Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to All

Joe and I are going Home

Augustus M. Wilson, known as "Uncle Gus", is the 2nd cousin to our direct ancestor, William B. Wilson. Gus was the son of Addison Wilson and Ann Moore. Addison is a 1st cousin to our James Wilson.
True West Magazine, A Joe Small Publication, June 1975, Volume 22, No. 5, page 20; (Partially transcribed, the rest of the article can be found in the June 1975 True West Magazine.)

True West Magazine, June 1975, Vol 22, page 20

"Joe and I are Going Home" -- these words are carved in a small private cemetery near McKinney, Texas. On top of the marker is the carved image of A.M. Wilson's faithful dog, Joe. The stone was ordered and paid for by the man who rests beneath it, one of the most colorful figures in Texas history. Within A. M. Wilson's lifetime he gave away more than one million dollars in money, stocks, bonds, blackland farms and other items of considerable value. The give-away was different from most, in that "uncle Gus," as he was known, denied himself every luxury in life. His home was a log cabin that had been built in 1850. The original homestead dated back to 1849; three small rooms were added to the crude structure in later years.
Born in Tennessee in 1845 to Addison and Ann Moore Wilson, Gus came to Texas with his family in 1849... The Wilson family was very poor and the move West was made with hopes of a better life. Gus was four years old when the trip began. He, along with his older brothers and sisters, walked most of the way to Texas.As a young man, Gus saved his money from the sale of his crops. When a piece of land was for sale Gus would buy it. Mrs. Ritter stated that he paid fifty cents an acre for many of his farms. As he grew older, and stocks and bonds became available, Uncle Gus began to invest. Just who explained to him about stocks and bonds is not known. One of his better investments was railroad stock that paid him $1,000 a month for thirty years... Uncle Gus took part of this money and bought more land; at one time he was the largest land owner in Collin County.
Uncle Gus and his gifts are legendary. New cars became a favorite item for him to bestow. In his lifetime he gave away more than twenty-five. Uncle Gus did not own a car until late in life, and then he didn't keep it. He gave it to a man whom he met in the road one day. Gus asked the man how he would like a car like the one that he (Gus) was driving. The man replied he would like it just fine except that he couldn't afford anything except a wagon and horses. Gus pitched him the keys and told him that the car was his, then walked the rest of the way home. Gus preferred to walk to town anyway.
Mrs. Ritter related the story of how Uncle Gus once decided to make the trip to Dallas to buy five new automobiles for people that he thought were deserving. Dressed in his usual careless manner, Gus was taken for a bum. Gus did not bathe daily, nor were his clothes always clean. His appearance was a shock to the car dealer. Gus proceeded to select the five cars that he wanted delivered. The dealer refused to confirm the sale until a phone call to the bank in McKinney revealed that A. M. Wilson had enough money to buy the cars and enough to buy the dealership if he chose.
Another favorite item Uncle Gus liked to give away was expensive blackland farms. A few months before his death at the age of ninety, Gus held the mortgages on three farms. He told his nephew Ad Wilson, who ran the abstract office in McKinney, to make out a deed to each of the farms to three area farmers. "These boys are hard workers, but they're having hard luck. Just make out a deed to each one of them and give it to them," Uncle Gus is quoted as saying.
Mrs. Mattie Wilson Neal, whose late husband was President of the Collin County National Bank, recalled that her Great-uncle Gus once gave a boy $1,000 because of the impression the youth made. Gus was walking into town and passed three boys working in a cotton field. Two of the boys stopped working to watch as the old man with dirty clothes, unkempt hair and long shaggy beard, passed. The third boy did not look but kept working. The next day Uncle Gus gave the third boy ten shares of stock in a power company, each share worth $100.
Uncle Gus gave 150 acres to the Ash Grove school which was near his home and donated $2,000 for a teacher’s salary fund. (He would gladly give but he refused to be solicited by anyone. Once he was solicited by a local church for a large donation. The solicitor told Gus that it was for God. Uncle Gus replied, "In that case I will deliver it in person.")
On a single day Roy Roberts drove Gus around and watched as the kindly old man gave away $28,000 in cancelled notes. Once a lady in California sent Gus a crate of oranges. Gus sent her shares of stock worth $10,000. The largest give away – deeds to four different farms with a total value of $240,000. The deeds were given to four men who Uncle Gus thought were deserving.
One time, while Uncle Gus was in town, a niece decided to give his clothes a good washing. Upon returning home Gus was so moved by the thoughtful act that he gave her $1,000. So it went.
Gus never married. He confessed to Mrs. Ritter that, "I was always out in the woods hunting rabbits. When I quit hunting I was too old to marry." Whether it was hunting rabbits or acquiring land, Uncle Gus did not have an idle moment.
Perhaps the closest he came to getting married was in 1923. That year the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sent a feature writer to see Uncle Gus. As a result of a double page layout entitled "The Fun of Giving Away a Fortune" was written. The wire services picked up the story and soon Uncle Gus received a mountain of mail.
One day a taxicab pulled up in front of his simple log cabin. Out stepped a well-dressed young woman. She was met in the front yard by the 78-year-old man.
"You’re Uncle Gus, aren’t you? I read about you, and I’ve come to marry you," the young lady stated. Startled, Gus asked the cab driver how much she had paid him to bring her from the McKinney station.
"Five dollars, " was the reply.
Gus handed him twenty and told him to drive her as far as it would take her.
Uncle Gus did not make many long trips but when he did they were memorable. ON a train trip to Utah, Gus could not find his shoes. After searching for some time he was told by a porter on the train that he had taken the shoes and cleaned the axle grease and mud off and then polished them. Gus had seen the cleaned shoes but thought they belonged to someone else!
Gus decided to take a trip to Galveston. He didn’t want to go alone and to preclude showing favoritism, he invited his whole neighborhood. A chartered coach took the group on its way. Before reaching Galveston two men became a little tipsy from strong drink. Gus had the coach stopped and told the men to get off. He said that they could get back home the best way they could. Gus didn’t believe in drinking and smoking.

Read more about Uncle Gus:
Uncle Gus - Santa Claus
Uncle Gus Obituaries

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our Family's Own Official Santa Claus -- Uncle Gus Wilson

We have an official Santa in the family: Augustus M. Wilson, known as "Uncle Gus".  He is the 2nd cousin to our direct ancestor, William B. Wilson.  Gus even looks like Santa with his long white beard.  
Below is a 1922 newspaper article about "Uncle Gus" Wilson. 

The McKinney Examiner. Dec. 28, 1922, Vol. 37, No. 7. (McKinney, Collin County, Texas)

Tom Shewmake Given A Farm

"Talk about luck — but Tom Shewmake who runs a little store about a mile northwest of the city on the pike is one of the luckiest of men. On Christmas day, Tom and his good wife were given a fine rich, black land farm of 56 acres which is located in the Roland community, 7 miles northwest of the city.
Augustus M Wilson, 
known as "Uncle Gus"
UNCLE GUS WILSON was the Santa Clause in this case. This giving away of farms is a habit with “Uncle Gus,” and one out of which he is getting oodles of happiness.  For several years past he has been quietly, but judiciously giving away much property such as land, securities, cash, autos, etc. Many worthy persons have been “remembered” by “Uncle Gus”.
He is a pioneer settler of the Roland community. He became possessed of much land in his younger days. Having never married, he has no family to whom to leave his wealth. Like Andrew Carnegie, Uncle Gus believes it a sin to die rich, at least he acts that way, and to us it seems he is using mighty good judgment in his gifts. Those to whom he has given presents...are always worthy people. Some are tenants on his farms. Some had borrowed of him and shown their sincere honesty and manhood. Others he had quietly noticed were “doing their bit” uncomplainingly, and those are the people Uncle Gus likes.

In the case of Tom Shewmake, the writer has known Tom since he was a bare-footed boy in this city. Tom’s people were poor, but hard workers and honest. His brother lived on the farm of the writer’s father for many years. We knew him as absolutely honest and loyal. Tom we have known as a friendly, hard worker. He and his good wife have not only reared their own children, but from time to time have cared for and given homes to 8 little orphan children. They are willing to divide their last crust with the homeless. Uncle Gus, we take off our hat to you. Tom, here’s hoping you don’t let your good fortune spoil your good heart."

Merry Christmas to All

Read more about Uncle Gus:

Friday, November 28, 2008

Plymouth & the Pilgrims

Happy Thanksgiving!
Although no Mayflower ancestors have been found, we do have an ancestor who lived in early Plymouth -- James Cole. James Cole is on our Wilson Family line. It is through his descendant, Nathan Cole, that we can join the DAR.

According to historians, James Cole, came to America in about 1632 - twelve years after the Mayflower. In 1633, James Cole was admitted as a freeman in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The following is taken from the book 'The Descendants of James Cole of Plymouth 1633' by Ernest Byron Cole (1908, Grafton Press), page 21-22
"His name appears upon the tax list of Plymouth in 1634; Jan. 2, 1636, he had a grant of ten acres of land; Jan. 2, 1637, the court deeded him seven acres of land to belong to his dwelling house... His dwelling stood on the lot next below the Baptist Church. He was the first settler of and lived upon what is still known as "Cole's Hill," the first burial ground of the Pilgrims. This land probably included the ground upon which rests Plymouth Rock... He was surveyor of highways in the years, 1641, 42, 51, and 52; was constable in 1641 and 1644. In 1637 his name appears upon a list of volunteers against the Pequot Indians.
Soon after his arrival at Plymouth he opened the first inn or public house of Plymouth, and one of if not the first, public house in New England."

The children of James Cole were: James, Hugh, John & Mary.

Here are some Pilgrim websites:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Springfield, Ohio

In October, we had the opporunity to visit Ohio. In addition to visiting with a Leffel cousin who lives near Cleveland, we were able to travel down to Springfield, Clark County, Ohio. Clark County is where our great-grandfather, David Miller Leffel, grew up and most of our Leffel ancestors lived.
Below is a picture of an old post card showing what downtown Springfield would have looked like back in the day.

I spent an afternoon with our Leffel cousin doing research in the 'Heritage Center of Clark County' in Springfield. Below is a picture of the Heritage Center as it looks now. http://www.heritagecenter.us/index.cfm

We stayed in a hotel located on Leffel Lane.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bethel Baptist Cemetery in Clark County, Ohio

While in Clark County, Ohio, we were able to visit the Bethel Baptist Cemetery in Bethel township.
The Cemetery is located next to the Bethel Baptist Church.
We walked around the cemetery trying to find the graves of our Leffel and Miller ancestors who were buried there.
In the photo below, we are trying to read the headstones. Some of the headstones were tipped over, some broken and most were covered with moss.

History of Bethel Cemetery as found in "THE HISTORY of CLARK COUNTY, OHIO," Chicago, W. H. BEERS & CO. 1881, SPRINGFIELD, CLARK COUNTY, OHIO, BETHEL TOWNSHIP, page 717
The cemetery adjoining Bethel Church was set apart for private burial purposes in 1821. The first body laid there was that of Frederick Miller, in 1822. Since that time, it has been the burial-place of most of the inhabitants dying in the vicinity. In 1837, the ground was deeded to Trustees, to be kept forever as a place of sepulture. These grounds have been kept, and are now, in the best of order, except the south side, which has been seriously injured by grading down the pike, even to the extent of exposing some of the graves.

List of our direct ancestors buried in the Bethel Baptist Cemetery:
Anna M. Abendschon Leffel
Many of our ancestors' sibings and children are also buried in the cemetery.

Monday, November 17, 2008

William and Elizabeth (West) Boyles

William Boyles married Elizabeth West, the sister to our direct ancestor, Susan Evaline West.

William Boyles was born about 1826 in Kentucky. William Boyles and his father, Joseph Boyles, came to Texas prior to 1848 and both received land as a part of Peter's Colony that settled North Central Texas. William died about 1863 in Collinsville, Grayson, Texas. It is believed that he died from a gunshot wound and exposure as he hid from the same group responsible for the Great Hangings at Gainesville, Texas in October 1862. William's brother-in-law, David Miller Leffel, was one of the victims of the Hanging. Diamond stated that Boyles was "later killed at Collinsville." His death was a result of his participation in the Peace Party and resulting arrests, trials & Hangings at Gainesville, Texas in 1862.

William married Elizabeth T. West daughter of Michael West and Susannah McKee West on 19 May 1849 in , Grayson, Texas. Elizabeth was born on 5 Dec 1831 in Champaign, Ohio. She died on 14 Mar 1898 in Erath, Texas. She was buried in Mar 1898 in Alexander Cemetery, Erath, Texas.
They had the following children:
1. Joseph McKee Boyles was born on 6 Dec 1852 in Sherman, Grayson, Texas. He died on 19 Mar 1933 in Portales, Curry, New Mexico. He was buried in Portales, Curry, New Mexico.Joseph married (1) Mary Rose Auvenshire "Polly" on 5 Jul 1877 in Jonesboro, Coryell, Texas. Mary was born on 1 Jan 1860 in , Carroll, Tennessee. She died on 3 Apr 1879 in Aurora, Wise, Texas. She was buried in Old Bethel Cemetery, Rhome, Wise, Texas.Joseph married (2) Sara Elizabeth Pennington in 1880 in . Sara was born on 14 Jun 1861.
2. Sarah L. Boyles was born about 1855 in , , Texas.? IGI possible spouse: Sarah L Boyles; Female; Birth: 1855 , Texas married spouse: Thomas Grimes; Marriage: 14 APR 1872 , Coryell, TX
3. Martha S. Boyles was born on 2 Jun 1857 in , Crawford, Arkansas.Your information on the Boyles is the same family as mine. My husbands Great Grandmother Martha Jane Boyles was born June,2 1857. She had 4 brothers, one who was Joseph McKee Boyles born 1853 according to our information. Elizabeth married a Issac Lee April 30, 1865 and Elizabeth died March 14, 1898 in Earth CoTexas. We have been told that Martha Jane is part Cherokee Indian. I have a picture of her and Andrew Jackson Roberts her husband, and she looks Indian. But, so far I haven't been where I can check out the Indian information. My husband's niece has a Dawls Book and she showed a Martha Jane Bowles. But, her Dad's last name was Boyles. But, I need to study the book better if I ever get back to Abilene Texas where she lives. My husband's Dad always said his Grandmother was a Cherokee Indian.
4. William Tomes Nelson Boyles was born in 8 Nov 1859 in , Cooke, Texas.William preferred to spell his name as Boils. There was much discussion over the fact that he felt Boils was the proper spelling.Marriage 1 Martha J. Pennington, 2 MAY 1881 in Coryell Co., TX

The Story of William Boyles by S. H. Harrison 1997 Fort Worth, TXWilliam Boyles was the son of Joseph Boyles, his mother is still unknown. Joseph Boyles came to Texas from Illinois, I found him in Green County in 1830 and 1840 census records. According to these records he had other sons and a daughter (or perhaps extended family living with them), however, we only know the names of William and Sarah. According to the 1850 census records, Joseph was born in Virginia, William was born in Kentucky and Sarah in Illinois. Joseph Boyles arrived in Texas a widower and obtained land from Peters Colony in Collin and Cooke Counties. William served in ranger companies during 1846 and 1848. He obtained a Headright in Grayson County as a single man and married Elizabeth West in Grayson County, 19 May 1849.When his father, Joseph, died 19 May 1853, William was appointed the executor of the estate. It is unclear on what date he and Elizabeth went to Arkansas, however there are probate records indicating that the court had not heard from William Boyles. The court cost by the October 1857 term, amounted to over $500.00 and the decision was made to sell the property in Cooke County to cover court costs. It was at this time that William, from Crawford County, Arkansas, sold all of his interest in his father’s estate to his sister Sarah Gibson. He apparently thought he had taken care of his obligations of Joseph’s estate, or thought they would take care of themselves. They could have been in Arkansas the entire four years, census records show the birth of a daughter in Arkansas. At any rate, they were back in Texas in time for the 1860 census. (His family is listed in both Cooke & Grayson Counties in the 1860 Census.)Sister, Sarah Boiles, age 19 was living with William Fitzhugh in Collin County in the 1850 census. I have wondered if there is a relationship with them since Fitzhugh’s wife, Mary, was also born in Illinois, however, nothing has been proven one way or the other. Sarah married Nelson Gibson from Pettis County, Missouri (Nelson’s name is recorded in deed records as her husband). In the 1860 census Sarah and Nelson Gibson are listed on the same census page as O.T. Mallow with other Mallows on the other census pages. For those who don’t recognize the name, Mother’s youngest sister, Dovie, married J.T. Mallow. I checked with their daughter, Jeanie, their Mallows were in Collin County at that time.Back to William Boyles. Family tradition stated that "he did not want to fight in the Civil War, hid out in the hills, contracted pneumonia and died." Let’s take a look at the time period. Both the Boyles and West families moved to Texas from Illinois in the middle 1840's. They had both been subjected to "Texas Justice." William had served with the home rangers protecting the frontier families from Indian attacks, so he was not afraid of fighting. By the time they arrived, slave owners from the south manned most of the political offices. In 1862, Texas became embroiled in the question of secession and called for a vote. The vote in Cooke and Grayson Counties was overwhelmingly against secession. However, as a state, the vote was for secession. A large number of men in the Red River border counties joined a secret society that was loyal to the government of their fathers (Old Constitution and the Union).This sets the stage for what later became known as "The Great Hangings of Gainesville." The West (Elizabeth West Boyles) sister, Susan and her husband David M. Leffel arrived in Texas in time to become embroiled in it too. September 1862 Union forces had advanced into the Oklahoma Territory and there was a good deal of unrest in the Red River area. The Confederate army in the area learned of the secret society and suspected treason. What ensued was mass hysteria and mass arrests. David Leffel was among them and William Boyles’ name came up during the so-called trial. David was one of the 42 men who were hanged in Gainesville the middle of October and William was one of the wanted. One report says that William was killed near Collinsville. The family tradition said pneumonia. Could they both have been right? It was October and he was hiding out in the Timbers. He could have suffered a gunshot wound and contracted pneumonia, too.Elizabeth Boyles moved her family to Coryell County and Susan Leffel continued to live in the area until problems erupted after the return of the confederate veterans at the end of the Civil War. A neighbor, Joel F. DeLemeron, tried to help Elizabeth and her children by giving her a horse and was charged with treason for aiding the victim’s families.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

David Miller Leffel

UPDATE: See new post about David Miller Leffel

David Miller Leffel is considered a true American Patriot by his descendants. David was one of forty Union sympathizing citizens of North Texas who were charged with disloyalty and treason against the Confederacy by a “Citizens Court” in Gainesville, Cooke County in October 1862 and then hanged in the Great Hanging at Gainesville. At his mockery of a trial by the Citizens Court in Gainesville, David swore support of the "old Constitution and Union." He was then hanged for disloyalty and treason to the Confederate cause.
David M. Leffel's story begins in Virginia, where he was born 20 Jan 1816, the third child born to Anthony Leffel and Mary Miller Leffel.  As a toddler of three years old, David moved to Clark County, Ohio with his family.  He spent his growing up years in Clark County near many of his relatives on both the Leffel and Miller sides of the family. 

The Leffel family of Clark County was prominent and prosperous. A cousin of David’s, James Leffel, was inventor of the double turbine water wheel and started the James Leffel Company in Springfield, Clark, Ohio. David’s ancestry in this county goes back to his great-grandfather, Baltzer Leffel, who as an immigrant from Germany in 1750 settled in Pennsylvania. Baltzar was a Patriot and swore his allegiance to the Patriots cause of Freedom and Liberty.  He is listed in the DAR Patriot Index for the American Revolution, and so, any descendants of David Miller Leffel should qualify for membership into the DAR.

David married his sweetheart, Susan Evaline West, on 3 May 1837 in Springfield, Clark County, Ohio. Her father was present at the wedding.

Clark Co, Ohio Marriage License, Vol 2, pg 211
David and Susan moved to nearby Champaign County to raise their young family, which grew to eight children.  One daughter, Eliza Jane, died as an infant and was buried in Champaign County in 1843.  David's occupation was that of a carpenter

Susan's parents were Michael West and Susannah McKee. After Susan's mother died in Ohio, her father, Michael West, and brothers moved to Texas before 1848. Michael West and his son, Michael, had obtained land grants as colonists in the Peters Colony in Grayson County.  An older brother, John West, was living in Red River County, Texas. When the older Michael West died in 1858, he left his land in Grayson, Texas to his heirs, which included daughter, Susan Leffel.

Sometime right after the death of her father in 1858, Susan and David packed up their young family and moved from Ohio to Grayson County, Texas to claim Susan's inheritance of land left to her from her father.  Their decision to move from Ohio, a Northern State, to Texas which was a slaveholding state would set in motion events that would lead to David's death in the Great Gainesville Hanging.

It is hard to know exactly where David and Susan lived when they arrived in Grayson County, Texas.  It appears that they did not live on the land that Susan inherited from her father.  In February of 1860, Susan buys 80 acres from her brother, John, and then that same day sells her inherited land to same brother.  In July of 1860, Susan sells the land she had just purchased a few months earlier from her brother, John, to N.H. Holt (a future nephew-in-law). David and Susan cannot be found in the 1860 census and it is not known which county in Texas they were living in after she sold her land in Grayson County.   In 1861, David is listed as an Agent and only pays a poll tax only in the 1861 Grayson County Tax list. In the same 1861 tax list, Susan pays tax as owner of 80 acres of land originally belonging to John Haning (a brother-in-law).
David was a carpenter by trade not a farmer.  They may have rented a place in one of the towns.  By 1862, they are living in Cooke County, where David shows up on a tax roll.  Perhaps, they moved to be closer to Susan's sister, Elizabeth West Boyles, who lived in Cooke county.
Why didn't they show up in the 1860 census? It appears that they were living in Grayson County in 1860, so why were they not listed in the census records?

In 1861, Texas withdrew from the Union and allied itself with the Southern States. All state officers had to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. When Governor Sam Houston refused, he was removed from office. There was much unrest and political tension, especially in North Texas. As the Civil War continued, it ripped apart families and communities, as well as the nation. Cooke County in Texas was one such community.

David Leffel was one of forty-two Union sympathizing citizens of North Texas who were charged with disloyalty and treason against the Confederacy by a 'Citizens Court' in Gainesville, Cooke County in October 1862 and then hanged in the Great Hanging at Gainesville. Leading up to this tragedy, David's brother-in-law, William Boyles, encouraged him to attend a meeting of the 'Peace Party' at the home of Rama Dye. At the meeting, the rescue of prisoners held by the Citizens Court was discussed. Fifteen men who attended the meeting Dye's home that night were later executed, David being one of them. The Citizens Court consisted of a majority of slaveholders. Seven of the 12 jurors during Gainesville lynchings were slaveholders and they insisted on a simple majority rule in the decisions for execution. So the slaveholders alone could condemn a person to death! In 1860 Cooke County population was 4,000, of which 66 were slaveowners which owned 300-400 slaves. These men exerted power and influence far out of proportion to their numbers. Diamond account refers to David Miller Leffel with only initials for a given name -- D. M. Leffel. Clark refers to David as "Oald man Leffel." At his trial by the vigilante Citizen's Court, David states, "I was sworn by Wm Boyles, who gave me the signs, grip and password. I was sworn to support the old Constitution and Union." David Leffel was connected with the Ramey Dye meeting for the rescue of the prisoners. He was found guilty of disloyalty and hung. David's hanging took place on Sunday, October 19, 1862. It is not known what happened to his body after the hanging.  It may have been thrown into the warehouse in Gainesville along with the rest of the bodies and then carelessly buried in the mass grave along the creek with the other victims of the Hanging.

To read more about the Great Hanging at Gainesville, go to:

William Jefferson Leffel, oldest son of David and Susan, returned to Ohio at the outbreak of the Civil War and continued to live in Ohio though out his life.  But, back in Texas, several family members of David's family were listed on the Grayson County, Texas Confederate Indigent Families list. The Texas State legislature made this list after they passed a resolution in December 1863 and pledged support and maintenance of families, widows, and dependents of soldiers currently serving in Confederate forces, or of soldiers killed or disabled in service.  A. M. Leffel and Sarah (&William) Counts are on the list. This means that David's son, Anthony M. Leffel and son-in-law, William Counts, were away from home during the 1864-1865 time period fighting for the Confederate forces.  This would have been after the Hangings in Gainesville in October 1862 when David was hanged.

David Miller Leffel was a kind and gentle man who loved his family.  David's death left his widow, Susan, and younger children with out his care and protection. The only information David's family back in Ohio received was that he had been killed in Texas by a Confederate mob on account of his Union sentiments. David's brother, Joel Leffel, was serving in the Union Army at the time of David's death and died in the Army Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky in early 1863.  That means that David's father, Anthony Leffel, lost two sons during the Civil War.
Below is a picture of David's father, Anthony Leffel.
David's father, Anthony Leffel.
Susan lost her dearest friend and companion, when her husband was killed in the Hanging. In 1869, Susan was living in Pilot Point, Denton County, Texas, when she wrote a letter to the Governor of Texas telling of the continued harassment by southern rebels. Susan's whereabouts are not known after that time (1869).  She cannot be found in the 1870 census.
Did she die shortly after writing the letter to the Governor in 1869?
Was she killed by those who kept harassing her and her family?
Why is she NOT found in the 1870 census?

Susan's sister, Elizabeth West Boyles, also lost her husband during this period. Some say William Boyles was shot while escaping, then died later of the wounds while he was hiding out in the timbers.  John Haning, husband of another sister, Rebecca Jane West Haning, was away fighting in the Confederate Army at the time of Hangings.

Where are David and Susan buried?  That question has yet to be answered and haunts all of us who are descendants.  A Miller family history book, The Genealogy of the Descendants of Frederick and Mary Elizabetyh Peery Miller, published in 1913, states that both David and Susan were buried in Texas, BUT the actual burial sites for David and Susan are unknown. 
The questions below still need to be answered:
Was David buried in the mass burials with the other victims??
Or, was he buried by his family in an unknown grave??
When and where did Susan die? 
Was she able to be buried next to her beloved David? 
Or, is she buried in some unknown grave?

David Miller Family
David Miller Leffel was born on 20 Jan 1816 in , Botetourt, Virginia. Son of Anthony Leffel and Mary Miller Leffel. He died on 19 Oct 1862 in Gainesville, Cooke, Texas as a victim of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas. It is NOT known what happened to his body after the hanging.
David married Susan Evaline West daughter of Michael West and Susannah McKee on 3 May 1837 in Springfield, Clark, Ohio. Susan was born on 3 Jun 1817 in , Mason, Kentucky.Susan died sometime after 1869 in Texas. It is NOT known when or where she was buried.
David and Susan were the parents of eight children and 45 grandchildren:

1. William Jefferson Leffel was born on 31 Jul 1838 in Donnelsville, Clark, Ohio. He died on 25 Oct 1911 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. He was buried in Oct 1911 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio.William married Mary Buckles daughter of David B. Buckles and Elizabeth Covalt on 31 Oct 1861 in Miami, Ohio. Mary was born on 22 Feb 1836 in , Miami, Ohio. She died on 25 Oct 1911 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. She was buried in Union Cemetery, Columbus, Franklin, Oklahoma.  They were the parents of 10 children.
2. Sarah Ann Leffel was born about 1840 in Addison, Champaign, Ohio. She died before 1882.Sarah married (1) William S. Counts on 4 Jun 1860 in , Grayson, Texas. William was born about 1837 in Missouri. He died about 1863 in Texas. He was buried about 1863 in Texas.Sarah may have married (2) John C. Morgan on 14 Jun 1868 in Grayson, Texas.  Sarah was the mother of three children.
3. Eliza Jane Leffel was born on 24 Jan 1843 in , Champaign, Ohio. She died on 16 Dec 1843 in , Champaign, Ohio. She was buried in Hill Cemetery, Champaign, Ohio.
4. Anthony Musgrove Leffel was born in Jan 1846 in Addison, Champaign, Ohio. He died on 17 Mar 1909 in Hood, Texas. He was buried in Granbury, Hood, Texas.Anthony married Mendora Lee Batchelor "Minnie, Nudora" daughter of Hilliard Austin Batchelor and Ripsy Ann Earhart on 13 Feb 1884 in , Tarrant, Texas. The marriage ended in divorce. Mendora was born in Mar 1870 in Texas. She died on 27 Jul 1955. She was buried in Fort Scott, Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri.  They were the parents of 8 children.
5. James Perry Leffel was born on 21 Sep 1848 in Addison, Champaign, Ohio. He died on 28 Sep 1940 in Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma. He was buried on 29 Sep 1940 in Rose Hill Cemetery, Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma.James married (1) Malinda Jane Martin daughter of Charles Neely Martin and Euphamia Isabell Martin on 5 May 1869 in , Dallas, Texas. Malinda was born in 1843 in Illinois. She died in Apr 1870 in Lancaster, Dallas, Texas.James married (2) Euphamia Isabell Martin daughter of William Harvey Martin and Susan Abigail Whitaker on 3 Jan 1871 in , Ellis, Texas. The marriage ended in divorce.Euphamia was born on 30 Jul 1820 in Matoon, Coles, Illinois. She died on 10 May 1916 in Glen Rose, Somervell, Texas.James married (3) Laura Ann Neely daughter of James Martin Neely Jr. and Sarah Elizabeth Burleson about 1887 in Texas. Laura was born on 3 Jul 1859 in , Denton, Texas. She died on 7 Oct 1931 in Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma. She was buried on 8 Oct 1931 in Rose Hill Cemetery, Grady, Oklahoma.  James Perry Leffel was the father of six children.
6. Charles Edgar Leffelwas born on 16 Apr 1851 in Addison, Champaign, Ohio. He died on 4 Jun 1919 in Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma. He was buried in Jun 1919 in Rose Hill Cemetery, Grady, Oklahoma.Charles married (1) Sarah Ann Burkham on 5 May 1869 in , Cooke, Texas. Sarah was born about 1852 in Texas. She died in Jun 1870 in , Ellis, Texas.Charles married (2) Caldona Jane Box daughter of Grief Johnson Box and Roenna Johnson on 18 Nov 1875 in , Dallas, Texas. Caldona was born on 18 Mar 1858 in , Bradley, Arkansas. She died on 12 Feb 1926 in Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma. She was buried on 13 Feb 1926 in Rose Hill Cemetery, Grady, Oklahoma.  Charles was the father of ten children.
7. John Wesley Leffel was born on 4 Aug 1855 in Addison, Champaign, Ohio. He died on 21 Feb 1925 in , Jack, Texas. He was buried on 22 Feb 1925 in Cottonwood Cemetery, Hood, Texas. John married (1) Sarah Eleanor McCoy daughter of James McCoy and Sarah Cloud on 13 Jun 1873 in , Cooke, Texas. The marriage ended in divorce.Sarah was born in May 1855 in , Tarrant, Texas. She died on 21 May 1942 in Clarksville, Red River, Texas.John married (2) Mary Elizabeth Box daughter of Grief Johnson Box and Roenna Johnson on 29 Oct 1884 in , Hood, Texas. This marriage for John ended in divorce also. Mary was born on 7 Sep 1844 in , Tippah, Mississippi. She died on 28 Feb 1922 in Jack, Texas. She was buried in Cottonwood Cemetery, Jack, Texas.  John was the father of two daughters and reared two step-sons as if they were his own.
8. George Leffel was born in Aug 1857 in Ohio. He died on 31 Jul 1919 in , Jack, Texas. George married (1) Mary Runnels on 11 Oct 1877 in Hood, Cooke, Texas. George married (2) Florida W. Tucker on 16 Jun 1898 in Graham, Young, Texas. Florida was born in May 1870 in Texas.  George was the father of six children.

For complete and up-to-date source citations, please refer to the Box Leffel Family Tree on Ancestry.com.  You can also find this family on FamilySearch.org in the Family Tree.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rev. Jacob M. Stewart

Reverend Jacob Mattison Stewart of Putnam County, Tennessee

Rev. Jacob M. Stewart was a younger brother to our ancestor, Henry Riley Stewart. Like his brother Henry, Jacob joined the Union Army in the Civil War. He served in Company I 157 Tennessee Mounted Infantry. In addition to being a Baptist Minister, later in his life Jacob was also the postmaster for the Boma, Tennesee Post Office.

Reverend Jacob Mattison Stewart
Postmaster of Boma, Tennessee Post Office

Below is a short biography written about Rev. Jacob M. Stewart in 1902.
History of Middle Tennessee Baptists: With Special Reference to Salem, New Salem, Enon and Wiseman Associations; By John Harvey Grime; Published by Baptist and Reflector, 1902; Original from the University of Michigan; Digitized (Google Books) Oct 10, 2006; 565 pages.
Page 510, 511

ELDER J. M. .STEWART, Boma, Putnam County, Tennessee.He is of Dutch-Irish descent. He is tall, medium size, with dark complexion. He is the son of Harrison and Sarah (Brown) Stewart. He was born five miles west of Cookeville, Putnam County, Tennessee, November 11, 1847. He was brought up on the farm. He made profession at his home in Putnam County, Tennessee, April 12, 1865, and was baptized into the fellowship of Mine Lick Baptist Church, April 5, 1866, by Elder Jesse Brown. He was ordained by the order of Mine Lick Church, August 7, 1870, by Elders Jesse Brown and Elijah Hickey, and was at the same time called to the care of said church.
He has served as pastor the following churches: Mine Lick, 1870-74; Mud Spring,
1870-71 ; Bear Creek, Overton County, 1871-72; Caney Fork, DeKalb County, 1871-73; Wolf Creek, 1872-74; again 1876-81 ; Indian Creek, Putnam County, 1872- 77; Beech Grove, 1876-82, again 1897-98; Hopewell, 1874-83; Mt. Zion, 1880-91, again 1894-1900; Dry Creek, 1884-90 (two years of this time was before the church was organized) ; Hickman's Creek, 1883- 85; Salem, 1883-87; New Hope, 1883-85; Bethel, 1887-89; Lancaster, 1888-90; Indian Creek, DeKalb County, 1888-90, again 1896-98. In 1891 he moved to Texas, remaining two years ; while there, he organized two churches and was pastor of six churches in that State. He returned in October, 1893 ; Dowell- town, 1894-97; Wharton's Spring, 1896-98; Boma, 1898-1902; Wolf Creek, 1901-02.
He was educated in common schools and at home. He has done a considerable amount of missionary work. He has worked up and organized six churches, and assisted in four others, making ten in all. He has baptized several hundred converts and married between one and two hundred couples.
He was married to Miss Mary E. Lee, September 10, 1868, by whom he has four children, one son and three daughters.
Rev. JM Stewart & wife, Mary Lee Stewart Rev. JM Stewart & daughter

Elder J. M. Stewart died on 25 Jan 1920 at Boma, Putnam County, Tennessee.  He was 72 years, 2 months, and 14 days old when he died.  His death certificate states that he was a Minister of the Gospel and his occupation was preaching.  Elder Stewart was buried in Boma on Jan 26th 1920 in the New Home Baptist Church Cemetery next to the New Home Baptist Church.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bettie Medlin -- Little Orphan Girl

Probably the saddest stories I come across in my family history research is when a mother dies leaving behind young children. Our ancestor, Bettie Medlin was one such child.

Bettie Medlin Stewart

Bettie Medlin was the youngest child born to Samuel and Rebecca (Morgan) Medlin. Rebecca died while Bettie was still a small infant and she was raised by another family. Bettie was probably born about 1854, although no record of her birth exists. Bettie stated in a letter included in Henry's Civil War Pension Records that she did NOT know her birth date or how old she actually was and she usually did not give a birth year or age to the census taker. BUT, in about 1932, Bettie told her great-granddaughter, Ethel Baldwin, that her BIRTHDAY was on Valentine's Day, Febuary 14. I feel that she personally picked that day for her birthday since she did not know her real birthday, so that is the birthdate I have given her.
She said she was born "close to Nashville, TN" in one letter and in "Putnam County" Tennessee in another letter. Her family, the Samuel Medlin family, was in Wilson County in the 1850 Census. Brother, Riley Medlin, stated he was born in Wilson Co., TN in his Civil War Pension Application. Wilson County is just above Nashville (Davidson County), so it is "close to Nashville."

As stated earlier, Rebecca died shortly after Bettie was born. Bettie stated in a letter dated 25 Jan 1917 (included in the widow's pension application of her husband, Henry Stewart's Civil War Pension Records #1244,834) that her mother died when she was an infant and that "the people with whom I was raised their name was Barnett Richardson near Boulding Green, Ky."

There is a Barnett Richardson in the 1860 Putnam Co., TN census. Included in his family is a 7 year old Elizabeth which is most likely our Bettie.

Further research into Barnett Richardson, shows he has a brother Caleb Richardson who was married to Martha (Patsy) Medlin. Also in the 1860 Putnam County census is a Riley Medlin family with a 11 yr old, Isaac P. Medlin in household, who is most likey Bettie's brother, Isaac Pinkney. Conclusion: Barnett Richardson's sister-in-law is Patsy Medlin Richardson. Patsy may be related to Bettie's father, Samuel Medlin and to Riley Medlin. These relationships need to be researched, but they could very well be siblings.

Most of Bettie's siblings were old enough to be married, or else they went to live with other family members after the death of their mother. In 1860, sister Amanda can be found living with married sister, Emily Medlin Rogers. Bettie's father may have remarried to a Peggy Jaco but there is no indication any of the children remained living with him after the death of his first wife, Rebecca.
Bettie also stated that in 1870 she was living with "William Brown his wife Emma Brown and their children names were Clerry Jane Brown, Permela Brown and Smith Brown in Putnam Co., Tenn." Emma (Richardson) Brown is the daughter of Caleb and Patsy (Medlin) Richardson and niece of Barnett Richardson.

In 1870, William and Emma Brown lived next to Harrison Stewart (Henry's father) and Caleb Richardson. Bettie probably lived with the Brown Family and met Henry Stewart. Perhaps she helped to care for Henry's children after his first wife died?  Bettie married Henry Riley Stewart at the home of William and Emma Brown (as recorded in the Stewart Family Bible pages in possession of Lorene Stewart Family of New Mexico):
"H.R. Stewart of Tenn. & Bettie Medlin of Tenn. married Aug 17, 1872 by Rev. Jacob Stewart at Brown’s house. Witnesses: Browns and Stewarts." The Rev. Jacob Stewart was Henry's brother.

Bettie and Henry had eight children: Mary Jane Stewart Baldwin, David Hargon Stewart, Jospeh R. Stewart, George Thomas Stewart, Henry P. Stewart, Evert Walter Stewart, Charles Vester Stewart mand Mattie May Stewart.

In the 1880's, Bettie and Henry moved to Texas.  They were living in Young County, Texas when their oldest daughter, Mary Jane Stewart, married Allen Baldwin. The Stewarts then moved to Oklahoma in the early 1900's. They built a large stone house in Kiowa County.

Bettie's husband, Henry, died in September of 1912. After the death of her husband, Henry, Bettie lived with children and grandchildren. In the early 1930's in Kiowa County, Oklahoma, Bettie lived with her grandson Jess Baldwin and his young family. Great-granddaughter, Ethel would sleep in the same big feather bed with Bettie. Ethel would slip into bed with her socks on.  Bettie would reach down and feel her sock garters holding up the socks and promptly tell Ethel to get her socks off.  Ethel said that Grandma Bettie was a tiny lady, about 5 feet tall and 90 pounds. She was very feisty lady. Bettie had long black hair (no grey hair even in her 70's) that she would braid and roll in a bun. Every night Grandma Bettie would go through the same routine -- she would put on her flannel nightgown, take down her braids, unbraid them and brush out her hair, then she would rub "Golden Peacock" cream on her face, and then drink the glass of milk she had set on her night stand. She used the "Golden Peacock" cream to bleach out her age spots. The milk she set by her bed every night had 3 or 4 drops of a medicine used for colic (paregoric) because it helped her sleep.
Golden Peacock Bleach Cream
Great-granddaughter Esther remembers that Bettie would sit very strait, wore dresses with high-necked collars, and was very particular about how she took care of herself.  Another great-granddaughter remembered Grandma Bettie allowing her to see the contents of her trunk with all of her mementos and treasures in it.  That is probably where she kept the Family Bible.  Wouldn't you love to go through that trunk today?:)

Bettie made up some rather fantastic stories to tell the grandchildren as to why she was an orphan -- Indians attacking their wagon train and killing her parents, being kidnapped by the Indians, etc. One such story had to do with her mother being an Indian and the Indian tribe being upset with her because she had married a white man.  The Indians killed her father and left her mother for dead.

Some descendants of Amanda Medlin Reed, Bettie's sister, also recall stories about an "Indian Grandma."  In the early part of 2002, I had a telephone conversation with Henry Reed Jr. of Madison, TN.   He said that his great-grandmother was Cherokee Indian.  Supposedly, Rebecca was born before the Indian removal. When the Cherokee's were driven out of Tennessee on the "Trail of Tears", Rebecca hid out in the mountains. The mountains were in the southern part of Tennessee -- One was called Lookout Mountain. Henry said he saw a picture of this grandmother when he was a boy and she looked Indian. He said Rebecca was not her real name, it was a name given to her when she was christened. Her real Indian name is lost to anyone's memory.  Are these stories based on facts and was this great-grandma, Rebecca Morgan, a Cherokee Indian??
If anyone has any information concerning Rebecca Morgan, please leave a comment.

Back to Bettie.  Some of the great grandchildren had fond memories of their great-grandma Bettie.  But, some of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren thought Bettie was a "mean old grandma." One great-granddaughter remembers Bettie throwing the dirty dishwater on her. (This was in the days before indoor plumbing.) She said Grandma Bettie would wait until there were children playing outside to throw out the dishwater, and that it would usually land on some of the grandchildren. Another grandchild remembered Bettie swatting them with a fly-swat if they bothered her too much. 

Another picture of Bettie can also be seen in the previous posting of the Stewart Stone House .

Jesse Stewart -- Baptist Preacher

Our direct ancestor, Jesse Stewart, of Tennessee was a Baptist Preacher.  He was the grandfather of our Henry Stewart and great-grandfather of Mary Jane Stewart Baldwin.

Click here to see another post on Jesse Stewart that includes copies of the Jesse Stewart Bible Pages.

The following short biography on Elder Jesse Stewart is from the above pictured book, History of Middle Tennessee Baptists: With Special Reference to Salem, New Salem, Enon and Wiseman Associations by John Harvey Grime (1902). (Published by Baptist and Reflector, 1902); Pages 275-277.


This father in Israel is a grandfather of Elder J. M. Stewart, of Boma, Tenn. But little can be gathered concerning him. The first authentic information we have concerning him, he was a member of Roaring River Church, in Overton County, Tennessee. This is one of the oldest churches in Middle Tennessee and was in the constitution of Stockton's Valley Association in 1805. Elder Stewart was probably ordained by this church. At least he was an ordained minister in this Association when the mission controversy arose. He took the side of missions, and the majority of his church took the other side. The war waged, and finally the church excluded him for his mission views. His exclusion was publicly announced in the Association, A. D. 1843.

The controversy in this (Stockton's Valley) Association on the mission question assumed a serious aspect as early as 1836, and this meeting in 1843 was the culmination of the long-strained condition of the body. And those parts of the churches which had been dropped from the Association, including those who had been excluded for their principles, with other sympathizers, met at Beech Grove, Monroe County, Kentucky, on the first Saturday in November 1843, and constituted Freedom Association. This Association had six churches, aggregating 216 members. (See History of Kentucky Baptists, by J. H. Spencer, Vol. 2, p. 217).

Elder Stewart most probably remained a member of Freedom Association until some time in the fifties. Then he became identified with the great mission movement of Salem Association which swept over the mountain counties, taking Putnam County as a center. Later, he became identified with Johnson Association.

When this author (Rev. J.M. Stewart) was a small child, Elder Stewart was wont to visit his father's home, in the southern part of Putnam County, Tenn. This was in the fifties (1850's) and I remember him as a feeble old man and very badly palsied. He is perhaps the first minister I remember to have seen, though I have no recollection of hearing him preach. It seems that I can now feel his trembling hand on my head and hear his faltering voice as he pronounces his blessings upon a whitehaired haired boy. It is said he was a good, old-fashioned preacher. I am told that he moved to the State of Kentucky and went from there to glory. This occurred about the time of the Civil War. Where he sleeps is unknown to this author, but God will keep watch over his dust and bring it forth in that DAY.

(Note: This short biography on Jesse Stewart was written and submitted to be included in the above mentioned book by his grandson, Rev Jacob Stewart.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Henry Stewart -- Civil War Veteran

Our grandpa, Henry Riley Stewart, was a veteran of the Civil War. Henry was born and raised in the South, but when it came time to take a stand, he joined the Union to fight against slavery. On 31 December 1863 at Carthage, Tennessee, Henry enlisted in the Union Army as a private in D Company 1st Tennessee Volunteers, Mounted Infantry. His pension is File # 1244,834.  At the end of the war, Henry was discharged honorably from the army on 25 April 1865 at Nashville, Tennessee.

To see additional information from Henry's Civil War Pension file, go to:
Henry R Stewart Civil War Pension I
Henry R Stewart Civil War Pension II

Henry was born 10 Dec 1843, the third child of Harrison and Sarah (Brown) Stewart. In his pension application, Henry states that he was born in Double Springs, Jackson County, Tennessee. Putnam county was created from Jackson county and it is in Putnam County that the records for the Stewart family will be found.

Sixteen year old Henry can be found living with his parents in the 1860 Census for Putnam county. His father, Harrison's occupation is listed as a mechanic. In other records, Harrison's occupation is listed as shop work or blacksmith. Blacksmithing is the profession that Henry followed during his lifetime. Below is the letterhead Henry used for his blacksmith shop in Mountain View, Oklahoma.

After the Civil War, Henry married Elizabeth Brown. Henry and Elizabeth are enumerated in the 1870 census for Putnam County, Tennessee.  In the census below, Henry, Elizabeth, and son, John M, are on the bottom of page 207, and son, Elijah is listed on the top of the next page 208.
1870 Census, Putnam County, Tennessee, pg 207B
Elizabeth died in 1871, just a few days after giving birth to her third son. It is not known who helped Henry with his sons after Elizabeth died.  Only records for John M. Stewart have been found.  It is not known what happened to Elijah and William after the death of their mother.

A year later in 1872, Henry married Bettie Medlin. Bettie's mother, Rebecca, had died when she was just an infant and Bettie was raised by the Barnett Richardson family. In 1870, Bettie was living in Putnam county with the William Brown family. It was through these relationships that Bettie met the young widower, Henry Stewart. Henry and Bettie were married at the Brown's home by Rev. Jacob Stewart (Henry's brother.) Below is a copy from the Stewart Family Bible giving the marriage information for Henry & Bettie.
Stewart Family Bible
Religion played a large roll in Henry's life. His grandfather, Jesse Stewart, was a well known Tennessee Baptist pastor, as was his brother, Jacob M. Stewart.  Henry's father, Harrison, was a clerk for the Mine Lick Church -- named after a creek by that name on the head waters of which the church was located. This church was situated some eight miles west of Cookeville in Putnam County on the table lands of Cumberland Mountain. In his later life, Henry was considered as lay minister and would often preach at revivals in Texas and Oklahoma. His grandchildren can remember hearing him preach sermons at church gatherings.

In 1880, Henry was a 34 year old a millwright living in Cheatham County, Tennessee with wife, Bettie, and their two children, Mary J. and Joseph.  Mary Jane Stewart is our direct ancestor. She married Allen Baldwin and was the mother of Grandpa Jess Baldwin.

Henry and Bettie had eight children: Mary Jane Stewart Baldwin, David Hargon Stewart, Jospeh R. Stewart, George Thomas Stewart, Henry P. Stewart, Evert Walter Stewart, Charles Vester Stewart and Mattie May Stewart.  Descendants of these children can be found throughout the western states of Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and California.

Henry's brother, John Calvin Stewart, moved to Texas around 1882. A year later, Henry also moved his family to Texas. In his pension record, Henry states that "I came to Texas Aug 1883." He was living in Young County, Texas in 1890, when he showed up on the 1890 Veteran's Schedule. Ten years later in 1900, the Henry Stewart family seems to be unsettled. In March, when Henry started applying for his Civil War Pension, he gave Round Tree, Baylor County, Texas as his residence. But several months later in June, when the 1900 Federal Census was taken, Henry was in Throckmorton County, Texas.

The family made another move in 1901. This time to Cloverton, Kiowa, Oklahoma Territory. In 1902 and 1907, Henry still gives Kiowa County, Oklahoma as his place of residence. The pictures of the Stewart Stone House were taken around 1907 or 1908.

Henry (in overalls & black hat) is standing to the far right looking away from the camera.

For some reason, the family was back in Texas for the 1910 Census, in Wise county. Maybe they were just visiting, because they are next found back in Oklahoma in the early part of 1912. Henry's health seems to be deteriorating. In a letter written to his brother, Jacob, in May of 1912, Henry talks about being sick for about 3 months and going to Hot Springs. According to Jacob M. Stewart, this is the last letter he received from his brother, Henry.

Henry Stewart letter to brother, Jacob. 1912, pages 1-2

Henry Stewart letter to brother, Jacob. 1912, pages 3-4

As Henry indicated in the letter above, he ended up going to the Army Hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  He died in the Army Hospital on 19 September 1912. Henry R. Stewart is buried in the Little Rock National Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas.  His grave is in Section 8 site 6139.

You can search the National Gravesite Locator on the US Department of Veteran Affairs website for your US Veteran:  National Gravesite Locator

Other posts about Henry Stewart:
North and South
Our Family Blacksmiths
Stewarts of Putnam County, Tennessee
Old Stone House

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thomas Box - Early Mormon Convert from Texas

(Thomas is the brother to our direct ancestor, Grief Johnson Box, and the great-uncle to our grandmother, Mabel Edna Leffel Baldwin)

Thomas Box & Clarkey Carpenter Box Family
Early Mormon Converts from Texas

As far as I can tell, Thomas Box and his wife, Clarkey Carpenter Box, are our only ancestors to join the Mormon Church. This is their story.

Thomas Box was born in Knoxville, Knox, Tennessee on 8 Aug 1804, the third son of Michael and Mary (Fulcher) Box. Sometime around 1830 Thomas married Clarkey Carpenter, daughter of Richard & Nancy Holiday Carpenter. No marriage record has been found. Thomas and Clarkey Box were living in Giles, Tennessee when their son, Rufus, was born on 19 Mar 1831. Clarkey's Carpenter family was also living in Giles County at this time.

By 1835, Thomas and Clarkey had moved to Tippah County, Mississippi. Their daughter, Samantha, was born 22 Jun 1835. Two years later the Thomas Box family was in Chulerhomer, Marshall, Mississippi when their son, Thomas Michael Box, was born 26 Oct 1837. They may have just been visiting Marshall County because they were soon back in Tippah County. Thomas shows up in the 1840 census and in land records of Tippah County until 1842. Eleven year old son, Rufus, died in 1842. Thomas’s parents, Michael and Mary Box,  both died just a month a part in early 1841 in Tippah county.  Daughter, Samantha, died at the age of 9 years old in October of 1844. Thomas  probably moved  his family to Texas sometime after the death of his daughter in 1844.
Crossing the Plains, loc.gov
In 1846, the Thomas Box Family was living in Henderson County, Texas.  Thomas showed up on the 1846 Henderson County, Texas Poll list. The older brother to Thomas, James Francis Box, had previously moved to Texas. Some of the Box relatives (uncles and cousins) had lived in Texas since the Texas Revolution from Mexico.  His sister, Mary and her husband, Hugh G. Henderson, migrated to Texas about the same time as Thomas and Clarkey. Perhaps they traveled together in a wagon train from Tennessee to Texas.  Families and friends often moved together to new locations.

Thomas received a land grant for 320 acres in Henderson County in 1849.

In 1850, Thomas, Clarkey and their three living children are enumerated in the Henderson County, Texas 1850 Federal Census.
1850 Federal Census, Henderson County, Texas
Sometime around 1850, Lydia Box McCollum, sister to Thomas, moved to Henderson County with her husband, George, and their children.

In 1851, Thomas Box was appointed administrator for James Duncan Estate in Henderson County, Texas. (Thomas Box is next door to James Duncan in the 1850 Henderson Census). According to the Duncan probate records of August 1854, Thomas Box was said to be living in Trinity City, Ellis County, Texas. It is not known if James Duncan was more than just a friend and neighbor?

Box Family Joins Mormon Church
Sometime in the early part of 1856, Thomas and Clarkey became acquainted with missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. On 10 April 1856, Thomas and Clarkey were baptized members of the LDS Church in Ellis County, Texas. At that time, Elders Morris Snedaker, Homer Duncan, John Ostler & Benjamin L. Clapp were serving as missionaries in Ellis County. The next month, on Sunday, 25 May 1856, Thomas was ordained an Elder in the LDS Church. Thomas and Clarkey were listed as members of the newly organized Ellis County Branch on the first of June 1856. James Box and wife and Thomas Box, Jr. were also listed as members. This James Box and wife, who are listed as members, would probably be the brother and sister-in-law to Thomas Box.  Apparently, they did not remain active or committed to their new religion because they did not migrate to Utah with the other members of the LDS faith in 1857. 

  Members of the Ellis County, Texas Branch of the LDS Church, June 1856
Diary of Morris J. Snedaker, 1855-1856; Southwestern Historical Quarterly, April 1963

Thomas most likely traveled to Utah with the Homer Duncan Company in 1857.  It is known that the Box family arrived in Salt Lake Valley by September 1857.  Thomas brought with him a large herd of cattle.  The following was reported in the Los Angeles Star newspaper (Vol VII, No26, Saturday, 7 Nov 1857): "John Aiken...says: ...returned to Texas, and thence to Kansas, where I took charge of a drove of cattle, of 973, for Thomas Box, a Mormon, to deliver them at Salt Lake city. We started from Leavenworth city on the 22d of June last. We proceeded quietly and uninterruptedly on our journey as far as Sweet Water."
Los Angeles Star, Vol 7, No 26, 7 Nov 1857
USC Digital Library
Several months after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Thomas received his Patriarchal Blessing (5 Dec 1857) from Patriarch Isaac Morley.
Patriarchal Blessing Index, 1833-1963

In a letter dated 13 Apr 1858, to the Secretary of War concerning the Indian difficulties in Utah Territory, the following was reported: "About the 1st of March a descent was made upon the herds of the settlers in Rush valley and a considerable number of cattle and horses were driven off; among them quite a number belonging to Mr. Thos. Box, late of Texas." (Executive Documents of the House of Representatives, 35th Congress, Washington, 1859, page 74)

On 10 Jul 1858, Thomas was "sealed for time and eternity" to his wife, Clarkey in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. Also, on that same day Thomas married a polygamist wife, Belinda Marden Pratt, the widow of Parley P. Pratt who had died in May of 1857. (Yes, it seems we have a polygamist in the family.)

 Endowment House, Salt Lake City

In 1859, several members of the Box family are listed in the SLC 17th Ward Records. In January of 1859, Thomas, Clarkey & Belinda travel to Nephi, Utah to receive Patriarchal Blessings from Patriarch William Cazier. In September of 1859, Thomas and Clarkey received their Endowments in the Endowment House and were sealed as husband and wife a second time.  During 1859, Thomas served as a juror for the 3rd Judicial Court in Salt Lake City.

Also, in 1859, Thomas Box is referred to in the Journal History of the Church.  During the time of the Utah War, Brigham Young joined in a meeting of the Twelve held on 23 Feb 1859.  This meeting is reported in the Journal History of the Church:  "President Brigham Young came in at a quarter past one o'clock.  Wilford Woodruff read the minutes.  President Young said Bro. Box said the army was wanting to get up a vigilant committee, and wanted to get my head, but they will not do it..." .

On 23 Apr 1860, Thomas Box purchased land in Plat A Great Salt Lake City from Charles Gray. The land was on the corner of 1st North and 1st West in Salt Lake City.
1860 Federal Census, Salt Lake City, Utah
In the 1860 Census for Salt Lake City, Thomas was listed in the 13th Ward and his occupation was listed as a merchant. In addition to his wife Clarkey and their three children (Thomas, William Jeff., and Josephine), Belinda (Marden Pratt) Box and her children by her marriage to Parley P. Pratt were living with them. Belinda had five children, including a teenage son.

As noted, Thomas listed his occupation as merchant.  Thomas placed the following advertisement in the Deseret Newspaper in 1860 and refers to "my store in this city." 

28 Feb 1860, Deseret Newspaper, Salt Lake City, Utah
The Millennial Star reported the following in 1861,  "The Jordan dam, which has been under way for several years, is now being put in principally by brother Thomas Box, who has taken up a large tract of land about three miles northwest of the bridge, where he has found a good well of water, and sowed twenty or thirty acres of wheat for an experiment."

In the October Conference of 1861, Thomas Box and Thomas M. Box (son) of the SLC 17th Ward were called to settle in Southern Utah.  The Box family does not appear to have stayed in Southern Utah.  During 1861 to 1870 time period, there were Salt Lake County court records which listed Thomas Box as both plaintiff and defendant in debt cases. 

On 26, May 1862, Thomas Box of the Salt Lake City, 17th Ward recorded his brand, "+|" (right hip & right jaw)

In March 1864, Thomas Box traveled to Clover Valley (Nevada) when he heard of a mine discovery. His party did not discover a mine at Clover Valley so they headed to Panaca.  During this time, Thomas staked claims for himself, his two sons, and wife.  He then traveled back home to Salt Lake for provisions and tools, then headed back to the Panaca mine and then to Pioche in June of 1864. Thomas eventually sold his interest in the mine, some say at the request of Brigham Young.

On 20 Feb 1868, Clarkey was listed as a member of the newly organized SLC Seventeenth Ward Relief Society Organization. She donated 2 ½ yards of Jeans fabric worth $7.50, which was the largest donation given that day.  During 1868, Clarkey is mentioned several more times in the 17th Ward Relief Society minutes.  During one of the meetings, she was on a list of those who donated fabric and made a quilt.  Clarkey is not mentioned during 1869, but on 25 May 1870 in a Relief Society meeting at Union Hall, she made a donation of 5 cents, one of the smaller donations.

The 1869 Salt Lake City Directory listed Thomas as living in the 17th Ward on the corner of 1st North and 1st West. His occupation was listed as Freighter. 

In the 1870 Salt Lake City, Utah CENSUS, Thomas was living in the 17th Ward with wife, Clarkey and children: Thomas, William, Josephine and a 2 year old, Emily. Belinda Marden Pratt Box and family were no longer living with Thomas and Clarkey. (What happened to Belinda??? Why did she leave?)
1870 Federal Census, Salt Lake City, Utah

Two year old, Emily (Emma Josephine Box), listed in the above 1870 Census, was Josephine’s illegitimate daughter. Emma died of scarlet fever when she was eight years old and was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery next to her half-brother, Thomas J. Cunningham. Josephine had married Dennis Cunningham in about 1871. Josephine and Dennis Cunningham had a four year old son, Thomas J. Cunningham, who also died of scarlet fever just a week earlier than young Emma had died. See post on Josephine, Dennis, and their family.

The Thomas Box family financial circumstances seem to have changed during the 1860’s.  In 1860, Thomas listed the value of his real estate as $800 and value of personal estate as $10,000 -- a lot of money in those days.  By 1870, Thomas listed the value of his real estate as $1,000 and the value of his personal estate as $1,000.  What caused the decline in his personal estate?

In 1873, Thomas Box and son, Thomas Box, Jr. traveled to Pioche, Nevada to testify in what was known as "The Great Mining Suit."   The San Francisco Bulletin (newspaper) of 31 March 1873 reports: "Thomas Box and Thomas M. Box, father and son, were examined for the plaintiffs. The elder Box is a venerable-looking Mormon Bishop, seventy-five years of age. He testified that in March 1864, induced by reports of a mine discovery in Clover Valley, he came from Salt Lake City down the country with Sherwood, Vandermark and Shirts. At Clover Valley the reported mine was not discovered, but the party heard of the Panaca claim from the discoverers Ham, Bliss and Stil. From this point Box repeated substantially the history of the expedition to the Panaca location..."
(Note: No record has been found thus far of Thomas Box being called as a Bishop, as he is referred to in the above statement.)

In the 1874 SLC Directory, Thomas listed his occupation as a miner. He resided at the corner of 1 North & 1 West, southside, and son, T.M. Box, also a miner, resided on the northside of 1 North & 1 West.
Salt Lake City Directory, 1874

Box Family and Temple Work
Thomas and Clarkey were probably the first family members in our family to be interested in Family History. This interest developed because of the Mormon doctrines of Eternal Families and Temple Work.
In 1874, Thomas and Clarkey started performing proxy temple work their deceased family members. In the Salt Lake City Endowment House and later in the St. George Temple, Thomas performed temple work for his father, Michael Box, his brothers William and John, and many of his other deceased male relatives.  Clarkey performed the temple work for the deceased females of the Box and Carpenter families. From the early LDS church temple records of Thomas Box and Clarkey Carpenter Box, we learn the relationships for many of the Box and Carpenter families

In the 1875 October Conference, William Jefferson Box, son of Thomas, was called on a mission to the Southern States Mission.  He would be serving as a missionary in Texas. William had previously  married Alice Odd (a Mormon convert from England) on the 26 April 1875 in Endowment House. They were married by President D. H. Wells.  When William Jefferson Box did not return to Salt Lake City from his mission, Alice filed papers and received a  divorce in 1877.  Alice claimed that her husband left for Texas to visit relatives and never came home. It is not know if William J. Box ever returned to Utah, although his card in the old Missionary File Index in the Church History Library has "returned" written on it.  See post on William Jefferson Box.

Thomas and Clarkey remained faithful to their religion and continued to be involved in Temple Work for their deceased family members. First, they performed temple work for deceased family members during June 1876 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.  Then the year after the St. George Temple was completed in 1877, Thomas and Clarkey were in St. George performing Temple Work in the fall of 1878.  It is not known if they were living in St. George at the time or just visiting.

Exactly where the Box family lived after 1878 is a mystery.  Alfred Alonzo Barney writes in his history that in about 1879-1880, he hired out to Tom Box. The Box cattle were in Potato Valley Desert, Escalante Valley, Utah and were to be moved to the Lake. Box Creek, just south of Koosharem, Utah, was named after Thomas Box and his family. It appears that Thomas Box was in Southern Utah moving his cattle around from place to place.

Sign to Box Creek Reservoir 
The Thomas Box family cannot be found in the 1880 census. From the 1880 journal entries of Platte Lyman, who was part of the Hole-in-the-Rock group, Lyman writes about an 1880 trip from Bluff, Utah, along the San Juan River, and then into southwestern Colorado. Along the way Lyman stopped and traded his lame horse to Tom Box. After plotting Lyman's trip on a map, it is estimated that the Tom Box place was a few miles west of Battle Rock in McElmo Canyon, Montezuma County, Colorado.

"A Kindhearted Man"
Sometime before the spring of 1881, Thomas and Clarkey moved to San Juan County, New Mexico.  This would be just about 75 miles southeast of McElmo Canyon.  The following death notice for Thomas was found in the Deseret Newspaper of Salt Lake City:

Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, 20 Apr 1881.
DIED. "In Farmington, New Mexico, March 17, 1881, Thomas Box. He was born August 8, 1804 near Knoxville, Knox Co., Tenn. He was a kindhearted man, and died a true Latter-day Saint; he was well known in Utah. –COM."

Utah Digital Newspapers, https://digitalnewspapers.org/

Grandma Box
A reference to a "Grandma Box" and her son, Tom, was found in 1881 Fruitland, San Juan, NM which is right next to Farmington, NM.  "Grandma Box" was listed as the first person buried in the Fruitland Cemetery, San Juan County, New Mexico.
In a short biography for Luther C. Burnham by his daughter, Camera Burnham Palmer (Treasures of Pioneer History, Vol. 5, pg 195), the following is recorded;
"There were several families already located at what is now known as Fruitland (San Juan County, New Mexico), most of them being Mormon families who had come from Utah. Now that father (Luther Burnham) had chosen the San Juan Valley in which to locate, he was called to preside over this small group of members. This move was made in the spring of 1881... These first settlers had built a fort or stockade to protect themselves from the Indians, but they did not have any trouble with them as they were very friendly. The Old Fort was made of large Mexican adobes and was built in the shape of an L, facing the east and north with no windows or doors on the south or west. It had two or three large rooms facing north the rest east. It contained about nine or ten rooms. Sometime late in the summer my mother moved down in one room of a two-room adobe house on the San Juan river where father was farming. An OLD LADY WITH HER SON TOM BOX lived in the other room. GRANDMA BOX we called her. She was I think the first adult to die and be buried in the Fruitland Cemetery. While we lived in the house, my mother had another child born..."

Clarkey continued to live in the Fruitland, New Mexico area.   "Clarkie Box," widowed, is recorded in the 1885 New Mexico Territorial Census for Rio Arriba County (San Juan County formed in 1887).   She was living in the Walter Joshua Stevens household.  Her son, Thomas Box, Jr., was NOT listed in the census.

Schedules of the New Mexico Territory Census of 1885; Olio and Aztec, Rio Arriba, ED 17, page 11, hh 43/43

In the above census, Clarkie is 74 years old, widowed, and mistakenly listed as a "male" born in Texas.
Thomas and Clarkey's daughter, Josephine and her husband, Dennis Cunningham, also moved to San Juan County, New Mexico.  They lived in La Plata, which is just a few miles from Farmington and Fruitland.  The Dennis and Josephine Box family was, also,  enumerated in the 1885 New Mexico Territorial Census in La Plata, Rio Arriba County (San Juan County formed in 1887).  Why wasn't Clarkey living with her daughter and son-in-law??
The following children were listed in the Dennis Cunningham family: Maggie, a daughter aged 10 born in Utah; Willie, a son aged 7 born in Utah; Katie, a daughter aged 3 born in New Mexico; and, Josephine, a daughter aged 6 months born November in New Mexico.  This is the only record that son, Willie, shows up.

Josephine Box Cunningham, died of a ruptured appendix on 9 Jun 1888.  After Josephine's death, her husband, Dennis Cunningham, took their daughters back to Dubuque, Iowa and placed them in the care of a Catholic Convent.
No actual grave markers have been found for any of the family who died in San Juan County, New Mexico.  Although, the Fruitland Cemetery has a "Grandma Box" listed as being buried in an unmarked grave (no headstone) next to an unknown grave.  Could the unknown grave next to Clarkie be that of Thomas Box or Josephine Cunningham??

There is no information on what became of son, Thomas Michael Box, who was still single and lived with his mother after his father's death in 1881.  In 1882, Thomas is mentioned in the General Minutes of the Burnham Ward, San Juan Stake of the LDS Church when on the 4th of February 1882, Thomas was rebaptised (why?) and confirmed a member of the Church.  Thomas is not found living in the Fruitland area in the 1885 Territorial census.  He seems to have completely disappeared.  Perhaps he moved back and lived like a hermit in McElmo Canyon in southwestern Colorado, or perhaps he moved to Texas to live with relatives, or perhaps he went to find his brother, William, or perhaps he died, or who knows.

My story of Thomas Box and his family is far from over.  Too bad Thomas did not write his history or keep a journal  - it would have been very interesting, like reading an Old West novel. Thomas Box was a farmer, cowboy, cattle rancher, horse trader, miner, freighter, merchant, Mormon convert, polygamist, and all around interesting guy.
Any additional information on the Thomas & Clarkey Box family would be greatly appreciated!  Some insignificant bit of information might just be the clue that would help.  Thanks.