Tuesday, February 25, 2014

52 Ancestors: #4 Carrie C. Fields, Red Skelton's Aunt

Carrie with her first child, Agnes, in 1913
My great-great grandmother, Carrie Fields, was born March 30, 1891 in Vincennes, Indiana to Asa Fields and Susanna Kimmel.  She was the sixth of seven children.  Her older sister, Ida Mae, was the mother of comedian Red Skelton.

Ida Mae with a young Red Skelton, c. 1914

Carrie married Charles Carl Lange Jr., a street car conductor, on May 16, 1911.  Together they had seven children: Agnes (my great grandmother), Louise, Carl, Florence and Helen (twins), Robert, and Paul.  The couple separated in 1920.   According to a newpaper article in The Vincennes Morning Commercial, Carrie filed for divorce on account of her husband's alleged abusive behavior.  It seems that they reconciled, because four of their children were born after 1920. 

Only a year after her seventh child was born, Carrie died on August 23, 1927.  Her death certificate says she died from erysipelas, a severe skin infection.  She was 36.

She was a member of St. John's Lutheran Church in Vincennes.  "Aside from church her chief interest in life was centered in her home, husband, and children.  Whatever suffering was her lot she bore with fortitude and was ever a patient and loving wife and mother whose place in the family circle will always remain vacant." (From Carrie's obituary in the Vincennes Morning Commercial on August 24, 1927.)

Monday, February 24, 2014

52 Ancestors: #3 James Wilkinson Green, Country Doctor

James Wilkinson Green, M.D.
My grandfather recounted the following story about James Wilkinson Green, his great grandfather. 

Late one evening during the Civil War, Dr. Green was returning from his home making house calls.  He was on horseback.  As he approached the town of Arlington, Indiana from the south, he had to pass through a clearing adjacent to the banks of the Little Blue River. As he came closer, he observed a bonfire with many people gathered around.  No greeting came from the group, and the Doctor silently rode through the assembly.

Dr. Green recognized nearly every face he could see.  Not a word passed between them, and it was then that the realization came to him that he had chanced upon a meeting of Rush County's southern sympathizers, The Knights of the Golden Circle.

It was years later that Dr. Green told this story to his family.  There were never any problems created by his discovery of the group, but after that night the country doctor always carried a pistol with him until the war's end.

James Wilkinson Green was born February 5 1825 in Rush County, Indiana, to Squire Lot Green and Anna Cooper.  He was the eldest of eight children.  He and his younger brother, William Frame Green, attended Rush Medical College in Illinois.  He also studied at the Indiana Fifth Dist. Medical Institute, where he graduated in 1846.  James began his medical practice the same year in Arlington, Indiana.  On May 18, 1846, he married Mary Jane Gowdy.  Together they had 13 children; ten survived to adulthood.

The family lived on a farm in Posey Township, Arlington, Indiana.

From 1856 to 1886, he practiced medicine in Arlington, Indiana.  Dr. Green enjoyed a wide acquaintance in his community and over the 50 years in his practice he had delivered nearly all the babies in the area.  While the country doctor did not serve in the Civil War, a biography made notice of his care of the wives, widows, and children of the Union soldiers. "During the four years of the late war, the Doctor was more than a father to many families in his neighborhood; never in one instance did he make a charge for professional service against those who were from home defending our country's cause." (From a biographical sketch in the Illustrated Historical Atlas of Rush County, Indiana, 1879.) 

Six of Dr. Green's sons became doctors themselves: Lot, Preston, James, John, and William and Thomas, who were twins.  They all practiced medicine in Indiana.  Some of James Wilkinson Green's grandsons also continued the family tradition and became doctors.

Dr. J. W. Green in front of his Shelbyville, Indiana office.

After the death of his brother William in 1886, James relocated to Shelbyville and took over his brother's practice.

He died on July 27, 1896 in Shelbyville.  His death certificate, which was completed by his son William, states that he died of "physical exhaustion." He is buried at East Hill Cemetery in Rushville, Indiana.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

52 Ancestors: #2 Orin McClure Anderson, Capt. Co. E

Orrin McAnderson
Photo from "The History of the 85th Indiana Volunteer Infantry"
Orin McClure Anderson, my 3 times great grandfather, was born in 1829 in Clark County, Illinois.  On February 28, 1849, he was married to Mary Ann Bushnell in Vigo County, Indiana.  They settled in Prairieton, Indiana.  By 1860, the couple had three children:  Sarah, Charles, and Mary.  

On August 19, 1862, Orin enlisted in the 85th Indiana Volunteer Infantry and was later commissioned as the 1st Lieutenant of Company E.   

The chaplain of the regiment, J.E. Brant, wrote a history of the 85th Indiana.  Below are his thoughts on the formation of the regiment: 

"Those who went out in 1861 were under the impression that the war would soon end, but we who answered to the call of '62, faced an era of dread that the struggle would be long and fearful.  So the separation from loved ones in Camp was one fraught with dire forebodings."  [History of the 85th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, Rev. J. E. Brant, page 8.]

The infamous Libby Prison in Richmond, April 1865.  

After receiving outdated Belgian muskets in Indianapolis, the company traveled to Cincinnati and entered Kentucky, where they camped and drilled for nearly five months.  They then traveled by steamboat from Louisville to Nashville.  Their first battle was at Thompson Station, Tennessee.  They were forced to surrender when they were flanked and surrounded by Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry division.  The entire brigade was captured.  They were put into boxcars and "shipped like so many cattle to Richmond." They arrived at Libby Prison on the snowy morning of March 16, 1863. The company was released on March 31 as part of a prisoner exchange.  They had a fortunate escape; Libby Prison is generally regarded as second in notoriety to Andersonville Prison in Georgia. 

Orin was promoted to Captain on September 1, 1864.  He is often referred to in military records and books as "Captain McAnderson," a shortened form of his middle and last names.  The 85th Indiana took part in the Battle of Resaca, the Siege of Atlanta, and Sherman's March to the Sea.  Captain Anderson was mustered out with his regiment on June 12, 1865 at Washington, DC.

After the war, Orin returned home to Indiana and resumed life with his family.  Two more children were born -- Lawrence and Jennie.  Sadly, his daughter Mary died in 1870 at the age of 12.  Orin died the following year on October 23.  The war had likely cut his life short; he was only 42.  He is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Terre Haute, Indiana.  My mother and I visited his grave in July 2012.  


Friday, February 14, 2014

52 Ancestors: #1 Mary Ida Sefton and Her 29 Roses

Mary Ida Sefton Green and her roses.

My great-grandmother, Mary Ida Sefton, loved gardening.  She was especially fond of roses.  She carried a huge bouquet of pink Sweetheart roses at her wedding.  At one time, she had 29 different varieties of roses growing in her garden in Decatur County, Indiana.  She even started her own gardening club -- the Give-and-Take Garden Club. 

My grandfather remembers that she always kept a large planter of moss rose in the summer.  This inspired me to plant some last summer and they have become one of my favorite flowers.

Mary Ida and her twin Ruth Edna

Mary Ida and her identical twin sister, Ruth Edna, were born on October 12, 1893 in Decatur County, Indiana.  The twins shared their mother's names: Mary and Edna.  Sadly, their mother, Mary Edna Bird, died only hours after they were born at the age of 22.  Someone was sent in a horse and buggy to a neighboring town in search of a wet nurse; otherwise, the twins wouldn't have survived.  A year later, their father, Romie Sefton, married Mary Edna's sister Nina Bird, and together they raised the little girls.  Ruth and Mary often dressed in matching clothes.

It seems like Mary had a fun childhood.  She grew up on a farm in Greensburg, Indiana.  I have many pictures of her with her sister and their friends.  She had lots of aunts and uncles and cousins.  While in high school, she won a Brownie camera and left behind an album full of snapshots of Decatur County.  In 1904, she went with her family to the World's Fair in St. Louis.  I have souvenir bookmarks that Mary and Ruth bought there.

Mary (on the left) and Ruth wearing matching coats and hats.
Mary's bookmark

Mary Ida Sefton, c. 1912
Mary Ida married James Cyrus Green on June 12, 1916.  They lost their first child, James Sefton Green in 1920.  Their only surviving child, John Richard Green, is my grandfather.  Several times, my grandfather confused his aunt Ruth with his mother.   Even now, he has trouble telling them apart in pictures.

Traveling was something Mary clearly enjoyed.  In the 1930's, she and her husband took a trip by automobile to Mexico, something very uncommon at that time.  The family went on a trip to North Carolina in 1938.

Mary was involved in the Decatur County Republican Committee.  In 1940 she met Mrs. Wendell Wilkie on a campaign in Rushville, Indiana. 

Mary died in 1941, with her twin by her bedside.  My grandpa was only a teenager and was working at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island at the time.  Her death was greatly mourned by her family and her community.

The brick house she and her family lived in still stands today.  I visited the house a few years ago with my grandpa, and he showed me where the rose garden used to be.