(Original Photo and Digital Print held in possession of Wendy J Littrell. Do not copy without permission.)
Posts Tagged ‘Indiana’
When I was a young girl, my mom mentioned something in passing about my Grandad’s brother. What? A brother? I thought my grandfather was an only child. So I pressed her for some elaboration. The story she told (which had to have come from her dad or his parents) was that Letis Johnson was 13 years older than my grandfather, and that he was “crazy”. My grandparents had to commit him several times to the Insane Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Sometimes Letis would come home for visits. One time he threw a brick through the chicken coop. Another time he was so engraged he tried to cut off my grandfather’s ear. Grandad carried the scar the rest of his life. Mom also mentioned that it was believed Letis had falled at some point in his infancy or early childhood, and it was thought the fall had caused some sort of brain problem.
As a young girl and teen, this story was fascinating. A loony great-uncle who died at the age of 28. As a budding family historian over ten years ago, this was the type of information that needed to be delved into. But as a mother – it was heartbreaking. I wrote about this in Katie’s Story.
On the Friends of Allen County website (Friends of Allen County), I found information that showed that Letis had been admitted to the Fort Wayne State School (Home for Feeble Minded Youths) due to epilepsy (probably caused by the fall), and he died from pneumonia. What makes this story even sadder, is that it happened decades before there were medicines to help with epileptic seizures. Today, Letis could be a functioning member of society. I don’t know if he attended enough school to be considered educated. I don’t know if he ever felt romantic love for someone. I don’t know if he felt all alone when he was far away from his family. And until two years ago, I didn’t even know what he looked like. Then I found the pictures. Suddenly I had a face to go with the name.
So the question I still go back to – was Letis really “mad” or just suffering from a medical condition? Epileptic seizures have ocurred in many people throughout history – from Biblical times until now – sports figures, celebrities, and normal people trying to live their lives. How debilitating one must feel when a seizure strikes – especially in a time when others wondered what the person had “done” to be cursed with this illness. Did Katie and John (my great-grandparents) blame their son for having epilepsy? Themselves? The universe? Or did they just feel helpless? They weren’t wealthy enough to travel to a “big” city to have a fancy medical doctor treat Letis – if there even was a treatment then. All they could do to protect themselves, their younger son, and their home was to send him to a place where he would be treated, cared for, and kept from hurting himself or others. My heart goes out to my great-grandparents because that type of decision must not have been made lightly.
So the Great-Uncle I didn’t know much about, has aided me in the way I look at the other members of his family.
I wanted to update my post of the other day concerning the obituary for Ellen Ora (Johnson) Moffitt that is the Knightstown (Indiana) Banner. A wonderful person in that area checked the obituary for me and said that neither her parents or siblings are listed in it. So that rules out that source. She did, however, suggest I contact the Health Dept to see if the death certificate would have her parents listed. I would like to think that her husband would have known who her parents were but whether or not that information was part of the standard death certificate information in 1929 for Indiana is an unknown to me. The only way I’ll find out is if I make that call.
Stay tuned for more . . .
The journey is taking a surprising turn . . .
If you’ve followed this series, in Part 1 , I explained how I’m on the search to find out how the Moffitt family is connected to my maternal Johnson family. In Part 2, I examined some letters from Elenora Johnson Moffitt’s daughters that shed some light on the relationship.
Yesterday, I decided to check the Henry County Genealogical Society webpage to see if I could find any information on the Moffitt family. I clicked on the Death Records and scrolled down. Listed under Moffitt, Christopher – I saw that he died on July 8, 1939 at the age of 84 years old. The informaton also gave me what Book Name, book number and page number the record was located. Then I saw Moffitt, Ellen O. (not Elenora) who died on October 26, 1929 with the same type of information on what book, number and page to find her death record.
Under obituaries, I found that the Banner (a newspaper in Knightstown, Indiana), had an index of obituaries on their sight. There was also a warning that because so many people had called up to complain about inaccuracies, it was a strong possibility that the index might be taken down as well. And no one at the paper was going to go off and look for any information. However, I found both people.
Ellen Ora’s obituary apparently lists not only her husband and children – but her parents!! Her obituary is located in the November 1, 1929 edition of the Banner, on pages 1 and 3. I am no where near Knightstown so I can’t just go down to the local library and look it up. The Banner people obviously have had enough of “genealogy” people complaining about things so they won’t be able to help me. What I really need is someone to go to the local Knightstown library or the Henry County Genealogical Society and look up the obituary – since I’ve provided date and page – and be able to at least give me the parents’ names. That would be a big help and a wonderful gift.
So in the meantime, I will continue to scour the census records to see if I can find Ellen Johnson, Ora Johnson, or Ellen O. Johnson (perhaps Ella Nora – depending on what the census taker heard and wrote down).
Stay tuned for more!
And the journey continues . . .
In my previous post, Moffitt Mystery, I told about how I discovered that the family of C.C. (Christopher Columbus) Moffitt was related to my maternal line, the Johnson family. I found the reunion minute book and the letter I wrote about. I also found another letter in the book that I had forgotten about.
In a letter from Bess Lukens, daughter of C.C. Moffitt and Elenora Johnson, and wife of Ben Lukens, written on August 21, 1940, to those at the reunion and addressed to my grandmother (who was secretary of the reunion committee at the time), she said:
Dear Johnson & Shively,
Would like very much to be with you this year and enjoy the day, but am sorry to say it will be impossible to do so. Will send you the names of my children and their families. My eldest son, Robert, his wife Jane and children, Bobby, Billy and Janene, then my daughter Doris Dalrymple, her husband Lawrence and their daughter Carol Ann – they all live in Knightstown. My youngest son Eugene is in the Marine Corp at Great Lakes, Ill.
Hope this will help you out, should you wish any more information that I can furnish you, please write me. Hope to with you all some day.
I remain, a cousin
That letter provided me with other names I had seen in the past – either connected to the Johnson-Shively reunion or letters of my grandparents. It didn’t tell me anything other than somehow Bess was related to the Johnson family. It would take more information for me to discover just who she was.
On August 28, 1941 a letter was written – also addressed to my grandmother – from Helen Land who lived at 217 N.W. 5th St., Richmond, Indiana. She was Bess’ sister and the youngest child of C.C. and Elnora. She wrote:
We received the card announcing the Johnson – Shively reunion and are so sorry we won’t be able to attend, as our plans were made for over Labor day, for several wks. prior to receiving the card, but it is much to my regrets that I can’t be with ou all, and enjoy that scrumptous dinner, you Johnsons and Shivelys can prepare, and to mingle with my mother’s people again.
In some way or another the Johnson blood tie is very dear to me. I believe Mother must have been a typical Johnson. She was surely a fine woman and tho’ she’s been gone most twelve years (will be Oct 26) I miss her every day & miss her companionship. Our Dad has been gone away now two yrs. last July 8. His last few years were very declining and his going was a great relief to himself & I really miss him – for I was my “Daddy’s baby” and was for 37 yrs and that was a long time you know to be loved so tenderly as he always did me. (Now I told my age.) ha!
Well so much for that. The rest of the girls are well. Our oldest sister, which some may remember, attended the reunion with us several yrs back, when held at Riverside at Anderson, is now located at Goble Oregon and I had a letter not long since & they are well & happy.
Our one and only brother seems to be doing quite well for himself. He is a general contractor in Waldport Oregon. He has two grand children and four children in the west too.
One sister, Elva, whom I really think has never attended a reunion lives at Lafayette. Lena, whom you all know, lives here in Richmond and I see her and her family quite often. Her daughter’s husband (Ernest Fletcher) whom you’ve all met died suddenly a yr. ago last Mar 22 and that was quite a shock to all of us. Lena said to tell you, that they should like to have been with you, too, had like wise made previous plans for over Labor Day.
Bess, Ethel and Hazel all live at Knightstown and Hazel had the misfortune to lose her son Howard Price almost 3 1/2 yrs ago. Bess is a widow now too.
Well now all eight of us are taken care of I think – only to tell you that I think I have three nice kiddies & of whom I’m real proud. My oldest girl is 19. My son most 17, and my baby girl is nost 13, and they are all quite large. Phyllis is working, having graduated in ’40. Weldon will enter the 11A class in Senior Hi. this fall. Ruth Eleanor will enter the 7A. class in Jr. Hi. Carlos, the husband and daddy is well and working hard on the defense work in the shop and as to myself since having had several surgical operations and one thing and another have gained back a lot of that weight that I used to carry around but I do feel well and why should I let a few pounds worry me. Eh? Anyway mama was stout and I was proud of her & people tell me I look like my mom so why should I let it worry me – I say.
I am wanting to know why and when the Reunion was changed to the last Sun. in August? Was supposed it was over with or there just wasn’t any anymore. The Moffitt’s have their reunion on the first Sun. of Aug. now. We didn’t attend it this yr either. As to the J-S’s reunion if there should be another, I hope to be able to attend it, and would have this year if I had known about it just a few days earlier but we had made other plans for over Labor Day and again I’m sorry but know you’ll all have a nice time & altho’ I won’t be there in person, I’ll be thinking of you and send all my Love and best wishes to you (all) and hope to be with you next year.
Helen M. land
I should be glad to have some of you write to me.
I always will remember the swell times I always used to have with all of you.
Helen Land’s letter gave me the clues that her mother was a Johnson – and even though that is such a common surname – she was part of this Johnson clan; information about her siblings, children, and spouse; and how regretful she was that she wasn’t able to attend the reunion. From her sentence about how long her mother and father had been gone, I knew about what year they had died – which corresponded to the date of death for C.C. Moffitt that I’d found in the reunion book. I also learned the correct spelling for her maiden name – as I have also seen it spelled “Moffett”, “Moffit”, “Moffatt”, and “Moffet”. Two “f”s and two “t”s and an “i” – not an “e” or “a”.
My research has been online (as I am not able to travel to see the actual documents). What I found for C.C. Moffitt’s and Elenora Johnson’s children are as follows:
1. Ancestry had census records for the Jesse Virgil Kenworthy family – which confirmed that Myrtle Moffitt (oldest daughter of C.C. Moffitt and Elenora Johnson was his wife. The 1900, 1910 and 1920 U.S. Census recorded them living in Oregon. They had two sons. The 1930 U.S. Census showed that the family had moved to California. I also found a marriage record on Familysearch in Indiana. They married on August 8, 1899 in Rush County, Indiana. Interestingly, I found another marriage record for them on June 21, 1925 from Gooding County, Idaho. So sometime between the recording of the 1920 U.S. Census and then, they divorced but got remarried. Another mystery – what happened? Jesse Virgil died on April 16, 1956 in Clackamas, Oregon and Myrtle died on December 12, 1970 in the same county. So the couple returned to Oregon from California.
2. Lena Moffitt’s married Earl B. Atkins in Knightstown, Indiana on February 12, 1902. Her mother’s first name is spelled Elnora. It also shows that this was the first marriage for both.
3. Elva Moffitt married Harry F. Griffith in Henry County, Indiana on March 31, 1909. Her birth place is listed as Rush County, Indiana. Mother’s name is listed as Ellen Johnson. Elva and Harry are found in the 1920 U.S. Census living in Deer Creek, Carroll County, Indiana with their two children – Kathryn and Paul. They are in the same area in the 1930 U.S. Census and Paul is the only child at home. Harry died in September 1971. Elva died in April 1979.
4. Carl A. Moffitt – only son of C.C. and Elenora – married Clenna Marie Smith on November 25, 1909 in Henry County. His place of birth is listed as Rush County. The family is found in the 1910 U.S. Census on Ancestry in Rush County, Indiana. There are no children. The World War I Draft Registration Card for Carl is in Missoula County, Montana. In the 1920 U.S. Census they are in Wayne Township, Henry County, Indiana with their two oldest children – Donald and Juanita. In the 1930 U.S. Census they are living in Portland, Oregon with their three sons and 1 daughter: Donald, Juanita, David and Dick. The Social Security Death Index shows that Carl died in August 1971 with his last residence in Lincoln County, Oregon.
5. Bessie Pearl Moffitt married Benjamin Lukens in New Castle, Indiana on November 26, 1912. Bessie was born in Rush County, Indiana. This was the groom’s second marriage and Bessie’s first.
6. Ethel Fay Moffitt married Horace E. Worth in Henry County, Indiana on December 14, 1910. Her place of birth is listed as Henry County, Indiana. Mother’s name is listed as Ellen Johnson.
7. Mary Hazel Moffitt married Otto B. Price in Henry County, Indiana on February 10, 1914. Hazel was born in Henry County, Indiana. In the 1930 U.S. Census on Ancestry, the family is living in Knightstown, Henry County, Indiana with their two children, Howard and Janice. Also in the household is Hazel’s father, listed as Columbus C Moffitt, age 75. He is listed as a widower.
8. Also on Familysearch I found the marriage information for Helen Moffitt (spelled “Moffett”) to Carlos E. Land in Rush County, Indiana on July 24, 1921. The bride’s mother’s name is listed as Ellenora Johnson and the bride is listed as being born in Henry County, Indiana on November 9, 1902.
There are more records to research – still no idea how Elenora is related to my Johnson’s. I’ll take a look at Jacob and Ann (Shields) Johnson’s children next to see if Elenora was a child of one of them.
Stay tuned for Part 3!
Follow me on my journey . . .
As I try to discover how the Moffitts were related to my maternal Johnson family. My first brush with this family came when I was reading the minutes from the Johnson reunions. These minutes were kept in a book and ended up in the possession of my grandparents – Glen R. and Vesta (Wilt) Johnson. My grandmother was the secretary of the reunion committee for the last several years that it was held.
In the book for the 25th reunion, held on August 23, 1939 under Deaths was this notation: C. C. Moffitt, Knightstown, Ind. Thus began my search for who C.C. Moffitt was in relation to the Johnsons. In the back of the book was a list of addresses. One of the listings was: Mr. C.E. Land, 18 North Franklin St. Knightstown, Ind. Further down was: Mrs. C.C. Moffitt, Knightstown R.R. #2.
Stuck in the back of the book was a letter from a Mrs. Helen Land. She talked about not being able to attend one of the reunions. Other items she mentioned alerted me that her mother, who had passed away, had been a Johnson by birth. I started searching on some of the genealogy sites until I ran across a Helen Moffitt who had married a Carlos Land. Helen’s father was Christopher Columbus Moffitt. Mother reportedly Elenora Johnson. Then I found some census records that documented the names.
At this moment, the reunion book and letter from Helen Land are in a file cabinet in the back of a room that is full of stuff right now. Once I get my hands on that book and letter, I can go through it line by line to see if I can find some other clues since it’s been a few years since I read it.
I’ve yet to find a relationship between Elenora Johnson Moffitt and my Johnson line. Obviously there was a connection, hence the information in the Johnson Reunion minutes, the addresses of those people and a letter from Elenora’s daughter.
Elenora was born in July 1859. The information I took this from is an undocumented family tree on Rootsweb. No parents were listed.
So where did I go from there? Stay tuned for the second part of my journey – exploring the census records.
If you have any information about the Moffitt / Johnson connection or are familiar with the Christopher Columbus Moffitt family – possibly a descendent – please let me know – perhaps we can solve this puzzle together!
In my post a year ago, My Nash Connections, I mentioned my 3rd great-grandparents – Alexander and Elsy Nash. Elsy’s maiden name has been reported to be Winninger or Winger – and several variations of those names. With my Ancestry subscription that came with my new Family Tree Maker software, I thought I’d do some more digging.
Clicking the “leaf” next to Alexander’s name brought up seven different records. The very first one was the Pennsylvania (PA) Minesinger Family Tree. It listed Alexander’s wife as Elsie Minesinger. Well, it was a start. I had to start checking that information out and see what documentation I could find before believing that Minesinger was the maiden name I’d been looking for.
There were no source citations listed for their marriage and the citations listed for Elsie’s birth and residence came from a census after her marriage to Alexander. Still nothing that answered any questions. Elsie’s parents were listed as Joseph Minesinger and Christina. Since Christina had been Alexander and Elsie’s daughter’s name, and the reason my grandmother’s middle name was Christena, I thought it was a clue. However, I also knew that whoever put together that information, could have just deduced the woman’s name was Christina.
Since most of Alexander and Elsy’s children were born in Henry County, Indiana, I knew that the couple had moved there from Pennsylvania. Looking to see if there were any other Minesinger families in the Henry County area – perhaps a purported sibling of Elsy, I found John Minesinger living two doors away from Alexander and Elsy in the 1850 US Census for Henry County. In the 1860 Census, they are shown right next to each other and again 2 doors away in the 1870 Census. There is also a “Christean Minesinger” buried in Lebanon Baptist Cemetery – which is where Alexander, Elsy and three of their children are buried.
It’s not enough information for documentation that Minesinger is the Elsy’s maiden name – but it’s more than I had a year ago. I will continue to search for other records – church, christening, etc. until I am satisfied that I am on the right track.