November 24, 2014

Genealogy Tracking: Wilkersons, Whitmores and L. Frank Boyd

Part 1

In 1994, when I first began doing our family genealogies, my father-in-law sent us some copies of old pictures he had of his Bean and Whitmore families. He knew more about the Beans than he did John Whitmore, but we were anxious to find out more about all of them. And so began the search.

During one of our visits to Iowa in 1995 I had an opportunity to talk to my father-in-law about his family history. He being the oldest of ten children, and having a memory like a steel trap, I knew that he would be the one to ask about what he knew of the earlier generations of Jim’s Wilkerson family. Loren did tell us that his father Wesley had been born in Des Moines County, Iowa, near Yarmouth, but he also said that there were no more Wilkersons living in southern Iowa “as far as he knew”. That always sends up a red flag to a family genealogist, and so during that visit we made a point of going to Des Moines County to see if we could find out what happened to the family.

We were looking for Wilkersons, Whit(t)mores, DeSpains and any other connecting family names when we pulled into the parking lot at Shiner Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Pleasant Grove in order to walk the cemetery. When we drove up we noticed an older pickup truck parked near the church, but we were intent on finding headstones and so we got out in the misty rain with paper, pencil and camera in hands and began our search. Almost right away we were finding all the names we were looking for, but not quite the specific older family members. After scribbling down as much information as we could glean from the headstones, we decided to ask inside the church about where the church records were kept.

This is rural Iowa where most of the people are warm, welcoming and friendly, as we were about to find out. After opening the door at the side of the church and calling “hello” a couple times, a very nice lady came to the bottom of the basement stairs to answer our questions. She had been painting one of the restrooms, but stopped right then and there and let us tell our “story” and the names we were looking for. After a bit, she got on the phone and called the church sexton, Mr. Stucker. His wife said he was “out in the fields” but that she would give him the message when he came in for lunch.

It seemed like just minutes later that another older pickup truck rolled into the gravel parking lot, and down the stairs came Mr. Stucker, farm boots and all, with his sexton’s book in hand. After introducing ourselves again and explaining our quest, he very willingly and generously handed his book to me, and I hurriedly copied down names, dates and grave locations while Mr. Stucker and my husband talked. As Jim and Mr. Stucker talked, Mr. Stucker said that his best friend was “Toad” Wilkerson and lived next door to him. (“Next door” means the next 80 acres or so close by!) He encouraged us to stop by and see “Toad” on our way home.

John Whitmore

At one point, when Jim said that we were looking for John Whitmore, Mr. Stucker perked right up and told us that John Whitmore was a Medal of Honor recipient in the Civil War, and that there was a Medal of Honor Society looking for living family members! We had no idea of John Whitmore’s Civil War service at that time. (to be continued)

Genealogy Tracking: Wilkersons, Whitmores and L. Frank Boyd – Part 2

Genealogy Tracking: Wilkersons, Whitmores and L. Frank Boyd – Part 2
Part 2: (continued from Part 1 )

When we left Iowa in 1995 it would be two years before we would return again. In the mean time though, I got right on the trail of John Whitmore since Mr. Stucker had given us a copy of a letter from the Medal of Honor Society. The contact information on the letter was somewhat out of date, but I was able to get in touch with the then current representative for the society. Their reason for wanting to contact living family members was to get permission to put a new government supplied headstone on John Whitmore’s grave denoting his status as a Medal of Honor recipient.

Medal of Honor circa 1860’s era

After some false starts (the original stone was broken during shipping) we had our ceremony planned for May of 1997. As it turned out, the family members were there, along with a re-enactment group from Burlington, Iowa, and the local historical society representatives, but the actual stone (again) was delayed in transit and so we had a mockup of what the stone would say. I did not attend the ceremony, so it wasn’t until later that I noticed that the MOH Society man I had been working with had put the wrong death date on John’s marker. His read 1918, when it should have been 1913. Not like you can “white out” anything on a headstone!

John W. Whitmore, headstone at Pleasant Grove, IA

It was during the planning stages of John’s MOH ceremony that our family genealogy quest put us in touch with another cousin who had a letter written to John Whitmore in 1914, that led us to L. Frank Boyd, another illustrious member of the family. (to be continued)

Genealogy Tracking: Wilkersons, Whitmores and L. Frank Boyd – Part 3


As I stated in Genealogy Tracking: Wilkersons, Whitmores and L. Frank Boyd – Part 2 our genealogy research led us to L. Frank Boyd, my husband’s 1st cousin, four times removed. Jim’s cousin Trish gave us copies of records that she had about Louis, which included a letter written by him in 1914 to Jim and Trish’s shared ancestor, John Whitmore.

~~~~~~

Louis Frank Boyd was born 23 May 1859 in Keokuck, Iowa to parents Rebecca (Miller) and Jacob Mackley Boyd. At the age of 18 months, Louis’ mother Rebecca died and he was sent to live with his aunt in Illinois. At the age of thirteen, Louis went to live with his father who had a homestead where Baker City, Oregon now stands.

Louis Boyd was educated at the Baker City Academy and Willamette University, and subsequently learned the trade of printer. After completing his education, Louis moved to Walla Walla, Washington where he began working in the office of the Walla Walla Watchman, and after a short length of time became part owner in that publication. Afterwards, he started the Sunday Epigram and was its editor and manager for sometime. While at Walla Walla, he joined the state militia and was a member of Battery A where he was elected Second Lieutenant.

In May, 1887, he moved to Colfax and edited the Palouse [pronounced PA-Loose] Gazette until November of that year when he went to Olympia, Washington and was elected enrolling clerk of the state senate for that session. In October, 1888, he went to Spokane to accept a position as a reporter on the Review, but before the year had passed he became city editor, a situation he retained for many years.

In 1892 Louis received from Washington Governor Ferry an appointment on his staff as lieutenant colonel, a rank that he held for four years. He was always referred to as Col. Boyd thereafter.

In 1896, he was elected Spokane city clerk, a position he held for many years, as written in his biography in the Illustrated History of Spokane County, Washington; Lever, 1900. Also in 1896 he became inspector of rifle practice in the First Cavalry Battalion. During his time in the battalion he became a tireless student of military tactics.

Louis Frank Boyd, Washington State Representative, 1914 Spokane

L. Frank Boyd introduces legislation for WA voters to register at polls 1914

It is a sad note that apparently Frank was never able to speak to his first cousin John Whitmore again in this lifetime. As I noted in my biography of John, he died in 1913, so his visit to see Frank was no doubt disappointing to them both. As you can read in his letter, Frank was sick when John came to visit and may not have remembered much about it at all. Click on the thumbnail to see the image full-sized.

L. Frank Boyd letter written 1914 to his cousin John Whitmore

Even though there was a difference in ages, Frank born in 1859, and John born in 1844, it is likely that John shared his Civil War experiences with Frank, and therefore it might have been one of the reasons for his intense interest in military tactics. As you remember, John was a Medal of Honor recipient in that war, and no doubt his capturing a flag from the Confederate side at Ft. Blakely, Alabama during a battle, was surely something Frank admired about his cousin.

Portions of this article were extracted from Louis Frank Boyd’s biography in the Illustrated History of Spokane County, Washington; Lever, 1900; page 420. I would be happy to provide any documentation that is in my possession to anyone researching these families. Please ask permission to reprint or use this article.

© CJW 2008

© 2007-2014 iPentimento|Genealogy and History All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright