Friday, October 25, 2013

A Jones Wall

You might say that I have three of the worst surnames to try and research – Johnson, Smith and Jones My Johnson line is probably the most significant because it is my own surname and we have pretty good proof that the line connects with a famous ancestor, President Andrew Johnson.  Although, I must feel that I felt an even more significant connection on the day that I stood on the land that my 3rd Great Grandfather settled on near Hampton, TN.  My Smith line is also interesting with a fascinating ancestor like Jacob Cunningham Smith – I feel like there is still a lot to learn about them.  However, I feel like there is hope to discover something new on both of these lines.  I don’t have quite the same faith in my Jones line.

My grandfather died at the young age of 35 in a hunting accident and his grandfather also died at the young age of 34, just 10 days before his youngest son was born.  I don’t know what he died of – possibly pneumonia or a farming accident of some kind.  However, I know that he left his widow with two small young boys and heavily pregnant with another son.  Almira or Elmira (I’ve seen it spelled both ways) was born in 1850 in Van Buren Co., IA.  She married John Lyons Tannahill on 22 Dec 1866 when she was 16 years old.  They had a young baby born just about 9 months after their wedding who died either at birth or shortly thereafter.  Just a year later on 10 Aug 1868, Elmira gave birth to Samuel Oliver Tannahill and on 2 July 1871 she gave birth to George William Tannahill.  Elmira and John Lyons Tannahill moved sometime after George’s birth to Chautauqua Co. KS along with Elmira’s parents, Henry Valentine Jones and Huldah Harrington.  On 19 Apr 1873, Elmira became a widow at the age of 23, and on 28 Apr 1873, she gave birth to her third son, John Lyons Tannahill, my great grandfather.

Elmira Jones Tannahill Pennell
Elmira Jones eventually remarried to Samuel Pennell in 1875 in Kansas.  They seven more children and it is interesting to note that while most of them stayed  the Oklahoma-Kansas area, several traveled north to live in the Lewiston, Idaho area.  When Almira’s brother, George Washington Jones moved to Southwick, two of his sisters followed suit as did his Tannahill nephews.
Sam Tannaill & John Lyons Tannahill
It is easy to find information on the parents of Elmira – since she is recorded with her parents in the 1850 and 1860 census records.  Finding additional information of their ancestry has definitely been problematic.  Several years ago, I received a copy of some research that was done by Eldora Garlinghouse.  It turned out that her husband’s mother was Elmira’s niece through her brother, George Washington Jones.  The notes that she had made were really invaluable.   It allowed me to build a database built around the Jones family…and I must say it hasn’t been easy.

Henry Valentine Jones
Henry Valentine Jones was born on 14 Feb 1827 somewhere in OH.  According to the notes by Mrs. Garlinghouse, he was the son of Henry Washington Jones.  I have a name of Susan Turner as the potential mother of Henry Valentine Jones.  However, I have found nothing that directly connects Henry Valentine Jones with Henry Washington Jones or Susan Turner.  In fact, I have never been able to figure out when Henry might have lived in Ohio.  There are a multitude of Henry Jones and you can’t be sure which one is a connection.  Henry married Huldah Harrington on 19 Dec 1847 in Van Buren Co., IA.  They were the parents of:
  • George Washington Jones m. Eliza Jane Briscoe m2 Harriet Mae Yates
  • Almira Jones m John Lyons Tannahill m Samuel Pennell
  • Jacob Jones d. young
  • Henry Valentine Jones m. Aunt Duck (only name that I have)
  • Edwin B. Jones d. after 1870
  • Mary Alice Jones m.  Francis Marion Thompson
  • Sarah Frances Jones m. William Martius Blackington m.2, George T Hicks

George’s family ended up near Southwick, ID (near Lewiston, ID) as did Mary Alice Jones and her family and Sarah Frances Jones.  As with many families, when one family migrates somewhere – it doesn't seem long until other family members follow along.

Henry Valentine Jones and Huldah Harrington both lived out the remainder of their lives in Chautauqua Co., KS  Huldah died in in 1898 and Henry died in 1904.  It seems that no matter what I have tried, I have never been able to figure out exactly who and where Henry’s family came from.  I know that he was born in Ohio and immigrated to Iowa at a pretty young age.  He also married someone whose family had also come from Ohio, suggesting that there might have been a connection between the families.  Really the only thing that I have ever read that suggests where the Jones family was a biography that was published in an early local history that was about a “Who’s Who” of the region.  It stated that Samuel Tannahill’s family came from Wales I have no idea if that was something that made up of if it has some kernel of the truth.
I feel as if I have made a lot of progress on Almira’s family and their descendants, but I wonder if I ever will make any progress on their ancestry.  

There seems to be too many strikes against me to make much progress.  I don’t have specific locations previous to Van Buren Co., IA, I can’t be sure that Henry Valentines’ father was Henry Washington Jones nor do I have a clear view of who is siblings or mother might have been.  They weren't wealthy enough to leave documentary tracks beyond the standard census records.  So even though I continue to pound on that brick wall – I wonder if I ever will make progress on my Jones wall!


Friday, October 18, 2013

The Consumptive Disease

About six months ago, I came across a database online that had information about one of my family lines that I had been searching for years.  My great grandmother was the daughter of Buena Vista Bailey (A Life Too Short) and I knew very little beyond her.  Buena Vista died at the age of 21 years old, just a few short months after my great grandmother’s birth.  All I knew about her mother was that her name was Margaret.  This database that I located online not only had Buena Vista – but the full name of her mother as well….Mary Marguerite Church.

I must admit that it was quite a discovery, and I gained a lovely cousin and friend as well.  However, a picture started to emerge of Buena Vista’s family that started me wondering about something else.    Mary Marguerite Church was born 16 Jun 1845 probably in Watauga Co., NC as the daughter of Noah Howard Church and Asinth “Jencie” Irena McCall.  She married Jasper Bailey probably around 1868 and had her first child soon after, Colorado “Collie” Bailey born in 1869 and then Buena Vista in 1872, John W. in 1873 and Ninevah Frank b. 1876.  Mary Marguerite Church died at the young age of 32 years of age.  According to a letter that my Bailey cousin had, she died of tuberculosis also known as consumption.  Not only did she have tuberculosis but so did her daughter Colorado and son Frank.

Colorado “Collie” married Asbury Reid and moved to Illinois and had several children but had to move to Colorado because of the drier climate.  She tried to go back to Illinois, but couldn't take the climate and her husband didn’t want to live in Colorado so they eventually divorced.  Collie remarried and lived to ripe old age of 97 which is shocking.  To be so sick with tuberculosis that you couldn't live in one area of the country but you could survive to an old age in another part of the country is surprising.  Her brother Frank is found living with Collie and her husband in the 1930 census, but he dies about a year later at the age of 55.
So this leads me back to Buena Vista Bailey, my great grandmother’s mother.  I've always wondered what she died of exactly.  My great grandmother was born in late January and it wasn't until April that Buena Vista died.  I've never really heard of a cause of death except that she never recovered from childbirth.  This makes me wonder if her death cause was in fact, tuberculosis.
When I was 19, my step grandfather was in the hospital during the late stages of Alzheimer.  During the last three weeks of his life, they had to move him to a different hospital because they had diagnosed him with tuberculosis of the brain.   They moved him to the different hospital so he could be under ultraviolet light which helped treat the condition.  When he died a few weeks later, he had a nice healthy tan.  I found out at that point that most people of a certain age had been exposed to tuberculosis and that it could rear its ugly head almost at any point.  I also found that everyone in my family had to be tested to see if we had been infected …thankfully, none of us were.  That understanding of the disease makes me question whether tuberculosis is what killed Buena Vista Bailey at the young age of 21.  She could have been week from childbirth and became ill with the tuberculosis that was so prevalent in her family.

The new information about the Bailey family has opened up a whole new set of questions – most of which will probably never be answered.  There are a lot of theories that could be spelled out such as the belief that tuberculosis might have been prevalent in the Church family since several of Mary Marguerite’s seemed to die at a young age.  Perhaps it all can be explained by the facts that my ancestors lived in a rough and unsanitary time with little to no positive prognosis for anyone who developed tuberculosis.  Collie was unusual in that she lived to be 97 years old – I think it is much more common for tuberculosis victims to live much shorter lives…which could explain Buena Vista’s death at 21 and her mother’s at 32.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Grandpa's Glasses

Frank Stewart Johnson - About 1975
I have never forgotten that September day in 1975.  I was home from school sick…which was a pretty rare occurrence.  Mom had me ensconced on the couch with a blanket and a glass of squirt when the phone rang.  I could tell from Mom’s face that it was bad news.  She did something that I had never seen her do…she called my Dad out at work.  About a half hour later, Dad was home and they were packing getting ready to leave.  My Dad’s father had died that morning and the only thing that my parents were thinking about was getting to Canby, OR as fast as they could, so they could be with my grandmother.  Plans were made for my great uncle to bring us down the next day, but they never came to fruition.  I think I went to the neighbors and within a short amount of time, Mom and Dad were on the road to Oregon.

I was only 8 years old when Grandpa Frank died.  I’m not sure that I really understood the concept that much, but I knew from the look on my parent’s faces that it was bad.  I really had only been around him a handful of times in my short life that I remembered.  My most vivid memories of him involve candy and peeling an orange.  I can remember on one occasion when we were visiting my grandparents that we had to go to the store for something.  Once we arrived, my grandfather handed the list to my father and took my hand and took me over to the barrels of penny candy.  He patiently helped me pick out a very personal bag of candy of all of my favorites and another bag for my siblings.  I felt special though…I had my own special bag.  I think that all of Grandpa Frank’s grandchildren got the lesson of peeling an orange.  We would sit on the floor by the coffee table while he rolled the orange around to soften the peel and then would peel the orange in one long peel.  To this day, when I smell a freshly peeled orange, I still think of my grandfather.

Once my parents arrived in Canby, OR, my father dove into the process to help my grandmother deal with the numerous details concerning a funeral service.  When my Grandmother, Dad and his sisters saw Grandpa Frank, they all agreed that he didn’t quite look right.  They decided that it must be the glasses.  So, a trip was made home to collect his glasses which were always on top of the fridge.  The glasses were added and he looked better…but still not quite right.  But that was the way it was going to have to be.  The next day dawned and the funeral was held.  I don’t think that there were many of my Grandpa Frank’s family members there, except his sister – since most of them lived in North Dakota.  However, my Grandmother’s family showed up in force. 
Taken at Grandpa Frank's Funeral - Left to Right - Shirley, Fran, Grandma Marian, Gene, Mary Kay & Anne
Later that afternoon, Dad, his sisters and their spouses sat around the kitchen table with Grandma, talking about the service and I supposed what needed to be done.  As it was time for my Uncle Karl and Aunt Shirley to depart, Karl walked over to the refrigerator and took his glasses down from the top and placed them on his face.  Within a few moments, everyone realized that there was a reason that those glasses hadn't looked quite right – they were Karl’s.  Uncle Karl still says to this day, that Grandpa Frank pulled one over on him.  I suppose it was just the funny coincidence that was needed so everyone could get a good laugh.

Back in 2006, Grandma made the decision to move Grandpa Frank and his sister, Mary up to Freeze Cemetery.  So, they were exhumed and cremated and brought up to Idaho for a gathering to bury them in a cemetery that was not that far from the home where Grandma and Grandpa raised their children.  I can remember joking with Karl that we could still get his glasses back.  We had to explain to some family members what had happened – and once again everyone had a good laugh about how Uncle Karl’s glasses were buried with Grandpa Frank.  
Taken in 1972 - Grandma & Grandpa in the back - Russ, Chris, Gwenda and myself (Carmen ) in the front!