July 6, 2015

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 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.

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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

WA State History – The Fire Lookout Builders

nooksacklookout-hoh

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire”, so they say. Roadside signs here in Washington state give the forest fire danger level each summer and fall. They say it rains here in Washington all the time, and the locals let you believe that so we don’t have more people moving here, but the truth is, it gets pretty dry by late July and lasts into August and September at times. Forest fires have always been a part of life here in the Pacific Northwest, and always will be.

My first memory of my dad working for the State Forestry Service was when I was about 5 or 6. Of course, I took it more personally because when Dad was away on a job Mom would let us have cool things like pancakes for supper. Looking at it as an adult, I imagine that Dad probably hated those jobs building fire lookouts for the State. It was darn hard work, even for a young guy in his 30’s. One of his recollections says when he worked at the fire lookout in Raymond, “It rained every day!”.

The reason this topic is even on my family history radar is because I am transcribing a list of jobs my dad worked on throughout his life as a carpenter. In that list he mentions several of the lookouts he helped build, and I was just astounded at the sheer number of them. Some had been built decades before and were being upgraded in the mid-1950’s when he was involved, but some might have been new construction.

Somewhere, I think we might have a picture or two of some lookouts he worked on, but I found a really nifty site today that lists some of the lookouts with pictures of them when they were still in service. The website is: 

The photos on the page are indexed and I would like to show some of them here, but they are private and only viewable on the pages.

Here is a link to some of the WA state lookout towers by region. A few that Dad (W. G. Yates) worked on are: Squally Jim at Pe Ell; Entwhistle (Dad’s first job for the Forestry); Coyote Mountain; Crawford Mountain; Deep Creek, Ladd Mountain, Raymond, Capitol Peak (gone now; Dad said you could see the Pacific Ocean on a clear day!); Elk Rock – near Mt. St. Helens; and even one here in Port Orchard. The logo above is from Rex’s site and I have made it a link to his main page if you would like to give him a visit.

This is just tiny glimpse into one man’s work accomplishments and contributions. Dad was of the G.I. Generation since he was born in 1920 and a WWII veteran. I miss him every day.

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Bordeaux Washington Mill Saws The Last Log In 1941

26-sept-1941-bordeaux-mill-closes

I have recently been going through some of my old newspapers and found another article about the last days of Bordeaux, WA. This one is from the Daily Olympian dated 26 Sept 1941. I scanned it so I could send it to my uncle in California who used to live in this logging town, but also for my readers so they can understand what happened when a mill town runs out of marketable logs.

Are you looking for more articles written by this blog about the old mill town of Bordeaux? You might want to do a search here using the Lijit search box to the right, or click on these previous stories. Thanks for visiting iPentimento today! :)

1904 Death on the Tracks in Bordeaux, Washington

A Personal History With Trains

A Visit To Old Bordeaux

Vintage Photos at Shadow Catchers Capture WA State History