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Posts Tagged ‘Madison County’

So many times when we locate an ancestor they have migrated from where they were born or married or built a home, to another area possibly a great distance away.  What prompts these moves?  What was it they were searching for or hoping to gain by moving?

There are many web sites dealing in reasons including: California Gold Rush, Oregon Trail, the Dustbowl of the 1930s, the Homestead Act of 1862, immigrating from another country in search of a better life, religious persecution, and more.  Today many people move from one locale to another due to a change in occupaton or a relocation, stationed at different spots due to military service, to get out of small towns or big cities, to go to school, and more. 

I thought I would detail some of my ancestors’ migration patterns.  I don’t have enough proof to document the reasons why they moved – just that they did.

Frederick Goul (5th great-grandfather)
Frederick took his wife, son, and daughter by ship (possibly the “Rawley”) from Frankfort, Germany to America in the mid-1700s.  By the time they reached Philadelphia, his wife and daughter had died. 

Adam Goul (4th great-grandfather)
Adam married Elizabeth Lutz in Pennsylvania and several of their children were born there.  They moved to Rockbridge County, Virginia by 1804 and by 1817 had migrated west to Goshen Twp, Champaign County, Ohio.  Adam and Elizabeth are buried at Treacles Creek Cemetery in Champaign County.

John Goul (3rd great-grandfather)
One of Adam’s and Elizabeth’s sons, born about 1802, in Philadelphia, he was with his parents when they moved to Ohio.  About 1823 he married Martha McManaway.  John and his wife didn’t move from Champaign County.

Malissa Goul (great-great grandmother)
Malissa met Franklin Blazer in Champaign County and they married.  The couple moved west to Madison County, Indiana before 1860 and most of their children were born there.  One son, John, and one daughter, Martha (Mat), remained in the area.  Daughter, Katie, grew up in the County and only moved in 1930 with her husband to live with their son in Greene County, Indiana.  Daughter, Rachel, moved west to Missouri and Kansas.  Son, Wesley, moved to Champaign County, Ohio where he married, brought up children and died.

Glen R. Johnson (maternal grandfather)
My grandfather (son of Katie Blazer and John L. Johnson) was born in Anderson, Indiana and never moved away until he was in training for WWI at Ft. Omaha, Nebraska and then on to Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas.  He went to France toward the end of WWI and then returned to his wife, son and home in Anderson.  During his career in the Army Air Corps (later the Air Force), he and his family moved East to Greene County, Ohio.  This is the place they considered home for the remainder of their lives.  Yet they also moved according to the military to Wiesbaden, Germany.  My grandfather also spent some time in Washington D.C., Tullahoma, Tennessee; Finschafen, New Guinea; Orlando, Florida.  Returning to the Dayton area before 1960, he and his wife lived out the remainder of their lives in that area.

Jacob Johnson (3rd great-grandfather)
Jacob was born in New Jersey in 1787.  He moved (probably with his parents and family) by 1816 to the Southeastern section of Ohio in Brown County, Ohio.  His wife’s family (Ann Shields) has also been located in that area.  By 1840 Jacob and family were living in Center Township, Rush County, Indiana, where he spent the remainder of his life.

James Wilson Johnson (great-great grandfather)
He was born in Ohio when his parents, Jacob and Ann, lived in Brown County.  As a child he moved with them to Rush County, Indiana.  In the 1880 Census James and his second wife, Margaret Gordon, are living in Stoney Creek Twp, Madison County, Indiana.  James spent some time in Michigan in his later years living with each of his daughter’s and their families.  He moved one last time – when he was buried in Little Blue River Cemetery in Rush County, Indiana.

John Mullis and Dolly Stanley (3rd great grandfather and mother)
In-laws of James Wilson Johnson, they moved from Wilkes County, North Carolina before 1838 to Rush County, Indiana.

Perhaps as I continue with my research, I will discover the reason why these people moved from one area (or country) to another.  It has just been quite interesting to see their migration patterns.

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Back in the mid 1960′s during a reunion trip to Coshocton, my parents had discussed finding a house that my dad’s mother had grown up in (or was born in).  I don’t remember which one.  So we headed toward the country and rural areas and started looking for said house.  Apparently my dad had been there before when he was a boy.

We came across the dilipadated white house that to me seemed in the middle of nowhere.  There were lots of trees around it and the drive was rock and grass covered.  Sitting in the white Pontiac looking upon it, the house seemed rather sad.  Obviously empty and forgotten about, some of the windows were cracked and caked with dust and dirt.  Vines had found their way up onto the porch and the sides of the house.  Seemed that it had been empty for quite a few years. 

Mom mentioned that there might be things left inside.  I think she wanted my dad to take a look to see if it really had been the house he was searching for.  No dice.  I remember she and I starting up onto the porch when my dad told her not to go any further.  He was afraid that the porch wouldn’t hold us and cave in.  I think that’s when I started being a little frightened of front porches not built on a slab.  I always thought that as soon as I took that last step up on that porch that it would collapse and I would find myself underneath with all the rats and vermin.  That was another thing my dad cautioned about.  He was sure there were rats, snakes and who knows what else living in the house and amongst the grown up yard and vegetation.  So we never got to see the inside of that house. 

I was left to wonder all these years many things:  Was it my grandmother’s childhood home?  What did the inside look like?  Were there ancestral treasures to be found in there?  Who had been the last occupants and why did they leave?  How long had it sat empty when we came upon it?  What’s become of it since that time – at least forty years ago?  Unfortunately, I’ll never know unless by some serendipitous chance I come across it again which is very doubtful.

I was able to see the home my mother was born in and spent the first year of her life living in – located in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana.  When I was fifteen, my mom, sister, niece and I spent a week on “vacation”.  We traveled from Southwest Ohio to Indiana and toured the Connor Prairie Living Homestead Museum in Fishers, Indiana.  From there we went to Madison County and Mom pointed out the house as we drove by.  Again – we didn’t take pictures – although I have some of my mom as an infant showing parts of the house.   I do have a picture of the home my mom grew up in located in Greene County, Ohio.  Originally the home had been in Osborn (before it and Fairfield merged to form Fairborn).  Then as she explained, it was put on these big rollers and moved to Fairfield.  My aunt had thrown toys from the second story window.  Here’s a picture of that house with my aunt and my mom sitting in front.  I also have pictures of my maternal grandfather’s childhood home in Anderson. 

Departing Advice: Photograph and map out ancestral homes and land.  Take photos of the home you live in now and those that follow.  Check old city directories for information that might assist you in locating these homes or businesses.   Plot the locations of places lived on a map to see where your ancestors lived and migrated. 

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Katie before her accidentBorn on September 20, 1864 in Stoney Creek, a township of Madison County, Indiana, Katie Blazer, would barely remember her father.  Frank Blazer died when she was just five years old leaving her mother to raise three sons and three daughters under the age of 14.  Katie’s grandparents, John and Martha Goul, lived nearby and quite possibly her grandfather was her father-figure as she grew.

 

At the age of 19, on the Fourth of July, 1883, Katie married John Lafayette Johnson.  A wedding photo shows Katie standing next to her husband in the stereotypical picture of the times.  She was tall and thin with her black hair piled on top of her head.  Her dress was dark, probably the one good dress she owned.  Owing to the holiday, there were probably more family members and neighbors able to attend the nuptials.

 

The couple’s first child, Letis, was born almost four years later.  In childhood he developed epilepsy which caused horrific seizures and an “insane” quality to his behavior.  A mother watching her son spiral out of control would have lent a pall over the happiness of the family.  What gossip was spreading throughout the township and nearby towns?  Katie had a very difficult time conceiving another child, and Letis was 11 when his brother, Glen, was born.

 

The younger boy became the object of Letis’ violence.  He tried to cut off the younger boy’s ear and another time through a brick through the chicken coop.  His actions were most likely due to not being able to control the violence of the seizures and feeling as if he was being swept down into a whirlpool of despair.  Katie and John, obviously alone in what they were feeling and dealing with, placed Letis in the Indiana School for Feeble Minded Youth, hoping that their family life would find some normalcy. 

 

Eight years after Glen was born, the couple had the baby girl that Katie had always dreamed of having.  Unfortunately, Katie’s joy was short lived.  Mary lived only 7 months.  Their baby girl was gone – forever.

 

A few moths later a miracle came into their midst in the form of an angel appearing as a young, unwed mother.  The young woman had delivered a baby girl on the Interurban car in Fortville, Indiana.  At St. John’s hospital where she was taken after the birth, this girl saw Katie, who was visiting someone.  She pleaded with the dark-haired mother of two sons, to please raise her daughter.  The Catholic nuns allowed Katie and John to become the infant’s foster parents, although they never could adopt her.  The baby’s name became Eva – the baby girl Katie had waited for was finally hers. 

 

Five years after Eva arrived as their child, their first born son died at the Home of pneumonia.  Not only had they buried an infant daughter but now they had to bury their son.  Did they have immense guilt over his death or relief that he wasn’t suffering from the seizures and violence any longer?

 

Sometime between late 1921 and 1923, after her granddaughter, Mary, was born, Katie was driving a horse and buggy with her grandchild along side her when the buggy overturned.  The baby was fine but Katie broke her back.  Luckily, she wasn’t paralyzed but she had to remain bedridden in a back cast for a long time. 

 

While she was unable to move or get up, “gypsies” came in and cut off all of her long hair.  No one else was at home and able to stop them.  It’s unknown exactly what they wanted to do with it – other than sell it.

 

When Katie was finally able to get out of bed, she had a corset “cast” made that she wore to keep her back straight.  Unfortunately she wasn’t able to walk without the aid of crutches.  The granddaughter who was with her on that fateful buggy ride, remembers that when she and her older siblings got into mischief, Katie would charge after them waving her crutches around and sometimes connecting crutch to child.  Her body may have been injured but her spirit wasn’t.  It is told that she could move as fast as any football running back even on crutches.  She also didn’t let the fact that she was a woman in the early 20th century stop her from doing exactly what she wanted.

 

After being up and around for awhile, she applied for a driver’s license.  Apparently she was through riding in a buggy!  She fought and won the right to be granted her license and then drove from Indiana to Ohio to visit her brother.  She was a woman ahead of her time.

 

Not many years later, in the early spring of 1930, she and her husband moved to the small town of Fairfield, Ohio.  The town subsequently merged with the neighboring town, Osborne, in Greene County, to become the city of Fairborn.  They moved into the home of their son, Glen, and his family.  Possibly Katie knew what no one else did at that time.  That she was dying.  Stomach cancer was going to kill her as that buggy accident couldn’t.

 

As she lay in bed unaware of her surroundings during the last days or weeks of her illness, the story was told that downstairs off the kitchen, the door kept swinging open and shut.  When her son, Glen, or her husband would check to see if someone had come in, they found not a single person.  Locking the door and returning upstairs to the bedroom where Katie lay, it wasn’t long before the door began swinging open and shut again making a banging noise.  It was thought that the spirits of her deceased parents could be coming for her to take her to the world beyond the living.

 

Katie died a couple months after arriving in Ohio – May 20, 1930.  She was laid out in the parlor of the funeral home in Fairfield for the local relatives and friends to pay their respects before she was taken to the place she had called home, Madison County, Indiana.  There she was buried in Maple Wood Cemetery near her oldest son and infant daughter and where her husband would join her in eternal rest nine years and eight days later.

 

Katie lived and died on her terms – not those set down by society or her family.  She will be remembered as a strong and determined woman – a woman that her great-granddaughter wishes she could have met.

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