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
1877-1926

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?