A House-Warming Party?

As I have mentioned before, my paternal grandmother, Margaret (Millikan) McKinley (1917-2007) gave me several hundred family pictures. As I got interested in the family history, she would help identify some of the people in the photographs. However, sometimes she just gave a single name that didn’t make sense to me & didn’t explain much about the picture.

Such is the case with this picture:

EstleHouse1

When I asked my Grandmother about it, she said something about Mayo Estle. Of course my first question was, “Who was Mayo Estle?” I think all I got from that was “a cousin.”

Taking a closer look at the picture, I clearly recognized several ancestors:

EstleHouse2

In the front of the picture were Alva Boone (1861-1945), my GG Grandfather; Edwin Boone (1906-1980), Alva’s son; Gertrude Boone Parr (1896-1969), Alva’s daughter; and Arza Millikan (1883-1964), my Great Grandfather & Alva’s son-in law. I couldn’t identify Arza’s wife, Mary (1897-1992) in the picture.

But how were these folks connected to Mayo Estle? Who was he? Is he in the front right of the picture? Can’t say I’ll ever know the answer to the last question, but here goes on the first two.

I did an Ancestry.com search for Mayo and found the following: Mayo Estle was born May 18, 1876 in Indiana and died December 4, 1953 in Santa Monica, California. He married Eva Johnson on September 26, 1900 in Marion County, Indiana. Eva died in 1962 in Santa Monica, California.

Mayo’s parents were Esther Ballard (b.1852) and James A. Estle (1846-1925). James’ sister was Nancy Estle (1835-1896) who married Paul Boone (1832-1917). Nancy and Paul were Alva Boone’s parents. So there is the connection to Mayo—Alva and Mayo were cousins!

Then I did a newspaper search for Mayo, just to see if I could find any more information about who he was. On the newspapers.com site I came upon an article in the Indianapolis Star dated October 20, 1918. The article headline was “Attractive Home in North Side District.” Included was a picture of a house that looked pretty familiar.

There were other photos in Grandma’s collection that linked to the first one:

The first photo looks exactly like the house from the news article. In the second picture, the lady sitting on the wall looks like Gertrude Parr.

So what about this house? According to the article, it is the residence of Mayo Estle, address 4025 North Ruckle Street, Indianapolis. “It is a two-story frame and stucco structure with full basement, finished in orange shade, with white trimmings and a green roof.” There is a “dark brown brick porch” and a “twenty-foot lawn” between the porch and the street. The article states that Mayo had the ideas for the design of the house and goes on to describe the inside of the house: The first floor had a “spacious living room…finished in a prettily grained quarter-sawed oak, worked in dark natural shades.” There was an “attractive brick fireplace and mantel, with oak shelf along the south wall.” There was a “massive extended arch sustained at either end by built-in book-cases serving as a division to the dining room.” The dining room had a “beamed ceiling, an ornamental built-in buffet…along the east wall and a built-in box seat window covers the entire south wall.” Oak trim was prevalent in the rooms on the main floor with “subdued tan” colored walls. The kitchen “has everything modern with the profuse use of built-in work.” The second floor had 3 bedrooms and a “complete and nicely furnished bathroom.” The full-size basement had an outside entrance as well. It had space “for the laundry, fruit room, storage room, fuel room and housing for the steam heating plant.” The house had “steam heat, hot and cold city and cistern water, gas and electricity.” The article goes on to state who the builders were as well as who contracted the lumber, paint, plumbing and heating work. It was a great advertisement for the house and builders. The article almost sounded like the description of a “show house.”

So it makes sense that possibly the gathering in the photos was a house-warming party.

A few more points on that…

In one of the above pictures, there is a group on the porch:

EstleHouse5

The blurred group looks like Alva Boone, his wife, Sarah “Allie” (1869-1955) and two little children…

EstleHouse6

These two cousins showed up in many pictures together. They were Keith Parr (1917-1996) and Margaret Millikan (my grandmother). Here they are in another picture from that day. Considering the two look to be toddlers in the picture, it helps date the photo to around 1919 or 1920.

So end of story, Mayo Estle built a house, had a party to celebrate & show off his new place. The expectation is that Mayo and Eva lived in this house until they moved to California. But wait…

A little more information about Mayo comes from the Indianapolis City Directory and US Census collections on Ancestry.com. Mayo worked as a retail furniture dealer. He shows up in the 1919 City Directory as living in the home at 4025 Ruckle. In the 1920 US Census and City Directory, he is living on DeQuincy! What? Someone else is listed as living in the house on Ruckle. So Mayo only lived in the house for a year or so. Maybe he really did build the house to sell it. Who knows. He shows up in the 1930 US Census in California. In 1938, he is listed in the Santa Monica City Directory as an interior decorator. Something tells me he got his start with that occupation with the house on Ruckle.

© MJM 2020

Another Connection to a Revolutionary War Soldier

The website, Fold3.com is a great resource for finding military records. One such record is the pension file for Ebenezer Minton, my paternal GGGG Grandfather. The pension file is the principal source for most of Ebenezer’s vital statistics. However, just as I mentioned in an earlier post about a soldier of the Revolution, the papers in the pension file are a little difficult to read.

To begin with, the file contains an affidavit from Peter Johnston, a judge of the General Court of Virginia, Lee County. He reported that Ebenezer Minton, aged 59, made a declaration before him in order to obtain a Revolutionary War Soldier’s pension:

EbMintonRevWarClip1

On this first day of September in the year one thousand eight hundred and nineteen before me Peter Johnston—one of the Judges of the General Court of Virginia appointed by law to perform the judicial duties of the thirteenth circuit which comprehends the county of Lee personally presented himself Ebenezer Minton of the county of Lee and state of Virginia, aged fifty nine, and on oath made the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress entitled “An act for the relief of certain persons engaged in the land and naval service of the United States in the war of the revolution”…

In summary, Ebenezer stated that he enlisted August 11, 1777 in the “Third Regiment of Cavalry on Continental establishment commanded by Colonel George Baylor of Virginia” and served under Captain Churchill Jones. He served for 3 years, then re-enlisted “in the same Regiment, then commanded by Colonel William Washington for the war & remained in service until the end of the war when he was regularly discharged.” For the most part, the fighting ended with the surrender of Cornwallis in October 1781 & the war was officially over with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in September 1783, so Ebenezer served for 6 years. He stated that “from his reduced circumstances, he stands in need of the assistance of his country for his support.”

So from this first statement, since he stated he was 59 years old in 1819, we can estimate Ebenezer’s birth year as 1760. Which also means that he was 17 years old when he enlisted in 1777!

Ebenezer’s statement also included a list of some of the Battles he was involved in:

That he was at the surprise of the American detachment, composed, in part, of his regiment, at Paoli in the State of Jersey; at the defeat of Colonel Abraham Buford, at the battle of Cowpens, at the battle of Guilford, at the second battle of Cambden, and at the battle of the Eutaw Spring.”

An additional statement before the Lee County court on September 26, 1820 gives more detail of Ebenezer’s service:

EbMintonRevWarClip2

This clip indicates that he was enlisted under “Fitzpatrick of the Dragoons.” So what were the “Dragoons?” In essence, they were the cavalry–prepared to fight from horseback or on foot.

The summary of Ebenezer’s service follows:

After enlisting, he states he “marched under Fitzpatrick to Fredericksburg in Virginia and was placed in the Third Troop of Cavalry Commanded by Capt Churchill Jones in the Regiment commanded by Col. Baylor. That he wintered in Fredericksburg the winter of 1777 and in the Spring following he marched to the north and was in the surprise at Paoli, where Col Baylor was badly wounded and never again joined the Regt. And Major Clough was killed.”

According to the American Battlefield Trust website, <battlefields.org>, the surprise attack at Paoli was on September 20, 1777. So I guess Ebenezer was a little off on his timeline as this occurred a month after he enlisted, not the next Spring. This is also know as the “Paoli Massacre” as it was a surprise attack by the British late at night on the camp of the Continental Army near Paoli Tavern in Pennsylvania.

Ebenezer’ statement continues: “That after the said surprise and defeat the Command of the Regiment was given to Col. Washington. That he continued in Washington’s Regiment of Cavalry until the end of the war.” This Colonel William Washington was second cousin to George Washington.

His 1820 statement indicates that he was “at Monks Corner,” which was a battle that took place on the outskirts of Charleston, SC, April 14, 1780. Again, the Loyalists and British undertook a surprise attack at 3 A.M. and most of the Continental forces were driven away. They lost their horses to the British in this battle. This led to the eventual British capture of Charleston.

He also stated he was at “the defeat of Buford.” Also known as “Buford’s Massacre,” this battle took place May 29, 1780, after the British had taken Charleston. Three columns of British soldiers easily overtook the single line of Continental forces near the North and South Carolina border. Again a British victory.

He was at “the battle of Cowpens,” which took place January 17, 1781 in South Carolina. This time the Continental troops formed 3 successive lines against the British attack. The Light Dragoons were sent to meet the British. It was considered the “most decisive American victory of the War for Independence.” The tide was turning for the Continental Army.

Then he stated he was at “the battle of Guilford.” This was the battle of Guilford Courthouse in Greensboro, North Carolina on March 15, 1781. General Charles Lord Cornwallis commanded the British forces. The Continental Army again formed 3 lines with the Light Dragoons in the 3rd line. While it was a British victory, they lost 25% of their troops and were unable to pursue the Continental forces. Cornwallis moved on to Virginia.

The next battle mentioned in Ebenezer’s statements was “the second battle of Camden,” which took place in South Carolina April 25, 1781. The British had already won a victory at this same spot in the Summer of 1780, and again were victorious.

The final battle mentioned is “the Battle of Eutaw Springs.” This took place near Charleston, SC on September 8, 1781. With this battle, the British eventually abandoned their position and withdrew to Charleston.

As mentioned earlier, Cornwallis surrendered in October 1781, thus ending the fighting. Ebenezer definitely saw the defeat and victory of war. I expect he matured quickly through those years. When he “was discharged on the Santee River in South Carolina” and returned home, he was still considered young at 22 years old.

According to the 1820 statement, Ebenezer obtained a pension certificate from the Secretary of War October 8, 1819. Certificate #15,306.

I’m not sure why he made the statement in 1820 when he had already received his certificate, perhaps he was petitioning for additional funds. Regardless his statement includes his financial status:

EbMintonRevWarClip4

…that he has no occupation but that of a farmer. And that although he is subject to the infirmities incident to his age, he still performs what labour he can on the farm. That having no land of his own, he has to depend on renting.”

He lists his personal property as:

One mare and colt, and two other mares, five cows & calves, four two year old heifers, one yearling steer, Twenty seven head of sheep, twenty eight head of hogs, mostly small, two Bareshear ploughs, two pair of horse gear, three cleavers, two shovel ploughs & single trees, four old asses, five weeding hoes, two mattocks, one double tree, one handsaw & drawing knife, one auger, one large kettle, two pots, two ovens, two pot racks, one pair shovel & tongs, two pewter dishes, eighteen old pewter plates, fifteen delf[t] plates, five knives & forks, one set cups and saucers, one cream mug, one coffee pot, one sugar bowl, one set table spoons, four water pails, one rifle gun, one churn, nine old tea cups, one old saddle, one smoothing iron, & one iron wedge.”

He states he has debts amounting to $166.

Then for a family historian, the best bit of information, he lists the names and ages of all of his family members living in his household:

EbMintonRevWarClip5

He lists his wife, Elizabeth, who is 55 years old. His five children living with him: Isaac, 17; Ebenezar, 15; Liddy, 13; Betsey, 11; and Vardeman, 9. He also had “two orphan grandchildren to raise,” Washington, 7 and Preston, 5. What a wealth of information! Finding names of family members from the 1820’s is difficult, as Census records only list the head of household and # of people in the household by age. Obviously, Ebenezer also had at least one more son not listed who had died, leaving the two grandchildren.

Additional paperwork in Ebenezer’s pension file confirmed that he did receive a pension of $8/month.

But that’s not the end of Ebenezer’s story. His file also contained an Application for Transfer, dated May 12, 1826.

EbMintonRevWarClip6

Ebenezer requested to transfer his Pension payment from Lee County, Virginia to Blount County, Tennessee. He stated he had moved to Tennessee to be with his children, who had also moved there. Looking at the map, Lee County, Virginia is on the border with Tennessee, in the area of the Cumberland Gap. Blount County, Tennessee is just south of Knoxville, in Eastern Tennessee. Interestingly enough, when I did a search for Blount County, TN, I came across a picture of a memorial marker at the Blount County Courthouse in Maryville, TN.

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The memorial was erected “In Memory of Soldiers and Patriots of the American Revolution who Settled in Blount County.” Ebenezer’s name is listed on the back of the memorial.

On Ancestry.com, I found a little more information about Ebenezer. He was apparently awarded 100 acres of Bounty land in 1794 as this certificate confirms:

EbMintonRevWarClip8

However, by 1820, he states he does not own any land. So perhaps he sold his bounty land to a speculator. I have not been able to find out any more information about the location of this land.

One final record from Ancestry.com was the Tennessee Pension Roll record showing that Ebenezer was entered to the Tennessee roll in March of 1826. His last payment is recorded as March 1838. This would indicate that Ebenezer passed away sometime between March and September of 1838, which is when the next entry would have been recorded.

According to the Find-a-Grave website <www.findagrave.com>, Ebenezer was buried in an unmarked grave at the Third Creek (Baptist) Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Per church records, he died April 24, 1838. He was 78 years old. It is also indicated that he was a charter member of the church.

So that’s the story of Ebenezer Minton, private in the Continental Army, Light Dragoons. One of the average citizens who as a young man helped found this country, the United States of America.

And how do I fit into the line of Pvt. Ebenezer Minton? He had a son, Ebenezer, Jr. (1805-1877). Ebenezer, Jr. had a daughter, Mariah (1846-1923). She married George Portis (1839-1916) & they had a daughter, Gertrude (1888-1967). Gertrude married Oscar McKinley (1887-1969), they were my Great-Grandparents. Ebenezer, Jr. and his family moved from Knoxville, to Wilbur, in Morgan County, Indiana.

© MJM 2020

 

Remembering a Soldier

Last Saturday was June 6, the 76th Anniversary of D-Day. The date that the Allied forces came together for a massive campaign to overtake the beaches of France in order to work toward an end to World War II. There wasn’t much news coverage of the commemoration of that event this year. Usually, people gather at the Normandy beaches and in the surrounding towns. Dignitaries from the Allied countries give speeches & soldiers return to remember their friends and comrades who gave the ultimate sacrifice on the beaches. This year, travel was curtailed by a pandemic so the beaches and towns were empty of visitors. News reports of the simple commemoration by a few people were overshadowed by other events. But just because there wasn’t a big celebration this year, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t mark the day. The soldiers and civilians who were witnesses to that day are being lost to time & we need to continue to collect their stories so when they are gone, we can still truthfully commemorate the events.

But D-day wasn’t the final battle of WWII. Those who fought to take the beaches on June 6, 1944, provided a pathway for the next waves of soldiers to enter Europe to eventually overtake the Nazi forces. There was another year of brutal battles before the War in Europe was over, then a few more months before the War in the Pacific was over.

One of the soldiers who followed after the D-day contingent was Joseph George Serketich, Jr. He was born in Pennsylvania January 28, 1919 to Joseph (1893-1956) and Anna (Vugrinovic) (1896-1983) Serketich. He was born while his father was working in the coal mines in Pennsylvania. The family returned to Sheboygan, WI when he was very young.

The Sheboygan Press newspaper gives the basic story of Joseph’s military service:

On June 30, 1942. Joseph is listed as one of 103 men from Sheboygan who will enter military service. He was 23 years old.

July 6, 1942. There was a flag dedication ceremony at his church, St. Dominic’s on July 5. This ceremony was to dedicate a new flag pole & to bless the US flag that would be raised. It also was a day to recognize the 23 young men from the congregation who were in the military & inscribe their names on the church’s honor roll. Joseph’s name was included on the roll.

July 7, 1942. A crowd of over 5000 people gathered to see the soldiers off to Fort Sheridan, IL. On the 6th, they checked in at the post office and paraded to the train depot accompanied by a band playing “many patriotic numbers.”

Joseph moved on to Camp Swift, TX for his training, and on August 6, 1942, a letter that he wrote on July 31 to his priest—Rev. Fr. George J. Knackert, was published in the paper. He is still a young soldier—only 3 weeks in the service. He told of his impressions of the way the soldiers worked together showing “such great teamwork and sportsmanship.” He states, “the U.S. Army is the best in the world.” He talks of working with “all kinds of men, of all religions and nationalities. They are all here for the same purpose and all work as a unit.” He mentions how good it is to see the men in chapel together. He says, “The people of America can really be proud of their army.” He is part of the Headquarters Battery, 360th Field Artillery Battalion, 95th Division. He comments that “The 95th is sure going to be a rugged outfit.”

On August 21, 1942, a letter to the Editor that Joseph wrote on August 16, was published. Here he mentions his surprise that his earlier letter had been published in the paper & hoped the readers “could vision the ideals I intended to bring out about camp life.” He also mentions that there were several other young men from Sheboygan training at Camp Swift and “the people of Sheboygan can be very proud of their boys.” He says “each one is prepared to perform the task placed before him that they may enjoy the rights which the Almighty has given every man to work out his life and gain real happiness.” He expresses his trust in God to give victory & states “the people of America and her allies need not be afraid of any worldly force brought against them.”

November 2, 1942. Joseph is promoted to Corporal in the U.S. Army. This notice includes a photo of him in uniform.

January 7, 1943. Joseph’s name is included on the new Croatian Societies Honor Roll at a banquet at the Croatian Hall in Sheboygan.

January 12, 1943. Announces Joseph’s return to Fort Sam Houston, TX after an 8-day furlough at home.

June 15, 1943. Corporal Technician Joseph G. Serketich is promoted to Sergeant. He’s been in the Army for almost a year.

A tragedy occurred in Joseph’s family on June 21, 1943. Two of his brothers, Rudolph, age 16, and Steven, age 13, drowned in the Pigeon river. Joseph was present at the funeral on June 25. At that time he was stationed at a camp in Louisiana.

I couldn’t find any mention of Joseph in the paper until December 1944.

On December 4, there was an announcement that his family received word that he was killed in action at Manzeres, near Metz, France on November 17, 1944. It gives a summary of his military duty stations & states that he left in July 1944 for Europe. He was in England for 2 weeks, then on to France, “where he saw action in the 95th division of the Third army under General Patton.” I expect he followed the path forged by those soldiers on D-day. Information for a “memorial requiem high mass” at St. Dominic’s church was included.

Another announcement of his death on December 5, contained a picture of Sgt. Serketich. He had grown a mustache and looked a little more mature than the picture from 2 years earlier. He was 25 years old when he died.

By the way, the 95th Division had the nickname, “The Iron Men of Metz,” after capturing and defending this town from repeated German attacks. So I guess Joseph’s description was true—it was a “rugged outfit.”

May 22, 1945. An article lists Joseph’s older brother, John S. (1916-1997), as one of the 63 men from the Sheboygan area to leave for military service. Also in that list was John and Joseph’s First Cousin once Removed, John A. Chvarack (1916-1967), my Grandfather. While the war in Europe was officially over, soldiers were still needed. According to his obituary, John S. served as a quarter master in Germany. My Grandfather, John A. Chvarack, served on the US Hospital Ship Hope.

The final notices regarding Joseph were in August, 1948:

August 12, 1948. Announced the plans for his reburial service.

August 16, 1948. The announcement and description of the funeral service for T/4 Joseph G. Serketich with Military rites. He was buried on the family lot in Greendale cemetery, Kohler, WI.

This being Flag Day (June 14), the day commemorating the adoption of the flag of the United States in 1777, I thought it pertinent to mention two more items from Joseph’s story.

First, Rev. George J. Knackert’s words from the flag dedication ceremony July 5, 1942:

The Stars and Stripes are to us the symbol of our constitution and democratic form of government…From the moment it was flung to the breeze in our nation’s first stroke for freedom it has waved to the rhythm of right in war and peace. Though it wave in gentlest calm or wildest tempest, its red ripples on like the warm blood that trickles from the patriotic breast; its white streams on as if pleading with us to seek the purest in life and to trample down any vicious scheme or godless plot; its blue but undulates to remind us that after all, home, sweet home is not only here, but above all in the azure of the great beyond; and its stars, even when the night is darkest with war and social distresses, are so many beacons inspiring hope and trust in God…the freedom which our forefathers have dearly won and bequeathed to us, must be fought for again and again by labor and toil in each generation, must be recaptured and won unceasingly, even at the cost of sweat and blood and tears in order to be appreciated, cherished and preserved for future generations…

Second, this is what Joseph said in his letter on July 31, 1942:

There is another thrill, which makes a mind to become thoughtful. That is when the army has retreat at the end of each day–the most beautiful ceremony in the army. There the men all stand in formation, facing the flag of our country. While the colors are being lowered the men stand at attention and present arms. At the same time the band plays the national anthem. The thrill comes when one stares at the flag there high in the sky, he wonders what is it there for. What does it mean? Liberty, freedom, happiness and freedom of religion…I will fight to defend it whenever an enemy tries to take it from us. I will die for it as Christ died for me…All America should be proud of its flag, not of its material beauty, but for what it stands–life, liberty and happiness–to be also proud of its soldiers who fought to make it, and who fight to preserve it.”

Most of this section of Joseph’s letter was read into the Congressional Record (Vol. 146 (2000), Part 8) by the Hon. Gerald D. Kleczka of Wisconsin, in the House of Representatives, on June 14, 2000.

I end with Joseph’s sentiment at the end of his letter to the Editor August 16:

May God bless America.

Keep ’em flying.

© MJM 2020

The War Wound

The first couple of posts I did were about Allen Erp’s Civil War story. Allen was my 3rd Great Grandfather. He was born in Pulaski County Kentucky in 1826. He married Sarah Alexander in 1844 and a few years later moved to Clinton County Indiana. 

He served in Company G of the 86th Regiment of the Indiana Volunteers during the Civil War– enlisting in August 1862 and serving through the end of the war, being discharged June of 1865 in Nashville, Tennessee. His military records are under the name “Allen Urp.”

Last July, I was at a genealogy conference in Indiana. I met a man who’s business is going to the National Archives and retrieving Civil War Records. I paid the fee and waited for what he might find about Allen Urp. I was particularly interested in seeing if there would be any record of Allen’s injury to his right hand that was mentioned in his letter home and on his Invalid Pension Certificate. A few months later I received digital copies of Allen’s Service Record and Pension files. There was no specific Medical record.

The Pension files consisted of several pages of sworn testimony confirming Allen’s dates of service in the Union Army. There were also statements regarding his injury. 

Theodore Hesser, who served as 1st Lieutenant in Company G of the 86th Regiment of the Indiana Volunteers gave a statement that indicated that Private Allen Urp, “on or about the 18th day of December 1862 was wounded in his right hand by the accidental discharge of his gun while on picket duty causing the loss of the 1st & 2nd fingers of his Right hand.” The event occurred near Nashville, Tennessee. Mr. Hesser also stated that “Said Urp was a good & faithful soldier and continued to serve on detached service in the Ambulance train till the Regiment was discharged.” 

So Allen was on “picket duty.” This was a line of soldiers who patrolled in advance of the main encampment, watching for any enemy movement. At this time in 1862, the Regiment was encamped near Nashville, making it’s way toward Murfreesboro, Tenn. His wounds were not caused in battle, but by an “Accidental discharge” of his gun. 

Allen’s own testimony of his injury was given as well. It adds a little more detail to the story. On January 22, 1870 he gave this statement in support of his Pension request: 

“On or about the 18th day of December 1862 while on duty on the skirmish line I was taken with the cramp & while endeavoring to relieve my self my gun was accidentally discharged wounding me in the right hand causing the amputation of my first and second fingers. My wound was dressed & attended to in the camp of the Regiment near Nashville, Tenn & I remained with the Regiment until I was discharged at the close of the war.”

So if I read that correctly, Allen was on picket duty, patrolling the area near the encampment, on the look-out for the enemy, when “nature called.” Who knows, he may have propped his rifle against a tree and it fell, causing it to accidentally discharge, or it may have fired as he was preparing to set it down. In one sense it may be lucky that he only lost some fingers!

This injury was not great enough to keep him from serving his tour of duty however. As mentioned in the statements, he served through the next two and a half years to the end of the war. He worked with the Ambulance service & as he said in his letter home, drove an Ambulance wagon. He may have also worked on the Ambulance train that took wounded soldiers away from the battle lines to field hospitals. These trains could have consisted of flat cars, freight cars or passenger cars used to transport the soldiers. Can’t imagine they were the best of accommodations. The Library of Congress website <loc.gov> has pictures of Civil War Ambulance wagons and trains. I expect working with the Ambulance service was quite challenging at times. 

There was an Examining Surgeon’s Certificate dated November 2, 1869 attached to his file. The surgeon, W.P. Dunn, declared Allen “1/2 incapacitated for obtaining his subsistence by manual labor” due to his injury. Since Allen was a farmer, his lively-hood was affected by the limited use of his right hand. My assumption is that he was right-handed. According to other paperwork in is file, Allen was approved of his Invalid (Disability) Pension April 13, 1871 for $2 per month from June 5, 1865. 

In 1875, when Allen was 48 years old, he applied for an increase to a full pension. He gave the following statement to the Clerk of the Clinton County, Indiana Court:

He reported his disability from “Gunshot wound of right hand causing loss of first & second fingers of the said hand causing stiffness and lameness of said hand, greatly incapacitating him for manual labor.” Allen requested an examination and an increase in pension. He also seems to indicate that he had not received the appropriate compensation as he also requested back pension. He did have a Medical Examination and was still declared 1/2 disabled and entitled to $4 per month.

In 1878, Allen again pursued an increase in his pension & appeared before the Clerk of the Court of Tippecanoe County, Indiana. He stated that he is disabled due to the “gun shot wound of right hand causing loss of middle and index fingers and a contracture of tendons in the other fingers almost totally disabling him on such level equivalent to the loss of a limb.” He again received a Medical Examination, this time by 2 physicians, who stated:

“G.S.W. right hand=Ball destroyed 1st and 2nd Phalanx of Index and middle fingers—amputated at articulation of 2nd and 3rd Phalanx—stumps tender—becoming inflamed & ulcerated in labor—Hand of little use to Pensioner.” They declared his disability to be “total” such that he was entitled to $12 per month.

According to the file jacket for his pension, Allen received $2 per month commencing June 7, 1865. Then he received an increase to $5 per month commencing July 21, 1875. The final increase was to $8 per month commencing April 3, 1878. Allen died in 1885. He lived with what might seem a minor wound by today’s standards, but one that apparently caused him trouble most of his life. 

© MJM 2020

The Trophy

When I visited my Grandmother, Margaret Millikan McKinley (1917-2007), through the years, I remember seeing a trophy high up on a bookcase. I never looked at that trophy very closely & never asked about it. Then, my Great Aunt, Frances Millikan Haskett (1918-2018), displayed that trophy at her 95th birthday party & gave it to one of her nephews.

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I finally looked at it and read the inscription: “Sheridan Dairy Assn. Awarded to Arza H. Millikan, Sweepstakes Bull, Sheridan Indiana, Aug. 16, 1916”

So then things started to make sense.

I found some Sheridan News articles about the Dairymen Association Picnics on the NewspaperArchive.com website.

The page-one article from August 18, 1916 indicated that the 1916 picnic was the 2nd annual event and hailed it as a “dairy picnic and bull show.” There were estimated to be two to three thousand in attendance. There were also “several exhibits of machinery silos, etc.” Not to mention the merry-go-round and ice cream stand! A letter I have that Arza’s Aunt Alice Millikan Cox (1864-1926) wrote to her daughter, Carrie (1888-1985), said that there were “200 gallons of ice cream given away and 30 men to dish it out.”

The article stated that “Sheridan has become, … one of the big milk producing centers of the country & the greatest in Indiana.” It listed the names of the Sheridan Dairy Association officers: M.M. Evans, President; A.H. Millikan, Vice President; C.O. Ogle, Secretary-Treasurer. The officers and the Dairy Association were commended for holding a dairy show which had “good talks on dairying and it offered a great opportunity for displaying and studying and selling high grade thoroughbred dairy cattle.”

The Sheridan News article listed the winners of the Cattle show. Turns out Arza won more than one award. He won 1st place for “Bull Class 1, 3yr. and over,” Sweepstakes Bull, Best Jersey Bull and Bulls Sold in Sale. Of the four silver cup trophies awarded, Arza won three, all for Jersey Bulls. He also won $77 in prize money with $70 of it being for one bull. I don’t know what happened to the other trophies.

The letter from his Aunt Alice also mentioned his winnings. She said he got a “nice blue bow with a button and a bow with a picture of a bull on it” for a bull that he bought at the show. That may have confirmed something that I saw in a picture of Arza and a bull.

Millikan455Arzaprizebull

Is Arza wearing a ribbon on his jacket?AMribbon

Is this one of the prize-winning bulls from this Dairy Picnic? At this point I don’t know.

Turns out that Arza also won prizes for his cattle at the first Dairy picnic in August, 1915 and the third Dairy picnic in 1917. All of this was reported in the Sheridan News from August 20, 1915 and September 14, 1917.

In 1915, Arza won 1st prize for the Class 1 Bull category and the Sweepstakes Bull Prize. He also gave one of the instructional talks at the picnic.

In 1917, he won the $20 trophy for the Sweepstakes Bull, the $10 trophy for the best Jersey bull and the $25 prize for the “best heifer sired by a Park Farm’s bull.” He also won the $5 1st prize for the “Bull 1yr. old, under 2” and $2 3rd prize for the “Heifer 1yr. old, under 2.”

Two more pictures of Arza and his bulls:

Millikan460Arzabull

Millikan459Arzabull

Perhaps one of these was a “Prize Winner.”

Regardless, it seems that my Great-grandfather, Arza H. Millikan (1883-1964), was gaining a reputation for the quality and pedigree of his bulls & dairy cattle.

© MJM 2019

 

Veterans of the Great War

The 11th Hour of the 11th Month, 1918. The time when all fighting would cease in France after the Armistice had been signed that morning. The end to the Great War. That was 100 years ago.

So I figured I would dig through my family history information and honor those ancestors who served during that war.

I already mentioned Fred McKinley (1890-1972), Brooklyn, IN; my Dad’s Great-Uncle on his Paternal side. He served in the US Army from April 27, 1918 to November 1, 1918.

Fred’s cousin, Frank B. Crider (1896-1978), Morgan County, IN. Served in the US Army from July 22, 1918 to January 16, 1919.

Then there was Chester Emmett Boone (1892-1954), Connersville, IN; my Dad’s Great-Uncle on his Maternal side. He served with the US Army 309th Supply Company, Quartermaster Corps, Private, #778964. He departed from Newport News, VA June 6 1918. He left Brest, France June 29, 1919. Arrived July 8, 1919 at Hoboken, NJ, listed as a Private 1st Class.

Chester’s cousin, William Hobart Boone (1896-1991), also served in the US Army. The only information I have about his service is that he served in 1918.

On Mom’s side of the family—they were first generation citizens at the time of the War. I wonder how they felt heading off to Europe to fight against what might have been their own relatives.

First, the brother of my Great Grandmother, Amanda Steinhaus Beiersdorf (1894-1973):

William Steinhaus (1896-1963) from Sheboygan, WI. Served as a Private in the US Army M D, Private, #2822606. Departed from Brooklyn, NY to Europe Sept 17, 1918 with Ambulance Company 342-311. Listed on roster of sick or wounded in Hospital in Bordeaux France 11/16/18 w/ Left Inguinal Hernia.

William’s father, Otto Steinhaus (1869-1954) had two cousins who also served:

Paul Richard Steinhaus (1892-1964), Sheboygan, WI, US Army, Private, #2822617. Departed from New York, NY to Europe Sept 9, 1918 with the 86th Div, 171st Infantry Brigade, Company D, 342nd Infantry. He left Brest, France on June 12, 1919. Arrived in Hoboken, NJ June 20, 1919. He is listed as part of the US Army Machine Gun Company, 55th Infantry.

Herbert August Steinhaus (1895-1957), Plymouth, WI, served with the US Army Field Remount Squadron #318, #2831867. He departed from Newport News, VA on Aug 14, 1918, listed as Acting Corporal. He left Brest, France on June 23, 1919. Arrived Boston, MA July 5, 1919, listed as a Private 1st Class.

Who would have thought when these men came home from their service, that their sons would once again take up arms in another war in Europe.

So, remembering just a few named veterans from my family tree who served during the Great War 100 years ago. I also thank the other veterans who served our country in other times of war and conflict

© MJM 2018

An Unfortunate Accident

One of the data-bases in the Ancestry.com collection is “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011.” Naturally, I have used this collection to try to find the death certificates for my many Indiana ancestors. The certificates can help fill in some of the connections—such as parent’s names, spouse’s name, occupation, dates of birth and death. Obviously, the death certificate also includes the cause of death. Most of the time, I’ve found the cause to be pretty standard—cardio vascular problems, respiratory problems, cancer, etc. Occasionally, I find a more intriguing cause of death…

Burton Minton was the son of Thomas Minton (1844-1916) and Eliza Ann Cummings (1845-1927). He was born in the community of Wilbur, IN December 6, 1870. He was a nephew of my GG Grandmother, Mariah (Minton) Portis (1848-1923). He was a farmer & trader. He was a member of the Poplar Grove M.E. Church. Burton married Vesta Fowler December 24, 1890. He and Vesta had 9 children and lived in the Wilbur community together for 57 years.

Burton’s Death Certificate from Ancestry.com indicates that he didn’t die of “natural causes.”

BertMintonDC1

BertMintonDC2

Incidentally, his name is spelled “Berton” on the death certificate. I found his obituary in the Morgan County, IN Library. It was not sourced so I’m not sure what newspaper it came from. It stated that “his buggy overturned about 10:30 Monday night on the Baltimore Road.” He was found Tuesday morning. He died “at 3:30 Tuesday afternoon in the Robert Long Hospital in Indianapolis.” He had never regained consciousness. The obit. also stated that searchers had looked “through the night” for Burton. “The parties had passed along the county road beside which Mr. Minton lay after his buggy had slipped off a culvert, but the buggy had turned over in such a deep spot that it was not seen at night…” It also reported that Burton “had evidently crawled about 30 feet along the gully.” He was found about 3 miles north of Wilbur and had reportedly been traveling home from Monrovia, IN.

The first time I read his obituary several years ago, I really had no idea who he was. I skimmed it and didn’t think much more about it. Because he died in a horse and buggy accident, I figured he died in the early 1900’s. Obviously, I didn’t look at the date written on the obit. Burton died May 3, 1949; well into the age of the automobile. Hard to imagine someone was still traveling by horse and buggy. I would guess he didn’t have much light on the roadway at that time of night as well. Anyway, the unfortunate accident claimed his life and added another sad story to the family history.

© MJM 2018

Farm Girls

FranMarg

Frances & Margaret Millikan

 

My Grandmother, Margaret Pauline Millikan, was born September 17, 1917. Her sister, Miriam Frances Millikan, was born November 20, 1918. Their parents were Arza Millikan (1883-1964) and Mary Boone Millikan (1897-1992). They grew up on the family farm on Mulebarn Road near Sheridan, Indiana. The two girls were almost inseparable growing up.

 

Farm life was full of responsibilities. Feeding the chickens was one chore the girls could do while they were rather young.

MargFranchickens

Grandma said they also had the responsibility of driving the cows “to the 30.” The two girls would take the herd of 8-10 cows from Arza’s farm down the road about half a mile to 30 acres of land that his Mother, Martha Ellen Barker (1858-1932), inherited. Grandma described this chore when I interviewed her in 2006:

“Frances and I drove the cows every day…We were 10 years old when we started herding the cattle from the barn lot down to the corner. You had to keep them from going west or south, you had to get them turned, be sure that the gates were locked on everybody’s fence…We drove those cattle from the home over and over again to the corner again, back up to the 30…We’d drive those cattle back and there was no fence. We had a lane we drove them back and part of the time that would be a big corn field clear back to the woods. You had to keep them on that lane and get them back to the 30…There was a big water tank like the old water tanks were that you pumped a full tank of water. And we’d pump a full tank of water and walk home. Then go back and get them in the evening. We’d pump a tank of water at the barn for when they got back. We did that for a long time.”

She also remembered other chores on the farm: “And Frances and I worked in the field. I remember one time when I—Daddy had plowed that big field over at the 30 that was East of the woods and I rode a drag. I mean a drag that was just heavy boards with a couple of 3 rocks on it to help hold it down. And it had dried out…and I could hardly ride the drag. ‘Course you stood up on it, but it just pulled my arms ’til I was nearly sick. That field was so rough and the disc just didn’t cut it down. Daddy had a tractor of course and we had disked it but it didn’t work. I never rode the disc—that was a little dangerous because you’ve got all those cutters. But I had a harrow and that drag and that was one of the hardest jobs I ever did in the field.”

Margaret and Frances helped load beans: “Daddy and Grandpa Millikan would pitch the beans, work on beans on a wagon…They’d pitch those up and we’d have to cram them down and move stuff around. We did the same thing with hay.” Grandma remembers one time when she was a teenager and almost had a heat stroke when helping with the hay. They also helped plant potatoes and load the silo with corn. “Those kind of were dirty jobs; you didn’t have any bathrooms or bath tubs to clean up in. Used water in an old tub.”

But farm work wasn’t all they did growing up. They would play tag in the yard at night with neighbor kids. They would read a lot. Their Father, Arza, worked his Grandfather’s farm when the girls were little (Clark Millikan died in 1926). They would accompany Arza to the farm either by wagon or in “the old open touring car” mornings and evenings when he would go to do chores. She remembers “we got roller skates and learned to skate on the sidewalk that went up to the front door.” And she remembered “turning somersaults in the yard, because they kept the yard mowed and we didn’t at home…Frances & I were turning somersaults in there one day and I don’t know if it was Aunt Allie or Aunt Angie that came out and told us the chickens had been in that yard and they didn’t want us to get the chicken manure in our hair. Such a crazy thing to remember.”

When Margaret started school, Frances went along. The two sisters stayed close all of their lives. They double dated when they were teenagers. They worked together at the Sheridan Grille restaurant before Margaret got married and Frances went to college. Margaret married Loran McKinley in 1936 & Frances married Robert Haskett in 1939. They started raising families & eventually Margaret settled in Sheridan and Frances in Westfield. Both ladies were active with the church & supported missions.

In the 1970’s Mary Millikan sold the farm and moved to a house next door to Frances in Westfield. Margaret and their other sister, Betty Lou, lived with Mary. Eventually, Margaret and Frances moved to a Quaker-run Senior Apartment complex in Westfield. Margaret died in 2007, she was 90 years old. Frances continued on until this year. She died April 1—Easter Sunday. She was 99 years old.

I’m sure there were many more stories that we would have loved to hear from Margaret and Frances. They shared what they wanted to, or what we asked them about. As it is, we do know they were shaped by their early years working hard on that farm near Sheridan, IN.

horseMargFranMargaret & Frances with one of the horses at their home near Sheridan, IN.

© MJM 2018

 

Growing Tomatoes for Van Camp

I found a piece of paper in my GG Grandfather’s stuff & wondered what it was all about. So I did a little digging. Here is the contract between GG Grandpa Lewis Elwood Millikan (1855-1949) and the Van Camp Packing Company:

LEMillikanVanCamp copy

So is this the same well known Van Camp company that makes Pork & Beans? And how did Elwood get involved in growing tomatoes for them?

Looking into the history of the Van Camp company, I found a notation at the Indiana State Library website. The company was started by Gilbert Van Camp in Indianapolis, IN. Gilbert’s son, Frank, is credited with adding catsup and bacon to the the baked beans recipe to give it a unique taste. So yes, this is the same Van Camp company that makes Pork & Beans!

How did Elwood get involved? He probably attended this meeting announced in the Sheridan News, January 10, 1902:

SherNewsJan101902p12VanCampAd

Seeing that the contract was initiated on January 25, he must have figured it was a good deal. He contracted for 3 acres of tomatoes. The last line of the agreement, however, gives an “out” for the company if they did not get a commitment of enough acres—their minimum was 300 total acres.

Another announcement in the Sheridan News January 31, 1902 indicated that the company was reaching the quota:

SherNewsJan311902p1VanCamp

One more article in the Sheridan Weekly Sun November 13, 1902 gives a little information on how the overall crop did:

SherWeeklySunThurNov131902p8VanCamp

I don’t know much more about Elwood’s crop. I wonder how much money he made from this contract & if it was worthwhile for him. I did find that the Van Camp company advertised again in the Sheridan papers for tomato crops in the years to follow—so it must have been a lucrative deal for them.

So there it is, looks like GG Grandpa Lewis Elwood Millikan probably provided tomatoes to the VanCamp Packing Company at least for one season—what an interesting find!

© MJM 2018

An Inventor in the Family

One of the first things I do when looking for information on an ancestor is a simple Google search. I did that one day on a guy named Silas Portis & found an interesting piece of information. The first time I “Googled” Silas, I saw this drawing for a patent on a gate opening device.

SilasPortisPatentDraw

Lately, the Google search gives a link in Google Books to Scientific American magazine from February 4, 1893, pg.73. This includes a nice illustration as well as a description of Silas’ device.

SPortisScientificAmer

The whole idea is that a person would not have to get down from the wagon or carriage, hold the horse steady and at the same time open the gate, then repeat the same process to close the gate once the wagon had passed through.

Looking at the US Patent office rules, a person who wanted to file for a patent would have to submit a detailed drawing and description of the device as well as the appropriate fees. I searched the US Patent & Trademark office website <uspto.gov> for more information on Silas’ patent. Since the first drawing I found had a patent number, I was able to find the actual patent for Silas’ “Gate-Worker.” The Patent No. 436,543 was dated November 17, 1891. The specifications are very technical with a description of each element of the device and how it all worked in sequence to open & close the gate. Other information found in the Patent paperwork was that Silas was from Monrovia, Indiana and he assigned two thirds of the patent to Telemichus N. Bennett and Albert Taylor who also lived in Monrovia.

So who was Silas Portis? He shows up in the 1850 US Census in the Northern subdivision of Davidson County, North Carolina with his Mother, Rachel and siblings, Emeline, Elizabeth and George W (my GG Grandfather). Silas attended school within the year and is listed as a laborer.

1850PortisFamilyNC

Silas was born June 14, 1833 according to his headstone. Other records list 1834 or 1835 as his birth-year. In 1860, he shows up in the US Census, still in North Carolina, but this time in the Southern Division of Guilford County. He is listed as an Engineer with a group of other men, including 2 Miners, a Blacksmith, Carpenter, another Engineer and several laborers. The assumption is that he worked in a mine. There were gold mines in Guilford County, NC. His wife, Rebecca and their two daughters, Louise & Charlotte, are in a separate listing from Silas, but on the same page. I haven’t found any information as to what Silas did during the Civil War.

In 1880, Silas was living in Guilford Township of Hendricks County, Indiana. He has married a 2nd time after his first wife, Rebecca died. The 1880 Census lists Silas with his wife, son and step-son. At this time he was working in a Saw Mill.

1880SilasPortisIN

On June 18, 1883, the Hendricks County Republican newspaper reports “Silas Portis has hired to the Monrovia millers as an engineer. Silas has been with us for some time and we regret that he is going to leave us, though while we lose a good citizen Monrovia gains one.”

A sad event occurred in Silas’ family in September of 1888. His 10 year old son, Cecil died. The report is that Cecil was leading a cow to pasture with the rope tied around his waist. The cow became frightened and ran, dragging Cecil and killing him.

In 1900, Silas lives in Monroe Twp. of Morgan County, Indiana. He is listed in the US Census with his wife, Mary and 18 year old daughter, Ovis (or Avis). His job description is again Engineer. By this time, he has already secured his patent for his Gate-Worker device.

Silas died March 14, 1904. He was 70 years old. He is buried in West Union Cemetery, Monrovia, Indiana.

So, even though Silas Portis was not a direct ancestor of mine, he is still part of the family & it’s kind of cool to know that he has his name on a US Patent. I wonder if he made any money off of his invention? Knowing Silas’ story, maybe it’s not so unusual that some of my relatives have the need to “tinker” with things.

© MJM 2018