52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Large Family

Fox River District, White County, Illinois

Does the family on the move really put down roots? Does the family know the meaning of being settled? Does the family understand the security of being home? The Daniel Boultinghouse (1775-1823) family would be witnesses to this story as they migrated from Pennsylvania to Ohio to Illinois.

What spurred Daniel to keep moving westward? For what was he searching? Daniel would marry three times with wives Susannah Graves and Rhoda Howell. The name of one wife is unknown. With Susannah, they parented five children. Rhoda gave him two children while the unknown Mrs. Boutlinghouse gave birth to six. Rhoda was the last wife so she took many children under her maternal wings.

Members of large families on the Illinois plains each had jobs and responsibilities: cooking, laundry, planting, harvesting, whatever was needed to be clothed, fed, and sheltered. How did the family turn whatever they had into a homestead…would this be the final place for them along the Little Fox River? How did they call it home?

As some of the children reached adulthood, they married and lived nearby. A couple of Daniel’s sons joined him in the militia to ward off Indian attacks. Family stories tell of one son being massacred and scalped. Daniel was the captain of a militia that fought in the War of 1812.

Daniel died at the young age of 48, leaving Rhoda and the remaining children. Daniel had kept an account of the debts he owed. After his death, Rhoda went to the courthouse to present this account and to pay off the debts. Among the debts were ones he owed two of his sons. He left no will. How did she survive her days on the plains? No records exist. I wonder if one of her children took her in so she would not be by herself.

Rhoda and Daniel are my third great grandparents, and their son Amos Howell Boultinghouse is my second great grandfather. After Daniel’s death, several of his other sons left Illinois to move into Arkansas and Texas. They, too, would parent large families. Did these people finally settle in their lifelong homes? How did these large families take care and love one another?

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Bachelor Uncle

Alfred Alexander Stevens

What would a bachelor like Alfred Alexander Stevens hold close his heart? Family and farming would be engraved on his soul and held dear by him. Born in 1877 in Kill Creek Township, Osborne County, Kansas, he was the fifth child (out of nine) of Will and Isabella Stevens. In birth order, he was sandwiched in as a middle child with loving, protective siblings as his elders. His four younger kin would love him as a big brother.

Most of his life was lived on his parents’ farm so he knew the value of hard work. He knew the values of loyalty and steadfastness. As an adult, he was surrounded by many of his siblings and their families: he was a devoted son, brother, uncle, and brother-in-law. Farming was a sunup to sundown vocation, and he knew the love of the land. When his parents became elderly, he continued to labor on the farm along with his brother Fred.

When his beloved mother Isabella passed away in 1924, a piece of his heart went with her. Almost two years later, his cherished father passed away. His parents had been ill for a time before their deaths, and it had taken a toll on Alfred. Stressed with worry about poor crop prospects and an unwise investment, Alfred became ill himself. He passed away in September, 1926, at the age of 49. His brothers and sisters came together to mourn the loss of their loved one who would rest under the Father’s peace.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: At The Courthouse

Mrs. Palmer had committed a crime. Mrs. Palmer had committed a murder. Mrs. Palmer had committed a filicide, the murder of her own child. That fact was written on her child’s death certificate,”poisoned by tincture of iodine given by insane mother”. No autopsy was performed. The year was 1923. So what would be the consequences for this Mrs. Palmer?

In the early 1920s, tincture of iodine was given as a medicine to cure every ailment. It had been used as such for well over a century. Medical scientists could not totally explain why it was so successful as a cure. Pharmacists would formulate it for each prescription and include directions for dosing. So what would be the consequences for misusing the medicine?

Was Mrs. Palmer questioned by the police? Did she see the inside of a courtroom to explain…to answer questions at an inquest? Was she ever brought to trial? Was she ever called to the courthouse to tell her side of this tragedy? So what were the consequences for her insane actions?

Perhaps, she was tried and convicted of a homicide by a jury of her peers, the people of her town. Perhaps, her fellow town dwellers mentally sentenced her to a lifetime of shunning. What kind of person would kill her own child could have been an everlasting question and opinion in their minds. Guilty as charged!

By 1930 as the U.S. Federal Census states, she was divorced and living with her parents. Her second child lived with them, and this child had been a mere three months old when her sibling passed. Was the divorce part of her unspoken sentence?

To date, I have not able to find criminal and possible trial records for this case. Also of interest to me is that the physician who signed the death certificate deemed Mrs. Palmer insane. Was treatment, albeit 1920s style, given for that?

After this event, Mrs. Palmer would live another 50+ years. What truly was her life sentence…delivered from a courthouse or delivered from her soul?

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Family Pictures

One of her dearest possessions was a camera. She could capture and remember poignant moments in time, plus to her the lens was magical. Miss Mamie treasured her grandchildren of whom she took many snapshots. Miss Mamie delighted in her husband Lafe’s fishing and hunting exploits so those prizes were photographed, too. Once in a while, she would turn the camera over to a family member so he/she could snap a shot of her.

Mamie had four children: Pearl, Helen, Edward (nicknamed Jack), and Isabella.When her family was young, they visited the local photography studio to have portraits taken. Then, she got a camera…informal pictures were now hers at the snap of a button. There was Jack on his bronco…Pearl and Helen sitting in a Model T…Isabella monkeying up to the roof of the house.

Two of my family treasures are pictures she took of her granddaughter Merna Mae. One is the young MaeMae (as Merna was nicknamed) with her horse Beauty. MaeMae rode her horse to the one room schoolhouse that she attended. In the picture, she looks shyly at the ground and not facing the camera.

The other is a snapshot of MaeMae with her mother Isabella and sister Mary Lee. There they stand proudly by their car and with a pony.

Miss Mamie would be most proud to know that her little slices of everyday life are appreciated and valued by me. She was my great grandmother, and we never met. Her daughter Isabella was my grandmother while MaeMae was my mother. Miss Mamie’s name was Naomi Ruth (Stevens) Boultinghouse. And she is loved along with her family photo treasures.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Love

Well, I should have known that this was no passing fancy…this was real. I had fallen completely and desperately in love…this was real and true. With that very first flirtation, I was hooked. This was real and true and forever. Cross my heart!

It started out with just one look. I yearned for one little answer…one little hint that this was it. Was I on engaging in a short affair or a lifetime commitment? I tended to go for the latter. Time would yield the answer.

And so it was…in this same month 13 years ago, I pledged my love to a beloved. This is a confession of my love for (drumroll here, please) GENEALOGY! Building my family tree, getting DNA results, meeting cousins have been cherished and treasured. I am totally in love and fulfilled.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Surprise

Looking through his military records, my eyes stuttered on one word. How could this be, dear grandfather? What is your story?

Surprised but not daunted by the information, I chose to research why Patriots became deserters…why did my grandfather leave General Washington and his troops as they sought and fought to guard Pennsylvania and New Jersey from the British in the winter of 1777?

Obsessed With History writer, Garit Boothe, offers some answers about why men deserted during the Revolution: lack of proper shoes and uniforms to survive the winter; irregular pay for months on end; PTSD (yes, walking toward the enemy with cannon fire at one’s back can do that); huge chance of losing as the Patriots and Washington had less supplies and soldiers; and/or personal problems at home. Boothe’s comments can be read at https://www.quora.com/Why-did-soldiers-during-american-revolution-desert.

Another commenter, Roosevelt Wallace, states that desertion is not about cowardice. It can be about lack of proper training, lack of food and supplies, weather conditions, disease, lack of leadership. (Wallace’s comments appear at the end of Boothe’s article.)

What I do know about Joseph is this: he was 37 years old when he enlisted. He was a farmer. He was a common family man with no military training. The leader of his company was Peter Dickerson, who was the local tavern keeper. Which of the above reasons spurred him to desert? How did his brain, his heart, and his conscience work that all out?

I also know this about Joseph: in 1790, he helped form a local militia to protect the citizens of western Pennsylvania. He and his family moved on to the Ohio and Illinois Territories, where he was again part of the local militia. So…

My original intent was to research my 4th great grandfather’s military records so I could apply to the DAR and win recognition for him since no one in the family had ever chosen to honor him. Well, surprise, surprise, surprise…my dear grandfather, now I know why your descendants had not. I also know that you hold a special place in my heart for trying.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: At The Library

There they stood facing me…all seven in a row. If they could reach out and speak, they might say, “We have a story to tell. Listen as all of our tales are different. We were witnesses to courage. We were pitted against a might-filled force in the world. We pledged our lives and sacred honor all even though we could have lost dearly. We sought to gain much as we contributed the little we had. In the end, we won it all for generations to come. Find us now…understand who we were.” My magnificent seven are Joseph Story, Joseph Boultinghouse, Benjamin Dows, Ebenezer Newman, Thomas Newman, Conrad Rhodes, and John Nichols. I set out on a quest to find them.

I discovered those who knew of them and their claims on them. Six of them had been proclaimed as the very rebels that they were against the king , and descendants had stepped forward to gain remembrance and honor for them. One of them, Joseph Boultinghouse, had not yet been recognized by the sisterhood.

Part of my journey took me to the DAR Library in Washington, D.C. Beautifully appointed and elegant in design, this facility is free to the public for research. Employees are most helpful and friendly. In a special technology room, one can find the proclaimed ones…the ones recognized by the sisterhood. I can find which of my aunts and cousins have gained further honor for the six. To plan ahead, perhaps, I can tag on to their memberships with their research and documents, which could make my journey easy. Perhaps…

DAR Library

Taking the road less travelled, I am going to claim honor for Joseph Boultinghouse. It amazes me that no Boultinghouse has stepped forward to gain recogniton for Joseph, who was a member of the Third New Jersey Regiment…no one in the DAR and the SAR has done so. This will be the beginning with locating documented connections and bridges to him and back to me. This journey will be long as I connect seven generations. The DAR Library will be visited many times as I seek help.

Perhaps, once Joseph is honored by me, the other six can follow along. Perhaps…

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: I Would Like To Meet…

We first met when she was 25 years old so I knew nothing of her early years as a Kansas farm girl. Little by little, she unwrapped the layers and the complexities. She told her stories and shared her family with me. It took several decades to unravel some of the nuances of her being. Some tales she told willingly, others needed questions to commence the revealing. Some tales reduced us to smiles and laughter, others reduced us to sighs and tears.

But what were her first 25 years like? I would like to meet her when she was a toddler, when she was a girl, when she was an adolescent, when she was a young woman. I long to be there and witness some of her growing up experiences and hear the exact words of conversations, share secrets, meet her friends. She did share that as a grade school student she rode her horse Beauty to her one-room school house. Each morning, she would meet a fox along the way which peeked at her through tall grass. She grew up loving horses and dogs. She did not grow up loving farm work. She grew up loving Midwest starry skies. She did not grow up wanting to be a farmer’s wife. She grew up loving the dream of working in a city. She did not grow up wanting to stay in one place. This is just a sampling of what she did share about those first 25 years. Wish she were here to answer my questions and delve a little deeper.

Yes, I would love the meet the young Merna Mae Storer. At the age of 25, she would become my mother…I would visit her world through her eyes and memories.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Unusual Names

The Lone Star State

Well, holy bronco busters…if this isn’t the tale of three Texas buckaroos! No, siree, they did not bear the usual cowboy names like Black Bart, Buckskin Joe, and/or Curly Bill. Yes, ma’m, their dagburn names came right off the pages of a history book. Their mammy and pappy, Daniel and Mary Franny, must have been real lovers of history. Why, the boys’ granddaddy, Daniel Boultinghouse, was a War of 1812 veteran while their great granddaddy, Joseph Boultinghouse, was a veteran of the American Revolution. So, why not name three of their younguns after heroes and the rest of their 14 kids with regular names…like Martha Jane, Calvin Gage, and Lizzie Ann.

The first of the boys was Christopher Columbus Boultinghouse, born in 1857…now isn’t that a handful of a name? Like his pappy, he was a farmer. He married his 20 year old sweetheart Nancy Lou Lewis when he was 30. Together they raised a passel of younguns ( a dozen to be exact) to learn the love of the land, especially the Lone Star State. He lived to the ripe old age of 85. His obituary states that his death brought sadness to San Saba County. One could tell how well loved he was by the number of floral tributes at his funeral.

Christopher Columbus Boultinghouse

The second boy was Napoleon¬†Bonaparte¬†Boultinghouse, born in 1859…now isn’t that a moniker for a Texas lad? He married his gal Sarah Jane Ray when they were both 21 years old…had a double wedding with her sister and her groom. Sixty years later, they would celebrate that anniversary with them along with 11 out of 12 living children, their children, and their children. N.B. lived out most of his 84 years on his farm in Karnes County.

Last of the trio was Stephen Austin Boultinghouse, born in 1865. Now isn’t that a great handle for a Texan? According to census records, he held many jobs…farmer, carpenter, cafe owner. He was 16 years older than his bride Johanna Brocksch. They remained childless. They made their home in San Patricio County.

Stephen Austin Boultinghouse

So these Texas gentlemen lived out their lives nobly, honorably, and faithfully to the glory of the Boultinghouse family. One last piece of information for y’all, readers. If the Boultinghouses are in your tree, the ancestor that is granddaddy to them all is Joseph Boultinghouse…he is the start of the whole dangburn dynasty here in the United States. And that is history!

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Challenge

Standing in the shadows of her husband, Mary Etta Soule was married to a man with wanderlust. Born in 1817 in Weld, Franklin, Maine, her husband settled in half a dozen places before he homesteaded in Osborne County, Kansas. It is easy to trace how he settled in new territories across the Midwest…how he made a name for himself by volunteering and being elected to local government positions. He left behind records of land purchases everywhere he settled for whatever brief period of time he lived in those territories. She was married to Andrew Storer. But what of her and her chapters in this story? Indeed, it is a challenge to piece together the life of a pioneer woman who stood behind her man.

Mary Etta was born in Albany County, New York, in 1833. She was 14 years old when her papa George died. For whatever reasons, Mary Etta, her mother, and several of her brothers decided to travel down the Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo and took a steamer through Lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan to Milwaukee. They traveled by seed wagon to Watertown, Wisconsin. Her brothers found jobs in a brickyard. Teenage Mary Etta found work as a yard girl for a widower named Andrew Storer, who was also the manager of the said brickyard. Did she work at the brickyard or did she work at his home? At the age of 19, she and Andrew married…he was 35. (He had already buried a wife and a child.) They did not be stay put long in their little prairie town.

The couple left Mary Etta’s mother and brothers behind as they moved on to Minnesota, Iowa, and Kansas. It is a challenge to find the reasons for their leaving family behind…but then again, husband Andrew had left Maine on his own to make his way across the Midwest. Little is recorded about Mary, but Andrew is mentioned in Homestead Act deeds and documents. They became the parents of nine children. Their final home in Kansas was a large farm where sheep were raised. According to the 1880 Non-Population Schedule, Andrew raised over 1,500 sheep and lambs. Livestock was plenty while acres were planted in crops.

But what of Mary? How did she weather the grasshopper plague of 1874 when the insects devoured crops, food, clothing…she must have had to start all over…how? How did she handle the isolation from neighbors that women of the plains suffered? What was her daily schedule in the care and feeding of her family? No pictures, letters (if she was literate), nothing remains of her…what a challenge to even try to know her!

Mary Etta Soule was my second great grandmother. She died at the age of 53. All that has been written of her is this: “There was a large attendance at the funeral of Mrs. A. Storer. Rev. Osborne conducted the service.” Mary died eight years before her husband…she lies buried in the shadow of her husband’s tomb.

Update: After I posted this, I added my post to the Generations Cafe FB discussions. Lo and behold, a reader posted Mary Etta’s obituary, which appears below. Thank you, Lori Thomas Halfhide.