Search my blog

Loading Mocavo Search Widget...

14 April 2014

#15-52 Ancestors. Ancestor with No Name


Ancestor with No Name

Back in the early 1970s, there was a popular song about a “Horse with no name” I thought about that recently as I was searching for one of my “lost ladies” — the term I use for unidentified wives on my pedigree chart.

In most instances I have at least their given name or nickname, but for a couple of them I have nothing. Don’t know when or where they were born or when or where they married or when and where they died — just guesses. Both of them are 3-great-grandmothers. One of them thoughtlessly (in my opinion) married a Johnson ca 1795 probably in Virginia (a William Johnson) and I shudder every time I think of tackling that challenge. It is like some dreaded homework assignment, so I keep procrastinating.

The other lady intrigues me as well as frustrates. She was born by estimate ca 1800 and died or disappears before 1850. She married my James Kimbro and they had four, five or six children. Who knows?

You’d think that someone would have mentioned her name in some record. Four of her children inherited from their maternal grandfather who died about 1860 because James, their father (the husband of the lady with no name predeceased him) but the reconstructed 1865 will did not mention her name.

I realize I am lucky to have what I do of that since a fire during the Civil War and later a tornado have wreaked havoc on the courthouse.
The only things in common my two ladies with no names have is that they both spent some time in Tennessee — and in times and places critical time for my genealogical research, of course.

With a burst of springtime energy, I decided to re-examine all my research notes and see if there were any extant records I might have overlooked for  my nameless lady who probably died in Bedford County, Tennessee or “somewhere” in Texas. Four of her children were mentioned in their paternal grandfather’s will and I have traced two of them — both sons. The daughter probably married before 1850 and without the name of her husband, looking for a Rachel somewhere in Texas or Tennessee would be a daunting task. The courthouse disasters destroyed most of the marriage records that would be of help to me in tracing this family. But, what about the other brother? He was the right age to have served in the Civil War. However, this was a divided family in its sympathies — so I know I will have to check both Union and Confederate records.

I have a new lead — thanks to military records, but it is a faint trail. However, hope springs eternally. I hope that some of these children or grandchildren left information about my lady with no name. This has been a long lonely search.

07 April 2014

#14-52 ancestors: Frosty

Frosty the Easter Bunny

John O. Vanderpool (1909-1984)

The stores are crammed with Easter baskets, fillings, candy, egg-decorating kits and big fluffy bunnies. Green, yellow and lilac colors are everywhere and so are lilies and tulips, bursting forth in all their splendor. It is springtime. Another year. Another April.

The memories of the Easter Bunny come flooding back. Not just any Easter Bunny, but my family’s very own Easter Bunny — Frosty.
Funny name for an Easter Bunny? Well, he was no ordinary nose-twitching, carrot-crunching bunny. This big man, soft as a Peeps inside, was brawny on the outside, but he delighted in all things connected to Easter — church service together, egg coloring, the hunt (how he loved hiding the eggs), flowers and the food.

He’s been gone 30 years but I still serve ham and potato salad for Easter Sunday because that is what we always had and what he loved. I can’t make coconut cake or pineapple pies that measure up to my mom’s, but poor imitations are on the menu. I am trying to keep the traditions for another generation who never knew Frosty, our family’s Easter Bunny.

Frosty loved food — he ate with such relish it was a pleasure to watch him. His passion for fresh peaches was legendary as was his fondness for the hottest of hot peppers, sardines, oysters and cheese. He never met a cheese he didn’t like, even some stinking cheeses that would send us kids running out the door for fresh air.

Frosty and me, ca 1945

Corny jokes were his favorite kind — the cornier the better. He liked riddles and word-play tales. For most of my life, just at random times, as I roamed the world (in Europe and the United States), unexpectedly there would arrive in my mailbox a silly greeting card or a funny postcard — signed: Love, Frosty.

Frosty never demanded much from his four kids — except that we live by the Golden Rule, do our best and respect others. He led by example. He gave us wings, but he always wanted us to come home for Easter, if we could. And we did.

Born on Good Friday (April 9) in 1909, Easter often coincided with or was near his birthday and school spring break when we were growing up. As a result, through the years, Easter and Frosty’s birthday have merged together in my memory. It is yellows, greens and lilacs, ham, potato salad and coconut cake. It is the soft songs of spring — and of Frosty, a giant Easter Bunny, hopping down the bunny trail, coloring and hiding the eggs, making us laugh and love. He made April the best month on the calendar.

Frosty’s gone now, but I was lucky to have him for many Aprils. He left me a million precious memories and a ton of love.

02 April 2014

#3-52ancestors: Wearing of the Roses


Wearing of the Roses

Jo Vanderpool--1955

Mary Jo Vanderpool Grant (1933-2013)

They claim it is a Southern custom — the wearing of a red or white rose to church on Mother’s Day. It might be, because I discovered that some of my Yankee friends have never heard about it.

However, growing up in Oklahoma and Kansas, and being a descendant on my maternal side of a long-line with Deep Southern roots, it was just the thing we did on the second Sunday in May.

Dressed in our pretty, frilly spring dresses (usually brand-new from Easter), we girls wore a fresh rose pinned to our frocks and off we went to church on Mother’s Day.

 I was the one constantly tugging at my white socks because mother had a knack for buying me sock-eating shoes — especially those black patent monsters that also rubbed blisters on my heels.

Jo helping me walk; my cousins, Di and Mita
Mother’s Day as a national holiday in the United States really was not that old when I was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s. It had only been a holiday since 1914. It had all started back in 1908 when a U.S. Senator from Nebraska, Elmer Burkett, proposed making Mother's Day a national holiday at the request of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA). The proposal was defeated, but by 1909, there were 46 states holding Mother's Day services as well as parts of Canada and Mexico.

Anna Jarvis, a lady from West Virginia, who wanted to have a national celebration in honor of mothers, endlessly petitioned state governments, business leaders, women groups, churches and other institutions and organizations. She finally convinced the World's Sunday School Association to back her —- a key influence over state legislators and congress. In 1912, West Virginia became the first state to officially recognize Mother's Day and in 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed it into national observance, declaring the second Sunday in May as
Mother's Day.

Of course, I didn’t know any of this history when I was growing up. All I knew is that on the second Sunday in May it was Mother’s Day and we wore roses to church to honor our moms. And, I loved and honored mine even if she did buy me sock-eating shoes.

I think I was about five years old when we went to a Baptist church in another town with my three first cousins that I realized for the first time that all of us girls were wearing red roses except my sister, Jo. She had a white rose. So, of course, I asked why. And, received my first lesson in genealogy.

It was explained to me that my sister’s mother was dead. My mother was her stepmother and that Jo was my half sister. Well, I didn’t like her being only a half sister. She was my sister and I adored her. I had difficulty accepting all those grown-up revelations about the past and how my sister’s mother had died when she was only a year old and that’s why she wore a white rose.

Regardless of what the grown-ups said, it just didn’t seem right to me that sisters should wear different color roses to church on Mother’s Day. After all, mother was our mother!

Years later, when mother died on Mother’s Day in 1991, I thought about the many times we sisters went to church together, wrapped in the warmth of mom’s love even though on Mother’s Day we wore different colored roses. That sweet memory of the wearing of the roses enabled me to smile through my tears.

Long ago I had forgiven my mother for buying me those sock-eating black patent shoes — and we had had some good laughs together remembering those insatiable monsters.

Last April I said a final good-bye to my beloved sister, Jo. This year on Mother's Day, I'll wear two white roses -- one for my mother and one for my sister.

#13-52ancestors: In Search of Alaska's Gold

#13-52 Ancestors
William Tecumseh Vanderpool (1865-1936)

In Search of Alaska’s Gold

Alaskan dog sled

“A starved dog team and abandoned sled found on the trail along the upper Kuskokwin River today gave the only clue to the disappearance of W. T. Vanderpool, 70, former U.S. Commissioner at McGrath,” according to a 25 May 1936 story in Anchorage Daily Times. It had a Fairbanks dateline. The article continued:

“Deputy Marshal B. Berry at McGrath reported to Judge Harry Pratt that a month's searching led to the discovery of the dog team by Mr. Vanderpool's friend on Nixon Fork in the Kuskokwim. Two dogs were dead and the others barely alive with no trace of the whereabouts of Vanderpool. Governor Troy authorized Berry to conduct the search at the expense of the Territory.

“Vanderpool had been prospecting and trapping in the Nixon-Fork Region and was presumably returning to his family when he disappeared. The dogs were found about 15 miles from McGrath.“ A newspaper item on 13 June 1936 noted that the search for W. T. Vanderpool had been abandoned.

So came to the end of a colorful life of man born at the end of the Civil War who was named for a Union general — William Tecumseh Sherman.
William Tecumseh Vanderpool was born in Caldwell County, Missouri in 1865 [1]and went to Montana with his parents as young man in the late 1880s. [2] Later he tried his hand as a cowboy and stock raiser in Washington; then as a miner and fur trapper in Alaska. He took part in its famous Gold Rush, along with such renowned personalities as Jack London (author of Son of the Wolf, Call of the Wild. White Fang, and the Sea-Wolf), Wyatt Earp (gambler, gunfighter, lawman) and his wife, Josie, who went to Nome and opened the Dexter Saloon there, and Robert W. Service, called the “bard of the Yukon.” Although Service didn’t arrive in the Yukon until 10 years after the Gold Rush, he wrote many poems about it and that era in “The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses,” which included the celebrated poem, “The Shooting of Dan McGrew.”

Chilkoot Pass Yukon Territory

Thanks to records of the North West Royal Mounted Police,[3] we know William T. Vanderpool entered the Yukon Territory from Seattle, Washington on 23 August 1898 at the Chilkoot Pass.  The Mounties set up a post along the Canadian-American border at the summit of the Chilkoot Pass. Here, it confiscated guns and maintained written records of every individual who arrived at the summit.

The Yukon Gold Rush had begun soon when some successful prospectors from there arrived by ships in two West Coast ports, bearing news of the discovery. The Klondike stampede, as it came to be known, formed the height of the Klondike gold rush from the summer of 1897 until the summer of 1898. It began on July 15, 1897 in San Francisco and two days later in Seattle, when the ships Excelsior and Portland arrived in San Francisco and Seattle, respectively, with large amounts of gold on them. The press reported that a total of $1,139,000 (equivalent to about $33 million today) had been brought in by these two ships, although this proved to be an underestimate. The migration of prospectors caught so much attention that it was joined by outfitters, longshoremen, politicians, writers and photographers.

SS Portland arrives in Seattle in 1897 with "a ton of gold"
When the SS Portland docked in Seattle, the banner headline of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on July 17, 1897 read GOLD! GOLD! GOLD! Subheads announced: "Sixty-Eight Rich Men on the Steamer Portland" and "STACKS OF YELLOW METAL!" By noon that day eager fortune seekers had booked the last berth on the SS Portland for the return trip to Alaska. Once there, they headed by riverboat up the Yukon to a mining camp near the gold strike.

Routes to the Yukon Gold Rush
The most common means of reaching the Yukon during the Gold Rush was to journey by ship to small port towns in Alaska, such as Skagway and Dyea, and then travel east along passes through the coastal mountains to Lake Bennett. From there, gold seekers could take a boat down the Yukon River until they reached Dawson, a town that had rapidly grown to serve as the prospectors' base of operations. The climate and geography of the region, along with shortages of supplies caused by the huge influx of travelers, made this a difficult, exhausting, and potentially dangerous journey. The Yukon Gold Rush came to an end in 1899, when the discovery of gold in Nome, Alaska, drew attention away from the area around the Klondike River. Only a few thousand of the people who came found gold, and still fewer found enough to become rich. Evidently William T. Vanderpool did not strike it rich.

There are many unanswered questions about William Tecumseh Vanderpool’s life, especially about his wives. He married at least once in Washington state and had one son and perhaps a daughter by his first wife. They separated or divorced and she died in 1905 in Washington. William was in Alaska by 1898, but enumerated in both Alaska and Washington in the 1900 censuses.[4] Evidently he married a second time in Alaska but divorced her about 1914 in Fairbanks. That wife’s name is unknown. In 1910 he is enumerated in Alaska. [5] 

About 1915 he married Sophie Fredericks under a legal shadow but all the details about this matter have not been uncovered. A newspaper item dated 10 December 1915 in a Fairbanks, Alaska newspaper under “Iditarod News” reveals:

“W. T. Vanderpool of Dikeman was bound over to grand jury by Commissioner Greaghhty of Iditarod on a statutory charge. The case has created a great deal of comment. Vanderpool was granted a divorce from his white wife at one time in Fairbanks by Judge Bonnell last year (and he was then supposed to marry the native) but did not, hence the arrest.”
That muddies the family history somewhat, since he married his first (known) wife in Washington in 1894.[6] They probably divorced and then she died in 1905. His third marriage was to Sophie Fredericks. They had 10 children. Between 1915 and 1935 William was an Alaska Commissioner in McGrath, Mount McKinley Recording District. He and his family lived near McGrath, which is located 221 miles northwest of Anchorage and 269 miles southwest of Fairbanks in Interior Alaska

William Tecumseh VANDERPOOL, born 29 June 1865 in Caldwell County, Missouri, married Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" VINCENT 14 February 1894 in Jefferson County, Washington.  Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" VINCENT (daughter of Alexander VINCENT and Celia [—?—] was born in July 1875 in Washington. She died on 19 March 1905 in Jefferson County, Washington, according to one unverified reference. William Tecumseh VANDERPOOL and Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" VINCENT were the parents of Grover W. VANDERPOOL who was born on 24 April 1896 in Port Townsend, Jefferson County, Washington. He registered for the World War I draft 5 June 1917 in Spokane, Spokane County, Washington [7]  and served in the Army from 13 December 1917 until 8 May 1919. He died 9 October 1958 in Seattle, King County, Washington. [8]

William Tecumseh VANDERPOOL and Sophie FREDERICKS were married about 1915 in Alaska Territory. They appear together in the 1920 and 1930 censuses.[9]

Sophie Fredericks Vanderpool (date unknown)

Sophie FREDERICKS, described as being only 4’10” by a granddaughter, [10] was born on 23 December 1896 in Anvik, Yukon area, Alaska Territory.  She was a mixed-blood Alaskan native. Her mother was Athabaskan and her father was Russian. Anvik was a Kaiyuhkhotana village located at the junction of the Anvik and Yukon rivers. As a young woman, she married William T. Vanderpool, who was then a constable and nearly 30 years older. They moved from Anvik to Dikeman and then eventually to McGrath, Alaska in 1919 where the family homesteaded. They had 10 children. She cooked on the riverboats between McGrath and Bethel for 20 years and was renowned for her good cooking and warm hospitality. At the time of her death, Sophie had 53 grandchildren, 68 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. She died in March 1983 in McGrath, Alaska.

William Tecumseh VANDERPOOL and Sophie FREDERICKS had the following children, all born in Alaska Territory:

i. Woodrow Wilson VANDERPOOL was born 4 September 1913, died 2 February 1977 in Alaska.
ii. Robert I. VANDERPOOL was born 30 October 1915 and died 28 September 2010 in Alaska.
iii. Avis VANDERPOOL was born about 1919.
iv. Rose VANDERPOOL was born April 1920, died 26 August 2012 in Alaska.
v. Alice Marian VANDERPOOL was born 29 June 1924.
vi. Nora VANDERPOOL was born 10 September 1925.
vii. Joseph Jefferson VANDERPOOL was born 17 September 1928.
viii. Sophie VANDERPOOL, born 30 November 1929.
ix. Lewis A. VANDERPOOL Sr. was born on 19 January 1934, died 30 September 1999 in Alaska.
x. Roy VANDERPOOL was born about 1935.

  1. Aden Vanderpool, 1870 U.S. census, Davis Township, Caldwell County, Missouri, population schedule, dwelling/family No. 55/55; National Archives Microfilm publication M593_763. p. 87. William Vanderpool is shown as a 5-year-old boy, born in Missouri, with his parents, Aden and Carolina and his siblings: Chauncy, Margaret, Sophrina, Amanda and Lucinda.
  2. Aden Vanderpool, 1880 U.S. census, Davis Township, Caldwell County, Missouri, population schedule, dwelling/family No. 59/70, Enumeration District [ED] 188; National Archives Microfilm publication T9_677. p. 385A. William Vanderpool is shown as a 14-year-old boy with his parents, Aden Vanderpool and Caroline, and his siblings: Amanda E., Lucinda D., Samuel and Dora A. His birthplace is given as Missouri. His father was born in Missouri and his mother in Illinois — all the other children were born in Missouri.
  3. NWMP at Chilkoot, Volume 3, listing people who entered the Yukon. Gold Rush database.
  4. William Vanderpool, 1900 U.S. census, Jack Wade, Northern Supervisor's District, Alaska Territory, population schedule, Enumeration District [ED] 14; National Archives T623_1830, p. 10B. 1221. William Vanderpool is listed as head of household and as married, married 5 years (but no wife or other family members with him). His birthplace is given as Illinois [incorrect] and his father's as New York [incorrect] and his mother's as Illinois. His other address is recorded as Gilmar, Washington and date of arriving in Alaska was September 1898. [There are two localities in Washington to which “Gilmar” could refer — one is Gilmer in Klickitat County in south central part of the state on the Columbia River and the other is Gilman, located in King County in western part of the state on Puget Sound. The latter is probably the location referred to.] William Vanderpool also appears in the 1900 census in Washington (T623_1743, Enumeration District [ED] 52, p. 222, dwelling/family No. 166/166 in Port Townsend, Jefferson County. He and his wife, Lizzie, a daughter Inez, 6, and a son Grover W., 4, are listed in the household of John Vincent. William is listed as brother-in-law to John Vincent, and his occupation is given as “mining.” This enumeration visit took place 2 June 1900 and the Alaska 1900 census visit took place in December 1899, which explains his appearance in two different places for these enumerations.
  5. William T. Vanderpool, 1910 U.S. census, Fairbanks, Division 2, Alaska Territory, population schedule, Enumeration District [ED] 19, dwelling/family No. 17/17. National Archives T624_1749. T624_1749, p. 1B. William is listed as married (but no wife or family are with him). Birthplace Kentucky [incorrect], father's birthplace North Carolina [incorrect] and mother's birth place North Carolina [incorrect].
  6. Washington State Digital Archives. Washington State Marriage Records. Jefferson County Auditor, Marriage Records, 1872-2013. M-9400006. Will Vanderpool and Lizzie Vincent. Recording date: 11 Feb. 1894.
  7. U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc. 2005. United States, Registration State: Washington. Registration County: Spokane. Roll: 1992105, Draft Board 2. Grover William Vanderpool gives his date of birth as 24 April 1896 in Washington state.
  8. U.S. Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1926-1963 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc. 2012. Original records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, Record Group 92, National Archives, Washington, DC. Date of death: 9 October 1958. Cemetery: Riverton Crest Cemetery, Seattle [King County], Washington. Washington State Digital Records. ( database: Washington State Death Records. Image No. 809. Grover W. Vanderpool. Date of death: 9 October 1958. Father’s name: Grover Vanderpool; mother’s name: Mary Vincent. Place of death: Seattle, King County, Washington.
  9. William Vanderpool, 1920 U.S. census, Mount McKinley, 4th Judicial District, Alaska Territory, population schedule, Enumeration District [ED] 3; National Archives Microfilm publication T625_2031. p. 3A. (no dwelling/family numbers).Wm T. Vanderpool, 54, born ca 1866 Kentucky [incorrect] with Sophie, 23, Woodrow, 6, Robert, 4 and Avis 2. William T. Vanderpoel [sic], 1930 U.S. census, Mount McKinley, Fourth Judicial District, Alaska Territory, population schedule, Enumeration District [ED] 4-11, National Archives T626_2628, p. 4B, dwelling/family No. 12/12. Enumeration visit was 19 October 1929.
  10. Rose High Bear: Turtle Island Storytellers.

24 March 2014

#12--52 Ancestors: Nancy Pruitt Hensley

#12 52 Ancestors

Nancy Catherine Pruitt Hensley (ca 1850-1871)

Cats are not the only creatures consumed by curiosity. We genealogists often find our inquisitiveness leading us down strange winding paths in the endless quest to learn more about an ancestor. How else can I explain why I spent more hours than I care to confess trying to determine how and why one of my Georgia-born ancestors wound up in a dugout near a river on the Kansas prairie?

Kansas Dugout
The latest search didn’t begin that way. I began looking again for the burial place of my grandmother’s favorite brother. He died in Indian Territory — of snake bite — if memory of the story grandmother told me is accurate. I narrowed the time frame to 1894-1900 and the locality to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. I checked old notes and files and re-examined the cemetery records where the rest of the family was buried. Nothing.

Perhaps he went back to Alabama or Georgia (where his parents and grandparents had lived prior to family’s removal to Indian Territory) and died back there. And, so began the backward tracking that took me to a dugout in Kansas and then to Alabama and finally back to where I had started.

Lee R. Hensley (also rendered as R. Lee) was the older half-brother of my grandmother and she adored him — even named her first-born for him. They had the same father, but Lee’s mother died between 1869 (birth of her second son, William) and 1872 — the date of his father’s second marriage.

Because Lee’s father’s name [Marion] was misread in the 1870 census, it took dogged determination to find them. Francis Marion Hensley [called Marion] and Nancy Catherine Pruitt were from Cherokee County, Georgia. They had married there soon after the Civil War. She was only about 16 years old. I had no reason to look for them in Kansas in 1870, but that’s where they show up. I found them near her Pruitt family, and his sister, Minerva Hensley, and her husband, William John Evans. What were those Georgians doing in Lincoln County, Kansas?

Thank goodness for other family historians who are willing to share. An online tree led me to some oral histories of this Pruitt family, which say that Samuel Pruitt and his wife Elizabeth (Merk) left Cherokee County, Georgia, in the spring of 1870 with other fellow Georgians and travelled by train to Kansas. That must have been some trip — from Georgia to Tennessee and then to Missouri and finally to Kansas.


“Sam Pruitt, like many other Southerners of the post-Civil War period, probably found life uncertain and hard. Thus, when promoters came to northern Georgia singing the praises of new farm lands in Kansas, many people including the Samuel J. Pruitt family decided to migrate. Enough people were involved so that an emigrant train was formed . . . After traveling by train from Georgia to Kansas, a trip of many days, they probably disembarked at the town of Solomon, Kansas, then called Solomon City. The railroad continued on west to Colorado, but there were no branch lines northwest to Lindsey or Minneapolis in Ottawa County, Kansas. There was a stage that ran from Solomon to Beloit and made an overnight stop at Lindsey. This could have been the family’s mode of transportation, but more likely Sam purchased a wagon and team, loaded their possessions and made their way along the Solomon River to Lindsey with other emigrants,” according to one Pruitt family story.


Another version: “When the Samuel J. Pruitt family moved to Kansas in 1870, Nancy Hensley, their married daughter, her husband [Francis Marion Hensley], and their two children accompanied them. The Pruitts lived in a dugout on the banks of the Solomon River. In 1870 this must have been near the town of Lindsey in Concord Township. Since most settlers lived in dugouts it is probable that the Hensleys did, too. Sometime after the families settled in Ottawa County, Nancy and one of her children [William, born in 1869] died of a fever. After Nancy's death her husband, Francis Marion Hensley, and the other son [Lee] disappeared.”


Another version of the story says that “Nancy and Francis Hensley had two boys, R. Lee and William. Nancy and the younger boy died of typhoid shortly after settling in Kansas. Francis took the remaining boy and left without ever saying ‘Goodbye’ to anyone.


Where the Pruitt’s oral family history ends, mine takes up — thanks to my grandmother, the half-sister of Lee Hensley. Francis Marion Hensley and his sister, Minerva Hensley Evans, and her family left Kansas and went to Etowah County, Alabama where their parents and some of their brothers had moved to from their Cherokee County, Georgia home. If Francis Marion Hensley left Kansas without saying “goodbye” to his in-laws, it was not mentioned in our family tales.


In Alabama Francis Marion Hensley met the dark and feisty Araminta Awtrey. They married, over her parents’ objections (because he had been married previously and already had a son). Why this was an obstacle was never clear to me, but regardless, they married on 31 March 1872 in Saint Clair County, Alabama and spent 51 years together. In 1894 they and several of Francis Marion Hensley’s brothers made another long trip. This time to Indian Territory, bringing my grandmother and her beloved half-brother, Lee.


I still haven’t found Lee Hensley’s final resting place. However, now I know when, why and how his parents went to Kansas. If I follow enough of these cookie crumb trails maybe I’ll find it someday.



If you desire sources and genealogical information, please contact me. I am happy to provide and share.


18 March 2014

#11 52 Ancestors: Elizabeth Connally Fricks

#11 52 Ancestors
Elizabeth Connally Fricks (1849-1932)

Two of my great-grandmothers I always felt I “knew” even though they both died before I was born. That’s because they were grandmothers of my mother, who actually knew them and talked about them to me, and so a close link was established — at least in my memory. Theirs were among the first graves I visited and placed flowers on at our family’s annual Decoration Day outing.

While my mother knew both of her grandmothers, her maternal grandmother — Araminta Awtrey Hensley — died when she was only seven years old, but her paternal grandmother — Elizabeth “Lizzie” Connally Fricks actually lived with her and her parents until she was 12. Naturally, mother had a better memory of that grandmother — the quiet “Southern Lady” as Mom remembered her. She was the one who intrigued me because of her beautiful needlework and because she was born near Atlanta, Georgia. She was actually there when General Sherman and his Union Army came marching through.

One of my aunts took me to see Gone with the Wind when I was quite young and I never forgot it. Years later, I would read the book. Realizing early on that I had had family participating in the Civil War (on both sides) is probably what whetted my keen interest in that era of American history.

At the time of the 1860 federal census, Lizzie is living with her father, “Big Charles” Connally and her stepmother, Margaret (also a Connally) and three half brothers, Theodore, William and Edward in Stone’s District, Fulton County, Georgia. They would have been among the thousands who evacuated Atlanta in 1864.

Evidently they never returned because in 1870 and later, they are found in and around Walker and Dade counties. Lizzie married Napoleon Fricks in 1866 and they remained in Georgia until 1891 when they removed to the Creek Nation of Indian Territory, where their youngest child, my grandaunt Dora Fricks Buffington was born.

Dora Fricks (right) Ora Christian (left)
ca 1910

I have the military and political history of this event and a great deal of the Connally and Fricks genealogy, but what I want is of course, what I don’t have — great-granny’s eye-witness account of the Battle of Atlanta. Why didn’t she keep a journal of those events? She was 15 years old and should have been recording history. Didn’t she realize that someday she’d have a great-granddaughter who would be fascinated by U.S. history and genealogy and want to know?

Elizabeth Connally Fricks

11 March 2014

#10 52 Ancestors: Rachel Vanderpool Beach

#10 52 Ancestors: Rachel Vanderpool Beach (1837-1902)

Reading between the Lines

19 July 1864

Spring Valley, Iowa


To: Rachel P. Beach


Dear Daughter,

Your kind favor is just received finding us all well except myself. I met with a misfortune a few minutes before I received your letter. I told you that I had taken a mill and was running it. My misfortune was a hole broke in the boiler and the steam covered me and scalded my arms, ankles and face, although not serious my body not being hurt. So that I hope in a few days to be able for business again.


You wanted to know how near I lived to transportation and that you could come to see me. I wish you would come. You can come to Chillicothe [Missouri] by railroad and then the hack runs 3 times a week from there to Princeton, 18 miles from here. Then you could get a conveyance to Pleasant Plains and then you are in four miles of me.

Rachel Vanderpool Beach ca 1864

I got the likeness you sent. The weather here dry and warm. General health, good. I just got a letter from James. He talks of bringing his wife up here to stay with me. I want you to come if you can.

Signed: Wm. Vanderpool[1]

This Civil War-era letter reveals much but, it only tells a part of the story of this family’s involvement and what all was going on.

Rachel Vanderpool was the eldest daughter of William Vanderpool and Mary “Polly” Fuson, and obviously there was affection between father and daughter.  Rachel’s mother had died in 1849,[2] when she was about 12 years of age. Her father re-married shortly thereafter to Mahala Vanderpool[3], a kinswoman, and while there is no story or indication of any animosity between Rachel and Mahala, the stepmother was only seven years older than Rachel — and Mahala was younger than two of her older stepsons.

Rachel was not with her father and stepmother in the 1860 Kansas Territory census[4] when her father was working at Fort Riley. Rachel’s younger surviving sister, Artemissa (born about 1843), was not with them either, which has led to fruitless searches, so far, to find where William left these two daughters between 1851 and 1860. Rachel met her husband, Dr. Abijah Ives Beach, in the spring of 1860 in Kansas Territory,[5] evidently while her father was at Fort Riley. She married Dr. Beach in October 1860 in Junction City, Geary County, Kansas Territory.[6]


At the time of the letter, Rachel was a mother of two young children. Her husband was serving as an assistant surgeon in the 9th Kansas Cavalry somewhere in Kansas, Missouri or Arkansas during the Civil War. The picture is from a Daguerreotype, but where and exactly when it was taken is unknown. This might have been Rachel’s wedding dress, but we have no documentation.

The trip from Kansas to Iowa, as outlined by her father, is greatly simplified. The distance was about 350 miles and even today, with Freeways and fast cars, it would take more than 5.5 hours. In 1864, travelling by trains, hacks and conveyances it would have taken much longer and probably would not have been a pleasant trip with a couple of toddlers. She had no family nearby. Her oldest brother, Francis Marion Vanderpool, was in Oregon, having gone out on the Oregon Trail in 1852. Her brother, James [mentioned in the letter] was a captain in the Union Army and was trying to get his family and Union-sympathizing neighbors out of Confederate-held Arkansas. Her brother, John Anthony, was also serving in the Union forces in Missouri. Her younger brother, Daniel Boone, had disobeyed his father and joined the Union Army. He caught the measles and died in November 1862 at the age of 18.[7] Her two younger brothers were too young for military service and were with their father in Iowa. Where her sister, Artemisia, was is anyone’s guess.


Was Rachel afraid? Lonely? Apparently she was alone on the Kansas prairie in Beach Valley of what is now Rice County, Kansas, where the buffalo still roamed as did Indians and travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. Her husband and his father had pioneered the area establishing the Ranch at Cow Creek Crossing,[8] but in 1864 no one was there except Rachel and perhaps some hired help. No record has been found as to whether or not she went to Iowa in 1864. Dr. Beach was back home in Kansas in 1865 after the war was over. He, Rachel and their children remained there until sometime between 1875 and 1880 when they removed to Port Blakeley, Kitsap County, Washington.[9]

[1] Vanderpool Newsletter IV:1, p. 9. Letter in possession of Rachel’s granddaughter, Marion Damiano, of Turlock, California in 1977.
[2] Beach Family Bible, Bible and genealogical records of Abijah Beach, of Renton, Wash. The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, translated out of the original Greek and with the former translations diligently compared and revised by His Majesty's Special Command. Printed at Clarendon Press by Samuel Collingwood and Co., printers to the university, 1830); owned in January 1987 by Marion Hall Damiano (1918-2011) of Turlock, California. [Hereafter Beach Bible and Records]
[3] Marriage Certificate issued by Office of Clerk of the Circuit Court and Ex-Officio Recorder, Sullivan County, Missouri, in Milan, Mo. Copy in possession of writer. William and Mahala married 3 September 1849. It was recorded 1 Oct. 1849.
[4] 1860 U.S. census. Davis County, Kansas Territory, population schedule, p. 818 (penned), dwelling 662, family 662, post office Fort Riley; [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Images reproduced by Family Search. ( : accessed 11 March 2014) from National Archives microfilm M653, roll 347. Entry for Wm. Vanderpool, blacksmith, age 52; date of enumerator’s visit was 23 August 1860.
[5] Beach Bible and Records.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Tombstone of Daniel Boone Vanderpool at Jefferson Barracks, National Cemetery, Oakville, Saint Louis County, Missouri.
[8] Barry, Louise. "The Ranch at Cow Creek Crossing." Kansas Historical Quarterly Winter 1972: 416-44.
[9] 1880 U.S. census. Kitsap County, Washington Territory, population schedule, Port Blakeley Precinct, Enumeration District [ED] 35, p. 315 [stamped], dwelling 43, family 44. A. J. Beach; and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [database on-line], 2010. Family History Film: 1255397, Original data NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1397, p. 315C.