Monday, September 12, 2011


~ A Dobbins Family ~

Continuing with the story of the five little orphan girls, their dad was part of a very large family, and when these girls lost their parents, there were lots of aunts and uncles who stepped in to the breech and took over raising them.

By looking at census records, both the Federal Censuses which were taken every 10 years and the Kansas State censuses, which were taken in the 5th year between the federal censuses, I was able to find all the orphans.

Jemima went to live with her Uncle William and Aunt Margaret McGee Corel

Julia went to live with her Uncle James and Susanna McGee Corel

Margaret went to live with her Uncle Frank and Aunt Nancy Corel LaHay

Louisa went to live with her Uncle William and Aunt Cosby Jane Justice

Rebecca first went to live with her Uncle Jake and Aunt Olivia Corel McGee. And then when her sister Jemima married, Rebecca went to live with her. We know this latter bit of information from Agnes Hall’s manuscript…”Rebecca was married from Mama’s (Jemima’s) house.”

And as you would expect, as the orphan girls got older they married. Jemima married John Salathiel in 1861 and they ultimately settled in Montgomery County, Kansas. Julia married Willis Myers in 1864 and they settled in Labette County, Kansas. Louisa married Thomas McGee in 1867 – and eventually they settled in Hidalgo County, Texas. Rebecca married Giles Gilbert Parman sometime around 1870 (that’s a guess) and by 1880 they were in Wilson County, Kansas.

What happened to the orphan Margaret? We can only guess. She lived with my great-grandmother Nancy Corel LaHay at least until she was 19, for at that time she was enumerated with her on the 1865 census. If you’ve read my earlier post about Francois “Frank” LaHay (Nancy’s husband) you’ll remember that both he and their two children died between 1862 and 1864. In 1867 Nancy moved to town (Lawrence) and married a second time. No mention was made of Margaret. In Agnes Salathiel Hall’s manuscript, there is no mentioned of Jemima having a sister named Margaret. And since there is no marriage record in Douglas County, Kansas, of a marriage of Margaret Corel, one assumes that Margaret died.

So now there were four orphans.

But even all that is not enough of a story for a good genealogist! What I wanted to do was learn more about their lives and, if possible, find living descendants of each of them.

Here’s where I started: Agnes Salathiel Hall’s manuscript again. Finding a family history like this, even though it may not be 100% accurate, provides a great starting place to begin research and is one of the reasons why a genealogist wants to find living descendants...maybe THAT family ended up being the keeper of the family history. So as noted in the earlier portion of the orphan’s story, I had been able to locate one of Jemima's descendants who shared this manuscript with me. Because in those days the role of the wife was pretty much that of a housewife, about the best we can do is to know a little of what the husbands were doing and then think of how it affected his wife.

So what did Jemima’s husband do? During the early years he was married to Jemima, John Salathiel was active in the anti-slavery movement, was a personal friend of James H. Lane and was enumerated among John Brown’s followers. Later he served with the Kansas Militia. After the civil war the family moved to the town of Independence in Montgomery County, where they raised their children and where John Salathiel had a grocery business. Ultimately, Joe Cullen’s line, which descends from daughter Margaret Salathiel Newcomb’s line, came to California.

Julia’s marriage certificate states that she was married “at the house of Jacob McGee.” This would have been her Aunt Oliva Corel and Uncle Jake’s house. Her husband, Willis Myers, was also among the earliest residents of Douglas County. Both the Myers and the Corel names appear on the territorial census records of Douglas County pre 1860. After their marriage Willis and Julia settled in Chetopa, Labette County, where Willis also became a grocer. They had four children: Edgar Myers, Ida Myers Columbia, Alma Viroqua “Roqua” Myers Milner, and Helen Gertrude Myers Crotty. According to Julia’s obituary of 1930, the families of both Ed and Helen Gertrude lived in Nevada, MO; Roqua in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and it wasn’t clear where Ida Columbia lived. I have never found any present day descendants from Julia.

The orphan Louisa was noted in Agnes Halls ms this way: “Lida lived in Texas and died in a storm. Her married name was McGee. Her son, Robert lee McGee visited us.” Between 1984 when I started my genealogy until this last year, I hunted and hunted for Louisa, keeping in mind that the name might appear as “Lida.” It wasn’t until May of 1910 that a Corel cousin, also a genealogical researcher, was contacted by a descendant of Louisa who was able to provide all the information we had hoped for. While Louisa is listed as “Eliza” on many of the documents the family had, that same family is enumerated on the census records with a mother called “Louisa” so one assumes that she went by both names. The family settled in Hidalgo, Texas – and the descendent who contacted us lived in Florida. He provided a death certificate of “Eliza” who died of “acute pulmonary congestion” – I suspect not as a result of a storm, as the Hall manuscript stated, but then one never knows! Needless to say, I was delighted that the little orphan had finally, after a 26 year hunt, had been found.

Finally, the story of the orphan Rebecca was also sketched out in Hall’s manuscript. In 1882 Giles and Rebecca Parman and their family (Ethelyn, Sarah, George, Lloyd and Julia) set out with three other families on the Oregon Trail. These four families filed on their homesteads in 1884, and in 1885 the town of Condon was laid out. But in 1886, Rebecca (called “Betty”) died in giving birth to twins. One twin died at birth, the other at three months. Interestingly, for whatever reason, Betty’s tombstone identified her maiden name as Carl, not Corel, so when I finally located a descendant, I had to tell her that although Betty’s family may have remembered her name as Carl, her heritage will be found under Corel. There are still Parman descendants living in that area.

So now the story of the five orphan girls ends. It has always concerned me that the heritage of orphans is usually very difficult to trace, so my goal in all this research on these firls, five nieces of my great-grandma Nannie Corel LaHay Dobbins, was to make sure the story was told somewhere.

To wrap up a few loose ends, in the year 2000 I received some information from a woman in Lawrence who had for many years been keeping her eyes open for Corels and Dobbinses. This information was that the Watkins Museum in the city of Lawrence had just turned over some old burial reinterment cards to the Museum. These cards indicated the following people were among those from the old Pioneer Cemetery on Mt. Oread who had been reinterred in the big Oak Hill Cemetery, also in Lawrence. The following people had been placed in the Corel plot in Section 1, Plot 32. I have made notes as to who these people were (or who I suspected they were.)

Rebecca and John Corel – d 09 Nov 1860 (Matriarch of the family; John not known)
Margaret – died about 1865 (probably Henry’s orphan)
Henry and Nancy Corel - d about 1855 (the orphan’s parents)
William Corel – died about 1855 (the orphan’s brother)
Margaret Corel - died about 1860 (probably Margaret Corel Puckett, adult daughter of Rebecca Corel.)

I think all the Corel orphans except for the oldest, Sarah Corel Oney, are all accounted for.

Friday, September 9, 2011



If you look at the 1850 Federal Census in Missouri and the 1855 Territorial Census in Kansas you will see that Henry and Nancy Corel had the following children: Sarah, William, Jemima, Julia, Margaret, Louisa and Rebecca. Sarah does not appear on the 1855 census and Rebecca doesn’t appear on the 1850 census but a little more nosing around produces a marriage record in Missouri for Sarah Corel and James Oney, and in 1855 the census shows Rebecca as the last child, obviously born after 1850.

And then, here’s the next thing one sees in Douglas County, Kansas records:

In case you can’t read it clearly, it says “On this 2nd day of October, AD 1855 before me personally appeared James P Corel, and makes oath and says that according to his knowledge and belief, that the following are the names and place of residence of the heirs of Henry Corel, deceased: Jemima Corel, Julia Corel, Margaret Corel, Louisa Corel, Rebecca Corel, residence Douglas County, Kansas Territory. Sarah Jane Oney, daughter of said deceased, residence not known, and that deceased died without a will ….

OH, NO. Is mother Nancy not considered an heir? And where is the only son, William?

When I was doing my early research back in the 1980s, I had only recently learned that my paternal great-grandmother’s maiden name was Corel. I knew nothing of the family beyond what I was able to find on the censuses. Nothing was on the internet then because there was no internet. For research, you either wrote letters or hired a researcher in the area you were interested in. In place of the internet, there was one major genealogy magazine – The Genealogical Helper – and it was from putting ads in this magazine that I finally found someone else who knew something about this family.

Joe Cullen, who lived in Northern California, answered one of my queries and sent me a copy of a Family History written by his Grandmother’s sister, Agnes Salathiel Hall, back in 1929. Agnes is descended from Henry through his oldest daughter Jemima. Here’s what I learned.

Nancy Corel, Henry her husband, Will their teenaged son, and Nancy’s sister Jemima all died within a week of measles. The epidemic of measles at Lawrence was in the Kansas History I studied in school. Many died, as they did not know what it was. They survived an epidemic of smallpox and died of measles. All four of them lay dead in the house – one room – at the same time. The neighbors came in and built coffins of native walnut lumber so abundant in Kansas in an early day…. Speaking of her parents, Mama said she could still hear the hammers building the coffins. Mama was fourteen.

All of those who died in the measles epidemic were buried on Mt. Oread. Later this was vacated as a cemetery but the graves being unmarked it is likely their ashes are still there. So many years passed before it was vacated.

Genealogists learn that not everything that is remembered is accurate. Sometimes there is speculation that turns out to be not the case. Nevertheless, Henry, Nancy and William disappear from the censuses, the county has record of probating Henry’s estate, and we soon learn what happens to the children, so we have to credit Agnes’s account as fairly accurate.

With five little girls orphaned all at once, it was up to the aunts and uncles to take in the girls and raise them. Tomorrow I’ll write about what happened to the girls.

But for today I’ll finish up with an overview of the family Henry was born into.

William and Rebecca Oney Corel married in Tazewell County, Virginia in 1806 and had fourteen children: Jemima, Henry, Martha, Mary, Sarah, Margaret, Rebecca Ann, Louisa, Cosby Jane, William, James , Nancy, Emily, and Olivia. Three of the children, Martha, Sarah and Emily died in childhood. Sometime in the late 1840s the family decided to move west.

The youngest five children (William, James, Nancy, Emily and Olivia) were still living at home with the parents. The remaining children were married. All the married families except for Rebecca Ann’s came west. Again, Agnes Salathiel Hall gives us an idea of how they did it.
“Henry Corel, my mother’s father, and brothers and families [as well as William and Rebecca Corel, their parents], their stock, etc. came to Kansas. They came from Virginia by flatboat down the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The boat foundered and they unloaded at Wyandotte and drove by schooner to Westport, Missouri, using ox teams. Mama was seven years old. Kansas City was not started then.

They began a homestead on Little Blue, now Kansas city’s famous Cliff Drive. But finding themselves in slave territory they moved on to Lawrence, the main seat of anti-slave activity…. Mama said she had seen a steamboat on the river at Lawrence in a time of high water. This is a disputed subject but Mama stood pat.”

Again, not everything in this description is accurate, but it is simply a recollection of someone of old family stories.

(The story of the 5 orphans to be continued)

Sunday, September 4, 2011



Paulina Jane was the oldest daughter and second child of James Alexander Dobbins and his wife, Elizabeth Perkins Dobbins. She was born in Clermont County, Ohio on November 8, 1829. Following her birth were those of Elizabeth Caroline Dobbins in 1831 and James Dobbins Jr. in 1836.

Paulina's father was the oldest son of Rev. Robert B. Dobbins, a Presbyterian minister who rode circuit in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Because Rev. Dobbins was gone so much, Jim became the primary manager along with his mother of the Dobbins farm property. While ministering in Illinois, Robert B. bought some property near Ipava, and in 1835 the entire family moved there. It was here that Paulina grew up and where, in 1850, she married Levi S. Sperry.

In Illinois Levi and Paulina were to have two daughters. The first, Emma, was born in January of 1852, but she died eight months later and was buried in the Dobbins Cemetery. Daughter Unicia (sometimes spelled Eunice) was born on July 7, 1854.

In spring of 1856 Jim and Elizabeth Dobbins, Paulina & Levi Sperry, and Elizabeth Caroline Dobbins Kinsey, a divorced daughter of Jim and Elizabeth, joined with a Dr. Rankin and headed west, initially intending to go to Texas but stopping when they reached Douglas County, Kansas. Levi took up some land just east of the new town of Lawrence, while his in-laws and Elizabeth Caroline chose to go on to Prairie City, a tiny town southwest of Lawrence but still in Douglas County.

There are not many records left from the early Lawrence area, but in driving through Oak Hill Cemetery I found a simple record of what happened to the Sperrys.

The largest tombstone shows that Paulina Jane Sperry, Levi's wife, died on June 6, 1857 . There is a smaller tombstone that also says "Paulina Jane Sperry", but the dates show she was born on May 29, 1857 and died on June 27, 1857. Levi lost both his wife and his new baby within the first year of being in Kansas.

The death of his wife left Levi with little three-year-old Unitia. Luckily there is an extant Lawrence newpaper that announces the marriage on August 13, 1857 to Nancy Jane Anderson, the daughter of a neighbor. But it is sad to see a third tombstone in the same row in the cemetery that is Unitia's, giving the date of her death as March 26, 1865. She was 11 years old.

That was the end of Levi's relationship with the Dobbins family. Except that a few years later, in 1867, after Paulina's brother Jim Dobbins returned from the Civil War, Jim boarded at Levi and Nancy's farm, and it was there that he met the widow Nancy Corel LaHay, who upon marriage to him would become my great-grandmother.