23 April 2014

Ancestry.Com Meme

Copyright © 2014 by Kevin W. Walker

22 April 2014

"The Biscuits Tasted Mighty Good" John Nelson Surpluss (1839-1901)

From pages 211-212 of History of Butler County Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney (Standard Publishing Company, 1916: Butler County, Kansas), speaking about the founding of Rosalia township --
The first settlers came in 1868 but they did not stay. Those who
did establish a local habitation are: 1869—D. R. Blankenship. Phil
Korn, Robert Huston, Sam Woodward, J. G. Cook, James B. Correll
and George Auten ; 1870—A. P. Foster, S. H. Foster, Hiram Benedict,
Gus Raymond, Mr. Tuttle, Dick Wiley, Samuel Davidson (who built
the first house on the high prairie between Eureka and El Dorado),
William Woods, J. T. McClure, L. W. Decker, Nelson Surpluss, James
and J.P. Huntley, Elias Leh, Fred Miller, G. W. Chamberlain, Charles
Butler, the Shermans and N. B. Snyder; 1871—George McDaniels,
Robert Martin and Doc Reynolds. 
Walter Clark came in seventy-two and still lives in the old township,
jolly as ever. The same year came M. M. Piper and his sons,
Charles, Allen, Will, Dan and Val. George Songer and his family came
about that time. The privations of some of these people sound like
romance. Nelson Surpluss, having no conveyance, in 1871 carried a
sack of flour home from El Dorado, at least thirteen miles and was
glad to get it that way. The biscuits tasted mighty good, so he says.

His daiighter, Miss Mary, the first white girl born in Rosalia, was
one of the county's foremost teachers. Forman Cook is the first boy
born in the township.
John Nelson Surpluss was my 2xg-grandfather on my mother's maternal (Surpluss) side.

Copyright © 2014 by Kevin W. Walker

21 April 2014

Israel Hall (1799-1865)

From pages 471-472 of The Good Old Time in McLean County, Illinois by Dr. E. Duis (Bloomington, IL: Leader Publishing, 1874) --
Israel W. Hall.

Israel W. Hall was born February 5, 1799, in Salem, Rockingham County, New Hampshire. His father's name was Joseph Hall, and his mother's' maiden name was Hester Woodbury.  They were both of English descent. Israel W. Hall became a shoemaker by trade. In 1834 he came to the west and settled where now the town of Danvers stands, in McLean County, Illinois. He started for the West from Nashua, New Hampshire, traveled by canal and steamboat to Detroit, Michigan, there bought a team, and came to McLean County, Illinois. In about the year 1885, Mr. Hall and Matthew Robb laid off the town of Concord, (now Danvers.) The village settled up slowly. Mr. Hall was a justice of the peace, and the first postmaster of the place. The office was called Stout's Grove Postoffice, but was changed to Danvers, which became the name of the village. The postoffice was not established until 1848 or '49, because of a postoffice at the neighboring town of Wilkesborough.
Mr. Hall was a member of the Methodist Church, and for fifteen years his house was a preaching place for that denomination.  Rev. Zadoc Hall was one of the early preachers, who held meetings there.
On the 27th of April, 1834, Israel W. Hall married Polly Stickney in Salem, N. H. He had three children, all of whom are living. They are : 
Alice W., wife of Jacob McClure, lives at St. Louis, Mo. 
Otis T. Hall lives on the honiestead place in Danvers. 
Cynthia H., wife of John Morrison, lives on a part of the homestead farm. 
Mr. Hall was about five feet and eight inches in height. He
was a good man, honest and fair-minded, and had the respect of
his neighbors. He died January 3, 1865.
Israel Hall was the full brother of my 3xg-grandfather Jeremiah S. Hall.  On our cemetery tour last summer, my son and I found Israel's gravemarker in disrepair.  Hardly befitting one of the founders of the community (click to enlarge) --

Copyright © 2014 by Kevin W. Walker

20 April 2014

Sunday's Obituary: Emily (Jones) Gurwell 1847-1935

From THE IOLA DAILY REGISTER, WEDNESDAY EVENING. OCTOBER 28, 1935, Iola, Kansas (click to enlarge) --

Mrs. Emily Jones Gurwell, 88 years old, died at the home of her son Ernest Gurwell Sunday evening. Her death was caused by paralysis.  She had been bedfast for several months. Mrs. Gurwell was born in 1847 and has lived in Humboldt seven years. Her husband died nine years ago. Survivors are four daughters, Mrs. Lee Martin, Humboldt,  Mrs.. Ida Soiers, Kansas City, Mrs. Rosetta French, Chanute, and Mrs. Alice Bradford, Lawrence; four sons, Ernest Gurwell, Dan Gurwell, and Ralph Gurwell of Humboldt, and James Gurwell of Los Angeles; and one step-son, Jacob Gurwell of Chanute. Funeral services were held this afternoon in the Presbyterian church with the Rev. D. L. Sanborne in charge. Burial in the Ellison cemetery west of Humboldt.
Emily Gurwell was my 2xg-grandmother on my mother's paternal (Gibson) side.

Copyright © 2014 by Kevin W. Walker

19 April 2014

The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and my Gurwells

Researching my family tree has brought two things to light regarding religion, the first I did know, the second I did not.

Neither of my parents were particularly religious, so we did not attend regularly, but when we did we went to the local branch of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  These are the followers of Joseph Smith whom after his death, followed his son and other members of the immediate family into northern Illinois then Missouri, instead of following Brigham Young to Utah.  The R.L.D.S. church is now officially known as The Community of Christ.  The R.L.D.S. church is the predominant religion of my mom's ancestors, it is behind both her parents. This is why what my maternal grandmother had always told us growing up was that "the R.L.D.S. is our family religion."

What I didn't know was the predominant church traditions behind my Dad.  Scatterings of Presbyterians, Catholics, Methodists.  But after you get behind my paternal grandparents, there is a huge population of Quakers!  About seventy percent.  This explains why the strong tradition of abolitionism, among other things.

Being a devout Christian myself, I am going to enjoy researching the religious side of my ancestors.  Here are the R.L.D.S. church membership records for my gg-grandparents James G. Gurwell (1834-1926) and his wife Emily Gurwell (nee. Jones, 1847-1935).  You will note James was married first to Mary Hobaugh.  They were living in Doniphan County, Kansas, and attending the Fanning branch of the R.L.D.S. church --

-- The Community of Christ archivist at their headquarters was very amiable and helpful.  She even included records that she thought were relevant although I had not requested them.  The cost was $15 an hour and 20-cents a copy, but almost never does a charge ever go over $20.  Rules are research is only done for records of members who have been deceased for eighteen years.  Requests can be by email, and remittance of payment is on the honor system.

Copyright © 2014 by Kevin W. Walker

18 April 2014

Cemetery Surprise Discoveries

Professional genealogist Elizabeth Shown Mills talks about looking for clues in an ancestor's "FAN Club" (Friends, Associates, Neighbors).  I don't see why that does not also apply to cemeteries?

My son Ralph the cemetery rabbit and I drove down to Park Hill Cemetery, in Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois to visit the grave of my first cousin 2x removed Guy Truman Walker (1884-1919).

Lo and behold when checking the nearby graves, aka. G. Truman Walker's "FAN Club," we discover --

-- the grave of his mother Clarissa Elvira Isabella (Berry) Walker 1860-1928.  We wondered where she was!

Copyright © 2014 by Kevin W. Walker

17 April 2014

Jacob L. Gurwell (1786 - abt. 1860)

The following is reproduced with permission from the "Gurwell Group" newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 4, (December, 1996) writer and editor Shirley Boyd --
Of the three young Gurwells, William, James and Jacob L., the least is known about Jacob L.  
Jacob L. Gurwell did not remain long in one spot.  First mention is in Mercer County, PA from where he served in the War of 1812. 
Jacob L. enlisted for the period of October 1, 1812 to April 2, 1813  in the Pennsylvania Militia and served as a private in Captain Matthew Dawson's Company of (PA) Militia, 5th Battalion (Nelson's) Infantry.They joined General Crook's brigade and marched through Ohio to operate with General William Henry Harrison against the British at Ft. Meigs.  He served two months and receive $13.32 for his service.  Jacob L. was discharged December 10, at Mansfield, Ohio (Richland County) which was "210 miles from home."  One Company Muster Roll shows 285 miles from home (19 days).  His allowance for clothing was $3.98.2 
In October 1817, he married Mrs. Elenor Da(o)rland in Perry Township, Wayne County, Ohio, by Daniel Hutchison, J.P.3   
The 1820 census of Berlin Township, Coshocton County, Ohio (became Holmes County in 1826) shows that there was one male 26-45, two females under 10 and one female 16-26 in Jacob's household. 
On May 1, 1821 he purchased "Lot No. five of the fourth quarter of the tenth Township & the Sixth range of the tract...lying in the State of Ohio."4 However, in November of the same year he sold the land to Jacob Frye.  Jacob L.'s wife was listed as Aley.5   
On April 25, 1822 he purchased land in Liberty Township, Crawford County, Ohio.  (Sale was the from Delaware County, Ohio land office.  The deed was signed by President James Monroe.)6 
By 1823 he had moved to Crawford County, Ohio.  A history of Crawford County records that "in 1823 in Liberty Township, Crawford County, the Northwest corner of Jacob L. Gurwell's farm was the first burying ground in that area so it is believed that one of the first to die belonged to Jacob L.  The graveyard no longer exists."7  Jacob L. is on the 1826 personal property tax list in Liberty Township.  "Prior to 1830 Jacob L. and David Hawk started a tannery northeast of Annapolis in Liberty Township."In 1832 and '33 Jacob L. was on the tax list in Liberty Township for lands and house.  In 1834 he bought land in Chatfield Township, Crawford County. 
The 1830 census of Crawford County, Liberty Township lists the following in Jacob L.'s household:  one male under 5, one male 40-50 (Jacob), one female under 5, one female 5-10, two females 10-15 and one female (20-30) (Aley).
While living in Crawford County, Jacob bought and sold many tracts of land. The last land transaction in Crawford County was in 1836 when he sold land to Isaac Starns.  He signed the land record and Aley made her mark. 
Jacob L. next appears in the 1850 Holt County, Missouri census.  He is 64 and lists his birthplace as Pennsylvania.  In his household are Emma, 26, born in Ohio, James, 16, born in Ohio, Amanda, 11, born in Illinois and William, 3, born in Missouri.  From this we can infer that he lived in Illinois after he left Ohio, that Aley died sometime after the birth of William (assuming that she was William's mother). 
FOOTNOTES: 1-Military Records from the National Archives; 2-Ibid.; 3-Wayne County, Ohio Marriage Records. 1812-1829.; 4-Holmes County, Ohio Deed Book Vol. 15, p. 19, Holmes County Court House, Millersburg, Ohio. (Poor copy.); 5-Holmes County, Ohio Transcript Deed Record 11,  p. 173, Court House,  Millersburg, Ohio.; 6-Crawford County, Ohio, Recorder's Office, Bucyrus, Ohio Deed Book 4,  p. 108-109.; 7-1881 History of Crawford County, Ohio8-Ibid. p. 576 

Jacob Laban Gurwell is my 3x-great-grandfather on my mother's paternal (Gibson) side.

If you have anything to add on the Gurwell family history both Shirley and I would like to hear from you.  She can be emailed at shirboy[at]aol.com.

Copyright © 2014 by Kevin W. Walker

16 April 2014


My ancestors who died in big cities are almost always buried in what are now
the old and depressed areas I would not normally think of voluntarily visiting....

....Except to visit a relative.

Copyright © 2014 by Kevin W. Walker