40th Parallel

We often see the words “In the beginning” when reading a book, fairy tale or the Bible. However, have you ever thought of a place as a beginning? When we think of place in our genealogy research, there is always someplace ‘before’. It may be one of our brick walls and we don’t know where it is, but we do know there is a ‘before’.

Thus, to say that my husband and I took a road trip to the “Place of Beginning” seems really strange. Most of the land found in the states of Kansas and Nebraska was part of the Louisiana Purchase. However, it was the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act that set this area on the road to statehood. This act also established the 40th parallel as the boundary line between Kansas and Nebraska.

The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act prompted surveying to define the beginning points for establishing the ranges, townships and sections. Since we had recently visited the Point of Beginning – or the 6th Prime Merdian marker to our West, we decided to visit the monument marking the 40th parallel on the Missouri River Bluffs. This marker was established in 1855 to mark the Kansas Nebraska border.

Additional Information

Favorite Place

#52ancestors

Do you have a favorite place? When I first saw this writing prompt, I was taking it personally. Then today, I read several of the ways one could interpret this prompt. Now, I’m viewing this prompt from the perspective of my genealogy research. Based on this new perspective, I have to say my favorite place is Kansas.

  • My tree is deeply rooted in Kansas. My great-grandparents were all born in Kansas. Almost all of my ancestors thru my 2nd great grandparents died in Kansas.
State of Birth
State of Death
  • Many of the register of deeds offices in Kansas have a unique resource called the Range Index. These indexes trace the ownership of sections of land over the years. Using these indexes requires that one knows the section, township and range description of the land. However, they can quickly provide the volume and page numbers for all of the land transactions for that parcel of land. Unfortunately, one needs to visit the courthouse to access these indexes.
Coffey County Range Index
  • The Kansas State Historical Society has a ‘nearly comprehensive collection of newspapers for the state.’ When I first started doing genealogical research, these newspapers were mostly available on microfilm. Many of those early newspapers have been digitized. Over the years, these newspapers have proven to be very beneficial to my research.
  • Besides their newspaper collection, the Kansas State Historical Society’s library and archive collection has been a great help with my genealogy research over the years.
  • Kansas also has state census records that help track families between the federal census records. The 1885 and 1895 Kansas census help fill in the blanks around the missing 1890 federal census. The Kansas State Historical Society has microfilm of these records. They have also worked with Ancestry to make them available on Ancestry’s site.

I am grateful for all of the Kansas records that have been created, collected and preserved over the years.

Following the Land

Have you ever tried to figure out what happens to a parcel of land when the head of the household dies? That’s what I’ve been doing when trying to clean up my citations for Sarah Jane Thompson Briles Davis, wife of my second great grandfather, Noah Washington Briles.

I recently wrote about Sarah having to purchase the land back from her second husband prior to a divorce. In working thru the timeline for the land, I realized that I also had deeds for this parcel of land filed under their son, Edward G. Briles. Thus, I need to add those deeds to the timeline.

The land in question is the West half of the Northeast quarter of Section Twelve (12) in Township twenty three (23) of Range fifteen (15).

Timeline

  • 1866 – Sarah Jane Thompson married Noah Washington Briles in Wapello County Iowa on 9 August 1866
  • 1869 – Noah W. Briles purchased the land in question from his father, Alexander Briles.
  • 1879 – Noah Briles died leaving his wife, Sarah and two children: Ida Angelina and Edward Grant Briles
  • 1886 – In November, Sarah J. Briles mortgaged the land to W. H. Fear for $150.00
  • 1888 – In May, Sarah Briles married Jeremiah D. Davis
  • 1888 – In November, the mortgage to W. H. Fear was paid off
  • 1889 – In January, Ed G. Briles purchase an undivided one fourth interest in the land from Angeline Myers (formerly Angeline Briles) and her husband H. E. Myers
  • 1889 – In December, S. J. Davis and J.D. Davis and E. G. Briles mortgaged the land for $165 to Angeline Myers (Angeline Briles Myers)
  • 1896 – In July, the mortgage to Angeline Myers was paid off
  • 1898 – In July, Jeremiah D. Davis sold to Sarah J. Davis two parcels of land for $1,000
    • the parcel in question: the West half of the Northeast quarter of section twelve (12) in township twenty three (23) of range fifteen (150
    • and the Southwest quarter of the Southeast quarter of section thirty six (36) in township twenty two (22) of range fifteen (15)
  • 1898 – In September, Jeremiah Davis was granted a divorce from Sarah J. Davis. Sarah J. Davis’ name was restored to Sarah J. Briles
  • 1901 – In July, Sarah J. Briles mortgaged the land in section 12 to R. Waldron for $350
  • 1910 – In March, the mortgage to R. Waldon had been paid off
  • 1910 – In March, Sarah J. Briles sold the land in section 12 to H.E. Myers (first husband of Ida Angeline Briles)

Below is a transcription of the deed where Ed G. Briles purchases an undivided one fourth interest in the land from his sister, Angeline Briles Myers.

Book 45, page 617
Angeline Myers and husband
filed for record on the 19th day of January 1889 at 2 o’clock p.m.
Wm H Rudrauff, Register of Deeds Deputy
Ed G Briles
This Indenture made this 14th day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty nine between Angeline Myers and H. O. Myers her husband of county of Coffey and state of Kansas of the first part and
Ed G Briles of the same place of the second part
Witnesseth that the parties of the first part, in consideration of the sum of
five hundred dollars
to them duly paid, hath bargained and sold, and by these presents do grant and convey to the said party of the second part his heirs and assigns, all that tract or parcel of land situate in Coffey County, state of Kansas, and described as follows, to wit:
the undivided one fourth interest n the west half of the northeast quarter of section twelve (12) township twenty three (23) South of range fifteen (15) east
with the appurtenances and all the estate, title and interest of the said parties of the first part therein
and the said Angeline Myers and H E Myers do hereby covenant and agree, that at the delivery hereof they are
the lawful owners of the premises granted and seized of a good and indefensible estate of inheritance therein , in fee simple and that the same are free and clear of all incumbrances, and that they will Warrant and Defend the same in the quiet and peaceable possession of said parties of the second part, his heirs and assigns, against the lawful claims of all persons whomsoever.
In witness whereof, the said parties of the first part have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year above written.
Angelina Myers
H. E. Myers

State of Kansas, Coffey County, SS
On the 14th day of January, A.D. 1889, before the
Notary Public is and for said county, personally came
Angeline Myers and H. E. Myers her husband
to me personally known to be the same person whose names are affixed to the foregoing conveyance as grantor and duly acknowledged the execution of the same.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed my official seal, the day and year last above written.
Frank Fochele
Notary Public

Coffey County, Kansas, Deeds, Book 45, page 617, Briles, Ed, 14 January 1889; Recorder of Deeds, Burlington, Kansas.

Land and Divorce

Is it normal for a woman to have to purchase back her first husband’s land from her second husband prior to divorcing her second husband?

That appears to be what happened with my second great grandmother, Sarah Jane Thompson Briles.

The land in question is the West half of the Northeast quarter of Section Twelve (12) in Township twenty three (23) of Range fifteen (15).

Timeline

  • 1866 – Sarah Jane Thompson married Noah Washington Briles in Wapello County Iowa on 9 August 1866
  • 1869 – Noah W. Briles purchased the land in question from his father, Alexander Briles.
  • 1879 – Noah Briles died leaving his wife, Sarah and two children: Ida Angelina and Edward Grant Briles
  • 1886 – In November, Sarah J. Briles mortgaged the land to W. H. Fear for $150.00
  • 1888 – In May, Sarah Briles married Jeremiah D. Davis
  • 1888 – In November, the mortgage to W. H. Fear was paid off
  • 1889 – In December, S. J. Davis and J.D. Davis and E. G. Briles mortgaged the land for $165 to Angeline Myers (Angeline Briles Myers)
  • 1896 – In July, the mortgage to Angeline Myers was paid off
  • 1898 – In July, Jeremiah D. Davis sold to Sarah J. Davis two parcels of land for $1,000
    • the parcel in question: the West half of the Northeast quarter of section twelve (12) in township twenty three (23) of range fifteen (150
    • and the Southwest quarter of the Southeast quarter of section thirty six (36) in township twenty two (22) of range fifteen (15)
  • 1898 – In September, Jeremiah Davis was granted a divorce from Sarah J. Davis. Sarah J. Davis’ name was restored to Sarah J. Briles
  • 1901 – In July, Sarah J. Briles mortgaged the land in section 12 to R. Waldron for $350
  • 1910 – In March, the mortgage to R. Waldon had been paid off
  • 1910 – In March, Sarah J. Briles sold the land in section 12 to H.E. Myers (first husband of Ida Angeline Briles)

Below is a transcription of the deed where Sarah J. Davis purchases the land from Jeremiah Davis.

Coffey County Kansas
Deed Book 51
Page 383

Warranty Deed
Jeremiah D Davis
To
Sarah J Davis

The State of Kansas
Coffey County
Filed for record on the 20th day of July A.D. 1898 at 4 o’clock p.m.
Minni Gilman

This indenture made this 20 day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety eight between Jeremiah D Davis of the county of Coffey and state of Kansas of the first part, and Sarah J Davis of the same place, of the second part.
Witnesseth, that the party of the first part, in consideration of the sum of one thousand dollars to him duly pad has bargained and sold and by these presents does grant and convey unto the said party of the second part her heirs and assigns all that tract or parcel of land situated in Coffey County and State of Kansas and described as follows, to wit:
The West half of the North East quarter of Section Twelve (12) in Township Twenty Three (23) of Range fifteen (15) and the south west quarter of the south east quarter of section thirty six (36) in township twenty two (22) of range fifteen (15)
And the appurtenance, and all the estate, title and interest of the said party of the first part therein and that he will warrant and defend the same in the quiet and peaceable possession of eh said party of the second part, her heirs and assigns forever against the lawful claims, mode or suffered by him but against none where in witness whereof, the said party of the first part has hereunto set his hand and seal, the day and year above written.

Jeremiah D Davis

In presence of
I R Stamp $100 canceled
State of Kansas
Coffey County
On the 20th day of July AD 1888 before me a notary public in and for said County, personally came Jeremiah Davis to me personally known to be the same person whose name is affixed to the fore (going) conveyance as granter had he acknowledged the execution of the same.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed my official seal on the day and year last above written.
W H Gray
Notary Public
My Com expires May 16th 1899

Coffey County, Kansas, Deeds, Book 51 page 383, Jeremiah D Davis to Sarah J Davis, 20 July 1898; Recorder of Deeds, Burlington, Kansas.

Kansas Census

Do you ever take for granted a set of records available for your research that may not be available in other localities? If so, you are not alone. I have deep Kansas roots and I’ve taken for granted the wonderful census records found in Kansas.

I was reminded of that today when I say Michael John Neill’s Genealogy Tip of the Day: Kansas State Census Records.

From 1855 to 1925, Kansas had a statewide census for the years ending in ‘5’. The Kansas State Historical Society’s 1855-1940 Kansas Censuses page provides details about what was recorded on each of these records.

These census records are very valuable for documenting Kansas families, especially between 1880 and 1900. For example, I can prove that my second great grandfather, Washington Marion Crawford and his family had moved from Indiana to Dodge City by 1885 because I can find him listed as M Crawford on the 1885 census in Ford County, Kansas

These census records are available on Ancestry in the dataset titled, Kansas, U.S., State Census Collection, 1855-1925. When I want to use this set of records I often can’t remember the exact name of the set. Thus, I search the catalog for the keywords, Kansas Census, and then scroll thru the results until I find this set.

These records are also available on FamilySearch. They can be found by searching the catalog for Kansas and then looking for the Census records in the list of results.

For those eagerly anticipating the 1950 census, Kansas is ahead of the game. There is another record set on Ancestry that includes census records up to 1961. This set of records is titled, All Kansas, U.S. City and County Census Records, 1919-1961. Below are some of the results for my grandparents, Edward Osmund Briles and his wife Pauline, who lived in Emporia, Lyon County, Kansas.

With these records, the family members are listed along with their ages and their address.

These records have helped me track where my grandmother, Pauline Briles, lived after the death of her husband, Edward Briles.

If you have Kansas roots, be sure to check out these wonderful records!

Kansas Roots

Kansas turned 160 years old today!

Happy Birthday, Kansas

My Kansas roots run deep. My parents, grandparents and a couple of great-grandparents were all born in Kansas. While my 5 generation birth chart shows a lot of different states in the fifth generation, my chart of death places shows mostly ancestors dying in Kansas. (births on left, deaths on right)

If all of these ancestors were in Kansas prior to their death, what is the earliest record of them living in Kansas?

Washington Marion Crawford and his wife, Mary Foster Crawford, arrived in Dodge City, Kansas around 1884. According to several newspaper accounts, James H. Crawford was expecting the arrival of his brother, Washington Marion Crawford in June of 1884. In March, 1885, Washington Marion Crawford paid $2 at the Garden City land office to file a homestead claim. Later in May of 1885, Washington Marion Crawford was accepted as a member of the Lewis Post of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Richmond Fisk Hammond is listed on the 1886 post report as a member of the Lewis Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. Thus, Richmond Fisk Hammond and his wife, Sarah Ellen Ralston Hammond were living in the Dodge City area by 1886.

Hiram M. Currey married Angelina Jane Burke in Weston on the Missouri side of the state line in August 1856. In 1860, Hiram Currey is listed on the territorial census living in Kickapoo, Leavenworth County, Kansas. An illustration showing pro-slavery men from Weston voting in 1855 at Kickapoo. This illustration was published in 1867. It is unknown whether Hiram Currey was part of this cross-border battle to determine whether Kansas would be a free state or a slave state. Since Hiram Currey would serve under Captain Samuel Hollister in Company B of the 12th Cavalry Regiment of the Kansas State Militia in 1864, I do not believe he was a pro-slavery voter.

Albert Hutchinson and his wife, Julia Harding Hutchinson, were living in Mitchell county Iowa in 1880. In 1890, Albert is shown on a census of veterans in Clay County, Missouri. According to this military pension record, Julia passed away in 1892 in Doniphan County, Kansas. Albert then married Honore Eliza Van Valkenburg ibn 1893 in St. Joseph, Missouri (which is across the Missouri River from Doniphan County, Kansas). In 1895, Albert is found living in Doniphan County. He died in Doniphan county in 1896.

Alexander Briles purchased land lying in Coffey County in 1858. He is shown on the 1859 Kansas territory census living in Coffey County with 8 minors in the household. The family, including his son, Noah Briles, were all listed on the 1860 territorial census living in Coffey County, Kansas. Noah Briles would go to Iowa to work on a farm. While in Iowa, he served in Company I of the 1st Regiment of the Iowa Cavalry Volunteers. After the war, he married Sarah Thompson in Iowa. In 1872, Noah purchased land in Coffey county, Kansas. By 1875, Noah, his wife and their family had moved to Coffey County, Kansas.

James Marshall Ricketts married his wife, Rachel Elmeda Christy in 1866 in Clinton County, Indiana. In 1879, James Ricketts purchased land in Woodson County, Kansas. By 1880, the family was living in Everett Township, Woodson County, Kansas.

George Mentzer is said to have helped establish the first hotel in Kewanee Illinois prior to 1860. However, he must have returned to Massachusetts by 1860 since he is shown on the 1860 census living in his brother’s household. George served in Company C of the 24th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers. In 1866, George purchased land in Henry County, Illinois. In 1867 George married Emeline Minnick in Kewanee, Henry County, Illinois. In 1870, George purchased land in Woodson County. However, the family was still living in Illinois in 1870. In 1871, George Mentzer and his friend, George Allen, moved their families from Illinois to Woodson County, Kansas.

Thurston Kennedy Wells was likely living in Miami County, Kansas when his son, William Hall Wells was born to Thurston and his first wife, Sarah Hall in 1857. In 1860, a K. T. Wells is listed on the census in Lykins County, Kansas. Little is known about the family at this time, but Sarah likely died between 1857 and 1861. In March of 1861, Thurston Wells marries Salome Crandall in Van Buren County, Iowa. In 1875, Thurston and Salome are found living in Woodson county, Kansas on the 1875 census. Also listed in their household are Thurston’s two sons by his first marriage and the two younger daughters he had with Salome.

Thus, all of my great-great grandfathers had brought their families to Kansas prior to 1900, with three of them being in the state prior to statehood. Thus, my Kansas roots run deep.

1950 Kansas Census

Are you eagerly awaiting the release of the 1950 census? If you follow Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings blog, then you may have seen his challenge to identify members of our ancestral families that will be in the 1950 United States census.

Although it will be interesting to see the household configurations in the 1950 census, there is census data available for that time period — IF the person lived in Kansas. Yes, that’s correct, one can find census data for Kansas thru 1961. This information can be found in Ancestry’s collection: Kansas, City and County Census Records, 1919-1961.

Since all of my ancestral lines were in Kansas prior to 1919, this collection has proven to be very helpful.

For example, my great-grandmother, Josie Crawford was living in Dodge City in 1950. Thus, I did a search of the collection for a Josie Crawford living in Ford County, Kansas.


Since I didn’t select ‘exact’ for Josie’s first name, the results included Josie, Jessie and even J Frank. However, at the top of the list was one Josie Crawford.

Clicking on the link to Josie took me to a screen giving her information and a link to the image.

Clicking on the image shows the household of my grandfather, Leon Crawford. In this household was my grandfather, my grandmother, Winnie, my great-grandmother, Josie, and my uncle, Leon, Jr.

Using this collection of Kansas census records, I have been able to find my grandparents and all of my great-grandparents living in 1950. This includes the following:

  • Edward O. Briles (often listed as E O Briles) living in Emporia, Kansas
  • Edward G. Briles listed in the 1948 census in Yates Center Kansas
  • Charles Mentzer living in Neosho Falls between 1946 and 1949 and then living in Emporia in 1953

With my Kansas heritage, this set of records has been very helpful. If you have relatives living in Kansas between 1919 and 1961, be sure to check out this collection: Kansas, City and County Census Records, 1919-1961!

Boarding House

I recently have been spending a lot of time with Ancestry’s newly released database: Newspapers.com Obituary Index, 1800s – present. In the process, I discovered that a lot of the early newspapers from Dodge City, Kansas are now on Newspapers.com. Thus, I did a search for CRAWFORD between 1885 and 1890. Many of the results allowed me to get a digital copy of articles I had seen when I read the microfilm.

One of those articles described the building of a boarding house by my 2nd great grandfather, Washington Marion Crawford.

Marion Crawford has commenced the foundation for a boarding house, north of his present location, on 2d Avenue. The main building will be 16 x 26 feet, 18 feet high, with a wing 16 x 18 feet. The dining room and kitchen will be in the basement. A. O. Sherman hs the contract to do the work.

Dodge City Times (Dodge City, Kansas), 30 July 1885, page 4; Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online November 2019).


Knowing that the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps are available on the the Library of Congress web site, I did a search to locate the Dodge City Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. The 1887 map shows the boarding house at the corner of 2nd and Elm.

This Boarding House likely allowed Mary Foster Crawford to care for her family after the death of her husband in 1889. Mention of the boarding house is found in the 7 Dec 1894 issue of the Dodge City Globe.

In 1947, my grandparents, Leon and Winnie Crawford, purchased the ‘boarding house’ from his uncle, Nelson G. Crawford, son of Mary Foster Crawford and Washington Marion Crawford.

Since my grandparents opened the second floor of the house to guys attending college across the street, it was again a ‘boarding house.’

When my grandfather became ill, the house was sold and my grandmother moved into an apartment. Eventually, the boarding house was torn down to ‘build a parking lot’ for the public library that was built across the street from it.

Duplicate or Different

Do you ever check out someone else’s tree to see if they have something that disagrees with what you have? I know I’m usually looking for confirmation, but I appreciate seeing conflicting information. That conflicting information makes me re-look at what I have and to look harder for additional sources to support what I have.

That’s likely one of the reasons I work with the tree on FamilySearch. On this tree, I can look at the changes made to an individual. If those changes differ from information I have compiled, I can message the user making the changes and/or post a discussion about the change.

Thus, I utilize the ‘watch’ button to mark individuals I’m researching. Not only have I marked my ancestors to ‘watch’ but I’ve also marked other individuals in my research that I’m having trouble finding sources. Each week, I get notified of changes to those ‘watched’ individuals.

This morning’s notification list included Eliza Honor Van Valkenburg, the second wife of my ancestor, Albert J Hutchinson. That’s when I discovered that there are TWO of them in the Family Search tree.

Since I haven’t found birth or death information for her, I have no idea which  Honor Van Valkenburg is the correct one. However, I do believe that these are the same women and that they are the same person I have in my database as Eliza Honor Van Valkenberg.

Unfortunately, Eliza (or Honor Eliza) may have been married multiple times. Thus, it becomes difficult to locate information for her since her name changes constantly.

Eliza Phay applied for a pension for her minor son, Elmer E. Hutchinson, based on the service of Albert Hutchinson. This file contains information that helps in identifying some of these marriages. In an affidavit by Eliza Phay dated July, 17, 1913, Eliza Phay states she was married to Henry Nouland prior to her marriage to Albert Hutchinson.

Honor L Vanvolkenberg was married to Henry H Nolen on 25 March 1885 in Doniphan County, Kansas.

In 1893, Miss Eliza Valkenburgh married Albert Hutchinson. The marriage took place August 8, 1893 in Buchanan County, Missouri.

The 1895 Kansas census for Doniphan County shows the family of Albert Hutchinson. Listed in the household are Eliza Hutchison, Howard Noland and Peter Noland.

In 1898, Mrs. Honor E Hutchens married Samuel King in Buchanan County, Missouri.

On 7 August 1900, Mrs. Eliza Nolan was married to John McColgin.

On 23 May 1906, Mrs Eliza McColgin married Osceola Phay.

In 1910, Eliza Phay was listed in the household of Osceola Phay on the census for Buchanan County, Missouri. Also listed in the household was 13 year old Elmer Hutchinson along with Howard Nolan and Peter Nolan.

The family of Osceola Phay and Eliza, his wife is found on the 1920 census living in St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri. Also listed in the household was a son, —– Elmer. 

In the fall of 1923, Oceola Phay petitioned for divorce from his wife,  Eliza. According to the 6 Oct 1923 issue of the St. Joseph Gazette (St. Joseph, Missouri), the divorce was granted by Judge Utz.

The divorce of Oceola and Eliza would explain why records for Eliza are difficult to find after 1923. Since no one has shared a source for her death, it is difficult to determine when she died and thus difficult to determine which Eliza Van Valkenberg is the correct one.

Honoring Fallen – Sgt. Ralph Wayne Griffith

Sgt. Ralph Wayne Griffith
Born: 7 June 1920
Sergeant in the 12th Cavalry during World War II

Ralph Wayne Griffith filled out his “Registrtion Card” in Wallace County, Kansas. He signed the card, Wayne Griffith.

Ralph W. Griffith was killed during the Battle of Leyte (Pacific Theater) on Dec. 21, 1944. He is listed as ‘KIA’ on the list of casualties for Phillips County, Kansas in the records of the National Archives.

The Manhattan Mercury newspaper of Manhattan, Kansas published casualty lists on a regular basis during the war. Notice of Sgt. Ralph W. Griffith’s death appeared in the March 7, 1945 edition of the paper.

For the military history of the battle, see the Leyte article prepared in the U.S. Army Center of Military History by Charles R. Anderson.