Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Watkins Branch of the Family

Unlike my Father's side of the tree, my Mother's side is very well documented. I have enjoyed the hunt of finding out about my Great, Great Grandmothers Vida Bell and Mabel and my 3x Great Grandfather and Civil War Veteran, William James Rose. They were stories that had to unfold that still have some mystery to them.

My Grandma Shirley's maiden name is Watkins. I remember going to Illinois or Missouri for family reunions and meeting some relatives I had never head of before. I sure wish I had paid more attention! Anyway, I found an invaluable sketch of my 3x Great Grandfather James Montgomery Watkins that also mentions my 5x Great Grandfather Samuel Watkins, my 4x Great Grandfather Elijah Watkins and a little bit of my 2x Great Grandfather Charles Lucas Watkins.

James Montgomery Watkins


Chicago: Biographical Review Publishing Co.
Page 224
SQUIRE JAMES M. WATKINS, a popular Justice of the Peace and one of the most prosperous farmers of Cass County, Illinois, residing in township 18, range 9, was born in Richmond precinct, same county, February 5, 1839.
His parents were Elijah and Lydia A. (Montgomery) Watkins, both natives of Kentucky, the former born in green county, in 1797, and the latter a native of Hart county. His father's parents were Samuel and Mary (McClure) Watkins, the former a native of Wales and the latter of Maryland. Samuel Watkins came to America when a very young man and settled in Maryland, where he was married, and whence he removed to Kentucky. He was a prominent pioneer of the latter State, in which he made his home for many years, and where he died at the age of eighty-five years. His wife also died in that State, aged sixty-five or seventy years. They were the parents of twelve children, eleven of whom survive. Two of these, Lewie and Hank, were brave and efficient soldiers in the war of 1812. The mother of this subject was a daughter of Simpson and Salie (Gum) Montgomery. She was one of five children, two of whom were half brothers. Her father was of Scottish descent, his parents never coming to America, and her people were mostly farmers. Her father was a boatman, and lost his life by being struck on the head with a gun.
The father of the subject of this notice resided at home until he attained the age of nineteen. He then worked for a while by the day and month in Kentucky until he had accumulated some means, and when, about the year 1833-‘34, he emigrated with his wife to Illinois, at that time the frontier of civilization. They came overland with one wagon, drawn by oxen, and brought some stock. They first located in Wayne county, but shortly afterward removed to Menard county, where he continued to live until 1838, when he sold out and came to Cass county. Here he first rented land for five or six years, then bought eighty acres, a few of which were broken, and the place having an old log house on it. This house served as their home for about a year, when it was replaced by a better one. The father was an exceedingly energetic man, and his success in this new country was a foregone conclusion. He added, from time to time, to his original purchase, until he possessed 300 acres of choice farming land, 160 of which was received from the Government. His death occurred on the old homestead in 1884, to the great sorrow of many friends, who esteemed him for his ability, industry and uprightness of character. He and his worthy wife were earnest and useful members of the Primitive Baptist Church, and he helped to build the first church in his locality. He displayed his usual activity in church and all good work, and acted as a Deacon for many years.
The subject of this sketch was reared to farm work and attended subscription school during the winters, working on his father's farm in the summer. Owing to his busy life, his education was limited, and he is essentially a self-educated and self-made man. Extensive reading, supplemented by excellent judgment and an active mind, have combined to render himself successful in life and a leader among men. He lived at home until after his marriage, and the following year moved to his father-in-law's farm, on which he remained until the next year. He then bought twenty-five acres, a few of which were broken, and built on it a box house, 16x18 feet. He and his family lived in this house for twelve or fourteen years, when he erected his present substantial and comfortable home. He has lived on the same place ever since, which now contains 120 acres, devoted to mixed farming, and is one of the finest farms in the county.
He was married June 14, 1859, to Miss Nancy Jane Lewis, an estimable lady and a daughter of Azariah and Sarah Lewis, a sketch of whom appears in this work. She was born April 4, 1842. They have eleven children, as follows: Sarah E., born March 10, 1860, married H. Speulda, and they have seven children; they live in South Dakota; Charles L., born October 16, 1861, married Susan McNeil, a native of this county; they have three children; Simpson Lee, born November 13, 1863, married Ida Taylor, and lives in Chandlerville; William B., born December 28, 1867, married Belle Miller, and they have two children; he lives in this neighborhood; Laura, born December 15, 1865, married James Cooper, and they have three children; John R., born March 29, 1870, married Dora Lucas, and they have one child; Azariah, born August 20, 1872, Stella M., born December 19, 1874; Miamia B., born June 16, 1877; Josephine, born August 28, 1880; Casper, born June 25, 1884. All of Mr. Watkins' children have had educational advantages.
Mr. Watkins is an old Andrew Johnson Democrat, and cast his first vote for Stephen A. Douglas. With the exception of his vote cast for General Weaver for President, he has voted a straight Democratic ticket ever since. Acknowledging his ability, his constituents have sought the advantage of his judgment and experience by electing him to various local offices. H went from the school room to the position of school director, in which capacity he has served ever since. He has held the responsible position of Justice of the Peace for twenty years, discharging his duties with justice and impartiality.
His wife is a faithful member of the Primitive Baptist Church, and, both by her influence and means, contributes to its support.
Mr. Watkins' life is a brilliant example of what may be accomplished by intelligent and persistent effort, which not only insure material prosperity but also crown their votaries with honor and happiness.
How cool is that?


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

George Topper-my 4x Great Grandfather that lived right up the road!

Never would I have thought I was "Close to Home" in Maryland. I was raised in Indiana, my grandparents and great grandparents lived there.

I wrote about Michael Easterday who lived in Boonsboro, MD. I even went up to the historical society in Hagerstown, MD to do a little research.

George Topper is my 4x Great Grandfather that lived right up the road!

George was born in 1790 in Frederick, MD but possibly Adam County, PA (they are right next to each other). He was the son of American Patriot, Captain Andrew Topper.

George married Sabina Adam on April 16, 1813 in Goshenhoppen (St. Paul's Mission, Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Berks County Pennsylvania. (www.berks.pa-roots.com)

They lived in Taneytown, MD moving to Bedford County, PA and settling in Ashland County, Ohio.

George and Sabina had at least 7 children:
Peter Andrew
Mary Magdalina
Simon Topper
(son) Topper
William Henry Topper
Catharine Sabina Topper

Somewhere around 1854, George married Mary Ann Hoover, she was 34 years his junior. I am not sure what happened to Sabina.

Now I am not entirely sure, but Abigail Aquilla could be the daughter of Sabina or Mary Ann...I am leaning more towards Mary Ann.

Mary Ann went on to have at least 3 (maybe 4) more children with George:
Abigail Aquilla-this is my 3x great grandmother on my Dad's side
George L

George died in 1858, while Mary Ann was pregnant with Isadora. He is buried in Ashland County, Ohio:
George Topper's grave, in the valley of the Wilson run, is the grave by the roadside of which a lady in Wooster recently wrote L.C. Mengert to inquire about the descendants of the man buried there. Topper selected that spot for his burial place. Some years after the interment, a road was located there, and the grave seems to be strangely out of place in such close proximity to a public road. 


Now I do have the guardianship and probate records from when George died. Abigail and her brother George were sent to live with Mary Ann's father, John Gilbert Hoover and her brother Lucas Gilbert Lafayette Hoover. More information to follow!

Mary Ann went on to marry Erestus Zimmerman and took Isadora with her but died shortly after that in 1861. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

My 2x Great Grandmother-Dora Bell Goben

My topic for the next installment of "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" is titled "Good Deeds". ( I am so behind.....) I have met so many distant relatives since I have started digging up the past.

Not only do they share their hard work, some have been doing this a very long time, they are very quick to do so.

One of my distant cousins and I have been sharing information for two years now! And if it wasn't for her, I would not have the gems below of my 2x Great Grandmother on my Mother's side, Dora Bell Goben.

Dora Bell was born December 16, 1872 in Chandlerville, Illinois to John Wesley and Julia Ann (nee Centers) Goben. She was the oldest of 8 children.

Below is a picture of Dora Bell, in the middle with her parents and siblings. I am guessing this has to be before 1890. How cool is this picture!

Dora Bell married Hans Jensen Andresen in 1891 at the age of 19.

By the 1900 census, they had 4 children: Verdi, Metti, Doris and Johnie.
Hans, Dora, Verdi and Metti
Hans and Dora never left Cass County, Illinois. They raised a family (added three more children Marie, Harry and Carroll), had a farm,  Hans was a shoemaker and Dora stayed at home to raise the family.

Dora died September 12, 1938 and is buried in Cass County, Illinois next to Hans.

Never would I have the above photos if it weren't for the "good deed" of my distant cousin.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Remembering Grandma Shirley


That is how I remember Grandma Shirley answering the phone.

(scan of an old slide)
I loved going to Grandma Shirley's farmhouse. We got to play in the chicken coops and the corn bin. We could play in the barn all day and if it was time, we got to ride in the combine!

Grandma Shirley was a cook. She cooked Sunday dinners and everyone came...6 kids and their spouses and children....there was a lot!

Shout out to Olan Mills!
Candy! She made candy! She made candy and then more candy! Buckeyes, Fannie Mae's, divinity, molded chocolate, peanut butter cups, candy bars, coconut nests with jelly bean eggs, chocolate covered cherries....you get the idea.
At holidays, the spare bedroom was a candy room! She made it to enjoy and then take it home with us! How I miss that candy.
Two cakes! Lucky.
Grandma Shirley made all of our birthday cakes. She made wedding cakes, baby shower cakes and then she made more cakes! I remember the room of cake pans! So many to choose from when your birthday came around.

 I remember going to the state fair every year (free yardsticks!) and playing on the front porch with her copper music boxes. Foxy the dog and making ice cream with her in an ice cream maker that you had to crank! Playing "Oh Hell" around the kitchen table and fishing with her and getting my first ticket for not having a license to fish!

But the best think about Grandma Shirley was that she loved you unconditionally.

I miss her so much.

Love you Grandma Shirley!

I am catching up on my 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, the theme I am on now is Love. How could I not write about Grandma Shirley when the theme is Love?!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

So Far Away....But Why? James Henry Condon

Most of the ancestors I have researched have all been born in and subsequently died and buried in the Midwest. There always has to be one of those ancestors that just does not follow the status quo. It makes them more interesting, but harder to trace!

James Henry Condon. My 2nd Great Grandfather on my Father's side. He is very hard to trace before 1900, but I do know what happened to him later in his life. But I don't know why.....

James was born sometime around 1869, somewhere around Indiana or Ohio. I do know his father's name was Charles and his mother's name was Mary Jane Vonata.

I think, I have found him in a census record in 1880. It shows him as a boarder at St. Vincent's Male Orphan Asylum in Vincennes, Indiana. This census states he was born in Indiana  about 1869. It also states his parents were born in Ireland. I don't have any concrete evidence that his is my James Henry Condon and I can't find any other Condons listed at St. Vincent's at this time either....

What I do know is James Henry Condon married Cordia Cowger sometime in 1893. And in that year,  they had a daughter, Mabel.

In the 1900 census, James and Cordia are living in Rushville, Indiana and have three children: Mabel (6), Charles (4) and Lorene (8 months). The census lists James as a Day Laborer and his parents were both born in Ohio. (I am already disproving the theory that the above James in the Asylum are not the same person.....)

James was married again in June 1905 to Florence Hull. Cordia didn't die until 1908 so....I can't find a marriage license....were James and Cordia really (legally) married?

And then, the 1910 census has James (43) living in Indianapolis with only his daughter Mabel (17) and son Charles (14). No mention of Florence. But his marital status is listed as Widowed. He is also listed is a "Sawyer" at a "Lumber Yard".  His parents are also listed as being born in Ohio (I am still hanging on to the first census listed.....).

So we still don't know what happened to Cordia or Florence.

On January 23, 1911, James married again to Nora Jane Moran in Indianapolis. They are still married in the 1920 census. James is listed as a Carpenter for a Saw Company and he has more children; Clarence (8), Marjorie (5), Mary S (3), and Selma (1). They are living on Luett Street, and this is where Mabel and her sons lived for a time and Grandpa Rose remembers an uncle that was his same age. Once again, James' parents are listed as being from Ohio.

In 1930, the tables turn. James is now a boarder in Pima, Arizona, still listed as married and works as a Carpenter building houses. He is living as a boarder with an African-American family.  I can only guess that James went to Arizona as the job market was better there than in Indiana? This census lists his parents are from Indiana (a ray of hope!).

In the meantime, Nora Jane is still living in Indianapolis in the house on Luett Street with her 5 children and one of her brothers. She is listed as being married as well.

Then, tragedy struck. On February 4, 1936, James Henry Condon died in Tucson, Arizona. Cause of death, cerebral apoplexy (or stroke).  His death certificate states he was born in Rushville, Indiana and his wife is Nora Condon. His death certificate does not list any information on his parents (back to the drawing board!).

James Henry Condon is buried in Arizona in Evergreen Cemetery in Tucson.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Plowing Through an Adopted (not really!) Family Line-Robert E. Rose

One theme of 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks is "Plowing Through". I didn't know what I was going to write for this but when I wrote about last weeks ancestor I decided to focus on "plowing through" one branch of the family that is part of an adoption.

As you read previously, Mable died leaving 4 young boys, 3 with no father to help. Charles and William were sent to an orphanage, Raymond was kept with his biological father and Robert was adopted by Mabel's aunt, Della.

So to give an overview of this part of the adopted family, I am going to give a quick rundown.

Robert Rose was adopted by James Martin and Della Mordock (Cowger) Heisel. (Mordock! I wonder where that name came from.....another mystery to solve!)  I don't know if this was official or if Robert just came to live with Della and her husband.

Della was hard to track as sometimes she went as Della, other times she went as Delila. I will remain calling her Della moving forward.

Della was born to Isiah Cowger and Rebecca Hardwick. Isiah and Rebecca were married in 1864 in Rush County, Indiana.  Together they had 13 children:
Cordia-This is Mabel's mother


Della married James Heisel on March 9, 1916. He was 36, she was 41. They lived in Rush County, Indiana and both died there. From what I can tell, they both lived in Rush County their whole lives.

Mabel passed in 1923 so Della and James adopted Robert. I am not sure when, I am guessing not long after Mabel died. I do not have any records of the adoption. Della, James and Robert were not a family for very long as James passed away in 1927.

In the 1930 census Della and Robert are living with Della's sister Julia Anne and her husband William Moore in Wayne, Indiana.

Della died in 1933 and is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, IN.

In the 1940 census, Robert is still living with Julia and William in Wayne, IN and is a laborer. He is listed as their nephew.

So why were Charles and William sent to an orphanage but Robert was adopted? My guess would be that Robert was only 3 when Mabel died so he had the appeal of being young. Charles was 10 and William was 9, they were older and ornery!

**Does anyone know what Robert's middle name was? I only see the middle initial.....

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mabel Condon 1893-1923-My Great Grandmother

One of the greatest resources I have for my family tree is my Grandfather’s Autobiography. It isn't anything fancy but gives some names and places of events that occurred in his life. Some accurate, some not so accurate but I love the insight it gives in the life he and his family lived. 

This has proved to be extremely helpful in finding out information about my Great Grandmother, Mabel. She was 30 when she died and had four boys under the age of 10 at the time.
Mabel Rose with her two sons; Charles (top left) and William (on her lap) circa 1915

Mabel was born in Rushville, Indiana on June 16, 1893 to James Henry and Cordia (Cowger) Condon.

The first record I have of Mabel is the 1900 census1. She lives with her parents and two siblings: Charles and Lorene in Rushville, IN. It also states they live on 3rd Street.
Figure 1 http://libx.bsu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/InHisAtls/id/1097

In the next census, 19102, we find Mabel living with her father James and her brother Clarence in Indianapolis. She is listed as being a milliner. How cool is that, she made hats!

She met and married Clarence Rose on April 27th, 1912 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was 18 and he was 26. I wish I knew how they met, he was living in a boarding house in Columbus, IN and was a common laborer. I am going to go ahead and put it out there that they had to get married as their first son Charles Everett was born on January 6, 1913. Just shy of 9 months, maybe he was born early…..

In the 1913 City Directory3, Clarence (and I presume Mabel) were living at 908 Church Street in Indianapolis. There isn't a house there anymore but Lucas Oil Stadium is in the backyard now.

Mabel stood by her man as she had another child in 1914, William James. The family then picked up and moved to Chicago. Charles wrote:

Excerpt from Autobiography of Charles Rose, 1993

The only record I have of the family living in Chicago is Clarence’s WWI Draft Registration Card4 that states they lived at 2317 Indiana Avenue Chicago, Illinois and Mabel is his family contact.

Eventually Mabel and her boys moved back to Indianapolis and she divorced Clarence. I don’t know when this all happened but I have found Mabel, Charles and William (Bill) living in Indianapolis in what is known as the Fairview Settlement. Charles called it Hawville in his autobiography.

Excerpt from Autobiography of Charles Rose, 1993

According to The Family Service Association of Indianapolis Records 1879-1971:

It was located next to Crown Hill Cemetery just south of Butler-Tarkington. Mabel and her boys lived in a boarding house with 7 other people.

In February of 1920, a third child was born to Mabel and Clarence, Robert.
So Mabel had three boys, her husband deserted her and according to Charles, Mabel was working at the PREST-O-LITE Battery Company in Indianapolis making batteries. PREST-O-LITE started in Indianapolis in the early 1900s making headlights for electrified buggies using the gas, Acetylene. Not until 1927 did PREST-O-LITE begin the manufacture of batteries. Whether battery acid had anything to do with her demise could be true, it could have been other chemicals the factory used as well. They weren’t too keen on safety back then: http://www.firstsuperspeedway.com/articles/prest-o-lite

I believe her and the boys were living with her father outside of Speedway in his garage according to Charles:
Excerpt from Autobiography of Charles Rose, 1993

Going by what Charles stated, Grandfather (Mabel’s father) lived on Luett Avenue in Indianapolis at this time. Luett Avenue runs parallel to a set of railroad tracks and just on the other side of those tracks is now the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course and Motor Speedway.

She married again (I use this term loosely as I don’t think she married, as there is no record of this marriage) to George Washington Keller sometime around 1921. As with all the other women in my family tree, many marriages I believe were due to convenience. Mabel had three boys and needed help, I get it.

With this union between Mabel and George, a fourth son was born: Arthur Raymond Keller.  They were still living in Indianapolis. 
Excerpt from Autobiography of Charles Rose, 1993

Mabel died July 15, 1923. George Keller kept his only son Raymond, Robert was adopted by Mabel’s Aunt; Della (Delila) Heisel. Charles and William were sent to an orphanage that subsequently sent both to work on farms. *Update-Della was Mabel's Aunt, not her sister. 
Excerpt from Autobiography of Charles Rose, 1993

Mabel was buried in Rushville, Indiana in East Hill Cemetery where Charles and Bill eventually placed a headstone. It reads “Mother Mabel Rose Keller 1895-1923”.

  1. 1. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004
  2. 2. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.
  3. 3. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
  4. 4. United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.