would have chosen to do anything but the polite nod and smile that people do in social situations.

But he did, and I did, and now we know our families are related. How bizarre. Ain’t genealogy grand?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Hair Book Families Pt 2 - John and Adaline (Plymell) Vane

We continue my series of posts about the families whose names are in my Hair Book with the Vane family.

John Vane was born in Feb 1824 in Brown Co., Ohio, the son of John Vane (1795-1860) and Eleanor Blair (1795-1845). He married Adaline Plymell -- born 7 Apr 1827 in either Delaware Co OH or Marion Co., OH, the daughter of James Plymell and Margaret (rumored to be half Wyandotte) -- on 2 Nov 1848 in Crawford Co., IL.

To put this in perspective (and to better clarify her relationship to the two women who filled out the Hair Book) -- Adaline Plymell was my 3rd-g-grandmother Delinda Jane Plymell's sister; hence, she was Eliza Ursula (Nichols) Swan's aunt and Estella Jane (Swan) Browning's great aunt. Adaline is my 3rd great-grandaunt.

John and Adaline had the following children:

1) Martin Luther Vane (b. 1850 Crawford Co., IL , d. bef 1860)
2) William ‘Wiley’ Shannon Vane (b. 1852 Crawford Co., IL, m. Augusta King 24 Apr 1887 in Crawford Co., KS, d. unk)
3) George Edward Vane (b. 16 Jan 1853 Crawford Co., IL, never married, d. 15 Jan 1903, Arcadia, Crawford Co., KS.)
4) Cymantha Jane Vane (b. 25 Sep 1859 Richland Co. or Macon Co., IL, m. James William Curnutt Feb 1874 Arcadia, Crawford Co., KS, d. 21 Jun 1925 Arcadia, Crawford Co., KS.)
5) William James Vane (b. Mar 1869 Macon Co., IL, m. Martha Dodson c1891 KS, d. 1948 Arcadia, Crawford Co., KS)

I haven’t found the family on the 1850 census but they were located living in Denver Twn in Richland Co., IL in 1860, possibly because Adaline’s brother William Wallace Plymell was also living in Richland County at that time. By 1870 the Vane family had moved on to Decatur in Macon Co., IL. I’d place their move to Decatur a little earlier, though, because of a picture I have in my collection of John and Adaline’s two youngest children Cymantha and James (Chimie = probably a phonetic spelling of “Jimmie.”) The back stamp of the photo indicates it was taken in Decatur; I can date this photo fairly precisely to 1869. How can I? To find out more, please click over to the post I wrote about the picture and the photographer HERE.

I have no doubt that the reason Adaline’s sister Mary (Plymell) Emery and her husband Thomas moved to Decatur and then on to Kansas had a lot to do with the decisions that other family members made about their family’s futures. As it happens time and again, John and Adaline Vane had also decided to follow in the footsteps of their relatives. Thomas and Mary (Plymell) Emery were in Decatur, Macon Co., IL by 1870 and had moved to Wichita in Sedgwick Co., KS in 1871. William Wallace Plymell, Adaline and Mary’s oldest brother, had a few sons that moved to Wichita as well. I’m not sure when the boys moved there, but family tradition in Wallace’s family says Wallace himself arrived in Belle Plaine in Sumner Co., KS by 1873. John and Adaline (Plymell) Vane also packed up and moved to Arcadia in Crawford Co., KS in approximately the same time frame -- c1872.

The younger children of John and Adaline (Plymell) Vane grew up in Arcadia, KS and raised families there but their two oldest are more of an enigma. Wiley (probably a phonetic spelling for "Willie") or as he was more commonly called, Shannon Vane, married Augusta King in Kansas but I’ve been unable to locate him in the 1900 census. And George? He died a bachelor and was buried on his 40th birthday. I believe I do have a picture of him, though! To see it (and how I came to believe the unidentified picture is George) you’ll have to go HERE.

I don’t have any identified samples of hair from any of the Vane family. Their names are listed in the book and dates are under many of their names but no actual hair samples are sewn in. I may actually have some hair from them since I have a few clumps of unidentified hair tucked into the lip of the front cover of the Hair Book, but of course I'll never know for sure if I do. That’s too bad.

Eliza Ursula, the first owner of the book and Adaline (Plymell) Vane’s niece, definitely cared about her aunt and uncle and they cared about her. I have a letter that John Vane wrote from Kansas to Eliza Ursula and her daughter Estella Jane back in Illinois. Even though they were separated by many miles and by many years (at the time of this letter it was 1886 and the Vanes had been in Kansas for over a decade) it appears that they wrote back and forth to each other fairly often. The letters reference hearing from them "once more," so the two families definitely stayed in touch.

Since I don’t have any hair samples, I’ll post the letter instead:

The transcription is as follows:
{All comments in [brackets] are identifying notations for people and places}

1) Dec 16th 1886

Dear Nieces [Eliza Ursula (Nichols) Swan & her daughter Estella Jane (Swan) Browning]-

We received your letter in due time were very glad to hear from you once more - but sorry to hear of you all being so much afflicted it does seem that is the lot of some to have a great deal of affliction in this life - but if faithful to our trust it will let us more fully enjoy rest in the sweet beyond. We are all tolerably well but Shannon [William Shannon Vane, b. 1852]. He has been very sick for the last six weeks the doctor says he has the chronic malaria fever originating from a chronic enlargement of the spleen - he suffer very great pain at times

Pg 2) he very wild some times - his nervous system is all unstrung he dont know what he is talking about a great deal of the time the doctor says it will be three or four and maybe six months before he is well I for my part think his recovery is very doubtful - he has been ailing so long and it has so prostrated his whole system that it dont seem possible to build him up again -- Though the Doctor seems to be very hopeful of him our light has not been out of rights for six weeks.

Pg 3) We will try to answer your questions. Norton [probably Norton Vane, b. c1828 in Ohio] sends me a roll of papers every few weeks The Argus and Enterprise -- John Plymell and his wife were parted a few years ago I dont know whether they ever went together again or not Cordova and his wife were parted we never heard whether went together again or not. I wrote to Wallace twice to tell us the boys were doing [John & Cordova are sons of Wallace W. Plymell and either Margaret J. Grimes or Sophia Jane Cox]

Pg 4) doing but not got an answer yet have not heard from them for over two years - have not had a letter from Fuller [James Fuller Plymell] for seven or eight years I answered his last but he never replied. Well Estella [Estella Jane (Swan) Browning] your Aunt [Adaline (Plymell) Vane] thinks your dresses are very nice and would be very glad to see you with them on - we are all very much pleased to get a letter from you - you are improving very much in your writing Our love to all - Please write one and all whenever convenient

John Vane

(on page three, written upside down:
We send our best respects to Miss Susan McCarty - tell her to write to us

(and on page three, written in the left hand side margin:
Your aunt says she would like some of (those seed)


And what happened to John and Adaline?

A few years after writing this letter to Eliza Ursula and Estella, both John and Adaline passed away. According to Ken Groves, a cousin of mine and a great researcher on the Plymell, Emery and Vane lines, "John’s obituary is listed in the 23 May 1889 edition of the Arcadia (KS) Democrat. It listed his death on Friday 17 May 1889 and his age at death as 65 years 3 months and 7 days. It also listed his burial on the next day. According to Adaline's obit from the Arcadia (KS) Democrat, she died on 24 Apr 1890 at home from paralysis. Age at death was 60 years 3 months and 18 days. John and Adaline are buried together (in the Old Arcadia Cemetery in Arcadia, Crawford Co., KS) with no headstone."