Wednesday, April 18, 2018

#52Ancestors-Week 16-Robert Emmett Murphy

This week's prompt for the blog was "Storms".  I just couldn't come up with anything for storms.  No storm stories in the family, no one with the last name Storm, no one with the first name of Storm or Stormy.  So I have been thinking about writing about my second great-uncle, Robert Emmett Murphy, and this is my opportunity.

Robert Emmett Murphy was the sixth of eight children born to William H. and Elizabeth Smyth Murphy.  He was born on the 2nd of August in 1878 in Peoria, Peoria County, Illinois.  He was baptized at St. Patrick's Church in Peoria with his godparents being his uncle, James Murphy, and his aunt, Mary Smyth Fox.

Robert's mother died from childbirth in 1883, when Robert was five years old. His father remarried a year later, and it appeared that Robert and his siblings no longer lived with their father after the marriage. In 1888, Robert was listed in the Peoria Census as age nine, living with his brother, Patrick (who was nineteen) in the home of their uncle, Charles Smith. Robert's father died in 1891 when Robert was thirteen years old.

In 1894, Robert was living in his father's old home and was a clerk for S.C. Bartlett and Co., which was a grain and commission company.

The next record I have found of Robert is from the 1896 Peoria City Directory. It showed that Robert was living with his brother Patrick.  Their sister Alice married that year and, in 1898, Robert was listed as living with Alice, her family, and his younger brother Edward. He was still working for the S.C.Bartlett company. In 1899, both Robert and Edward were living with Alice and her family.  Robert was not listed as employed.

The 1900 Peoria Census listed Robert still living with Alice.  By then he was a clerk for the Board of Trade.  The census showed that he had been unemployed for eight months in the past year. In 1904, the city directory showed that Robert was a clerk for the TA Grier and Co. in Peoria, which was also a grain and commission business.  The 1908 directory showed that Robert as unemployed and still living with Alice.  In 1909, living with Alice and her family, Robert had his own company listed as his employment, the RE Murphy and Co., at the Chamber of Commerce.

The 1910 Peoria Census listed Robert as age thirty-two, living with Alice and family. It showed his employment as a grain dealer at the Board of Trade.

I lost track of Robert for a number of years after 1910.  He wasn't listed in the Peoria Directory for 1912.  I have not been able to find him in the 1920 Census.  However, his brother Patrick died in 1920 and the obituary states that Patrick's brothers, William, James, and Robert lived in St. Louis. When his brother Charles died in 1924, his obituary also stated that Robert lived in St. Louis.  I have not located him in the 1930 Census.  His brother James died in 1931, but his brothers and sister were not mentioned in his obituaries.

Robert was found in the 1940 Census for St. Louis.  He was listed as a patient at the St. Vincent Sanitarium for the Insane.  In 1944, his sister Alice died and he was again listed as living in St. Louis.

Robert died on the 4th of January in 1949 at St. Vincent's. He was seventy years old. Robert was buried on the 8th of January in 1949 in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis in a charity lot of St. Vincent's.

The death certificate for Robert states that he died in Rural Wellston, St. Louis County, Missouri at St. Vincent's Sanitarium where he had been a resident for 15 years. It stated that he was divorced and that his occupation had been as an advertising manager for a publishing company. The informant was William H. Murphy (his brother) of Fort Worth, Texas. The cause of death was Terminal bronchopneumoniato. "Other significant conditions: Involutional Meloncholio-15 years".  That meant that he suffered from depression for the last fifteen years of his life.  I suspect that he suffered from mental illness all of his adult life.

Interestingly, the informant, his brother William, died just thirteen days later.  Since William had been in the hospital for seventy three days in Texas, he must have given information over the phone and was not able to make arrangements.  I have always been surprised that Robert was not buried in Peoria with the rest of his family.

Some of this information was confusing.  My great-aunt had stated that Robert had never married.  Information from a cousin obtained from a letter reported that Robert had spent years on and off the mental ward at St. Vincent's Hospital in St. Louis, and that his older brother William had spent years trying to take care of him.  She said that Robert had married.

When Alice Murphy Cody (Robert's sister he had lived with until moving to St. Louis) died, she passed on three silver spoons to her daughter Mary.  When Mary died in 1981, the spoons passed on to my mother.  When my mother gave them to me, we believed that they were spoons of a son that Alice had, who died very young.  The spoons have the name "Robert" engraved on them.

I polished the spoons a couple of weeks ago, and noticed that each of the spoons had a date on them. The first date was "December 25, 1893".  The next was "Dec 94", and the last was "1896".  At first I was kind of stunned as I thought about how these spoons probably hadn't been polished for maybe 100 years?  Then I realized that these spoons couldn't have been for Alice's baby, because she didn't even marry until 1896.  These spoons were Robert Emmett Murphy's spoons! So the first one was given to Robert when he was fifteen years old.  It seems like an odd gift to me to give a teenage boy, but maybe it was common back then.

I have always found the story of Robert very sad.  I remember when I was young that my grandmother mentioned him one time and I was fascinated with his name.  I was born the same year that Robert died.  When I asked my mother about him, she had no memory of him at all, not even of ever hearing of him.  She had been quite close to her grandparents so I was surprised by this.  I wonder if the family just never spoke of him.  Robert's younger brother, Edward, was my great-grandfather.  He was the only sibling to survive after Robert and William died.  Edward lived another ten years, dying in 1959.

This is yet another case of wishing that I had asked more questions when I was younger!

Friday, April 13, 2018

#52Ancestors-Week 15-Taxes

For years, I have been fascinated by the 1812 Warren County, Tennessee Tax List.  I first encountered it while searching for my ggg-grandfather William A. Adamson.  I found an Aaron Adamson in the 1812 Warren County Tax List.

William's oldest son was named Aaron, but he was born around 1809, so it couldn't have been him.  Could it have been William?

Then I learned of Nancy Adamson who married Luke Tippitt.  Guess who is listed in the 1812 Warren County Tax list? Yep, Luke.  And his brother William Tippitt is listed right next to Aaron Adamson.  I can't make out if the list is divided by districts or precincts, but whichever it is, all three of these men are listed in the same one.

And, in the same precinct/district Stephen Herriman was listed.  Stephen's daughter Sarah married Michael Wilson, brother-in-law to William Adamson.

As I learned more about the Luke Tippitt family, I am quite sure (though not proven) that Nancy Adamson was William Adamson's sister.  Both families ended up in Edwards County, Illinois during the 1820's-1830's.

So taxes.  I wish tax lists could speak of those on the lists. There are so many questions that could be answered by more information!

Update on search for Estella Mabel Colwell

On the 3rd of July in 2017, I wrote about my search and lack of results in searching for more information on Estella Mabel Colwell, who had married George Moreland in 1919 when she was thirteen years old.  I know that "Mabel" and George divorced between 1921-1925, when George remarried, but I had never found any records of Mabel after the 1920 Census.

A couple of weeks ago, a hint on Mabel showed up on the site. It wasn't her, but it led me to do a search again, and, lo and behold, a new marriage record for her showed up.  Then I found a couple of listings from Elmira, New York City Directories.  Mabel's mother and brother had moved to Elmira, so apparently after Mabel and George Moreland divorced, Mabel went out to Elmira.  In 1924 and 1925, she was listed in Elmira, New York as Estella M. Moreland working as a telephone operator. In the 1925 New York Census, she was listed as Stella Moreland, age 23,  a lodger and a machine operator.

I haven't found her in any 1930 Census yet.

Mabel married Elwin Dossow on the 14th of June in 1932 in Kalispell, Flathead County, Montana.  Mabel was twenty-six years old and Elwin was forty-three years old.  Both were divorced, but each listed that they had not been married before on the marriage certificate.  Mabel was listed as Stella M. Collwell.  I knew it was her when I saw that her parents were listed as Charles Collwell and Rosa Patterson!

Elwin Dossow enlisted in the Army in 1940 and stated that he was single. So more searching for Mabel...

I found Mabel again, in the 1940 Census, living in Spokane, Washington.  She was listed as Stella M. Dossow, age 34, had completed seventh grade and was working as a cook at a restaurant.  But here's the big surprise....she had an 11 year old son listed with her: Clare E. Dossow, age 11, in the fourth grade, and born in Pennsylvania.

Now the question is: was Clare actually the son of Elwin Dossow?  He and Mabel didn't marry until 1932, and Clare would have been born in 1929. Was Clare born before they married, or did Elwin adopt him?

Elwin Dossow died in 1976.  Neither Clare nor Mable are mentioned in his obituary. I have not been able to find any death record of Mabel at this time.   And I certainly wonder how she ended up in Montana!

As of this writing, I haven't found any more on either Mabel or Clare. But I was pleased to at least learn a little more about Mabel's life.

Friday, April 6, 2018

#52Ancestors-Week 14-The Maiden Aunt

Elvira "Ella" Lucinda Adamson was born to Moses Thompson and Lydia Ann Bullard Adamson on the 21st of December in 1880 in Olney, Richland County, Illinois.  She was the ninth child born to her parents.

By the time Ella was born, her parents had lost two sons. So she was born into a family where she had five sisters and one brother.  Ella completed seven years Ella Adamsonof school, probably until she was about age twelve.

When Ella was fifteen years old (1895), there had been four more children born to the family, and six children who had died: her brothers John (age 2) and Homer (age 9) had died and her sisters Maggie (age 18), Lydia (age 2), Mary Ann (age 21) and Bertha (age 14) had all passed away. It is hard to imagine what life must have been like with all those siblings dying in a fifteen year span. So at the age of fifteen, Ella was left with her older sister Lulu, who had married the year before at age 26, Edwin Carl, her brother, who had also married the year before at age 22, and Arthur, my grandfather, who was ten years old. Ella and Arthur remained the only children at home until about 1898 when infant Edna was adopted into the family.  By then, Ella was about eighteen years old and was probably quite active in the care of the new baby that had joined their household.

In the 1900 Census for Richland County, Illinois, Ella was listed with her parents, brother Arthur, and Edna.  Arthur was listed as a student; no one in the household worked.  Ella was listed as age nineteen. In 1902, Arthur left for college, leaving Ella with her parents and Edna.

By 1910, Ella was still living with her parents and Edna, but she was listed as a cashier at a department store.  Her parents were then ages 72 and 65.  Ella's brother Arthur married in 1910. Her father, Moses Thompson Adamson, died in 1917 at the age of 79. He had never worked a day since returning home from the Civil War and had to be constantly monitored, so I would guess that it may have been of some relief when he passed away. I'm sure that Ella was quite involved in his care. Ella was thirty-six years old when her father died.  She remained living with her mother and Edna and was listed with them in the 1920 Census.  At that time, Ella was listed as a bookkeeper.  Her sister Edna married in 1921 and remained in Olney.  Ella's brother, Carl, also remained in Olney, so she had two siblings living nearby.  Arthur never returned to living in Olney.

Ella Adamson
Above is what I think is a beautiful picture of Ella.

In the 1930 Census, Ella was listed living with her mother.  She was listed as age thirty-one (an error-she was fifty-one) and her occupation was listed as a "book layer" in a department store.  Ella and her mother were the only ones listed in the home.  By this time, her mother was eighty-four years old.   Ella's mother died in 1935, and from then on Ella lived alone in the home.  She was listed as a clerk at a department store in the 1940 Census.

I do remember meeting Aunt Ella once or twice. Below are pictures of her and her brother Arthur in later years.

Ella Adamson and Arthur AdamsonElla Adamson with brother Arthur
Aunt Ella remained in the family home until her death in 1962.  She and Edna were very close to each other.  Ella never married.  She was a kind, gentle woman who cared for others throughout her life.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

#52Ancestors-Week 13-The Old Homestead

This may not seem like an "Old Homestead" to some, but it does to me.  My grandparents built their dream home in 1956, which is more than sixty years

ago now.  I was around eight years old and remember the house being built.  They had purchased five acres along the Illinois River.  The house was about two acres from the main road, with a railway track running through it near the road.  Then there was about three acres for the backyard, which ran to the river.

The house was a two bedroom, one bath ranch, with two big great rooms dividing the kitchen from the bedrooms.  One of the great rooms faced the front yard and had a big picture window.  The other great room faced the backyard and the back wall was almost all glass, facing the river. It was a beautiful view. There was a fireplace in this room.   The two great rooms were divided by double pocket doors.

The garage was under the house with a stairway leading up to the kitchen.  The other 3/4 of the basement was unfinished and was where my grandmother did her laundry.  I remember her using a wringer washing machine there.

For me, the outside was the most wonderful part of their "homestead".  Grandpa had a small shed where he kept tools, lawn mower, etc.  Down the hill in the
backyard was the "Gazebo", as we called it.  It was about the size of a one stall garage, with a concrete floor and was screened in.  Inside was a table that took up all of the middle of the room.  Chairs were along the table and along the walls.  Lots of people could fit in the gazebo.  When the weather was nice, we ate most of our dinners out there, with everyone helping to carry the dishes and food out there.

The property was a dream-come-true for kids.  My brother and I had all kinds of room to run and play.  We put pennies on the railroad tracks to smash them and listened for trains by putting out ears to the tracks.  We stood and waved as the trains rolled by and often the engineers would blow the whistle and wave to us.  We could go down to the river and wade in it and play.  In the winter, we ice skated on it.  In the spring we made rafts to try to sail away on adventures!

My grandfather had a pontoon boat, that was like the original party boat to us!  The kids and adults spent many afternoons out on the river on the pontoon boat.

Being the oldest grandchild, I spent many weekends at the house with my grandparents.  Even when I was in college, when I came home, I would go stay with them sometimes.

When my grandfather retired, they decided to move to Arizona for his health.  They had fifteen years in their dream home.  That doesn't seem very long to me now, but they had a wonderful time there.  Their home on the river has always been talked about in the family as where some of our very best memories were made.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

#52Ancestors-Misfortune-James O'Neill

While writing earlier about Ellen Murphy O'Neill, I realized that I didn't have much information on what had happened to her son James.  I contacted the library in Watseka, who then passed on my request to the Iroquois County Genealogical Society who initially could not locate an obituary, but within a week I heard back from them and they had found one.

I learned that James O'Neill, born in 1864 in Kickapoo, Peoria County, Illinois died on the second of December in 1885, at the age of 21. James was the second child born to Edmond and Ellen Murphy O'Neill. The family moved to Iroquois County, Illinois in around 1872 when James would have been eight years old.  He was listed with the family in the 1880 Census and was sixteen years old.

On the second day of December in 1885, James and three other boys went to work with their machine digging a ditch. James was managing the horses and "before he could get hold of the sweep it forced itself away from the strong arms of the man and struck James on the back of the head, killing him instantly". It was written that he was "a quiet industrious young man".

Such a sad story. A young man's future gone in an instant, leaving his family to grieve the loss of him.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

#52Ancestors-Week 11-Lucky: Having a picture

This week's prompt is "Lucky".  That seemed rather difficult as I thought through it.  Then it occurred to me, as I was writing another post, how lucky I am to have a picture of Mary Murphy Ryan Corrigan.  This is the only picture that I have of any of the seven children of my great-great-great grandparents, James and Alice Read Murphy, who came over to the United States from Ireland.

Mary was my 3rd great aunt.  She was born in County Kilkenny in 1834 and came to the United States with her family in 1849.  Mary lived until 1922, with  only one other sibling surviving her.

I have searched and searched for pictures of the other six children, but so far, I have not been able to locate any, not even of my great-great grandfather, William H.Murphy.  So, right now, I consider myself lucky to have a picture of Mary! Mary is on the far right in the top row.  From this picture, I can begin to imagine what her siblings may have looked like.  That's a start!