April 28, 2012
102 years ago today the Census takers were passing through Palestine Township, Bradley County, Arkansas. This is the entry for the family of Moses Wheeler, my 2nd Great Grandfather. His wife Josie Avery was his 2nd wife.
Moses was a farmer all of his life. He was born in 1862, the son of Isaac and Sicie Wheeler. In the 1870 Census he was listed with his parents and four siblings. In 1880 he is still at home with his parents but in 1882 he married Candes Thompson. By 1900 he is on his second marriage and the first six of at least 12 children were born. With Candes he had at least four children: Sallie, Louis, Joseph, and Amzi. The eldest child, Sallie, is my great grandmother who became the third wife of Philip Henry York in 1913. Candes died sometime between 1892 and 1894. Moses married Josie in December of 1894. They had at least six children including: Isaiah, Moses, Lizzie, William, Mary, and Simon. He also had two children out of wedlock: Wilson “Buddy” Wheeler and my uncle, John W. Newton (with Miss Becky Newton).
Moses and Josie both died in February of 1948. Josie had “worked herself ill” caring for Moses (who possibly had Alzheimer’s or some kind of dementia) and he died 4 days later. They had a double funeral service and were buried at Palestine Cemetery. It’s something that my Grandmother remembered clearly. She wasn’t able to attend the service because she’d just had her first child.
I was also able to locate the couple in the 1940 Census living with a son–I’m guessing Isaiah? It looks like “Iz” to me.
December 28, 2011
Here’s a picture of my Grandpa Trotter (center) and three of his (14!) siblings: Uncle JT (James Tyler), Uncle Ernest, and Aunt Irene (who married John W. Newton).
Dad thinks this was taken sometime around 1971. It’s set in the living room of my grandparent’s home in Detroit and pulled from my Dad’s digital archive.
December 12, 2011
Beyond the fact that there are so many Trotter, Hampton, and Newton families, each with such huge farm households, there is also the issues of lines marrying together in multiple ways and illegitimate children taking the last names of their mother. The family of our Uncle John Newton is a fabulous example of this. And in talking with his relatives—which turned out to be on both sides of my father’s family—it really brought home how careful I had to be in my research.
What I knew going in about John W. Newton (who lived from Feb 1880 to Oct 1968) was that he had married at least twice—first to my 2nd Great Aunt Susan Trotter (in Mar 1902) and once to my Great Aunt Irene Trotter (in Jun 1939)—who I am told moved in to help with the children when his wife was ill. Census and Marriage Records actually show that Amanda Hampton was in between Susie and Aunt Irene (in Dec 1917). Also, John had at least 21 children with his three wives: 11 with Susan, 3 with Mandy, and another 7 with Aunt Irene.
Then when I went down to Bradley County, for my Great Aunt Ometha’s funeral in 1999, the family took me to Palestine A.M.E. Cemetery (which is probably 99% family) and started telling me stories as we walked through. My aunts told me about Miss Becky Newton, who never married but had at least five children connecting different lines in my family in surprising ways. For example, John W. Newton, was her son by Mose Wheeler, my Grandma Elnora’s Grandfather. So, as I walked through with Burlon Newton (Aunt Irene’s eldest son) and my Grandmother it occurred to them that they were first cousins though they didn’t seem to think of it that way at first as Grandma is also his aunt by marriage. Uncle John turned out to be my Great Uncle and 2nd Great Uncle by marriage as well as my 2nd Great Uncle through the Wheelers.
That connections forced me to rethink just how tightly woven this community was (and in many ways still is). And it took me—the product of a 2 child nuclear family not brought up in the community with my extended family—a while to get my head around all the ties this created and how it might (and come to find out does) play out in other lines. For example, the world gets a little smaller when you realize that Mandy Hampton’s mother was Jeanie Avery Hampton and her aunt was Mose Wheeler’s last wife, Josie Avery Wheeler—making him both uncle and grandfather to Mandy’s children. Or, to follow the Wheeler’s another step, one of Josie and Mose’s daughters married a Trotter cousin making their children both first and second cousins of mine (twice removed).
It can get a little dizzying if you spend too much time on it… but it’s also a fascinating puzzle.