Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A Trip to Decatur City Cemetery

Ruth Foster          John
        1808   1895          1808  1884   

Decatur City Cemetery, in Decatur City, Iowa was the first cemetery that I visited along Highway 2 going across Iowa to Illinois in July, 2014. It was early afternoon when we got there and getting pretty hot out. There was no on-site directory and it took some time to find the grave of John and Ruth Foster Negley, parents of Josiah Foster Negley. 

Four of their seven children were living at the time of their deaths, David, John Calvin and Susannah lived near them in Iowa and Josiah was in Nebraska. It would have been a 250 mile trip for Josiah to get to their funerals, I don't know if he was able to go for either of them. Both John and Ruth died in the month of December, when the weather can sometimes make travel difficult. 

John and Ruth lost two boys when they were very young and a daughter died in her 20's. David and John Calvin, as well as many grandchildren and other relatives also lie in the Decatur City Cemetery. The other five children are resting in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Nebraska and other parts of Iowa. 

Pennsylvania is a long way from where I am, but I would like to get there someday. If I do, I will visit the graves of both John and Ruth's parents. Jacob and Phebe Negley are buried in St Paul's UCC Church Cemetery in Huntingdon County. Ruth's parents, Richard and Charity Foster lie in the Duvalls Cemetery in Bedford County.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Negley's in Harvard Cemetery

Going back to my series about the grave's I've been to, I'll pick up with the Negley family line. The parents of my Great Grandma Sadie Negley McGrath are Josiah and Sarah M. Negley.   

The Negley family plot is in the northeast corner of the Harvard Cemetery, about 45 miles from my home. I've been there a few times. It's a good sized cemetery that is kept up well and has a nice electronic directory on-site that is a great help for finding graves.

The first loss for the Negley family was son Newton who died of tetanus in 1887 when he was 13. Josiah & Sarah's daughter Sadie and son Bill rest in the Aurora Cemetery, son George Oscar Negley is buried in the Stockham cemetery, and the other three are beside their parents in Harvard. All of these graves are within 30 miles of each other.

The elements have been very hard on these. Three of them are nearly illegible, especially in bright sunlight. Josiah lies on the far right and the others are in the order below, going to the left.

Josiah F.

Sarah M. 

Alice M. 

Josia D C Negley
PVT 7 Trench Mortar BN
World War I
Sept 12, 1881   Dec. 3, 1967


1907 - 1908

Josiah & Sarah's granddaughter, Mary, is buried to the left of Josia D C or "Cal". She is the infant daughter of George Oscar and Lena Negley. Also buried in a different section in the Harvard cemetery are Sarah's brother, George Washington Lee and members of his family. 

The parents of Josiah and Sarah are resting in cemeteries in Iowa and Illinois. I've been fortunate to be able to travel to both locations.   

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Negley Properties in Eldorado, Nebraska

Josiah and Sarah Negley moved from Decatur County, Iowa sometime between 1883 and 1887 to Clay County, Nebraska. They were in their late 30's and had five children.1
I don't know if they owned property in Iowa (I haven't had the opportunity to look), but I've found a few deeds for property they owned in Eldorado, a town that no longer exists. This map of Eldon (the original name of Eldorado) was in a book at the Clay County courthouse. I think that "State Street" is Highway 14 so if that's correct, about all that is left of Eldorado today is a few houses that stand in the area of Block Three between Maple and Center streets. The railroad tracks were torn out years ago, but I remember them crossing the highway. Eldorado sat between Harvard and Stockham on the line. I've seen a note in the social column of an old the Harvard Courier that said Sarah Negley took the train to Stockham which is a distance of about 5 miles.

Click to enlarge
The first deed I found was in Sarah's name. This wasn't the first time I have found deeds in my female ancestors' name, so I'm no longer surprised but still curious if there was a reason for a married woman being named and not her husband. On December 1, 1897, she paid $75.00 for Lot 1 in Block 3, the top right corner of the left hand block between Maple and Center streets. The deed states the Lot "having been contracted to be sold to William J. Stockham by said Pioneer Town Site Company... and said contract being subsequently assigned to said Sarah M. Negley". 

In November, 1904 Josiah contracted to purchase from Pioneer Town Site Company Lot 2 in Block 3, the property just south of the Lot Sarah bought in 1897. On December 18, 1907 for $50 the property was conveyed to Josiah F. Negley.

On September 29, 1908, Calvin Negley, youngest son of Josiah & Sarah had just turned 21 years old. He paid Art & Daisy Cranstone $750 for Lots 1, 2, 3 & 4 in Block 4. That's the small corner piece of land to the east (right) of Railroad Street. His father witnessed the deed along with Ezra Ayer, a neighbor and family friend. 

On January 12, 1909, Josiah received the deed for land he contracted  in July, 1906. Out Lots E and F, which as stated in the description "Said premises being formerly known as Lots one (1) and two (2) in Block numbered (2)..." .

1909, at age 63, Josiah is still buying property. For $100 he bought Lots 3 and 4 in Block 3 "having been contracted to Milton A. Fairchild by Pioneer Town Site Company...". The name Milton A. Fairchild was familiar to me from a photograph I had found with the Negley family's possessions in the Old Trunk in the Attic. 

At this point, Josiah and Sarah owned Lots 1 through 4 in Block 3 and Outlots E and F, or Lots 1 and 2 in Block 2. Son Calvin owned four Lots in Block 4. In 1912, Josiah became the Justice of the Peace in Eldorado. His sons Calvin and Bill ran general mercantile stores in Eldorado and Harvard at times, but I haven't been able to find more information on when exactly. I would guess they had a store on the property that Calvin owned, but I'm not sure. 

On April 10, 1913 Calvin sold his four Lots in Block 4 to George W. Dill for $350. That was quite a loss for him after paying $750 for it five years before.  A year later a fire destroyed the towns grain elevator and lumber yard which would have been devastating to the town.  

Josiah Negley suffered a stroke about 1915 and was paralyzed until his death in April, 1922. Just three weeks before his death, he and Sarah sold to Adam G. Ross and Peter Hein "Out Lot F" for $200. The description matches exactly with the earlier deed calling it "Outlot E and F", for which they paid $100. 

Three days after Josiah's death, his children gifted their interest in Lots 2, 3 and 4 in Block 3 to their mother for $1.00 and love and affection. Spouses Lena Negley and Art McGrath relinquished all their marital rights and interests. 

The final two deeds I found that day were between Sarah and two of her children, dated March 28, 1923. She conveyed Lot 1 in Block 3 to Calvin and her unmarried daughter Alice got Lots Two, Three and Four in Block Three. Both for $1.00, love and affection, to have and to hold "from after my death". Sarah died on October 11, 1927.

1 Clarification: Josiah and Sarah had six children: George Oscar, Newton, Alice, Sadie, William and Calvin. Newton died in August, 1887 and the next month Calvin was born.


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Another Three-Name Stone

           JONATHAN A                      RACHEL                     JONATHAN
      SON OF S & M K SMITH           APR 9, 1800            JUNE 22, 1798
OCT  19, 1872 - DEC 25, 1875      OCT 9, 1866            FEB 27, 1867

My previous post also featured a stone with 3 names on it. Again, I think this stone was probably placed years after any of the deaths. Jonathan A. Smith was the grandson of Jonathan and Rachel, his father was their youngest son Samuel. Another son of Jonathan and Rachel is buried in Mt Moriah - Andrew, along with his third wife, Eliza. Jonathan and Rachel are my Fourth Great Grandparents.

Mount Moriah Cemetery is over 300 miles from me in Davis County, Iowa. I was at this cemetery in July of 2014, when on our way to Illinois we travelled across Iowa on Highway 2 and stopped at four different cemeteries. After spending the night in Bloomfield, we were here at Mount Moriah in the morning. Steam was rising from the nearby fields with the humidity. There aren't many stones here, it was easy to find Jonathan & Rachel's. 

They were married for about 51 years, and just four months after Rachel's death Jonathan died. He was born in New Hampshire, lived in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and finally in Iowa. He and Rachel Simmons married in Mercer County, Pennsylvania and had ten children together. At least three of their children passed away before them, including their daughter Ruth, my Third Great Grandmother. Those children's final resting places are scattered throughout Pennsylvania, Virginia, Illinois, Nebraska, and Oregon.

Jonathan's parents, Jonathan and Dorothy (Wadleigh) Smith, are buried in Raymond, New Hampshire. I don't know the burial location of Rachel's parents Elijah and Ruth (Russell) Simmons. It is likely somewhere in Pennsylvania.

Mount Moriah Cemetery, Davis County, Iowa

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Grace Cemetery Near Cozad

MAR. 1845  -  JUNE 1896
JUNE 1821  -  APR. 1912
JULY 29, 1909

This stone definitely appears to have been placed much later than their deaths. My guess would be some time in the 1950's.  This is the only time I've seen Rachel's name spelled with the "ae". 

Linden Shroy is their Great Grandson, his mother was Rebecca Patterson, daughter of Arminda McGrath, who was John and Rachel's second child. Rachel's obituary says she lost two children who never appear in any census records and would be buried somewhere in Illinois. I have not been able to find any record of them. The other three children of John & Rachel are buried in three different cemeteries, Rebecca Smith in the Stockham Cemetery, Arminda Patterson in the Cozad Cemetery and Art McGrath in the Aurora Cemetery.  

Grace Cemetery is about 100 miles west of me. I learned that they were buried there from notes my Grand Uncle Virg McGrath had written. My first trip there was several years ago and I've been back a couple of times. It's a small, peaceful old country cemetery 8 miles east of Cozad. The church associated with it burned down years ago if I remember correctly, and the records cannot be found. Few burials take place there now. The natural grass is not mowed often and there aren't many trees. Their grave is to the west side of the cemetery just north of center. As far as I know, there are no section or lot numbers.

The cemetery is in Coyote precinct where according to tax assessment records John & Rachel were living when Rachel died. They had a Homestead several miles north in Custer County at that same time, but may not have been living on it. 

John McGrath came from Dublin, Ireland, but I believe the date of 1821 is about 10 years too early for his birth. He died April 14, 1912. His parents were Arthur and "R.", which I would bet stands for Rebecca - the same as their oldest daughter.  I've never been able to find an obituary for John. To my knowledge his parents never came to the US and would be buried somewhere in Ireland.

Rachel Jane was 8 years old in 1850, and her obituary states her birthday was November 24, 1841, not March of 1845. I've been looking for a marriage record for her and John for over 25 years and if I ever find one, I wonder if it will show that they were married in March. Maybe someone who ordered this stone couldn't clearly remember and had the two events confused. 

Rachel's father, Lebius Simmons, died when she was about 12 years old. I've never been able to find exactly when or how he died or where he is buried. Her mother Ruth died in 1863 in Fulton County, Illinois. She had remarried and her name was Ruth Webb, but I haven't been able to find where she is buried either. I do know, however, where Ruth's parents are buried and I've been to their grave.  

Sunday, January 20, 2019

My Search for a Photo of Belle

I spent a lot of time last year searching for a photograph I thought would be easy to find. Spoiler alert - I was not successful. The more attempts I make to find a photo and fail, the more challenged I am to find one.

My Great Grandmother, Lena (Jorgenson) Roscoe had a sister who was very musically inclined and a performer on a small scale. “Belle”, was born Merlin Isabelle Jorgenson in 1871 in Will County, Illinois. Using details mentioned in her obituary I've searched the country for her photo.

She attended Valparaiso University (at that time the Northern Indiana Normal School) about 1892, but I was told they didn't have yearbooks until 1911. I emailed the college and they were able to confirm she was listed in the 1893 catalog as a student in the Music Department. She taught school in her home town of Peotone and was "greatly beloved for many years." 1 City Directories for 1895 & 1902 show her living in Joliet a short distance from Peotone. By 1900, she moved to Chicago and I'm not sure if she was still teaching in Peotone then. In 1904 she moved to Rock Springs, Wyoming where "she became director of music and public speaking of the city schools. She also taught in Menominee, Michigan". 2 I haven't been able to locate any yearbooks for those schools at that time, but I have found her name in the newspapers in Rock Springs, Wyoming from 1904 through 1906.

Newspaper clippings in social columns from Peotone in 1907 state she is in Chicago, studying music at the Columbia College of Music.  In 1910, her occupation was Musician, "on the road". I think this is when, according to her obituary, she was travelling with a Chautauqua around the midwest. More about the Chautauqua in a minute. 

Her obituary states she was married in 1915, but it was actually in 1911. I've found this announcement of her engagement in the Chicago Daily Tribune, Aug. 4, 1911 3 which was shared in her hometown paper. Last year at the Abraham Lincoln Library in Springfield I searched the Chicago Daily Tribune, but found nothing about the wedding. The papers were too faded to see very well. Her obituary states that they were married by B. Fay Mills, more about him in a minute. By November 3, 1911 the Peotone Vedette had a mention that Mrs McKee "recently became the bride of Earl McKee". 4  They were expected "to make their home in Fort Worth, Texas." It appears they didn't live in Texas for long.

In "Music News", a trade publication out of Chicago 5 this paragraph about the Del Mar Ladies' Quartet was in a column of news from Los Angeles in July, 1913. By November of that same year, the name of the group was changed to the "Los Angeles Ladies Quartet" and there are two different members, Hulda Besch and and Mrs Laura Johnson Sondea in place of Miss Ethel Verda Ellmore and Miss Ruby Dale. 6  I found out that Miss Ellmore was killed in a car accident in early November. The name "Del Mar" Ladies Quartet lead me down a long path of the wrong group of women who sang with the travelling Chautauqua during the years 1917-1920. I found several advertisements in newspapers, some WITH a photo but the women weren't named individually. I contacted the New York Chautauqua Institution who sent me to the University of Iowa's Redpath Chautauqua Collection. They have info on the travelling Chautauquas and I found the same photo from the ads of the Del Mar Ladies Quartet with the names of those women. None of them were the same women named in the Music News notices. I'm still wondering if there is some connection between the Los Angeles group named Del Mar Ladies Quartet and the Chautauqua group.

The California Digital Newspapers online have the Los Angeles Herald where I found several mentions of the Los Angeles Ladies Quartet (with various spellings). From 1913 to 1917 they held performances in LA, often associated with the Fellowship of Los Angeles. The Fellowship was located in Blanchard Hall and just by chance I found that Mr B. Fay Mills was "permanent minister" there in 1906. B Fay Mills was the minister who married Belle and Earl in 1911 in Illinois (or at least I think it was Illinois, but I haven't found a marriage record).  B Fay Mills was a nationally known revivalist, social reformer and advocate of free religion. The connection between Belle and B Fay Mills seems like a strong one. An interesting thing to note is that in California Voter Registrations, Belle is usually registered as a Socialist. Her sister, Bertha, was married to Jacob O. Bentall who ran for Governor of Minnesota in 1916 as a Socialist, but was arrested and spent some time in Leavenworth, Kansas for violating the espionage act. But I digress.

The last time the Los Angeles Ladies Quartet appear in the newspapers was 1917, and according to her obituary it was 1918 when her husband suffered from an illness which left him an invalid. I wonder if it was polio, but have not found any more information on that. He was a court reporter for the Superior Court of Los Angeles for several years.

So with nothing more from the online newspapers, my search turned to LA City Directories. Belle is listed as a teacher/music teacher from 1922 to 1934. This was where I found her listed with the Los Angeles Coaching School. The LA Public Library was not able to find any information on the teachers of the school and didn't have any yearbooks. I also tried the Music Department of the UCLA library with no luck. 

Los Angeles Coaching School was not an ordinary high school. It was a private tutoring school where Intensive preparation was given in small groups or individually. Some of the more famous students of the school were Will Rogers Jr and the sons of Edgar Rice Burroughs, both mentioned in Belle's obituary.

One more interesting item I found through a search on Google Books was quite a surprise. She obtained copyright on a "scenerio" called "You Supply the Girl", in 1935. 7 I'm not sure if this is a song or a play or exactly what. I'd like to get a copy of that, but if I understand the government copyright website correctly, it would cost $200. I wish that didn't matter, but it does.

The informant on Belle's death certificate was her nephew, Carleton Bentall. From what I've seen, Carleton had one daughter Carol Ann who married Alan Steidley. This is something I need to pursue. I've contacted local libraries, posted requests in facebook groups, I occasionally check Dead Fred and other old photo sites.  Someday I hope to find a photograph of Merlin Belle McKee. One of her as a member of the Los Angeles Ladies Quartet would be great. ANY photo would be wonderful to have. I'm still working on it.

1 Peotone (Illinois) Vedette, Thursday, August 13, 1942, pg 1
2 Ibid.
3 Chicago Daily Tribune, August 4, 1911, pg 6
4 Peotone (Illinois) Vedette, November 3, 1911
5 "Music News", by Watt, Charles E., Vol 5, No. 27, Chicago, July 4, 1913, pg 5, digital images, Internet Archive
6 "Music News", by Watt, Charles E., Vol 5, No. 48, Chicago, November 28, 1913, pg 30, digital images, Internet Archive
7 "Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 1. {B} Group 2. Pamphlets, Etc." New Series, Vol 32, No. 9 1935, digital image, Library of Congress, Copyright Office

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Family Plot in the Aurora Cemetery

ARTHUR L.                    SADIE E.
1876  -  1965             1880  -  1958

As I said in my last post, my Grandma's parents, Art & Sadie McGrath are buried near her in Section 10A on the south side of the Aurora Cemetery. The grave on the right in the background of the above photo is Sadie's brother, William D. Negley, to his left is Grandma's brother Virg. All four children of Art & Sadie, Virgil, Alice, Orville and Violet, survived their parents and are buried in the same cemetery. I've been putting flowers on most of these graves before Memorial Day now for a few years. 

APRIL 20, 1914 - OCT. 9, 1969

SEP 29, 1909 - JUL 5 1982

ALICE                             GORDON R
DEC 1, 1911                     JUNE 2, 1905
OCT. 18, 1993                   NOV. 20, 2001

OCT 9, 1883
DEC 10, 1961

Sadie died before I was born. She had a stroke and died at her home in Aurora. She was the first in the family to be buried in this cemetery, and the first of many whose funeral services were held in the Higby Mortuary Chapel. Two brothers had predeceased her, her two remaining brothers and her sister were at her funeral. Out of town relatives came from Denver, North Platte and Cozad. Sadie's parents are in the Harvard Cemetery. 

When Art died I was only four and I don't remember him but I have a couple of pictures of my brother and I with him. He died in the Aurora Hospital after an "extended illness." The music at the funeral services of both Art & Sadie were provided by the same two women, Mrs. Lawrence Penner, soloist, accompanied by Mrs. Glenn Haworth. Pallbearers were nephews, neighbors and family friends. Art's parents are buried in the Grace Cemetery near Cozad, Nebraska.  

Had Sadie lived just another 10 days, they would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. I don't know if any plans had been for a party.