Saturday, September 27, 2014

52 Ancestors: #35 Nancy Elizabeth McLaughlin, Eloped at 16

Above: A section of the National Road in 1908. 
Below: Henry and Nancy's marriage certificate.
A story has been handed down in my family that my 3rd great-grandparents, Henry Fisher and Nancy McLaughlin, eloped to be married.  On a dark March evening, Nancy went out into the front yard after supper on the pretext of emptying the dishwater.  Henry was waiting for her on horseback.  Nancy had smuggled out her dress-up clothes earlier that day so that they could make their getaway easily.  A minister had been arranged for, and the license had already been obtained.

The National Road (known today as U.S. 40) had been built by that time, so perhaps they would have used that route to travel from Marion County to Wayne County to be married. Henry and Nancy were married on the 13th of March, 1843. She was 16 years old, and he was 22.

Nancy Elizabeth McLaughlin was born in Marion County, Indiana, on May 11, 1826. Her parents were James McLaughlin and Elizabeth Huggins, both natives of Kentucky.  Nancy was the second of 13 McLaughlin children.

After Henry and Nancy eloped in 1843, the first document they appear in is the 1850 census.   The Fishers and their three young daughters lived next door to the Marion County Asylum (which was essentially a poorhouse for paupers and the feeble-minded).  Henry was the superintendent of the asylum.  In 1860, the Fishers lived in the village of Broad Ripple in Marion County.  They stayed in Broad Ripple for 20 years then moved to Jasper County, where they remained for the rest of their lives.

Henry and Nancy had ten children: seven girls and three boys.  One of their daughters, Minerva, born in 1848, lived to be 100 years old. Their fifth daughter, Rebecca, was my great-great grandmother.

Nancy Fisher died on December 20, 1895.  She is buried at Weston Cemetery in Rensselaer, Jasper County, Indiana.

I found a letter written by my grandmother that mentions a photograph of Henry and Nancy with one of their grandsons, Noble Fisher.  I've looked through all my family files and haven't been able to find the picture.  In the back of my mind, I feel like I may have seen the picture before, but maybe it was just a dream. (Yes, I do dream about genealogy sometimes!)

Friday, September 19, 2014

52 Ancestors: #34 Augusta Lange, Asylum Patient for 31 Years

My great-great-great-grandmother was born on Christmas Day, 1845, in Germany.  Her first name was Augusta, but I have not been able to find out her maiden name.

She married Charles Lange in 1872, prior to their immigration to America.  By 1880, they were living in Vincennes, Indiana.  According to census records, Augusta never learned to speak English. Charles and Augusta had four children. Wilhelm, her first son, was born shortly before the Langes left Germany.  The other three, Charles Carl (my great-great-grandfather), Alvina, and Mary, were all born in Vincennes.

Main building of Southern Indiana Hospital for the Insane in Evansville, early 1900's
On December 14, 1897, at the age of 51, Augusta was admitted to the Southern Indiana Hospital for the Insane in Evansville, Indiana.  She was patient #490.  I assume that means Augusta was the 490th person admitted since the hospital opened.

"Woodmere", as the institution was locally known, was situated on 879 acres of land and surrounded by thick woods.  The facility opened to patients on October 30, 1890.  In 1927, the asylum changed its name to Evansville State Hospital.  Among the buildings on the grounds were a carpenter shop, well house, railway station, greenhouse, chapel, assembly hall, bakery, laundry, dairy and stock barns, carriage house and two silos.

Although Augusta remained at Woodmere for 31 years, the only record I have discovered is an index card with limited information: her physical health at admission was good, her mental illness was "mania acute," and her father was a drunkard.  The majority of the records of patients admitted before 1943 were destroyed in a disastrous fire.

Postcard of "Woodmere" at the time Augusta was there.
The fire began in the early morning hours of February 9, 1943, while nearly 1200 patients were sleeping.  A hospital employee later confessed to starting the fire and was herself ultimately committed to a mental institution. The building was destroyed, and the records were totally lost; however, heroic action of the staff saved almost all of the patients.  The hospital was closed for two years while a replacement facility was built at a new location.

Augusta Lange was released from Woodmere on October 11, 1929.  I think the hospital must have sent a letter to Augusta's family saying that her health was declining and suggesting that she be brought home.  Only a week later, on October 19, she died at the home of her son, Charles, in Vincennes.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

52 Ancestors: #33 Sarah Ann Lane's Album and a Shorthand Mystery

Sarah Ann Lane

Sarah Ann Lane was my third great-grandmother.  She was born on July 30, 1836.  Unfortunately, I don't know who her parents were or if she had any siblings.  I'm not even sure where she was born or where she lived before she was married.

I have some notes that my grandmother wrote in Gregg shorthand that contain information about Sarah's life.  The problem is that I can't read shorthand!  From what I can decipher, Sarah lived with the Hamilton family, and she may have come from Cincinnati on an orphan train.  I know that the initials "J. H." mentioned in the note stand for her husband, James Harvey Bird.

I really would like to know what the rest of this note says. Can anyone help me out with this?

My Grandmother's Shorthand Note.  

On Christmas day of 1864, Sarah received a photo album with the following inscription:
 A Christmas Gift
     To Sarah Lane,
     from T.G. Hamilton
     Dec. 25, 1864
I assume that T.G. Hamilton was a member of the Hamilton family mentioned in the shorthand note; however, I have not been able to find a census with Sarah living with the T.G. Hamilton family.  [EDIT on 12/7/14: Since posting this, I found a "Sarah Maine" listed as a domestic servant in the 1860 census in the household of William Warder Hamilton, T.G. Hamilton's brother!  I am pretty sure this is Sarah Lane; she is the right age and in the right place.]

Glass negative of Sarah Lane Bird.
On March 14, 1865, Sarah Lane was married to James Harvey Bird, a widower.  He was ten years her senior and already had seven children by his first wife.  Sarah and Harvey had three girls: Nina, Grace and Mary Edna (my great great grandmother.)

In 1873, Sarah gave birth to her only son. Sadly, Sarah and the baby both passed away in June of that year.  Since death records were not kept at that time in Decatur County, Indiana, I do not know the exact cause of her death.  She was only 36 years old.

Below is a slideshow of the 26 photographs contained in Sarah's album, given to her by T. G. Hamilton.  Sarah is in one of these photos herself, and there is a picture of her husband, James Harvey Bird.  The images are tintypes and carte de vistes. None of the pictures were originally identified. Fortunately, I was able to identify some of them by referring to labeled family pictures.

Because the number of photographs exceeds the limit for a slideshow, the album is divided into two parts.  Please let me know if you are able to identify any of these people.  Enjoy!

Below are the remaining eleven photographs.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

52 Ancestors: #32, Catherine Mull and Her Sister

Mary Ann
My four times great- grandmother, Catherine Mull, and her sister, Mary Ann, "were about as close as it was possible for sisters to be."  Living as next-door neighbors, they were together daily.  Often they could be seen walking together, attired in "elegant dresses, long and full, with many petticoats, with spring bonnets bedecked with flowers tied under their chins, holding their skirts on one side."

Catherine and Mary Ann's father, Jacob Mull, was a pioneer of the town of Manilla and a whisky merchant.  Their mother was a stern-faced Scot named Margaret Richinson.  Catherine was the eldest of four, being born in 1824; Mary Ann was the youngest child, born in 1831.  They had two brothers, Cyrus and George.  

On September 18, 1842, Catherine married a Manilla doctor, James W. Trees.  Mary Ann followed suit in 1853 and was also wedded to a physician, John James Inlow.  Doctors J. W. Trees and J. J. Inlow even practiced medicine together for a short time.  James and Catherine had six children: Ethan Allen, Leander Mull, Cyrus Ebon, Lavanche, Margaret, and Marshall.

The sisters lived in very similar houses; in fact, one was a copy of the other.  In about 1858, Jacob Mull built his house in Manilla, "which though not the largest house to be ever constructed in Manilla, was nevertheless at the time the best, and architecturally speaking, the most distinctive. Soon after they were married, Mary Ann and her husband, Dr. J. J. Inlow, built their house next to Jacob's house. They were obviously similar, however, it was built in wood instead of brick. Doubtless, the young couple could not afford to spend the sum that the father could.  When Jacob Mull died in 1861, his home became the residence of his daughter Catherine, and her husband, Dr. J. W. Trees.  From that point on, the two sisters lived side by side in the most prominent location in the town."

Dr. Trees' residence, where Catherine lived.
Dr. Inlow's residence, where Mary Ann lived.
Catherine and Mary Ann "spent a lot of their time conversing with the neighbors and with people who came into town to see the doctor. [Catherine], for instance, if while sweeping out her front room she should see someone with whom she wanted to speak would throw up the window and call, stopping her work and leave it for the maid to finish."

Catherine died on November 5, 1884 in Manilla; Mary Ann died in 1902.

All quotations and pictures are from the book In Old Kenucky, a History of My Forbears by William DePrez Inlow.

Friday, September 12, 2014

52 Ancestors: #31 William Bird, War of 1812 Veteran

William Bird, 1864 photograph by A. Wilkinson
My 4th great-grandfather served in the closing months of the War of 1812.  William Bird enlisted as a private in Captain Henley Robert's Company on September 10, 1814. He continued in service with his Kentucky regiment for six months.  He was honorably discharged on the ninth of March, 1815, in Walden, Upper Canada.

William Bird was born on November 18, 1891 in Nicholas County, Kentucky.  I know nothing of his parents, except that the family was of Scotch descent.

Sometime after he returned home from the war, William met a young Virginian who had moved to Kentucky with her uncle.  Her name was Maria Dent, and the two decided to marry.

William Bird's marriage bond
In order for William and Maria to marry, a bond was made for the sum of fifty pounds (the currency of Kentucky at the time.) A marriage bond was essentially a form of guarantee that there was no lawful cause to obstruct the marriage.  A bond also affirmed that the groom would not change his mind about the union.  If there were impediments discovered, or if the groom backed away from the marriage, the bondsman would forfeit the money he had pledged. Since Maria Dent was an orphan and only child, one of the bondsmen was Maria's uncle and guardian, James Smith.  The bond was issued on November 5, 1822; the couple was married two days later.  Incidentally, the day of their marriage was also Maria's 21st birthday.

Maria Dent Bird, 1864 photograph by A. Wilkinson
William and Maria left Kentucky and  settled on a farm in Decatur County, Indiana in March of 1823.  In later years, the farm was affectionately known in the Bird family as "the old homestead."  That farm was passed on to William's eldest son and my 3rd great-grandfather, James Harvey Bird.

William and Maria had four sons (James Harvey, Benjamin Franklin, William Henry, and Samuel Edward) and four daughters (Martha Ann, Harriet, Mary, and Minerva.)  A fifth son died in infancy.  All four of William's surviving sons participated in the Civil War.

In 1855, William Bird appeared before the Circuit Court of Decatur County, applying for bounty land that was owed to him from the war.  Previously he had received a land warrant for eighty acres of land.  He had legally disposed of that land and now wanted to receive the other eighty he was entitled to.  William's request was granted.

In politics, William was a decided Whig until the organization of the Republican party, which with he then became identified.  The last presidential vote he cast was for Grant and Colfax.  He was a consistent member of the Shiloh Methodist Episcopal Church for 22 years.

William Bird died at the age of 81 on February 14, 1869.  He and Maria are buried at the secluded Shiloh Cemetery in Decatur County, Indiana.  Unfortunately his tombstone was damaged when the cemetery was vandalized in 2008.  The Shiloh Cemetery Association now keeps the cemetery locked up to prevent further damage.

"[William Bird] was a Kentuckian by birth, and in many characteristics of his early life. Many years ago he was known as 'the wildest man in the county.'  But then the march of Christian civilization came along, and Mr. Bird fell in with it.  [He was] industrious and honest, and recognized among our most worthy and useful citizens.  Coming here poor, he raised a large and respectable family, and leaves them in circumstances of comfortable affluence."  (From his obituary in the Greensburg Standard, February 18, 1869.)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

52 Ancestors: #30 William O. Sefton, "Ohio Billy"

Edward Bebb Sefton, son of William O. Sefton, and his family.  They are standing in front of the farmhouse William built.

My 4th great-grandfather, William Sefton, was born in Butler County, Ohio on February 22,1806. His parents, Henry Sefton and Elizabeth Boyes, were immigrants from County Antrim, Ireland.  At the age of 25, William married Catherine Shuck on October 20, 1831. Seven years after they were married, the couple decided to begin farming in Decatur County, Indiana.  In order to prevent confusion, William added the middle initial "O" to his name, since there was already another William Sefton living in the same township.  The initial stood for his native state of Ohio.

William, Catherine, and their five children settled in a log cabin which  had been built on land owned by his father, Henry Sefton.  My great-great-great grandfather, Edward Sefton, was the first to be born in that cabin.  Over the years, as William grew in wealth, the log cabin was expanded into large farmhouse to accommodate his growing family.  He owned about a thousand acres of land, the end result of many years of toil and effort.

William O. Sefton was a Democrat in his political views, and though he was popular with his party, he never aspired to office.  He once served as a trustee, at a time when it took three men to transact all the business for the township of Clinton, where he lived.

"He was cautious and conservative in his business operations, and seldom made mistakes in his investments. Personally he was a man of fine character, social in his disposition, of undoubted integrity, and honored in all his dealings. He had a high standard of morality, never having used any bad language, and lived up to the commandments to the best of his knowledge, although he never united with any church." (from A Geographical and Biographical Record of Decatur County, Indiana by the Lewis Publishing Company, 1900, p. 374)

William O. Sefton died of an " attack of pneumonia" on October 29, 1862, when he was 62.