Another Randy Seaver/Genea-musings exercise! “Thinking about your direct ancestors back through 2nd great-grandparents – in other words, ancestors #2 to #31 on your pedigree chart – how many children did they have? How many lived long enough to marry? How many died before age 10?” So here’s mine:
#2-3: R. Wells and M. Wilson – 3 sons, 1 daughter (3 married), 0 died before age 10
#4-5: Edward Lee Wells (1905-1955) and Velma Irene Belknap (1913-1999) – 4 sons, 4 daughters (7 married), 0 died before age 10
#6-7: Charles Thompson Wilson (1907-1989) and Helen Dorothy Oakes (1912-1988) – 1 son, 2 daughters (3 married), 0 died before age 10
#8-9: Robert Luke Wells (1881-1919) and Nannie Jane Clark (1880-1969) – 4 sons, 1 daughter (5 married), 0 died before age 10
#10-11: Earl E. Belknap (1895-1960) and Florence E. Bost (1896-1961) – 9 daughters, 1 son (9 married), 0 died before age 10
#12-13: John A. Wilson (1874-1930) and Mary A. Thompson (1872-1940) – 7 sons, 3 daughters (7 married), 1 died before age 10
#14-15: William Oakes (1888-1928) and Mae D. Moore (1892-1971) – 1 daughter (1 married), 0 died before age 10
#16-17: James H. Wells (1840-1904) and Mary Ann Clark (1839-1894) – 5 daughters, 4 sons (8 married?), 0 died before age 10
#18-19: Willis Clark (1834-?) and Sarah E. Wells (1838-1923) – 4 sons, 3 daughters
#20-21: Arthur F. Belknap (1869-1955) and Martha Gisel (1869-1925) – 1 daughter, 4 sons (5 married), 0 died before age 10
#22-23: William S. Bost (1859-1932) and Mary E. McCracken (1862-1911) – 4 daughters, 3 sons (5 married), 2 died before age 10
#24-25: John Alford Wilson/Rustad (1833-1889) and Mary Ann Gibson (1837-1923) – 5 daughters, 3 sons (4 married?), 3 died before age 10
#26-27: Archibald Thompson (1838-1931) and Elizabeth Dunning (1837-1912) – 9 sons, 2 daughters (6 married?), 3 died before age 10
#28-29: Henry Ochs/Oakes (1846-1922) and Minnie Schroder (1857-1936) – 2 sons, 2 daughters (4 married), 0 died before age 10
#30-31: Fred L. Moore (1863-1924) and Mina Adell Bolt (1865-1942) – 3 daughters, 2 sons (3 married), 2 died before age 10
The following exercise was borrowed from a post from last year on Randy Seaver’s blog. Working on this exercise, I actually learned a few things about the 1940 census! I learned the circled x’s next to names mean that person is the one that answered the census-taker’s questions. Also, I noticed a column I had never paid attention to before – Number of hours worked during week of March 24-30, 1940.
1) Determine where your ancestral families were on 1 April 1940 – 80 years ago when the U.S. census was taken. 2) List them, their family members, their birth years, and their residence location (as close as possible). Do you have a photograph of their residence from about that time, and does the residence still exist?
* On April 2, 1940,my father, Robert Wells (born 1939) resided at 17117 O’Connor Street in Allen Park, Michigan with his father, Edward Wells (born 1905), his mother Velma (nee Belknap, born 1913), and his three older sisters, Patricia (born 1934), Ruthann (born 1936), and Donna (born 1938). Edward was a stock chaser at an axle company. His salary was $1600 annually. He had worked 50 weeks in 1939 and 40 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940. Velma answered the census questions. They owned the home, and it was valued at $1200. Here is a photo of that house today:
* On April 8, 1940, my grandparents, Charles Wilson (born 1907) and Helen (nee Oakes, born 1912) resided at 2431 Bennett Street in Dearborn, Michigan, with their daughter Sally Ann (born 1934) and son Charles (born 1935). My mother, Mary, had not been born yet. In the census, Charles was listed as a truck driver at a creamery company, and his income was $2000 annually. He had worked 50 weeks in 1939 and 48 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940. Helen was the one who answered the census questions. They owned their home, and it was valued at $4600. Here is the house in the 1950s:
* On April 13, 1940, my great-grandmother, Mae Oakes Smiechowski Johnson (nee Moore, born 1892) and her 3rd husband Alfred Johnson (born 1892) resided at 14810 Parkgrove, Detroit, Michigan, with Mae’s nephew, Harry Moore (born 1914). Mae was my grandmother Helen’s mother. Alfred and Mae owned the house (valued at $6000) and rented the upper flat out for $35 a month. Alfred was listed as an inspector of automobile parts, and his income was $2100 annually. He had worked 48 weeks in 1939 and 40 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940. Alfred was the one who answered the census questions. Here is the house in 2007. It has since been torn down.
* On April 19, 1940, my great-great grandmother, Mina Moore Thompson (nee Bolt, born 1865) and her 2nd husband Bert Thompson (born 1879) resided at 23439 Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, Michigan. Mina, Mae’s mother, was the one that answered the census questions. Bert was a carpenter in building construction and worked 26 weeks in 1939. During the week of March 24-30, 1940, he worked 24 hours. His annual income was $800. They rented the house for $10/month. The house would have been located on the south side of Michigan Ave. near the corner of Outer Drive. It was torn down before 1956, when an office building was built there.
* On April 16, 1940, my great-grandmother, Nannie Wells (nee Clark, born 1880) resided at 1087 Victoria Avenue in Lincoln Park, Michigan with her son Jesse. She rented the house for $30/month. Also living with her were two lodgers from Indiana named Fred and Boaz Duncan. Nannie was the mother of my grandfather Edward Wells. The house no longer stands but was located near Fort Street and Outer Drive.
* On April 3, 1940, my great-grandparents, Earl Belknap (born 1895) and Florence (nee Bost, born 1896) resided at 1611 Electric Avenue in Lincoln Park, Michigan with their children Helen (born 1921), Arthur (born 1923), Betty (born 1927), Joyce (born 1931), Nancy (born 1934), Nadine (born 1936) and Shirley (born 1939). Earl and Florence were the parents of my grandmother Velma. I don’t have a picture, but it was located near Fort Street and Southfield Road. They rented for $20/month. Earl was a carpenter, earning $750 in income annually. He had worked 36 weeks in 1939.
* On April 19, 1940, my great-great grandfather, Arthur Belknap (born 1869) was the father of Earl Belknap and resided at 35120 University in Nankin Township, Michigan (now in Westland, Michigan). He was living with his daughter Belva (born 1899) and her husband Alva Merillat and their children Bernetta (born 1928) and Ralph (born 1939). They rented the house for $20 a month. Here is a photo of the house from 2007:
For Week 40 of #52Ancestors, the theme is “Harvest.” I decided to look and see how many of my great-great grandfathers (you have 8) were listed in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census/1881 Canadian Census with an occupation of “Farmer.” Here we go:
James Wells – Farmer, aged 40, Horsepasture District, Henry Co., Virginia
Willis Clark – Dead
Arthur Belknap – aged 11 – his dad was a laborer in Dover, Fulton Co., Ohio
William Bost – Farm Laborer, aged 20, Marion Twp., Henry Co., Ohio
John Wilson – Farmer, aged 48, Howe Island, Frontenac, Ontario, Canada
The theme this week is Mistakes. My great-great grandmother Mary (Clark) Wells was listed in the 1900 census in Horsepasture, Virginia even though she died in 1894. Now this is either a spooky mistake or my great-great grandfather’s wishful thinking. He was in the middle of a strange second marriage to a much younger woman who was also his son-in-law’s sister, and his new wife and their newborn daughter were living with her parents.
Mary Ann Clark was born December 20, 1839 to William Clark and Ann Martin in Henry County, Virginia. She was 10 years old in the 1850 census, living with her family, and attending school. In the 1860 census, she was 20 years old and living with her parents, younger siblings, and her grandmother. On September 2, 1864, she married James H. Wells in Henry County. By the 1870 census, they were living in Horsepasture Township and had 3 children – Susan, Mary, and William. James’ sister Eliza was also living with them with her 2 young children. In 1880, James and Mary were living in the same township, with 4 more children – James, Sarah, Lucy, and Martha. In 1881, they had my great-grandfather, Robert Luke Wells. Mary Ann died on December 29, 1894 of fever (according to the Death Register of Henry County, Virginia, Volume 11, 1875-1896, p. 162-163).
Now is where things get a little strange. James and Mary’s daughter Martha married J. W. Koger on July 21, 1897. James re-married on February 22, 1898 – to J. W.’s sister Sallie. James was 57 and Sallie was 32. According to (spoiler alert!) divorce depositions, Sallie left James in July/August 1899. She gave birth to their daughter Maggie on February 13, 1900. On June 4, 1900, Sallie and Maggie were living with Sallie’s parents and her brother. Sallie was listed under her maiden name, Koger, while Maggie had the surname Wells. Meanwhile, on June 26, 1900, James and his (dead) wife Mary are listed with their sons Robert and Edward, and their daughter Martha, her husband, and her daughter.
On April 16, 1901, James filed for divorce from Sallie on the grounds of desertion. The divorce was granted in June 1903. James Wells died March 6, 1904. Sallie lived until 1947 and their daughter Maggie lived until 1985.
The Bassett Historical Center in Bassett, Virginia was incredibly helpful in researching James and Mary Wells, sending me copies of vital records and divorce papers.
One discovery I made on my visit about 15 years ago to the Allen County (Ind.) Public Library was the book “Follow the periwinkle: cemetery records of Henry County, Virginia” from the Henry County Historical Society. Robert Luke Wells, my great-grandfather, died in 1919 of typhoid fever. From “Follow the periwinkle” I discovered he was buried in Pleasant Grove Christian Church Cemetery. From there I was able to find his tombstone (although his dates of birth and death are slightly wrong).
For the “On the Farm” theme, I want to talk about a farmer in my family tree and the area in which he lived and farmed. James Henry Wells, my great-great grandfather, was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia on August 4, 1840. He married Mary Ann Clark on September 2, 1864 in Henry County, Virginia. By the 1870 Federal Census, they were living in Horsepasture, Henry County, Virginia and had 3 children. James’ sister Eliza, a widow, was also living with them with her 2 children. He was a farmer who could not read or write. In 1880, they were living in Horsepasture with 7 children and James was listed as a farmer again.
Horsepasture had no recorded name until a group of Northerners traveling South passed through this part of the county riding thin mares, undernourished and overworked. The men of this group struck bargains with the people living in the area, trading their rides for new Virginia stock – two mares for a stallion, a mare and a colt for another mare, etc.
The Yankees rode southward that Spring, but during the Fall of that same year they returned North to their homes, traveling through this very same area. The horses that they had traded were now grazing on the high quality grass of this very fertile area. The Yankees continued home, shaking their heads in disbelief as they remarked that this little area was about the best ‘horse pasture’ they had ever known. The name stuck and the local Horsepasture Christian Church was founded in 1832. There was a post office at Horsepasture from 1833 to 1906.
James’ wife Mary Ann died of a fever in 1894 and James re-married in 1898 to Sallie Lou Koger. A little over a year later, Sallie moved back to her parents and gave birth to a daughter, Maggie. Oddly, in the 1900 census, James lists his deceased wife Mary Ann as living. Sallie was living with her parents and her daughter. James farmed with two of his sons, Robert (my great-grandfather) and Edward, as his farm laborers. In 1901, James filed for divorce on the grounds of Sallie’s desertion and it was finalized in June 1903. James died March 6, 1904 and was buried in Mount Hermon Church of the Brethren Cemetery in Bassett, Henry County.