Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rocky Ford Sunday School 1904

Rocky Ford Crossing Sunday School 1904

This photo was titled Rocky Ford Crossing Sunday School, Dec-11-04 and it was taken by Chas. Beindorf.  The photo was given to me years ago by Hollis Leffel.

Charles Leffel (our ancestor) is the 2nd on the far right side and his wife, Caldona, is 3rd from the right. Grandma Baldwin (Mabel Leffel) is the cute little girl in the 2nd row, right in the middle, standing to the left of the girl in the white dress and just behind all the boys sitting in the front row. She has a pouty little face, pigtails with bows and a dress made out of the same material as her mother, Caldona.

Great-grandpa Charles Leffel would often preach at the little church.

According to Hollis Leffel, others in the photo are:
"All the Bud Barkers, Maggards, Stevensons, Arty Price and many others including Mr. & Mrs. Isenberger and Grandma & Grandpa Leffel." 
"You [writing to Mabel Leffel Baldwin] were in the front standing row, next to you were Emily Maggard, Lucy Wilhoit on your left down in front sitting on the ground was, Kirby, Wade & Henry Stevenson, and three other boys that I could not identify.  Behind Lucy, was Aunt Alice next to her was Cabeen Stevenson.  Uncle Lane [Layne] was in the back row.  Aunt Ann holding Chester in her arms was standing in the left foreground.  Pearl Davis (McDonald) standing next to her.  Uncle Bob standing just behind holding Charlie's hand.  Grandpa was the only man there bareheaded."

Rush Springs is one of the oldest communities in Grady County, Oklahoma. In 1901, Our Leffel family moved from Texas to the Rush Springs area. They probably lived in-between Rush Springs and Rocky Ford, since they attended church in Rocky Ford.

Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862

In October of 1862 in Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas, 40 men suspected of Union sympathies were hanged by an extra-legal "Citizens Court," of which the majority were slaveholders. Two other men were shot trying to escape. North Texas (including Cooke and neighboring counties) was the center of opposition to secession from the Union. The opposition was fueled when the Confederate Conscription Act of April, 1862 was enacted with an exemption from the draft for the largest slaveholders. Those who were in opposition formed a Peace Party.
The Confederate Citizens Court consisted of a majority of slaveholders. Seven of the twelve jurors during Gainsville lynchings were slaveholders and they insisted on a simple majority rule in the decisions for execution. The slaveholder jurors alone could condemn a person to death! These men exerted power and influence far out of proportion to their numbers. The majority of slaves in Cooke County were owned by only 10% of the population. Two of the largest slaveholders in Cooke County were Colonel James Bourland and Colonel William C. Young.
Men were also killed in neighboring Grayson, Wise, and Denton counties. Most were accused of treason or insurrection, but very few had actually conspired against the Confederacy, and many were innocent of the charges for which they were tried.

Go to the Gainesville, Texas 1862 blog for more information and photos about the Great Hanging at Gainesville

David Miller Leffel, our ancestor, was one of the Union sympathizing citizens of North Texas who was charged with treason against the Confederacy by the "Citizens Court" in Gainesville, Cooke County in October 1862 and hanged in the Great Hanging at Gainesville.  David was married to Susan E. West.  They were the parents of eight children.
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.
At his trial by the confederate "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 and 19 other men were found guilty on Saturday, October 18 and hanged the next day.
David's hanging took place on Sunday, October 19, 1862. It is not known what happened to his body.

In 1869, Susan West Leffel wrote a letter to the Governor of Texas telling of the events of the hanging and continued harassment from the confederate rebels.

Handbook of Texas Online has an article on the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862. Following is a link to the article:

** 2014 UPDATE**
Our ancestor David Miller Leffel now has a memorial.  In October 2014, the Great Hanging Monuments were dedicated at the Georgia Davis Bass Memorial Park in Gainesville.

Charles E. Leffel & Caldona Jane Box

Charles and Caldona Leffel
I love this picture of my great-grandparents, Charles and Caldona Box Leffel.  It is kept it next to my computer so I can view it often.  Charles has a kind face and a twinkle in his eye.  Both Charles and Caldona died way before I was born but I wished I had known them.

Grandma Mabel Leffel Baldwin called her father Charles Leffel, "Papa". She told me that "Her Papa" was the kindest, sweetest, most gentle man she had ever known. She felt that he would do anything to make her and the rest of his children happy. Grandma Mabel was the youngest of nine children born to Charles and Caldona Leffel.  The grandchildren remember the Leffel family as a "happy people".  They were nice, friendly, always laughing and joking.

But, Charles' life was not always easy or happy.  He experienced a lot of sorrow and grief in his younger life.  Charles was born in Ohio and moved with his family to the Texas frontier as a young boy of seven.  In 1862, when Charles was only eleven years old, his father was murdered by a Confederate mob in what is called the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas. The confederate vigilantes kept attacking and harassing the Leffel family for many years after the Civil War.  In 1869, Charles' mother, Susan Leffel, wrote a letter to the Governor of Texas, describing their sad experiences.
In May 1869, Charles married his first wife, a young widow named Sarah Ann Burkham Chapman.  Sarah died just a year later in 1870 after giving birth to their first child; a son, they named David after Charles' deceased father.  Charles was left a widower with a small son to raise alone for the next five years until he married again. In 1875, Charles married Caldona Jane Box, who is our great-grandmother. They had a large family of nine children - our Grandma Baldwin is the youngest.

The Charles Leffel lived in Texas until moving to Oklahoma in 1901. Charles was a deeply religious man and would often preach at their church meetings. He told his children to call him "Papa" because he felt the name "Father" was reserved for only one person -- Our "Father in Heaven".

Caldona, Susan, and Charles
I love the way Grandpa Charles is looking at his wife, Caldona, and daughter, Susan. You can tell he loves his family by the tender look on his face.

Caldona and Charles

Additional photos of Charles and/or Caldona Leffel:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Maymie & Elmer in Yuma

This photo of Maymie and Elmer walking in old downtown Yuma, Arizona, brings back many memories. I can remember walking down that very same street with Maymie. It had covered sidewalks up and down the street. Mostly I remember the Five & Dime store that can be seen behind them in the picture. Maymie & I often went downtown shopping. The five & dime store had tables full of all kinds of treasures for a 4 or 5 year old girl. I can remember that a pulley system (might have been in another store in old downtown) was used in order to pay for a purchase & receive change. A clerk would write up a ticket and put the ticket & money on a pulley and it was sent up to the second level and then a cashier would make the change and send it back down.  Since Maymie did not drive, Elmer would drive us.  While Maymie and I were shopping, Elmer would usually visit a bar down the street. One time he drank a little too much and forgot all about us and we were sitting out on the street after the stores closed. Wilber finally came and found us when Elmer showed up at home all by himself.

The photo below shows one of Elmer's favorite pastimes -- fishing.
I can remember going fishing with him.  Elmer even got me my own fishing pole. 
We would go fishing on Colorado River or on occasion to Old Mexico (San Felipe).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Revolutionary War Ancestors

This post is a tribute to my Revolutionary War Ancestors.

I have documented and proven lineage to Revolutionary War Patriot, Nathan Cole, but have many more direct line ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War or helped the cause of freedom and are considered patriots.

Direct Line Ancestors (many found in DAR or SAR):

Name of Patriot, Family line, Colony served from
Nathan Cole (Wilson line) DAR#A024205; Served from RI 1775/1776 abt 6 months, re-enlisted in Hancock, MA.
Robert Carothers (Wilson line) DAR#A019364;  Served in Mecklenburg County, NC Militia.
David Wilson (Wilson line) DAR Roster of Soldiers of NC in the Revolutionary War, P. 401-2
Jonas Goble (Wilson line) DAR#A045835; Continental Army, Waggoner from Morristown, NJ
Ezekiel Goble (Wilson line) DAR#A045827; Sergeant in Eastern Battalion, Dunmore's War, NJ Militia
Andrew Cox (Cock) (Wilson line) DAR#A026969; Soldier, Patriotic Service, Montgomery County, VA Militia
William Jay (Wilson line) DAR#A061803; 96 District, SC, Patriotic Service - furnished supplies
William Whitley (Baldwin line) Scout and soldier in the Virginia Troops
Isaac West (Baldwin line) South Carolina, Patriotic Service, Attacked by British at Kings Mountain
John Belk (Baldwin line) North Carolina, Civil Service
George Brown (Baldwin line) Virginia (Died in TN - headstone states he served in Revolutionary War)
Robert Box (Leffel Line) DAR#A012968; 96 District South Carolina, Patriotic Service - Furnished Supplies
Balzar Leffel (Leffel line) DAR#A069001; Oath of Allegiance, 1778 Berks Co. PA
John Leffel (Leffel line) DAR#A132153;  Patriotic Service, 1783 Berks Co., PA

Other direct line ancestors who may have fought (some research needs to be done on these men):
James Thompson (Wilson line) ??some say he fought at CowPens, SC or Guilford Courthouse, NC??
Randolph Whitley (Baldwin line)
Thomas Lindley (Baldwin line) served from North Carolina -- must prove correct service
Phillip Peery (Leffel line)
Benjamin Johnson (Leffel line) -- He received a military land grant

Note: The above are direct line ancestors -- many of their family members (brothers, uncles & cousins) also served by fighting in Revolutionary War or serving the cause of freedom in some other capacity.  See below.

Other family members (not direct line) who served in the Revolutionary War:

William Cole (brother to Nathan Cole) Private, 4th Regiment, NY line, Continental Army
Royal Cole (brother of Nathan Cole) Allowed pension. Enlisted July, 1776.  SAR
Samuel Abenschon (brother to Margaret Abendschon Leffel) Private, Berks Co. Militia, Capt San's Co, 5th-6th Battalions
Zaccheus Wilson (brother to David Wilson) Captain at Battle of King's Mountain, Signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence at Convention 20 May 1775.
Robert Wilson (brother to David Wilson) and seven sons (7 of 11 sons) are known to have participated in the Revolutionary War.  See blog post about Robert's wife, Eleanor Wilson.
John Box (Leffel line) South Carolina Revolutionary War Rolls
Edward Box (Leffel line) Served under Capt Robert Manfield, Col Worton
Samuel Box (Leffel line) Capt Sanders, Col Moultrie, 1776, Taken Prisoner at fall of Charleston 1780

If any of you know of any other Patriots in our family line, please let me know, and I will add them to the list.  Click here to view my post about the Daughters of the American Revolution or you can visit the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) website to take advantage of their online research system or investigate how to submit forms for membership; go to: DAR Genealogical Research System or DAR Daughters of the American Revolution.

Title: Yankee doodle 1776 / A.M. Willard. Creator(s): Willard, Archibald M., 1836-1918, artist Related Names: Ryder, James F., 1826-1904 , publisher Date Created/Published: Cleveland, Ohio : Pub. by J.F. Ryder, c1876. Medium: 1 print : chromolithograph. Summary: Print shows three patriots, two playing drums and one playing a fife, leading troops into battle.

Daughters of the American Revolution

"God, Home and Country"
Motto of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

I have been a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution since 1985. The DAR, founded in 1890 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women's service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America's future through better education for children. Any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution can join the DAR. The Patriot Ancestor I joined under was from the Wilson family line -- Nathan Cole.  But, we have quite a few other ancestors who were Patriots during the American Revolution.

While in Washington DC, I have been able to visit the DAR Library many times for research - one of my favorite places to hang out while in DC. They have one of the best genealogical research libraries in the country. The library is in the DAR National Headquarters which is located between the White House and the Washington Monument and faces the Presidents Park, known as the Ellipse. The DAR Headquarters also has a Museum and "state period rooms."  The DAR library, Library of Congress,  and the National Archives are my favorite places to visit when I'm in DC.

The DAR Library has an online DAR Patriot INDEX on their website.   You can even do a virtual tour of their period rooms.:)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Gone to Texas

Gone to Texas, often abbreviated G.T.T. or GTT, was a phrase used by Americans immigrating to Texas in the mid-1800's. They moved to Texas for many reasons; often to escape debt, to start over again, begin for the first time, to get land or looking for adventure as well as for new fortunes. Obtaining "land" seems to be the driving force for most of our ancestors. "Gone to Texas" or "G.T.T." was often written on the doors of abandoned houses or posted as a sign on fences.

Many of our ancestors moved to Texas during this period of time. So just remember, that each of us who are descendants have a bit of Texas in our DNA.
Below is a list of some of our "Gone to Texas" (GTT) ancestors who moved to Texas during the 1800's:
* denotes a direct ancestor
+ denotes a "Republic of Texas" ancestor (in Texas 1836-1845)

GTT Baldwin Ancestors:
*+Samuel Washington Lindley & Elizabeth Whitley Family (son Jonathan died at the Alamo)
*+John Sadler & Bathsheba Lindley (John fought at the Battle of San Jacinto)
+Mills Whitley Family
+Sharp Whitley Family
*+Jane Baldwin Family (husband possibly William Baldwin)
+Benjamin Franklin Baldwin (with parents)
+Allen Baldwin (with parents)
*Henry Stewart & Betty Medlin Family

GTT Leffel Ancestors:
*Charles Edgar Leffel (with parents)
*David Miller Leffel & Susan Evaline West Family (David was killed at the Great Hanging at Gainesville 1862)
*Michael West Family
John W. West Family
Rebecca West & John Haning Family
Michael Perry West
*Grief Johnson Box & Roenna Johnson Family
*Caldonia Jane Box (with parents)
Thomas Box & Clarkey Carpenter Family
Mary Box & Hugh G. Henderson Family
+James Francis Box Family
James Jackson Box Family
William Young Box Family
+Stephen F. Box Family
James Pruett Hellums Family
Mary Ann Hellums Jeffery Family
Anna Hellums Jeffery Family
William Harmon Johnson Family
John Alfonzo Johnson Family
Alfonzo Sterret Johnson Family

GTT Wilson Family:
*William B. Wilson (with parents)
*Mary Polly Huff (with parents)
*+James Wilson Family
*David Wilson Family
Pleasant Wilson Family
William Carothers Wilson Family
Elizabeth Wilson Carruth Family
David Carroll Wilson Family
Margaret Wilson Null Family
Leonidas Wilson Family
*Matthew B. Huff Family (some family members later changed their name to Hoff)
Joseph Day Family

Samuel Washington Lindley - Character Certificate

The Governor of Illinois, John Reynolds, wrote this Certificate of Character for Samuel Washington Lindley in 1833 when Lindley was moving to Texas. This document can be found in the Texas General Land Office at Austin, Texas.

Character Certificate for Samuel Lindley

Samuel Lindley and several family members moved from Illinois to the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas in November 1833. He moved his family to Texas after securing a Mexican Land Grant on the present boundary of Montgomery and Walker Counties. There he founded the town of Danville. Texas was still part of Mexico and Samuel needed a letter of recommendation from a reliable citizen of the US before he could be admitted to Texas.

Governor of Illinois wrote SWL a character certificate and it reads:
"State of Illinois, Fayette Co., Sept 27, 1833,
The Bearer hereof Mr. Samuel Lindley has resided in the Sate of Illinois about 20 years during which time I have known him and a number of his family and hereby take pleasure in certifying that hehas uniformly maintained a character for industry and sobriety and honesty, and that his deportment has been that of a Christian. John Reynolds, Governor of Illinois."
The recommendation was signed by Vehlein, a Mexican official who checked all papers of the people coming to Texas by way of Nacogdoches. It contained the notation "Located about one and a half miles south Cooshatee Trace a branch of the San Jacinto."

Samuel's son, Jonathan Lindley, also received a certificate of character, as did his son-in-law, John Sadler.  

Family History Humor

Suzy Lee fell in love --She planned to marry Joe.
She was so happy about it all, --she told her pappy so.
Pappy told her, "Suzie Gal, --you'll have to find another.
I'd just as soon yo maw don't know, --but Joe is yo half-brother."
So Suzie forgot about her Joe --and planned to marry Will.
But after telling pappy this, --he said, "There's trouble still.
You can't marry Will, my gal --and please don't tell yo mother,
cause Will and Joe and several MO --I know is yo half-brother."
But mama said, "Honey chile, --do what makes you happy.
Marry Will or marry Joe, --You ain't no kin to pappy!"

DRT Library at the Alamo

If you are ever in San Antonio, make sure you visit the Alamo. While there also visit the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library. It is part of the Alamo complex. The Library has a folder of information on Jonathan Lindley. It has been 10 years since I was there to do research, so there may be a lot more information on Jonathan Lindley and the Lindley family.  It's a great place to research your Texas ancestors!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Jonathan Lindley - Alamo Defender

Battle of the Alamo

Jonathan Lindley
Alamo Defender

Jonathan Lindley was a younger brother of our direct ancestor, Basheba Lindley, wife of John Sadler.

Jonathan L. Lindley was born 12 Feb 1814 in Sangamon County, Illinois.  Jonathan was the third child and oldest son of Samuel Washington Lindley (1788-1859) and his second wife, Elizabeth Whitley (1795-1838).  According to descendants, Samuel's first wife Mary Polly Hall died after the birth to their first child Sarah in March 1810.  Several months later, Samuel married Elizabeth Whitley, with whom he had his remaining children except Amanda.  While still living in Illinois, ten children were born to Samuel and Elizabeth: Basheba (1811); Polly (1812); Jonathan (1814); Elizabeth (1815); William (1817); Martha (1821); Samuel W. Jr. (1823); Rachel (1827); John (1829); and James (1831).

Jonathan spent his youth living in Illinois.  He would have been closely associated with his Whitley grandparents, John Saunders Whitley and Bathsheba Bateman Whitley, who also lived in Illinois.  According to the Combined History of Shelby & Moultrie Counties, Illinois, written in 1881:
“...John Whitley and family, and his son-in-law, Samuel Lindley. They came in the fall of 1826, and settled at the head of Whitley creek timber, now Whitley's Point, on section 12, where J. M. Edmond's farm now lies… They, with their families and Samuel Lindley all settled in the same neighborhood with the old gentleman. Here they built their cabins, and broke the first ground in the county. A rude horse mill was constructed by the elder Whitley, which of course was the first mill of any kind built in the township. He as well as his boys were very fond of the sports of the day, such as wrestling, horse-racing, etc. They remained here only a year or two, when they scattered in various directions; some went to Texas, and others to Missouri.”

“Gone to Texas”

Jonathan, along with his family, moved from Illinois to Texas in fall of 1833.  They most likely traveled in covered wagons with extended family and friends; including married sister, Basheba, and her husband, John Sadler.  At that time Texas was still part of Mexico, and the Mexican government required a letter of recommendation from a reliable citizen before admitting families to Texas.  Jonathan's father, Samuel Washington Lindley, received a letter of recommendation signed by the Governor of Illinois on 27 Sep 1833.  So, the group would have started their trek westward to Texas sometime after Sep 1833.

Once in Texas, Jonathan also received a letter of recommendation on 31 October 1834, signed by Joseph Lindley and Nat Robbins. This recommendation was part of applying for a land grant.
Jonathan Lindley Letter of Recommendation -
On Nov 4, 1834, Jonathan Lindley started the process with the Mexican government to obtain a land grant.  As an unmarried man, on July 17, 1835 Jonathan was finally granted a one-fourth league of land (640 acres) as a headright in the William Pace Mexican League, originally titled May 3, 1835.
First page of the Jonathan Lindley Mexican land grant -
Some researchers believe Jonathan was a surveyor and spent most of his time surveying the land of other colonists, but I've never seen documented proof of this.

The Alamo
By the latter part of 1835, the Texians were engaging in battles and revolting against the Mexican government.  The colonists living in Texas were accustomed to the freedoms they had enjoyed previous to moving to Texas and were not happy with Mexico’s increasing dictatorial attempts.  Jonathan was part of this movement of revolt. 
Alamo Battle - Texas State Archives
Jonathan joined Capt. Carey’s Company in the regular Texas Army in the fall of 1835.   He participated in the Battle of Bexar on 14 Dec 1835 after which he, as many others, returned home for Christmas hoping that the Revolution was over.  According to a family story in the 1989 book by Ed Kelton "The Descendants of Robert and Catherine Kelton," Jonathan rode to his father's house just before returning to the army after his Christmas leave.  He took his 8 year old sister Rachel for a short horseback ride, kissed her goodbye, and then rode off to war.

Some believe that Jonathan joined Captain Albert Martin's band of men who were later known as "The Immortal Thirty-Two Men from Gonzales."  But, other researchers feel that Jonathan was already at the garrison on February 1st.   Whatever the case, we do know that Jonathan was at the Alamo later in the month.

Jonathan Lindley, along with the other defenders of the Alamo, was killed March 6, 1836 by the Mexican army.  Afterward, Santa Ana had the bodies of the dead stacked and burned.  Supposedly what ashes left were gathered and placed in a single coffin.

Remembering Those Who Died at the Alamo
Following the Independence of Texas, the grateful Republic of Texas posthumously awarded the heroes of the Alamo bounties of land. Under certificate #9132 dated May 14, 1839, Houston, Texas, Jonathan Lindley was awarded 1280 acres of land situated in Panola County, ten and one-half miles south, twenty degrees west from Carthage, Texas. It was patented March 9, 1860. The lawful heirs of Jonathan Lindley, namely his parents and his brothers and sisters, since he was not married, fell heir to the 1280-acre bounty plus his original Mexican Grant of 640 acres in the William Pace Survey in Polk County.

Below are the bounty land certificates, each stating that Jonathan Lindley was killed at the Alamo.
Jonathan Lindley Bounty Land 1280 acres -

Jonathan Lindley Bounty Land 640 acres -
Samuel Washington Lindley, was appointed administrator of the estate of Jonathan; as such he administered and divided the estate. After the Battle of San Jacinto, the surviving Lindley family re-settled in Montgomery County, Texas.  In the Lindley Cemetery 5 miles north of Anderson in Grimes County, Texas there is a historical marker honoring Jonathan Lindley.

The March 24, 1836 Telegraph and Texas Register (newspaper) listed some of the men who died at the Alamo.  Jonathan Lindley is listed about 3/4 down in the middle column.

Telegraph and Texas Register (San Felipe de Austin, Tex., Vol. 1, No. 21, Ed. 1, Thursday, March 24, 1836, Newspaper; digital images, ( ),  The Portal to Texas History,

News of the Alamo's fall and the death of Jonathan Lindley, undoubtedly prompted his brother-in-law, John Sadler, to join Sam Houston's army and fight for Texan Independence from Mexico. John Sadler fought in Captain William Ware's Company and is considered one of the heroes who fought at the Battle of San Jacinto under General Sam Houston on April 21, 1836. John Sadler was the husband of Basheba Lindley Sadler, an older sister to Jonathan Lindley.

Some researchers report that Jonathan Lindley was married or engaged to be married at the time of his death to Sarah Drusilla Winters.  Since his land was left to his "heirs" - which was his father and siblings, it doubtful he was married.  A memorial marker for Sarah Winters Crouch states: "Sarah Winters Crouch ... lost her first sweetheart, Jonathan Lindley in the Battle of the Alamo." 

The following 1860 newspaper clipping was found on the Portal to Texas History:
Jonathan Lindley
Clipping, April 12, 1860; ( : accessed March 23, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Star of the Republic Museum, Washington, Texas.

More Research:
The above newspaper clipping, along with other articles can be found on the Portal of Texas History.  Just do a search on Jonathan Lindley.
Bounty and land records can be found on The Texas General Land Office website.  From the home page of the Texas GLO (, click on the History tab, then the Land Grant Search tab.  The Research Links tab also has many useful links.

For further info on Jonathan Lindley try the following:
Handbook of Texas Online article on Jonathan Lindley.
Southwestern Historical Quarterly Online:

**This post was updated July 2016 to include the newly found character certificate, bounty land records, and to make a few other additions and minor corrections.:)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Susan Leffel Letter to Governor of Texas

Susan Leffel's Letter to 
Edmund Davis, Governor of Texas

Susan Leffel, widow of David Miller Leffel, wrote a very touching letter to Texas Governor Edmund Davis in 1869 informing him of the continued attacks and persecution upon her family as she pleaded for help for herself and other families of the victims of the Great Hangings at Gainesville, Texas 1862.

Please refer to the follow-up post about Susan's letter here.

Click on the page to enlarge.

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4 - Letter cover

Texas Governor's Office Records, Archives Division, Texas State Library, Austin
Susan Leffel gives Pilot Point as her place of residence in a letter to the Governor of Texas written on 11 Jun 1869, informing the Governor of the continued persecution by southern sympathizing vigilantes.


Pilot Point Denton Co. Tex, June the 11th 1869
{ To the Honorable Governor, Chief }
{ Executive of the State of Texas }

I wish to give you some statements of matters and facts of my condition and how I have bin treated: in the first place the vigilent committy hung my husband (at the time they hanged so many at Gainesville) on the account of his Union proclivities, and left me in a sad and mornful condition but still after I have had all that to endure and my family and many of our sympathizing friend (that the leader of their familys were taken off by those nocternal visitors and destroyed by the hanging:) are ever since the war as the carcas to the Eagel:) every now and then they will arest one or our party without a sine of a rit or any showing of any legal authority whatever: why sir some of their party came to my house & robed me soon after the war of my many jewelry and household plunder: (and nothing done with them & two of the party well known to us:) but thinking we would get protection after awhile; I still remained here and bore it, with many slanders and slams unjustly thrown uppon us by that party.
[Page Two]
Yet it seems that the lawiel [loyal] citizens will never scease to be maltreated and unsafe as they were during the war on the account of there lawielty [loyalty]; why sir it hasent bin two weeks since some of that dislawiel possie cameto my house, some 10 or 12, with foure sixshooters a piece and arested my son, without any legal athority, (with the plea that he had stolen a horse some 5 or 6 years ago)(of which charge is ever redy to prove his inocence) fired some 40 or 50 shots at him as he ran and arested him out in the field: a part of them came to the house: James Anderson of Sherman drew and cocked his sixshooter on a lady that I have a living with me, I was lying sick in the bed, he (Anderson) came to my bed with pistle presented and grabed hold of me jerked me out on the floor; from which abuse I came very neare diing for several dayes; He then turned and struck an other of my sons on the side of the head with pistle, disabling him from working out my crop; who was my only dependance to do anything: and roughly abusing another young lad that was at my house; and all with-out any cause at all, no one said or done one thing to them, but they cusing and abusing the Union Class of people generaly,
[Page Three]
It is indeed hart rendring that my husband, as kind as he was, and great sorce of my comfort & living should be hanged and his helpless family, (with many others) are as barbrsly treated as tho we were even aliving with the Indians; simply for them to take vengance uppon us becuase we were and are in favor of our Fathers Country and Government;I with many others have lost hope of protection from that partys abuse by the beloved Country and Government that we loved so dearly; if she can put down rebellion God knows she has had ample time it seems to me; and what to do or where to go to hide from them I can not tell But I thought it ment and rite that some of our Chief Officers shouldknow some of the particulars of the outrages of the enimys of our country.Yours Ever, Susan Leffel
[Page Four]
Pilot Point Denton, June 11th 1869
Susan Leffel relates the murder of her husband and persecution of herself, family & friends by ex rebels or rather extra devils.

Wilson Homestead

Charles B Wilson and Minnie Pearl Hatfield Wilson are my great-grandparents on my paternal grandmother's line.

Dad Wilson family (Charles B. Wilson and Minnie Pearl Hatfield) 
in front of the Dry Valley home near Monticello. Picture taken about 1918.

Back row: Grandma Wilson, Vern, Maymie
Dad Wilson is holding Pat
Front row: Alma, John, Buck
Alfred Hatfield is on the horse and Susie is on the far right standing behind the post (tree?)

Charles "B" Wilson and Minnie Pearl Hatfield Family
Picture taken at Bug Point, Utah about 1926

Back row: Alma, Buck, John, Maymie
Front: Dad Wilson, Pat, Pearl

Wilson's Grocery - Cortez, Colorado

Wilson's Grocery Store, about one mile north of Cortez on the northeast corner of Road L and Highway 666. "B" and Pearl Wilson had this store from 1948 to 1951. They lived in a small house behind the store. Vern and Laura lived in a small house a little further back from Dad Wilson.

Grandma Wilson is standing by the gas pump and Dad Wilson is back by the side of the grocery.

Vern Wilson is standing by his truck in front of the Wilson's Grocery. Vern had a roofing company called "Valley Roofing".

Martin Farm -- Rock Island, Illinois

This is a winter scene of the John S. Martin Home in Rock Island, Illinois. The Martin farm was located in Bowling township, Rock Island County, Illinois.  It was near the town of Milan.
This was where Elmer was born and grew up as a young boy.

The photo below was labeled as the Martin farm where Elmer grew up in Illinois.  Elmer was the oldest son of the family and grew up working along side of his father and two younger brothers.

Below is an aerial view of the Martin farm at it looked in 1971.  During one of the days I was visiting with my Illinois Martin family, Wilber Martin, my great-uncle, hired a helicopter and took me up to see the family farm and surrounding area.  I, also, spent part of one day riding in a tractor with Duane as he worked in the fields.
1971 view of the Martin Farm, Moline, Illinois

John Stephan Martin 1847-1919

John Stephan Martin
John S Martin
 John S Martin is my paternal great-grandfather.  These pictures of John show that he was a handsome man, with very light blue eyes. His son, Elmer, also had very blue eyes.

The biography below can be found in the book, "Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Rock Island County," Vol. II, Edited by Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, Chicago, 1914, Munsell Publishing Co., pg 1273-1274.

After a man has spent thirtyseven years in one community, his character is generally pretty well known to his fellow citizens, who have had ample time to become thoroughly informed as to his manner of doing business, his ideas of public citizenship and his worth as a man of family and a neighbor, and the high esteem in which John S. Martin is held by all who know him, testifies to the fact that he is one of Bowling township’s representative men.
John S. Martin, who is the owner of a 320-acre tract of land on section 23, was born November 28, 1847, in Bavaria, Germany, the oldest of eight children of Mathias and Catherine (Castner) Martin.  Mathias Martin was born November 39, 1809, and married in Germany to Katherine Castner, who was born June 5, 1828. In his native county, Mathias Martin learned the trade of shoemaker, and on first coming to the United States settled at Farmington, Jefferson county, Wis., where he followed his trade and engaged in farming for twelve years. He had come to this country in 1849, and in the following years sent for his wife and baby, who joined him at Farmington.
John S. Martin still loves to relate the experiences of the Wisconsin pioneer days, when on one occasion he froze his feet while keeping the deer from eating the winter crop of wheat on the home farm. In 1864, the family came to Rock Island county, where Mathias Martin purchased a farm, and here resided until his death, September 10, 1890, while his widow survived him until March 8, 1907.
John S. Martin received a public school education, and until twenty-seven years of age worked on the home farm. He earned his first dollar of wages as a wood chopper in the Wisconsin lumber camps, where for two years he worked at a wage of four dollars a month, the next year being paid six dollars and the last year twelve dollars per month. He assisted in building the house on the old homestead, but after coming to Rock Island county worked for Thomas Johnson for twenty-nine dollars per month, but was paid in "shin-plasters," currency which was much in use at the time but which averaged only about one dollar’s worth of gold money to two dollars and one-half of the "shin-plasters."
Elizabeth Weiss Martin
On November 22, 1882, he was married to Miss Elizabeth Weiss, who was born June 27, 1857, a daughter of Michael and Hannah W. (Hyme) Weiss, natives of Wittenberg, Germany, who came to the United States at an early date and were among the first settlers of Rock Island county. Mrs. Martin died March 8, 1903, having been the mother of five children, namely: Elmer M., born in 1888; John E., born August 1, 1890; Wilbur, born September 27, 1894; May, died March 8, 1903; and Emma, died August 30, 1907.
Mr. Martin is a consistent member of the Methodist church and is a democrat in his political views, having served as a pathmaster and a member of the election board of Bowling township. He has been successful in his farming operations, now being the owner of 320 acres of valuable land, and can look back over a useful and well-spent life.

Below is an interesting photo I found in Elmer's photo album. John S. Martin (holding his hat in his hand) is standing just left of the men boxing (kind-of half hidden behind the boxer on the left side). Apparently boxing was a past-time with the men in the area.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mother & Daughter Die Same Day

One of the saddest stories in my family history is the death of my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Dorothea Weiss Martin. She and her daughter, Margaret May, died on the same day of measles.
In late February 1903, nearly all of the John Martin family was afflicted with the measles.  Everyone in the family recovered except for the mother Lizzy and the oldest daughter May.  They took colds,  suffered a relapse, and were in critical condition for several days.  May died in the morning of 8 March 1903 and mother Elizabeth (Lizzy) died later in the afternoon of the same day.

Elizabeth Dorothea Weiss Martin
Born 27 June 1857, Rock Island County, IL
Died 8 March 1903, Rock Island County, IL

Margaret May Martin
Born 14 Jul 1885, Rock Island County, IL
Died 8 Mar 1903, Rock Island County, IL

May was engaged to a young man from Bowling township at the the time of her death. She was buried in her wedding gown.

Elizabeth Dorothea Weiss was born 27 Jun 1857 in Rock Island County, Illinois.  She was the daughter of Michael Weiss and Anna Maria Heim.  Elizabeth, called "Lizzie", married John Stephan Martin on 23 Nov 1882 in Rural township.  Elizabeth and John were the parents of five children: Margaret May, Elmer Matthew, John Edward, Emma Christina, and Wilbur Philip.

Margaret May, born 14 July 1885 in Milan, was the oldest child of John and Elizabeth Martin.  She grew up on the family farm in Milan, Rock Island, Illinois.  In church records, she was referred to as "Maggie May."   At the time of her death, she was engaged to be married to a young man from Bowling.  May was buried in her wedding gown.

Below are some obituaries and newspaper articles about the tragic deaths of Elizabeth and May:
Rock Island Argus, Monday 9 March 1903
Transcription of above obituary:
Rock Island Argus, Monday 9 March 1903
Mrs. John Martin and Daughter
Death has laid a heavy hand upon the family of John Martin, living four miles south of Milan, in Bowling township. At 3 o'clock Sunday morning May, the oldest daughter, aged 18, died of measles, and at 5 in the afternoon the mother died of the same disease.
Nearly all the members of the family had been afflicted with the measles and all but the mother and daughter had recovered. They took cold, however, suffered a relapse and both had been in a critical condition for several days.
The surviving members of the family are the husband and four children, John, Elmer, Wilbur and Emily, ranging in age from 14 down to 6 years. Mrs. Martin was formerly Miss Elizabeth Weiss.
Her death is the first in a family of 14 children, the survivors being: George, of Jackson, Minn,; Jacob, of Pekin, Kans,; Philip, of Partridge, Kans,; Mrs. Mary Swartz, of St. Louis; Mrs. Margaret Lepper, of Topeka, Kans.; Mrs. Joseph Fitzpatrick, of Milan; Mrs. Emma Sherrard, of Sherrard; August, of Rural; Lawrence, of Edgington; and Gottlieb, John, Mrs. John Volk and Miss Christine Weiss, of this city. 
The funeral of the mother and daughter will be held from the home at 10 o'clock Tuesday morning with interment at Little's cemetery.

Obituary clipping from unknown newspaper :
Margaret May Martin was born July 14, 1885 and died at her home four miles northeast of Preemption, Ill., Mar. 8, 1903, at 2:30 a.m. and at 5:30 p.m. of the same day, her mother, Mrs. John Martin, died at the same home and from the same disease, measles. May was the oldest of the family of Mr. and Mrs. John Martin, a beautiful young woman of excellent Christian character. Mrs. Martin, Lizzie Dorothea Weiss, was born in the town of Rural, June 22, 1857 and was united in marriage to her now bereft husband, Nov. 22, 1882. They went to housekeeping at the home above mentioned where they have since resided. The husband and four children, Elmer, John, Emma and Wilber are left to mourn the loss of a faithful, loving wife and mother and precious daughter and sister. So sad this double affliction to Brother Martin and family, but in this hour of sadness as they lean upon the everlasting arms, it is sweet to know that they are in the Heavenly Father's tender care and to realize that their many friends are praying for, and sympathizing with them. Sister Martin and May were members of the Preemption ME Church and were trusting in him who says, "He that liveth and believeth in me shall never die." And altho husband, father, brothers and sisters mourn with a large circle of friends, they mourn not without hope -- the hope of a Christian. The funeral services were held at the home Mar 10, 1903 at 12 o'clock, conducted by their former pastor, Rev G. W. Peregoy. The remains of mother and daughter were laid side by side in the same grave in Preemption cemetery to await the resurrection morn.

Wednesday, 11 March 1903, The Rock Island Argus and Daily Union, page 8

Transcription of above obituary:
Funeral services over the remains of Mrs. John Martin and her daughter May, who died of measles Sunday, were held at noon yesterday from the home 5 miles south of Milan, in Bowling. Services for both were jointly conducted by the Medthodist ministers of Preemtion and Sherrard and both were buried in the same grave at Littles Cemetery. The daughter, who was engaged to be married to a Bowling young man, was buried in her wedding gown.

From "The Argus," Rock Island, Illinois, Thursday, December 21, 1972, newspaper article titled, "Towering tombstone at Preemption has unusual background."  Story by Sharon Esslinger.
From a letter written by Frank L. Rathburn in Feb. 1966, prior to his death, he writes:
"I expect I have attended several hundred funerals in this cemetery (Preemption), but one outstanding in my memory was in the month of March, I think about 1903. Mrs. John Martin and her daughter, Mae, were buried in a double grave, as both died on the same day. As usual in the month of March, roads were nearly impassable, as frost had gone out and mud was nearly hub deep some places. They had two hearses and each hearse was pulled by four horses and even then they had trouble getting through roads. The only time in my life I have ever experienced such a sight."

Elizabeth's Find A Grave memorial page, click here.
May's Find A Grave memorial page, click here.

More stories about the Martin Family:
John Martin and Elizabeth Weiss Marriage
John and Elizabeth Martin Family Photo

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

John S. Martin Headstone

Family Headstone for John S. Martin,
wife, Elizabeth D. Weiss Martin
and daughter, May.
Preemption Cemetery, Mercer County, Illinois
Wife, Elizabeth, and daughter, May, died the same day of measles.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

William and Mary Wilson Family

William B Wilson and Mary Polly Huff Family

William B. Wilson Family Birth Record

The above record was written by William's daughter-in-law, Minnie Pearl Hatfield Wilson, and kept in her family bible. She was incorrect about William's middle name -- all other documents record his middle name as "B" or "Benton". This is the only source we have for the birthdates of all of the children in the William B. Wilson family. The birthdates for the family seem to match with other sources such as census records, court records, death records, obituaries, etc.

Below is the information I have gathered so far for the WILLIAM B. WILSON FAMILY:
He died in 3 Jul 1920 in Orr, Love, Oklahoma. He was buried in July 1920 in Reck Cemetery, Carter, Oklahoma.

Marriage Record for William B Wilson and Mary Huff
William had married Mary "Polly" Huff, daughter of Matthew B. Huff and Theodota Day, on 7 Dec 1858 in Collin County, Texas.  Mary was born on 15 Jun 1840 in Grayson County, Virginia. She died about 1898 in Greever Canyon, Woods, Oklahoma. She was buried in Chester, Woods, Oklahoma.

Mary was called Polly.  She supposedly had red hair.  Family tradition says that she was a very loving, kindhearted, gentle woman.  She never got mad and was very patient.

Polly became blind in middle age--she never able to "see" her son, Charles Bee Wilson.  Pardon papers for her husband, W.B. Wilson, refer to Polly several times as being blind.  One pardon request, ca 1889, stated that Polly had been blind for seven (7) years.  It is not known what caused her blindness or if she could partially see or if she was totally blind.

In the 1870 Census (Collin County, Texas, Weston Twp) Mary Polly is living with her in-laws, James and Martha Wilson. (James, 55 yrs, TN; Martha, 54 yrs, SC; Mary, 30, VA; William, 8 yrs, TX; James, 4 yrs, TX; Laura, 2 yrs, TX.) This census would fit with the scenario that Maymie Wilson Martin gave of her grandfather: That after he returned from fighting in the civil war, he was never able to settle down to farming and he would go off gambling for months at a time leaving Polly to care for the children on her own.
William joined the Civil War on 12 Feb 1862 in Weston, Texas.  He was in Company "K" 6th Texas Calvary, CSA and served for over three years or until the end of the war. Since he was living in Oklahoma, William received a small confederate pension from the State of Oklahoma.

Below are notes from interviews with some of William's grandchildren:
  •  Telephone interview 25 Jul 1986 with Granddaughter, Margaret Means Williams:  "Grandpa Wilson was in the Civil War for 4 years. When I asked him if he killed any Yankees he said, 'I killed as many Yankees as they killed me.' Grandpa Wilson is buried at Reck Cemetery, there is no headstone."
  • Telephone interview 14 Aug 1986 with Grandson, Joe Baily Means:  "Grandpa Wilson received a Civil War pension. He fought in 4 or 5 major battles. He never got shot at all. He lived in Georgia and Tennessee before Texas. Grandpa was called Willie."
  • Letter from Grandson Champ Means, 29 Nov 1979:  "Grandpa did fight in the Civil War in the Cavalry. He furnished his own horse which ran away in the first battle through enemy lines and back through without injury to him or the horse. After the war he was discharged and received small pension. Died of high blood pressure - stroke. Lived about a year after."
  • Granddaughter Maymie Wilson Martin said that her grandparents lived in Greever Canyon, which is east and a little north of Estelle, Oklahoma. Estelle no longer exists. That part of Woods County became Major County in 1907.  After William came home from the war, he never settled down. He would go off gambling for months at a time. He also liked horse racing. He told stories to his grandchildren of Sam Bass and the Denton Mare.
On 20 Feb 1888, W. B. Wilson was convicted of Horse Theft (a serious crime in Texas) in Collin County, Texas and sentenced to five (5) years in the Texas State Penitentiary. He was incarcerated in Rusk Penitentiary. An application for pardon was started in behalf of W. B. Wilson in the spring of 1889 by concerned citizens of Collin County. There were numerous letters requesting the pardon -- from the sheriff, judge, county attorney, etc. Also a petition signed by over 200 residents of Collin. The application states a hardship case for William B. Wilson's family -- His wife, Polly, was blind and had a large family to care for. William also had an aged father to help care for. William escaped in January 1890 before the pardon was granted in May of 1890.

William and Polly Wilson had the following children:

1. William David Wilson was born on 29 Sep 1862 in Collin County, Texas.  It is not known when or where he died.  William was two years old when his father returned from the Civil War. He worked on the 101 Ranch.
Family Legends:
"He was an outlaw -- killed first man when he was 12 yrs old. Had 22 or 23 notches in his gun. Caught with Frank Younger and served 5 years in Kansas Prision. Went to Mexico and was never heard of again. Thought the Mexicans had killed him."
Interview with Vonnie Wilson Mueller:  "Bill received land in Oklahoma land rush. Father got farm land, Bill got city lots. Sold them. Men paid him in counterfeit money. He was arrested in New Mexico for passing counterfeit money. Was shackled with Billy the Kid and rode in the back of a wagon to Las Vegas, NM to jail."
Interview with Elmer L. Martin:  "Two men had a rope tied across an alley between two houses and knocked Uncle Bill off his horse when he rode into the rope. Uncle Bill killed both of them. Uncle Bill gave a handkerchief to a girl at a dance. A cowboy took it away from her and then Uncle Bill shot him."
I have found Federal court documents, where a William Wilson was convicted of Larceny and giving liquor to the Indians in Indian Territory.  This may or may not be our William Wilson.  

2. James Ervin Wilson was born on 17 Mar 1866 in Collin, Texas, United States. He died on 20 Nov 1941 in Ringling, Jefferson, Oklahoma. He was buried on 23 Nov 1941 in Reck Cemetery, Carter County, Oklahoma.
Family story as told by Maymie Wilson: "Jim's first marriage was while he was a young man to a woman named Rose (maiden name unknown). A traveling salesman came by and spent the night with Jim and his wife, Rose. The next day while Jim was working in the fields, the salesman stopped to say goodbye and told Jim that he had a really nice wife. Jokingly Jim told the salesman that he could have his wife for 2 bits. When he came in from the fields, Jim found that his wife, Rose, was gone and that there was 2 bits were laying on the table. Jim never saw or heard from his wife again.
James later married Melissa King (King was her married name -- maiden was Harmon) on 2 Oct 1900 in Woods County, Oklahoma Territory. Melissa was born in 1855 in Indiana. She died on 8 Jul 1938. 
Jim and Melissa had no children of their own.  Melissa had one son from a previous marriage that Jim helped to raise.

3. Laura May Wilson was born on 10 May 1869 in Collin, Texas, United States. She died on 19 May 1938 in Ringling, Jefferson, Oklahoma. She was buried on 20 May 1938 in Reck Cemetery, Carter, Oklahoma. 
Laura married John Newton Means on 30 Dec 1890 in Tussy, Indian Territory, Oklahoma. John was born in 1853 in Alabama. He died on 1 Jan 1936 in Ringling, Jefferson, Oklahoma. He was buried in Reck Cemetery, Carter, Oklahoma.
Laura and John had seven children -- five of them living to adulthood.

4. Doris Belle Wilson was born on 5 Jun 1871 in Texas. She died in 1893/1898 in Wyoming.
Doris married John Robert Fanning, son of William H. Fanning and Mary Large, about 1890 in Chickasha Nation, Oklahoma. John was born on 16 Aug 1865 in Gainsville, Cooke, Texas. He died on 31 May 1932 in Petersburg, Wrangell-Petersburg, Alaska.
Doris and John had three children, a son and two daughters.

5. Charles B. Venton Wilson was born on 6 Apr 1876 in Collin County, Texas. He died on 16 Dec 1951 in Cortez, Montezuma, Colorado. He was buried on 20 Dec 1951 in Cortez Cemetery, Montezuma, Colorado.

Charles was called "my little Honey Bee" by his mother. The name "B" stuck and he was called that most of his life. He went by Charles "B" Wilson, except for the Family Bible entry which gives his name as Charles Venton Wilson. His mother, Mary, was blind from before his birth and was never able to actually see him. 

Charles met Pearl Hatfield at a dance in Estelle, Oklahoma. She was 16 and he was 26 years old.  Charles married Minnie Pearl Hatfield daughter of Martin Monroe Hatfield and Nancy Abbagel McNeil on 14 Dec 1902 in , Woods, Oklahoma. Minnie was born on 27 Apr 1886 in Smith Center, Smith, Kansas. She died on 22 Feb 1966 in Cortez, Montezuma, Colorado. She was buried on 24 Feb 1966 in Cortez Cemetery, Montezuma, Colorado.  Pearl and Charles had eight children -- six of them living to adulthood.  Grandma Maymie is their oldest daughter.

Charles B. worked on cattle drives around Santa Fe and Santa Rose, NM until he got married. He may have been "wanted" for stealing horses. There was a wanted posted for him at one time, according to some family members.

6. Rose Lee Wilson was born on 11 Jun 1879 in Texas. She died about 1901.
Rose married Daniel Bailey Baugh. Daniel was born on 4 Apr 1874 in Dade County, Missouri. He died on 18 May 1950 in La Junta, Otero, Colorado. He was buried on 20 May 1950 in Minneapolis Cemetery, Baca, Colorado.
Rose and Daniel had one son, William Leonard Baugh.

7. Mary Lillian Wilson was born on 18 Feb 1882 in Texas. She died on 30 Nov 1915 in Oklahoma.  Mary and John had five children.  Her son Charles was married to Stella Barnes

Mary married John L. Marrs, son of Joseph L Marrs and Delia, on 20 Mar 1898 in Estelle, Woods, Oklahoma. John was born on 16 Jan 1876 in Iowa. He died on 6 Jul 1963 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He was buried in Jul 1963 in Mtn. Pleasant Cemetery, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Sources for this family can be found on  Contact me and I can send you a FREE invite to the Wilson family tree on