More on the Life, Death, and Will of Robert G. Stephens

“Many of our readers will be surprised to learn of the death of Robert Stephens, of White Township, which took place Saturday last. He had just finished eating a hearty meal, and rising to his feet, stepped out on the porch of his residence when h…

“Many of our readers will be surprised to learn of the death of Robert Stephens, of White Township, which took place Saturday last.  He had just finished eating a hearty meal, and rising to his feet, stepped out on the porch of his residence when he fell dead.”[1]

Not a bad way to go at the age of 77.  But what happened after that was a little messy. Continue reading “More on the Life, Death, and Will of Robert G. Stephens”

Putting the Wright Name with Faces

I have many – mostly small – family photographs that are unlabelled, and beyond that, not even associated with a particular side of the family. I’ve already commented on my “provenance” challenges. But the pictures of this couple were di…

I have many – mostly small – family photographs that are unlabelled, and beyond that, not even associated with a particular side of the family.  I’ve already commented on my “provenance” challenges.  But the pictures of this couple were different — fairly new reproductions on Kodak paper sitting among tintypes and daguerreotypes.  But I still didn’t know who they were. You can see them below.

I wasn’t even looking for them when I took aim at one of the holes on my pedigree chart.  Cora Walling’s mother was named Louisa and most of  what I knew about her was uncovered by Elise when she interviewed Mom while working on a 5th grade school project.  Continue reading “Putting the Wright Name with Faces”

Finding James Offutt (and much much more)

One of the first posts in Family Epic was about my visit to Darnestown Presbyterian Church and Cemetery – many Offutts are there, the family of our father’s mother. But the patriarch, James Offutt (1803-1857), is not among them. Resources consulte…

One of the first posts in Family Epic was about my visit to Darnestown Presbyterian Church and Cemetery – many Offutts are there, the family of our father’s mother. But the patriarch, James Offutt (1803-1857), is not among them.  Resources consulted at the Montgomery County Historical Society and online identified the location of his grave and those of two young daughters at a private home nearby. (1)  James’ son from his first marriage and half-brother to Lemuel,  James Howard Offutt (our 2nd great uncle), lived on the property until his death in 1935 – a span of over 90 years of Offutt ownership. I contacted the current owners by letter and asked if I could come for a visit – and was rewarded by a most welcoming and generous phone call. Continue reading “Finding James Offutt (and much much more)”

Cora (Walling) Baker Walling, The Conclusion (for now)

In a previous post, I shared pictures of the Baker family that our great grandmother, Cora (Walling) Baker Walling, kept for the rest of her life – even though her marriage to Jesse W. Baker ended with his death within three years. There’s another…

In a previous post, I shared pictures of the Baker family that our great grandmother, Cora (Walling) Baker Walling, kept for the rest of her life – even though her marriage to Jesse W. Baker ended with his death within three years.

There’s another piece of physical evidence — an ivory diary typical of the period. Among many early mistakes I made in family history endeavors was not keeping track of provenance, which is just a fancy way of recording who-in-the-heck-gave-me-this.  But my sense was always that that the diary and the Baker family pictures were a package. Unfortunately, there’s no one left now to verify that. [Let that be a lesson to you all.]   There are several pictures of the diary below – one closed and one open.  There is also a picture of young Cora – about the time her courtship began. Continue reading “Cora (Walling) Baker Walling, The Conclusion (for now)”

A Tale of Two Farmers — and then there’s Texas….

In a previous post, I compared the relative 1860 fortunes of two ancestral farmers in Indiana County, Pennsylvania – Edward Haney Ruffner and Robert Garrett Stephens. Their offspring, James and Hulda, respectively, married in 1870. On Thursday, I …

In a previous post, I compared the relative 1860 fortunes of two ancestral farmers in Indiana County, Pennsylvania – Edward Haney Ruffner and Robert Garrett Stephens.  Their offspring, James and Hulda, respectively, married in 1870.  On Thursday, I took a look at the 1870 agricultural schedules and the values were relatively unchanged. Ruffner still owned more property but Stephens valued his at a higher dollar figure. Stephens had more livestock and grew more wheat but Ruffner grew more oats, produced more butter and more wool. (1)

But a dramatic contrast is revealed when the lens moves south.  On the Texas side of the family, our great grandmother, Cora Walling married into the Baker family in the early 1870s but was widowed within just a few years.  Jack, and his older brother, Jesse, Cora’s future husband, were living in the same household in 1870, both farming land owned by Jack. (2) But the Bakers were more than just farmers.  Isaac Baker, born in Alabama and the father of both Jack and Jesse, was one of the earliest settlers of what was later to be named Plantersville in Grimes County, Texas.  He began building a 2,840 acre plantation named Cedars in 1843 and opened the first general store with his sons in the 1850s. (3)  I decided to return to 1860 and gather data for the Bakers.  Continue reading “A Tale of Two Farmers — and then there’s Texas….”