29 April 2014

#17-52ancestors: Mean Patsy

#17-52ancestors: Mean Patsy

Martha "Patsy" Jones

Some family stories beg to be explored in depth. Sometimes facts confirm the story, sometimes historical facts argue loudly with the legend. Sometimes, the lack of records, original sources, along with the passage of time, leave the researcher with nothing but wisps of a family history and dozens of unanswered questions.

Many fairy tales have the same basic storyline about a mean stepmother, but Cinderella is probably the best known — you know, the beautiful, fair maiden forced into a life of being the unofficial slave for her evil stepmother and her two miserable daughters. The mean stepmother legend may date back into the medieval ages when women frequently died in childbirth and were replaced by a second (third, etc.) mother. Due to the importance of property in those days and the laws about it passing to the first-born male, those first-born children, especially sons, certainly might have been victims of nastiness and resentment by their stepmothers. One of my family lines has a “mean stepmother” tale that has puzzled and frustrated me for years in a quest to learn the truth.

Hezekiah Ray (1780-1870) married first Elizabeth “Betsy” Putman (Putnam) (1772-1811) in Union County, South Carolina about 1802 and by her had four, perhaps five children. Betsy died, probably in childbirth about 1811. In her father’s will which was probated 6 January 1812 it is mentioned that $30, equally divided, was to go the children of his daughter, Betsy, whose husband is named as Hezekiah Ray — when they come of age. [Union County, South Carolina Probate Records, Box 7, page 2, Will Book A, p. 269, dated 6 January 1812]. By estimate that $30 (or about $7.50 per child) would not have been worth a great deal more in 1830 when the youngest child came of age (21). It was certainly no fortune worth fighting over. Whether the four sons of Elizabeth Putman (Putnam) Ray ever received anything from their maternal grandfather’s estate has not been determined.

In 1812 Hezekiah Ray had four sons, all under 10 years of age by his first wife. As was typical in those times, Hezekiah quickly found another wife when Betsy died. She probably was a woman from a nearby family. Her name was Martha “Patsy” Jones and at least by 1814, they had started their own family.

A migration from Union County, South Carolina to Bedford County, Tennessee by several families took place between 1810 and 1820, probably shortly after the War of 1812, and among them was Hezekiah Ray, his new wife (Patsy Jones), and their growing family. About this time the waters become muddied as the stories about the second wife and her stepsons are related — told by the sons of the first marriage and retold by their descendants. The only consistent portion of the legends is that they called their stepmother “Mean Patsy.”

One version claims the four Ray boys were left with relatives or neighbors in South Carolina with their father returning for them a few years later. Another version is that all removed to Bedford County, Tennessee about 1816 and the boys were “farmed out” to other families because they did not get along with their stepmother.

By 1830 they had all married and moved to other Tennessee counties with the exception of the eldest son, Jason Ray, who remained in Bedford County and became a Baptist minister.

Jason Ray (1803-1880)

In 1881 several elders of the Baptist church published “In Memory of Elder Jason Ray.” He had died in December 1880. In it they mentioned that “the boyhood of this good man was envied by none. He fought the battles of early life as a neglected orphan. They were hard battles. He served an apprenticeship that was filled with privations and sufferings such as few boys meet. Of the trials . . . he often  talked and wept, after age had hollowed his cheeks and whitened his locks, sorrows of his youth were fresh, undimmed . . . In 1825 he was happily married to an orphan girl Miss Verlinda Smith, who was quietly faithful to her marriage vows through the light and gloom of a long and trying pilgrimage. Two years after his marriage he [Jason Ray] professed faith in Christ, and joined the Baptist church . . . He was a member of the congregation that worshipped at Flat Creek [Bedford County, Tennessee] and was its pastor for many years.”

Elder Jason Ray’s stepmother was “Mean Patsy.”

Jason Ray certainly was never an orphan by legal terms. While his mother died about 1811, his father did not die until 1870, so the reference to him being a “neglected orphan” begs to be explained more fully.

What kind of a father would have allowed his second wife to mistreat his first-born children? And was “Mean Patsy” really the horrible stepmother vilified by him and his siblings? If so, why?

Is there another side to this story, and if so, will I ever discover it?

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. http://yukongenealogy.com/content/database_vol07.htm
  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.http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/
  7. Ancestry.com. U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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. Ancestry.com. U.S. Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1926-1963 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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. (http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/) 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. http://www.wisdomoftheelders.org/prog2/transcript02_tis.htm