Saturday, January 23, 2016

Thomas Resin Galt Celebrates His 87th Birthday

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

Newspaper articles of all sorts can add or confirm information. These articles are not limited to birth, death, and marriage announcements. Wedding anniversaries and accounts of birthdays can also provide valuable information. This clipping honors the birthday of my husband's great-grandfather, Thomas Resin Galt, of Hale Center, Texas. His 87th birthday has newsworthy in 1947. From this clipping we can glean that his birthday was February 7, 1860 and that he was born in Appleton City, Missouri. He moved to Hale Center in 1913 and quit farming in 1937 when he sold out and moved in with his daughter, Mrs. Wallace Louthan. It is not mentioned in the article, but he had become a widower in 1934. Although they are not named, he had a total of three sons and five daughters still living. Among them was my husband's grandmother, Beulah (Galt) Graham. He lived for six more years.

click to enlarge

As you are searching for information on your ancestors in newspapers, remember to also search for them by their initials as well as their given names. Initials became very popular in the last half of the 19th century and that trend continued well into the 20th century. Also, remember that women like Mrs. Wallace Louthan disappeared into their husband's identities. Look for your female ancestors lurking behind their husband's names rather than their own.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Stephen Bullock's Letter to Uncle William Pettus

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

In about 2001, Louise Pettus was conducting library research and found an 1807 letter from S. Bullock of Mississippi to William Pettus of York County, South Carolina, that had been printed in 1900 in the Fort Mill Times. William Pettus was the father of my great-great-great grandmother, Rebecca W. (Pettus) Duncan. The letter places S. Bullock on board the same boat that Aaron Burr was on when he was arrested in 1807, which makes it very interesting. For Pettus researchers, however, it is important because it adds the possibility that William Pettus had an additional, unknown sister who married Stephen Bullock's father, Edward Bullock.

This morning I was able to view the letter on Chronicling America. It is a bit blurry, so a transcript is provided below. If the letter also contained any family news, it was probably considered unimportant and was not included in the newspaper article.

Fort Mills Times
9 May 1900
click to enlarge


An Interesting Old Letter

The following interesting letter was recently handed the editor by Mr. Steven A. Epps. It was written by S. Bullock, esq., from Woodlawn, Mississippi Territory, on August 5, 1807, and was addressed to Mr. Epps’ great-grandfather, Hon. William Pettus, who represented York District in the South Carolina Legislature during the early years of the century, and who was an uncle of the author:

“Dear Uncle: I received your polite favor of the 24th March—not, however, until a few days since, on my return from New Orleans, where I have been since the 15th May last.

“You mentioned the great stir about Col. Aaron Burr as perhaps a reason why I had not written you sooner. My absence from this Territory is the only reason. Colonel Burr, whose conspiracy abroad has so wonderfully excited public attention, has given us no uneasiness whatever. The alarming name of “treason” has scarcely once been sounded in our ears, except by newspapers. He arrived in our country with at most not more than 90 men descending the river [Mississippi] in a peaceful manner, without arms, ammunition, or anything whatever that indicated in in [sic] the smallest manner any disturbance of the public tranquility. I was on his boat, and have a right to speak from what I saw. But when it was thought proper to investigate his conduct here, at the instigation of the President, process was issued against him. He surrendered himself voluntarily and immediately to the civil authorities. The grand jury for the body of our Territory, composed of the most respectable and enlightened of our country. We are now all peace, all is tranquil, and you need fear nothing or have any apprehension for the future. As to what will be the fate of Burr at Richmond, I know not, nor do I care as it relates to Burr. I shall, however, forever detest military oppression. And if I saw the whole force of Government concentrated to oppress one man, I should be apt to take part with him and say it was ungenerous and unfair. Give the devil his dues, and let even satan have a fair, unprejudiced and impartial trial.”

Friday, January 1, 2016

Rev. Edward Bright Graham, A Life in Newspapers

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

Rev. Edward Bright Graham, son of Henderson and Esther A. (Jernigan) Graham, was born 11 March 1852 in NC. In 1880 he was living in the home of his elder brother Rufus D. Whitley in Hardeman Co., TN. At that time he may have either been in school or had begun his preaching career. According to the Goodspeed biography of his brother Rufus D. Whitley, he was a Methodist preacher.

Bright Graham of Whiteville, has left to-enter the Biblical Department of the Vanderbilt University.
[Source: The Bolivar Bulletin; Bolivar, Hardeman Co., TN; 9 Sept 1880]

Rev. Mr. Graham organized a prohibition club, yesterday, with the following officers: S.F. Rankin, president, Dr. A.A. Davidson, secretary; A.W. Loving, treasurer.
[Source: The Milan Exchange; Milan, Gibson Co., TN; 21 Apr 1882]

On 30 November 1884, Rev. Edward Bright Graham married Mattie Ann Witt, daughter of Rev. J. H. Witt.
[Source: Nashville Christian Advocate, 24 Sept. 1887]

Mattie Ann Witt was the daughter of John Hutchinson and Harriet (Nichols) Witt. 

One year later in 1885, Mattie and Edward were living in Weakley County, where their first child was born, died, and buried.

The Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Weakley Co., TN contains the grave of an infant child of this marriage. The tombstone reads, “Graham, Infant Babe of Rev. E.B. and Mallie [sic] W. Graham, Born and Died November 28, 1885.”
[Source: Weakley County Cemeteries, vol. 1, by James Buckley Chapter.]

Rev. Mr. Graham, the new pastor, preached to a large congregation at the Methodist church last Sunday. He made a good impression on our people, and we trust he will do a good work among us.
[Source: The Milan Exchange; Milan, Gibson Co., TN; 25 Dec 1886]

On 2 Feb 1887, Mattie gave birth to a son, Edward Witt Graham. The baby's birth was euphemistically announced in newspaper, with the notation that Mattie's mother arrived ten days after the birth to lend the family a hand:

Bro. Graham has a junior preacher at his house. He made his advent last Monday morning. Mrs. Witt of McKenzie, mother of Mrs. Graham, is visiting her.
[Source: The Milan Exchange; Milan, Gibson Co., TN; 12 Feb 1887]

A few short months later the family seems to have been stricken with illness:

The Rev. E.B. Graham has been ill with bilious fever about ten days, and was unable to fill his pulpit last Sunday. We are glad to state that he is improving, and hope that he will be well in a few days.
[The Milan Exchange; Milan, Gibson Co., TN; 25 June 1887]

With a tiny baby and an extremely ill husband, Mattie may have worked herself to exhaustion and fallen ill herself. It seems likely that her sister, Nannie, came to assist to them just a few weeks before Mattie died:

Miss Nannie Witt, of McKenzie is visiting the family of Rev. E.B. Graham
[Source: The Milan Exchange; Milan, Gibson Co., TN; 9 July 1887]

Before the end of the month, Mattie (Witt) Graham died:

Resolution of Respect - Whereas, Almighty God has, in His infinite wisdom, removed from our Missionary Society, Sister Graham, wife of our pastor, E.B. Graham; therefore
Resolved, That we bow in submission to His will, knowing that our loss is her eternal gain. 
Resolved, That we tender our heart felt sympathy to her sorrowing husband and relatives, praying that this sad bereavement may be overruled for their highest good.
Resolved. That we have these resolutions published in the Milan Exchange, and copies of same sent to husband and father.
{Mrs. Peeples
Committee, {Mrs. Stone
{Mrs. Mitchum
{Mrs. Adams
[Source: The Milan Exchange; Milan, Gibson Co., TN; 13 Aug 1887]

Mattie Witt Graham, daughter of J.H. Witt, Memphis Methodist Conference, born Sept. 24, 1866; married Rev. E.B. Graham, Nov 30, 1884; died Milan, [Gibson Co.] Tenn, July 31, 1887; burial in McKenzie, [Carroll Co.] Tenn.
[Source: Nashville Christian Advocate, 24 Sept. 1887]

Rev. E.B. Graham returned this week and will fill his pulpit at the Methodist church to-morrow and tomorrow night.
[Source: The Milan Exchange; Milan, Gibson Co., TN; 10 Sept 1887]

Continued illness forced Rev. E.B. Graham to leave his pulpit in Milan:

Bro. Graham, pastor of the Methodist church, will preach his farewell sermon to-morrow morning and evening, and he wishes every member of the church to be present. On account of the long-protracted illness of himself and the loss of his wife by death during this year, he has been unable to do himself of his work justice. He has really not been able for duty many weeks since he came here; but he has preached faithfully, sometimes when he ought to have been in bed. His pastoral work has had as much attention as he could give it, and he has made many friends here. He is an educated, conscientious, hard working christian minister, and we trust his health will soon permit him to do full work in his calling.
Wherever he may be sent by the conference, the prayers and good wishes of our people will follow him.
[Source: The Milan Exchange: Milan, Gibson Co., TN; 12 Nov 1887]

The obituary of Mattie (Witt) Graham’s father appeared in 1915, naming her as if she was still living:

Rev. John Hutchinson Witt, born near Paris, Tenn., March 11, 1832; died Jan. 1, 1915, the same month and day 113 years after his father, Rev. John Witt, Adair Co., KY, was born; son as well of Charity Dunlap Witt, he married Harriet M. Nickols, May 19, 1857; licensed to preach in Methodist Church, Aug. 7, 1853; labored in Memphis Conference, ordained elder, Oct. 1857; retired in 1903. 

Children, Mrs. Maggie Stewart, Mrs. Mary E. Adams, Mrs. Mattie Graham, Mrs. Lizzie Wilford, Hattie (died young), John K. Witt, Nannie Witt (died young), Mrs. Nettie Chandler. [A tribute of respect for him by A.P. Waterford, Feb. 12, 1915, issue, p. 27 mentions that the writer met Rev. Witt, first at Lebanon camp meeting, Henry Co., TN, in 1855, at which time he was ill with enlarged spleen.]
[Source: Nashville Christian Advocate, 5 Feb. 1915]

Edward B. Graham married a second time to Mollie E. Hannah in 1892 in Gibson Co., TN, but she died within  the year:

Mollie Graham, nee Hannah, wife of Rev. E.B. Graham, died in parsonage, Germantown, [Shelby Co.] TN, Aug. 2, 1893 aged 24 years and 6 months; eight months previously she had married Edward G. [sic] Graham.
[Source: Nashville Christian Advocate, 31 Aug. 1893]

Mollie (Hannah) Graham’s body was returned to Gibson Co., TN for burial. Her tombstone in Rose Hill Cemetery in Humbolt, Gibson Co., TN reads “Mary Eliza Graham 2 Feb 1869 - 2 Aug 1893.”
[Source: webpage]

Rev. Edward B. Graham was back in Hardeman Co., TN by 1898 when he conducted the funeral of W.W.R. Elliotte in Saulsbury, TN on 4 Dec 1898. He is listed as Elliotte’s current pastor. [Source: Elliotte obituary] 

2 June 1900, Dist. 36, Civil Dist. 7, Shelby Co., TN, p. 171A:

3-5 Graham, Edward B. Head M W Mar 1852 48 M-3 NC  NC  NC
---Fannie H. Wife F  W Jan 1866 34 M-3  0 - 0 KY  KY  KY
---Edward W. Son M W Feb 1887 13 S TN  NC  KY
[Edward B. Graham’s occupation is preacher. Edward W. Graham would be the son of Edward B. Graham and first wife, Mattie Witt.]

In 1903, a Rev. E.B. Graham was pastor of the Greenfield Methodist Episcopal Church of Greenfield, Weakley Co., TN. He is credited with increasing membership of the church.

15 Apr 1910, Dist. 118, Civil Dist. 6, Troy, Obion Co., TN:

14-14 Graham, Edward B. Head M W 57 M-2  13 NC   NC   NC
---Fannie, K. Wife F  W 42 M-1  13   2 - 1 KY    KY   KY
---William D. Son M W   4  S TN    NC   KY
[Edward B. Graham’s occupation is minister.]

The Rev E.B. Graham, of the Troy circuit of the Union City district, requested that he be given a year's rest and his name was referred to the committee on conference relations for the supernumerary list.
[Source: The Paducah Evening Sun; Paduch, KY; 21 Nov 1910]

2 & 3 Jan. 1920, Dist. 0049, Milburn, Carlisle Co., KY:

Mayfield Rd.
Graham, Edward B Head M W 68 M b. NC fb. US mb. US
----Fannie H. Wife F W 53 M b. KY fb. KY mb. KY
----William B. son M W 14 S b. TN fb. NC mb. KY
Humphrey, Lydia A. m-i-l F W 84 Wd b. KY fb. VA mb. VA

1930, Dist. 36, McAlester, Pittsburg Co., OK

Graham, E. B. Boarder M W 78 Wd 32 b. NC fb. NC mb. NC
---William B. Boarder M W 24 S b. TN fb. NC mb. KY Teacher
[boarding with Widow Estelle Dorr]

Rev. E. B. Graham's death certificate states that he died 3 Jan 1931 in Milburn, Carlisle Co., KY and that he was a minister born in NC. The informant was E.W. Graham of Madison, TN.

He was buried next to his wife Fannie (Humphrey) Graham in the Milburn Cemetery in Milburn, Carlisle County, Kentucky. 

Edward Witt Graham's delayed birth certificate filed on 14 Nov 1947 in Tennessee states that his father was Edward Bright Graham b. NC and his mother was Mattie Ann Witt b. Calloway Co., KY. Edward Witt Graham's birth date is given as 7 Feb 1887 in Milan, Gibson Co., TN. His documentation included a copy of his application for a social security number, original family bible, affidavit of an aunt, and an affidavit of a non-relative. Nettie Witt Chandler stated that she was the aunt of Edward Witt Graham and that she was 75 years old and a resident of McKenzie, TN. Hubbard K. Gardner, aged 75, stated that he had known Edward Witt Graham from birth. At the time of the filing, Edward Witt Graham was a resident of Madison, TN.

According to the social security death index, Edward Graham, b. 7 Feb 1887, a resident of Nashville, Davidson Co., TN died in June 1975. 

William B. Graham's delayed birth certificate filed on 29 May 1945 in Tennessee states that his father was Edward Bright Graham b. NC and his mother was Fannie Humphrey b. KY. William B. Graham's birth date is recorded as 8 Nov 1905 in Camden, Benton Co., TN. His documentation included a copy of the 1910 census, a letter of employment from the Spokane Public Schools, an affidavit from his elder brother Edward W. Graham, and an affidavit of a non-relative Ira L. Presson who stated that "Rev. Edward B. Graham was Pastor of Camden Station, Methodist Church in 1905, and he had a son born, named Wm. B. Graham in November 1905; I was a member of the official Board of the church at the time, and intimate with the family." William B. Graham was a resident of Spokane, WA at the time of the filing.

According to the Oregon death index, William B. Graham, born 8 Nov 1905, died 14 Jun 1986 in Clackamas. His spouse was named Martha. 

William B. Graham, 24, resident of Arlington, Carlisle Co., KY married Ovella Beggs. 26, resident of Tarkio, Atchison Co., MO on 1 Feb 1930 in Franklin Co., Arkansas.

1940, Spokane Co., WA:

Graham, William 35 b. TN
----Ovella 36
----Bill 9
----Jane 7

Happy New Year 2016

Happy New Year. I hope it is filled with new family discoveries and connections.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Phoebe (Holcomb) Owens, Daughter of Nathaniel Holcomb

© Kathy Duncan, 2015

Phoebe Ann Hannah Holcomb, daughter of Nathaniel and Sarah Holcomb, was born about 1845 in Missouri. She came with her parents to California in 1849. She married James Anderson Owens on 26 June 1865 in Calaveras County, California. James A. Owens died in 1901 in Daggett, California, but was buried in the IOOF Cemetery in Hollister, San Benito County, California. Phoebe died 11 August 1923 San Francisco, California.

Phebe An Hannah Holcomb married James Anderson Owens on 26 June 1865 in Calaveras County, California
[Source: "California, County  Marriages, 1850-1952," database with images, FamilySearch]

25 July 1870, San Juan Twp., Monterey Co., CA, p. 399:

265 - 252
Holcomb, James A. 41 M W Deputy Co. Assessor MO
[Phoebe (Holcomb) Owen's brother is a bachelor, living three households away from her.]

268 - 256
Owens, James A. 35 M W Merchant  1,000 - 4,000 b. VA
--- Phoebe 25 F  W Keeps house b. MO
---Cyrus M W b. CA
---Florence 11/12 F W b. CA
Holcomb, Sarah 62 F  W Keeps house b. MO

23 June 1880, Hollister Twp., San Benito County, CA:

Owens, Phoebe W F 30 Keeping House b. MO fb. MO mb. MO
-----Cyrus W M 16 Son Student b. CA fb. VA mb. MO
-----Marens W M 8 Son Student b. CA fb. VA mb. MO
-----Emma W F 4 Dau b. CA fb. VA mb. MO
Holcomb, Sarah W F 72 Mother b. MO fb.  NY mb. MO

Phoebe Owen's uncle James Brown died at her home one 4 July 1887, Hollister, San Benito Co., CA:

Died - BROWN - In Hollister, July 4, 1887, at the residence of Mrs. J.A. Owens, James Brown, aged 62 years.
[Source: The Hollister Free Lance, 8 July 1887, San Benito Co., CA.]

4 June 1900, San Francisco, San Francisco Co, CA:

Robertson, Walter Head W M b. Feb 1871 29 M-5 b. CA fb. IL mb. MO
-----, Emma Wife W F b. Apr 1876 24 M-5 1-1 b. CA fb. VA mb. MO
-----, Hazel Dau W F b. Apr 1897 3  b. CA fb. CA mb. CA
Owens, Phoebe m-i-l, W F b. Sept 1845 54 M-5 1-1 b. MO fb. MO mb. MO
-----, b-i-l W M b. Oct 1866 33 S b. CA fb. MO mb. MO
-----, Clara s-i-l W F b. sept 1881 18 S b. CA fb. Mo mb. MO
Holcomb, Sarah Grandmother W F b. Sept 1808 91 Wd 6-2 b. MO fb. MO mb. MO

Phoebe (Holcomb) Owens was named in the death notice of her mother, Sarah Holcomb:

Died -- HOLCOMB -- at San Francisco, Nov. 14, Mrs. Sarah HOLCOMB, mother of Isaac W. HOLCOMB and Mrs. J.A. OWENS, formerly of this place, native of Missouri, aged 92 years.
Source: The Free Lance; Hollister, CA, 16 Nov 1900]

This obituary links Phoebe Ann Hannah (Holcomb) Owens and her brother Isaac Webster Holcomb to their mother Sarah Holcomb, widow of Nathaniel Holcomb.

Phoebe (Holcomb) Owen's husband died in the following year. This obituary appeared in The Free Lance, Hollister, California:

"OWENS--At Daggett, Cal., Aug. 1, James A. OWENS, beloved husband of Phoebe OWENS and father of Cyrus and Marcus OWENS, Mrs. W.L. ROBERTSON and Mrs. C.C. LONG, a native of Virginia, aged 71 years. […deceased was well known, being the first merchant in Hollister and the first postmaster appointed at this place. He came to California in 1852, and settled in Gilroy…afterwards emigrating to Alpine county and engaging in mining. Leaving Alpine county he came to Hollister, but went to Bodie during the great mining excitement, years ago. He remained at Bodie for about 5 years and then went to Daggett, where he resided for the past 15 years. During most of that period he was Justice of the Peace at that place…The cause of his death was heart failure, caused by heat prostration. He leaves a widow and 2 sons and 2 daughters, Cyrus W. and Marcus D. OWENS, Mrs. W.L. ROBERTSON and Mrs. C.C. LONG, all of San Francisco. Deceased was an excellent citizen…His death leaves but 1 charter member of Mound Lodge IOOF living, Mr. N.C. BRIGGS. The remains were brought here from Daggett and interred last Monday afternoon in the IOOF cemetery…]."
[Source: The Free Lance; Hollister, San Benito County; 9 Aug 1901.]

15 April 1910, Part of 32nd Assembly Dist., Pct 17, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA:

1225 San Bruno Ave
Robertson, Walter L. Head M W 39 M-1 14 b. CA fb. MO mb. MO
-----, Emma D. Wife F W 34 M-1 14 1-1 b. CA fb. VA mb. MO
-----, Hazel V Dau F W 13 S b. CA fb. CA mb. CA
Owens, Phebe A m-i-l F W 64 W 5-4 b. Mo fb. MO mb. MO
-----, Cyrus W b-i-l M W 43 S b. CA fb. VA mb. MO
Morrison,    M lodger M W 18 S b. CA fb. ? mb. unk

3&5 Jan 1920, 22 Dist., San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA:

1225 San Bruno Ave
Owens, Pheobe A head F W 73 W b. MO fb. MO mb. MO
-----Cyrus W. son M W 52 S b. CA fb. MO mb. MO
Long Clara head F W 35 D b. CA fb. Mo mb. MO
-----, Claude C son M W 11 S b. CA fb. CA mb. CA

Obituary for Phoebe A. (Holcomb) Owens:

Mrs. Phoebe A. Owens, 76, crossed the plains with her parents in 1849 and resided for some time in Calaveras and San Benito Counties, previous to going to San Francisco, where she died; four children survive.
[Source: "Passing of the California Pioneer," Grizzly Bear, Sept 1923]

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Isaac Webster Holcomb, son of Nathaniel Holcomb

© Kathy Duncan, 2015

Isaac Webster Holcomb was a son of Nathaniel and Sarah Holcomb. Isaac was born in Galena, Illinois on 19 Sept 1829 and died on 19 Feb 1901 in Lassen County, California. He traveled west to California from Illinois in 1849 with the Rice-Imus wagon train. Upon reaching California, he married Emily Imus, daughter of Hiram Imus on 25 Sept 1851 in Santa Cruz, California.

The following account of the their wagon to trip to California is a ripping good yarn, but is unreliable since it cobbles together the accounts of other wagon trains, including the Donner party, which traveled west in the winter of 1846-47.

"Across the Plains, the True Story of a Caravan of 49ers" Los Angeles Times 6 Sept. 1908. Apparently an interview with Helen Rice McLaughlin (1840-1909).

"ACROSS THE PLAINS, the true story of a Caravan of 'forty-niners.' The Imus family leaves Illinois May 3, 1849. It was springtime of that momentous year 1849. Even in Illinois the birds were singing. The green blades of grass peeping through, the delicate little blossoms opening their dainty petals. Everything breathed of life, of hope, and pulses thrilled at the magic word 'California.' The call of the west was in men's blood. Beyond the Rockies lay the land of gold, the land of sunshine. Why toil for bread and shovel snow when once over the Great Divide, it was possible to shovel shining nuggets?

At Galena, Illinois on the morning of May 3, 1849, a party with their faces set westward were bidding farewell to friends and neighbors. Strong wagons drawn by the best horses and mules procurable were packed with household treasures and provisions. As staunch prairie schooners as ever floated on wheels waited for the tearful women and excited children to clamber to their seats, the men with shouts and jokes pretended to think only of what lay before; for once the teams were started, there must be no turning back. In the party were Philip Rice, his wife and 6 children; Hiram Imus [Sr.] and wife, parents of Mrs Rice; and Hiram Imus, Jr., and his wife and 11 children. All the spring months and up to early summer they journeyed on, driving their extra horses and cattle. The stock fattened on the luscious prairie grass. The women and children grew accustomed to the new mode of life and health came to even the weak ones of the party. They came up to and passed other parties bound for California and many trains of Mormons bound for the promised land of Utah. At the Platte River their first misfortune overtook them. Here they had settled their cattle, picketed and hobbled their horses and made camp for the night. Early next morning campfires were lighted, coffee pots were bubbling and bacon sizzling. Suddenly a herd of buffalo came tearing along and charged straight into the cattle, traveling north and crossing the river. They started in at daylight crossing at a lope and taking the cattle with them. This continued until 10:00 o'clock. They party rounded up the horses giving up the cattle as lost. A few of the men undertook to find them and at length discovered them with a Mormon train, declaring they had found them a hundred miles from the scene of the stampede. Before reaching Salt Lake City, they overtook the Donner party. The two parties traveled on to Salt Lake City, planning to rest there and lay in provisions for the last and hardest part of the journey. Many scouting bands of Indians had been encountered on the way but no serious trouble had come from them. Now, however, they were out in larger forces threatening and destroying. A number of small trains had returned to Salt Lake City because of the Indians. The Mormons were not prepared to accommodate so many transient people, so they were advised to move on. A great train consisting of the families that left Galena, the Donner [!?] party, and several smaller parties numbering fifty families left Salt Lake City early in December, Captain Fly being selected as commander.

Now the year was waning with short days and cold nights. No longer the swelling Platte, the silver Nebraska or any other refreshing stream quenched the thirst of man or beast. The sand and sage brush, the scantily filled water holes of acrid water replaced them. Often after goading the worn out animals to the limit of their endurance, a dry camp had to be made. For weeks the train had passed piles of furniture, bedding and even good wagons that had been left behind to lighten the burdens of the used up horses and scrawny oxen. Often a paper was found pinned to a pile of goods bearing the legend 'Take any of these things you want, they are clean but our beasts are given out.' Skeletons of horses and oxen strewed the trail and often a little pile of stones or crude cross marked the grave of one who had fallen by the way. As winter came on, hardships were greater. The train, now greatly lessened, for many died before the Sierras were sighted, divided. The three families that left Galena decided to try to get into California by turning south, passing down Nevada and coming into Los Angeles. The rest formed a train that took the Donner Lake route. The Rice and Imus families were now in a sad plight. The stock had all been abandoned save the horses and mules, and a few forlorn oxen that were, one by one, killed off to save the lives of the starving people. By the time they had abandoned everything but the necessities of life, the stock was so thin and jaded that travel was about to a standstill. First the salt gave out, then food became so scarce that they had to put what was left under lock and key and the key delivered to Mr. Rice. Everyone was allowed just so much. Regular rations were served, one slice of bread while the flour lasted. The oxen, when killed, had little to offer besides bone and hide. The bones were boiled and a broth made. The hide was scraped, cut into strips and dried, and a bit of rawhide was given out to chew on when the stomach could no longer be denied. At last they were forced to eat one of the mules. They even boiled the hide for soup. The scarcity of the food supply was getting serious and the train was slowed down almost to a halt. At last the end seemed to have come. The jaded mules could not be goaded another mile. For weeks there had been no bread, nothing but coffee and rawhide. Death seemed a welcome release from such horrors.

One young couple, whose names little Helen Rice, now a white- lady, Mrs McLaughlin living at El Pismo, has forgotten, started out on foot, saying if they failed to reach help they could only die, anyway. Ike Holcomb and 'Kentuck' Phillips volunteered to try to reach a settlement and started. A few miles from where they had left the others, they passed the young man and his wife, and no human eye ever again beheld them, so far as known. What their fate was, or where it met them, can only be conjectured.

After traveling day and night, Phillips and Holcomb sighted a ranch owned by a man named Rollins. They told their story and begged for supplies to carry back to their comrades. Rollins at first refused to send aid, saying he had already been duped by several parties who told similar tales. Phillips offered either himself, or Holcomb, as hostage, saying Rollins could put irons upon the one left, and if within a reasonable time he who went failed to return, or send proof of his story, they one left could be hanged or shot. Rollins being convinced or partly so, Holcomb was put under guard, and Williams, a man who supplied flour to the ranch, gave flour, Rollins other supplies, and 'Kentuck', without one hour's rest, loaded his goods on an old Spanish oxcart, and started back. He was told it was 150 miles to where he had left his party. Day and night he traveled, never leaving the cart, reaching the desolate camp at midnight. The children were sleeping, but around a little fire, sat the men and women. At his call the men sprang to their feet, but the women fell to their knees, and the tears so long withheld, now streamed over their haggard faces.

Mrs. Imus mixed some flour, water and salt together, and some small 'pancakes' were quickly baked in the frying pan. The children were awakened from their sleep and sitting about on wagon tongues, on rocks, and on the ground, each one received a tiny cake, but after the long fast, danger must be averted, so to the piteous begging for 'just one more, Aunt,' the woman shook her head and hid her face in her apron, and cried. In a few days the party started for Rollins' Ranch, and on reaching it were made welcome, and given food and shelter both for themselves and worn out animals. Mr. Rice was anxious to get to his brother-in-law, Capt Charles Imus of the Mexican War, who lived at Santa Cruz, so started out and left Los Angeles May 3, 1850 just a year from the day he had so hopefully set out for the golden west. Charles Imus was a Captain under General Fremont. He and Rollins had served together in war and both were together in the same war prison, so his relatives were well outfitted when they left the Rollins ranch for Santa Cruz. In time the remnants of the Rice and Imus party reached Santa Cruz and their descendants became well known citizens."
[Source: Los Angeles Times. September 6, 1908].

Marriage record of Isaac Holcomb:

Isaac Halcomb married Emily Imus on 25 Sep 1851 in Santa Cruz Co., California.
[Source: "California, County Marriages, 1850-1952," database with images,]

7 July 1860, Soquel Twp., Santa Cruz Co., CA, P.O. Soquel:

Isaac Holcomb 30 M Stable Keeper $500-$2,500 b. Michigan
Emily ----- 29 f b. Michigan
Stephen ----- 8 M b. CA
Hiram ----- 6 M b. CA
Walter ----- 5 M b. CA
Charles ----- 3 M b. CA
Cyrus Duncan 35 M Common laborer b. KY
James Hoffman 33 M Common laborer b. MO

12 Aug 1870, Soquel Twp, Santa Cruz Co., CA, p. 443:

Holcomb, Isaac 42 M W Farming 0 - 300 b. MO
---Emily 40 F  W Keeps house  b. IL
---Stephen N. 18 M W Works on farm b. CA
---James H. 16 M W " b. CA
---Walter H. 14 M W b. CA
---Charles A. 11 M W b. CA
---Eliza 9 F  W  b. CA
---Etta 7 F  W b. CA
---Alfred 4 M W b. CA
---Edwin /12 M W b. CA

1876 Voter Registration, Soquel, Santa Cruz, California:
Isaac Webster Holcomb, age 37, b. U.S.

1877 Voter Registration, Soque, Santa Cruz, California:
Isaac Websgter Holcomb, age 37, b. U.S.

1879, Voter Registration for Big Valley, Lassen County, California:
Isaac Webster Holcomb, age 50, b. U.S.

4 June 1880, Big Valley Twp., Lassen County, California:

Holcomb, Isaac W M 50 Farmer b. IL fb. MO mb. MO
-----Emily W F 49 Wife Keeping House b. IL fb. Y mb. PA
-----Stephen W M 28 Son Laborer b. CA fb. IL mb. IL
-----Hiram W M 26 Son Laborer b. CA fb. IL mb. IL
-----Walter J. W M 24 Son Laborer b. CA fb. IL mb. IL
-----Charles O. W M 22 Son Laborer b. CA fb. IL mb. IL
-----Alfred O. W M 14 Son At school b. CA fb. IL mb. IL
-----Edwin W M 11 Son At school b. CA fb. IL mb. IL
-----Oscar P. W M 7 Son b. CA fb. IL mb. IL

1882 Voter Registration, Big Valley, Lassen County, California:
Isaac W. Holcomb, age 53, b. Illinois

1884 Voter registration, Big Valley, Lassen County, California:
Isaac W Holcomb, age 53, b. Illinois

1886, Voter Registration, Big Valley, Lassen Coutny, California:
Isaac W. Holcomb, age 53, b. Illinois

1890, Voter Registration, Big Valley, Lassen County, California:
Isaac W Holcomb, 53, b. Illinois

1896-1898, Voter Registration, Bieber, Lassen County, California:
Isaac Webster Holcomb, age 67, b. Illinios

1898, Voter Registration, Bieber, Lassen County, California
Isaac Webster Holcomb, age 67, b. Illinois

The following newspaper notice is significant because it indicates that I.W. Holcomb of Lassen County, California had a nephew named James A. Holcomb:

Jas A. Holcomb of Surprise Valley was here last week visiting his uncle, I. W. Holcomb.
[Source: Big Valley Gazette; Lassen County, CA; Thurs., 17 March 1898]

By late 1898, I.W. Holcomb was in declining health:

I. W. Holcomb was reported much worse yesterday and Dr. Bradshaw was hastily summoned to his bedside.
[Source: Big Valley Gazette, Lassen County, CA; Wed., 21 Dec 1898]

1900 Voter Registration, Bieber, Lassen County, California:
Isaac Webster Holcomb, age 71, b. Illinois

11 June 1900, Twp. 4, Lassen County, California:

Holcomb, Isaac W Head W M b. Sept 1829 70 M-48 b. IL fb. MO mb. MO Dairyman
-----, Emily Wife W F July 1828 71 M-48 1-1 b. IL fb. NY mb. PA
-----, Edward Son W M b. Oct 1869 30 S b. CA fb. IL mb. IL farm laborer
-----, Alvin N. Grandson W M b. Mr 1884 16 S b. CA fb. CA mb. CA farm laborer

The following death notice for Mrs. Sarah Holcomb, widow of Nathaniel Holcomb, links Mrs. J.A. (Phoebe Holcomb) Owens and Isaac W. Holcomb together as siblings:

Died -- HOLCOMB -- at San Francisco, Nov. 14, Mrs. Sarah HOLCOMB, mother of Isaac W. HOLCOMB and Mrs. J.A. OWENS, formerly of this place, native of Missouri, aged 92 years.
[Source: The Free Lance; Hollister, CA, 16 Nov 1900]

Obituary for Isaac W. Holcomb:

Another pioneer has gone to his rest. Isaac W. Holcomb passed peacefully to the great beyond Monday morning at 10 o’clock. He had been ailing more or less for the last two years and was so feeble all this winter that his death was momentarily expected.

Isaac Webster Holcomb was born in Galena, Illinois, September 19th, 1829. He was among the early argonauts, who came here after the first discovery of gold, but instead of engaging in mining, settled down to a pastoral life and was among the first cattle raisers in California.

In 1851, he was married to the wife, who now survives him, and though several children preceded him to the grave, four sons and two daughters remain to mourn his loss.

In 1880, Mr. Holcomb moved with his family to this valley, where they have since resided, and that he was held in high esteem was attested by the large concourse of friends who followed the remains to the Mountain View Cemetery this afternoon.
[Source: Wed., Feb., 20, 1901; Big Valley Gazette, Bieber, Lassen Co., CA.]

Horace Edward Holcomb, b. 12 Oct 1869 in Santa Cruz Co., CA, married on 19 Nov 1913 in Anderson, Madison Co., Indiana to Emma Isabel Beezley b. 26 Oct 1885 in Steelville, Missouri. Horace's father: Isaac Holcomb and mother: Emily Imez. Emma's father: William Beezley and mother: Clarice E. Norris.
[Source: "Indiana Marriages, 1780-1992," database, FamilySearch]

Obituary record for Emily (Imus) Holcomb:

Obituary for Emily (Imus) Holcmb, who came to Big Valley in 1878,  was published 25 March 1915 in the Big Valley Gazette of Bieber, Lassen County, California

California Death Index:
Emily Holcome, aged 84, died 20 Mar 1915 in Lassen County, California
[Source: "California Death Index, 1905-1939," database with images, FamilySearch]

Cyrus Owens was evidently the author of the following letter to the Santa Cruz Sentinel in 1937 in which he names his grandfather Nathaniel Holcomb (the same Nathaniel Holcomb who traveled to Bolivia), an uncle Isaac Holcomb, and an uncle Alfred O. Holcomb [please pardon the tortured transcription]: learn that my grandfather Nathaniel Holcomb settled in Santa Cruz county in 1850. He built the first wagon road over the mountains to San Jose. He crawled on his hands and knees to cut the underbrush and without the aid of surveying instruments picked out a grade that a team could head-trot over most of the way. The first stage that passed over this road was specially reserved for my grandmother and mother, no other passengers being carried. As a girl my mother stopped at the home of Elihu Anthony and attended school in Santa Cruz. My grandfather's place was 21 miles from Soquel on the Soquel creek. In December of 18?0 my grandfather went to South America where the Bolivian government gave him a tract of land three leagues square. From there he wrote some interesting letters which will be found in the files of the Santa Cruz Sentinel of 1867 or 1868. He and my uncle Alfred O. Holcomb were in possession of this land for seven years when my uncle advised us that my grandfather had passed away. We received two letters from my uncle after that. His last letter stated that he was going with a party of 50 men to explore the Beni river. We never heard from him again and every effort we made to trace him was fruitless. Almost ?? years ago my uncle, Isaac Holcomb ran a ??? between Soquel and Santa Cruz. --C.W. Owens, 1225 San Bruno Avenue, San Francisco.
[Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, Santa Cruz, California, 20 Nov 1937]

Note C.W. Owens' address in the letter above. Cyrus Owens was living with his mother Phoebe Owens at 1225 San Bruno Ave., San Franciso, California on the 1910 and 1920 census.

This page last updated on Dec. 25, 2015

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dewitt Lennon and the Swoose

© Kathy Duncan, 2015

I'm a day late with honoring Veteran's Day. I do not have many photographs of my immediate ancestors serving in uniform because generationally they missed all the American Wars except the Revolution, the Civil War, and WWI. This is a photograph of my Uncle Dewitt Lennon, standing second from the right in the back row, with the crew of the Swoose, taken in Italy in 1944.

Dewitt Lennon, second from the right in the back row, with the crew of the Swoose
in Italy 1944

My uncle flew 57 missions as a B-17 waist gunner in Europe during WWII, earning "four awards of the Air Medal for his meritorious actions while engaged in aerial combat" (source: obituary). The Swoose was a rebuilt B-17D that was nicknamed "half swan and half goose," or Swoose. The inspiration was a quirky little song called "Alexander the Swoose" that was popular at the time (see below). She flew under the command of Frank Kurtz in both the Pacific and European theaters for the duration of the war. Today, the Swoose is the oldest surviving B-17 and the only D model in existence. It is being restored at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Fairborn, Ohio.

Frank Kurtz, named his daughter Swoosie Kurtz, who was born while he was serving during the war, after the Swoose.

"Alexander the Swoose" by Kay Kyser and his Orchestra: