Thursday, July 2, 2015

Chapter 12: Another Deaf Child

At this point, it's tempting to go back to Hendricks County, Indiana, and poke into the lives of James C. Fawkner's siblings. That will be fun when the time comes, but those stories will be richer if  we first take up the lives of James' children. Over the next few weeks, we'll spend some time with Fred, Cyrus, Julia, James Henry, and Elizabeth Ann. There will be a dose of tragedy as well as celebration of achievement.

We've already heard the story of how Ida, the first child born in Iowa from James' second marriage, lost her hearing on trip to her Aunt Sears home in the winter of 1857-58. Ida was educated in the Indiana School  for the Deaf and Dumb in Indianapolis (see Chapter 6).  Documents in James' Civil War pension file revealed that James also had a deaf and dumb child from his third marriage to Julie Ann Angell (see Chapter 11). Fred had an exceptional life, so we will start the story of James' children with him.

Fred was born 14 November 1880 -- after the 1880 census was taken. The Civil War pension file tells part of the story. In an affidavit given in 1891, eleven years later, the attending midwife stated that Fred was born on the 15th (does a day difference really matter?). The pension file also includes an April 1895 affidavit from the Superintendent of the Illinois Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb stating the Fred had been in attendance several years. Lest there be any doubt, the 1900 U.S. Census enumerated Fred as a student at the Institution in Jacksonville, Illinois.

In April 1895, the Douglas County court named George Kelink guardian of "Freddie P. Fawkner." He needed a guardian because he was under 21 when his mother died in 1894. Because he was a minor, a probate case file was opened for Fred. Found in that file, a form entitled "Statistics of Applicant for Admission to Illinois Institution for the Education of Deaf and Dumb" dated 1888 opened up entirely new avenues for research. The form was incorrectly filled out, naming the deaf mute applicant as James C. Fawkner; it was rather an application for his son, Fred. It stated that the deaf mute's father was James C. Fawkner, and that he was born at Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. This is the only source naming a specific place in Kentucky for James' birth.

The form also asked for the names and age of the applicant's brothers and sisters. It named Cyrus Fawkner [no age stated], Henry Fawkner, 10, Grant Fawkner, 24, Julia Fawkner, 20, and Elizabeth A. Fawkner, 17. (This, of course, is the Elizabeth Ann whose funeral memorial kicked off the Fawkner research trail back in Chapter 1). This listing again suggests that the twins, Hattie and Attie, listed in the 1880 census, had died.

Now, for the surprise. The form asked whether the deaf mute (Fred) had any deaf relatives.  Yes, he did: "one brother & one half Sister."  The half-sister was Ida. Another document in the probate file revealed that the brother was Cyrus. On 15 September 1884, the Superintendent of the Illinois Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb affirmed to Douglas County Court judge that Cyrus G. Fawkner was a "proper subject" for care at the institution.

So, James C. Fawkner had three deaf children: Ida, Cyrus, and Fred. Ida lost her hearing due to illness (possibly meningitis) at a young age.  The causes and degree of Cyrus' and Fred's deafness might be revealed in admission files if they survive.

More of Fred's story will come next week, followed by a tragic story from Cyrus' life that will also involves his sister, Julia. So important to the Fawkner family history, Ida will have to wait.

LESSONS: Leap for joy if your ancestor applied for a military pension. If deaths of parents left any minor children, follow the guardianship trail. Get the probate files. You may find family information in these records that you will find nowhere else.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Chapter 11: Was Never Married to Another

In her short family history, Ida K. Fawkner, identified her father's three brothers and sisters: John E., Cyrus W., George S., and Elizabeth A. K. Fawkner. The three brother were living with their mother in Hendricks County, Indiana, in 1850.  Elizabeth was not with them because she had married Eli Morgason 5 April 1849.

The Morgason's lived near the Fawkner-Sears family in Marion Township in 1850 and 1860, but by 1870 they (indexed "Morgison") lived in Bowdre Township of Douglas County, Illinois (where James C. Fawkner's family lived in the 1880s). In just over 20 years of marriage, Eli and Elizabeth had at least 10 children.

Little is known of Eli and Elizabeth after 1880, but Elizabeth was still living in 1892 when she made a statement in support of Julia Fawkner's application for a widow's pension. Identifying herself as a sister of James C. Fawkner, she stated that "the first wife of said Fawkner died on or about the 20th of March 1855 that her means of knowing is that she was present and attended the funeral she further declares that said Fawkner never was married to another except the claimant and surviving widow."

If you've been following the store in earlier posts, you might recognize two problems.  First, Elizabeth said that James' first wife died about March 1855. We know that it was probably March 1854 because James married Elizabeth Stephens in September 1854. In fact, a transcription of gravestones (no longer visible above ground) in the tiny Sears cemetery states James' first wife died in March 1854. It is not surprising that, recalling the event nearly 40 years later, Elizabeth Morgason's memory was off by a year.

More problematic is the statement that James "never was married to another."  Well, or course he was. He married Elizabeth Turner, took her to Iowa, and abandoned her and two daughters. Even though the Fawkner-Stephens marriage ended before James' enlistment in the Civil War, it was obviously thought best not to bring it up in Julia's pension application.

If she could be cross-examined today, Elizabeth Morgason might say she didn't know about the Fawkner-Stephens marriage.  She must have. The Morgason's were living in the same township as the Fawkners when James remarried in 1854 -- only three months after the funeral that Elizabeth Morgason attended. After the 1860 Iowa divorce, James returned to Hendricks County, where Eli and Elizabeth were still living in 1860, to enlist in the Indiana 7th Regiment. Surely, James visited his sister while he was home. Surely, Elizabeth knew something of her brother's life between 1854 and 1861.

Then, there was Ida, one of the children abandoned in Iowa. In her family history, she told of the Fawkner-Stephens marriage, and daughters Ida and Josephine, but made absolutely no mention of her father's family with Julia Angell. Again, she almost certainly knew.

This is the tip of an iceberg. It will take a while for the story to completely unfold, but children from James' second and third marriages will cross again several chapters from now.  In the meantime, to set the scene, the next few chapters will follow the children of James C. Fawkner and Julia Ann Angell.

LESSON: Every piece of information in historical documents depends on facts conveyed by an informant. Some know the facts. Some don't remember the facts clearly. Some have reasons to change the story or leave out important information. Always think about who the informant was and whether she or he had good reason to know the facts, remember them clearly, and relate them honestly.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Chapter 10: The Rest of James' Story

James C. Fawkner left his second wife, Elizabeth, behind in Iowa, where she remarried to Oliver Dresser. As the story unfolds, it seems unlikely he never saw Elizabeth again.

James' whereabouts in 1860 remain uncertain.  He might have been the 31 year-old James Faulkner working as a farmhand in the Pendleton County, Kentucky, household of John R. Hand. (If so, I want to know if he was related to the adopted Mary Faulkner in the next-door household of Alexander Henson).

In any event, James was soon back north of the Ohio River in Hendricks County, Indiana, where he enlisted in the Indiana 7th Regiment at Danville 20 April 1861.  As a genealogist, I am grateful that he served in the Civil War, because most of what is known about the rest of his life comes from his pension file and his consolidated military service record (CMSR).

We first picked up James's trail in the 1880 U.S. Census in Coles County, Illinois, where he farmed with his third wife, Julia, and seven children aged 3 to 16: Grant, Julia, Cyrus, Elizabeth, Mattie, Attie, and Henry (see Chapter 1). Working back, we traced him to Missouri and Indiana, before tracking him forward to Iowa. 

The military records  are especially important in this case because most of the 1890 U.S. Census was lost in a fire and by the next census in 1900, none of the Fawkner family remained in east-central Illinois in 1900. Various declarations, affidavits, and correspondence in the pension file give an outline of the last 30 years of James' life.
  •  After his three-month stint in the Indiana 7th, James went to Missouri, where he enlisted 14 September 1861 in Company A of the 2nd Missouri Cavalry. There remains the question: why Missouri? (The Sears family might be the answer).
  • Before his 14 June 1865 discharge, James was treated at Burton Barracks (St. Louis) for rheumatism he blamed on 10 months as a prisoner of war at Camp Ford, Texas, after being taken captive near Camden, Arkansas.
  • James' affidavits recount a short visit home in Indiana after the war, followed by a few years in Missouri (see 1870 census), before moving to Coles County, Illinois (see 1880 census).
  • James apparently gave up farming soon after 1880 and moved just a few miles north to the town of Arcola in Douglas County. In his pension application, James stated that he was unable to do farmwork due to war-related disability.
  • Various pension documents document that James C. Fawkner died 29 November 1889 in Arcola, Douglas County; his widow, Julia, died 14 May 1894.
  • At least one additional child was born after the 1880 census. The very first page in the pension file is an 1896 affidavit from guardian George Klink stating that he had lost the pension certificate (no. 411873) for Fred P. Fawkner, described as deaf and mute. In her December 1889 application for a widow's pension, Julia said she had two children still under age 16 -- James Henry, born 28 May 1877, and Freddie P., born 14 November 1880. This suggests that Hattie and Attie, who were 6 in 1880, might have died before their father died in 1889.
  • In an 1891 letter to President Benjamin Harrison asking for her widow's pension, Julia mentioned that, shortly before his death, James contracted pneumonia while the couple was living in Indianapolis. This mention of time in Indianapolis will become important as we trace their children forward.
James contested the Pension Office's rejection of his application for a pension increase; the dispute generated affidavits and physician's reports that give a picture of his condition. Among the more poignant is a statement from William McClung stating that, upon parole from Camp Ford, James could hardly walk. "I think nothing but the thought of home would have induced him to try. the Reble [sic] guards allowed him to ride their horses occasionally or I think he would have failed." By summer of 1889, James claimed that his rheumatism had progressed "to such an extant that I have partial paralysis of lower limbs, and heart trouble."

Oh yes, the pension file also contains one more hint regarding "girl at the top of the stairs" story (Chapter 2). A Hendricks County friend service colleague, William B. McClung, gave an affidavit that "sometime in the winter of 1862 and 1863, while the Regiment was in camp in the state of Mo -- James C. Fawkner formed the acquaintance of one Miss Julia A. Angel and they were married some time during that winter by our Regimental Chaplain." This is probably the closest we can ever get to be to backing up the story of James promising to come back and marry that beautiful girl at the top of the stairs.

The pension file holds one more provocative piece of information about James' marriage history.  I will hold this surprise back until next week, because it was help bring the story back to Indiana and James C. Fawkner's siblings.

LESSON: Be grateful if your ancestor was the right age to serve in a military conflict. Get the service and pension records.  Get the complete pension record! It will fill gaps unfilled by other records.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Preview of Fawkner Chapter 10

Chapter 10 -- The Rest of James' Story -- is almost finished, and will burst upon the Internet early Thursday morning. This episode will take us back to east-central Illinois where we first picked up the Fawkner trail.

In the meantime, I'd like to remind readers of why I am using a blog to tell the Fawkner story. One motivation is simply to make the story available in easy-to-digest doses to my wife's extended family and to any other  Fawkner descendants out there who might stumble upon the blog. However, I have a second purpose: to demonstrate the one-piece-of-evidence-leads-to-another-question nature of genealogical and family history research. Proving parent-child relationships back in time is hard enough, but describing an ancestor's life requires following every lead and pursuing every possible record. Thus, I hope that the blog is both interesting for family members and of also of some educational value for unrelated genealogists and family history enthusiasts.

This is also a chance to remind readers that these posts are not intended as research reports. To enhance readability (and to keep production on a weekly schedule), I am loosely identifying sources in the narrative, but am not offering full source citations. If you want a full source citation for any statement of fact, please feel free to contact me. In fact, if all things go as planned (do they ever?), I will be publishing a more detailed, unified Fawkner family history with full source citations in the next year or two.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Chapter 9: Abandoned in Montrose

Let's review what we know so far about James C. Fawkner?

  • He looked to the top of the stairs and told the young southern woman that he'd be back to marry her.  And, he did return.  He married Julia Ann Angell in Missouri in 1862.
  • Julia Ann was not his first wife.  James married Elizabeth Turner Stephens in 1854 in Indiana, and soon settled in Montrose, Iowa, across the Mississippi from Nauvoo.
  • Not surprisingly, Elizabeth Turner was not his first wife. In 1848, he had married Elizabeth Jane Sears -- probably his stepfather's daughter.
James's life had not been easy.  He was the first of five children, and James was only 10 when his father died.  His first wife died only five or six years into the marriage (no known children). On the trip west after his second marriage, a baby boy died.

James and Elizabeth were in Montrose before the 1856 Iowa Census, which enumerated them next door to the William Owen family -- a name that will come up in future posts.  Montrose was an opportunity for a fresh start. By 1860 James and Elizabeth (indexed "Fowker") had two daughters, Ida, 4, and Josephine, 2. James was not at home; Elizabeth was a seamstress.

Nearly sixty years later (see Chapter 6), Ida told part of the story. "In winter of 1857 parents took Ida to see Aunt Mary Sears, Lucas Co., Iowa. Returning home in Feb. 1858, all suffered from severe, snowy weather. As a result, Ida, a mere baby, lost her hearing, not to be restored." Ida said nothing more about her father. In fact, she made no mention of either his first or third marriage.

Something obviously happened to the Fawkner-Stephens marriage between about 1858 and 1862, when James married Julia Ann Angell. Iowa marriage and court records tell what happened. First, the marriage record, because it is easy to find -- sort of. A wildcard search for an Elizabeth "F*k*r" marriage in Lee County turns up one hit in's All Iowa, Select Marriages, 1809-1992: Elizabeth Farokner and Oliver Dresser, 24 June 1861. The marriage can also be found in FamilySearch's Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934 index.

If this was, in fact, Elizabeth Fawkner, was she free to marry Oliver Dresser?  Lee County court records say yes. The Fawkner-Dresser marriage was a month after a decree granting Elizabeth a divorce from James C. Fawkner. The court papers include allegations that James deserted Elizabeth in 1858; he returned to Montrose briefly, but never lived with her or provided financial support after the desertion. When Elizabeth petitioned for divorce, James' whereabouts were unknown.

James did, however, come back from wherever he had been. In an affidavit to the court, George W. Oman (possibly George Omen) said about James: "... I saw him on his return home he had the appearance of being diseased in some way. He told me that he had the pox at that time, and that he was going home to give it [to] his wife and then leave and never live with her again."

James had not had an easy life, but as we might say today, he had issues.

We will pick up the trail of Elizabeth, Ida, and Josephine in due time, but Chapter 10 will first close out the book on James.

LESSON: When it appears a marriage has been disrupted, find the court records and look for a remarriage.

Legal notice from Lee County case file no. 289 (1861), E. T. Faulkner v. James C. Faulkner; legal notice published in Fort Madison Plain Dealer 12 April 1861.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Chapter 8: The View from Montrose

In this SCGS Jamboree week, I bring you a shorter than usual progress report on the Fawkner family.

The 1856 Iowa state census found James and Elizabeth Fawkner in Montrose, Iowa, tight on the bank of mid-America's great river. As the sun set, the ruins of the Mormon temple at Nauvoo (abandoned in 1846) glistened in the sun across the river in Illinois. Iowa did not become a state until December 1846 after the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo was underway, but business on the west bank of the Mississippi was brisk that year as  the Mormons provisioned themselves for their long trek west.

Indiana-born Elizabeth T. Falkner was 20; back in Indiana, the 1850 U.S. Census said she was 15). James C. Falkner, 27, was a teamster -- likely work related to river commerce. The Falkners lived next door to William Owens, a steamboat captain. Ida Fawkner, who told us in her family history that she was born in Montrose in 1856, had not yet born. But, Ida also recorded that a first child, a baby boy, died enroute to Iowa.

Why Montrose? The obvious answer would seem to be opportunity.  But James could have chosen any number of places up and down the bustling river. The answer is that someone had gone there before him. That someone was Cornelius Fawkner, a 27-year old "boatsman" who was living in the household of William Owens six years earlier in 1850. According to the census, Cornelius was born in Indiana. Hinting at part of the story yet to come, Cornelius and James were half-brothers. Stay tuned.

The 1860 U.S. Census enumerated "E. Fowkner" in Montrose; she had two apparent daughters: Ida, 4, and Josephine, 2.  Ida was "deaf and dumb." The census said Elizabeth was 50, an obvious error. That's all folks.  That's right, James was not at home when the census-taker visited.

Two questions arise.  Why was James absent? Where was he. We suspect that something went awry with the marriage because we know that by 1862 James was promising to return to marry the girl at the top of the stairs in Boone County, Missouri (see Chapter 2).  You might have the feeling that something not so good is about to happen in Montrose.

Let's leave it at that for now. The next part of the story will unfold back in Montrose. And, it's not so pretty.

LESSON: Just a little lesson this week -- Always look at every available census and, if someone is missing, ask why.

Photo:  Bird’s eye view from Montrose, Iowa, across Mississippi River to Nauvoo, Illinois; digital copy of print from steel engraving, 1855; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-USZ62-77636.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Chapter 7: Wait a Minute... Elizabeth Who?

Thanks to Ida Fawkner's 1917 family history, we now know that James C. Fawkner had at least two daughters from his marriage to Elizabeth Stephens before his marriage to Julia Ann Angell in Missouri in 1862. It is tempting to head west immediately to pick up the Fawkner trail along the Mississippi River in Iowa (believe me, I can't wait), but first we have some unfinished business back in Hendricks County, Indiana.

James and Elizabeth Stephens were married 13 July 1854. But looking back to 1850, we saw James C. Faulkner living adjacent to his stepfather (Wesley Sears), mother (Ann), and siblings (Cyrus, John, and George). Also enumerated in James' household was Elizabeth, with no age given.  Who was this Elizabeth?

One possibility is that she was James' sister, Elizabeth, but she had married Eli Morgason 5 April 1849 (Marriage Book 4, p. 67). The 1850 U.S. Census recorded the Morgasons living not far from the Sears and Faulkners in Marion Township. Might the Elizabeth in James' household have been a wife? The 1850 census doesn't report relationships.

An index of Indiana marriages points to the answer. On 15 April 1848, a few miles west in Putnam County, a marriage license was issued to James C. Fawkner and Elizabeth Jane Sears, "her age & residence & the written consent of Wesley B. Sears guardian of said James." The facts are not certain, but James may have married his step-sister (a daughter from Wesley Sears first marriage). It would appear that the Elizabeth living with James C. Faulkner in 1850 was indeed his first wife, Elizabeth Jane Sears.

So, yes, if you are counting, this means James had at least two marriages before marrying Julia Ann Angell in 1862. What  happened to the first Elizabeth? The first clue comes from a transcription of gravestones in an overgrown Sears Cemetery in Marion Township. When the survey was done about 1970, two stones were visible:

  • Elizabeth J., wife of James C. Fawkner, d. 3-24-1854, aged 26y 22d
  • Wesley B. Sears, d. 705-1858, aged 45y, 7m, 20d
Nearly 40 years later in 1892, in an affidavit in support of a widow's pension for Julia (Angell) Fawkner, James's sister, Elizabeth Morgason, stated "the first wife of said Fawkner died on or about the 20th day of March 1855 that her means of knowing is that she was present and attended the funeral." She declared further that James Fawkner "never was married to another except the claimant," Julia Fawkner.

James' sister was off by a year; Elizabeth Sears Fawkner died in March 1854. The marriage record and gravestone suggest that James married Elizabeth Stephens just three months after his first wife died. James' daughter Ida made no mention of either the first or second wife. James' sister affirmed the first, but made no mention of the second. The Fawkner, Sears and Stephens families lived in close proximity, making it unlikely the families did not all know the full story.

The story is about to get, shall we say, a bit juicy. Next stop: Montrose.

LESSONS: Don't believe everything a witness says. (And never assume a Fawkner hasn't been married before!).