Crossing Paths

As you are researching your ancestors do you ever find a family living in the same county as ancestors or cousins from a totally different branch of your tree? That’s been my experience recently.

I’ve been researching three generations of descendants of James Barr Ralston recently. As I’ve been working my way thru his children and their families, I have encountered quite a few of them with ties to Black Hawk County, Iowa. Black Hawk County, Iowa is where my ancestor, Julia Harding was married to Albert Hutchinson. My Ralston line is on my dad’s dad’s side of my tree. My Hutchinson/Harding branch is on my dad’s mom’s side of the tree. These two lines do not connect in my tree until my grandparents marry in Dodge City, Kansas.

Curious as to who all was in Black Hawk county at some time, I decided to create a ‘Who Was There’ report. Since this report takes a while to generate, I created a ‘Marked Group’ for anyone with a fact place containing Black Hawk, Iowa.

With the marked group created, I can now generate a ‘Who Was There’ report limited to the people in this marked group.

Not only does this create a nice report of everyone with a fact placing them in Black Hawk County Iowa between 1850 and 1940, but it keeps the color coding. The color coding is a visual clue to the fact that different branches of my tree were in Black Hawk County.

This report confirms what I was seeing while researching the descendants of James Barr Ralston. The color coding makes it easy to spot the various family lines.

NOTE: The above report may not contain everyone who should be on it. I recently discovered that if I don’t have a birth and death date for an individual, then they will not be included on this report.

Iowa First Cav

Have you ever tracked an ancestor’s military service thru the various battles? I have to admit this is something that I have not done.

As I was working with the pension file for my ancestor, Noah W. Briles, I became curious about his unit’s service, particularly in Texas. Noah enlisted in Company I of the 1st Regiment of the Iowa Cavalry in June of 1861 for three years. When his time expired, he re-enlisted as a veteran volunteer on 1 January 1864. Noah was mustered out at Austin, Texas on 15 Feb 1866.

Since a document from the War Department indicates that Noah Briles took ill and was hospitalized on 17 Aug 1863 in Clarendon, Arkansas, I am trying to figure out where the unit was at that time along with how they ended up in Texas.

The Wikipedia article on the Iowa First Cavalry provides a synopsis of the military action of the unit. In August of 1862, the unit was in Arkansas.

On Aug. 18, 1862, the army crossed the White River at Clarendon, Ark., and on the 27th was fought the Battle of Bayou Meto, in which the regiment took a prominent part, driving the enemy across the bayou and making a dashing charge to save the only bridge across that deep and miry stream from destruction. In this charge the regiment lost 1 killed and 36 wounded, 1 mortally. The regiment then took the advance of the cavalry in the move on Little Rock.

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Iowa_Cavalry_Regiment

Unfortunately, the Wikipedia article leaves out most of 1863. Even though small text is used on their page, the National Parks page for the 1st Regiment, Iowa Calvary contains more detail

Expedition from Huntsville to Buffalo River January 9-12, 1863. At Lake Springs till April, 1863. Operations against Marmaduke in Southeastern Missouri April 17-May 3. Jackson, Mo., April 27. Castor River, near Bloomfield, April 29. Bloomfield April 30. Chalk Bluffs, St. Francis River, April 30-May 1. At Lake Springs till July. Expedition against Little Rock, Ark., July 1-September 10. Expedition from Greensborough to Helena, Ark., July (Detachment). Brownsville, Ark., August 25. Near Bayou Metoe August 26. Reed’s Bridge or Bayou Metoe August 27. Austin August 31. Ashley’s Mills September 7. Bayou Fourche and capture of Little Rock September 10. Elizabethtown October 1. Vance’s Store October 2. Expedition to Arkadelphia November 26-December 1. Reconnoissance from Little Rock December 5-13. Princeton December 6. Expedition to Camden December 15. Steele’s Expedition to Shreveport, La., March 23-May 3, 1864.

National Park Service. 1st Regiment Iowa Cavalry – https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=UIA0001RC

Thus, the unit was in the vicinity of Little Rock, Arkansas when Noah Briles became ill. Recovering from his illness, Noah Briles was again with his unit when they were moved to Alexandria, Louisianna and then to Texas.

Moved to Alexandria, La., June 15-22; thence to Hemstead, Tex., August 8-26. Moved to Austin, Tex., October 20-November 4, and duty there till February, 1866. Mustered out February 15, 1866. Moved to Iowa February 19-March 12, and discharged March 16, 1866.

National Park Service. 1st Regiment Iowa Cavalr – https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=UIA0001RC

Instead of being mustered out at the end of the war, the First Iowa Calvary joined other units at Alexandria, Louisiana to create the 2nd Cavalry Division.

Ultimately, the Iowans left Arkansas on February 12, 1865,
for Tennessee, where the troops anticipated operations against
Nathan Bedford Forrest’s mounted guerrillas. Just as they found
themselves in a position to acquire the national reputation that
they knew they deserved, the war ended. Unfortunately, the end
of the war did not mean the end of service for the First Iowa Cavalry.
Instead of being mustered home, the Hawkeye horsemen
were ordered to join the Twelfth and Fifth Illinois, Second Wisconsin,
and Seventh Indiana cavalries at Alexandria, Louisiana,
to create the Second Cavalry Division, Department of Texas, Division of the Gulf.
The weary regiment was not finally mustered
out of service until February 1866.

Crosson, David. The Martinet and the Mob. State Historical Society of Iowa. 1989. https://ir.uiowa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=9349&context=annals-of-iowa

While in Texas, the commanding officer of the 2nd Cavalry Division was Major General George Armstrong Custer. While serving under Major General Custer, the Iowa troops felt that they were mistreated. After the 1st Iowa Cavalry was mustered out, the Iowa State House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning General Custer.

the committee concluded that the First Iowa Cavalry had “received from the hands
of Major-General Custer . .. such ill treatment as no other Iowa
soldiers have ever been called upon to endure; that such treatment
or punishment was dishonorable to the General inflicting
it, degrading to the name of American soldier, unworthy of the
cause in which they were engaged, and in direct and flagrant
violation of the laws, of Congress and the rules and articles of

For decades afterwards, the collective memory of the former
regiment remained embittered by the nightmare of service
under Custer in Texas, and the veterans toiled diligently to
expunge their record of this particularly unpleasant episode.

Crosson, David. The Martinet and the Mob. State Historical Society of Iowa. 1989. https://ir.uiowa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=9349&context=annals-of-iowa

It was only by trying to learn more about my great-great grandfather’s service that I uncovered this information about the 1st Iowa Cavalry and General Custer. Unfortunately, I don’t have any letters, diaries or other documents to help understand Noah Briles’ role in this conflict between members of the 1st Iowa Cavalry and General George Armstrong Custer.

Two Julias

Have you ever looked at your genealogy and wondered, ‘How did I get that?’

That happened to me recently as I was researching the descendants of William Taylor Thompson of Wapello County, Iowa. William had a daughter, Julia. I had found a Wapello County, Iowa marriage record for Julia S Thompson to Edward Bates in 1868. Thus, I was following shaky leaf hints for Julia Thompson Bates.

In the process, I found the Find a Grave memorial for Julia A. Thompson Bates – who died in 1922. But wait, I have Julia Thompson dying before 1887.

So, where did I get the death information? And, is it correct? If so, does this mean I’ve mixed up two different Julia Thompsons?

I got the death date from the biography of W. T. Thompson in the Portrait and Biographical Album of Wapello County, Iowa. That biography lists the nine children of Mr. and Mrs. Thompson. This list of children includes ‘Julia is deceased’. Since the book was published in 1887, I concluded that Julia died before 1887. What also is telling from the biography is what it didn’t say about Julia. The name of the spouse is listed for the other daughters – but not for Julia.

After reviewing the biography in relation to the marriage record and Find a Grave record, I concluded that there were TWO Julia Thompsons of approximately the same age living in Wapello County at the same time.

Assuming I did mix-up two Julia Thompsons, I looked for a second Julia Thompson in the 1860 census for Wapello County, Iowa. I found a Juliann Thompson. age 8, in the household of Samuel and Eliza Thompson.

In other words, I likely had mixed up two different people!

Thus, I unlinked Julia Thompson, wife of Edward Bates, from the family of William and Polly (Evans) Thompson. I then added a daughter Julia to the family of William and Polly (Evans) Thompson with a death date prior to 1887. I also added an Identity fact linking the two Julia Thompsons. I use this fact when I have two individuals of the same name that could be the same person – but also might not be.

Thompson-WT-IA-Wapello-PortraitBiographicalAlbum

Confused Williams

Have you ever been tempted to pull someone else’s family history research into your tree? I know I have. Back in the days of PAF, another RICKETTS researcher shared a gedcom with me. Knowing he was a serious worker and that the file was full of information that could help me on my RICKETTS line, I imported his gedcom file into my file. So, when someone would ask me about a RICKETTS, I would have to confess that I had copied the info into my file and really didn’t know much about that particular individual.

Over time, I was able to figure out how to selectively weed that RICKETTS data so that I only had families I had researched. From this first hand experience, I know how erroneous information can creep into a tree. I do use other trees – for hints and to check my research.

I am currently researching my THOMPSON line. My ancestor, William Taylor Thompson, was born and married in Indiana. After his marriage, he moved to Wapello County, Iowa where he died. Hoping to see what other researchers had on William Taylor Thompson and to see if I have any THOMPSON DNA matches, I did a search of the public member trees on Ancestry. That’s when I discovered that the various trees are not in agreement on William’s death date.

ThompsonTrees

My records indicate that William died in 1898. Thus, I was curious as to whether I had the wrong date. Thus, I looked at a tree to see where the 1892 death date might have come from.

WTThompson-TreeSource

I didn’t check every tree with an 1892 death date, but I’m guessing that most have other Ancestry Family Trees as the source. My next step was to try and figure out a source for the 1892 date. I did a search of Find a Grave for a William Thompson who died in 1892 in Iowa. That search resulted in a William Thompson who is buried in Ottumwa Cemetery, Wapello County, Iowa.

WilliamThompsonIreland

My research indicates that my ancestor, William Taylor Thompson, lived and likely died in Wapello County, Iowa. However, the census records that show a Sarah Thompson (my great-great grandmother) as a daughter of William Thompson indicate that William was born in Kentucky — and not Ireland.

Based on that same census research, I am aware of TWO men named William Thompson of approximately the same age living in Wapello County, Iowa. So I did another search of Find a Grave for a William Thompson who died in 1898 in Iowa. (NOTE: 1898 is the year of death I have for William Taylor Thompson.) That search generated another William Thompson buried in Ottumwa Cemetery, Wapello County, Iowa.

WilliamThompsonIowa

Based on these two Find a Grave records, it is easy to see how they could get mixed up. This leads to a bigger question, “Do I have the incorrect year of death?” Since I have documented a lot of events in the life of William Taylor Thompson, I think I have the correct date. However, I’m still on the lookout for additional records to support my conclusion that Sarah Thompson Briles is the daughter of William Taylor Thompson who died in 1898 in Wapello County, Iowa. This is why I don’t believe I’ll ever be ‘finished’ with my genealogy.