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)

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