November 26, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: The Wilkersons of Pleasant Grove, Iowa

George Wilkerson gravestone

Headstones of Joshua, George and Amanda Wilkerson

Back in 1995, Jim and I thought we hit the jackpot when we found this cemetery at Pleasant Grove, Iowa.  It’s located at Shinar Cumberland Presbyterian Church not far from the now deserted town of Pleasant Grove where so many of Jim’s Wilkerson, Whitmore, DeSpain and other allied families settled in the 1840’s.  These three headstones are in what they call the ‘old’ section of the cemetery which runs alongside the road to the church.  Further along that road was the old town.

The reason we thought we hit the jackpot was that we were looking for Jim’s GG-Grf Joshua Wilkerson and we didn’t know it at the time, but the George Wilkerson was ‘our’ Joshua’s younger brother, and the headstones for Amanda and Joshua are for George’s children.

Using Census Records To Trace Family Migration

Joshua Wilkerson (Sr.) was born in Delaware in 1812. We don’t know when he married, but he left DE with his brother George b. 1814 and George’s wife Margaret (Lamar) (both also born in DE) most likely in the mid to late 1830’s and settled for a time in Indiana.  We know this because later Iowa census records show some of George’s children having been born in Indiana.  Checking census records is a good way to trace a family’s migration patterns.

Joshua Goes To California To Look For Gold

George and family settled in Washington Township in Des Moines County and stayed there for the rest of their lives.  Not so with the elder Joshua Wilkerson! Looking in the 1850 census for Iowa in the Pleasant Grove township there was no trace of Joshua.  It looked like he had perhaps helped George and family move to Iowa when the state opened up for settlement and then he was called by the lure of Gold.

Our family story is that Joshua, as a single man, went off to California to find his fortune.  His descendants that still live in that part of Iowa tell of Joshua coming back with thousands of dollars, but that over time he made bad loans and ended up with a chest full of IOU”s.  We know there was a ‘fortune’ because his daughter’s sued for a portion of it.

In looking at some old Hawkeye newspapers for that time frame I found that two of the DeSpain family also were on a train to the gold fields.  In 1856 Iowa had a special census and I was able to find Joshua again, this time living with the Bedwell family who also happen to have been born in Delaware and two of their older children were also born in Indiana.  The really surprising thing in that census record was that Joshua was listed as a widower, age 44.

I’ve not established yet whether or not Joshua and the wife of Samuel Bedwell, Mary, were related, or just someone Joshua might have known in Indiana.  Either way, he was single with no children and we were just shy of the beginning of the Civil War.  I don’t think that Joshua served in the war, and he married his second wife Sarah Jane True 22 March 1860.  Their first child, Elizabeth was born eleven months later in 1861. Eight more children were born to Joshua and Sarah Jane, the last in 1875.

That day in the cemetery we searched in vain for headstones for Joshua and Sarah Jane.  Knowing we were wrong to think the others mentioned at the beginning of this story, it wasn’t until we got to know a descendant that lived there, Jim’s cousin Anita, did we find out they had no headstone.  Soon after, we began asking Jim’s family to chip in to buy one and the result is the stone you see above.

If you would like more information on this family, please visit Ancestry and search for Wilkerson and Allied Families or try this link to the tree.  Visiting trees on Ancestry is FREE.

 

 

A Tenuous Connection To Abraham Lincoln

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Abraham Lincoln

When we were little kids in grade school each year we would dutifully make profile pictures of Abe Lincoln and proudly take them home to Mom and Dad. It never occurred to me that many years later I would be researching my husband’s family tree and find that there was a “kissin’ cousin” connection to the great man.

I should say, my husband is not directly related to Lincoln, but one of his DeSpain cousins was married into the Hanks family. Here’s how the connection happened:

Descendants of Andrew Jackson Hanks (brother to Nancy Hanks, Lincoln’s mother)

1      [1] HANKS, Andrew Jackson  Source1: 1870 United States Federal Census, Source2: 1880 United States Federal Census, Source3: 1860 United States Federal Census, Source4: 1850 United States Federal Census    b: 1815 in Grayson, KY
.        +PORTER, Melinda          m: 17 Mar 1837 in Illinois      d: 29 Apr 1856 in Pleasant Grove, Des Moines, IA
2      HANKS, Matilda  Source: “Obit for Nancy Hanks DESPAIN”            d: Aft. 1932 in Clovis, Fresno, CA
.        +CARTER, John
2      HANKS, Caroline
.        +HAWKS, William
2      HANKS, Elizabeth              d: 1927
.        +MCNEIL, Jerimiah (Jim)      b: 1838    m: Abt. 1866      d: 1919 in New London, Des Moines County, IA
2      HANKS, Mary Ann
.        +SHEPHERD, A.C.              d: Abt. 1864 in Civil War
2      HANKS, Melinda
.        +EVANS, Milton
2      HANKS, Celia
.        +MATTHEWS, G. W.
2      HANKS, Charles  Source: “Obit for Nancy Hanks DESPAIN”    b: 1841        d: 1937
.        +CARPENTER, Eliza Jane              d: 1914
2      HANKS, Nancy  Source: “Obit for Nancy Hanks DESPAIN”    b: 05 Jul 1848 in Pleasant Grove, Des Moines, IA        d: 04 Jul 1932 in New London, Des Moines, IA  src: “Obit for Nancy Hanks DESPAIN”
.        +DESPAIN, Newton  Source: 1880 United States Federal Census    b: 18 Feb 1851 in Louisville, Jefferson, KY    m: 29 Apr 1869 in New London, Des Moines, IA      d: 08 Mar 1915 in New London, Des Moines, IA
2      HANKS, William Henry  Source: “Obit for Nancy Hanks DESPAIN”    b: 1854 in New London, Des Moines, IA        d: 1933 in New London, Des Moines, IA
.        +MCCUNE, Harriet      b: 1855        d: 1946
*2nd Wife of [1] HANKS, Andrew Jackson:
.        +ROWE, Sophia      b: in New Jersey    m: Aft. 1838      d: 27 Aug 1879 in Pleasant Grove, Des Moines, IA
*3rd Wife of [1] HANKS, Andrew Jackson:
.        +MORAND, Milcah Gardiner          m: 07 Jan 1881

My husband’s connection to Lincoln and the DeSpains:

(1) John DeSpain and Mariah Perkins were parents of

(2) *Mary Elizabeth DeSpain who married **John W. Whittmore 05 Nov 1865

(2) Newton DeSpain who married Nancy Hanks 29 April 1869

*there were other siblings

** John W. Whittmore was a Medal of Honor Recipient in the Civil War

Mary Elizabeth and John Whitmore’s daughter

(3) Mariah M. Whitmore married William Henry Wilkerson 11 March 1896 at Burlington, Des Moines County, Iowa

Mariah and William Wilkerson were parents of

(4) Wesley L. Wilkerson who married Amanda Bean 17 November 1923 at Nashua, Iowa

Wesley and Amanda were parents of

Loren Wilkerson, father of my husband Jim

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The Home Friend 1909

In the late 1980’s my husband and I owned an old house here in Port Orchard, Washington. It was in dire need of repair, and at one time we were in the process of tearing down a wall separating two rooms on the first floor. As we got one side of the wall boards off my husband noticed a rolled up paper inside which revealed itself to be an old ‘magazine’ called The Home Friend. I have toted that old magazine around for all these years, and just before Christmas I took it to a copier and had the pages scanned, printed and put on disk.  It is now 100 years later and I thought it would be fun to share some of the articles and advertisements contained in that homemade time capsule.  Be looking for them in future posts here on iPentimento. In the mean time, I leave you with one of the articles as a small tribute to the memory of Abraham Lincoln.

gettysburg-address

A Visit To Old Bordeaux

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[Due to a blog glitch, I have re-posted this story.]

Bordeaux, WA circa 1910

Last Friday, my aunt Twyla and Uncle Wally Yates, my cousins Edris and Jack Harbeston, my brother Dave Yates and his wife Kathy, and my husband Jim and I, went on a little adventure so Wally could visit “one more time” the old town of Bordeaux here in Washington state. Actually, the town is not in existence anymore, but some things are still there.

WebLunchSettingKathyAndDavid's

Our trip on May 9th was made after we had a nice lunch at Dave and Kathy’s, and our weather couldn’t have been much better for this time of year. Warm and sunny enough to be comfortable, and we got lucky and bypassed any rain.

 

 

In our Suburban, and Dave’s Yukon, we drove from my brother’s place near Tenino, WA via Old Highway 99 North, turning left at 93rd Ave SE and we then headed west to the Littlerock Road. My uncle Wally was in our vehicle, so as we drove along he would spot different points of interest along the way and tell us about them. Some were known to us, some, were not. At one point on the Littlerock road as we rounded a curve, he said that it was where his brother Guy had been killed in a car accident in December of 1938. He said the curve had been straightened out considerably in the last 70 years and it doesn’t look dangerous at all now.

My Yates family settled in Bordeaux around 1925, even though Grandpa Will Yates had made the trip from West Plains, MO many times before that year. When Grandma and Grandpa moved to Bordeaux, Grandpa’s brother Lem and one of his sisters (Lydia) already lived there which always makes it easier for any new arrivals. My dad Gale was the oldest boy as he was born in 1920; the next boy was the previously mentioned Guy who was two years younger. The youngest boy, Waldo (aka Wally) was born in 1927, a couple years after they arrived in Bordeaux. So, Wally lived in this logging town from his birth until 1942 when the mill closed.

 

 

Even though Wally has macular degeneration in one eye and the town no longer exists, I know he could see it in his mind’s eye just like it was yesterday. As we drove up the Bordeaux road, and past one of the old vaults that had been in the hotel, he began to get his bearings even better. The old Bordeaux house where the family lived is still there, but of course is not owned by the family any more. My Grandmother, Minnie Yates died of botulism poisoning in 1932 from eating unheated home-canned corn. In 1936 my Grandpa remarried to a lady named Josie Scribner and she worked up at the Bordeaux house as a nanny and housekeeper for the two sons, Joe and Bruce. Wally had been one of the few kids allowed into the Bordeaux house to play with the boys when they were home because his step mother worked there.

The drive up to the house has a metal gate and a sign that says it is private property and protected by armed guards. This may be because most recently the house was owned by Curt Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love. It may have been bought by someone else now, since it was up for sale at one time to pay off the debt, but for us, it was not a place we could visit on our trek.

 

After driving around on Bordeaux Road from Keen’s corner all the way up to the Cedar Creek Correctional Center at the end, we doubled back and stopped again at a wide spot in the road near the little creek that runs on the south side. This is most likely Cedar Creek (my family pronounces it “crick”) and it is now just a gentle caretaker of the old pilings and cement blocks that are the only evidence that the town and mill were once located there. We got out of our vehicles and began to meander around, first just by the road and taking pictures of the Bordeaux house through the now thick alder and fir trees. Someone found a trail on the south side of the road and while my cousin Jack explored the woods up on the house side of the road, Jim and Dave, with Wally following more cautiously behind, headed over the makeshift bridge and on up into the southern hillside where they found some old brick remains of the mill.

 

I don’t know for sure if Wally got a true reconnoitering of where the town and the old houses he remembered were, but I think he enjoyed the day immensely. The only downside to the day was when Twyla was trying to cross a little rivulet and she lost her footing and fell face first down into the mud. It wasn’t a total ‘face plant’, she landed on one side, but she was all muddy, and eventually cold and I am sure she was more than ready to get back to Dave’s and into some dry clothes!

Click here to see all 44 photos from this trip on Flicker

 

Postcards: Kids in a Goat Cart Challenge

Three boys and a goat cart

This subject came up a few years ago: Do we all have pictures of kids in goat carts?  I was surprised to see how many of my friends and family had similar pictures. Do you have one? Here is my submission to the challenge. Let’s see how many different ones we can share!

Three boys and a goat cart

I believe this might be boys in the Wilkerson or Baldwin family, but I don’t know for sure.  That’s one sturdy looking goat, don’t you think?

Looking for some additional postcards? Try visiting A Festival of Postcards.  Evelyn has some dandy ones!

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