Tuesday, December 31, 2013


© Kathy Duncan, 2013

Contrary to popular and persistent belief, Azariah Holcomb was not the son of Azariah and Christina (Shephard) Holcomb. Evidence suggests that he was the eldest son in a group of siblings whose parents have not been identified, but who lived in the area now known as Missouri by Azariah's birth in 1800. Azariah Holcomb's bible does not contain his birth date.

According to Azariah's own bible record, he married Susan on April 20, 1819. Please note that the bible record does not contain Susan's maiden name, which tradition holds was Stafford. This will be discussed later in this post. Various online family trees and web pages place their marriage in either El Paso County, Colorado or Newton County, Missouri. Neither of these is very likely. Probably, Azariah and Susan married in southeastern Missouri near Ste. Genevieve or St. Louis. Perhaps they married in another state. The possibilities include Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee. However, to date, no civil or church record of their marriage has been discovered.

The 1820 census for the Missouri Territory suffered a district wide loss, so Azariah's whereabouts in 1820 are unknown. However, by 1826 he was residing in Jefferson County, Missouri.

Azariah and Susan's first child, Nathaniel Holcomb, was born on January 13, 1820. He died on October 22, 1821.

Their second child, Margaret Holcomb, was born July 20, 1822, and she died on November 10, 1822.

Their third child, Hannah Holcomb, was born on March 24, 1824. Hannah survived to adulthood.

On April 15, 1825 the Jefferson County, Missouri county court appointed Azariah Holcomb the constable of Plattin Township. The appointment was withheld pending approval of a $500 bond. On May 2, when the court met again, it was adjourned for a lack of a quorum. They met again on May 5, when Azariah's appointment was confirmed.
[Source: The Heritage News, Jefferson County Historical Society, issue 22, April 2000. Thank you Karen Allman for reminding me about this information.

On 19 July 1826, while residing in Jefferson County, Missouri, Azariah signed a petition to move the county seat from Herculaneum to Hillsboro along with brothers Nathaniel  and Enoch Holcomb.

Azariah and Susan's fourth child, Agustus Holcomb, was born on April 5, 1826. He survived infancy, but died at the age of 18 on January 31, 1845.

Their fifth child, Phebe Holcomb, was born on December 19, 1828. She died after eight days on December 27, 1828.

Their sixth child, Mahalath Holcomb, was born on March 25, 1830, probably in Jackson County, Missouri. She survived to adulthood.

On November 26, 1830 Azariah Holcomb purchased Lots 41, 42, & 88 facing on Lexington St. in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri [Bk. A p. 39].

On December 17, 1830, Azariah Holcomb purchased Lots 95 on Kansas St. and Lots 98, 99, and 102 facing on Liberty St. in Independence, Jackson County Missouri [Bk. B p. 84].

On July 3, 1832, Azariah and Susan Holcomb sold Lots 41, 42, & 88 to James Poole in Jackson County, Missouri. [Bk. B p. 84].

Their seventh child, Manerva Holcomb, was born, probably in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, on November 11, 1832. She lived to adulthood.

On December 29, 1832, Azariah and Susan Holcomb sold lots 95, 98, 99, and 102 to W.W. Phelps & Co. [Phelps, Cowdry, and Whitmer] in Jackson County, Missouri [Bk. B p. 135].

According to Pearl Wilcox, this location later became famous as the Robert Weston Blacksmith shop.
[Source: Wilcox, Pearl. The Latter Day Saints on the Missouri Frontier, 1972. p. 45]

The property conveyed to W. W. Phelps & Co became the subject of a lawsuit in 1856.

On January 15, 1833, Azariah purchased 12 acres from Jones H. and Clara Flourney. Part SE 1/4 & W 1/2 SE 1/4 S3 T49 R32 - 6 acres [Bk. B p. 150] and Part S end SW SE cor SE S3 T49 R32 -a triangular spaced piece of land containting 6 acres [Bk.  p. 563]

On August 15, 1833, Azariah sold the oddly shaped piece of land to Wm. E. McLelin SW & SE cor E 1/2 W & W 1/2 SE S3 T49 R32 - 6 acres [Bk. B - 328]

Properties in yellow belonged to Azariah Holcomb.
Properities in green belonged to James Pool.
Later James Pool purchased some yellow property from Azariah Holcomb.
Click on image to enlarge.

In 1833 Azariah Holcomb was hired as a carpenter for the Senecas of Sandusky at the Seneca Sub-Agency located in present day Delaware County, Oklahoma. The land sale in August of 1833 seems to have been in preparation for removing to the Seneca Sub-Agency.

The following was written by Frank H. Harris:

"Acting on the recommendation of the Governor of Missouri, Commissioner Ellsworth on August 1, 1833 hired James Pool, from Independence, Missouri, to perform the duties of blacksmith for the Senecas of Sandusky. He also hired Azariah Holcomb, Mr. Pool's brother-in-law, as carpenter, to assist in the proposed erection of a grist mill for the Senecas. These two men did good service for the Senecas for several years. Cherokee West Agent, Vashon, complained in 1835, that Commissioner Ellsworth had no authority to hire the two men.

"Lieutenant Van Horne, while acting Seneca Sub-Agent in 1833, allowed Mr. Pool and his family to live at the Agnecy house. Van Horne state, 'As there seemed to me little probability that the Agency House would be required for the residence of a Sub-Agent: and as it was likely to go to ruin if not occupied: I have directed the blacksmith to occupy it at present.' Mr. Holcomb and his family were sick and were also allowed to live there, where they were cared for by the Pool family. Lieut. Van Horne, conscious of Mr. Holcoomb's illness, reported [on Dec. 31, 1833], 'I think it my duty to say that in my opinion, the man is unfit to be employed by the Department, either as a carpenter or miller.'

"The first blacksmith shop for the Senecas was built on the grounds near the Agnecy House, by Mr. Pool and Mr. Holcomb. It was built, 'of hewn logs, a naile on roof and cost together with the coal-house, only $15.80."

James Pool remained as blacksmith for the Seneca until 1841. Azariah Holcomb left earlier.
[Source:  Harris, Frank H. "Seneca Sub-Agency, 1832-1838." The Chronicles of Oklahoma. p. 75 - 95.]

Azariah and Susan's eight child, Azariah Oliver Holcomb, was born on March 30, 1835. The Holcombs would have been living at the Seneca Sub-Agency in Delaware County, Oklahoma at this time.

On May 2, 1835, Azariah Holcomb, of Seneca Mills,  wrote a plea to Major Armstrong, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, asking for clarification of his position with the Seneca Sub-Agency. He recounted that he had been hired in 1833 as a carpenter to build the Seneca Mills. When they were completed he was to be appointed miller if he was "capable of discharging the duties of the appoinment." He considered this appoinment legal and valid until about January 18, 1835 when Vashon informed him that he had been discharged from his duties as carpenter as of December 31, 1834 and that he would not be appointed miller. He requested reply through Mr. Pool, the bearer of the letter.

[Source: Texas Tech University, Bureau of Indian Affairs]

On January 1, 1835 Azariah Holcomb was appointed as a miller for the Shawnees, salary $600. His employment with them continued through 1839.
[Source: Report from the Secretary of War, transmitting, in obedience to the act of June 30, 1834, a statement of all persons employed in the service of the Indian department during the year 1838. Date: Thursday, January 17, 1839. Publication: Serial Set vol no. 339 Report: S. Doc. 95]

Azariah and Susan's ninth child, Susan Holcomb, was born September 30, 1837, but died a few days later on October 9, 1837.

Azariah was employed in "Kansas" for all or part of 1838 for the Shawnees.
[Source: Kansas Historical Quarterly, volume XXIX, no. 1, Spring 1963]

On December 20, 1838, Azariah was to receive pay for nine months and eight days of work as miller for the Seneca from Lieut. J. Van Horne, but no dollar amount was noted.
[Source: Disbursing agents - Indians. Letter from the Second Auditor of the Treasury, transmitting the accounts of persons charged with teh disbursement of moneys, goods, &c., for the benefit of the Indians, for the year ending September 30, 1830, togethter with the names of sub-agnest, &c. Aprilo 9, 1840. Date: Thursday, April 9, 1840. Publication: Serial Set Vol. No. 366. Report: H. Doc. 173]

Azariah and Susan's tenth and last child, Hulda Ann Holcomb, was born on August 1839. She survived to adulthood.

1840 Elk River Twp, Newton County, Missouri, page 227:
Azanah Holcomb 0110101 - 11110011

On January 9, 1843 Azariah Holcomb was paid $147.12.  for his work with the Choctaw Agnecy.

McDonald County, Missouri census:

14 Nov 1850 McDonald Co., MO, 53rd Dist, p. 116:
Azariah Holcomb 50 MO
Susan 54 KY
Minerva 18 MO
Azariah Oliver 15 MO
Hulda 11 MO

1850 McDonald Co., MO p. 112:
Sanders Wheeler 27 Farmer TN
Mahala 21 F MO
Henry  4 MO
Hulda  3 MO
George Jamison 21 M

1850 McDonald Co., MO p. 112:

John Walker 28 Farmer 500 TN
Hanah 26 MO
Louiz  6 MO
Azariah L.  4 MO
Julian  3 MO
Pleasant 8/12 MO
Minerva E. Pool 16 MO
Sarah A. Pool 14 MO
[Minerva E. and Sarah A. Pool were the daughters of James and Phebe (Holcomb) Pool.]

Azariah's brother Enoch Holcomb died in 1852. Enoch Holcomb's estate, case #03827B, was filed in St. Louis County, Missouri in 1852/3. His probate named his siblings: "Isaac Holcomb brother of decd who resides in St. Louis County and Nathaniel Holcomb brother of decd who resides in California and Azariah Holcomb and Hannah wife of James Scagg and the children of Esther Jameson who was a sister of decd who reside in the South western part of the state of Missouri and the children of Phoebe Pool whose residence is unknown to me."

In 1857 "Smith Elkins was elected to fill the vacancy [created by the death of Representative Thomas Jones of McDonald County, Missouri], defeating Azariah Q. Holcomb, who walked to Jefferson City to contest the election.
[Source: Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri, vol. 4]

Azariah Holcomb was appointed the postmaster at Rutledge, McDonald County, Missouri on May 13, 1859.
[Source:  National Archives and Records Adminstration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-Sept 30, 1971; Role#:72; Archive Publication #: M841.]

McDonald County, Missouri census:

1 June 1860 McDonald Co., MO, Rutledge Twp:

Azariah Holcomb 59 M Farmer $200-$20 b. MO
Susan Holcomb 63 F b. MO
A.O. Holcomb 25 M Miner b. Seneca Nation
Elizabeth Nelson 4 F b. MO
[Elizabeth Nelson was the daughter of Azariah and Susan Holcomb's daughter Minerva (Holcomb) Crook Nelson]

1860 McDonald Co., MO, Elk River Twp, p. 88:

Mahala Wheeler 30 F Farmer 500-400 MO
Wm H. 13 M MO
Hulda A. 12 F MO
James C.  5 M MO
Wm. H. Sutherland 24 M MO

The details of Azariah and Susan Holcomb's life after 1860 are filled in by their granddaughter Elizabeth Kerfoot, daughter of Minerva (Holcomb) and William Nelson, which was recorded by her daughter:

"Elizabeth Kerfoot"

"[Elizabeth lived to be at least 95.  Her daughter wrote this as Elizabeth (Betty) told it. I don’t know what age.  It has a few discrepancies.  Jean Werkheiser]

"Born in Rutledge, Missouri May 19, 1856.  Her grandfather was Azariah Holcomb, called Squire Holcomb, was a judge in Rutledge. Her grandmother was Susan Stafford Holcomb.  Her father William Nelson who had a sister Elizabeth.  He enlisted in the Civil War and Betty saw him a few times when he visited her aunt. Her mother, Minerva Holcomb Nelson, died when Betty was 8 months old.  The home of Azariah and Susan Holcomb was burned when the City of Rutledge was set afire during the war and they took Betty to their daughter’s, Mrs. Sanders Wheeler (formerly Mahala Holcomb).  She had three children, Henry, Hulda and Jim.

"Minerva Holcomb had a daughter, Katherine Crook by an earlier marriage who was a half sister to Betty. Katherine went to live with their mother’s sister, Hulda Holcomb Carroll who had several children. Mary, Dick and ???, Stephen and Jefferson.

"Another sister of their mother was Hannah Walker.  They had a large family, the oldest son William serving in the war.  There were also Rebecca, Julia who was a musician.  Three boys, one of them Hugh and another Finley, who died from a thorn infection.

"Two brothers of her mother were Jacob and Azariah Oliver (whom she alled Uncle Oliver).  Both came to California in the gold rush with Sanders Wheeler (their brother in law).  They struck gold near Sacramento, but Sanders Wheeler died of a fever and his gold was sent home to his wife who bought a farm with the money. Jacob settled near San Bernardo, California but was not heard from after that.

"Oliver Holcomb went to Colorado and took up a ranch at Colorado City [Dirty Woman Creek Ranch, 1859].  He bought cattle in Indian Territory with his gold.  He married Nancy Jackson [Smith?] in Colorado and they had three children. Phoebe, LaFayette and Eliza. Nancy died when Eliza was 8 months old.  She was buried on the table land between the present Colorado Springs and old Colorado City.  Before Nancy died, Oliver froze his feet trying to save his cattle during a hard winter but he finally lost the cattle.

"Oliver then took his three children and housekeeper and started for Missouri to get his father and mother to return to Colorado with him. He left the children at Nebraska City with a Dr. Young and wife, old schoolmates of his father [No. He left them in Colorado City]. Oliver went on to Neosha, Mo. to his sisters’ (Mrs. Mahala Wheeler) and found that his mother had died a month or more before.  After visiting a few weeks, he started back for Colorado with his father Azariah, Katherine and Betty.  At Nebraska City, he found that Dr. Young had died suddenly during Oliver’s absence.  Oliver waited at Nebraska City two or
three months as the Young family wanted to go to Colorado but the boys had to dispose of their belongings.  During this time Katherine and Betty had typhoid fever and Katherine died (13 yrs. of age).  Then Oliver, his father, Betty, Mrs. Young and her two boys joined a large covered wagon train going to Colorado Springs.

"On the trip Oliver drove a big wagon with a team of four horses and his father Azariah had a light spring wagon with one horse.  One day seven Indians in war paint rode up to Azariah and one pointed a gun at him. He told Betty to get down in the bottom of the wagon and finally the Indian dropped his gun and asked for tobacco which was given him and they rode off with no damage done. The train passed many places where Indians had run the wagons into the Platte, had stolen cattle, oxen and horses and murdered the immigrants. There was too large a party in the train for the Indians to tackle."

Susan Holcomb, wife of Azariah, died on 3 June 1862, age 66, according to Azariah Holcomb's bible. If Azariah and Susan removed to one of their children's homes after their house burned, then Susan may not have died in McDonald County, Missouri.

On January 21, 1865, A. Z. Holcomb of Colorado City, Colorado paid $3.33 in taxes. His profession is listed as lawyer.
[Source: Ancestry.com. U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862 - 1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.]

Azariah's death was recorded in his bible: Az Holcomb died May 5th 1866, age 66. His name appears on the pioneer memorial stone in Mesa Cemetery, El Paso County, Colorado.

A close look at Azariah Holcomb's bible is extremely revealing. The entries for his children's births and deaths appear to be in his handwriting; however, the fact that the children's birth dates are not in chronological order indicates that these events were not recorded as they occurred. Therefore, this bible is probably a later record and may have been a replacement for one lost in their house fire.

Azariah Holcomb bible
click to enlarge

Azariah Holcomb bible
click to enlarge

Azariah Holcomb's Siblings

Sunday, September 8, 2013


© Kathy Duncan, 2013

I logged into FamilySearch.org this morning and discovered a "new" feature. Across the lower part of the page was a series of links to my "recent people" searches. I'm not sure if they were people I had searched in records or family trees, and they really were not all from searches that were very recent. However, the link to Hannah Florence (Holcomb) Skaggs indicated that a picture had been added for her on her family tree. It's always thriling to find pictures. I'd like to thank all of the researchers out there who share their research and their photographs of ancestors.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

ILEY SELPH - 1920 Census

© Kathy Duncan, 2013

I am a follower of James Tanner's genealogy blog, Genealogy's Star. He alerted his followers to MyHeritage.com's free access to the entire U.S. census for the Labor Day Weekend. He also suggested that this would be a golden opportunity to take advantage of a different census index to find ancestors who are still "missing" from various census years.

There are lots of reasons why ancestors might be missing from the census: they were living in an area in which the census was not taken, they were living in a remote area, they were migrating, the census page is too light or too damaged to read, the census taker mangled the spelling of the name, or they are where we are not looking for them.

Since Tanner's suggestion was a good one,  I began hunting for my perpetually missing ancestors. I had luck with my husband's grandfather, Iley Nunn Selph, who has been "missing" from the 1920 census. Once I was in MyHeritage.com, I searched without success. Then I decided to widen my search by broadening my search terms. I looked only for the first name Iley in 1920 in New Mexico. The first result on the list was for "Aly, Ili." I almost skipped over it, but the link also provided information about the other children in the household. My eye caught on Hardy's name, along with Carlota, Frank, and "Andrella." I knew immediately that this was the correct household, but that something had gone wrong in the indexing. I hit the link, and this is what I saw:

click on image to enlarge

The census taker had reversed Iley Selph's name with the first name first and the last name last even though the other names on the page were listed with the last name first. In this entry, Aly definitely seems to the be last name for Carolina, Lillie, Bettie, Ili, Hardy, Aly, Frank, and Andrella. In addition, the census taker's "S" frequently looks like a "C." The result is that indexers have listed Iley Selph's name as Celph Aly, and it has been indexed that way in all the genealogy census databases available online. Even Iley Jr's name was mispelled and appears as "Ili." Annie appears as "Aly." Andrea appears as "Andrella."

On 21 Jan 1920, Iley Nunn Selph and wife Carolina, with children Lillie, Bettie, Carlota, Iley, Hardy, Annie, Frank, and Andrea, as well as Carolina's brother Julian Sandoval, were in La Madera Village in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico.

This strategy probably would have worked if I had searched using Hardy's name. It is only effective if uncommon names are used to search with because that helps narrow the search. Using just the given name Frank would have yielded hundreds, maybe thousands of results. Of course, this strategy only works if the census taker has not mangled the spelling. Unfortunately, the more uncommon the name, the more likely is to be mangled. In this case, even a name as common as Annie suffered at the hands of the census taker.

This does, however, give me hope that other ancestors are waiting be found on the census.

Iley Selph - 1920, Part 2

Iley N. Selph in Allison, Colorado

Last updated on Oct. 5, 2015.

Friday, July 26, 2013


© Kathy Duncan, 2013

Phebe Holcomb, sister of Azariah Holcomb,  married James Pool on 8 Aug 1824 in St. Genevieve County, Missouri in the home of Benaja C. Brown.  According to the 1840 census, Phoebe was born between 1801 and 1809, suggesting that she was born closer to 1801, which would make her around 23 - 20 at the time of her marriage. No parental consent seems to have been given for Phebe to marry, which suggests that she was of age at the time she married.

Phoebe and James Pool spent most the years between their marriage in 1824 and 1840 living among the Seneca and Delaware tribes, while James Pool was employed as the government blacksmith for the tribes. This information will be covered in a separate entry about James Pool.

The known children of Phoebe (Holcomb) and James Pool:

1. George W. Pool
2. Andrew Jackson Pool
3. Esther Minerva Pool
4. Sarah A. Pool

1840 Elk River Twp, Newton County, MO, page 227:
James Pool 0111101-200001

James Pool's 1840 household consists of the following:
one male age 5 - 10 = Andrew J. Pool
one male age 10 - 15 = unidentified male
one male age 15 - 20 = George W. Pool
one male age 20 - 20 = unidentified male
one male age 40 - 50 = James Pool
two females under age 5 = Minerva E. and Sarah A. Pool
one female age 40 - 50 = Phebe (Holcomb) Pool

The unidentified males are either sons who died during the next decade or males employed by James Pool. This is the only census on which Phoebe appears since they were living on the James Fork of the White River  in 1830.

The children of Phoebe Holcomb are identified in a lawsuit brought by Samuel Woodson against James Pool et al and settled by the Missouri State Supreme Court in 1853. This suit centers on establishing a clear title for a piece of land that had been purchased and held in trust by James Brown for Phoebe Pool and her children. One deposition relates the information that Phoebe had instigated the purchase of a piece of land in Independence, Missouri on which she wished to build a small house for herself and her children. The question was whether James Pool had placed the land in trust for Phoebe as a means of evading his creditors. Eventually, the land had been sold because of James Pool's debts. Phoebe had died. A clear title was now in question. James Pool himself had left for Santa Fe before 1850, leaving only some of his children scattered in Missouri. The result is over a 100 pages of depostions that were collected by the Missouri State Supreme Court to settle the matter. I need to spend several hours studying this, but my feeling is that this suit is connected to the Temple Lot Case.

However, it is not unreasonable to think that Phoebe really wanted a small house of her own for herself and her children. She had spent most of her adult life living on the frontier. Now, she was in Independence, Missouri, and it is likely that at her age she wanted to settle there. Given that James Pool and son Andrew J. Pool appeared in Santa Fe, New Mexico on the 1850 census, it is likely that James was contemplating removing to Santa Fe at the time Phoebe first proposed purchasing the land in Independence. Tired of a life of struggle on the frontier, she may have simply wanted to remain behind in Missouri.

The importance of the Woodson suit for Holcomb researchers is that it named Phoebe (Holcomb) Pool's brother as James Brown and her surviving children as George W. Pool, Andrew Jackson Pool, Minerva E. Pool, and Sarah A. Pool. Only George Pool was of age when the lawsuit began, and he quickly replaced James Brown as trustee for the minor Pools since Brown's whereabouts were unkown.

One summons indicates that Minerva E. and Sarah A. Pool were residing in McDonald County, Missouri, where they can be found on the census with their cousin Hannah (Holcomb) Walker in 1850.

Many of the researchers connected to the Holcombs have stories in their families of Indian ancestry. The question for most of us is which ancestor and which tribe. In 1875, Joseph Philibert provided the following in a deposition before the Missouri Supreme Court in the case against the estate of William Gillis, who had operated a trading post on James Fork of the White River at the time James Pool was there as the government blacksmith for the Senecas:

"Int. 89   Were you acquainted with James Pool at James Fork trading post. If yea, state how long said Pool lived there, what was his employment and his wife s name if you recollect it.

Ans.   I was acquainted with Pool before we came to this county. He was here when I came . He was the Delaware blacksmith - employed by the government at James Fork trading post. He lived there till the fall of 1820 when he moved to the Kaw River I was acquainted   with Mrs. Pool.   I think her name is Phebe. Mrs. Pool left with Mr. Pool for Kaw River in the fall of 1830. She, Mrs. Pool is a white woman."

All of depositions in this case need to read to find out why presence of James and Phoebe Pool on the James Fork was important and why it mattered that Phoebe was white.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


© Kathy Duncan, 2013

In 1885, a beautiful actress by the name of Jennie Winchell collapsed in the streets of Omaha and died an hour later. An lengthy article published about her in the Wheeling Register offered clues that seem to link Mary C. (Moyston) Kells Fox to her family. The article titled, "A Wheeling Beauty Falls Unconscious Upon the Streets of Omaha," related that Jennie Winchell's father was William Moysten, a resident of Wheeling, who had also been an actor in his youth. Her mother's maiden name was Caldwell. The family consisted of six children, three boys and three girls: William, James, Richard, Mary, Jennie, and Lizzie. James was a dentist in Baltimore, Lizzie and Richard died of the yellow fever in New Orleans, William resided in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and "Mary, who, we believe, married a gentleman named Kells, is probably living in New Orleans, where she went with her mother after the departure of Jennie and her husband from this city."

The following newspaper notices detailed the deaths of siblings, Richard and Lizzie Moyston:

Died. In New Orleans, La., on the morning of the 17th instant, of yellow fever, Dick Moyston.
He was for a while connected with the Post Office of this city. Energetic and ambitious, he sought a larger field where his ability would win him brighter laurels. He leaves numerous friends in our city to mourn his untimely end.
Wheeling, Va., papers please copy.
[Source: Memphis Daily Avalanche; Memphis, TN; Wed., 18 Sept 1867]

Died. In New Orleans, on the 16th instant, Mrs. Lizzie L. Synder, aged twenty-three years, daughter of the late W.A. and Anna M. Moyston, of Wheeling, Virginia.
In New Orleans, on the 17th instant, Richard H. Moyston, aged eighteen years, son of the late W.A. and Anna M. Moyston, of Wheeling, Virginia.
[Source: Memphis Daily Avalanche; Memphis, TN; Thurs., 26 Sept 1867]

Married. At the residence of George Nickols, Esq., Memphis, Tenn., June 13, by the Rev. Dr. White, Mr. A.C. Synder, of New Orleans, to Miss Lizzie Moyston, of Wheeling, Va.
[Source: Times-Picayne; New Oleans, LA; Tues., 18 June 1867]

Mary's father, William Andrew Moyston, died in 1866 and is buried in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Her mother, Anne M. (Caldwell) Moyston,  died the previous year in 1865 and is buried Wheeling, West Virginia.

Census records for Willam Andrew and Anne M. (Caldwell) Moyston:

14 Sept 1860, Wheeling, Ward 5, Ohio County, Virginia:
Wm A. Moysten 56 M Autioneer NY
Helen M. 50 F. VA
Wm H H. 20 M Dentist VA
Jas G. 14 VA
Richard 12 VA
Bridgett Boggs 18 F Domestic Ireland

30 Oct 1850, 44th Dist., Ohio County, Virginia, p. 180:
William A. Moyston 45 M Lottery Vender NY
Ann 43 F VA
Mary 19 F NY
Elizabeth 16 VA
Virginia 12 F VA
William 9 M VA
John 7 M VA
Richard 1 VA

Mr. Wm. A. Moyston of Wheeling, has procured a drawing, taken by J. Leslie, of Cincinnati, and is about to have lithographed a view of the Tomb of the lamented Harrison, at North Bend, Ohio, with the surrounding scenery.
[Centinel of Freedom; Newark, NJ, Tues., 5 Oct 1841]

Married--In Wheeling, Vir. on the 5th inst. Mr. William A. Moyston, formerly of this city, to Miss Anne M. daughter of Joseph Caldwell, Esq. of the former place.
[Cabinet; Schenectady, NY; Wed., 30 Jan. 1828]


© Kathy Duncan, 2013

I know, I know. In the midst of my Holcomb project, I have let myself be distracted by Annie Kells and her pet "Polly." To make matters worse, I am not even related to Annie.

Last week my friend Caitlin and I went on a mini-quilt shop hop to Arlington and Ft Worth, and afterwards she took me on a tour of historic Ft. Worth. Knowing that I love old cemeteries, her tour included the Woodland Cemetery. We rounded a turn, and Caitlin spotted the tombstone of Annie Moyston Kells and her pet "Polly." It is a showstopper. We piled out of the car for a closer look. Polly's marker is damaged. Once upon a time, it was topped with the sculpture of a bird that faced Annie's tombstone. Today, the bird's tail feathers and feet can still be seen, but at some point the bird was broken off. Annie's stone is a Victorian masterpiece of elaborate three dimensional flowers that are slowly eroding so that they have a gently melted appearance. Annie was just 21 years old at the time of her death. Her tombstone included the information that she was the daughter of Mrs. M.C. Fox. We looked around and quickly realized that Annie and Polly are there all alone with no Kells or Fox family members near her. That seemed odd since she was obviously someone's darling.

Anne Moyston Kells
Daughter of Mrs. M C. Fox
Nov. 25, 1862
Oct. 21, 1884

At her foot is the memorial for
Annie's Pet "Polly"

Caitlin took photographs and said, "This is going to stay with me for a while." I said, "I'm going to have to find out more." I spent the next couple of days obsessively researching Annie M. Kells. Ultimately, this is more the story of Mrs. M.C. Fox, the grief stricken mother who erected the tombstone, than it is the story of Annie and Polly. Mary's story is, to say the least, an odd one with lots of twists and turns. And it does not end well.

The beginning, however, was promising enough. Annie's parents were Dr. Louis John Kells and Mary Caldwell Moysten.  Lewis Kells and Mary Moysten married on 12 December 1850 in Wheeling, Ohio County, West Virginia. Dr. Louis Kells biography, which is suspiciously brief, appeared in two different period texts: A Contribution to the History of Medicine: with a Biography of the Deceased Physicians in the City of Wheeling, West Virginia for the Last 100 Years by Eugenius Augustus Heath (1876) and History of the Panhandle: Being Historic Collections of the Counties of Ohio, Brooke, Marshall, and Hancock West Virginia by J. H. Newton (1879). Both books contain identical information--Dr. Louis Kells graduated from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1849 and settled shortly in Wheeling. In about three years he returned to Steubenville, Ohio where he had been born. No mention is made of a wife or family. The biography gives the erroneous impression that he remained in Steubenville until his death in 1873. Documentation clearly reveals that Dr. Louis Kells did not return to Steubenville by 1853 and remain there until his death. It is as if someone wanted to erase the intervening years and deny the existence of his family.

Please note that Wheeling, West Virginia and Steubenville, Ohio are less than thirty miles apart.

In 1860, Louis and Mary were living in a hotel or boarding house in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee:

5 June 1860, p. 92:
John Kell 30 M Doctor b. VA
Martha Kell 25 F b. VA
Lewis Kell 8 M b. VA

Annie Moyston Kells was born in Tennessee on 25 Nov 1862.

By 1864, Dr. Louis Kells and family were in New Orleans. Louis Kells paid federal taxes in Louisiana in 1864 and 1865 as a physcian. Dr. Louis Kells took out an advertisement throughout 1865 reassuring the citizens of New Orleans that he was highly educated physician and specialized in female complaints. His offices were located across the street from the St. Charles hotel.

Shortly afterward, in 1866, Dr. Louis Kells, was not listed in the New Orleans City directory. However, Mary C. Kells was, and she was operating a boarding house.

Mary C. Kells was still operating a boarding house in New Orleans when the 1870 census was taken, but Dr. Louis Kells was nowhere to be found.

20 June 1870, 2nd Ward, New Orleans, Orleans County, Louisiana:
Kells, Mary 31 F W Boarding house 0 - $2,000 b. VA
----, Louis 17 M W Law Student b. VA
----, Anna 8 F W b. TN

Dr. Louis Kells, did however, turn up that year in a hotel in Steubenville, Ohio with another woman.

13 June 1870, Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio:
Kells, Louis 41 M W Physician 0 - $2000 b. OH
----, Emma J. 26 F W Keeping house b. OH
----, Ida May 9 F W b. PA

I have not located a divorce record for Louis and Mary C. Kells, nor have I located a marriage record for Louis and Emma Kells. This raises several questions. Did Louis divorce Mary? Where? Was Louis a bigamist instead? Did he simply take up with another woman and pass her off as a wife? Was Ida a daughter of Louis and Mary's? Or, was Ida Emma's daughter and the surname recorded was a mistake? Did Louis and Mary split their assets or were they claiming the same set of assets?

Dr. Louis Kells died dramatically from an abcess in 1872:

In 1872 and 1873, Mary C. Kells appeared in the New Orleans City Directory with the notation that she was the widow of Lewis. Dr. Louis John Kells was buried in Union Cemetery in Stubenville, Ohio. The findagrave memorial erroneously gives his date of death as 1873, which may in fact be what is on his tombstone. He was about 44 years old.

Before the end of the year, Mary C. Kells had remarried. She married Frank W. Fox on 14 October 1873 in Galveston, Texas. The following advertisement ran in the Cincinnati Daily Gazette on 27 Oct 1873:

FOX - KELLS -- At Galveston, Texas on Tues. Oct. 14, 1873, by the Rev. Dr. Bird Rector Trinity Episcopal Church, Capt. Frank W. Fox and Mrs. Mary Caldwell Kells, widow of the late Dr. Louis Kells, of Steubenville, Ohio. No cards.
[Wheeling, W Va. and Steubenville, Ohio papers please copy.]

Clearly, Mary used this advertisement to announce to Louis's family in Steubenville and her own family and friends in Wheeling,  W Va. that she had remarried. She also seems to be positioning herself as Louis Kell's rightful widow. Did she also make a claim against his estate?

In 1880, Emma J. Kells was alone on the Steubenville census and indicated that she, too, was a widow.

Perhaps this is why Dr. Louis Kell's biography makes no mention of a family and pretends that he was never in New Orleans.

Frank W. Fox served as a captain in Company I, 14th Infantry Regiment Illinois and went by the title Capt. Frank W. Fox for the rest of his life. It was a pretension that no doubt attracted Mary to him as well as the financial security that he provided.

On 27 Nov 1878, the Dallas Morning News ran in its "Fifty Years Ago" a birthday party notice that ran in a Galveston newspaper:

"There was a very pleasant party last night at the residence of Mrs. Captain Fox in celebration of the birthday of Miss Annie M. Kells."

The Foxes made their home in Galveston, Texas and must have been relatively happy. Mary seemed to be reveling in her role as Capt. Frank W. Fox's wife. This would have been Annie's 16th birthday.

In 1880, the Fox family was living in a boarding house in Galveston, Texas.

15 June 1880, Galveston, Galveston County, Texas, p. 80A:
Fox, W. Frank W M 45 Boarder Lumber ? b. Mass fb. Mass mb. Mass
----, C. Mary W F 42 Wife b. WV fb. Scotland mb. VA
Kells, M. Annie W F 17 Stepdau b. TN fb. OH mb. VA
crossed out but still readable is Louis Kells:
----, Louis W M 26 Stepson
Tempee, Bernard W M 35 Boarder b. VA

Meanwhile Louis Kells Jr. can be found on the census in St. Louis, Missouri:
10 Nov 1880, St. Louis, St. Louis Co., Missouri:
Kells, Louis W M 27 Boarder Reporter b. W VA fb. OH mb. NY

This was the earliest record I have found of Louis Kells Jr's career as a journalist. By 1882, he was listed in the Kansas City, Missouri City Directory as a reporter.

In 1881, Mary C. Fox, Frank W. Fox, and Miss Annie M. Kells can all be found in the Galveston City Directory, living together.

By 24 June 1882, there was trouble in the Fox household. The Dallas Weekly Herald of 29 July 1882 reprinted a story that had appeared in the Galveston papers of a nearly deadly assault on Annie. William M. Edwardy, a reporter for the Houston Post and Austin Statesman, who was boarding with the Fox family owed them rent. Mary was refusing to allow him to remove his furniture and trunks from the house until he paid what he owed. In return he became angry and abusive. When Annie attempted to intervene, he punched her in the face, knocking her senseless and drawing blood from both her mouth and nose. He then loaded his pistol and threatened to shoot Mary if she continued to try to stop him. Mary fled to her room screaming. Her cries were heard, and when Special Officer Rainey arrived, he found Edwardy standing over Annie with a gun. Edwardy was arrested and Captain Frank W. Fox swore out a complaint against him.

Annie Moyston Kells died suddenly on 25 Oct 1884. The Galveston Daily News ran the following death notice on 28 Oct 1884:

"KELLS - At Ennis, Tex., Thursday night at [? ] o'clock, Miss Annie Moyston Kells, daughter of Mrs. Mary C. Fox and sister of Louis Kells, of the Fort Worth Gazette."

The Fort Worth Gazette announced on 24 Oct 1884 that Annie’s funeral was held on 24 Oct at 10:30 a.m. from 408 Belknap St. in Ft Worth. Today Oakwood Cemetery, which is on a hill, overlooks that location.

In 1885, Mrs. Mary C. Fox can be found living in the Vance Hotel in San Antonio. While her son Louis Kells was listed in the Fort Worth City Directory. Period newspapers in 1885 and 1886 state that he was a newspaper correspondent living in San Antonio.

On 16 Feb 1886, the Galveston Daily News reported that Frank W. Fox had filed a petition of divorce from Mary Culver Fox in Galveston County. His petition stated that Mary left him in 1884. He accused her of being "guilty of excesses, cruel treatment and outrages" toward him. On his part, he was always "indulgent." He stated in 1883, "when they were living in Galveston, [Mary] on one occasion drove him from the house by her violence, and that he was obliged to go to a hotel; that she followed him to the hotel, and there conducted herself in such a boisterous and violent manner, endeavoring to break a door of said hotel, and doing other acts of such a violent nature that the proprietors were obliged to interfere, which acts greatly mortified him and caused him great humiliation; that afterward he bought a large amount of furniture to be used for her comfort, and in all things endeavored to induce her to perform the part of a dutiful wife, but that she continually mortified and hurt his feelings by slandering him to her neighbors and to strangers, and defaming his character." He then recounted that "she on one occasion engaged in a personal fight with a tenant of plaintiff, and though plaintiff endeavored to protect her, she abused and maltreated him." Frank stated that this happened in the spring of 1884. According the petition, shortly afterward Mary "boxed and packed up all the furniture expressing an intention never to return." This action caused "great scandal among the friends and acquaintances" of Frank, and "his pride [was] greatly humiliated." Frank also provided the information that Mary was currently a resident of Bexar County, Texas.

Frank's statements throw some light on the events of 1884, the year Annie died suddenly. After many heated arguments that spring Mary was willing to abandon economic security to leave Frank. Is it possible that Mary and Annie were living in Ennis at the time of Annie's death? Or were they in Fort Worth? Louis Kells was probably working for a newspaper in Fort Worth in 1884. In Frank's statement Mary is portrayed as a forceful, aggressive person. Not the same woman who hid in her room when a tenant attacked her daughter. Then there is the question of what provoked Mary's great anger against Frank.

Admittedly, Annie and her pet Polly's tombstone in Oakwood Cemetery is lasting, visible proof of Mary's financial excesses. One imagines that she sent the bill to Frank.

Their divorce drug on throughout 1886. On 3 Sept 1886, according to the records of Oakwood Cemetery, Annie's body was moved from Oakwood Cemetery in Fort Worth to San Antonio, where Mary was currently residing. Annie and Polly's tombstones were left behind at Oakwood. Again, one images that a woman living in a hotel would not have the financial resources for such an extravagance. The bill, no doubt, went to her husband Frank. Did Mary leave Annie's tombstone in Ft. Worth because she planned to have another stone made for Annie San Antonio? Was Mary trying to punish Frank financially before the divorce was final? So far, I have not found a tombstone for Annie in San Antonio, so I do not know if she is resting under another opulent stone or if she is in an unmarked grave. It seems most likely that Polly died shortly after Annie, so that Polly's memorial was created while Frank could still foot the bill for it. Did Polly die of grief for Annie? Or did the frequent moves take a toll on the bird's health? Or did an angry, aggressive Mary wring the bird's neck?

On 18 December 1886, the Galveston Daily News reported that a final divorce decree had been granted in Frank W. Fox vs. Mary Culver Fox.

Less than a month later, Frank W. Fox married Mrs. Phebie Emma Hodge on 16 January 1887 in Harris County, Texas. The Galveston newspapers took Captain Frank W. Fox to task for marrying Mrs. Hodge in secret.

Another woman would be the most obvious reason for Mary to rage at her husband. One can understand that after her experience with Dr. Louis Kells, a second philandering husband would have been too much for Mary. She could have easily become the angry, raging woman who made scenes outside Frank's hotel room, slandering him to any one who would listen, and spending his money as quickly as possible. Annie's tombstone may be as much about Mary's doting love for her daughter as it was about her anger toward her husband.

Removing Annie's body to San Antonio, however, was short sighted. By 1888, Louis Kells was working as a reporter in Dallas. By 1889, he gave up his work in newspapers and became a traveling insurance agent. By 1889 Mary C. Fox, wife of Frank W. Fox, was also living in Dallas. Louis was living with his mother Mary C. Fox in 1891 and 1893 in Dallas.

From this point on, Louis Kells worked as an insurance agent, and Mary C. Fox either lived with him or in the same town. They are usually found in boarding houses or hotels.

On 24 May 1893, the Denver Rocky Mountain News ran the odd notice that "Louis Kells, formerly of Dallas, Tex. and once a traveling agent of the Mutual Life Insurance, is reported missing from his home." The notice does not reveal where his home was, and there is no follow up information.

By 1898, Louis Kells was working in St. Louis, Missouri, and he was in trouble. He had been arrested on June 9 in Bloomington, IL for forging an insurance premium, and his case was going to be tried soon. Shortly before the start of the trial, Louis committed suicide in Forest Park in St. Louis on 7 September 1896. He had overdosed on morphine. Three letters were found on his body along with a request for the finder to mail them. Louis Kells had been a resident of St. Louis for about one year, having moved there from Bloomington, IL.

On 9 September 1898, the St. Louis Republic, reported that Louis's mother "Mrs. Nellie Fox" was heartbroken over the death. She was crippled with rheumatism but had managed to make her way to the Morgue to view his body, where she exclaimed, "I have nothing to live for" and fainted. In the coroner's office she told the sad story of her life, and the tale was so pathetic that some of the listeners had to leave the room. "Her troubles began, she said, 12 years ago, with the death of her daughter, a beautiful girl of 17 years. Mrs. Fox said that her daughter had gone on a visit to friends. One morning they found her dead in bed. She was to have been married two weeks later. Heart disease was the cause ascribed by the Coroner. Mrs. Fox was been married twice, but both husbands are now dead. For a time she lived in Dallas, Tex. She came here for treatment of rheumatism. The Knights of Pythias, of which Kells was a member, will see the remains receive proper burial."

This account is so at odds with all the other evidence of Mary C. (Moysten) Kells Fox's life, that it is hard to know where to begin. Annie was 21 not 17 at the time of her death. Was she really engaged to be married? Not only is Mary not Frank's widow, he was still living at this point.

On 8 September 1898, an article about Louis Kells in the St. Louis Republic, added yet another layer of misinformation to the story: “It is said he was born in New Orleans, La, where prior to the war, his family was among the wealthiest and most influential in that section. His mother survives him. She is a widow and is living in St. Louis with some of her relatives. Her name is Fox, she having married again after the death of her first husband, father of the deceased.”

Louis was born in West Virginia, probably Wheeling, not New Orleans. There is no evidence that Mary was from a wealthy, influential family in New Orleans although some of her family members were living in New Orleans in the mid 1860s. If Mary was living with relatives in 1898, she was no longer with them in 1899. Instead, she was living alone in St. Louis. Curiously, she was listed in the St. Louis, Missouri City Directory as Mary C. Fox, widow of Frank W., and as Mary C. Kells, widow of Louis, both of whom resided at 907 S. 8th.

Louis Kells was buried in St. Peters Cemetery, Normandy, St. Louis County, Missouri. His tombstone only provides his place of birth, West Virginia, and his death date-7 Sept. 1898. Like his father, he died at the age of 44.

In 1900, Mary C. Fox was living by herself:

7 June 1900, St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri:
1302 St. Auge Ave.
Fox, Mary C. Head W F b. Dec 1843 56 Widow b. WV fb. Scotland mb. WV - sewing paper flowers

In 1902, four years after Louis's death, his estate was still unsettled and was in the St. Louis, Missouri Court of Appeals. Those documents reveal that two weeks prior to his death, Louis sent his will and other important personal documents to his nephew A.D. Craddock. His will made provisions for his debts to be paid and for his mother to receive a legacy of $1,000. The balance of his estate was to go to his sister for her support and the support of A.D. Craddock. Sister? The only other possible sister seems to be Ida May Kells. I have not been able to find out anything further about A.D. Craddock and his mother.

Mary C. Fox died 31 May 1903 of Bright’s disease at her residence, 2315 Chouteau Ave., in St Louis. No informant provided reliable information about her. By her appearance, she was estimated to be 70 years old. She was actually between 64 and 70 years old. Her death certificate stated that her occupation was a “maker of paper flowers.”

Mary C. Fox is buried in St. Peters Cemetery, Normandy, St. Louis County. Missouri as is her son, Louis Kells. Her tombstone incorrectly dates her death as Sept. 1903.

Capt. Frank W. Fox had two sons with Phebie. He died in 1912 and is buried near Phebie in Glenwood Cemetery in Houston, Harris County, Texas.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


© Kathy Duncan, 2013

Nathaniel Holcomb, brother of Azariah Holcomb, was born 1805 in  Missouri.

On 19 July 1826 in Jefferson County, Missouri, he signed a petition to move the county seat from Herculaneum to Hillsboro along with Azariah and Enoch Holcomb. The signature looks like he signed his name as "Natholcomb."

According to his divorce petition Nathan Holcomb married Sarah on 1 December 1825 in Jefferson County, Missouri. No surname is given for Sarah.

1830 census, Ste. Genevieve Co., MO, p. 383:

Nathaniel Holcomb 200002 - 00001

In 1830, Nathaniel Holcomb's household is composed of the 
two males under age 5: Isaac W. and James Holcomb
one males age 30 - 40: Nathaniel Holcomb and unidentified male
one female age 20 - 30: Sarah Holcomb
Living near by are the households of Benajah Brown, James Skaggs, Enoch Holcomb, and Elizabeth 

15 Sept. 1836, Jackson Co., MO:
In Jackson Circuit Court of July Term 1836
Nathaniel Holcomb vs. Sarah Holcomb, petition for divorce. Nathaniel states that the disposition of Sally Holcomb was such as to render his situation intolerable, and it appearing to the satisfaction of the Court, that the said Sally Holcomb is not a resident of, or residing within the Sate, it is therefore ordered by the court, that the said Sally Holcomb be notified that the said Nathaniel Holcomb has filed his petition for a divorce.
 [Source: The Far West; Liberty, Clay Co., Missouri on 15 Sept 1836.]

While Nathaniel filed for a divorce from Sarah, it seems unlikely that he followed through with the divorce since she is with him in 1860 and is the mother of six of his children, including Isaac Webster Holcomb and Phoebe (Holcomb) Owens.

1840 Elk River Twp, Newton County, MO, page 227:

Nathan Holcomb 11111-000001001

In 1840, Nathaniel Holcomb's household was composed of the following:
one male under age 5 = Alfred Holcomb
one male age 5 - 10 = unidentified male
one male age 10 - 15 = Isaac Webster Holcomb
one male age 15 - 20 = James Holcomb
one male age 20 - 30 = Nathaniel Holcomb
one female age 30 - 40 = Sarah Holcomb
one female age 60 - 70 = unidentified, but old enough to the mother of Nathaniel or Sarah
Living nearby are the households of Azarah Holcomb, James Brown, James Skaggs, Enoch Hocomb, and James Pool.

By July 1850, Nathaniel Holcomb had relocated to Santa Cruz County, California and placed this notice in the Sacramento Transcript:

Son, James Holcomb, would have been about 24 years old when this notice was published. If Nathaniel was giving notice of his residence in Santa Cruz, then James Holcomb "and all other friends" were not in Santa Cruz. Nathaniel may have been unsure of James's location at this time.

In 1853, Nathaniel Holcomb served on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors in California.
[Source: Santa Cruz County History - Government, Santa Cruz Public Library webpage]

In 1858, Nathaniel Holcomb, a lumberman, was one of the residents of Soquel, California who formed the Santa Cruz Turnpike Company to create a new toll road from Soquel to the summit.
[Source: Highway 17: The Road to Santa Cruz, Richard A. Beal]

11 July 1860, Soguel Twp., Santa Cruz Co., CA p. 591:

621-551 Nathaniel Holcomb 55 M Farmer 0 - 3,000 MO
Sarah 52 F b. MO
James 34 M Farm laborer b. MO
Alfred 21 M b. MO
Helen [probably Phoebe] 14 F b. MO
Janson 11 M b. CA

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

265 - 252 Holcomb, James A. 41 M W Deputy Co. Assessor MO

268 - 256 Owens, James A. 35 M W Merchant  1,000 - 4,000 VA
--- Phoebe 25 F  W Keeps house MO
---Cyrus   3 M W CA
---Florence 11/12 F W CA
Holcomb, Sarah 62 F  W Keeps house MO

The following letter was written by Nathaniel Holcomb from La Paz, Boliva in 1873. It accounts for why he is not on the 1870 census:

from the Santa Cruz Sentinel -- I send herewith a letter of Nathaniel HOLCOMB from La Paz, South America. It is full of interesting details. Mr.HOLCOMB was an old and well-known resident of this county and lived formore than 16 years at what is known as the Masons Grove, Soquel. He iseminently a pioneer and organizer. His zeal helped to build the first churches, school-houses and roads in this county. He must now be 70 years old, but in will and energy he is still young. When urged to stay here and finish his old days with his family and amongst his friends, he remarked to the writer, "I knew the time when no white man's track was to be found on this side of the Mississippi; I have moved west and west, have helped to build up States and Territories and have raised a large family of children. I will do my best to provide for my wife, my children are old enough to shift for themselves; my duty to them is done; but my duty to mankind not yet. I feel the strength within me, old as I am, to explore another continent to open paradise on earth to man. I am going to explore the Amazon River, from its source to the sea, and in due time, you shall hear from me."

Oct. 10, 1872; City of La Paz, Bolivia; Dear Sir: I left San Francisco the 26th of December, 1866 and landed in Callao, March 27th, 1867, thence I went to Tacna, from Tacna to Cochambamba. I arrived at Cochambamba the 16th of June, 1867...I entered upon the headwaters of the Tipuany [river] the last of August, 1867. We prospected all the way to its mouth, 40 leagues. We found gold at every place. I
remained in this vicinity from the 13th of Sept. 1867 til the 15th of August, 1869...we had our canoe ready and started down the Mapirito the confluence with the Urigus, about 40 leagues. From the confluence of these rivers we passed down to the town of San Buenaventuro, at which place we arrived Sept. 5th, 1869...Yours truly as ever, Nathaniel HOLCOMB [full letter, p. 2, col. 2]
[Source:  The Hollister Advance; Hollister, California, 11 Jan 1873]

Nathaniel Holcomb died after 1873.

23 June 1880, Hollister Twp., San Benito County, California:
360 - 364
Owens, Phoebe W F 30 married Keeping house b. MO fb. MO mb. MO
----, Cyrus W. W M 16 Son single Student b. CA fb. VA mb. MO
----, Marens W M 8 Son single Student b. CA fb. VA mb. MO
----, Emma W F 4 Dau single b. CA fb. VA mb. MO
Holcomb, Sarah W F 72 Mother single b. MO fb. NY mb. MO

4 June 1900, San Francisco, San Francisco County, California:
Robertson, Walter Head W M Feb 1871 29 M-5 b. CA fb. IL mb.MO
----, Emma Wife W F Apr 1876 24 M-5 1-1 b. CA fb. VA mb. MO
----, Hazel Dau W F Apr 1897 3 S b. CA fb. CA mb. CA
Owens, Phoebe M-i-l W F Sept. 1845 54 M-5 1-1 b. MO fb. MO mb. MO
----, Syres B-i-l W M Oct 1866 33 S b. CA fb. MO mb. MO
----, Clara S-i-l W F Sept 1881 18 S b. CA fb. MO mb. MO
Holcomb, Sarah Grandmother W F Sept 1808 91 Wd 6-2 b. MO fb. MO mb. MO
-66 Meyes, George Head W M Oct 1874 25 M-3 b. CA fb. IL mb. Portugal
----, Theresa Wife W F July 1876 23 M-3 0-0 b. CA fb. IL mb. IL
----, Annie Sister W F Nov 1876 23 S b. CA fb. AL mb. Portugal

The only children of Nathaniel and Sarah Holcomb who were still living at the time of the 1900 census were Phoebe (Holcomb) Owens and Isaac W. 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]

Children of Nathaniel and Sarah Holcomb:

1. James Holcomb
2. Isaac Webster Holcomb married Emily Imus
3 Unidentified male
4. Alfred Holcomb - went to Bolivia and was never heard from again
5. Phoebe Holcomb married James A Owens
6. Janson Holcomb

This page last updated on December 24, 2015

Sunday, July 14, 2013


© Kathy Duncan, 2013

Enoch Holcomb, brother of Azariah Holcomb, was born about 1799 in Missouri.

On 19 July 1826, in Jefferson County, Missouri, Enoch Holcomb signed a petition to move the county seat from Herculaneum to Hillsboro along with brothers Azariah and Nathaniel Holcomb.

1830 census, Jackson Twp., Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri:
Enoch Holcomb 100001 - 000011

In Enoch's 1830 household are the following individuals:
one male under age five = [a son of either Enoch's or of the identified female]
one male age 30 - 40 = Enoch Holcomb
one female age 20 - 30 = [this female is too old to a child of Enoch and Anna's. She may be a younger sister of one of them or a servant. She is unidentified.]
one female age 30 - 40 = Anna (Ware) Holcomb

Living near Enoch Holcomb in 1830 were the following households: Benajah Brown, Nathaniel Holcomb, James Skaggs, and an Elizabeth Jamison.

On July 1832, Enoch Holcomb became the administrator of his father-in-law, Hardy Ware's estate, case #00962, in St. Louis County Missouri.

1840 census, Newton County, Missouri:
Enoch Holcomb 0000001 - 0000101

Enoch's 1840 household was composed of the following:
one male age 40 - 50 = Enoch Holcomb
one female age 20- 30 = [This female might be the same female that was on the 1830 census. She was probably either a sister or a servant.]
one female age 40 - 50 = Anna (Ware) Holcomb

The male child under age 5 in 1830 is no longer in the Holcomb household and is probably deceased. At this point the Holcombs appear to be childless.

In May 1844, Anna Holcomb, wife of Enoch Holcomb, was named as a daughter and heir of Drucilla Ware in her estate, case #01902, which was filed in St. Louis, Missouri. The probate papers state that Anna and Enoch were in an unknown county in Missouri.

By 1850, Enoch and Anna Holcomb were in Navarro County, Texas.

5 Oct 1850, Navarro Dist., Navarro County, Texas:
Enoch Holcomb 51 M Well Digger b. MO
Ancy Holcomb 50 F b. MO
E. W. Holcomb 8 M b. MO
Elizabeth Holcomb 5 F b. MO
Abner Lee 49 M Cooper b. MO

The two children, E.W. and Elizabeth, are a mystery. Have Enoch and Ann finally had children of their own? Are these children of a deceased brother of Enoch's? Neither of these children was named in Enoch's probate settlement, so they are probably deceased by 1852 since no provision is made for them, and they received nothing in the settlement.

Enoch Holcomb's estate, case #03827B, was filed in St. Louis County, Missouri in 1852/3. His probate named his siblings: "Isaac Holcomb brother of decd who resides in St. Louis County and Nathaniel Holcomb brother of decd who resides in California and Azariah Holcomb and Hannah wife of James Scagg and the children of Esther Jameson who was a sister of decd who reside in the South western part of the state of Missouri and the children of Phoebe Pool whose residence is unknown to me."

The probate documents noted that Enoch had no real estate, but the estate sale held on 11 Dec 1852 at his residence indicates that he was renting a farm. Among the purchasers at the sale were George Ware, who purchased a pick, shovel, cooking utensils, and a feather bed, and Isaac Holcomb, who purchased 2 lots of sundries, a chair, bedstead and tick, pot, jug, plow, lot of cabbage, and 3 lots of barn.

Isaac Holcomb presented a note dated 10 April 1852 and signed by Enoch Holcomb that indicated that Enoch had borrowed money from Isaac and that the debt was still unpaid.

Among Enoch Holcomb's probate papers was a doctor's charge on 10 August 1852 for attending Mrs. Holcomb. Since there was no widow mentioned, she probably predeceased Enoch. One of the drugs used to treat Mrs. Holcomb was quinine, which was used to treat cholera.  A cholera  epidemic was raging in St. Louis from 1849 to 1852. According to period newspapers, by August of 1850, over a hundred people a week were dying. It seems likely that the both Enoch and his wife died of cholera. The probate makes no mention of the doctor attending to children.

Monday, July 8, 2013


© Kathy Duncan, 2013

Caroline Jamison, daughter of Esther (Holcomb) Jamison, married William J. McNeil on 23 Dec 1860 in Calaveras County, California.

Census records for Caroline (Jamison) McNeil:

21 July 1870, San Juan Twp., Monterey County, California, p. 393:
McNeal, W.J. 43 M  Farmer $1,600-$300 b. NC
----, C. P. 39 F W Keeping house b. Wisconsin
----, Charles 17 M W At home b. CA
[also in San Juan Twp at this time is Caroline's sister Martha (Jamison) Pool and her first cousin Phoebe A. (Holcomb) Owens, daughter of Nathaniel Holcomb).

21 June 1880, Third District, Fresno County, California:
McNeill, William J. W M 54 Farmer b. NC fb. VA mb. VA
----, Phoebe C. W F 57 Wife Keeping house b. MO fb. VA mb. VA
----, Charles W M 18 Son At home  b. CA fb. NC mb. MO
Varner, Willie E. W F 26, Guest School teacher b. IL fb. IL mb. KY

27 June 1900, ED 2 Twp 2, Fresno County, California:
McNeal, William J. Head W M b. Feb 1828 72 M-40 b. NC fb. VA mb. NY
----, Caroline Wife W F b. Apr 1831 69 M-40 1-0 b. MO fb. VA mb. NY
[Note: Son Charles is deceased before the 1900. Did he marry and leave a family?]

Both Phoebe Caroline (Jamison) and William J. McNeill are bured in the Mountain View Cemetery in Fresno, Fresno County, California as is Caroline's sister Margaret (Jamison) Poole.

Phoebe Caroline (Jamison) McNeill's tombstone:
P.C. McNeill
Apr 15, 1831
Jan. 13, 19906

William J. McNeill's tombstone:
W.J. McNeill
Feb 1, 1821
Sep 11, 1906


© Kathy Duncan, 2013

Margaret Jamison, daughter of Esther (Holcomb) Jamison,  married A. J. Pool on 20 January 1861 in Calaveras County, California. She had been in California only four months. A. J. Pool was her first cousin, Andrew Jackson Pool, son of Phoebe (Holcomb) Pool.

Married. At Jenny Lind, January 20th, A. J. Pool to Margaret Jamison.
[Source: Daily Alta California, 30 Jan 1861 and Sacramento Daily Union 29 Jan 1861]

Margaret (Jamison) and Andrew J. Pool's eldest one Robert H. Pool was born in Calaveras County:
At Bushville, Calaveras county, Feb. 17th, the wife of A. J. Pool, of a son.
[Source: Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 22, Number 3410, 4 March 1862]

According to California voter registration records, Andrew Jackson Pool was in Gilroy Twp., Santa Clara County, California. Beginning in 1869, he is in Hollister, Monterery County, California.

28 July 1870, San Juan Twp., Monterey County, Caiifornia, p. 396:
183 - 180
Poole, A.J. 37 M W Blacksmith b. MO [handwriting looks like Poole, G.J.]
----,Margaret 37 F  W Keeps house b. MO
----,Robert H. 8 M W b. CA
----,Andrew 5 M W b. CA
----,Clara G. 3 F  W b. CA
----,Alfred 8/12 M W b. CA

According to California voter registration records, Andrew Jackson Pool returned to Towers Ranch, Calaveras County, and was living there in 1872. By 1873 he had returned to Hollister, Monterey County, California. Beginning in 1874, he is in Hollister, San Benito Couunty, California.

5 June 1880, Hollister Twp., San Benito County, California, p. 368:
Pool, Andrew W M 47 Farmer b. MO fb. MO mb. MO
----, Margaret W F 47 Wife Keeping house b. MO fb. KY mb. MO
----, Hugh W M 18 Son Student b. CA fb. MO mb. MO
----, Andrew W M 16 Son Student b. CA fb. MO mb. MO
----, Gertie W F 13 Dau Student b. CA fb. MO mb. MO
----, Milton W M 10 Son b. CA fb. MO mb. MO
----, Maud W F 3 Dau b. CA fb. MO mb. MO
----, Leota W F 2/12 Mar Dau b. CA fb. MO mb. MO
[Living nearby is the household of first cousin Nancy (Skaggs) Witter and the household of William W. England.]

When brother-in-law William Wesley England remarried after the death of his wife Fatima Charlotte Jamison, the wedding was held in the Pool home:
Married -- ENGLAND-THOMAS -- at the residence of A.J. POOLE, Hollister, by Judge MONTGOMERY; W.W. ENGLAND of San Benito County to Mrs. Elizabeth THOMAS, of Gilroy.
[Source:  The Pacific Coast; Hollister, CA; 18 Nov. 1881]

According to California voter registration records, Andrew Jackson Pool continues living in Hollister, San Benito County, California through 1882. Beginning with the 1884 register, he is in Millerton, Fresno County, California.

Daugther Gertie M. Poole, at the age of 23, married Robert C. Shelton, age 31, on 8 June 1890 in Fresno County, California.

In 1900, Margaret Poole is found living with daughter Gertie:

2 June 1900, ED 10 Ward 1,2, Fresno County, California:
190 Yosemiti Ave.
Shelton, Robert S. Head W M b. Dec. 1858 41 M-10 b. KY fb. KY mb. KY
----, Gertrude Wife W F b. Sept 1866 33 M-10 3-2 b. CA fb. MO mb. MO
----, Hugh Son W M b. Jan 1891 9 S b. CA fb. KY mb. CA
----, Merle Son W M b. Mar 1893 7 S b. CA fb. KY mb. CA
Poole, Marralin M-i-l b. W F Nov 1833 66 Wd 1-1 b. MO fb. KY mb. MO
----, Wilmas Sis-i-l b W F b. Mar 1880 20 S b. CA fb. MO mb. MO
[I know, I know. This information is only sort of right and really, really wrong at the same time. Marralin? That's why it pays to check the next census year.]

22 April 1910, Fresno City, Ward 1, Fresno County, California:
180 Yosemiti Ave.
Shelton, Robert C. Head W M 51 M1-20 b. KY fb. KY mb. KY
----, Gertrude Wife F W 41 M1-20 4-2 b. CA fb. MO mb. MO
----, Hugh Son M W 19 S b. CA fb. KY mb. CA
----, Merle Son M W 17 S b. CA fb. KY mb. CA
Poole, Margaret M-i-l F W 76 Wd-27 9-5 b. MO fb. VA mb. KY
[There! Much better. This census indicates that the widowed Margaret Poole had been married for 27 years.]

Died -- POOL -- at Traver, Cal., Nov 9, A.J. POOL, aged 60 years.
[Source:  The Hollister Free Lance, 15 Nov 1889]

Margaret Jamison Poole died nineteen years later and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Fresno, Fresno County, California. Her tombstone reads: "Margaret Jamison Poole Born Nov 17, 1832 Died Oct 31, 1918." Her son Milton Alfred Poole is also buried there.

Andrew Jackson and Margaret (Jamison) Pool's bible can be viewed here.

This page last updated on September 5, 2015.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


© Kathy Duncan, 2013

Amanda Jamison, daughter of Esther (Holcomb) Jamison, was born about 1823 in Missouri. She married Volney Brooks on 19 May 1861 in Calaveras County, California.

Their marriage notice appeared in San Francisco's The Daily Evening Bulletin:
At Bushville, Calaveras Co., l/May 19, l86l, Volney Brooks of Salt Spring Valley to Amanda R. Jamison of BurJiville. 
Paper: Hay 29, l36l. 
[Vital  Records For The Year I86I  From The Daily Evening Bulletin San Francisco, California] 

Amanda only appears on the census once with Volney Brooks.

20 July 1870, San Juan Twp, Monterey County, California, P.O. Hollister, p. 389:
Brooks, Volney 47 M W Farmer $500 - $250 b. IL
----, Amanda 47 F W Keeping House b. MO
----, Francis 8 M W b. CA
----, Sarah 2 F W b. CA
[The household next door contains Nancy (Skaggs) and C.R. Witter. Nancy was Amanda (Jamison) Brooks' first cousin.]

Died -- near Hollister, on the 7th instant, Mrs. Amanda R. BROOKS, a native of Missouri, aged 50 years.
[Source: The Hollister Advance; Monterey County, California, 8 Nov 1873]

After Amanda died, Volney Brooks married Martha Jane Roberts on 1 January 1875 in San Benito County, California. The area in which Hollister, California was located became San Benito County.

12 June 1880, Hollister Twp., San Benito County, California, p. 374:
Brooks, Volney W M 58 Farmer b. IL fb. KY mb. IL
----, Martha W F 47 Wife Keeping House b. MO fb. TN mb. TN
----, Francis W M 17 Son Student b. CA fb. IL mb. MO
----, Sarah W F 11 Dau Student b. CA fb. IL mb. MO
----, Mary W F 4 Dau  b. CA fb. IL mb. MO
----, Charles W M 8/12 Son b. CA fb. IL mb. MO

Mary and Charles Brooks are children of Volney and Martha Jane (Roberts) Brooks. The older children belong to Amanda (Jamison) Brooks.

Died--Brooks--in Hollister, May 8, Charles, son of Volney Brooks, aged 15 years, 7 months.
[Source: The Free Lance; Hollister, San Benito Co., CA; May 10, 1895]

Frank Brooks aged 25, son of Volney Brooks of Fairview, six miles east of Hollister, Cal., was instantly killed by lightning Tuesday morning at 9 o'clock. He came to the door of his home, accompanied by his father, and both men were struck down. The father regained consciousness soon after and found his son dead.
[Souce: The Desert News; Aug. 28, 1897]

Married. BROOKS-MERRIWEATHER--In Hollister, Cal., March 31, 1898, by the Rev. W. P. Andrews, Volney Brooks and Mrs. Amanda Merriweather.
[Source: The San Francisco Call, vol. 83, no. 124, 3 April 1898]

22 June 1900, Hollister, San Benito Co., California:
Brooks, Volney Head W M b. Nov 1827 M 2 b. IL fb. NY mb. IL
---Inez  Grdau W M b. Sept 1896 3 S b. CA fb. CA mb. CA
Tappan, Benjamin Servant W M b. Jan 1827 73 S b. Eng fb. Eng Mb. Eng

Brooks, Amanda (wid Volney), b 223 S McLaughlin Av.
[Source: San Jose, California City Directory 1910]

26 May 1910, Santa Clara, Santa Clara County, California:
Barclay, Thomas H. Head M W 38 M-1 8 b. TX fb. US mb. TN
---Mary S. Wife F W 33 M-2 8 1-1 b. CA fb. IL mb. MO
Machado, Charles V. Step son M W 12 S b. CA fb. CA mb. CA
Brooks, Volney Father-in-law m W 87 M-2 12 b. IL fb. IL mb. TN

Volney Brooks b.c. 1823 died 16 May 1910, age 87 in Santa Clara, California.
[Source: California Death Index, 1905 - 1939]

He is buried in the Old Fellows Cemetery in Hollister, San Benito County, California, where he shares a tombstone with his second wife Martha Jane Roberts, and his sons Frank and Charles. The stone must have been erected after the death of Volney. The death date for Frank is in error on the stone.

This page last updated on March 10, 2014.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


© Kathy Duncan, 2013

Nancy (Skaggs) Witter, daughter of Hannah (Holcomb) and James Skaggs, married Chester Rood Witter on April 18, 1862, at Salt Spring Valley in Calaveras County, California.

The Witters on the U.S. Census:

20 July 1870, San Juan Twp., Monterey County, California, p. 389:
Witter, C. R. - 36 M W Farmer NY
----, Nancy - 3 F W Keeping House MO
----, Laura - 6 F W CA
----, Lorena - 4 F W CA
----, Phoebe R. - 2 F W CA
Skaggs, Hannah - 59 F W Keeping House MO
[Living next door is Nancy (Skaggs) Witter's first cousin, Amanda (Jamison) Brooks.]

5 June 1880, Hollister Twp., San Benito County, California:
Witter, Chester W M 49 Farmer b. WS fb. NY m. NY
----, Nancy W F 48 wife Keeping house b. MO fb. KY mb. MO
----, Laura W F 17 dau student b. CA fb. WS mb. MO
----, Lorena W F 15 dau student b. CA fb. WS mb. MO
----. Armina W F 12 dau student b. CA fb. WS mb. MO
----,Steven W M 9 son student b. CA fb. WS mb. MO
----, Alfred W M 7 son student b. CA fb. WS mb. MO
----, Chester W M 4 son b. CA fb. WS mb. MO
----, Clyde W M 1 b. CA fb. WS mb. MO
[In household #49 is Andrew Pool, Nancy (Skaggs) Witter's first cousin.]

28 June 1900, Hollister Twp., San Benito County, California, p. 292A
Witter, Chester R. Head W M Oct 1833 66 M-38 b. NY fb. NY mb. NY
----, Nancy A. Wife W F Aug 1836 63 M-38 7-7 b. MO fb. KY mb. MO
----, Chester A. Son W M May 1876 34 M-0 b. CA fb. NY mb. MO
----, Kate M. D-i-L W F Apr 1876 24 M-0 0-0 b. CA fb. Germany m.b. Germany

25 April 1910, Hollister Twp., San Benito County, California:
Witter, Chester R. Head M W 73 M1-38 b. MO fb. US mb US
----, Nancy A. Wife F W 62 M1-38 7-7 b. MO fb. KY mb. MO

A biography of Chester R. Witter, published during his lifetime:

CHESTER R. WITTER, a pioneer of California, resident of San Benito county and a native of Albany county, New York, was born near Albany city, October 17, 1833. His father, Robert Witter was a farmer by occupation and was one of the pioneers of Wisconsin, during 1833 and 1840. The family was of German descent and were noted for their industry and thrift.

The subject of this sketch came to California via northern route and arrived at Placerville, August, 1853. He spent the greater portion of ten years in the gold diggings, and then resumed his occupation of a farmer in the vicinity of Stockton. In the fall of 1872 he came to San Bernardino county and located on Santa Ana creek, near the fort of Santa Ana peak, where he has since resided and reared his family. The home farm comprises 186 acres of valuable land.

 Mr. Witter was married, in 1862 to Miss Nancy Skaggs, a native of Missouri, and they have seven children and four grandchildren.

  Mr. Witter is among the most highly respected citizens of San Benito county.
[Source:  Memorial and Biographical History of the Coast Counties of Central California. Illustrated. Containing a History of this Important Section of the Pacific Coast from the Earliest Period of its Discovery to the Present Time, together with Glimpses of its Auspicious Future; Illustrations and Full-Page Portraits of some of its Eminent Men, and Biographical Mention of many of its Pioneers, and Prominent
Citizens of To-day. Luther A. Ingersoll, Editor (1893)]

Obituary of Chester Rood Witter:

Chester Rood Witter passed away early Tuesday morning at his home on Hayden street after an illness of about four months duration. He had been troubled with rheumatism and is grippee since last November, but his condition was not considered serious. Monday morning, however, he was taken seriously ill and the end came at 3:40 o'clock Tuesday morning.

Mr. Witter was a native of Wisconsin, coming to California when he was but 18 years of age. He located in this county  in the early part of 1867, near Lone Tree, where he acquired a large stock ranch. Four years ago he moved to Hollister and took a position with the Granger's UNION.

Mr. Witter was married on April 18, 1862, at Salt Spring Valley in Calaveras County, and leaves to mourn his loss his wife, Mrs. Nancy A. Witter, four sons and three daughters.

The daughters are Mrs. Laura Henry, who lives in the southern part of the State, Mrs. Lorana Mercy of Panoche and Mrs. Minnie Worrell of Ceres, Stanislaus County: and the sons are Steve Witter of Winchester, Idaho, Clyde E. Witter of Klamath Falls, Or., and Alfred and Chester Witter of Hollister.

At the time of his death Mr. Witter was looking forward to the celebration of his golden wedding anniversary on April 18.
[Source: San Jose Mercury News; San Jose, CA; Fri. Mar. 29, 1912]

Celebrates Anniversary. At the home of her daughter, Mrs. C.R. Witter, Sunday. "Grandma" Witter celebrated the passing of her 89th birthday with a family party and dinner.
[Source: San Jose Mercury News; San Jose, CA; Thurs., Aug. 31, 1916]

Marriages of Witter children:

Laura was married by 1887 when her sister Minnie visited her--
Miss Minnie WITTER has returned home after an extended visit to her sister, Mrs. D. SMITH, of Guerneville.
[Source: The Hollister Free Lance; Hollister, San Benito County, CA, 14 Jan 1887]

Married WORRELL-WITTER -- at the bride’s home, at Lone Tree, by Rev. C.P. CONE, on Jan. 3, Charles WORRELL to Miss Minnie WITTER
[Source: The Free Lance; Hollister, San Benito County, CA, 6 Jan 1893]

Married -- WITTER-NORTON -- at Auburn, Jan. 7, Clyde WITTER to Miss Fannie NORTON
[Source: The Free Lance; Hollister, California; 12 Jan 1900]

Married -- WITTER-FABER -- at Auburn, Apr. 18, Chester A. WITTER and Miss Katie FABER.
[Source: The Free Lance; Hollister, San Benito, CA 27 April 1900]

Married -- WITTER-JEROME -- at Hollister, Oct. 29, by Rev. J.W. BRYANT, at the M.E. parsonage; Alfred J. WITTER and Miss May JEROME.
[Source: The Free Lance; Hollister, San Benito County, CA, 2 Nov 1900]

Deaths of Witter children:

Laura Smith Jahnke born 24 Dec 1862 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co., UT,  died 16 May 1940buried 20 May 1940, divorced, spouse George L. Jahnke, father Chester R. Witter b NY , mother Nancy Skaggs b MO 

Lorena A. Mercy died 27 Mar 1941, San Benito, California, born 29 Jan 1866 in CA. Father: Witter; Mother: Skaggs.

Burials in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Hollister, San Benito County, California:

Chester R. Witter 1833 - 1912 Father
Nancy A. Witter 1836 - 1921 Mother
Chester A. Witter 1876 - 1933
Kathryn F. Witter 1876 - 1933
Crystal Witter 1913 - 1916
Maye Witter 18__ - 1904

Biography of Lorena's husband John Joseph Mercy:

John Joseph [Mercy] was  born in San Francisco, October 11, 1861, coming to the Little Penoche when  he was but two years of age. He attended Golden Gate Academy in Oakland and St. Mary's College in San Francisco, and then the Gilroy High School, where he was graduated.  

After his graduation he entered heartily into sheep growing, and when his father became an invalid, with his brother, Henry, took charge of the place and have since then given it their undivided time. In early days a Yaki Indian sheepherder, Francisco Sanava, discovered a spring in the canyon and told their father of it; he dug a hole and the deeper they dug the warmed the water, so the father put a box in for bathing in the hot water as it came from the earth. Later on they dug it deeper to obtain more water for large flocks and found the water still hotter. John J. homesteaded the 160 acres on which the spring was located and obtained a title. People were attracted by the bathing and the water and found it had great curative and medicinal properties particularly for rheumatism, stomach trouble and sores and Mercy Mineral Hot Springs became popular. While they owned it the water was not only free but the bathing was free. However, the Mercy's finally decided the exploitation of the springs was out of their line so they sold it, so that the water and benefits might be obtained to a greater extent by the public. The Mercy ranch extends about six miles along the Little Penoche Creek and is an excellent stock ranch. About twenty years ago they sold their sheep and have since been engaged in raising cattle, their brand, J and H combined, being well known. They have installed four pumping plants which they use in irrigating alfalfa. 

John J. Mercy was married in Hollister in 1885 to Lorana Witter, born in Calaveras County, the daughter of Chester R. and Nancy (Skaggs) Witter, born in Brodhead, Wis., and St. Louis, Mo., respectively. Mr. Witter was also a forty-niner. Mr. and Mrs. John J. Mercy have three children: Irma. Mrs. Burge of Little Penoche; Alta, Mrs. Trowbridge of Los Angeles; and William who assists his father. 
[Source:  History of Fresno County, California, with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present (1919) History By Paul E. Vandor]

Minnie Armina Worrell died 29 Nov 1941 in Stanislaus, California, born 3 Mar 1868 in California. Father: Witter, Mother: Skaggs

Obituary of Minnie (Skaggs) Worrell:

Mrs. Minnie Armina Worrell, 73, a resident of Ceres for the past thirty one years, died in her home there this morning. She was a native Californian, having been born in Copperopolis.

Mrs. Worrell, a member of the Ceres Christian Chruch, leaves her husband, Charles H. Worrell of Ceres; five children, Elvin E. Worrell and C.C. Worrell of Ceres, C. Harold Worrell of Modesto, Mrs. Vena Maynard of Alameda and Thelma Ward of Beverly Hills, and a brother, Stephen Witter, of Idaho. She also leaves five grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Monday morning at 11 o'clock in the Shannon Chapel with Rev. Paul Boyer officiating. Interment will be in the Masonic Cemetery.
[Modesto Bee, November 29, 1941, p.7 Transcribed by Judy Ewbank]

This page last updated on 9 July 2013.