Saturday, September 17, 2016

Williamson County, Texas Marriage Licenses

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

Ever tried in vain to find a marriage record? There are so many reasons why a record might be "missing." Burned courthouse. The marriage license was never returned to the county clerk. The marriage took place in a county that you have not considered. That forces us to get create and seek records in bibles, church records, pension files, newspapers, etc.

Willliamson County, Texas is currently unable to issue marriage licenses because they allowed their paper to run out. All in all, they will be unable to issue marriage licenses for one month out of 2016, which will force residents to seek marriage licenses in neighboring counties. Decades from now, descendants will be forced to look elsewhere for the marriage records of their ancestors... for at least one month in 2016. One source stated that Williamson County will be able to resume issuing licenses on September 26, 2016.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Phillip Hodges Smithson's Family

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

I am not related to Phillip Hodges Smithson or his family in any way, but I found this picture in a local antique mall. Photographs of people gathered around a tombstone don't come along very often. It always makes me sad when great family heirlooms like this one get separated from their families.

This one had no photographer's information or any other identifying information besides the tombstone inscription:  Hodges Smithson  Born Sept. 1, 1856 Died Dec. 17, 1908. I thought, however, that it would be able to easy find his memorial on findagrave.

Close up of tombstone inscription.
click to enlarge image

I could not find it through the findagrave search because the memorial was listed as Phillip Hodges Smithson, and I was searching for Hodges Smithson. However, I was able to get to it through a google search, which pulled up the findagrave memorial. Luckily, the memorial had a photograph of the tombstone, so there was no doubt in my mind that I had the correct memorial. You can see the findagrave memorial here.

The next step was try to identify the people in the photograph. That was really even easier since Phillip Hodges Smithson's wife and three children's memorials are all linked to his memorial. Logic dictates that they are the woman and three children in the photograph.

Lula Franklin (Williams) Smithson Wilson

The widow, Lula Franklin (Wilson) Smithson, has a biography and an obituary posted on her findagrave memorial. Her biography indicates that she remarried in about 1912 to Robert P. Wilson. They were living apart when she died in 1937. 

Annie Laura (Smithson) Williams

Daughter Annie Laura Smithson was born in 1893. She married her first cousin Thomas Leon Williams, who was 17 years older than she. He died in 1921, and she remained a widow for the rest of her life. They had no children. When she died 49 years later in 1970, her youngest brother Luke Hodges Smithson was her only immediate survivor. There is a biography and an obituary posted her findagrave memorial.

Joe Cobb Smithson

Joe Cobb Smithson, born in 1900, was seven years younger than his sister Annie. A carpenter, he was unmarried and living with his widowed sister Annie and younger brother Luke at the time of his death in 1954. They were making their home in the Caviness community in Lamar County. There is an obituary posted on his findagrave memorial.

Luke Hodges Smithson

Luke Hodges Smithson was born in 1903 and was three years younger than his brother Joe. He was the last surviving member of the immediate family. He seems to have never married. Luke died in 1991, and it seems reasonable to think that he owned the photograph that I have. It's hard to say where it went in 1991. Luke left his estate for the upkeep of Prairie Ridge Cemetery, so perhaps it was sold for that pupose? I'm guessing that it remained in a collection until I bought it a few months ago. In any event, there was no immediate descendant of this family to inherit it. There is an obituary posted on his findagrave memorial. 

Luke would have been about five years old when his father died in 1908, and nine when his mother remarried in 1912. Joe would have been about eight when his father died, and twelve his mother remarried. Annie would have been about fifteen when her father died and nineteen when her mother remarried. 

Based on the appearance of the people in the photograph I would guess that one year, but no more than two years, had passed between Phillip Hodges Smithson's death and the time the photograph was taken. That means that the widow Lula had not remarried yet. Is that why she is standing by herself to the right of the tombstone? 

The question is who is the mystery man standing behind the children? Is he Robert P. Wilson? Was he courting Lula, but not married to her yet? Born in 1852, he was thirteen years older than Lula. Since everyone else in the photograph is related to Phillip Hodges Smithson, is this man also a relative? Lula had a brother, Thomas Cobb Williams, who was still living in this time period. He was fourteen years older than Lula. Could it be Thomas Cobb Williams? Phillip Hodges Smithson had a younger brother, Joseph Carroll Smithson, who died in Canadian County, Oklahoma in 1943. Born in 1861, he was four years older than Lula. Could he be Joseph Carroll Smithson?

Mystery Man

Another question concerns the occasion of the photograph. Since a professional photographer was present, what was the event? A holiday? A cemetery working?  Another look at the photograph reveals some more little details:

On the far left is the arm of a young boy, suggesting that other families are present. He is either waiting with his own family by a neighboring tombstone for, perhaps, their turn to have a picture taken. Or he is waiting for the Smithson boys. Phillip Hodges Smithson's grave is freshly mounded, so perhaps this was a cemetery working, which would have drawn many families to the cemetery on this occasion. Little Luke looks both hot and tired, so this was perhaps late in a long day. Joe seems to be holding his sister Annie's fan, suggesting that they have been fanning themselves while waiting for their picture to be taken. Joe, also, looks hot and tired. He has an expression that suggests he is ready to get this over with. Their mother Lula is also holding a fan. On the ground behind Annie is a wire basket and a woven basket. Did these hold their picnic lunch?

The women's hats could be used to more closely date the photograph. That will have to wait for another day of research. 

It has been a few days more than 170 years since Phillip Hodges Smithson was born on 1 Sept. 1856. Happy Belated Birthday, Phillip.

This photograph will be added to their findagrave memorials and to FamilySearch.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Selphs at the Baptist Female College

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

In 1871, this account of the commencement at the Baptist Female College in Lexington, Missouri appeared in the local newspaper. Of note is the description of Lily E. (Burton) Selph’s role at the school, the piano playing of the Selph daughters, and a description of the girls’ exams and the school grounds. 

Baptist Female College

   The stranger, who saunters admiringly, along South Street, the Fifth Avenue of Lexington, can’t fail to notice, just opposite to where the Southern Methodist Church rears its tall and graceful spire heavenward, a spacious and stately edifice reposing, in calm and placid dignity, and embowering trees and vines. In front and around it, cedars and pines, apple, peach and cherry trees, wave their leafy arms, and the rose and lilac swing their perfumed censers. With its substantial, stone-colored walls and dark-green blinds, the building looks like a noble mansion of the “olden time;” but a neat new chapel, at the western side, proclaims it a public institution. That is the Baptist College; and it is worthy of the large and increasing patronage it receives; worthy of the good old city, in which it stands; and worthy of the numerous, wealthy and intelligent denomination, to which it belongs. In spite of some drawbacks, with which it has had to contend, during the session just past, a reference to its admirably gotten up catalogue, shows an enrollment of a hundred and two students—a larger number than either of its competitors. Its board of trustees comprises many of our most prominent citizens.
   Its Faculty consists of Rev. Duncan H. Selph, D.D., formerly President of the famous Seminary at Danville Kentucky, and more recently of the almost equally celebrated institution, at Murfreesboro, Tennessee; President and Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy. –
   Mrs. L.E. Selph, a veritable mother to all her girls, watchful, careful and sympathizing to all her girls, watchful, careful and sympathizing; Matron and Assistant Principal.
    …the examination which we witnessed, last week of their classes in grammar, logic, rhetoric and physiology, would alone have been sufficient to wreath them with well-earned laurels. The little ladies showed a readiness and accuracy, a familiarity with the philosophy as well as the facts of literature and science, that was positively amazing. The classes in mathematics were pronounced by Prof. C.O. smith, of this place, who witnessed their examination, the most astonishingly proficient, quick and thorough, he ever saw. He declares that young girls of fourteen or fifteen years triumphantly passed an ordeal, which would have been severe for the masculine graduates of our most noted colleges.
   The Musical Department is intrusted [sic] to the skill and care of Miss Sade Summers. The performance of many of her pupils is admirable evidence of her fitness for the position. Misses Fannie, Alice and Susie Wadell, Miss Susie Chapman, Miss Belle Graves, and the little Misses Selph, are worthy of especial mention several of these little ladies bid fair to become brilliant pianists.
    …The examinations and exhibitions, last week were attended throughout, by crowds of our best citizens and many stranger [sic]. The chapel was far too small to accommodate the throng on Commencement evening. And praises of the school, its management, teachers and pupils have been on many tongues. We understand that everything seems fair for a larger commencement than ever, next session. The Baptists of Western and Southwestern Missouri certainly can find no better place to send their daughters.
[Source: The Weekly Caucasion; Lexington, Lafayette County, Missouri; 24 June 1871]

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

John P. Tener and brother Fred Tener

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

What if those of us who also collect antique photographs, did a little research and added those pictures to websites where they can be found and enjoyed by descendants of those families? The photographs in this web post will be added to findagrave memorials and FamilySearch.

I purchased these two photographs over thirty years ago. Unfortunately, I do not remember where. It was likely New Mexico, Texas, or Kansas. They were both in the same shop or booth, and I purchased them because the John P. Tener photograph had a wealth of information on the back and because they were obviously both from the same family. My guess was that the men were brothers. Evidently, the photographs passed down through John P. Tener's family until someone disposed of them.

This photograph is the larger of the two and has detailed information on the back. The photographer's stamp across the bottom reads: The Lees Traveling.


Mrs.                                                      Mr.                                                                        
Elizabeth                                              John P. Tener
Ann Tener                                            was born April
was born                                               the 4th 1816
February the 18th                                 and picture was
1825 and                                               taken October
picture was                                            the 11th 1896                                            
taken October                                       and died March
the 11th 1896                                        the 24th 1898

A search of findagrave revealed that John Philip Tener and Elizabeth A. (Powelson) Tener are buried in Walnut Grove Cemetery in Cedar County, Missouri. The birth and death dates on John Philip Tener's tombstone match the inscription on the back of his photograph.

Elizabeth Ann Powelson was first married to John A. Cain on 22 Oct 1841 in Washington County, Iowa. 
[Source:  "Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934", database, FamilySearach ( 8 March 2016), John A. Cain and Elizabeath Ann Powelson, 1841.] 

John Tener married Elizabeth Ann Cain on 11 Nov 1848 in Washington County, Iowa.
[Source: "Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934", database, FamilySearach ( 8 March 2016), John Tener and Elizabaeth An Cain, 1848.] 

John Philip Tener and Elizabeth Ann Powelson in U.S. census records:

August 1850, Division 20, Washington County, Iowa:

John P. Tenner 34 M Farmer $1,000 b. Maryl
Elizabeth 28 F b. ?
Elizabeth 58 b. Mary
Polk 11 M b. Ill
Susanah 7 F b. Iowa
John A. 4 M b. Iowa
Lauan L 1 F b. Iowa

Later census records reveal that Susanah and John were Cains not Teners.

28 June 1860, Sharon, Johnson County, Iowa:

John P. Tener 40 M Farmer b. Ohio
Betsy " 38 F b. Ohio
Susan Kaine 17 F b. Ohio
John A. Kaine 14 M b. Ohio
Levina Tener 8 F b. Iowa
Cordelia " 6 F b. Iowa
Letta " 4 F b. Iowa
Amenta " 2 F b. Iowa
Albert " 1 M b. Iowa
Emma " 7 F. b. Iowa

16 July 1870, Montevallo twp, Vernon County, Missouri:

Tener, John 54 M W Farmer $3,900-$450 b. MD, father of foreign birth
----Elizabeth 45 F W Keeping house b. VA
----Lavinia 20 F W b. Iowa
----Delia U 18 F W b. Iowa
----Lettie 16 F W b. Iowa
----Emaline 14 F b. Iowa
----Ariminta 13 F W b. Iowa
----Albert 10 M W b. Iowa
----Milton 8 M W b. Iowa
----Mary 5 F W b. Iowa
Cain, John 24 M W Farm hand b. Iowa

18 June 1880, Montevallo, Vernon County, Missouri:

Tener, John W M 64 Farmer b. MD fb. Germany mb. Germany
----Elizabeth W F 55 wife Housekeeping b. VA fb. VA mb. VA
----Louvina W F 30 dau at home b. Iowa fb. MD mb. VA
----Cordalia W F 28 dau at home b. Iowa fb. MD mb. VA
----Lettie W F 26 dau at home b. Iowa fb. MD mb. VA
----Emiline W F 24 dau at home b. Iowa fb. MD mb. VA
----Albert W M 20 son at home b. Iowa fb. MD mb. VA
----Milton W M 18 son at home b. Iowa fb. MD mb. VA
----Mary W F 16 dau at home b. Iowa fb. MD mb. VA

Use this link to find a very interesting account of Elizabeth A. Powelson and her husband John Philip Tener:

The second photograph, featuring Uncle Fred and Mary Ann Tener, is the smaller of the two.

Brother Frederick Tener and wife Mary Ann (Younkin) Tener are buried  in Riverside Cemetery, Riverside, Washington County, Missouri. 

Frederick Tener married Mary Ann Younkin 17 March 1846 in Washington County, Iowa.
[Source: Dodd, Jordan R, et al. Early American Marriages: Iowa to 1850. Bountiful, UT, USA: Precision Indexing Publishers.]

Fred and Mary Ann Tener


Uncle Fred and Aunt Mary Ann Tener

Sperry [photographer], 120 South Clinton St., Iowa City, Iowa

Sperry's photography studio was active in at least 1881 and 1882 and running advertisements in the Vidette-Reporter of Iowa City, Iowa:

Frederick and Mary Ann (Younkin) Tener in the U.S. census:

26 Sept. 1850, Division 20, Washington County, Iowa:

Tener, John W M 64 Farmer b. MD b. Ger mb. Ger
---Elizabeth W F 55 wife Housekeeping b. VA fb. VA mb. VA
----Louvina W F 30 dau at home b. Iowa fb. MD mb. VA
----Cordalia W F 28 dau at home b. Iowa fb. MD mb. VA
----Lettie W F 26 dau at home b. Iowa fb. MD mb. VA
----Emiline W F 24 dau at home b. Iowa fb. MD mb. VA
----Albert W M 20 son at home b. Iowa fb. MD mb. VA
----Milton W M 18 son at home b. Iowa fb. MD mb. VA
----Mary W F 16 dau at home b. Iowa fb. MD mb. VA

1856 Iowa Twp., Washington Co., Iowa, p. 613:

Frederick Tener 43 M b. MD Farmer resident of state - 16 yrs
Mary A. Tener 32 F b. OH resident of state - 12 years
Elizabeth Tener 9 F b. Iowa
Catharine Tener 7 F b. Iowa
Caroline Tener 5 F b. Iowa
Wm. McKendre Tener 2 M b. Iowa

1860, Iowa Twp., Washington County, Iowa, P.O.: Yatton:

Frederick Teener 47 M b. MD
Mary A. Teener  35
Elizabeth Teener 13
Catherine Teener 11
William M. Teener 6
John E. Young 22
Hiram Tatman 21
[Notation: very light, very difficult to read copy of census]

20 Aug 1870 Iowa twp., Washington County, Iowa, p. 126:

Tener, Fred 57 M W Farmer $700-$400 b. MD
----Mary 46 F W K House b. OH
----Kate 20 M W Dom Labor b. Iowa
----Maggie 18 F W school b. Iowa
----Wm M 17 M W school b. Iowa
----Jane 9 F W school b. Iowa
----John 7 M W school b. Iowa

18 June 1880, Iowa twp., Washington County, Iowa, p. 45:

Tener, Fredrick W M 67 Farmer b. MD b. Ger mb. MD
----Mary A. W F 53 wife b. OH fb. VA mb. VA
----William M W M 24 son Farm laborer b. Iowa fb. MD mb. OH
----Hulda J. W F 19 dau b. Iowa fb. MD mb. OH
----John W. W M 16 son Farm laborer b. Iowa fb. MD mb. OH
Sims, Elizabeth W F 23 wife at home b. Iowas fb. MD Mb. OH
----Cora M W F 9 dau b. Iowa fb. OH mb. Iowa
----Nora K W F 7 dau b. Iowa fb. OH mb. Iowa
----William T W M 4 son b. Iowa fb. OH mb. Iowa

1895, Washington Co., Iowa:

Fredrick Tener 81 M b. Maryland Farmer Methodist
Mary " 68 M b. Ohio house Methodist
William " 41 S Washington [Co., Iowa?] Methodist
John  " 32 S b. Washington [Co., Iowa?] Methodist
Fossie Gringer 2? S b. Washington [Co., Iowa?] Catholic
Eugene Ennis 24 S b. Washington [Co., Iowa?] Catholic

12 June 1900, Iowa Twp., Washington Co., Iowa:

Tener, Mary A Head W F b. Nov 1823 76 W 8-6 b. OH fb. VA mb. W VA
----William W son W M b. Nov 1854 54 S b. Iowa fb. MD mb. OH
Tiner, John W son W M b. Aug 1864 35 S b. Iowa fb. MD mb. OH
Gringer, Tassie servant W F b. Aug 1877 22 S. b. Iowa fb. Ger mb. Ger

21 April 1910, Iowa twp., Washington Co., Iowa, p. 111:

Tener, Mary Ann head F W 84 Wd 7-6 b. OH fb. ? mb. VA
----William son W 56 S b. Iowa fb. MD mb. OH
----John W son M W 45 M-1 5 b. Iowa fb. MD mb. OH
----Bertha d-i-l F W 31 M-1 5 1-1 b. Iowa fb. OH mb. Iowa
----Helen L grchild F W 3 b. Iowa fb. Iowa mb. Iowa

1915, Washington County, Iowa:

Monday, July 4, 2016

Ramon Sandoval's Son

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

News reports are often tantalizing tidbits of information that are never followed up with the end of the story. That's still just as frustrating today as it must have been a hundred years ago. This tidbit of information concerns Ramon Sandoval of Taos whose son shot himself in the knee with a shotgun.

That would have made a very nasty wound. He likely lost his leg. Or he could have gotten gangrene and died. But who is he?? Which son of Ramon Sandoval's was wounded?

Since Ramon's wife Rosa Leyba was probably deceased by this date, that would have left Ramon and his remaining children to nurse and care for this son.

Of course, the great thing about newspapers is that they help to fill in some of the gaps between a person's birth date and death date.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Lillie Selph Graduates from Allison James Mission School

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

My understanding is that whenever possible the Selphs sent their daughters to the Allison James Mission School in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Allison James Mission School was created by the Presbyterian church, specifically for Mexican girls. The goal was to teach them the domestic arts as well as academics.

In 1919, Lillie Selph, daughter of Iley Nunn Selph and wife Carolina Sandoval, was a graduate of the Allison James Mission School, which at that time only went through the 8th grade.  Apparently, there was enough interest among the sixteen 1919 graduates in continuing their education that plans for a high school were implemented.

As a requirement of the school, Lillie would have made the white dress that she wore to graduation:

Most of the girls from Ranchos de Taos had attended the Alice Hyson Memorial School, a day school, in Ranchos before transferring to board at the Allison James Mission School in Santa Fe. The tuition for Allison James was $75 for an eight month term. That translates to $1,041.49 in 2016. Scholarship girls were expected to pay a $15 ($208 in 2016) entrance fee. The girls were carefully monitored during their time at Allison James. Read about their daily lives and living conditions here in A Study of Mexicans and Spanish Americans in the United States by Jay Samuel Stowell.

The girls were only allowed to speak English at the Allison James Mission School and were required to write letters in English. One week a month they were allowed to write letters in Spanish. At home, Lillie had a father who only spoke English and a mother who only spoke Spanish. The English only rule would not have posed a difficulty for Lillie, who was bilingual. At home, there would have siblings who could translate her letters to her mother.

A photograph of the school can be seen here in the University of New Mexico's Digital New Mexico Collection.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

New Mexico--First, Last, and Forever

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

The Franciscan Hotel opened in Albuquerque, New Mexico on December 8, 1923. It was paid for through community project funds raised by the Albuquerque Hotel Company. The Kiwanis Club and the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce led the fund raising, which began in 1920. The fund raising took the form of selling shares or a subscription. The idea was that through the sales of small groups of shares, the huge sum of $330,000 could be raised. That's $4,761,820 by 2016 standards. The citizens were willing to contribute to the cause because they felt the growth and development of Albuquerque depended on an additional hotel. Their goal was to push Albuquerque's population to 50,000.

By 1922, there were very really fears that they would not be able to sell enough shares to make the hotel a reality. Advertisements ran urging subscribers to pay for the shares they had pledged. Many of these resorted to shaming. Additional articles and advertisements regularly appeared in the Albuquerque newspapers to keep up the excitement and promote subscription sales.

Becoming a subscriber was as easy as clipping a form from the newspaper and mailing it in. Shares were $1 apiece. Subscribers often scrawled messages on their forms.

One of the subscribers was none other than Iley N. Selph. As of January 1922, he was evidently living in Monero, New Mexico and mailed in his order for 50 shares ($715 in 2016) with the "terse explanation. 'Reason--New Mexico First, Last and Forever."

The Franciscan was built by Henry C. Trost, who earned the attention of Europeans for his efforts. The hotel's furniture, interior, stationary, and china were designed Inez B. Westlake while the brochures were created by Carl Hertzog of El Paso.