Thursday, April 30, 2009

The saga continues...

This blog post continues the letter written by Josiah Osborn on April 7, 1848. He was a survivor of the Whitman Massacre, and his letter recounts his experiences. Below are sketches of Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife, Narcissa Whitman.

...A day or two afterwards we met another caravan, in which were David Findley and his family; they had buried their youngest child three days before. Putnam had taken the road to the Cascades. Thus our friends were scattered along the road, trying to find the Wallamette Valley. We now hired another crew of Indians to take us to Fort Wallawalla, up the Columbia river. After bidding farewell to our friends, we put our goods aboard of a small boat, dig out of a white cedar, and started with four Indians. With hard labor we got about half way through the Big Falls, and camped among the rocks by the water's edge. In the morning we got Indians to carry some of our goods to the upper end of the falls, and took our four little children and made our way over rocks and through sand, meanwhile the Indians pulled our boat up through the falls. We then went aboard and proceeded on our way to Dechutes' Falls, and encamped. Next morning made our portage and went on; so made our way up the river, passing thru many dangers, not only by the river, but by being almost without food, except as we bought from the Indians along the river. We ran out of provisions, and had to buy drived salmon. Our children suffered very much with the cold. In ten days after leaving the falls we arrived at Fort Wallawalla.

On Sabbath morning the team came for us, with provisions, and on Monday at noon we reached the Mission, where the doctor and Mrs. Whitman, and Mr. Andrew Rogers, met us with great friendship. We found Mr. Rogers very unwell, but on the mend. Several families had stopped here for the winter. The Cayuse Indians were dying very fast with the measles and dysentery. In about two weeks the doctor's family took them, and, as we lived in the adjoining room, Margaret was taken down on the 8th of November, and, being in a delicate situation, the disease went very hard with her, and resulted in the death of the child, which was born on the 14th and was buried next day. When it was taken to the grave Salvijane was taken down, as we supposed, with the measles, and never rose again; in five or six days she became speechless, and died on the ninth day after she was taken. Our other children - John Law, A. Rogers, and Nancy Anna - were all taken sick, but Nancy was able to be about all the time. I was also sick for several days.

In the last company there was a half-breed came to the doctor's and hired to work through the winter. One day he was at work for an Indian name Tamsicky, harrowing in wheat, and told him that the doctor and Mrs. Whitman were scattering poison into the air, and would kill them all off; that he was not working for him, but the doctor; that he (the doctor) knew they would all die, and he would get their wheat and all they had. He then proposed that, if they would agree to it, he wouldhelp them to kill the doctor and his wife, and all the Americans in the country. As they had a disposition to murder, and wanted satisfaction for the loss of the women and children, it was no difficult matter to incide them agains the be continued

Monday, April 27, 2009

A survivor's story...

The Whitman Massacre

Wikipedia describes the Whitman Massacre as follows:
The Whitman massacre (also known as the Walla Walla massacre and the Whitman Incident) was the murder in the Oregon Country on November 29, 1847 of U.S. missionaries Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife Narcissa Whitman, along with thirteen others. They were killed by Cayuse and Umatilla Indians. The incident began the Cayuse War. It took place in present-day southeastern Washington, near the town of Walla Walla, and was one of the most notorious episodes in the U.S. settlement of the Pacific Northwest. The event was the climax of several years of complex interaction between the Whitmans, who had led the first wagon train along the Oregon Trail, and the local Native Americans.
You can read the rest of the excerpt here.
Newspapers across the country carried the events (the image below is from the Weekly Wisconsin newspaper, 31 May 1848 issue, pg. 4)

Josiah Osborn and (some) of his family were survivors of the Whitman Massacre. My next several blog posts will be a transcript of a letter written by Josiah on April 7, 1848, to his brother and sister in Illinois. It was printed in the Oquawka Illinois Spectator newspaper on August 23, 1848 and picked up by several papers across the country. The image below is from the Sandusky Clarion newspaper, Oct 16 1848 issue.

Dear Brother and Sister:
After a long silence, I take pen in hand to write you a few lines, to inform you that some of us still remain on this side of the grave, and give you some information of the country, and our troubles since we left the states. I have waited a long time, until I could have something worth writing about.
When we parted with you, we took our journey for Oregon, and had a very pleasant trip, but traveled very slowly. When we reached the Umatilla river we turned and went to Dr. Whitman's, where we spent the winter. We had a very pleasant winter. On the first of March, 1846, we started for the Willamette Valley, and in thirteen days we arrived at the Falls, where had to stop and construct a boat. In about two weeks we had completed our boat, and then started down the Columbia, and arrived at Oregon city on the 24th of April. Here we spent the summer, and in the fall moved up the Wallamette to the Methodist Institute, and spent the fall and winter. In the spring of 1847 we went to our claim on the Califosea, and thought we were done moving.
Dr. Whitman came down and wanted me to undertake to build two mills for the Mission; and, not being satisfied with doing well, I consented to go and spend two years in working for the Mission. On the last of September we started for Oregon City. About the first of October we took water at the city, with six Wallawalla Indians, for the Falls, which we reached on the 5th. Next day we saw the dust rise from a caravan coming from the states. I started to meet them, and the first persons I met were John and Nancy Findley, driving the loose cattle. After passing a few words with them I went on and met the wagons. The first was driven by Wm. McCaw. In this wagon I found one whom I had never expected to see again in this world. Here was aunt Jane Findley, sitting in the wagon, almost worn out with traveling. She was surrounded with a host of children - three of Levi Russell's, four of Dunlap's and one of McCaw's - all dependent upon their grandmother to be taken care of - a burden for the stoutest person. Then rode up James L. Findley and his wife, in good health; then came Alexander Findley, John Dunlap and Milton - Dunlap had been sick for several days. This was a very solemn meeting of friends. After bracing myself up as well as I could, I led this little caravan on to my family. The caravan soon passed on to camp, but John and Nancy Findley remained and took tea with us, and in the evening we went with them to the be contined

Friday, April 24, 2009 all about it...

I love newspapers and what they add to my research, but it hasn't always been that way. When I first started family history research, I concentrated on vital and census records. I only used newspapers for birth, marriage, and death announcements. That was pretty much the extent of my foray into historical newspapers. One day I was cranking though a microfilm of the Monroe Gazette (that I got through inter-library loan) when I happened on this article.

Of course this isn't on my's my husband's family (I never have this kind of luck in my own research). I'm now a newspaper convert. So much that I have a subscription to GenealogyBank and Newspaper Archive (both have extensive historical newspaper collections) as well as Ancestry. The digitzation and indexing of newspapers isn't perfect. OCR programs can't compensate for light, deteriorated or poor quality news print. But even with this shortcoming it certainly helps to find those obscure articles that we otherwise would miss. Don't be like me...don't overlook the value of newspapers. You never know what you might find.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I wonder why I haven't heard anything...

I noticed that two new databases have been added to the database portal available at the LDS Family History Center. I'm surprised I haven't read anything about this on any of the blogs. The new databases will be of interest to anyone doing British research.

1. 19th Century British Library Newspaper Digital Archive – this site has about 2 million pages of British newspapers.

2. The Genealogist – British births, marriages, deaths, census records, and directories.

These are available FREE at the FHC through the database portal.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

It remains a mystery...

My great-great grandmother, Johanna (Leue) Prehn died 23 Sep 1871 of puerperal fever (an infection after child birth). Her death is recorded in the St. Louis county (Missouri) death register, item #4698. On 25 Nov 1871 the death register lists the death of William John Prehn. He is 2 months, 5 days at the time of death and lived in Webster Groves (which is where Henry & Johanna lived), and he's buried in the same cemetery as Johanna (Old Pickers). Is this a child of Henry and Johanna? We just don't know for sure. But the mystery deepens...

The baptism records of the First Congregational Church of Webster Groves list two infant baptisms:

Pg. 1, #22 - Charles Henry Prehn, born 17 Sep 1871 and baptized 01 Oct 1871
Pg. 1 #23 - John Frederick Prehn born 17 Sep 1871 and baptized 01 Oct 1871
The parents for both children are listed as Henry & Johanna Prehn. So we know that Johanna gave birth to twins. The only newspaper reference to Johanna's death is found in the "Missouri Republican," 24 Sep 1871 issue (pg. 2). However, that is just one sentence that merely says "Johanna beloved wife of Henry" died.
The mystery is that we don't know what happened to the boys. They simply vanish. They aren't living in Henry Prehn's household in the 1880 census. Henry remarried in 1873. In 1880 he's listed with his two children (14 and 12) from his marriage to Johanna and four children from his second marriage. None of which are the boys listed above.
At the time of her death, Johanna had a 4 year old son and a 2 year old daughter. The most likely scenario is that Henry felt he could take care of these two toddlers, but couldn't take care of twins (or triplets) so decided to give them up for adoption. There was an orphange in Webster Groves called St. Louis Protestant Orphans' Asylum. I found that the Western Historical Manuscript Collection at the University of Missouri had microfilm copies of their records. I checked roll #5 which contained the record of admissions and departures for that time period...nothing. Of course that doesn't mean they weren't given to another orphanage. Henry's will (probated 10 Dec 1913) makes no mention of these boys.
So I have two main questions...
1. Was William John Prehn a child of Henry and Johanna? If so...why wasn't he baptized at the same time as the other two boys? If his age is accurate in the death register, he was born about the 20th of Sep (3 days after the other boys) not likely to be Johanna's. The only other Prehn living is Webster Grove was Henry's brother, John Prehn. I don't think this infant could be John's because his wife gave birth to a daughter in April of 1872. Although it's not impossible to have only a six and one half month separation between births, it seems unlikely.
2. If Henry was going to give the boys up for adoption, why have them baptized? But mostly...where did the boys go? They aren't listed as dying or being buried anywhere in the Webster Groves area.
It just remains a mystery...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Don't take NO for an answer

Several years ago my husband and I (along with my parents) made a genealogy trip to Trinity county, California. We wanted to visit the area where Horace Fitch lived and ran Fitch's Ferry. We stopped at the Trinity County Historical Society in Weaverville...hoping they would have information on Horace and his family. Much to our disappointment the docent said they didn't have anything.

Before leaving, we all strolled through the various displays. I notice in the back of one room there were some card files. They appeared to be a card catalog of the Society's holdings in alphabetical order by surname. Even though we had been told that there was nothing on the Fitch family, I decided to check the card catalog. Imagine my surprise when I saw a card for Horace Fitch and also one for Oscar Fitch (Horace's brother)!

The card for Horace referenced a photo in the Society's collection of Horace and Oscar taken in about 1907.

The back of the photo identifies Oscar in the front riding "Ted" and Horace in the back riding "Jim." On the porch is Oscar's wife, Louisa (Plank) Fitch, and his granddaughter, Dorothy, is on the right edge of the photo. We were allowed to photograph the front and back of the photo.

The catalog card for Oscar referenced a diary or memoir he wrote of his Civil War experience. We weren't allowed to photocopy or photograph it (darn!). So we transcribed what we could.

The moral of the story...don't take NO for an answer. Ask if the agency has a card catalog of their holdings. You never know what you might find!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

On the street where they lived...

Abraham Albee's & Fannie (Fitch) Albee's home on Dorland St. burned down during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Fannie's father, Horace Fitch, bought them a lot at 222 Prague St. Abraham purchased two earthquake shacks and had them moved to the lot; where he joined them together. In this picture (L-R) Bertha, Fannie, Winnie, Walter and Abraham Albee holding Jeff are standing next to their Prague St. earthquake shack.

The photo is circa 1906/1907

I checked the McInerney actions (court actions to establish land ownership). I didn't find anything, but then I realized...I wouldn't. The McInerney actions were for people to claim their land after records were destroyed in the earthquake and subsequent fire. Had the Albees put their earthquake shacks on Dorland where they had lived at the time (if they owned the land), there would probably have been an action. But they put the shacks on Prague street. This would have been a new purchase - hence, no McInerney action required. I need to check regular land records to confirm the family story that Fannie's father purchased the land for them.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A rose by any other name...

Can anyone tell me why my great grandmother's name is Margretta in everything I can find (including in her own handwriting in her life's story), but her obituary (from the 4 Apr 1961 issue of the San Mateo Times newspaper) gives her name as Henrietta? I'm guessing it was just a typo on the part of the funeral home.

Margretta was cremated and her remains were shipped to Colorado for burial in the Leadville cemetery (Lake county, Colorado). I haven't been able to locate her burial location within the cemetery, and her name doesn't show up in any interment transcriptions.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What a way to go...

Thomas Stanley Davies died 6 Oct 1924 at the age of 38. While on a weekend pass from Denver Veteran's Hospital, he told the family "don't let me lie down." He slept sitting in a chair. A party at the home left all in a careless mood and Tom stretched out on the sofa. They found him dead in the morning. He suffered from dropsy.