Sunday, September 7, 2014

Gainesville "Great Hanging" Monument Dedication

Descendants of the Leffel family will be happy to learn of the monument dedication at Gainesville, Texas on October 18.  There will finally be a monument for the men who died during of The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862. Our ancestor, David Miller Leffel, was one of the men who was hanged by the confederates.  Hope to see y'all there!

The Board of Directors and Volunteers of the Great Hanging Memorial Foundation have announced details for the monument dedication in recognition of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, October 1862.
www.greathanging1862.com

The monument dedication will be held on Saturday, October 18, 2014.  Below is the schedule for the planned activities.  Visit the Great Hanging 1862 Memorial website for any updates.

11:30am – 1:00pm Luncheon
North Central Texas College Field House
1525 W. California Lane, Gainesville TX
Luncheon sponsored - University of North Texas;
Texas State Historical Association and Lone Star Chair in Texas History
RSVP by Sept. 30 – 817.946.4491 or email: greathanging1862@gmail.com

1:00pm – 2:30pm “October Mourning”
North Central Texas College - Center for Performing Arts (on Campus, near Field House) Theatrical reading that brings to life the events of that terrible October of 1862 with local actors portraying the contemporary characters. Hear the story of the Great Hanging from the perspective of those who were there. (No charge)

3:00pm Dedication Ceremony
Georgia Davis Bass Civil War Historical Park
729 E. Main St, Gainesville TX
Master of Ceremony – Dr. Richard McCaslin
Guest speakers – to be announced soon

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Custer's account of the Box Family Massacre

In 2008, I posted an article about the Box Family Massacre by Indians,  which occurred August 1866 in  Montague County, Texas.  James Jackson Box, the father, was Grandma Baldwin's (Mabel Leffel Baldwin) first cousin once removed. 

Recently, the following comment was left on my previous post about the massacre:
"There is an account of the Box family massacre and subsequent captivity recorded by General George Custer in Chapter 4 of his book "My Life on The Plains". He obtained the details directly from the mother, whom he met when released from her captivity."

Following a google search, I found not only a pdf of the book available on Internet Archive but also an audio recording.  To listen to the account of the Box Family Massacre choose chapter 5 - about 15 minutes into the chapter.  Custer's book,  "My life on the plains. Or, Personal experiences with Indians,"can be found here.  
 
In 1874, General George A. Custer published his memoirs: "My life on the plains. Or, Personal experiences with Indians."  The 1874 book is part of the Library of Congress collection and was signed by Gen. George A. Custer.

Starting on page 43 (bottom paragraph), Custer relates the story of the Box Family Massacre.





Custer also included a drawing of Santana, 2nd Chief of the Kiowas.  Santana led the group of Indians that attacked, murdered, and kidnapped the Box Family.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hatfield Photos - Who is who?

Help identify these Hatfield photos!
  
I am trying to figure out which photo is of John M. Hatfield, Jr.  If the one posted by Walter Hatfield on Ancestry.com (2nd photo shown below) is John Martin Hatfield, Jr., then who is the man in the 1st photo that states it is of Martin M. Hatfield's father (John Martin Hatfield, Jr)?

So, I am confused about which photo is our 3rd great-grandfather, John Martin Hatfield.

The first photo, which was a copy not an original, was given to me years ago by Wilber and has written beneath the photo: "Martin M. Hatfield's father - no date."  I think that came from the inscription on the back of the original photo.

This second photo of John Martin Hatfield, taken 1885-1895, was posted by Walter Hatfield on Ancestry.com.  His source is the Gary Hatfield family photos.

I don't think that the above two men look like the same person?  Their hair is parted on opposite sides of the head and the ears of the man in the bottom photo seem more prominent.  What do you think?

The top photo had a notation on the back but it appears to have been written by some descendant who may have been making a guess.  And sometimes the name on the back is who the photo is for NOT who the photo is of.

I have another set of photos (below) that are a little bit of a mystery to me.  I have the originals.  They were well used and in poor condition.  Each of the photos is on a heavy card stock about 2-1/2 by 4 inches.  Each has a small round hole in the top corner.  It's as if the photos at one time were tied together by a ribbon or cord of some sort.

The man in the photo looks like the man in the photo just above.

Both of the below photos were written on the back: "Mr. M. M. Hatfield, Quinlan, Okla."  The man's photo also has the notation: "2 on same cord, 20x16 *** $3.96, cloths black *ody waist shirt."
The back of the photo for the woman looks as if it had something glued to it at one time that was mostly ripped off.  Her photo has a photographers stamp from Winfield, Kansas but the name of the photographer is covered up.
It's as if a photographer was making additional copies of photos for Mr. M. M. Hatfield of Quinlan, Oklahoma.

So, would/could the man in the photo below be John Martin Hatfield, Jr? And then, would the woman be our 3rd great-grandmother, Martha Jay Hatfield? Or, is the man Martin M. Hatfield?  The woman does not look at all like Nancy McNeil Hatfield, the wife of Martin Monroe Hatfield.
I have other photos of the Martin Monroe Hatfield family on this blog that you can look at and compare.  Martin M. Hatfield did not move to Quinlan, OK until about 1899.  The clothing the couple is wearing is more typical of the 1860's not 1899.
Was Mr. M. M. Hatfield ordering copies of photos of his parents to have them sent to him in Quinlin, OK?

Photos belonging to M. M. Hatfield of Quinlan, OK

Darker image of above photo

Backs of above photos
Help solve this mystery!
There must be copies of these photos in other descendants homes, perhaps with identification on them.  If you know of anyone with Hatfield family photos, please have them check to see if they have copies of any of the photos on this page.  And, if any of you have photos of John Martin Hatfield, Jr or John Martin Hatfield, Sr or Martin Monroe Hatfield, PLEASE COMPARE AND SHARE!!

Anyone with facial recognition software could compare the photos:)  Then share the results!

Please DO NOT post the bottom photos elsewhere until they have been properly identified.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

William Jefferson Box alias William Smith

William Jefferson Box was a 1st cousin to our great-grandmother, Caldona Jane Box Leffel.
And, he is definitely one of the more intriguing and difficult individuals that I have researched.  Researching someone who changed their name makes the research much more challenging, and especially someone who changed their surname to SMITH, which is the most common surname in America.  Add to that the very common given name of WILLIAM and a major genealogical headache was created!:)

Here is the story of William Jefferson Box who was also known as William Smith.

William Jefferson Box was born on 16 Sep 1846 in Henderson County, Texas.  He was the son of Thomas Box and Clarkey Carpenter.  His parents had moved to Texas from Mississippi around 1845.  William's father, Thomas Box was following the footsteps of his brother, James Francis Box, who had previously moved to Texas. Some of the Box relatives (uncles and cousins) had lived in Texas since the Texas Independence from Mexico. 

In 1850, the Thomas Box family was living in Henderson County, Texas.  The family consisted of the  parents, Thomas and Clarkey and their three children: Thomas, William, and Josephine.  Two older siblings had died prior to that time. Three year old William was the middle child of the three Box children.  In 1850, his older brother, Thomas was eleven years old and his younger sister, Josephine was one year old.

1850 US Census, Henderson County, TX, pg 127, family #77
William and his family lived in Henderson County until about 1854, when they then moved to Ellis County, Texas.  Sometime in the early part of 1856, Thomas and Clarkey Box became acquainted with missionaries from the Mormon Church. On 10 April 1856, William’s parents were baptized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Church.  There is no record of William being baptized at the same time.
A year later in 1857, William and his family migrated to Utah with other members of the Mormon faith who lived in Texas.  The Box family most likely traveled to Utah with the Homer Duncan Company.  They arrived in Salt Lake Valley in September 1857.  Once in Utah, the Box family became actively involved in their new religion and in their community.  William’s father, Thomas Box, married a second wife (as in polygamy), Belinda Marden Pratt.  She was the widow of Parley P. Pratt.  

In the 1860 Federal Census Salt Lake City 13th Ward, “William Jeff” was included in his father’s household.  In addition to his parents, Thomas and  Clarkey, and his siblings (Thomas and Josephine), the household also included the Pratt family.   Belinda (Marden Pratt) Box and her five children by her marriage to Parley P. Pratt were living with the Thomas Box family.  One has to wonder what all the Pratt children thought of their newly acquired step-family from Texas and vise-versa.

1860 US Census, Salt Lake, Utah Territory, pg 1, family #3
In 1865, William was arrested for stealing a horse in Salt Lake County.   In 1869, he was found guilty of larceny and sentenced to one year in the State Penitentiary.  William received a Governor's Pardon after only three months, most likely with the help of his father's connections.

Governor' Pardon for William J. Box 
Court Record, 1865, Salt Lake County (Utah). Probate Court, http://archives.utah.gov/research/indexes/index.html Salt Lake County (Utah). Probate Court, 1852-1887 Civil and criminal case files (Series 373) Entry 3697--BOX, WILLIAM JEFFERSON

William was found living with his family when the 1870 Census was taken in Salt Lake City.  Both, William and his brother, Thomas, listed their occupation as "day laborers."  The Pratt family was no longer living with the family.  Something caused a split in the families and the Pratt's had moved out.

On 26 Apr 1875, William married Alice Odd in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.  The marriage was performed by President D. H. Wells.  Alice Odd was a recent Mormon convert from England.  Just a short six months later, William was called on a LDS Mission to the Southern States Mission and was assigned to serve in Texas.  He left his new bride at home in Utah and traveled to Texas to serve as a missionary for the Mormon Church.
The following image is of a letter (or report) from the Southern States Mission that was printed in the Deseret News in April 1876.  There were two letters published in the Deseret News that told of experiences of William Box while on his mission.  Abstracts of the letters are below the image.
 Deseret News, 1876-04-12, page 11, Utah Digital Newspapers, www.digitalnewspapers.org
Deseret News 1876-04-12, page 11
Letter sent to Deseret News by E. W. East (Kimball, Bosque, Texas) of the Southern States Mission.  Written 8 Mar 1876 by Elder W. East.
"Elder W.J. Box was in Paris, Lamar Co., (Texas) some 10 days ago. Bro. Box passed through a spell of typhoid fever and then while assisting in erecting a large house. He and two others being on the house it fell and killed the other 2 men and fractured his left arm and bruised his left leg badly, but he writes me he is getting well and will be with me in a few days." 

A week later, another letter published in the Deseret News gave a follow-up report of Elder Box: 
Deseret News 1876-04-19, page 7
Letter sent to Deseret News by E. W. East (Kimball, Bosque, Texas) of the Southern States Mission.  Written 21 Mar 1876 by Elder W. East.
NEAR Bosque Co., Texas, March 21, 1876
"President Brigham Young
Dear Brother -- About the 15th inst. brother W J Box arrived here, having walked from Paris a distance of about two hundred miles. Brother Box thinks his wife and friends were more alarmed than they should have been. He has now recovered from the injuries received from the fall of the house, except the fracture of the bone of his arm. Even that he can use for ordinary purposes, though it is weak. Brother Box seems to feel very well and manifests a desire to fulfill his mission by doing whatever good may be in his power." 


It is not known if Elder William J. Box ever returned to Utah, although his card in the old Missionary File Index in the Church History Library has "returned" written on it.   His wife Alice testified that her husband never returned.  In May 1877, Alice filed for divorce in Salt Lake City on grounds of abandonment.  She stated that her husband left for Texas and never returned.  Alice never once mentioned that the reason for her husband leaving her and going to Texas was to serve as a missionary for the Mormon Church.  She stated in May 1877 that she had not heard from him for a year.

Abstract of the petition for divorce by Alice Odd Box:
Plaintiff (Alice) "joined in marriage with the said defendant by President H. D. Wells (26th day of April 1875) ... on the 8th day of November 1875 at which time the said husband left her in said city where she resided ... to go on a trip to the State of Texas where some of his kindred resided to be gone some six months ... said defendant ... proceeded to the state of Texas and remained there with his friends and acquaintances till sometime about the first of May 1876 and ... started from there to return home but has not come and were he went to this Plaintiff does not know. As she has received no correspondence from him since he left Texas to come back to his friends and family in Salt Lake City about one year since...."
Alice was granted a divorce on 2 May 1877.  Below is a copy of the court document granting the divorce.
William & Alice Box Divorce 1877
Salt Lake County (Utah). Probate Court (Divorce) Entry 7254--BOX, WILLIAM J; Date: 5/2/1877

I thought that perhaps William had died -- that perhaps his injuries from the fall in March 1876 mentioned in the above Deseret News article had been more severe than first thought or perhaps he had been bushwhacked on his way home to Utah.  His wife in Utah said in 1877 that she did not know where he was and she had not heard from him for a year.  After much searching, I could not find him in any records, anywhere -- He seemed to have completely disappeared by 1877.
BUT... 20 YEARS later William resurfaced!  
While I was searching for information on his former wife, Alice Odd Box, I ran across a 1899 Deseret newspaper article titled, "FORMER UTAH COUPLE'S STRIFE -- Legal Conflict for the Possession of Children."

Salt Lake Tribune, 19 Sep 1899
"The St. Louis Star of the 13th has a story about the wife of one W. H. Box, alias W. Smith, who, it is stated, formerly lived in Utah, suing him for the custody of her four children. Box lives at 813 Walnut street and says he was compelled to take the children into his care because of Mrs. Box's immoral actions. Mrs. Box alleges that her husband was sealed to a Miss Alice Odd of this city (Salt Lake City, UT) before she married him and that the ceremony took place at the command of Brigham Young."
Source: Salt Lake Tribune, 19 Sep 1899, Utah Digital Newspapers, www.digitalnewspapers.org 
 
The story of William Box was now starting to get really interesting!  The reason that I could not find William was because he had moved and he had changed his name from Box to Smith.

The above Deseret newspaper article led to finding of the original St Louis newspaper article referred to -- the St. Louis Star dated 13 Sep 1899.  A transcript of the complete newspaper article is given below the image from the first page.  What a story!!  Note of caution: I think any news of Mormons and Brigham Young during that time period became a little exaggerated, especially in Missouri.  In fact, everything about William and Ella seems a little exaggerated, with lots and lots of drama going on.
The St. Louis Star, St. Louis, Missouri, Wed. 13 September 1899
Transcript of complete news article:
HIS WIFE SECURES WRIT AGAINST ELDER BOX
APOSTATE MORMON KIDNAPED HIS FOUR CHILDREN
GENTILE WIFE GETS HABEAS CORPUS FOR THEM
COUPLE WERE MARRIED UNDER ASSUMED NAME
TO ESCAPE DECREE FOR SHEDDING OF BLOOD
HUSBAND HAS ANOTHER WIFE LIVING IN UTAH
Brigham Young, the Prophet, Picked Out the Wife for Him and Sent Him on a propagandist Mission—Box Family Were All Mormons—He Fell Away From the Church—Claims She Kidnaped the Children From New Orleans.
W.H. Box, alias W.J. Smith, an Apostate Mormon elder, who claims that he has been fleeing from the wrath of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints since 1874, is defendant in a writ of habeas corpus issued by Circuit Judge Zachrits Wednesday at the instance of Ella May Embree, who asks for the possession of her four children whom she charged, Box kidnapped thirteen days ago.  The writ is made returnable at 10 a.m. September 18.
Back of this legal bit of paper is a romance that brings Brigham Young from his grave and revives the cruel tenet of the Mormon church dooming all apostates to the shedding of their blood for the remission of their sins, the same awful fate that overtook 145 Missourians in Arkansas at the Mountain Meadow massacre where the Danites destroyed angels of the Lord and carried out the secret command of Prophet Young.
HIS SECOND WIFE
Ella May Embree is the second wife of Box, whom he married at Baton Rouge in 1879, and with whom he lived until 1894.
It is the law of the Mormon Church that no elder can be sent upon a propaganda mission until he shall have been joined and sealed to some woman.  Box says that Brigham young selected a wife for him in the person of Miss Alice Odd of Salt Lake City, a member of the Mormon Church, whom he married in 1872.
The ceremony, according to the rites of the church, occurred in the Temple before he left Utah, then a Territory.  This woman is still living, and in the petition for habeas corpus Ella May Embree charges that her husband’s wife is still living, and that therefore his is a bigamist and not the proper person to have the custody of their children.
Box explains his alias of W.J. Smith by saying that when he married Miss Embree in New Orleans that he was still under the ban of the Mormon Church and was in danger of his life, that he explained this dilemma to Miss Embree and that it was agreed between them that he should marry her under the assumed name of W.J. Smith.
Out of this marriage eight children were born, five of whom are living, Josie Smith, one of them, known as Josie Embree, figured in a sensational story some time ago.
THE CHILDREN
The children for whose custody she asks in her petition are Thomas J. Smith, aged 11 years; Albert Dennis Smith, aged 7 years; Gertrude Beatrice, aged 9 years, and Clarence, aged 5 years.  These children are now in possession of Box at 813 Walnut street.
Miss Embree, as she styles herself, is living at 1506 Olive street.  Box claims that her actions have been so unworthy of a mother that he was forced to kidnap the children from her in order that they should not be subjected to scenes which, in his opinion, children of tender age should not witness.
Box was found earning $1.50 by an odd job of shoveling coal into a house on Walnut steet, a few doors from the one in which he and his children live.
All of the children for whom the writ of habeas corpus has been issued were playing around their father.
BOX INTERVIEWED
“My God,” said Box when informed that the writ had been  issued, “Is it possible that this woman is going to persist in hounding me to my death?  This is infamous.  I did take the children from her and I cannot see how any court in the land could give them to her after it has heard from my lips and from the lips of these children the sort of a life she has been leading in their presence ever since they were babies.”
“I married this woman in New Orleans.  When I married her it was understood between us why I assumed the name of W. J. Smith and after our marriage had taken place and several of our children had been born we thought it better that I shoulc take my real name.  This was done by application to the courts.  I have been living ever since as W. H. Box.  She has used this former alias as she pleases to style it, in order to make it appear that I am a criminal, or have something which I desire to hide.
“I was working at my trade as a carpenter in New Orleans, when she kidnapped all five of her children and brought them to St. Louis several months ago.  I followed her and could not obtain a trace of her for a long time, but lately I found that she was living on Olive street, and that my daughter Josie had taken a husband so that she might not live with her mother and witness what the young children were compelled to do.  I got the four children on September 4 and brought them here.  You may hear for yourself what they have to say.”
CHILDREN’S STORY
Box called three of the children to him, Tom, Albert, and Gertude, and the reporter questioned them.
“Who would you rather live with?” was asked, “your father or your mother”  “Papa,” each of them replied.  Little Gertude and her brothers then  (cont. page 7)
HIS WIFE SECURE WRIT AGAINST ELDER BOX
Continued from Page One.
told a story that reflects strongly on their mother.  Box says that he is poor and has been struggling to support his children and has no money to employ an attorney.  All the testimony that he can offer is that of himself, his married daughter and his four children, he states.
MRS. EMBREE’S STORY
“Mrs.” Embree was seen by a Star reporter at 1506 Olive street, and made an emphatic denial of the charges made against her by Box and his children.
“Ever since I left him, Box has endeavored to defame my character,” she said.  “My brother, Rev. Albert Embree, compelled him once in New Orleans to make affidavit that he had lied in charging improper conduct against me.”
The oldest daughter of Mrs. Embree-Box, who is known as Josie Embree, was married four months ago in this city.  A year ago Cornelius Weise, who was then engaged to marry Josie, came here from New Orleans and committed suicide in a fit of jealously, aggravated by the loss of his place, which made it impossible for him to marry the girl at the time set for the wedding.
“I first discovered seven years ago that my husband was a Mormon and had another wife living in Salt Lake City,” said “Mrs.” Embree.  “I found a letter to him from his first wife, who signed herself Mrs. Alice Smith.  I left him with my children, and he kept on giving us trouble until we came to St. Louis.  Lately he followed us here and has succeeded in getting hold of the children, whom he frightened into staying with him.”

The St. Louis Star, Wed., Sep 13, 1899.  Vol. XVII. No. 134. Page 1, 7.

I have NOT been able to obtain a copy of the actual court case referred to in the above news article.  After many calls and emails to the court clerk and even hiring a local historian/genealogist to go and request the documents in person...still NO documents.:(  

WHY did William Jefferson Box change his name to William Smith?  
I really doubt it was because the Mormons were chasing him - they could probably have cared less, so that was most likely just an excuse.  It appears that he did not know that he was divorced from his first wife, because Alice stated in the divorce papers that she did not know where he was (and had not heard from him for a year) when the divorce was granted in 1877 and his second wife, Ella, accused him of still being married to the first wife in 1899.  Committing bigamy, which was a crime, was probably the main reason he changed his name.  Or, he could have been hiding from the law -- perhaps for some crime he committed while he was in Texas.  Or maybe, he just wanted to make a new start in life and so moved to Louisiana and changed his name?  We may never know the "Why?"

What I do know is that William Jefferson Box changed his name to William J. Smith and by 1879 was living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  A newspaper article states that W. J. Smith married Ella Mae Embree at the home of her widowed mother, "Mrs. Dr. Embree," on 1 August 1879.  William would have been 32 years old and Ella was only 15 years old when they were married.  William was referred to as "our handsome friend" and Ella "his beautiful bride."

16 Aug 1879, Louisiana Capitolian (Baton Rouge, LA) 
Less than a year later in 1880, newlyweds William and Ella were living in West Feliciana, Louisiana.  Ella's 15 year old brother, Albert, was living with them.  The census has William's occupation listed as a farmer.

1880 US Federal Census, West Feliciana, Louisiana,  ED 201, pg 8
William and Ella Smith apparently moved to New Orleans soon afterwards.  They lived in New Orleans over the next 15 years, and had eight children with 5 still living in 1899.  William and Ella separated in 1894, according to the newspaper account.  William stated he was a carpenter by trade and that he had changed his name back to Box after several children had been born.  But, all the children must have thought their surname was "Smith" because that is what they went by during their lifetime.  William's daughter, Josephine, stated on her Social Security Application in 1938 that her father's name was William Jefferson Smith and her mother's maiden name was Ella May Embree. 

In the above St Louis newspaper article about the child custody case, William accused his wife, Ella, of immoral acts and felt she was a bad influence on the children.  William even accused his former wife of kidnapping the children and taking them to St Louis.  According to the newspaper reporter, the children apparently were living with their father in 1899 and wanted to continue to live with him.  But, just a year later in the 1900 Census, they are living with their mother.  Ella is using her maiden name of Embree but the children are using the Smith surname.

US 1900 Census, St Louis Ward 22, St Louis, Missouri, ED 332, sheet 5,  line 90
William cannot be found anywhere  in the 1900 Census -- I tried searching both names with no luck.  William had disappeared again!  Perhaps he died, or changed his name again, or just decided to take off to points unknown.  I have found no further records for William in St Louis or New Orleans or Texas or anywhere else, and would love to know what happened to him.  
So, that's my story about William Jefferson Box-Smith.  It still needs an ending, so any help would be appreciated!

P.S.  I will post a continuing story about William's wife, Ella Embree Smith and their children.   In researching the Box-Smith children and Ella's family, I have found the suicide of his daughter's fiancĂ©, espionage charges against a son-in-law, a train robbery, a court clerk in St Louis who continues to refuse to help find a court record,  etc.  And then there are more SMITH names – William's daughter marries a SMITH and widowed mother-in-law marries a SMITH.  Stayed tuned for the continuing drama!  
Contact me for scans of the complete set of divorce papers or the complete  St. Louis newspaper article (which was on multiple pages).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Grandpa Jess & Dyslexia

Grandpa Jess & Dyslexia

Jess and Mable Baldwin were the parents of fourteen children and grandparents of 46 (50 including step-grandchildren) and great-grandparents of about 89.  Those of us who are older are fortunate enough to remember Grandpa Jess.  Ask any of the cousins and some of their favorite childhood memories are of spending time with grandpa.  We all remember helping grandpa feed and milk the cows and how he would tell us to look up to see the star and then squirt us in the face with milk.  Grandpa loved to tell stories and always had a willing audience when grandchildren were around.  He loved the holidays and always tried to make them special for his children and grandchildren - especially Christmas.  And, we could all say without a doubt that we knew grandpa loved us.

Several years ago, my mother told me that her father, Grandpa Jess, could not read or write with the exception of writing his name.  Supposedly, when Grandpa Jess was in the 5th grade his teacher sent him home from school and told his parents to just keep him home because it was a waste of time to send him to school when he could not learn. 

Mom remembers as a young girl watching her mom trying to teach her dad to read.   Grandpa would bring a newspaper home and ask grandma to help him read it.  While waiting for grandma to come and sit next to him at the kitchen table, grandpa would take the newspaper and look at it then turn it sideways then turn it again trying to make sense of the letters and words.  Grandma would patiently try to teach grandpa to read but he could never learn, no matter how hard he tried.  Grandpa had to depend on grandma to read everything for him - letters, documents, contracts, newspapers, etc.  Grandpa made a living by buying and selling livestock.  He was good with sales and business, but Grandma would have to read to him all the contracts before he could sign them.  One of the cousins can remember grandma reading the newspaper to grandpa every night while they were laying in bed just before going to sleep.   Learning these stories of grandma and of her tender love for grandpa has increased my appreciation and love for both of them.

Recently I tested my DNA with 23andme.com, which offered health results according to one's DNA.  I was interested to see that I carried a higher than average risk for Developmental Dyslexia.  My sister, my mom, and my aunt (maternal) also tested at 23andme.com with the same results - DNA markers indicating higher than average odds of dyslexia.  This information from our DNA health results confirms our suspicions that grandpa was dyslexic.

Also, there have been a few grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Jess Baldwin who have been professionally diagnosed with dyslexia.  Descendants need to be aware that this runs in the Baldwin family.  During grandpa's lifetime (1898-1972), Developmental Dyslexia was not commonly known.  Grandpa Jess went though out his life thinking it was his fault he could not read and write.  I am thankful that with the information from the DNA health reports from 23andme.com, the family now has a greater understanding of Grandpa Jess and the challenges he had to face throughout his lifetime.

Below is a copy of Jess's signature from his World War I draft registration. He was 20 years old at the time.  Mom said that Grandpa could not write with the exception of writing his name.  On the draft registration, he wrote his given name as "Jeese" instead of "Jesse."   He appears to have had a hard time writing his name.  Some of the characteristics of dyslexia are repetitions, additions, transpositions, omissions, substitutions, and  reversals in letters.  These problems are clearly shown in this 1918 signature.
World War I Draft Registration; 1918; Kiowa County, Oklahoma; Ancestry.com
The following signature is from Jess's 1970 driver's license.  His name on the driver's license was Jess William Baldwin.  By 1970, his signature was much more legible.
Colorado Operator's License, issued 19 Mar 1970
The Developmental Dyslexia was probably passed down through grandpa's Baldwin/Sadler side of the family.  I have copies of letters written by his Stewart/Medlin grandparents, so they appear to have been able to read and write.  A lot of our early ancestors could not read or write, but not because they couldn't they merely hadn't had the opportunity to learn.  Read the story here of our 4th great-grandmother, Sally Carr Brown, learning to read when she was 76 years old!

Recently there has been negative news concerning the FDA and the health results offered at 23andme.com.  The FDA has ordered 23andme.com to stop offering DNA health results reports as of Nov 22.   My main purpose when I originally tested with 23andme.com was to find genetic relatives, but the health results report has become an important and necessary part of my health maintenance program.  Hopefully, the FDA will allow 23andme.com to continue to offer the health reports in the future.  Not only does the health report give us information to help us manage our own health, but it also brings a greater understanding of our ancestors and the health challenges they may have faced.

Other posts about Jess Baldwin:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sarah Ann West and Her Husbands

Sarah Ann West was a 1st cousin to our great-grandpa, Charles Edgar Leffel.

Sarah Ann West and her Husbands:
Calvin S. Dale, N. Houston Holt, George W. Mead

Sarah Ann West, daughter of John W. West and Barbara Harmon, was born on 13 May 1836 in Springfield, Clark, Illinois.  She moved to Texas with her parents when she was young. The family first lived in Red River County, Texas, where her father had a blacksmith shop.  Below is an 1848 newspaper article that mentions her father.

Saturday, September 2, 1848;   Newspaper: Standard (Clarksville, TX) Page: 2
Sarah's family later moved to Grayson County, Texas where her grandfather, Michael West, and her father's siblings had also moved.  Her father died in July 1861.  Sarah's mother, Barbara, died on October 10, 1875 in Grayson County and was buried in the Rockport Cemetery.  Below is a photo of her mother's headstone.  Some of the broken pieces of headstone may belong to Sarah's father.
Headstone for Barbara West
Sarah married Calvin S. Dale on 7 Jan 1853 in Red River, Texas. The marriage ended in divorce. Calvin was born on 9 May 1829 in Tennessee. He died on 3 Nov 1899 in Texas. He was buried in 1899 in Akers Cemetery, Grayson, Texas.
They had one son,  John Felix Dale, who was born about 1856. He died in 1898.

Sarah married N. Houston Holt, son of James D. Holt and Anna D. on 18 Mar 1863 in Grayson County, Texas.  The marriage ended in divorce about 1882 while Hous was in prison.  N. Houston Holt, called "Hous", was born about 1837 in Gibson, Tennessee. Hous Holt was convicted of murder in 1880 and sentenced to life and 5 years.  Hous was pardoned by Governor Hogg in 1894.  He died on 20 Apr 1915 in Denton County, Texas. He was buried on 21 Apr 1915 in Cooper Creek Cemetery, Denton, Texas.
Sarah and Hous had two children:
1. James F. S. Holt was born on 1 May 1863. He died on 15 Feb 1908.
2. Nina B. Holt was born on 13 Jun 1865. She died on 21 Oct 1886.

Sarah married a third time to a widower,  George W. Mead on 6 Sep 1887 in Vermilion, Illinois. George was born on 20 Mar 1827 in Union, Ohio. He died on 8 Feb 1922 in Vermilion, Illinois.

Sarah Ann West Dale Holt Mead died on 27 Dec 1919 in Fithian, Vermilion, Illinois. She was buried on 29 Dec 1919 in McFarland Cemetery, Vermilion, Illinois.
Sarah A Mead


Sarah Ann's children and grandchildren:

1. John Felix Dale (son of Calvin Dale and Sarah Ann West) was born about 1856 in Sherman, Grayson, Texas. He died in 1898 in Texas. He was buried in 1898 in West Hill Cemetery, Grayson, Texas.
According to the obituary of his father, Calvin S. Dale, John F. Dale was a portrait painter in New York City.  The obituary states the following: "His (Calvin S. Dale) body was laid away in Akers church yard by the side of his son, John Dale, who after acquiring fame in New York City as a portrait painter, came home to die of a lung trouble contracted in the north, his widow resides on South walnut street with her two little children."
Another obituary for his father, Calvin, in a Dallas paper states: "An only son went to New York, became a well known portrait painter, but the northern climate undermined his constitution and he come home, dying shortly afterward..."
John married Elizabeth Maiden "Bessie, Bettie" daughter of Samuel Landis Maiden and Nancy Harriet Doran on 10 May 1881 in Washington, Virginia. Elizabeth was born on 20 Apr 1859 in Shortsville,Virginia. She died on 9 Nov 1949 in Travis, Texas. She was buried in 1949 in West Hill Cemetery, Grayson, Texas.
John and Elizabeth had the following children:
1. Maiden Dale 50 was born on 18 Jul 1883 in , Denton, Texas. She died on 20 Jun 1969 in Houston, Texas. She was buried in 1969.
2. Nineal Dale was born in 1885 in Abingdon, Washington, Virginia. She died in 1896 in Virginia. She was buried in Maiden-Foster Cemetery, Washington, Virginia.
3. Bonnie Dale was born on 30 Jun 1896 in Manhattan, New York, New York. She died on 10 Dec 1980 in San Antonio, Bexas, Texas.

2. James F. S. Holt "Jim" (son of Hous Holt and Sarah Ann West) was born on 1 May 1863 in Pilot Point, Denton, Texas. He died on 15 Feb 1908 in , Denton, Texas. He was buried on 16 Feb 1908 in IOOF Cemetery, Denton, Texas.
James married Sophia Black "Sophie" on 22 Oct 1885 in Denton, Denton, Texas. Sophia was born in Apr 1865 in Texas. She died on 18 Apr 1942 in Grayson, Texas. She was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Dennison, Grayson, Texas.
They had the following children:
i. James Houston Holt "Huse" was born on 27 Sep 1886 in Pilot Point, Denton, Texas. He died on 14 Jul 1942 in Texas. He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Dennison, Grayson, Texas.
ii. Nina Mae Holt was born on 10 Mar 1888 in Pilot Point, Denton, Texas.
iii. Fred Holt was born on 19 Feb 1890 in , Denton, Texas. He died on 20 Nov 1957 in Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona.
iv. William Grady Holt was born on 10 Jun 1891 in , Denton, Texas. He died on 23 Dec 1963 in Denison, Grayson, Texas. He was buried in Fairview Cemetery, Grayson, Texas.
v. Pearl Holt was born on 17 Sep 1896 in Denton, Texas. She died on 4 Dec 1944 in Texas. She was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Dennison, Grayson, Texas.
vi. James Dewey Holt was born in 1898 in Pilot Point, Denton, Texas. He died on 27 Jul 1899 in , Denton, Texas. He was buried in Ioof Cemetery, Denton, Texas.
vii. Joseph Bailey Holt was born on 6 Oct 1900 in Pilot Point, Denton, Texas, United States. He died on 24 Dec 1922 in Denison, Grayson, Texas, United States. He was buried in International Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery, Milam, Texas, United States.
 viii. Julia Louise Holt was born on 20 Jun 1902 in Pilot Point, Denton, Texas,
United States. She died on 29 Apr 1973 in California, United States.
ix. J. R. Holt was born on 31 Mar 1904 in Pilot Point, Denton, Texas. He died on 25 May 1904 in Denton, Texas. He was buried in Ioof Cemetery, Denton, Texas.

3. Nina B. Holt (daughter of Hous Holt and Sarah Ann West)  was born on 13 Jun 1865 in Grayson, Texas. She died on 21 Oct 1886 in Denton, Texas. She was buried in Pilot Point Cemetery, Denton, Texas.
Nina married William H. Ellington on 20 Jan 1886 in Denton, Texas. William was born about 1851 in Mississippi.
They had the following children:
1. Nina Ray Ellington was born on 4 Oct 1886 in Denton, Texas. She died on 30 Oct 1886 in Denton, Texas. She was buried in Pilot Point Cemetery, Denton, Texas.

Sources and documents can be found on my Ancestry.com Leffel Box Family Tree.

Gainesville, Texas "Great Hanging" Monument

Descendants of the Leffel family will be happy to know that their ancestor, David Miller Leffel, will finally get a memorial!  Yesterday, the Gainesville, Texas city council approved the placement of two monuments, which will tell the known facts of the Great Hanging of 1862 and list the 42 names of men who died in the Great Hanging.  David Miller Leffel was among the 42 men who died during the Great Hanging.

Click on image below for news clip from KXII News, Sherman, Texas.


GAINESVILLE, TX -- The Gainesville city council approved the placement of two monuments that some in the community say are long overdue.
In October 1862, nearly 150 men suspected of supporting the Union were arrested for treason against the Confederacy.
42 of them were hanged in Gainesville, just days later.
Now,151 years later, the city and community is making sure this historical event is not forgotten.
91-year-old L.D. Clark has waited decades to hear these words...
"The motion passes unanimously," Mayor Jim Goldsworthy announced to the council.
Tuesday night, the council approved construction of two 5 foot tall monuments to be built where The Great Hanging took place.
"Well, it makes me feel somewhat justified," Clark said.
Clark's great great grandfather, Nathaniel Clark, was one of the men accused of treason, and hanged on the land right off California Street in Gainesville.
Clark and other members of the Great Hanging Monument committee say this project is long overdue.
"As you grow up in this area, you hear about it. So, I felt like it was a story that was long overdue to be told to the general public," Nancy Brannon said.
Nancy Brannon says the current monument, which was erected in the 60s, is nearly unreadable. And Steve Gordon says the information on it is now outdated.
"That's the information available up to 1964. There's been a lot of research done since then," Gordon said.
Gordon and several other Gainesville residents, some whom have since passed away, have worked tirelessly to collect the facts of the historical event.
Mayor Jim Goldsworthy said their efforts helped push this motion through.
"Our concern at council is that we're historically correct. Beyond that, we would like us to remember history as it unfolded and learn from history," Goldsworthy said.
The monuments will tell the known facts, and list the 42 names of the men who died.
The group says this outcome is a victory for them, but specifically for Mr. Clark.
"There's been a great change of heart in Gainesville concerning this monument, and it's going to be a great, adequate one to fit the situation," Clark said.
Clark has written both a novel and screenplay on The Great Hanging. He says he hopes one day that screen play will be bought and shown in theaters across the country,
The group has spent their own money, and collected donations to pay for the monument.
If you'd like to help contact Steve Gordon at 940-372-8835.


Links to other posts about David Miller Leffel and the "Great Hanging at Gainesville":

Friday, November 22, 2013

Where were you 50 years ago today?

Where were you 50 years ago today?

All flags were at half mast today, 22 Nov 2013, as a Day of Remembrance for President John F. Kennedy.   Kennedy was assassinated 50 years ago today in Dallas, Texas. 

Most people who were alive in 1963 can remember where they were when they heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated.  I was at the junior high school in Cortez, Colorado, which at that time was in the old Calkins School building.  I remember standing in the hall with some friends between classes when a teacher came out of the classroom crying, "President Kennedy has been shot!"  More students and teachers gathered out in the hall, many were crying.

After I got home that day, the family was glued to the television as we watched the events that had happened that day in Texas. I remember feeling apprehensive about the future - very vulnerable.  It was probably the first time in my young life that I paid that much attention to the news and continued to do so over the next few days and weeks.




 November 22, 1963;

Register-Republic (Rockford, IL); pg

 1




November 26, 1963; Dallas Morning News (Dallas, TX);  Page: 21

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Michael West Land in Grayson County, Texas

Michael West is my 3rd great-grandfather on the Leffel Family line.

1859 Grayson County, Texas Plat Map 

Land grants were offered by the Peters Colony to help colonize North Texas. Michael West arrived in Texas (Peter's Colony) prior to July 1848 and was recorded as a widower with two daughters and one son. He obtained 640 acres in Grayson County, Texas. His son, Michael Perry West, obtained 320 acres in Grayson County, Texas.

Connor, Seymour V., Peters Colony of Texas,  page 426

This 1859 plat map of Grayson County, Texas shows the land belonging to Michael West (red), son Michael P. West (green), and son-in-law, Jesse F. Thomas (blue). Just to the left of Michael West is Page Stanley. Son, Michael Perry West, married the daughter of Page Stanley.
1859 Grayson County, Texas Plat Map
Last time I posted a highlighted plat map, I had several requests for a map without the highlights.  So, here is an unmarked copy without the highlights:)

1859 Grayson County, Texas Plat Map

Posts about the West Family:
Michael West Family
Mysterious Death of Michael Perry West
Elizabeth West Boyles
Susan West Leffel
Rebecca West Haning

WANTED:
Information on Michael West's son-in-law, Jesse F. Thomas, who also owned land in Grayson County, Texas.  Jesse Thomas, his wife, Louise West Thomas, and their children disappear after the 1860's.