Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Memorial for David

Our ancestor, David Miller Leffel, now has a memorial.  

David Miller Leffel 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.  After the men were hanged, their bodies were thrown into an empty warehouse building on the west side of the town square. A few of the families claimed the body of their loved one, but most were left for the court officials to bury. Some of the executed men were buried in hurriedly made coffins, but when the scrap lumber from the torn-down house was used up, the rest of the men were wrapped in old blankets and buried in shallow graves along the banks of Pecan Creek, not far from where they were hanged. It has been said that rains washed away the dirt covering some of the graves and that wild pigs dug up some graves.  One of the most disturbing aspects of the Hangings was the total disregard for the bodies of the victims following the executions, most did not have a decent burial and or a headstone.
Up until now there has been no memorial or headstone for the majority of men who died.  That changed this past month with the Dedication of the Great Hanging Monuments at the Georgia Davis Bass Memorial Park in Gainesville.

In the close-up view of the monument with the names of the men who were hanged, you will find David's name in the bottom group that were hanged on Sunday, October 19, 1862.  While we still do not know where exactly David was buried after he was hanged, we now have a memorial with his name on it.

I ordered pavers for David Miller Leffel and his wife, Susan West Leffel.  In the second photo below, you can see the placement of the pavers.

At the dedication, David Miller Leffel was well represented by his descendants. In fact, three of David's great-granddaughters were able to attend the dedication.  They are the daughters of Mabel Leffel Baldwin, who was the daughter of Charles Leffel and granddaughter of David Miller Leffel.
Great-granddaughters of David Miller Leffel

Leffel descendants looking at the pavers

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dedication of the Gainesville "Great Hanging" Monument

The dedication of the Gainesville "Great Hanging" monument took place on Saturday, October 18, 2014, a beautiful fall day in Texas.  And, it was a memorable day for those of us who were able to attend.  
We started the event with an excellent luncheon at the Lions Field House of the North Central Texas College in Gainesville.  The luncheon was provided by the Texas State Historical Association and the Lone Star Chair in Texas History.   I was able to meet and visit with many people who previously I had only had the chance to correspond with.
After the luncheon, we attended a theatrical reading called "October Mourning" at the Center for Performing Arts on the NCTC campus.  “October Mourning” was a 45 minute theatrical reading of the events of that terrible October in 1862, by local actors portraying historical characters connected to the events of the hanging. We were able to hear the story of the Great Hanging from the perspective of those who were there.  The program helped all of us better understand the feelings, emotions, and fears of the time from both perspectives. 
Following the reading,  Dr. Richard B. McCaslin answered questions from the audience about the Hanging.   
Dr. McCaslin answering questions
After the program, everyone met at the Georgia Davis Bass Memorial Park for the monument dedication.  The monuments were covered when we arrived.   Most took the time to check out the names on the pavers that were placed next to the monuments.
Checking out pavers prior to unveiling
Master of Ceremonies was Dr. Richard "Rick" McCaslin.  Gainesville Mayor, Jim Goldsworthy, gave the welcome address and then we heard from guest speakers.  
Mayor Goldsworthy at podium
There was a reading of the names and bell ringing for all the men who died during the "Great Hanging."  

Finally, the unveiling of the Monuments

 I wish to Thank the committee for all their hard work to make the memorial a reality.

Luke and Anna Johnson Timeline

Timeline of the events in the lives of Luke and Anna Johnson

Luke and Anna (Hellums) Johnson are the great-grandparents of our Grandma Baldwin (Mabel Leffel Baldwin).  
Luke Johnson married Anna Hellums on 12 April 1819 in Cahawba County, Alabama.  They continued to live in Alabama for the next fifteen years.  During that time, Luke and Anna had 6 children that are known to present day researchers: Susan, Roenna (our 2nd great-grandma), William H., Mary Caroline, Alfonzo Sterret, and Elizabeth.   In about 1835, the Johnson family moved to Tippah County, Mississippi and lived there until Luke's death  in 1847.   After her husband's death, Anna moved her family to Calhoun County, Arkansas.  Anna Hellums Johnson died on 11 Sep 1852 in Calhoun County.  All the living Johnson children would end up moving to Texas.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Gainesville "Great Hanging" Monument Dedication

Descendants of the Leffel family will be happy to learn of the monument dedication at Gainesville, Texas on October 18.  There will finally be a monument for the men who died during of The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862. Our ancestor, David Miller Leffel, was one of the men who was hanged by the confederates.  Hope to see y'all there!

The Board of Directors and Volunteers of the Great Hanging Memorial Foundation have announced details for the monument dedication in recognition of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, October 1862.

The following is the official press release from the Great Hanging Memorial Foundation: 


The Great Hanging Memorial Foundation announced today that a series of events will be held on October 18, 2014 to commemorate the historic event known as the “The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, October 1862.”

The Great Hanging is a Texas Civil War era event of major historical significance.  Due to its dramatic and controversial nature, little has been done to memorialize those who lost their lives.

Although this event occurred 152 years ago, scholars and lay persons still have difficulty in agreeing on the appropriate interpretation of the incident. Some contend that the action of the civilian and military authorities that led to the hanging of forty men and the shooting deaths of two men attempting to escape, was justified. Others argue that the tragic incident was nothing more than vigilante mob violence. 

On December 3, 2013 the Gainesville City Council unanimously approved the placement of two large granite stones at the Georgia Davis Bass Memorial Park in Gainesville, Texas to memorialize those who died.  The Great Hanging Memorial Foundation was then formed.

Funding for the purchase of two etched granite monuments, solar powered lighting and the memorial walkway was made possible through private donations.

The public is invited to the formal dedication which will begin with a luncheon on Saturday, October 18, 2014  (11:30 am - 1:00 pm) at the North Central Texas College Lions Field House, Gainesville, Texas. The luncheon will be followed by a program “October Mourning” at the First State Bank Center for the Performing Arts, also located on the college campus.  The Monument dedication ceremony will begin at 3:00 pm at the Georgia Davis Bass Memorial Park at 729 East Main Street near downtown Gainesville. 

Anyone having knowledge of descendants of the Great Hanging is encouraged to contact the Foundation at (817) 999-9551. 

Those planning to attend the luncheon need to RSVP by September 30, 2014  by calling (817) 946-4491 or send email

Dedication Schedule
October 18, 2014
11:30 am - 1:00 pm
Lions Field House, Cooke County Campus
North Central Texas College
1525 West California St.
Gainesville, TX 76240
Luncheon provided by the Texas State Historical Association and the Lone Star Chair in Texas History
RSVP by September 30 (817) 946-4491 or

I 35 to Exit 497,  turn West on California St. (FM 51) 0.7 mi to Bonner St. (CR 304), Turn North 0.2 mi to the Field House on Left

Program “October Mourning”
1:00 - 2:30 pm -Free Admission- At the First State Bank Center for the Performing Arts on NCTC campus, southwest of the Lions Field House
“October Mourning” is a 45 minute theatrical reading that brings life to the events of that terrible October in 1862, by local actors portraying the contemporary characters. Hear the story of the Great Hanging from the perspective of those who were there.  This reading will be followed by a 45 minute Q & A session with Dr. Richard B. McCaslin, author of “Tainted Breeze”.

Monument Dedication
3:00 pm
Georgia Davis Bass Memorial Park
729 East Main St., Gainesville, Texas (parallel street to California St.)
East of Cooke County Court House
Master of Ceremonies - Dr. Richard B. McCaslin

Upcoming media coverage for the Oct 18th Dedication!

Upcoming media coverage for the Great Hanging Monument Dedication was posted on "The Great Hanging - October 1862 Civil War" Facebook page.
Dr. Rick McCaslin, author of Tainted Breeze, will be guest expert for these interviews.Tune in and spread the word.....
September 30 - KGAF Radio - 1580 AM
Live interview: 7:45am
October 8 - KTEN Television 
Live interview: 11:00am
October 5th or 12th - Dallas Morning News
Family interviews and in-depth article, photos

Make plans to be in Gainesville, Texas on October 18th!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Custer's account of the Box Family Massacre

In 2008, I posted an article about the Box Family Massacre by Indians,  which occurred August 1866 in  Montague County, Texas.  James Jackson Box, the father, was Grandma Baldwin's (Mabel Leffel Baldwin) first cousin once removed. 

Recently, the following comment was left on my previous post about the massacre:
"There is an account of the Box family massacre and subsequent captivity recorded by General George Custer in Chapter 4 of his book "My Life on The Plains". He obtained the details directly from the mother, whom he met when released from her captivity."

Following a google search, I found not only a pdf of the book available on Internet Archive but also an audio recording.  To listen to the account of the Box Family Massacre choose chapter 5 - about 15 minutes into the chapter.  Custer's book,  "My life on the plains. Or, Personal experiences with Indians,"can be found here.  
In 1874, General George A. Custer published his memoirs: "My life on the plains. Or, Personal experiences with Indians."  The 1874 book is part of the Library of Congress collection and was signed by Gen. George A. Custer.

Starting on page 43 (bottom paragraph), Custer relates the story of the Box Family Massacre.

Custer also included a drawing of Santana, 2nd Chief of the Kiowas.  Santana led the group of Indians that attacked, murdered, and kidnapped the Box Family.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hatfield Photos - Who is who?

Help identify these Hatfield photos!
I am trying to figure out which photo is of John M. Hatfield, Jr.  If the one posted by Walter Hatfield on (2nd photo shown below) is John Martin Hatfield, Jr., then who is the man in the 1st photo that states it is of Martin M. Hatfield's father (John Martin Hatfield, Jr)?

So, I am confused about which photo is our 3rd great-grandfather, John Martin Hatfield.

The first photo, which was a copy not an original, was given to me years ago by Wilber and has written beneath the photo: "Martin M. Hatfield's father - no date."  I think that came from the inscription on the back of the original photo.

This second photo of John Martin Hatfield, taken 1885-1895, was posted by Walter Hatfield on  His source is the Gary Hatfield family photos.

I don't think that the above two men look like the same person?  Their hair is parted on opposite sides of the head and the ears of the man in the bottom photo seem more prominent.  What do you think?  And the photo on the bottom seems to be taken at a later date.

The top photo had a notation on the back but it appears to have been written by some descendant who may have been making a guess.  And sometimes the name on the back is who the photo is for NOT who the photo is of.

Photos belonging to Martin M Hatfield

I have another set of photos (below) that are a little bit of a mystery to me.  I have the originals -- they have been in our family for well over 100 years now.  The photos were well used and in poor condition.  Each of the photos is on a heavy card stock about 2-1/2 by 4 inches.  Each has a small round hole in the top corner.  It's as if the photos at one time were tied together by a ribbon or cord of some sort.
The man in the photo looks like the man in the photo just above.

Both of the below photos were written on the back: "Mr. M. M. Hatfield, Quinlan, Okla."  The man's photo also has the notation: "2 on same cord, 20x16 *** $3.96, cloths black *ody waist shirt."
The back of the photo for the woman looks as if it had something glued to it at one time that was mostly ripped off.  Her photo has a photographers stamp from Winfield, Kansas but the name of the photographer is covered up.
It's as if a photographer was making additional copies of photos for Mr. M. M. Hatfield of Quinlan, Oklahoma.
Photos belonging to M. M. Hatfield of Quinlan, OK
Photos most likely of  his parents:
 John Martin Hatfield and Martha Jay Hatfield.

So, would/could the man in the photo above be Martin Monroe Hatfield's father, John Martin Hatfield, Jr? And then, would the woman be our 3rd great-grandmother, Martha Jay Hatfield?
Or, could the photos be of his grandparents:  John Martin Hatfield, Sr. and Phoebe Coddington Hatfield?

I have other photos of the Martin Monroe Hatfield family on this blog that you can look at and compare.  Martin M. Hatfield did not move to Quinlan, OK until about 1899.  The clothing the couple is wearing is more typical of the 1850's-1860's not 1899.
Was Mr. M. M. Hatfield ordering copies of photos of his parents or possibly grandparents to have them sent to him in Quinlin, OK?  My feeling is that these are photos of John Martin Hatfield and his wife, Martha Jay Hatfield.

Darker image of above photo

Backs of above photos

Help solve this mystery!
There must be copies of these photos in other descendants homes, perhaps with identification on them.  If you know of anyone with Hatfield family photos, please have them check to see if they have copies of any of the photos on this page.  And, if any of you have photos of John Martin Hatfield, Jr or John Martin Hatfield, Sr or Martin Monroe Hatfield, PLEASE COMPARE AND SHARE!!

Anyone with facial recognition software could compare the photos:)  Then share the results!

Please DO NOT post the bottom photos elsewhere until they have been properly identified.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

William Jefferson Box alias William Smith

William Jefferson Box was a 1st cousin to our great-grandmother, Caldona Jane Box Leffel.
And, he is definitely one of the more intriguing and difficult individuals that I have researched.  Researching someone who changed their name makes the research much more challenging, and especially someone who changed their surname to SMITH, which is the most common surname in America.  Add to that the very common given name of WILLIAM and a major genealogical headache was created!:)

Here is the story of William Jefferson Box who was also known as William Smith.

William Jefferson Box was born on 16 Sep 1846 in Henderson County, Texas.  He was the son of Thomas Box and Clarkey Carpenter.  His parents had moved to Texas from Mississippi around 1845.  William's father, Thomas Box was following the footsteps of his brother, James Francis Box, who had previously moved to Texas. Some of the Box relatives (uncles and cousins) had lived in Texas since the Texas Independence from Mexico. 

In 1850, the Thomas Box family was living in Henderson County, Texas.  The family consisted of the  parents, Thomas and Clarkey and their three children: Thomas, William, and Josephine.  Two older siblings had died prior to that time. Three year old William was the middle child of the three Box children.  In 1850, his older brother, Thomas was eleven years old and his younger sister, Josephine was one year old.

1850 US Census, Henderson County, TX, pg 127, family #77
William and his family lived in Henderson County until about 1854, when they then moved to Ellis County, Texas.  Sometime in the early part of 1856, Thomas and Clarkey Box became acquainted with missionaries from the Mormon Church. On 10 April 1856, William’s parents were baptized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Church.  There is no record of William being baptized at the same time.
A year later in 1857, William and his family migrated to Utah with other members of the Mormon faith who lived in Texas.  The Box family most likely traveled to Utah with the Homer Duncan Company.  They arrived in Salt Lake Valley in September 1857.  Once in Utah, the Box family became actively involved in their new religion and in their community.  William’s father, Thomas Box, married a second wife (as in polygamy), Belinda Marden Pratt.  She was the widow of Parley P. Pratt.  

In the 1860 Federal Census Salt Lake City 13th Ward, “William Jeff” was included in his father’s household.  In addition to his parents, Thomas and  Clarkey, and his siblings (Thomas and Josephine), the household also included the Pratt family.   Belinda (Marden Pratt) Box and her five children by her marriage to Parley P. Pratt were living with the Thomas Box family.  One has to wonder what all the Pratt children thought of their newly acquired step-family from Texas and vise-versa.

1860 US Census, Salt Lake, Utah Territory, pg 1, family #3
In 1865, William was arrested for stealing a horse in Salt Lake County.   In 1869, he was found guilty of larceny and sentenced to one year in the State Penitentiary.  William received a Governor's Pardon after only three months, most likely with the help of his father's connections.

Governor' Pardon for William J. Box 
Court Record, 1865, Salt Lake County (Utah). Probate Court, Salt Lake County (Utah). Probate Court, 1852-1887 Civil and criminal case files (Series 373) Entry 3697--BOX, WILLIAM JEFFERSON

William was found living with his family when the 1870 Census was taken in Salt Lake City.  Both, William and his brother, Thomas, listed their occupation as "day laborers."  The Pratt family was no longer living with the family.  Something caused a split in the families and the Pratt's had moved out.

On 26 Apr 1875, William married Alice Odd in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.  The marriage was performed by President D. H. Wells.  Alice Odd was a recent Mormon convert from England.  Just a short six months later, William was called on a LDS Mission to the Southern States Mission and was assigned to serve in Texas.  William was set apart as a missionary on 11 October 1875 by George Q Cannon.  He left his new bride at home in Utah and traveled to Texas to serve as a missionary for the Mormon Church.
The following image is of a letter (or report) from the Southern States Mission that was printed in the Deseret News in April 1876.  There were two letters published in the Deseret News that told of experiences of William Box while on his mission.  Abstracts of the letters are below the image.
 Deseret News, 1876-04-12, page 11, Utah Digital Newspapers,

Deseret News 1876-04-12, page 11
Letter sent to Deseret News by E. W. East (Kimball, Bosque, Texas) of the Southern States Mission.  Written 8 Mar 1876 by Elder W. East.
"Elder W.J. Box was in Paris, Lamar Co., (Texas) some 10 days ago. Bro. Box passed through a spell of typhoid fever and then while assisting in erecting a large house. He and two others being on the house it fell and killed the other 2 men and fractured his left arm and bruised his left leg badly, but he writes me he is getting well and will be with me in a few days." 

A week later, another letter published in the Deseret News gave a follow-up report of Elder Box: 
Deseret News 1876-04-19, page 7
Letter sent to Deseret News by E. W. East (Kimball, Bosque, Texas) of the Southern States Mission.  Written 21 Mar 1876 by Elder W. East.
NEAR Bosque Co., Texas, March 21, 1876
"President Brigham Young
Dear Brother -- About the 15th inst. brother W J Box arrived here, having walked from Paris a distance of about two hundred miles. Brother Box thinks his wife and friends were more alarmed than they should have been. He has now recovered from the injuries received from the fall of the house, except the fracture of the bone of his arm. Even that he can use for ordinary purposes, though it is weak. Brother Box seems to feel very well and manifests a desire to fulfill his mission by doing whatever good may be in his power." 

It is not known if Elder 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.   His wife Alice testified that her husband never returned.  In May 1877, Alice filed for divorce in Salt Lake City on grounds of abandonment.  She stated that her husband left for Texas and never returned.  Alice never once mentioned that the reason for her husband leaving her and going to Texas was to serve as a missionary for the Mormon Church.  She stated in May 1877 that she had not heard from him for a year.

Abstract of the petition for divorce by Alice Odd Box:
Plaintiff (Alice) "joined in marriage with the said defendant by President H. D. Wells (26th day of April 1875) ... on the 8th day of November 1875 at which time the said husband left her in said city where she resided ... to go on a trip to the State of Texas where some of his kindred resided to be gone some six months ... said defendant ... proceeded to the state of Texas and remained there with his friends and acquaintances till sometime about the first of May 1876 and ... started from there to return home but has not come and were he went to this Plaintiff does not know. As she has received no correspondence from him since he left Texas to come back to his friends and family in Salt Lake City about one year since...."
Alice was granted a divorce on 2 May 1877.  Below is a copy of the court document granting the divorce.
William & Alice Box Divorce 1877
Salt Lake County (Utah). Probate Court (Divorce) Entry 7254--BOX, WILLIAM J; Date: 5/2/1877

I thought that perhaps William had died -- that perhaps his injuries from the fall in March 1876 mentioned in the above Deseret News article had been more severe than first thought or perhaps he had been bushwhacked on his way home to Utah.  His wife in Utah said in 1877 that she did not know where he was and she had not heard from him for a year.  After much searching, I could not find him in any records, anywhere -- He seemed to have completely disappeared by 1877.
BUT... 20 YEARS later William resurfaced!  
While I was searching for information on his former wife, Alice Odd Box, I ran across a 1899 Deseret newspaper article titled, "FORMER UTAH COUPLE'S STRIFE -- Legal Conflict for the Possession of Children."

Salt Lake Tribune, 19 Sep 1899
"The St. Louis Star of the 13th has a story about the wife of one W. H. Box, alias W. Smith, who, it is stated, formerly lived in Utah, suing him for the custody of her four children. Box lives at 813 Walnut street and says he was compelled to take the children into his care because of Mrs. Box's immoral actions. Mrs. Box alleges that her husband was sealed to a Miss Alice Odd of this city (Salt Lake City, UT) before she married him and that the ceremony took place at the command of Brigham Young."
Source: Salt Lake Tribune, 19 Sep 1899, Utah Digital Newspapers, 
The story of William Box was now starting to get really interesting!  The reason that I could not find William was because he had moved and he had changed his name from Box to Smith.

The above Deseret newspaper article led to finding of the original St Louis newspaper article referred to -- the St. Louis Star dated 13 Sep 1899.  A transcript of the complete newspaper article is given below the image from the first page.  What a story!!  Note of caution: I think any news of Mormons and Brigham Young during that time period became a little exaggerated, especially in Missouri.  In fact, everything about William and Ella seems a little exaggerated, with lots and lots of drama going on.
The St. Louis Star, St. Louis, Missouri, Wed. 13 September 1899
Transcript of complete news article:
Brigham Young, the Prophet, Picked Out the Wife for Him and Sent Him on a propagandist Mission—Box Family Were All Mormons—He Fell Away From the Church—Claims She Kidnaped the Children From New Orleans.
W.H. Box, alias W.J. Smith, an Apostate Mormon elder, who claims that he has been fleeing from the wrath of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints since 1874, is defendant in a writ of habeas corpus issued by Circuit Judge Zachrits Wednesday at the instance of Ella May Embree, who asks for the possession of her four children whom she charged, Box kidnapped thirteen days ago.  The writ is made returnable at 10 a.m. September 18.
Back of this legal bit of paper is a romance that brings Brigham Young from his grave and revives the cruel tenet of the Mormon church dooming all apostates to the shedding of their blood for the remission of their sins, the same awful fate that overtook 145 Missourians in Arkansas at the Mountain Meadow massacre where the Danites destroyed angels of the Lord and carried out the secret command of Prophet Young.
Ella May Embree is the second wife of Box, whom he married at Baton Rouge in 1879, and with whom he lived until 1894.
It is the law of the Mormon Church that no elder can be sent upon a propaganda mission until he shall have been joined and sealed to some woman.  Box says that Brigham young selected a wife for him in the person of Miss Alice Odd of Salt Lake City, a member of the Mormon Church, whom he married in 1872.
The ceremony, according to the rites of the church, occurred in the Temple before he left Utah, then a Territory.  This woman is still living, and in the petition for habeas corpus Ella May Embree charges that her husband’s wife is still living, and that therefore his is a bigamist and not the proper person to have the custody of their children.
Box explains his alias of W.J. Smith by saying that when he married Miss Embree in New Orleans that he was still under the ban of the Mormon Church and was in danger of his life, that he explained this dilemma to Miss Embree and that it was agreed between them that he should marry her under the assumed name of W.J. Smith.
Out of this marriage eight children were born, five of whom are living, Josie Smith, one of them, known as Josie Embree, figured in a sensational story some time ago.
The children for whose custody she asks in her petition are Thomas J. Smith, aged 11 years; Albert Dennis Smith, aged 7 years; Gertrude Beatrice, aged 9 years, and Clarence, aged 5 years.  These children are now in possession of Box at 813 Walnut street.
Miss Embree, as she styles herself, is living at 1506 Olive street.  Box claims that her actions have been so unworthy of a mother that he was forced to kidnap the children from her in order that they should not be subjected to scenes which, in his opinion, children of tender age should not witness.
Box was found earning $1.50 by an odd job of shoveling coal into a house on Walnut steet, a few doors from the one in which he and his children live.
All of the children for whom the writ of habeas corpus has been issued were playing around their father.
“My God,” said Box when informed that the writ had been  issued, “Is it possible that this woman is going to persist in hounding me to my death?  This is infamous.  I did take the children from her and I cannot see how any court in the land could give them to her after it has heard from my lips and from the lips of these children the sort of a life she has been leading in their presence ever since they were babies.”
“I married this woman in New Orleans.  When I married her it was understood between us why I assumed the name of W. J. Smith and after our marriage had taken place and several of our children had been born we thought it better that I shoulc take my real name.  This was done by application to the courts.  I have been living ever since as W. H. Box.  She has used this former alias as she pleases to style it, in order to make it appear that I am a criminal, or have something which I desire to hide.
“I was working at my trade as a carpenter in New Orleans, when she kidnapped all five of her children and brought them to St. Louis several months ago.  I followed her and could not obtain a trace of her for a long time, but lately I found that she was living on Olive street, and that my daughter Josie had taken a husband so that she might not live with her mother and witness what the young children were compelled to do.  I got the four children on September 4 and brought them here.  You may hear for yourself what they have to say.”
Box called three of the children to him, Tom, Albert, and Gertude, and the reporter questioned them.
“Who would you rather live with?” was asked, “your father or your mother”  “Papa,” each of them replied.  Little Gertude and her brothers then  (cont. page 7)
Continued from Page One.
told a story that reflects strongly on their mother.  Box says that he is poor and has been struggling to support his children and has no money to employ an attorney.  All the testimony that he can offer is that of himself, his married daughter and his four children, he states.
“Mrs.” Embree was seen by a Star reporter at 1506 Olive street, and made an emphatic denial of the charges made against her by Box and his children.
“Ever since I left him, Box has endeavored to defame my character,” she said.  “My brother, Rev. Albert Embree, compelled him once in New Orleans to make affidavit that he had lied in charging improper conduct against me.”
The oldest daughter of Mrs. Embree-Box, who is known as Josie Embree, was married four months ago in this city.  A year ago Cornelius Weise, who was then engaged to marry Josie, came here from New Orleans and committed suicide in a fit of jealously, aggravated by the loss of his place, which made it impossible for him to marry the girl at the time set for the wedding.
“I first discovered seven years ago that my husband was a Mormon and had another wife living in Salt Lake City,” said “Mrs.” Embree.  “I found a letter to him from his first wife, who signed herself Mrs. Alice Smith.  I left him with my children, and he kept on giving us trouble until we came to St. Louis.  Lately he followed us here and has succeeded in getting hold of the children, whom he frightened into staying with him.”

The St. Louis Star, Wed., Sep 13, 1899.  Vol. XVII. No. 134. Page 1, 7.

Judge Zachritz granted the habeas corpus petition of Ella Embree and awarded her the possission of her four children.
St Louis Post Dispatch, 21 Sep 1899, page 9
I have NOT been able to obtain a copy of the actual court case referred to in the above news articles.  After many calls and emails to the court clerk and even hiring a local historian/genealogist to go and request the documents in person...still NO documents.:(  

WHY did William Jefferson Box change his name to William Smith?  
I really doubt it was because the Mormons were chasing him - they could probably have cared less, so that was most likely just an excuse.  It appears that he did not know that he was divorced from his first wife, because Alice stated in the divorce papers that she did not know where he was (and had not heard from him for a year) when the divorce was granted in 1877 and his second wife, Ella, accused him of still being married to the first wife in 1899.  Committing bigamy, which was a crime, was probably the main reason he changed his name.  Or, he could have been hiding from the law -- perhaps for some crime he committed while he was in Texas.  Or maybe, he just wanted to make a new start in life and so moved to Louisiana and changed his name?  We may never know the "Why?"

What I do know is that William Jefferson Box changed his name to William J. Smith and by 1879 was living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  A newspaper article states that W. J. Smith married Ella Mae Embree at the home of her widowed mother, "Mrs. Dr. Embree," on 1 August 1879.  William would have been 32 years old and Ella was only 15 years old when they were married.  William was referred to as "our handsome friend" and Ella "his beautiful bride."

16 Aug 1879, Louisiana Capitolian (Baton Rouge, LA) 
Less than a year later in 1880, newlyweds William and Ella were living in West Feliciana, Louisiana.  Ella's 15 year old brother, Albert, was living with them.  The census has William's occupation listed as a farmer.

1880 US Federal Census, West Feliciana, Louisiana,  ED 201, pg 8
William and Ella Smith apparently moved to New Orleans soon afterwards.  They lived in New Orleans over the next 15 years, and had eight children with 5 still living in 1899.  William and Ella separated in 1894, according to the newspaper account.  William stated he was a carpenter by trade and that he had changed his name back to Box after several children had been born.  But, all the children must have thought their surname was "Smith" because that is what they went by during their lifetime.  William's daughter, Josephine, stated on her Social Security Application in 1938 that her father's name was William Jefferson Smith and her mother's maiden name was Ella May Embree. 

In the above St Louis newspaper article about the child custody case, William accused his wife, Ella, of immoral acts and felt she was a bad influence on the children.  William even accused his former wife of kidnapping the children and taking them to St Louis.  According to the newspaper reporter, the children apparently were living with their father in 1899 and wanted to continue to live with him.  But, just a year later in the 1900 Census, they are living with their mother.  Ella is using her maiden name of Embree but the children are using the Smith surname.

US 1900 Census, St Louis Ward 22, St Louis, Missouri, ED 332, sheet 5,  line 90
William cannot be found anywhere  in the 1900 Census -- I tried searching both names with no luck.  William had disappeared again!  Perhaps he died, or changed his name again, or just decided to take off to points unknown.  I have found no further records for William in St Louis or New Orleans or Texas or anywhere else, and would love to know what happened to him.  
So, that's my story about William Jefferson Box-Smith.  It still needs an ending, so any help would be appreciated!

P.S.  I will post a continuing story about William's wife, Ella Embree Smith and their children.   In researching the Box-Smith children and Ella's family, I have found the suicide of his daughter's fiancĂ©, espionage charges against a son-in-law, a train robbery, a court clerk in St Louis who continues to refuse to help find a court record,  etc.  And then there are more SMITH names – William's daughter marries a SMITH and widowed mother-in-law marries a SMITH.  Stayed tuned for the continuing drama!  
Contact me for scans of the complete set of divorce papers or the complete  St. Louis newspaper article (which was on multiple pages).