Saturday, April 30, 2011

BYRON HALL - abt 1876 - 1908


Byron was the oldest son of James E. and Mary Alice Ayres Hall. He was born in Warrensburg, Johnson County, Missouri. His parents lived on a farm a few miles south of town, where their kids were raised. Sometime around 1902 Byron went to Washington State, where he worked on a cattle ranch near Walla Walla for six years.

The story now is picked up in the Warrensburg newspaper and it appears that he had some mental problems that were reflected in letters written to his family members and by some unusual actions, culminating in his heading for home on a train. On the train his actions were thought by some to be a result of alcohol and by others as that of a demented or deranged man.

Warrensburg Journal-Democrat, Warrensburg, Missouri, Friday, April 24, 1908.

Passengers on the “Hi Lewis Special", a local passenger train which arrives in Warrensburg at 8:10 p.m. from Kansas City, were annoyed and frightened Sunday evening all the way from Pleasant Hill to Warrensburg by a young man who persisted in walking through the coaches and flourishing a pistol. At times he uttered murderous threats, but nobody on the train seemed to be the object of his invective. At one time after the train left Holden he made a bold announcement that there would be bloody murder in Warrensburg that night.

The Train men succeeded in quieting the strange-acting passenger each time he would break out. Conductor Lewis used all the diplomacy at his command to get the demented man to Warrensburg and unload him before anything happened.

When the train reached here the stranger got off carrying his pistol in hand. There was the usual coterie of platform loafers who were not slow to discover the threatenings of the man. A few flourishes of his gun on the platform and he had everything to himself.
The newspaper goes on to state he went to the hotel, was met by three police officers and when they attempted to disarm him he shot all three of them, killing two. He then turned the gun on himself. The article reports that several days later a piece of mail from Byron Hall to his sister-in-law was received and written on the outside was “I leave Denver tonight. I have been followed from Canada by secret service men.”

The newspaper reported being puzzled over these events, and described Byron's background thusly: "At home, in school, and socially, he was an exemplary young man and everybody was his friend. Nothing is known to indicate that he had departed in the lesst from his training since leaving home six years ago. In Washington he spent all these years in the employ of one man and bore a first class reputation. A dispatch from Walla Walla April 21 verifies this."

The newspaper reporter - and maybe the townspeople also - probably did not know that Byron's father James had a much older brother in Franklin County, Missouri who was considered deranged and who ultimately was hanged for murdering his own sister. His intent had been to kill all of his siblings so he would be the lone heir of his father's estate.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011



Doing genealogical research turns up many interesting things; it sometimes turns up very sad things too. Below is the story of “Great-Auntie Winton,” a relative on my Dad’s side.

In October of 1857 Elizabeth Dobbins Kinsey, who was deserted by her first husband Claudius Kinsey in Illinois, married John A. Winton, a businessman and postmaster in Prairie City, Kansas. After this marriage, she does not appear in any further Kansas records, but almost her entire life story can be found in John Winton’s Civil War Widow’s pension files in the National Archives. In these pension files there is a copy of a letter she wrote in 1898 from her home in Las Animas, Colorado to Washington DC. after she heard the news of her husband’s death in an old Soldier’s home in Leavenworth, Kansas. She appeals for assistance. Here is her letter, in part:

….Now I will tell you something of the former part of our lives. John R. Winton and I were married at a hotel in Lawrence, Kansas on the 26th day of October in 1857 by a Camalite [sic] minister, and we lived at what was then Prairie City, now called Media, Douglas County, Kansas until about 1863 in the spring. We then went to Dayton, KY where we lived until the fall of 1881, when John R. Winton came home in July that year with a very loathsome case of gonorrhea. In all those years we had had four children, two girls in Kansas and two boys in Kentucky. Now in 1881 we just had one daughter living about 14 years old. She was already very sickly so I was compelled to leave him. I stayed in Dayton till in December 1881 then came here to Las Animas [Colorado] to my brother [James Sellers Dobbins] and have been right here ever since. John wandered about from one [Veterans] Home to another, up in Wisconsin, at Leavenworth, and Dayton, Ohio, and finally wanted to come back to me. He said he was well and wanted to come back. I had not applied for a divorce but heard that he had, but he denied ever getting a divorce, but I said I would not live with him unless he married me again. So you see he came here to my home that I had earned all myself and had three hundred and ninety eight dollars laid by beside taking care of my daughter and making the living for her. She died in 1885, and now my money is all gone and I have broke myself down waiting on him for he has been sick nearly ever since he had come here. I have been an invalid ever since last May, am scarcely able to cook a bite for myself. Can you do anything ….?

Mrs. E. C. Winton.

The records show indeed she did remarry him when he came to Las Animas, Colorado. She was, of course, eligible for her Widow’s Pension.

She died on January 27, 1922 in Las Animas. Her obituary says she “was one of the pioneer residents of 1882….accompanied by her daughter, Alvira, who later passed away. She opened a boarding house shortly after coming to the city and conducted it for some time, after which she followed dressmaking as long as she was able to do this work. She was a faithful member of the First Presbyterian Church….”

It is a shame no picture of her exists. Her daughter Alvira died in 1885 and at that time Elizabeth Winton took her daughter's body back to Fulton County, Illinois, where she was buried in the old Dobbins Cemetery near Ipava. After Elizabeth's brother died in 1904, she was cared for by the families of her two nephews, Gaston and Scott Dobbins.

Elizabeth was buried in the Las Animas Cemetery near her brother.

Saturday, April 23, 2011



Every once in a while the diligent genealogist will find something very unexpectedly that has a value worth more than gold. My turn came a while back.

I have been researching a Bradley family that had its roots in Missouri. My great-great grandmother Susan Bradley Davis was one of the children of Thomas and Elizabeth Cockrill Bradley. I'd tracked down all of Susan's siblings except for one: Mandana (sometimes shown as Mandania). And of course the one you don't have is the one that keeps calling to you and drives you crazy! She married David Rice and subsequently disappeared.

Without going into detail, I'll just say that in a Deed book in Schuyler County Missouri I was checking to see what became of Thomas' property when he died. There I came upon a Power of Attorney issued to John G. Davis (husband of my Susan) to represent Mandana Bradley Rice, who lived in Amador County, California. This was such a surprise. I was at the Salt Lake City Genealogical Library when I found it, and I was probably that person you heard stand up and yell "EUREKA!"

Several months later Jerry and I were visiting friends in Lodi, California and they wanted to spend the afternoon gambling at the Indian Casino in Jackson. I begged off, telling them to drop me off at the County Archives in downtown Jackson by the cemetery and come pick me up when they were finished. (A true genealogist!) And as they were true friends, they did just that.

I found the people at the Archives to be exceptionally helpful and to have an exceptionally rich lode of material. Among what was shown to me was the picture above. It is a 4-generation picture of now-aging Mandana, with her daughter Mary Jane Rice Keeney (upper left), granddaughter Nellie Keeney Kent (wife of Walter E. and at lower right) and great-granddaughter Vivian Kent (upper right.) I paid to have a copy of the photo made for myself, and I gathered up all the data in their files and was sitting on the porch grinning when my friends came to pick me up. Believe me, I was the winner that day.

I encourage every single genealogist to find where the archived material is located in each county you research in - and see if you can get as "lucky" as I did. I did extensive research on Mandana and her family, and it is all posted on under their Family Tree section.

For anyone who wonders what else the Amador County archives might hold, take a look at their website:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

LEVI J. SPERRY - 1829-1900


One of the surprises of genealogy is learning that divorce was fairly common in the “old days.” It’s also a surprise that newspapers then were every bit as explicit then as now – and actually, much more gossipy, although we are heading that direction again! Here’s what happened to Levi & Nancy Sperry, residents of Lawrence, Kansas. Levi’s first wife was Paulina J. Dobbins, sister of James Sellers Dobbins, but in 1857 she died in childbirth and Levi then married Nancy Jane Anderson, a neighbor.

In 1885 everything fell apart for the Sperrys. A divorce action was filed by Nancy Jane against Levi, alleging that in their 28 years of marriage he had scolded her, beaten her and threatened to kill her many times. The youngest daughter, Lilly Sperry, testified for her mother, stating that she heard him threaten to kill her mother and had been present once when he tried to choke her. Other family members, including son Watson, and Mrs. Sperry’s sister, Dicy Carter, also testified. In his portion of the trial, Levi stated that after their first year, their marriage had been a stormy one. It had become worse when she later wanted the boys to run the farm. Levi was upset that in any differences between him and the children, she always sided with the children. In cross-examination, he admitted having at one time threatened to split her head open with an axe. The divorce was granted. (During the course of the trial, two of the four Sperry children, both young adults, died.) All the lurid details appear in the local Lawrence newspaper.

Levi was fit to be tied. On November 24, 1886 he wrote out a new will. A couple of items bear noticing:

1) Item #2 states, “I give, devise, and bequeath to my two children, James Sperry and Nellie T. Jones, each the sum of one dollar, and direct the same to be paid them out of my estate, as soon as possible after my decease, upon their each executing and delivering to my executrix, a full receipt therefore, in full for their share and interest in my estate. Because of the well-known domestic difficulties which I have had with my former wife, Mrs. Nancy J. Sperry, from whom I have obtained a legal divorce, and because my said children, James Sperry and Nellie T. Jones, bore a conspicuous part in my said domestic difficulties, thereby greatly aggravating my afflictions and embarrassments, both socially and financially, it is my will and purpose that my said children shall have no further share or interest of and in my property and estate, beyond the sum of one dollar each as above provided.

He certainly made clear his intentions in this matter.

2) Item #3 states, “I give devise and bequeath all the rest, residue and remainder of my estate....unto Mrs. Eliza J. McFarland to be the sole and absolute property of the said Eliza J. McFarland, and her heirs and assigns forever, and in case I shall survive and outlive her, then I hereby give, devise and bequeath all the property of every kind herein devised and bequeathed to her unto her children and their heirs forever. This provision and bequest is made by me, as, and by way of an inducement and past consideration for the agreement of the said Eliza J. McFarland this day made, that she will become my wife”

His will also appoints Eliza as executrix, which of course would necessitate his children going to her to get their $1 each when their father dies.

There is a Marriage License issued in Lawrence on November 23, 1885 and a return recorded on November 24 confirming the marriage of Levi J. Sperry, age 57 and Eliza J. McFarland, 38. Eliza was no dummy.

Eliza and Levi had 15 years of married life. His will was admitted to probate on January 25, 1901.

Although the records do not show if ex-wife Nancy Sperry received a settlement, she had a unique way of rebuilding her life. On February 17, 1887, Nancy Sperry, age 48, married young Edward A. Carlson, age 26, in her home in Lawrence -- and lived happily ever after!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

JACOB WRIGHT - 1774-1857


No photograph of Jacob Wright has ever surfaced. So today we simply need to create a mental image of a man who fits this description, taken from Perrin's Genealogy and Biography, Vol. II, page 142:
"...Jacob and Miriam (Helm) Wright, natives, respectively, of Virginia and South Carolina. Jacob came to Kentucky about 1805, and settled where Glasgow [Barren County] now stands. He was a slave holder and a soldier in the war of 1812. His father, also named Jacob, emigrated from Ireland and settled in Virginia."
Now if you are a genealogist you will know that this may or may not be accurate, and if he is your ancestor you will want some additional research to prove or disprove these facts.

The marriage of Jacob and Miriam took place in Washington County, Kentucky, on February 6, 1797. George Hellams (probably Helms) was surety. If it is true that Jacob and Miriam came to Barren County in 1805, then the first four (and possibly five) of their twelve children were born in Washington County, which is north and somewhat east of Barren County.

Jacob would have been of the right age to have served in the War of 1812, and while there was a Jacob Wright serving in the 5th Regiment (Lewis') Kentucky Volunteers, I have not been able to identify whether or not this was our Jacob.

I think one of the biggest surprises I found when I started out doing genealogy was learning how many people shared the same names, even somewhat obscure or unusual names. And with both Jacob and Wright being common names, I'd guess that if Jacob had six brothers, all six of them would have a son named "Jacob." It makes assumptions very 'iffy!

My mom's family were New Englanders and it never occurred to me that in my heritage I might have ancestors who owned slaves. But I quickly found I was wrong. And it was with Jacob where I felt the most sorrow. He died in 1857 and left a large probate file. I sent to the courthouse for copies of the papers, and in it I found the following:

Especially reading the first entry, "Baylor - not valued at anything" brought tears to my eyes. Maybe Baylor was a baby. Maybe he was old and infirm. But he wasn't worth anything as far as an asset in Jacob's inventory. Sad, sad, sad.
Jacob's will itself tells a little bit about the family. Jacob says he wants his just debts paid first and then he wants his wife Miriam to have however much of the estate she wishes to keep during her lifetime. Jacob had been generous in helping his children out as they got their start in life. In these early times, when daughters got married their fathers often deeded land to them, much in the way of a dowry. Jacob may have done this too. Jacob kept a book in which he recorded the monetary value of his gifts to each child. His will shows that son Montgomery had received the most money - $899.00. Therefore out of his estate Jacob wants each of his children to receive enough money to bring their total up to $899.00. At that point any further division of property will be equal among all the children. And finally he says when Miriam dies, whatever estate she has is to be likewise divided equally among the heirs.

There are two interesting things about Jacob's children. He wants his son Uberto to manage his daughter Polly's portion and to be her guardian. (Polly was the oldest and unmarried daughter.) He also appoints Uberto to manage his sister (Jacob's daughter) Frances Wade's portion. I don't know what her husband, Fielding Wade, had done but he surely got on the wrong side of Jacob!

Jacob wrote his will in 1845. In spite of the fact that in his will he says he "felt weak and feble of body" he lived and farmed another 12-1/2 years!

The old Wright cemetery, where Jacob and Miriam are buried, is now in Warren County, Kentucky, which abuts Barren County. A descendant has placed a chain link fence around it to prevent further deterioration, and whoever took the headstone pictures, above, tried to bring out the inscriptions with powder or chalk or some other substance. Even at that, the names are difficult to make out, but I'm very glad someone is tending the plot. Jacob is my g-g-g-grandfather.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

HENRY H. McGLOTHLIN - 1840-1926


I've always liked old Henry H. McGlothlin. His mom, Jemima Corel McGlothlin was my great-grandma Nancy Corel (Widow LaHay) Dobbins's oldest sister. I didn't know anything about him until 1984 when I started genealogy. There were no family records left on him, and no family stories. But I can tell you lots!

He was born in Tazewell County, Virginia to Jemima and David McGlothlin. He was their third child, and first of three sons. Almost the entire Corel family moved from Virginia to the Westport area of Kansas City before 1850. Henry's mother died in 1851, and Dad moved the family back east to Kentucky. When Kansas Territory opened up for settlement, the Corel families moved into Douglas County. In 1856, who should show up on the doorstep of the matriarch, Rebecca Corel, but her grandson Henry, now 16 years old.

If you remember your history, this was the Bleeding Kansas period. The South wanted Kansas to come into the Union as a slave state; the North wanted it to be a free state. There were border ruffians on both sides, and both Quantrill and John Brown came through that border area with their own brands of enforcement.

In the 1910 book "Quantrill and the Border Wars," written by William Connelly he states
"The [North Ferry] landing was a loafing place for all sorts of unsavory characters, but a good place for gleaning information and for recruting men for his two-year guerrilla warfare along the Kansas-Missouri border. Among these lawless characters were Old Man McGee, his two sons Jacob (Jake) and Thomas (Tom) and cousin "Cuckold Tom" McGee of Franklin, Kansas Territory, who had a claim on the Kansas River two miles east of Lawrence. Another cousin in the town of Franklin, Henry McLaughlin, was equally notorious...."
Since three of the Corel children married McGees, and since both Corels and McGees took land east of Lawrence on the river, it is highly likely that Connelly is also talking about the subject of this blog, Henry H. McGlothlin." It is also likely that the whole Corel family were southern sympathizers, coming from Virginia. However, what happened in this family, and in others that I read of, by the time the Civil War came around, they supported the Union. My great grandmother married a Missouri Border ruffian in 1856 and after being widowed, she married a former Union soldier.

At any rate, Henry McGlothlin enlisted in the 7th Kansas Cavalry at the outbreak of the civil war and served to the end, being located part of the time at Ft. Scott. His appearance at enlistment as recorded in his pension file says that he was 5'-11", had a dark complexion, blue eyes, black hair, and that he was a carpenter.

In his later life his pension application tells of the rigors he faced while in the Civil War:

" the time I made application for Pension...I was then, and had been for many years, suffering with "Piles" and "diseased rectum" (which I forgot to include in my application.) The incurrence of "Piles" and "Diseased Rectum" was, as I verily believe, caused by riding horseback in the service and from exposure incident to Army life, and said "Piles" and "disease of Rectum" first made their appearance in a slight degree while I was yet in the Army and have gradually grown worse from year to year since, so that it is very difficult for me to state just where and when said diseases were contracted or the circumstances under which they were incurred, as they are of many years standing."
His obituary adds a bit to our knowledge of his life: he boarded a steamboat on the Ohio River, coming to Kansas City in 1856 by way of Louisville and St. Louis. He has been a resident of Kansas since that time. He married Mrs. Rebecca Probasco in the year 1871 but they had no children. He was deputy sheriff of Linn County for over 20 years and for four years was deputy U. S. Marshal. He "cried" public sales continuously for over 30 years and is the best auctioneer in the state. He had a sunny disposition and a kind heart. He was referred to as Col. Henry H. McGlothlin.

In 1887 he was appointed guardian for his brother Shadrick's daughters, Cora (age 16) and Julia (age 11), upon the death of their mother.

He and his second wife, Ella R. Haskins are buried in the Pleasanton Cemetery.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011



It is sad that Mrs. Dana Stevens Wallenstein died at such a young age. The Wichita newspaper carried a large article that included the photo above:

Mrs. Dana Wallenstein, 25, wife of Henry Wallenstein, Jr. of the firm of Wallenstein and Raffman, died Wednesday afternoon in Colorado Springs after a short illness.

For the past month, Mrs. Wallenstein and her two daughters, Nadine and Dana, had been in a cabin in the mountains near Colorado Springs. About two weeks ago a pimple appeared on her chin which later developed into a carbuncle. This became infected last week, but not until Friday was it thought serious, at which time she was taken to Blockner [Glockner] Hospital in Colorado Springs. Monday and Tuesday her condition seemed improved, but Wednesday she rapidly grew worse and died at 1:30 pm of septic poisoning.

Mr. Wallenstein was called to Colorado Springs last week and was at her bedside when death came, as were also her parents, Mr. and Mrs. F. D. Stevens, 4000 E. Douglas, and Henry Wallenstein Sr.

Mrs. Wallenstein's many friends in Wichita always remarked about her devotion to her small daughters. Altho she was interested in community and club activities, being a member of Entre Nous and other organizations, her paramount concern was her home. She was a member of Temple Emanuel, Reformed Jewish Church.

Mrs. Wallenstein had no enemies and was always the most gentle of women. She carefully avoided petty difficulties and was usually the peacemaker in any community differences. She was always ready to help those in distress, and her kindly spirit made her many devoted friends.

Mrs. Wallenstein was prominent in social circles in Wichita. She was educated in the public schools here and attended Lindenwood College in Missouri. Before her marriage to Mr. Wallenstein, she was Miss Dana Stevens, and their wedding five years ago last June was of much social prominence, uniting, as it did, two prominent Wichita families. Mr. and Mrs. Wallenstein lived at 120 North Broadway.

Mrs. Wallenstein is survived by her husband; two daughters, Nadine and Dana; her parents, Mr. and Mrs. F. D. Stevens; two brothers, Frank and Larry, both of Wichita, and one sister, Rosana, Wichita. The body will be brought to Wichita Friday morning, and the funeral will be held at 4 o'clock Friday afternoon.

She died on August 31, 1927. Her husband never remarried and both he and the children moved in with Dana's parents, Frank and Rose Stevens. Grandma Rose raised the little girls to adulthood.

Frank and Rose were my own grandmother's Uncle and Aunt. In 1930 my Grandma Jessie Ryland and her four youngest children, ranging in age from 14 to 4, were living on a farm in Mulvane, Kansas, some miles south of Wichita. In July of 1930 a fire broke out in the house while grandma was outside tending her chickens and the family lost most of their belongings, including all the clothing except what they were wearing. My Aunt Marie, who was the oldest of the Ryland children, remembered her mother driving the kids up to Uncle Frank and Aunt Rose's house, where they stayed until they were able to make other arrangements. Aunt Rose bought new clothing for Aunt Marie and her two younger brothers. Aunt Margie, who was about the same age as the little Wallenstein cousins, was outfitted in some of their clothing. My Aunt Marie remembered what beautiful clothing those Wallenstein girls wore, certainly different than the overalls that was de rigueur for the farmer kids.

In my genealogical research I have located and spoken with Nadine Wallenstein, now a lovely lady living in Missouri. Because she was so small when the fire episode happened she didn't remember the story I told her about the connection between our two families, which encompassed two tragedies - the loss of her mother and the loss of my grandmother's farm. She and her sister Rosana are still alive and well. All of their Ryland cousins have passed away. Nadine and I both were pleased that we were able to "connect" as genealogical cousins after all these years. And of course that is what makes genealogy fun!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

LOUISE C. HALL - 1863-1919


Louise was always considered a beauty. This photograph comes from a small picture that was printed on a memorial card from her funeral service. She was my mother's paternal grandma, and when I look at this picture I can see reflections of both my Aunt Marie and Aunt Margie in her. I do not see my mother, but it was my mother who was given her name, Louise, as a middle name. That name is carried down in my sister, Virginia Louise and my granddaughter, Olivia Louise.

Louise came from a well-to-do family. She was born in Warrensburg, Missouri to John A. and Martha Jeffries Hall, the fifth of six children and the youngest girl. John moved the family to Sumner County, Kansas in the mid-1870s. And it was there that the Hall family became acquainted with James A. Ryland, who had been recently widowed and left with two little boys, one a baby. Although John Hall had two daughters, it was the youngest daughter, "Lou" who caught the widower's attention, and ultimately the two married, he at 31 years of age and she at 14. A year after the marriage their only child, son Byrd, was born.

Both John Hall and James Ryland were what we would call "gentlemen farmers" and James was able to provide Louise with the kind of life she had been used to. Family recollections are that there was some rancor between her and her stepsons as they got older, but who after this length of time knows for sure what it was all about. At least all three brothers grew up friendly with each other.

After the boys were raised, Louise did lots of china painting as well as oil painting. She also fancied herself a writer, and another family story is that she was the ghost writer of a book on Caldwell, Kansas.

This book, originally published in 1890, was reprinted in 1984. In this later edition Richard L. Lane, a professor of English at the University of Nebraska tears the book apart, speaking of the poor quality of the writing, calling it "purple prose," but indicates that factually it is true. He makes a case that it was J. A. Ryland who wrote the book, not Lou. However, we have a copy of a letter written by James Ryland to his brother Charles in Mississippi which says, "My wife was a very rapid writer, but in her writing her Caldwell "Midnight and Noonday" book she would get stuck and I could talk it out for her."

I have always laughed to think that my draw toward writing came from the purple prose lady - my great-grandma Louise.

About 1916 Louise began ailing and in 1919 she died of cancer.
Her grandchildren were quite young when she died and as adults they had little recollection of her. But they all knew from the stories that Grandma Louise was smart and she was beautiful and she wrote a book! She is buried next to her husband in the Caldwell, Kansas Cemetery.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ELI MARK - 1876-1961


Eli and Israel Mark, looking alike as peas in a pod, were born in Lithuania in 1876 and emigrated to Manchester, England, where each of them married. Israel and Kate Cohen married in 1899 and ultimately came to America in 1910. Eli married Dora Hoffman in 1902 and they never left Manchester. This is the story of Eli, as written by a man who knew him and sent to me in 1989.

I have known Eli Mark virtually all my life; he commenced to work for my father in about 1936. Before that he had been employed by C. Cohen & Co., cutting their cap peaks for the gent's cap-manufacturing industry. But due to a recession in their business he became unemployed. Part of my father's business was the supply of the same cap peaks in the various cap manufacturers in the UK. Eli worked with us from that time right up until his retirement which was a period of about over 30 years, which covered the second world war as well.

Eli Mark was a most highly respected man here in the Jewish community in Manchester. He left Lithuania before the turn of the century and emigrated first to the UK...then left for South Africa about the time of the Boer war and was returned back to this country as an undesirable immigrant to South Africa.... He was active in various social and charitable organizations all his life. As a young man he was a member of Manchester Wheelers, which is an amateur road cycling club in the area. This was quite unique for a young Jewish man, as it wasn't the kind of activity that Jewish men participated in at the time....

Now I first met him as a young child when I went to visit my father's business, and we moved our factory from part of the center of Manchester out to the outskirts, and Eli moved with us. This was in 1939 and we hadn't been away from the old factory six months when it was completely flattened in the first Christmas blitz of the Second World War. Throughout the whole of the war he, along with my father and my uncle, provided the necessary fire watching cover at night in case incendiaries were dropped by the German airplanes to set fire to the premises, and I enclose herewith a photograph which was taken at the end of the war which shows my father in the middle and Eli Mark at the right hand side, front row. As a matter of interest the young boy in the photograph in the Red Cross uniform is myself. I was part of the detachment at the Jewish hospital.

He had a special interest in an organization founded to promote a Jewish hospital in Manchester. He was amongst the first of those who felt that the idea was a very good one, the reason for setting up a "Jewish" hospital was to enable people who had to go into hospital to have a) the facilities of Kosher food and b) the employment of Jewish nurses and medical staff. At first it was very strongly resisted by the Jewish establishment of the city, who felt that the idea of a Jewish hospital, with Jewish pills and Jewish medicine would not be conducive to combating possible antisemitic feeling amongst the general community. However, Eli Mark and his opinions prevailed and the organisation was set up and established under the name of the Manchester Victoria Memorial Jewish Hospital. The hospital has been operative right throughout the period since its formaton at the beginning of the century up until I think the last couple of years, when reorganisation of the British National Health Service was such that I think the hospital is now closed or in the process of being closed.

Eli Mark was most meticulous in his work. He had the keys of our factory and he opened it in the morning and he locked it at night. There was no question of him doing anything other than checking that everything was secure. He was a charming gentleman who always wore wing-collared shirts and a tie; he never wore a soft collar. I asked him about this on numerous occasions and he said that he felt much more comfortable in wing collars than an ordinary collar. Eventually he had to retire because of his age.

I trust that the information I have been able to give you has been of interest and assistance to you. There can be no doubt about it that your relative, Mr. Eli Mark, was a man of whom you can be truly proud and the man that I was only too delighted and honored to have had as a friend and teacher.

With my kind regards, A. P. Marsh.

NOTE: When Eli Mark was 82, he was featured in a newspaper article:

The hospital has, in fact, been closed down, and the plaque that says in part "This bed is named in appreciation of the services of Eli Mark..." now belongs to his great-grandson Robin Pollock.

Eli Mark was the twin brother of my husband's grandfather, Israel Mark.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011



This is a picture of Miss Maud McConnell and her sister Lillie’s children posing on donkeys. The oldest, Hazel, is in the middle, and her brothers Floyd and John are on either side of her. It is true, the boy in front looks like a girl, but in those days boys stayed in dresses until they were out of diapers. I’ll make an educated guess that this photo is dated about 1894. Every photo tells a story. Today I’m going to tell you about this one.

Maud always went by her middle name. According to her family bible, she didn’t like her first name, Susan! Her parents, John B. McConnell and Frances Narcissa Wright McConnell, lived in Barren County, Kentucky and eight of their nine children were born there. About 1880, the McConnell family moved from Kentucky to Kossee, Texas, where they bought some farmland. The last child, Harrie Uberto McConnell, was born in Texas. Lillie shortly met and married a railroad engineer, Benjamin Franklin McCammon, and the McCammons moved to Colorado City, (now west Colorado Springs) where he worked for the Midland Railroad.

In 1893, Ben was killed in a railroad crash, leaving Lillie with three small tots. Lillie’s parents, along with Maud (now 17 years old) and little brother “Bert," came up from Texas to help her out. Maud chose to stay in Colorado to help her sister with the children. Her folks and Bert went back home.

Maud lived with Lillie and the kids until the little ones were in school. At that point, Maud, now 20, went to work at a bookstore in old Colorado City. In those days, almost every Sunday there was a band concert at the local park. It was a social event and once the concert ended the band members mingled with the audience.

It was at one of these band concerts at Stratton Park in Colorado Springs that Maud McConnell met a cornet player named Scott Dobbins, who in the summers played in the Midland Railroad Band. During the rest of the year, he lived on the Dobbins ranch in Las Animas, Colorado and played in the Las Animas band. Maud herself was an accomplished pianist and apparently she and Scott discovered they made sweet music together. On December 28, 1898, Maud and Scott married in Colorado Springs at Lillie's house. After the honeymoon they settled in at the Las Animas ranch. In 1904 Maud gave birth to their first child, a daughter Dorothy, and in 1908 they added Scott Jr. (my father) to their family. Shortly before Scott’s birth, they sold the ranch and moved into town.

Maud was widowed in 1917 and because it was necessary for her to go to work to support the two children, they relocated to Colorado Springs where jobs were available. After a few odd jobs, she found her place as a matron at Glockner's Sanitarium.

A few years before he died Dad and I were talking about what life was like in Las Animas. He said that his folks always had a piano in their house, and during the freezing winters all the neighbors would bring their musical instruments to the Dobbins house and spend the afternoon making music for their own enjoyment, my grandma Maud on the piano and grandpa Scott on the cornet. A neighbor taught my dad to play the banjo, and other neighbors and relatives filled in with guitars, trombones, and clarinets. Those who didn’t play an instrument became the “choir.”

I was born in California in 1935. Grandma Maud began making yearly trips to visit our family. Because I was so young when she came, I really didn’t know who she was and I referred to her as “that lady.” Eventually “Lady” became my name for this grandma. She died in 1940 and I don’t have any real recollection of her. But I do have this picture of me, my mom and Lady taken in 1938, and when I think of her, it is always this picture that always comes to mind.

For those of you who are my Dobbins siblings and cousins, my grandma Maud is also your grandma. To our children, she is their great-grandma, and to our grandchildren she is their great-great grandma. So when your grandkids hit fourth grade and are required to produce a genealogy of their family, you can at least show them this picture, tell them this story and then, if I am still living, I can fill you in on all the rest. This is, of course, the whole purpose of genealogy – passing the family history on down through the generations.

Monday, April 4, 2011



Stop! Do not think the man above is Joseph Clinton Davis. It is not. Old Joseph is in his tomb. This fellow, for the time being, can remain anonymous. It is the tomb that is what I want to call to your attention. There is a family story about old Joe that needs telling.

He is the husband who deserted his wife, Nellie Stevens Davis, and their child Jessie, my grandma. The family story was that when Jessie went to school all the kids made fun of her because she didn't have a "real" father. You may remember from yesterday's story that her mom had remarried and Jessie was raised by Jim Eungard, her stepfather. The story continues that one day she came home from kindergarten crying and she hid under the bed, telling her mother she was sad that she didn't have a "real" daddy. She refused to come out. When Jim came home from work, he laid on the floor beside the bed and told little Jessie that he would always be there for her and that he loved her. Reassured, Jessie came out from under the bed and lived happily ever after with Jim as her "real" father.

So now look at the bottom of the tombstone above. Can you make out what it says? How about "In Sacred Memory of My Father." Joseph Clinton Davis had only one wife and one daughter in his lifetime, and that one daughter was my grandma Jessie. The way the family told the story, Jessie never knew her natural father. The tombstone says otherwise. And in my research, I certainly learned that the family story was fairly skewed.

For a long time I doubted that a marriage between Joseph and Nellie had even taken place. There was no marriage certificate on file in the county (Rice County, Kansas) where they lived, so I figured there was an unexpected pregnancy -- it happened in those days too. One day in looking at a map, I happened to notice that the county seat of Rice was a far piece from where the Davises and the Stevenses lived, but the neighboring county seat (for Barton County) was just a stone's throw. I checked that county seat and sure enough, there was a marriage! So much for that theory!

Later I found the divorce papers back in the Rice County Courthouse. Between the time of the divorce (1887) and 1910 there is no record anywhere of Joseph C. Davis. Here's where the man in the photo above comes in. This old photo was in a family album my mother had kept, and I knew the man to be my great grandfather, who lived in Colorado Springs. So checking the cemeteries there, I was able to pinpoint the location of the tombstone.

Colorado Springs Penrose Library has indexed their old newspapers, and I found two ads from the Colorado City Iris placed by JCD. The first one on September 9, 1910, announced that he had bought the Spot Cash Grocery, and the second that he was opening it on October 21, 1910. An article followed that said J. C. Davis was from Meeker, Colorado. Apparently that was where he had been since he "deserted." (His death certificate said he'd been in Colorado for some 31 years.)

In March of 1916 the Colorado City Independent printed the following obituary:

Davis: J. C. Davis, formerly the proprietor of the "Spot Cash" grocery in Colorado City, died Monday morning at St. Francis Hospital after a long illness. His sister, Mrs. Fannie McClure of Humboldt, Arizona came Tuesday, and his son-in-law, Mr. Ryland from Kansas. The funeral was held Thursday morning from the Boone Mortuary. Rev. Stuntz officiating. Miss Fanning sang several selections. Interment in Fairview Cemetery.

The Mr. Ryland (actually Byrd W. Ryland) from Kansas was my Grandma Jessie's husband. The man at the tombstone was Byrd's father and Jessie's father-in-law. As nearly as I can judge, Jessie had known her natural father for most of her life, which of course was not at all what the family story led us to believe.

J. C. Davis left a will and in it stated that Jessie was his only heir. Jessie's father-in-law was executor of the will, and Jessie was left some $3,000.00.

This is probably as much of the story as I will ever know. And it just goes to confirm that one shouldn't try to drive a stake in on old treasured family stories!

RIP, Great-grandpa Joe.

Sunday, April 3, 2011



Nellie is my great-grandmother. She was born in Mendota, Illinois and died in Caldwell, Kansas. This is a short story of her life.

Her dad was Chester Dana Stevens and her mom was Ellen Madden (widow Whitters) Stevens. She was born on September 15, 1862, while her father was off in the Civil War.

In our family there are fragments left of two letters that her father sent to her while he was away. The first was written on the occasion of her birth:

Bolivar Tennessee
Sept. 3, 1862

Little Ellen, Darling
You do not know that your father is in th army and you will nnot understand when MaMa reads you your little letter but ma will save it for you until you can understand and until you can read...

The second letter to her was written at Christmas:

Memphis Dec. 1862

Little Ellen

Pa would like to see you very much. You must be a good girl until I come home.

Ma says you are very good.

From your Father, C. D. Stevens

These two letters came down in the family through my aunt Marie Wilson and were passed on to her daughter Nancy.

Nellie had an older half-brother, Edward Whitters, and two older brothers, Frank and George. After Nellie was born, Sophronia, Chester Jr., Lucy and Pamelia "Millie" were added to the family. The Stevenses relocated from Illinois to Raymond, Rice County, Kansas sometime between 1870 and 1875.

In August of 1884, Nellie married Joseph Clinton Davis, the son of her next door neighbors. It was a short, apparently unhappy marriage, for in 1885 the state census shows Nellie living with her family again and Joseph nowhere to be found. In 1887 she filed for divorce on grounds of desertion; it was granted. Her marriage took place in Barton County, the divorce in Rice County. One child was born from this marriage: Jessie Cleona Davis in May of 1885. Jessie was my grandmother.

Nellie's second husband, Jim Eungard, was a railroad employee and friend of her brother. The record for this marriage came in her obituary, of all places, and took place on November 11, 1887 in Pueblo, Colorado.

Jim's job with the railroad caused them to move around a lot, and in June of 1892 her son, Chester H Eungard was born in Union, Oklahoma. In 1900 the family lives in Wichita, and at Nellie's death in 1914 the family is in Caldwell, Kansas, a small town south of Wichita on the Oklahoma border.

She is buried in the Stevens plot at Maple Grove Cemetery in Wichita, Kansas.