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52ancestors

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small issued a challenge to the geneablogging world recently: to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, etc. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Mary Adaline House is my Great-Grand Aunt on my father’s maternal side. I don’t know too much about Mary except the “particulars” and wish I had a photo or stories about her. Mary was the sixth child born to my second great-grandparents, Florus Allen and Julia Ann (Lewis) House. Her siblings included Emily born in 1838, William Riley born in 1841, James Emory (my great-grandfather) born in 1842, Margaret born in 1844, Sarah born 1848, Teressa born in 1850, Emma born in 1853, Nancy Elizabeth born in 1856, and John born in 1857. Mary, born in Coshocton, Ohio on November 17, 1845 (based on the information given on her death certificate), would have been almost five on the 1850 US Census, however she isn’t enumerated in the family household. She is there in 1860, age 14, and 1870, age 24.

On August 4, 1870 Mary married Jacob Mushresh Rodgers in Coshocton, Ohio (Source: Ancestry.com; Ohio Marriages, 1803-1900). Prior to their marriage, Jacob had been a member of the 122nd Regiment (Ohio Volunteer Infantry) Company D during the Civil War. He went in on September 30, 1862 and was mustered out June 26, 1865. He took part in the Overland Campaign and was wounded then in the Battle of the Wilderness resulting in the loss of a hand. The couple had five children but the only two that are known to me are daughters, Elizabeth Mae born 1873, and Emma Viola born 1875.  The other three children died in infancy. The family lived in Coshocton county predominately in Warsaw.

Jacob died on December 12, 1909 – two years after daughter Emma Viola passed away.  Emma left behind a daughter, Mary Gladys, and was predeceased by her second child in infancy. Elizabeth (known as Lizzie) had become the wife of George Paxton Nowels in 1902 and went on to have four children. Jacob’s will and probate information has been located on FamilySearch.org in the Ohio Probate database. He left his estate to his wife, Mary, his daughter Lizzie and to his granddaughter, Mary Gladys. When my Great-Grand Aunt Mary Adaline refused to take under will, the story made the front page of the November 22, 1910 edition of the Coshocton Daily Times. She chose not to take her widow’s settlement and instead chose to accept the inheritance while she remained Jacob’s widow. She followed her husband into death on January 17, 1925 due to endocarditis brought on by influenza. As part of Jacob’s will, he had allotted $1000 toward a monument in the Valley View Cemetery, Warsaw, Ohio. This can be seen on his Find a Grave memorial page.

I still have quite a bit of information to discover about Mary Adaline and her husband, Jacob, and their children.

Our relationship: Florus Allen and Julia Ann (Lewis) House > Mary Adaline House – she was the sister of James Emory House who married Frances Virginia Ogan > their daughter Ella Maria married Lloyd William Amore > my dad married my mom > me.  Since Mary Adaline is the sister of my great-grandfather, she is considered my Great-Grand Aunt.

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52ancestors

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small issued a challenge to the geneablogging world recently: to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, etc. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Editha Bigelow, born on April 8, 1791 in Brookfield, Vermont, is my three times great-grandmother on my father’s side. Her parents, Eli Bigelow and Anna Freeman, were married on September 10, 1778 in Brookfield (Source: Vermont, Vermont State Archives and Records Administration, Montpelier, Vital Records, 1760-2003; Ancestry.com.) by Rev. Elijah Lyman.

Editha was their seventh child preceded by Asa (born 1779), Anna (born 1781), Amasa (born 1783), Asa (born 1785), Mergit (born 1787), and Eli (born 1788) and followed by Susanna (born 1793) and Seth Gilbert.  Editha’s oldest sibling Asa died at less than 2 years old, and as was more common in that time, the parents went on to name another child Asa several years later. The father, Eli, died on March 22, 1836 in Chatham, Connecticut (Source:index, FamilySearch, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/F7CC-TPX : accessed 05 Aug 2013, Eli Bigelow, 22 Mar 1836; citing reference p 102, FHL microfilm 3089.) and is buried at Mount Parnassus Burying Ground (Source: Find a Grave, Memorial #36942989). Anna’s date of death is unknown.

At the age of 21, Editha married Allen House on June 15, 1812 in East Hampton, Connecticut. Her new husband was 2 months her junior. The couple had five children: Florus Allen (my 2nd great-grandfather; born in 1813), Nelson W. (born 1815), Amasa (born 1817), Eli (born 1824), and Abigail (born 1826). Due to the seven years between Amasa’s and Eli’s birth, I suspect that there was at least one if not two other children who were born and died – or perhaps miscarried and/or stillborn – between them. The family had moved to New York and then to Milford, Michigan by the mid-1830s, where they remained until their deaths. Allen died on September 1, 1845 and was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Milford (Source: Find a Grave, Memorial #55024034).  Editha died on October 20, 1865 and was buried next to her husband (Source: Find a Grave, Memorial #55024034).

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Florus A House, my grand uncle (brother to my paternal grandmother), was born on April 21, 1873 in Guernsey county, Ohio to James Emory House and Frances Virginia Ogan – who were not yet married.  The marriage would take place one month later. Florus was named after his paternal grandfather (my 2nd great-grandfather).

At the age of fifteen, my grand uncle was very ill.  The “Semi-Weekly Age,” – a Coshocton county newspaper, reported in the April 20, 1888 edition that he was “on the sick list, with symptoms of lung fever.”  At the age of nineteen, he was picking apples at a neighbor’s farm and fell from the tree.  The “Coshocton Democratic Standard” reported in the October 21, 1892 edition that he “broke his fore arm and badly cut his face.”  When his oldest son was nineteen, they both were in a mining accident.  My father remembers that Florus had many facial scars from that accident.

On July 26, 1899, he married Emma Caroline Stacer, who was born on June 4, 1879. The couple bore 8 children: Harvey J House (born May 18, 1900), Gertrude M House (b. May 7, 1903), Mary H House (b. March 18, 1905), Ralph Frederick House (b. March 15, 1907), twins Wealtha Fay House and Welby James House (b. May 28, 1909), Dorthy E House (b. February 20, 1914), and Betty J House (b. private).

In the 1900 census, the couple and their son, Harvey, were living in Jackson township in the county of Coshocton. Florus indicated that his occupation was that of a coal miner, and that he and Emma had been married less than a year.

The family was living within the city limits of Coshocton at the time of the 1910 census.  Besides their son, Harvey, the family also included Gertrude, (Mary) Helen, Ralph, and Wealtha.  Her twin, Welby, had died less than two months after birth. He had been spina bifida. The July 12, 1909 edition of the “Coshocton Daily Times” mentioned that the baby “had been ill since his birth.”  He was buried at Prairie Chapel Cemetery.

The family stayed in Coshocton until between 1930 and 1935. The 1940 census showed that they were living in Tuscarawas township of the same county and had been there in 1935. Florus listed that he and his wife only had an 8th grade education (different than my grandmother and her sister who both graduated high school). They were members of the Coshocton Nazarene church.

In the spring of 1941, Florus had surgery for a double hernia. That was probably just the beginning of his troubles. Within six weeks, the “Coshocton Tribune” was reporting (July 2, 1941) that his condition was critical. Eight days later the same newspaper reported his death in the Cleveland Marine hospital.  He was 68 years old. His death certificate (image obtained from FamilySearch.org in the “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953” database) lists his cause of death as “hypertrophy of prostate (about 1 year ago); pyelonephrtis, bilateral, chronic.”  The online article “Bilateral Emphysematous Pyelonephritis in a Patient with No Known Risk Factors” from “The Journal of the National Medical Association” explains that it is a “rare life-threatening infection” (Hart, Peter D., Vaseemuddin, Mohammad, Egiebor, Osbert; J Natl Med Assoc. 2007 February; 99(2): 179–181. 29 July 2013).

Funeral services for Florus were held at the Nazarene church, and he was buried at Prairie Chapel cemetery. His wife, Emma, survived him, dying fourteen years later, on December 12, 1965 in Akron, Ohio. She was buried next to him. It is believed that only one of his daughters is still living.

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(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The blog prompt for March 12 – Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

clawsonstore

W.F. Clawson store in Anderson, Indiana

My maternal grandmother, Vesta Wilt, helped out in the store owned by her step-father, William Frank Clawson, prior to her marriage.  The Clawson’s store was located in Anderson, Indiana. That is about the only job outside of the home she ever had. Vesta was better known for being an excellent homemaker and making so many of her family and friends feel welcome in the homes she shared with her husband, my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson. He always held a position of importance in the military so my grandmother was always prepared to entertain other officers.

My paternal grandmother, Ella (House) Amore, worked in the Coshocton Glove factory. I don’t know if it was before she was married or after she was married with children.

mom45

Mary Amore using her knitting machine

Mom spent more time working outside of the home than she did as a full time homemaker. She worked as a bookkeeper, a seamstress, a grant writer, a secretary, and in accounting.  She didn’t complete her working “life” until 2003 – at the age of 81. With only a high school education, Mom was very fortunate to obtain some of the positions that she had. As a small child, I was lucky that she was a stay at home mom for awhile. When she did re-enter the workforce, it was as a seamstress for a drapery manufacturer. Then a few years later, she went to work for Apple Manufacturing in downtown Dayton. They worked on contracts for the U.S. Army making cargo covers among other items. It was heavy, dirty work and she didn’t get much more than what the law allowed for minimum wage. Very rarely did she have to miss work due to illness because if she had, she would not have gotten paid. She didn’t have much in common with the people she worked with. Yet she was there for almost 10 years before the government contracts stopped and the plant closed its doors. She painstakingly sent out feelers and resumes and stayed employed. Not only was she a professional seamstress out in the workforce, but Mom was a professional home seamstress. She was very good and for awhile when I was in elementary and middle school, she had regular clients who came to our home. She mainly did alterations but ocassionally would sew clothes – even our neighbor’s wedding dress. She had a knitting machine (see picture above) and took classes on how to be an instructor. Dad and I would drive her to other lady’s homes so she could teach others how to use the machine. Now that knitting machine is mine.

LMM146

Mom as a Senior Aide & Grant Writer at the Fairborn Senior Center – mid 1990s

(All photos – original and digital owned by Wendy Littrell, Address for Private Use)

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(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The blog prompt for March 11: “Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe how did this affect the family.”

My 2nd great-grandmother, Charlotte (Reed) Amore, born August 4, 1828 to Zachariah Reed and Margaret Pope died at the age of 34 years 2 months and five days on May 15, 1862 in Coshocton, Ohio. She had been married to William Amore for a little over 11 years and had borne him five sons – all but two died as young children or infants. She died a year after their youngest son died. Charlotte was not able to watch her two oldest sons grow into men or see them marry or hold her grandchildren. I don’t have any information about her death. I wonder if she was pregnant with another child but died in childbirth. If so, perhaps William didn’t even consider listing the child on a gravestone. Perhaps she caught an illness that killed her. Unless I find a news article about her death, I probably won’t ever what the circumstances were for her death. After Charlotte died, William married Elizabeth Spencer three months later. Elizabeth raised my great-grandfather, William Henry, and his brother, George Washington, along with the seven children she and William had together (one son died as a child, one at 5 months, and another at 15 days).

My maternal aunt, Genevieve Vesta (Johnson) Steffen, died from an inoperable brain tumor on May 2, 1958 a month before her 38th birthday. She was a wife of 16 years to John Steffen, mother to three ages 14, 13, and 12, and was working as a nurse. She was the middle child of my grandparents. My grandmother documented her daughter’s medical problems in letters sent to my mother in Japan. When things took a turn for the worse, a telegram was sent dated April 25, 1958.

telegram_genhealth

Genevieve operated on today
Tumor cannot be revoved
Doctor gives no hope of recovery
but may linger on for
sometime
Mailing tape with complete information
M
other Dad

My mother left for the states in order to be with her family. A few days later, she sent this telegram to my dad.

telegram_gendeath

Genevieve passed away
Funeral Monday morning
Love Dad and Mary Helen

Aunt Genevieve’s death left a void in the family. My grandparents had to lose another daughter (their baby died when only a few weeks old), worry about their three grandchildren who were left without a mother, and do what they could to make sure their son-in-law knew that he would always be a part of the family. I never met my aunt since she died several years before I was born but through all the written words of my grandparents, audio of the tape they sent my parents while she was recovering in the hospital after one of her surgeries, pictures, and the stories told by my grandparents, mom, and my cousins, I feel as if I would have really loved her. I have missed her even without knowing her. I also wish I could have witnessed the family dynamic between my mom and my aunt!

My paternal grandmother’s sister, Julia Ann (House) Tuttle, also died at a very young age. I wrote about her in Meeting Juila.

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(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The blog prompt for March 9: “Take a family document (baptismal certificate, passenger list, naturalization petition, etc.) and write a brief narrative using the information.”

Ella_Amore_4074803_435

This is my paternal grandmother’s death certificate.  Ella Amore (nee House) was born on June 22, 1882 in Ohio. Her father is listed as James House and her mother is (incorrectly) listed as Fannie Ogden (correct name: Frances Virginia Ogan). Gramma was 64 years and 11 days of age when she passed away at 5 a.m. on July 3, 1946 at her home located at 684 John Street in Coshocton, Ohio. She died from breast cancer which she had been battling for 2 years. Even though my grampa, Lloyd Amore, was still living, my uncle Gail (William Gail Amore), oldest son of the family, was the informant. Gramma was buried three days later in the Prairie Chapel Cemetery in Coshocton.

lloyd & ella gravestone close

Gravestone in Prairie Chapel Cemetery for Lloyd W. and Ella M. Amore

(Photo of gravestone taken by Robert Shackelford – cousin – and a copy sent to Wendy Littrell)

(Image of Death Certificate downloaded from FamilySearch.org website)

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Anillos

(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The blog prompt for March 5: “How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?”

I do know how my parents met – mom was working at Wright Field (now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) outside of Fairborn, Ohio (back then it was Fairfield) in Greene County, Bath Township. She met my dad in early 1941 when he was stationed there. They spent the next couple of years dating until they married in December 1943.

On Easter Sunday 1916 (April 23), my maternal grandparents, Glen R Johnson and Vesta C Wilt, met at church. Life would never be the same for either of them again! Such began months of daily correspondence for even though they lived in the same town, they sent letters to each other every day – and since the mail service ran twice a day – it wasn’t just one letter they sent, but two! Luckily for me, I have each and every one of those letters. To me they are priceless! A window into their lives that helped me witness them falling in love with each other (although I suspect, it was love at first sight for both of them!).

glen_vesta_eastercherry_hill

The following is parts of a letter from my grandfather to my grandmother that he wrote to her on May 31, 1916 – a little over a month after their initial meeting.

You told me that you were not cold last night but I think you were. I am afraid you (my little girl) will be sick. But I hope not. Do not work to hard to-day. I hope you had a good time yesterday. I did I know. So good-bye Dear
I still remain yours forever
                                       Glen
To the one I love best Miss Vesta Wilt signed Glen

Later that summer – apparently after my great-grandmother, Martha, had words about Glen with my grandmother, he was very scared and wrote the following to my grandmother:

Vesta Dear I am afraid your mother will make me quit going with you. Oh! I can’t stand to think of it. I have cried all evening. But listen Dear you have a good time, don’t think of me. Whatever happens I will take it as best I can, I can go west or some other place and die. But I never will forget the Little girl of Mine. Vesta. The dearest girl there ever was. Hoping you will forgive me for all I have said and done. I will never do them again. After I leave you can forget me and find some one just as good and better than I am. Hoping you will not think hard of me for all this talk, but I think it will happen. I had a dream I never told you of. I don’t know whether I will tell you now. I think you can guess it. And just think I caused it all I am simply crazy. Well dear I have told you all I know and more to. I will be there Sunday morning if I am alive. Hoping you will not worry. Let me do all the worrying. I will close. Forgive the writing. I will close again with lots of love and kisses.
I still remain your lover and sweetheart, bit I am afraid never yours to be.
                    Glen
                 The broken hearted boy.  9:30 P.M.
5:30 A.M. Aug. 4, 1916
P.S. Well Dear I past through the awful night. I got about one hour sleep. I was thinking or crying the rest. Crying the most. Well Dear I guess I will try and work to-day. I don’t know whether I can or not.
                    Glen

My grandfather needn’t have worried because just a few short months later, they were engaged and married on Christmas Eve 1916 – eight months after they met. They were married 67 years before my grandmother passed away. My grandfather wait a year and then joined her. I am so very fortunate to have boxes and boxes of their letters to each other that allows me to feel their deep abiding and eternal love for one another.

I don’t have any idea how my paternal grandparents met – that is something I will have to ask my dad about! (Took a 15 minute break and called my dad!) Loyd W Amore and Ella M House were introduced to each other by his brother Isaiah H (Zade) Amore and wife, Lula (St. Clair). Lula was a sewing teacher and was teaching my grandmother how to sew. She asked my grandma if she wanted to meet someone and she said that would be ok (or as my dad said “Whatever they said back then.”) So they were introduced about 1901-02 and were married on April 11, 1903 in the Presbyterian Manse in Coshocton, Ohio.

Photos: Wedding rings from Wikimedia Commons. Glen and Vesta Johnson – photographer: Wendy Littrell, original and digital photo in possession of Wendy Littrell, Address for private use).

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ADAMS

1. Jeremy ADAMS was my 9th great-grandfather on my paternal side. He was born about 1604 in England. Henry Whitmore’s book, The History of the Adams Family, published by the Higgenson Book Company in 1893, gives a good deal of information about this man.  It reports that Adams arrived in America with Thomas Hooker and lived in Braintree, Cambridge and finally Hartford, Connecticut. His first wife, Rebecca Baseden, had previously been married to Samuel Greenhill.  The widow and Adams married in Hartford, Connecticut. When she died in 1678, and he married Rebecca Fletcher, widow of Andrew Warner, Jr. John ADAMS, son of Adams and the first Rebecca, became my 8th great-grandfather.  Jeremy ADAMS died on August 11, 1683 in Hartford and is buried in the Ancient Burying Ground in Hartford. His name is listed on the “Founders” Monument. Further information concerning this man and his family can be found in the book Genealogies of Connecticut Families: From the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 1 by Judith McGhan, published by the Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983, page 5.

2. John ADAMS, born 1637 in Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut married Abigail Smith on August 24, 1657 in Connecticut.  She was born 1638 and died in New York after 1683. John and Abigail Adams are not to be confused with our second President and First Lady (they were born almost one hundred years apart). The couple had eight children: Rebecca (who I am descended from), Abigail, Sarah, Jeremiah, John, Jonathan, Thomas and Lydia. John Adams died on September 6, 1670 in Hartford.

3. Rebecca ADAMS,  my 7th great-grandmother, was born in August 1658 in Hartford and died before May 1726. She married Richard Risley in 1676 in Hartford. He was born August 2, 1645 and died in 1730 in Hartford. Eleven children were born to this union. Their son, Samuel, is my ancestor.

From Samuel to myself: Samuel Risley m. Rebecca Gaines; their son, Thomas Risley m. Elizabeth Burnham; their daughter, Rebecca Risley, m. Lazarus House; their son, Allen House, m. Editha Bigelow; their son, Florus Allen House, m. Julia Ann Lewis; their son, James Emory House, m. Frances Virginia Ogan; their daughter, Ella Maria House, m. Lloyd William Amore.  My dad is Ella and Lloyd’s son!

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Are you in it? Are your parents in it? Who is in it that you are looking for?

As we get closer and closer to the release of the 1940 US Census, I am compiling a list of those in my family who are in it.

  • My dad – he was already in the Army Air Corps.
  • My mom – she had just turned 18 prior to the census; she was married and living in Greene County, Ohio.
  • My brother – he was a newborn.
  • My paternal grandparents: Lloyd and Ella (House) Amore. They were living in Coshocton County, Ohio.
  • My maternal grandparents: Glen and Vesta (Wilt) Johnson. I believe they were living in Greene County, Ohio.
  • My maternal great-grandmother – Martha (Stern) Clawson. She was living in Lane County, Oregon.
  • My maternal great-grandfather – Joseph N. Wilt – and his second wife – Anna (Park) Wilt. They were probably living in Scott County, Indiana.
  • My paternal great-grandmother – Mary Angelina (Werts) Amore. She was living in Coshocton, Ohio – probably with my grandparents, Lloyd and Ella.

Also, I should be able to find aunts and uncles and collateral relatives.

So who are you hoping to find?

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Locating the maiden name of my second great-grandmother has taken over ten years.  If I had been able to order film from my local Family History Center, it could have taken several years less. However, thanks to the digitized Ohio death and marriage records on Familysearch.org, I was able to put a surname to the woman who married Florus Allen House (born Jan 5, 1813 in Connecticut, died June 25, 1891 in Tuscarawas, Coshocton, Ohio) on April 14, 1836.

From the death record of their daughter, Nancy Elizabeth House (m. Oscar DeLong), the informant, Mabel Harding (her daughter), listed Nancy’s mother’s name as Julia Lewis. Another family member’s death certificate also listed the name Julia Lewis. When I looked up the marriage record, on the off chance it had been digitized by Familysearch.org, I looked for Michigan marriage records because the story had been passed around that Florus and Julia Ann were married in Michigan. I found the marriage record – but not in Michigan – in Muskingum County, Ohio. Florus House and Julia Ann Lewis were married in that county!

Upon picking apart the short marriage detail in the book, I saw that after Julia’s name it read: “from Falls Township, Muskingum County.” Since they were married in 1836, I realized I should look at Census records from 1820 (when Julia was about five years old) through 1830.  In the 1820 Census records from Fall Township, I found the household of Able Lewis that had 2 females under the age of 10. In the 1830 Census in Falls Township, there were 2 females 10-15 years old. Both records fit Julia’s age. So who was this Able Lewis? Who was his wife?

In the Muskingum County Rootsweb archives list, I found a query from Nan E. Sabulsky, who posted on August 9, 1998:

Searching for decendents of John LEWIS b.abt. 1810 Muskingum co., Ohio married Eliza MCVAY in abt.1835 in Cochocton Co. I believe they lived in Falls Township,Muskingum Co. John’s father was Able Lewis and mother was Nancy ROBINSON of Falls Twnshp., Muskingum Co. John had a brother George and brother Edwin. He also had a sister, however I do not have her name.

Could this be the same family that I was looking for?  In the 1860 Census of Falls Township, Muskingum County, I found a George Lewis who had an eight year old daughter named Julia Ann. Could this George be the same person Mrs. Sabulsky referenced in her post? If he was Julia Ann’s brother, then possibly he named his daughter after his sister.

Digging further into the Able Lewis and Nancy Robinson family, I discovered that the spellings of the first name could either be Able or Abel. I also noticed that Robinson was Nancy’s name after her first marriage – her maiden name was either Johnson or Johnston, and she either went by Ann or Nancy.

Mrs. Sabulsky also lists a first wife for Abel Lewis, along with three children born before 1810.  She lists Abel Lewis birth as before 1775 in Pennsylvania and his death after 1825 in Ohio.  In another article (Schneider, Norris F. “Lodge of Amity”. Soldier Ant. 2 May 2003. Web.) was this information:

Abel Lewis became a Mason in White Horse Lodge No. 50 in Pennsylvania and worked as a visitor at American Union Lodge before coming to Zanesville. He was the first clerk of the court of common pleas in Muskingum County and postmaster of Zanesville in 1805. He became insane in 1813 and was supported by his Masonic brethren in the county jail until he escaped in 1826. He was never heard from again.

In a digitized book accessed on Google Books (Parker, Leonard Fletcher. “History of Poweshiek County, Iowa: a record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, Volume 2.” 1911. Published by The S. J. Clarke publishing co. Original held by New York Public Library. Digitized 24 January 2008. Web.) was this article about Judge W.R. Lewis, son of John Lewis and Louisa A. Ramey, grandson of Abel Lewis:

JUDGE W. R. LEWIS.

With the work of framing as well as interpreting the laws of Iowa Judge W. R. Lewis has been closely associated, serving at different times as a member of the upper house of the state legislature and as judge of the circuit and district courts. Aside from this he has won a wide and enviable reputation as a learned lawyer, seldom, if ever, at fault in the application of a legal principle. For more

 

than a half century he has been a resident of Poweshiek county, having come here in the days of his early manhood, his birth having occurred near Zanesville, Muskingum county, Ohio, on the 12th of October, 1835. He was, therefore, about twenty-two years of age when he arrived in Poweshiek county and nine years later was admitted to the bar.

He comes of Welsh and German ancestry. His father, John M. Lewis, was born in Muskingum county, Ohio, his natal year being 1811. He was a son of Abel Lewis, who was born near White Sulphur Springs, Virginia, and was a college graduate. In the latter part of the eighteenth century he removed to Ohio and became a government surveyor in Muskingum and Coshocton counties. He took part in several of the Indian wars and was closely associated with many of the events which led to the reclamation of Ohio for the purpose of civilization. Following his marriage he established his home in Zanesville and there served as clerk of the court for four years. He was also the author of some mathematical works. Entering a large tract of land, he became interested in agricultural pursuits, took up his abode on his farm and spent the residue of his days there. For many years he was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and his entire life was the exemplification of his Christian belief.

John M. Lewis, the father of Judge Lewis, married Louisa A. Ramey and settled upon a part of the old homestead, five and a half miles from Zanesville. Subsequently he took up his abode at New Castle, Coshocton county, Ohio, and engaged in merchandising as a member of the firm of Thornhill, Berry & Lewis. The discovery of gold, however, attracted him,to, California in 1851, the journey to the coast being made by way of the’ jsthrmts of Panama. He spent two years in prospecting and mining, in whicline was cf afcljj successful. He then returned to New Castle and soon afterward retired from business. He, too, belonged to the Methodist Episcopal churclT,-<and,,hisj)Qliiical allegiance was given to the republican party. His wife was born”in Muskingum county, a daughter of Sanford Ramey, a native of Virginia and of German descent. He became one of the early settlers of Ohio and his daughter Louisa was born and reared in that state. Her death occurred in 1886.

Judge Lewis, the eldest in a family of ten children, spent the first ten years of his life in his native county and then removed with his parents to Coshocton county, Ohio. For four or five years he attended school during the winter months, the remainder of the year being spent in assisting his father in the store. He was also at intervals engaged in farm work and took up the study of surveying. He read law in New Castle and while thus engaged followed the profession of surveying for several years. In 1856 he took the first step in the removals which brought him eventually to Iowa. In that year he became a resident of Southport, Peoria county, Illinois, where he worked at the carpenter’s trade and also spent a month in farm labor. During the winter he taught school at Southport and in the spring of 1857 he came to Montezuma, then a little village of four or five hundred inhabitants. Since that time he has continuously resided in Poweshiek county and has made for himself a high and eviable position in the regard of his fellowmen. Through the summer months he worked at carpentering or at other employment which he could secure and his evening hours were devoted to the further study of law. He thus soon qualified for admission to the bar but he determined not to seek admission until he felt that he could give his entire attention to law practice. He recognized the fact that to do this he must have a certain amount of capital to tide him over that initial period in the life of every lawyer when he must spend some time in waiting for clients.

In the fall of 1857 Judge Lewis secured the position of principal of the public schools and did splendid works as one of the early educators of Poweshiek county. While active in that capacity he was largely instrumental in organizing the teachers’ institute and he also graded the schools of Montezuma. This work alone would entitle him to the lasting gratitude of his fellow townsmen. In 1862 he was elected county superintendent of schools and before the expiration of his term was chosen by popular suffrage for the office of clerk of the county and district courts. In the latter position he served acceptably for a term, after which he resigned to form a partnership with Hon. M. E. Cutts, former member of congress, to conduct a milling business, which was carried on successfully for a great period, after which he sold out. For a year he occupied the position of deputy treasurer and for two years as a member of the county board of supervisors served as its chairman. He has ever regarded a public office as a public trust and it is well known that no public trust reposed in Judge Lewis has ever been betrayed in the slightest degree. Capable, diligent and loyal, he won the confidence and good-will of the public through his devotion to duty in the offices which he was called upon to fill in the earlier years of his residence here.

At length, feeling that the time was ripe when he might give his attention to his profession, in 1866 he applied for and secured admission to the bar and entered upon active practice, being associated for a time with the Hon. D. H. Emery, while later he became a partner of C. R. Clark. He won success because he wisely and conscientiously used the talents with which nature endowed him. An analytical mind enabled him to bring a trend of reasoning to its logical conclusion and to accurately apply the principles of law to the points at issue. His successful handling of cases early in his legal career awakened public confidence and brought him an increased clientage. In the fall of 1880 he was honored with election to the circuit court bench for the district embracing Poweshiek. Jefferson, Washington, Keokuk, Mahaska, Marion and Jasper counties, becoming the second circuit judge, his predecessor having been Judge Blanchard. After filling the position for four years the district was divided and he was elected judge of the first circuit, which included Jefferson, Washington, Keokuk and Poweshiek counties. He continued upon that bench until 1886, when, upon the abolishment of the circuit court, he was made one of the three judges for the district. There was keen strife for the office and Judge Lewis was not renominated by his party at the time but in response to the unanimous wish of his constituents he permitted his name to be used as an independent candidate and was elected by a sweeping majority. There was a prevailing belief that his defeat in the convention was due to unfair means and this contributed to his success at the polls. He retired from the bench in 1890, after a judicial service of ten years, and resumed the practice of law in Montezuma. A contemporary biographer has said of him:

“He is a man of great legal ability and while on the bench was a warm friend of the young practitioner. He never permitted a young lawyer to sacrifice his client’s interest if a word or suggestion from the court could help him. His decisions were rarely reversed. No district or circuit judge has a better record in the supreme court than Judge Lewis. So unerring were his views, especially in equity cases, that the attorneys in his court learned it was next to useless to appeal as he was nearly always sustained. He was slow in deciding but his work never had to be done a second time. As special counsel for the county in the famous cases against the Rowes and against the bondsmen of the defaulting treasurer he earned new laurels.”

Following his retirement from the bench Judge Lewis during the year 1891 acted as general manager for the Hawkeye Electric Manufacturing Company, with headquarters at Davenport, but in the fall of 1891 again took up his abode in Montezuma and has since been actively associated with the work of the courts and at seventy-five years of age has a large and lucrative law practice, doing as much court work as he ever did in his younger days. In addition he has proved his worth in the management of commercial interests. He was one of the organizers of the Montezuma Electric Light & Power Company, superintended the construction of the plant and took up the management of the business. He also superintended the erection and installation of the electric light works at Bloomfield and at Sigourney and assisted in surveying the route for the Grinnell & Montezuma Railroad. He made and published the first map of Poweshiek county and at all times has been closely associated with the growth and progress of the county not alone by reason of his connection with industrial and commercial affairs or with the legal profession but also because he has been the champion of every project and measure which he deemed of value in the public life of the community. He was again called to office in the fall of 1897, when he was nominated by acclamation for the state senate at the republican convention of the twelfth senatorial district, comprising Poweshiek and Keokuk counties. The election showed that he was the popular candidate and for four years he remained a member of the upper house. He gave careful consideration to each question which came up for settlement and left the impress of his individuality and ability upon the laws enacted during that period.

In 1865, in Burlington, Vermont, Mr. Lewis was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Cutts, a daughter of Edwin Cutts, of Brandon, Vermont, and a sister of M. E. Cutts, of Oskaloosa. The marriage relation between them was always of a most ideal character and the deepest grief in the life of Judge Lewis came to him in the death of his wife on the 10th of April, 1893.

Fraternally Judge Lewis is connected with Masonry as a Knight Templar and belongs also to the Iowa Legion, the Ancient Order of United Workmen and to the Iowa State Bar Association. He has never faltered in his stalwart support of the republican party and its principles and has served as chairman of the county central committee. He was a member of the first city council of Montezuma and while important political interests relative to the work of the courts and to the law-making body of the state have claimed his attention he has never considered himself above the duties connected with the management of local interests. A lifelong member of the Presbyterian church, he has served as elder and trustee and for a number of years was superintendent of the Sunday school, in which position he continued until his election to the bench. He is today one of the oldest residents of Montezuma in years of continuous connection with the city, and among the men of Poweshiek county who have been long in public service the record of none has been more constant in honor, fearless in conduct and stainless in reputation.

There is solid documentation that any of these people are the family of my Julia Ann Lewis. However, I have information that I can try to disprove now. The one thing I do know is that Julia Ann Lewis is my second great-grandmother – who her parents and siblings were is still up for debate until I find hard evidence.

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