Tuesday, March 22, 2016


1854 - 1924

George Washington Ryland was the third son of James & Charlotte Bond Ryland.  He had two older brothers: Francis Marion born in 1843 and James Arthur born in 1847.  The next child was a sister, Olive Clerzen, but she died in 1850 when she was just one year old.  George came next in 1854, then Charles Albert Eugene in 1857 and Alfred Adelbert in 1858.  The family moved from Ohio to Indiana shortly before 1850.  He belongs to my mother's side of the family.

My mother told a story of George Washington being kicked in the head by a mule or a horse – she couldn't remember the details – and he had brain damage to the extent that he never was able to live by himself after that.  She, of course, had been told the story by her mom, who married into the Ryland line, so grandma would have heard the story from her husband or her father-in-law.  And you know how facts get mixed up as a story is repeated again and again.

My sister and I were either told or assumed that this injury happened when he was a small child.  However, my own family history research seems to indicate that at least until his teenage years he was active in church and was faithful in attending Sunday School and Church.  An entry in the church register in the 1880s says "SICK" – and his name never appears again.  This is possibly when the injury happened.  He was not a small child.

The two older boys married and moved away from home in Indiana, Francis back to Ohio and James to Kansas.  Alfred died in 1887 when he was not yet 30, leaving Charles Albert as the only son close at hand to help the  parents as they aged.  And at a certain point in time Charles and his wife Mary Jennie also took over the care of George.  Eventually the Charles Ryland family moved to Gulfport, Mississippi, and that is where George died in 1924 at the age of 69.  There is nothing on his death certificate to indicate that he suffered from a head injury.  His cause of death is shown as "old age" and a contributing cause was "Cardiac Dilatation."

In thinking about poor George, it seems to me that he is a good representative of an Immortal Nobody.  Because of his injury, there was no part of his life that distinguished him, no mention is made of him other than on census reports.  Charles and family lived so far from any other of the family members that no notice of him ever appeared in the ephemera collected by several other Ryland genealogists in their researching.  I placed him on Findagrave.com, and a photographer named Barbara provided a good photo of his stone.  She graciously offered her photo for researchers' use, and for that I am grateful.  Absent a photo of him, it will stand as notice that George Washing Ryland will not be forgotten.  

He was my great-grandfather James Arthur Ryland's brother.

Saturday, March 12, 2016



In 1850 Henry and Nancy Matney Corel and children lived in Jackson County, Missouri, having come from Tazewell County, VA.

The family on the census looked like this:
Henry 35
Nancy  30
Sarah  11
William  10
Jemima  8
Julia  6
Margaret  4
Louisa  2
  ....................Shortly there would be a baby Rebecca.
                            and daughter Sarah would marry in 1853 and stay in Missouri.

The family moved across the Missouri River as soon as Kansas opened up for settlement, and in May of 1855 the Henry Corel family looked like this:
Jemima  13
Julia 11
Margaret 9
Louisa 5
Rebecca 3

Where were Dad, Mom and William?

In 1929, Jemima's daughter Agnes wrote a family history and here is part of her story:

Nancy Corel, Henry, her husband, Will, their teen-aged son, and Nancy's sister Jemima all died within a week of measles, the epidemic of measles at Lawrence....They survived an epidemic of small pox 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....Mama said she could hear the hammers building the coffins.  Mama was fourteen.

All 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.  

When Henry's estate was probated, the children were all named but it was noted that Sarah couldn't be found and was never heard from again.

Although Agnes didn't know this, (and I uncovered it in the process of researching this family), when the "Pioneer Cemetery", which was on the grounds of KU, was vacated, the bodies were moved to Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence and placed in the large COREL section.

As to that cemetery, the property that later became Oak Hill Cemetery was originally purchased by Henry Corel when the family moved from Missouri to Kansas, sold to Thomas Sternberger by the estate administrator, and in turn was donated by him to the city of Lawrence.

Henry Highland Corel was my great-grandmother's oldest brother.  She was Nancy Maryland Corel, who married first Frank Lahay and after being widowed, married James Sellers Dobbins.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


In the spring of 1908, the Sells-Floto traveling circus arrived in Riverside, California for its annual visit.  Included in the menagerie of animals that came with that circus were a number of elephants.  Their first job was to participate in the circus parade through downtown Riverside, carrying advertisements for local businesses.  On April 16, 1908, there were six elephants, Old Mom, Trilby, Floto, Snyder, Alice and Frieda.

Unbeknownst to the participants, several blocks from the circus grounds a Mr. Leonidas Worsley was at the Standard Oil Company storage yard filling his delivery tank with distillate when the tank exploded, starting a large fire.  Black clouds of smoke filled the air, a wind coming from the north sent sparks directly toward the canvas circus tents.  The black smoke followed.  The elephants, which had been staked out in front of the tents panicked, pulled out their stakes and started running, all except Old Mom and Trilby.  The elephant handlers set out to "capture" the other four, and eventually got all of them except for Floto, who was busy breaking his way through gardens and fences in a residential area.  He was not having a gentle look-see; citizens had started firing their guns hoping to ward off the loose elephant and it had maddened him. 

At the intersection of Fourth and Mulberry Street, Floto spied Ella Gibbs, a spinster of 49 years old who had attempted to visit friends on Mulberry but found them not at home and the house locked up.  Quoting from the Journal of the Riverside Historical Society, in an article written by Aaron Maggs and Allison Maggs, (Issue 17, February 2013, p 21) "As she turned from the door, Gibbs found Floto bearing down on her as he made his way onto the porch.  Floto pinned the frightened woman against the house with his long tusks, then seized her with his trunk, lifting her in the air before dropping her to the porch.  The great beast then butted his head against the helpless woman before bringing his large drum-like forefoot down upon her chest.  He then backed down the porch steps and continued on his way southwest toward Fifth Street."

Ella was taken to the County Hospital, where she died at 9 p.m on April 16, 1908.  Newspapers reported that her body was sent to her home town of Bunker Hill, Illinois.  She was buried in Bunker Hill Cemetery.

She was not the only person killed during this circus event.  The oil delivery man whose tank exploded lived four days before he died.  His story is told on the Immortal Nobodies blot of October 31, 2013.

Cemetery photo by "Denmother" on "Findagrave.com"