Sunday, December 17, 2017

To Write on Ends As Was at Hand

Virginia Darcey Slaughter in 2004 opened a window into the life of Kentucky jurist Squire Turner (1793-1871). She posted on a message board that Turner, son of Thomas 'Trading Tom' Turner (1764-1847), wrote Talton Turner (1791-1858). From Richmond, Kentucky to Glasgow, Missouri. "One of these letters survives today," she advised. "It was written August 9th, 1845."

Squire's papers, once entrusted to what is now Eastern Kentucky University, have been lost; yet he is voluminously represented in the record, if you know where to look. Henry Clay kept Turner's letters. Clay was but months from vaulting to U.S. Secretary of State from a third stint as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1827. In the third of six annual terms he'd serve in the state's Lower House, Turner fed political intelligence to his fellow Kentuckian.

The two would migrate to the Whig Party, and Turner would speak for Clay's nomination as Presidential candidate at the party's 1844 convention in Baltimore. (Turner is well-represented in debate at the Kentucky Constitutional Convention of 1849. A prolific writer, he can be credited with much of state law, codified under his influence the following year.)

Portrait of Squire Turner (1793-1871), in the county courthouse, Richmond, Kentucky.
If his mien, conveyed by an oil portrait (detail, right) hanging in the Madison County courthouse at Richmond doesn't do it, surviving historical documents, primarily his legal opinions, tend to portray Squire as taciturn. A rather poignant communique to his cousin breathes life into other reaches of the man's character.

I thought to identify the persons referred to.
Sir,
Being at leisure this morning I determined to drop you a few lines and found I had no letter paper and thereupon determined to write on ends as was at hand. It is now a good while since you and I started this life - four fifths of our school mates have passed off this stage and gone from this world of care. It is meet therefore that we, while spared, should rekindle our early affections long buried in the busy scene of life. In a few years more, should we be spared, we shall be among the oldest of our name and kindred.

I was very much gratified at the visit your two interesting daughters paid us lately & that gratification was much increased by their companion Miss Clarke.

I hope it is not the only visit we shall receive from your family and Gen'l Clarks - The Turners have never [sic] for as much as they were entitled to. They have never paid enough attention to educating their children and giving them accomplishments and high aspirations.

You have organized a fine estate & are fully able to place your children in the first ranks & I am trying to do it with mine.

I was quite gratified to hear all about you and family & your father and all branches of this family - Your sister Polly was a great favorite of mine. We are nearly of the same age
Tell Gen'l Clark that he and his wife & Ann must come. Ann is a smart girl & a pleasant fellow - I contraried her several times & when she became crusty over it, her good humor soon returned.

Father is greatly taken with Mrs. Pulliam. She must write the old man a letter. He will be delighted to get one [sic] cher him up. Mrs. Estill is a good girl & very discreet so far as I could discover. She was at my house less than the others. They were all such good company that we appeared lonesome after they left.

My health is reasonalby good but age is creeping up on me & my cares are greater as my family grows up.

Your children have of course given you an account of my family & of the community generally. Horace Turner, Joseph's son, has gone to Philadelphia to live.

My daughter Mary rec'd a letter some ten days since from Ann Clarke. Mary will go to Louisville to finish her education in a few weeks.

Old Marsh was about as glad to see your children as anybody was. He came a second time three days after they left. Betsy and all the family send their respects to you all - especially to our late visiters. Tell Mrs. Pulliam to carry to your father my highest respects & to tell the old man that I inquire after him every opportunity & find a lively interest in his health & happiness.

Yours,
Squire Turner
Turner admits he "contraried" a young woman. This may confirm a churlish tendency. The idea that he would convey sentiments on scraps of paper, "on ends as was at hand," is incongruous. Let's call 'frugal' an attorney who twice turned down judicial appointment to the state's Court of Appeals, "because of the small salary." He "felt entitled to" seven slaves, enumerated in 1840 and likely at his Richmond homestead. He was halfway to an 1850 accounting of a whopping twenty-nine souls held in bondage ... and valuing his 'real estate' at an impressive $45,000.  (See this calculator: had that worth all been slave valuation, the labor value of such human chattel would today represent an estimated $10,400,000.) The attorney in private practice was investing in canals and the like, as part of Clay's visionary 'internal improvements' to infrastructure. Squire Turner was by some evaluations in the billionaire class of his day.

Squire styled his father Thomas as 'Old Marsh.' It is folksy euphemism for aging slave-master. Undoubtedly comfortable in perceived racial supremacy – a view shared by many Euro-Americans in his sphere of influence, even peers advancing emancipation – it may indicate inter-generational value the two men placed on domination. (In 1852 depiction of his jury-trial conduct, Livingston would compare Turner to a commanding general. The antebellum biography may have been based on self-report.)

I find it affirming that Turner valued "our name and kindred." My maternal grand-mother showed similar inclination as she lauded the "fine man" she had never met. Her (half) great-uncle attended to her mother's legal need not long after Amelia Turner (1852-1915) survived her own mother at six years of age. My family history research grows out of handed-down reverence for kinship.

Recipient Talton Turner was not thirteen months older than Squire. It may be remarkable to note these cousins were a generation removed from one another. Both descended from John Turner, Sr. (1705-c1768) and Sarah Elizabeth Williams (c1720-aft 1778). Talton by John and Sarah's last surviving child, Philip Turner (1762-1852), to whom Squire above sends "highest respects." Squire descended from John and Sarah's third surviving (son and) child John Turner, Jr. (c1738-1813) and wife Rebeckah Smith (d 1774). John Jr. was purportedly a full twenty-four years older than Philip. John Jr.'s son Thomas - 'Old Marsh,' above - actually occupied Talton's generation. He, 'Tradin' Tom,' had fathered a dozen children by two of his three wives. (And likely others, by his slaves. More here.)

Talton was age fifty-three; Squire, fifty-two. In "the busy scene of life," the cousins' political paths had aligned after Talton left his Madison County birthplace. An 1883 History declared the early Missouri settler was "remembered to this day" as being one of "only two Whigs who voted that ticket for years."

Image of Talton Turner. No biographer I found indicates Talton (left) or Squire received anything more than crude, frontier education as children. The men gave short-term enlistments to different Kentucky Militia regiments in the second war of American independence in 1812. Talton did acquire training, and by 1817 had secured the role of County Surveyor for Chariton County, Missouri. Three years later he married Sarah 'Sallie' Small Earickson (1802-1878). By 1825 Talton began speculating in land: his agglomeration did not fall short of phenomenal. At times partnering with his father-in-law, who became Missouri State Treasurer in 1829, the men secured thousands of acres in the years preceding Squire's note.

The Santa Fe Trail and Missouri River both brought Talton great wealth. In 1839 he and James Earickson took on proprietors to organize a town at Glasgow, on a bend in that watercourse. On a fine-timbered rise the pair owned, midway between Saint Louis and the newly rising Kansas City. A deepwater landing propelled Talton's hemp and tobacco to European markets.

1946 image of Talton Turner House.
By the 1840 census, Talton held twenty-five slaves on the "fine estate" (right) he is to have built for his bride fifteen years earlier. A dozen labored in agriculture, four enabled him to engage in manufacture and trade. By 1850 he would value his real estate at $100,000. Talton was twice the equivalent billionaire that Squire was.

Some in this cast of characters are easy to identify.

'Polly' was first-born Talton's closest sibling in birth order: Mary Turner (1793-1856) was not much more than eight months older than Squire. She had by 1845, the date of Squire's remembrance, outlived two husbands and was in her third marriage.

"Should we be spared" takes on poignancy. Squire does not ask after Polly and Talton's younger brother Cyrus Turner (d 1844). Almost exactly a year earlier, while driving cattle to Minnesota, the enterprise had wandered into territory the Sioux held by sovereign right. He'd been "captured and maltreated by the Sissetoan Dahkotahs," according to Neill. Cyrus escaped. Destitute and wounded, however, he drowned in attempt to find civilization. U.S. dragoons apprehended alleged perpetrators that fall. Who promptly escaped. The loss may have remained raw. In July 1845, perhaps while Cyrus' nieces were with Squire, four Sisseton men were captured "and sent down to Dubuque, Iowa for trial by the civil authorities."

'Betsy' had been Elizabeth Stone (1800-1887) before marrying Squire Turner in 1819, one year before Talton and Sallie made their union. In Betsy's 1840 household were three sons and two daughters. Among their slaves, eldest was a woman then between thirty-six and fifty-four years old. Of the seven enumerated, three slaves were younger than ten.

Squire and Betsy's daughter 'Mary' Ann (1828-1879) was seventeen and preparing to leave home. He also mentions Horace Turner (1822-1871) as "gone to Philadelphia." Horace is likely notable for having survived the recent death of his father Joseph (1793-1854), with whom Talton and Squire grew up. Perhaps Horace the brewer is remarkable among Turners ... for moving north, to cast his lot among Yankees.

Reference to Joseph indicates these Turners could be clannish, no matter where westward migration took their kinfolk. By his father Edward, Joseph is grandson to Thomas Turner, Sr. (1734-1822) ... eldest sibling of Talton's father Philip and Squire's grandfather John Turner, Jr.. Thomas was likely delivered while parents John Sr. and Sarah (above) were yet in Virginia. Brothers John Jr. and Philip were born in Rowan County, North Carolina. All three siblings would follow Daniel Boone out of the Yadkin River valley and into Madison County, Kentucky. Only Philip would resettle in Missouri, however.

Women occupied Squire's recall, of the troupe that had visited.

"Mrs. Pulliam" was Talton and Sallie's eldest daughter, Eliza Jane (1822-1902). The twenty-three year-old was eligible: first husband Elijah Robertson Pulliam (1816-1842) had died less than three and a half years into their marriage. It was in the 1839 period of their union that George Caleb Bingham painted a (now missing) portrait of the Chariton postmaster. Elijah had in 1840, no doubt with his father-in-law's guidance, purchased a forty-acre parcel of Missouri land in nearby Saline County.

The discreet "Mrs. Estill" was Talton and Sallie's second (child and) daughter, Mary Ann (1826-1900). She was but two years older than Squire's daughter of the same name. Talton had given her away four months earlier. To James Robert Estill (1819-1900). Mention of 'Estill' enchants my research: by his father Wallace, James Robert is grandson of James Estill (1750-1782) ... owner of 'Uncle' Monk Estill (d 1835), the one-time slave who saved the life of my 4x great-grandfather James Berry (1752-1822) following 'Estill's Defeat,' or 'Battle of Small Mountain.' (See Meet Monk Estill.)

Howard County, from unidentified 1851 Missouri map.By 1850, after their first child is born, James Robert Estill will be farming in Missouri with fourteen slaves, and valuing his real estate at $12,000. He named his plantation 'Estill' (now Greenwood). An 1851 Howard County map (left) is revealing: Glasgow contends with the county seat in importance. Estill's enterprise is indicated. Talton's 'Home Place' was a mile and a half south of bustling Glasgow.

Companion "Miss Clarke" was certainly the most challenging to identify. One can assume she is Ann, daughter to a General.

On 10 January 1840, Talton had purchased almost 1200 acres: 312 of them in Linn County, Missouri were secured by a syndicate. From the record (detail, below) I discern his partners were William C. Boon, Thomas Reynolds & John B. Clarke.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records. Automated Records Project; Federal Land Patents, Volume for Missouri.
William Crawford Boone, Sr. (1812-1885) already occupies my database.* Father William Linville Boone (1768-1847) was in August 1845 aboard a steamer. A pall bearer returning to Kentucky from Missouri. At the very time Squire took leisure to correspond, William Linville Boone accompanied what he took to be disinterred remains of his aunt and uncle, pioneers Daniel and Rebecca Boone. For memorializing and reburial at Frankfort.

William Crawford Boone was, like Talton, running a Missouri mercantile business. Talton, when Boone's age, had government contracts to supply beef to the military and an Indian Agency. If he had not already, Boone would soon provision the state legislature from his warehouse at Fayette, Missouri.

Partner Thomas Reynolds (1796-1844), former Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, had for three years been riding Missouri's 2nd circuit. Judge Reynolds was a climber: in the interim, he had swiftly risen from Missouri's House of Representa-tives to serve as Speaker of that body.

The land syndicate is interesting for its timing and membership. On 11 August, seven months after its filing, Missourians would go to the polls to elect Reynolds, a member of the 'Central Clique' political machine of pro-slavery Democrats. As Missouri's seventh Governor. His opponent? Whig John Bullock Clark, Sr. (1802-1885), also indicated on the above land grant.

Reynolds was dead by the time Squire reconnected with Cousin Talton. Apparently 'melancholic' and disturbed by treatment in the opposition press, Reynolds had the year before shot himself in the head. With a state-supplied rifle, while at his desk in the Governor's Executive Office.

But for peradventure, the 1840 gubernatorial election could have cost Clark his life as well. A month following the governor's race, a purloined letter – in which the candidate that July had proposed voter fraud – appeared in the Boonslick Democrat. In back-and-forth, public correspondence via that newspaper, Clark finally demanded a "personal interview." After unmasking his accuser as banker and serving State Representative Claiborne Fox Jackson (1806-1862).

Image of news reporting depicting terms of Clark-Jackson duel.
Dueling was then illegal in Missouri. Yet Jackson's second, Chauncey R. Scott,  proclaimed response (right): rifle fire at seventy yards. The medical doctor subsequently refused Clark's demand to choose a venue where none held jurisdiction over code duello.

Clark's final, written shot in this matter gives context for Reynolds' melancholy. He styled Jackson "a cold-blooded slanderer, a reclaimless scoundrel and a blustering coward." As a result of Reynold's election, syndicate member Boone replaced Jackson as Cashier at the Fayette branch of the Bank of the State of Missouri.

It is through Clark that I believe I've identified Ann, whom Squire thought "a pleasant girl." In 1826 Clark had married Eleanor Turner (1805-1873) ... a younger sister to Polly and Talton. None offer source documents, but several online family trees assign a daughter Ann to the Clarks. Not all that attribute an 1848 death date are running her mother's lines, but they may have cut and paste this data from Turner researchers who've placed a child of this name in their trees, based on Squire's 1845 letter. (At Finding Everett I explore how the childless tend to fare in preserved, historical record.)

Image of John Bullock Clark, Sr., c1865.
As did Squire and Talton, Clark (right) took his first steps in Madison County, Kentucky. He removed to Missouri with his parents c1818, and was Clerk of the Howard County court when passing the bar in 1824. In 1832, a militant Sac war chief led his people back onto land fraudulently ceded in 1804. Clark was commissioned Colonel of Missouri Mounted Volunteers, but saw no action in the Black Hawk War. In 1838, Governor Lilburn Williams Boggs issued (the likely unlawful) Missouri Executive Order Number 44 to "Genl. John B. Clark." Squire would have been well aware of Boggs' commission of Clark as Major General, 1st Division, Missouri Militia. And the Governor's directive: "The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace ..."

Clark "ferreted out the guilty" among state's enemies and forced dozens, including the beleaguered sect's founder Joseph Smith, into jail without charges. He reported to Boggs, "They have societies formed under the most revolting covenants in form, & the most horrid oaths to circumvent the law & put them at defiance, & to plunder & burn & murder & divide the spoils for the use of the Church." Once the majority were released, Smith's 'Danite Club' (unlike the Sac band, also weakened by hunger) were, by Clark's order, allowed to winter over before being sent from their land.

"As my family grows up."

Squire seems prompted to write to his cousin, to plead that the Turner clan "never paid enough attention to educating their children and giving them accomplish-ments and high aspirations." Placing children "in the first ranks" was important to him. He disclosed his daughter will finish her education in Louisville, then thirty percent more populous than Saint Louis, Missouri. (Squire would obtain financial reckoning on behalf of my great-grandmother Amelia - mentioned above - while she and her sister Matilda Tribble Turner (1845-1926) boarded at William Teeter's Kentucky school, c1854.)

Squire repeated solicitation for Clark's attention. He may have known full well that his son, John Bullock Clark, Jr. (1831-1903), was entering the University of Missouri. And bent on a career in law.

Squire and Betsy's sons were among dozens of men who read law with their father. His first-born, Cyrus Squire Turner (1819-1849), attended but did not matriculate from Centre College. Still two years from serving his first term in Kentucky's legislature, Cyrus seemed content to start a family on a fine farm his father no doubt financed. His second (child and) son, Thomas Turner (1821-1900) had graduated from Centre, taken a law degree from Transylvania College, served nearly four years as Attorney for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and, with seven slaves and an estate of about $40,000, taken his law practice to nearby Montgomery County. Youngest son William Stone Turner (1825-1876) had entered but not matriculated from Centre either. In the 1850 census he declared no real estate, as he practiced law while lodging at a Louisville inn. Squire, with the state's Chief Justice, had received honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the college in 1843.

Katherine 'Kate' Turner (1831-1913), Squire and Betsy's youngest surviving child, turned fourteen that summer. Perhaps during the cousins' visit. With Mary's pending departure, Squire may have reckoned with a declining sphere of parental influence. Hence, "my cares are greater as my family grows up."

"I was quite gratified to hear all about ... all branches of this family."

Image of stairway, Talton Turner House
By "a few years more, should we be spared," Squire alluded to the cousin's futures. It found it challenging to create a snapshot in time, culminating as best I could at August, 1845. (Discovery that "Mrs. Estill" would die eight days after her husband, in 1900, touched me.) The U.S. Congress would allocate $1,500 from annuities due the Sioux, in August 1846. To compensate 'legal represen-tatives' of Talton's childless and unmarried brother Cyrus "for depredations." Talton would partner in forming the Exchange Bank at Glasgow. He was not entirely spared: he would die, bedridden by rheumatism, in an upstairs room at his 'Home Place' (above). A Glasgow obituary gushed, "at the time of his death, he was perhaps the most extensive land owner in the state." Squire's firstborn, another Cyrus, would be killed at a political event in the following year. History did not finish with others identified: a War of Northern Aggression would leave - in particular - Squire and the Clark father and son on consequent pages of history.

NOTES:
*I share ancestry with William Linnville Boone's wife, Nancy Grubbs (1771-1835). Their son (William Crawford's older brother) Rev. Hampton Lynch Boone (1802-1851) is notable. I have vague plans for book-length depiction of the Reverend's son-in-law, Napoleon Bonaparte Giddings (1815-1897). The pair's political and social exploits are 'intriguing.'

Bold face indicates the author's ancestors.

Beyond the above time-frame, I thought it might be gratifying to report that Squire concretely anchored notions of "fine estate" and placing children in society's "first ranks." A home (below) he had built near his own - for widowed daughter Mary - would be completed after his death. It still stands, in Richmond, Kentucky.

Image of Mary Hood home, 416 N Second St., Richmond, KY.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Finding Everett

UPDATE: Click Finding Everett to see ancestry.com tree.
Divorce. My bluegrass, Kentucky-born maternal grandmother whispered the term in adult company in much the same way she confidentially breathed "cancer." Taboo firmly censured marital disunion in her parents' line. When a television commentator recently used the term 'scandalous,' in reference to the practice in the 1920s, the disapprobation resonated with me. I agreed with the contention.

Another penchant drives this post. I seem not at all deterred from researching subjects who leave no survivors. I'm impelled by source documents: if it emerges in my awareness, I don't mind compiling a distinguishing fact into the arc of a family member's life ... though few will ever trace its contours.

Image of Gertrude Hardesty (1896-1916), seated in a photographer's studio, likely in Lincoln County, Oklahoma.
Let me introduce Gertrude (Hardesty) Rhodes (1896-1916). Youngest of three children born to Oliver Ellsworth and May (Hyde) Hardesty; by the time I'd learned of her, my paternal grandfather Roy David Hardesty had wrapped his youngest sibling's memory with deep affection.

Gertrude died young.

Her final year was likely one of considerable suffering. On 11 May 1916, the 20-year-old gave birth to daughter Gail. The child died four months later, on 12 September.

My Great Aunt's potential line of descent terminated 31 December 1916. A niece, not yet born when Gertrude died, associates tuberculosis. One must be suspicious regarding cause of death in all who pass on New Year's Eve. Gertrude and Gail share an untended Fallis, Oklahoma grave with an interloping, scrub cedar. Their stone is inscribed Gone but not forgotten" ... in an overlooked burgh now described by the state's tourism department as a ghost town.

Image of Gertrude (Hardesty) Rhodes grave maker.
Oklahoma Cemeteries Website
I'd been asked about Gertrude when posting a schoolhouse photo (bottom) to a Facebook group last week. I knew precious little about her spouse: his name was relayed to me as Everett Rhodes. He was a 'railroad man.' I was given to think the groom held an itinerant job, and may not have been present throughout Gertrude's final year. Mr. Rhodes had quickly moved on, while my grandfather's family remained with localized grief during the misery-inducing Dust Bowl. (Note that the marker, right, references parents 'O. E.' and May Hardesty ... not Gertude's spouse.)

Thinking to check my facts, I dug into the record. I sifted through ancestral photos and my document cache; I wandered among family-depicting databases. One online community can be particularly helpful: Find A Grave is a self-organizing group of genealogy 'angels.' Most often altruistically motivated to document 'what is,' they photograph grave markers and manage online profiles. (Some admittedly embellish profiles, introducing facts not in evidence.) While the data set may not be verifiably true, at least it's carved in stone.

It was gratifying to discover Sharon Spain Ingle had created a Find A Grave memorial for Gertrude (Hardesty) Rhodes. It is hyperlinked to daughter Gail, perhaps the child's only original manifestation in the World Wide Web. I was touched to discover a Joyce Hopkins had in 2011 laid virtual flowers on each of the pair's memorial pages. I lovingly submitted hyperlinks to Gertrude's parents, as if somehow reuniting her.

Research then brought me to one of those supremely gratifying moments. A source document, excruciatingly pertinent to these admittedly minor characters, came to my attention: The Oklahoma Historical Society has posted the 2 July 1915 issue of the Carney Enterprise. Two sentences in the 12-page weekly leapt out: "It is reported here that Everet [sic] Rhodes and Miss Gertrude Hardesty were married at Fallis last Sunday. We have no particulars."

Image of 2 July 1915 Carney Enterprise, (Carney, Okla.); Vol. 14, No. 49, pg. 3, col. 2.

We have no particulars. That's an affront to a researcher. A wedding date of 27 June produced no trove among returns from Internet databases. Gertrude, married but a year and a half, remains a stub in the few online trees where the most diligent family historians deigned to record her birth ... likely as they discovered her enumerated in O. E. and May's 1910 census entry, when that family of five farmed Fallis environs in Lincoln County, Oklahoma. None depict spouse or child.

An Everett – born in Missouri, September 1894 – was, in the 1900 census, identified with parents 'Ed.' and Anna, and 2 Rhodes siblings ... in Lincoln County's Otoe Township. At age 16, Everett was no longer resident in the 1910 household of Edwin Beardsley Rhodes (1869-1939), then at Cimarron, Lincoln County. Rhodes the elder left farming, for work at a rail yard as Section Foreman. The younger Rhodes left school.

And thus begins a most delicate task.

I've pursued racial justice work that at times broaches difficult conversations about family heritage: I peer into Rhodes and ancillary family trees posted online, and I suspect a social minefield awaits ... as I consider inviting collaboration, in ascertaining whether Gertude was the first wife of Ollie Everett Rhodes (1894-1980). Nearly all of this man's profiles reference a September 1894 birth date: no ancestry.com Rhodes researcher offer a Hardesty spouse. Two camps have formed. Two spouses are generally assigned to Rhodes. (See the chart, next paragraph.) Only a couple profiles list both.

Flow chart depicting Everett Rhodes' spouses & children.
Here's the rub. When ferreting out 'the particulars' of unsubstantiated family lore, I depend  in the main  on descendants who hold ancestors in some esteem. Else they might not devote the effort of compiling records and offering online trees. I suppose I could have approached each researcher with a limited fact set, foregoing mention of a marriage they may not be aware of. It may be completely self-defeating (and is certainly cumbersome) to drop intermarriage on them ... but, now that I have the fact sets, I feel somehow compelled to lay them out. Untangling this generation's web of relationships certainly inspired a learning experience for me. Divorce may not have been as scandalous at I've been led to believe: heck, it may not always have been prerequisite for re-marriage.

Color image of overgrown schoolhouse, Fallis, Oklahoma.
Brick School, Fallis, OK, 2011
Fallis was not always a ghost town. Author Vingetta Elizabeth Roe's novel, A Divine Egotist, was published in 1916. Without mentioning Fallis by name, the recent resident is to have observed, first-hand, “a town that is fast approaching the dignity of cityhood.” Originally [UPDATE: a Christian Mission among Natives, then] a segregated, African American community, the Fallis Blade had a Black Editor, advertising Black-owned businesses. Yankee capital flowed in. Diligent labor on productive land in the valley of Bear and Mission Creeks produced a cotton boom that generated a half-million, 1904 dollars. The Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway and the Fort Smith & Western Railroad crossed paths at Fallis. To use a metaphor, my Rhodes research quickly became a maze of switches: I was shunted from one track to another in short order.

By the summer of 1917, months after Gertrude's death, widower 'Everet' was almost undoubtedly going by the name 'Ollie E. Rhodes.' He was a Telegraph Operator for the Denver & Rio Grande Railway Company ... at Grand Valley, Colorado. As the Roaring Twenties kicked in, he was with the Southern Pacific Rail Road at Casmalia, Santa Barbara County in California. He was barbering in Santa Margarita, San Luis Obispo County there, likely by 1922.

Thumbnail image of Luisa Anita (Garcia) Rhodes (1905-1955), c1943, Santa Margarita, CA. maestraslopez shared this with ancestry.com, 10 Mar 2013.
Luisa/Louise Anita Garcia (1907-1955) is known to be in Santa Margarita by 1920. In 1924, the teen bore son Edwin Rhodes (the name given Ollie Everett Rhodes’ father and brother). She bore daughter Gloria Aileen Rhodes the following year. Louise (right) is enumerated as divorced in 1930. The family afterwards referred to Edwin as 'Edmund.' Louise's San Luis Obispo Find A Grave memorial links to no kin.

Rhodes launched into an odyssey with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. As Telegrapher and Clerk, he thrashed about in Arizona and California until his 44th birthday ... in 1938.

I now introduce Loretta Magdalen McGeough (1896-1976). She and Rhodes married in 1960. Santa Barbara voter registration records have the pair sharing an address (she using the surname Rhodes) c1939, however. 1933 birth records of stillborn daughter Sarah bear the surname Rhodes, as did Mary Ann, born two years later. Delay in solemnizing this Rhodes partnership may result from unresolved, earlier unions: Loretta had been married before. Three times, by my count. Twice by Catholic clergy.

Loretta was, apparently, the first wife for all but Ollie.

Image of Loretta McGeough (1896-1976), c1922.
Minnesota-born Loretta (left), working as a bookkeeper, was with her siblings and widowed father in Santa Barbara by 1920. In 1923, immediately after he finished a 3-year stint in the U.S. Army, she married Walter Henry Bruley (1903-1992) ... at Fort Collins, Colorado. Walter was an orphan. Not a prime candidate for online, family tree building. I sense it's a rare find, to discover divorce records: this marriage – to a Denver Tramway Conductor – concluded 28 January 1930. Walter's Find A Grave memorial, documenting a National Cemetery in Riverside, California, links to no kin.

Image of 1924 Brunswick label, ‘California, Here I Come,’ by Al Jolson.
Loretta's next union, with Santa Barbara phonograph salesman Frederick G. Orr (b1889), serves the theme: he too had already experienced matrimonial bonds. He'd stressed, but not identified, a 'dependent wife' when registering for the draft in 1917; Frederick was married, living alone in 1920. Though he'd been resident at the Y.M.C.A. before the couple set up housekeeping on De la Vina St. in 1924, the one-time rural New Yorker might have been 'a catch' for Loretta the Telephone Operator. He sold Brunswick phonograph players. Al Jolson signed with them that spring. His California, Here I Come charted at #1 in June.

Image of Bailard-Cramer Co. Pianos at 936 State St. as seen after the June 29, 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake.
An earthquake hit Santa Barbara the following June. It's unclear how much damage was done to inventory at Frederick's employers, Bailard-Cramer Piano & Phonograph Co. (left). One can surmise – likely for completely distinct reasons – that the couple's marriage took a shellacking in this period. Loretta moved on, Frederick escapes my ability to find him subsequently in any record. Perhaps the earthquake got him.

It's my belief that Frederick Orr doesn't even have a memorial at Find A Grave. He left no heirs I'm aware of. That too seems to be a limitation on representation in my online environment: few care sufficiently to request photographs of their graves.

Loretta's marriage the following year, to Vandal Martin Branstetter (1898-1988), reveals divorce to be far more common than I realized. Vandal left his widowed mother in Portland, Oregon to take up work as a Steam Shovel Operator in Santa Barbara. (Perhaps he warbled along with Al Jolson, en route.) Vandal and Loretta Orr, then of Los Angeles, married at Idaho Falls, Idaho in the autumn of 1926. Walter Bruley that year listed Loretta as his wife, in the Denver City Directory.

Vandal was back with his mother when, in 1930 and six weeks after Walter obtained a Denver divorce from Loretta E. [sic] Bruley, an Oregon court provided Vandal judicial separation from Loretta M. Branstetter. The following summer Vandal married fellow Portlander, Margaret Jolly Christie (1900-1962) at Skamania County, Washington. Except that her surname was Liston. A decade earlier, the apparent divorcée had married J. Delbert Liston (1894-1976). The Eugene, Oregon automobile salesman was enumerated as divorced in the 1930 census. By 1935, 'J. Del' was married to Junior High School Teacher Iva Belle Wood (1894-1947). Well, that was her maiden name: Iva had, in 1920, gone to Idaho to marry Charles Herman Brune (1900-1978). Charles in 1927 married Elizabeth Mills Harriman (1900-1974) ... also at Skamania, on the Columbia River and not far from the home place of your diligent family history contributor.

Thumbnail image of Iva Belle Wood, (1894-1947) 1915.
Elizabeth, thankfully, had not been married previously.

Iva (right), like Louise, Loretta, Walter, Frederick, Vandal, Margaret and J. Delbert, spent time as divorced persons in 1930. In Santa Barbara at the time, census takers might not have caught up with Ollie Everett Rhodes.

Vandal was, with his mother, settled and farming in Colorado by 1940. Second spouse Margaret, then a doctor's assistant, remained as a renter in Portland ... with 2 young daughters. Had he not succumbed at or near the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica, Vandal might have a Find A Grave memorial. The most diligent among those who voluntarily inventory cemeteries could have clarified, via hyperlink, this relationship web.

Though she is buried in Portland, and he among an extensive Eugene family, childless couple Margaret and J. Delbert have memorials. And the divorced couple are hyperlinked (a diligent Find A Grave caretaker posted and sourced Margaret's Oregonian obit: it references Vandal). J. Del is not linked to second wife Iva, however. Iva shares a fate similar to Gertrude's: though her death certificate lists 'Iva W. Liston,' a grave marker in her parent's Wood plot reads 'daughter.' No surname at all is carved into it. Iva's Find A Grave memorial is not linked to anyone.

Elizabeth (Harriman) Brune bore Charles two sons. These parents are buried where they started a family while tending sheep. They are linked in a virtual, Wasco County, Oregon Odd Fellows Cemetery. Digital flowers also appear at these graves.

Image of Mildreth Margarite Ladner (1912-2008) & Gertrude Hardesty (1896-1916).
Gertrude, with a cousin's daughter.
I'm not casting aspersions. This post is to be a digital beacon. To lure those with family lore describing this cast of characters ... to leave comments below (or here), should they be able to corroborate, debunk or clarify my contention: that Everett Rhodes was initially married to Gertrude Hardesty. "Do I have sufficient evidence," I wonder, "to suggest caretakers of Ollie E. Rhodes' Find A Grave memorial accept a link to Gertrude's? How much social unpleasanty would this create?" [UPDATE: subsequent to this blog post, genealogy angels knit Ollie to his purported three spouses.]

Conversational taboo preserves family dignity. It also allows those subsequently afflicted, by disease or societal choices, to be handicapped in isolating belief that they are the first in their family to ever experience a particular hardship. I try to avoid false pride; forgo taking unwarranted, psychic credit for ancestors' meritorious conduct when I find it: so too do I avoid shame. Particularly with regard to slave-owning ancestors, I admittedly find it generally challenging not to judge historical figures against contemporary mores.

When I am able to suspend judgment, I actually grow closer to 'what was.' It seems somehow more rewarding than allowing imagination to paint the past.

Those of you who delve concertedly into family history will understand my sense of immersion; of being neck-deep ... cross-referencing documents as I'm retaining names and dates. While the image of the log schoolhouse (below) initiated this study, it was an extraordinary observation that prompted me to draft this post.

Today is the centenary of Gertrude's death. Happy New Year, everyone!


This photograph, of a rustic, one-room schoolhouse near Agra, Oklahoma, triggered my labyrinthine investigation. Gertrude is depicted with the letter C.

Image of Oak Dale School, near Agra, Okla.

I find this final image (below) compelling, and wish it to be unleashed onto the World Wide Web. O. E. & May's children: Hallie Hardesty (1893-1980), Roy David Hardesty (1891-1970) and Gertrude Hardesty (1896-1916). Roy married a divorced woman whose own father declared himself 'widowed' in the 1920 census ... though his spouse lived on. Roy's son, my father, would divorce before establishing a family. I myself am twice divorced.

Portrait of siblings Hallie Hardesty (1893-1980), Roy David Hardesty (1891-1970) and Gertrude Hardesty (1896-1916).

With deep appreciation for all archivists, particularly those who took time to post the above photographs.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

See What Will Come of It

Researching participation of a paternal Haradon clan, in the Civil War Battle of Stones River, I unearthed a first-hand account of hospitalization and burial. The Union Army of the Cumberland and Army of Tennessee, C.S.A., had suffered nearly 25,000 casualties in a clash which heralded the new year of 1863. About 1700 Union & 1300 Confederate soldiers had died in several days of fighting, just west of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on 1 January 1863, in the midst of this days-long battle. It declared "all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be, free." Tennessee, by popular vote, seceded from the Union in June 1861: slaves therein had been declared freed ... by a government their masters had withdrawn from.

The author of the news account, 'J.S.P.,' in the 20th Independent Battery, Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery, is most likely Tennessee-born John S. Patterson. Forty years old, and just having been promoted Corporal after two month's service, he uses the military term 'contraband' for freed slaves: “I rode out to the cemetery to see where our soldiers are buried. There are many persons constantly engaged burying the dead,” he wrote from Nashville, where Haradons lay wounded in one of dozens of makeshift facilities. “The graves, in rows and close together, cover nearly two acres of ground. – There are about 700 Confederates and nearly as many “contrabands,” buried here – eight or ten of the latter daily. They are put in the ground as close together as they can be set.” (Quotes in the original may indicate the term was being introduced.)

By an Act of March 1862, the U.S. Congress prohibited Union officers from returning "fugitives" from Confederate service, or returning those who escaped from persons to whom "labor is claimed to be due." The term contraband referenced the first case: that of captured enemy property.

'Contrabands,' 'fugitives,' or self-emancipated; they were used by the U.S. Army in very much the same way Yankee armed services employed forced, slave labor. Many are the incidences where commanders sought to shun responsibility, ejecting refugees incapable of this drudgery from finding haven among their troops. Responses to emancipation among the 100th Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry - in which the Haradons served - ranged from disgruntlement to outright threats to abrogate three-year commitments.

While many social signals were given during recruiting ... when war-boosters back in Illinois telegraphed their belief that this fight was to eliminate slavery ... the primary motivating factor, for many who did enlist in the 100th Illinois, was to preserve union formed of revolutionary resistance to colonial exploitation. Not all had signed on to free slaves. Many Yankees were certainly uncomfortable in a new social order. Not a few were discomforted to find themselves in proximity to free Negroes.

Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, issued September 22, 1862.
It should be noted that Lincoln had advanced a Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (left) on 22 September. Three months had passed, to psychologically adjust to the idea that subjugation would end ... for some. Yet it's obvious that the Corporal does not yet fully comprehend emancipation. In the Quartermaster's Unit, he sets the value of wartime butter, flour and potatoes in dollars. "Salt is so scarce as not to sell at all … at any rate a barrel of it is worth more than a negro at these times.” Patterson perceives a marketplace where oppressed human lives still have pecuniary value.

Even though partial emancipation has been fully proclaimed, Patterson is curious as to the lived condition of slaves. He does not inject 'former' when discussing a woman's master.* It's interesting that he thinks readers will find it notable that a runaway slave he interviews "has a decided preference to be free." As if that aspiration is challenging to consider. "They all testify to this," says Patterson, of his informer's contention: "We never had such easy times." Dislocated, freed slaves "fare better now than when the seccesh army was here." Patterson is quartered in a barn; food and even firewood are scarce, even for those with cash.

The correspondent, reporting to the Sandusky, Ohio Daily Commercial Register on 22 January (excerpted in the image, below), is particularly curious about relationships. Some masters "treated their slaves as well as their children," relates Patterson. His interviewee was reluctant to marry when enslaved, however: the man, now a father, avers it would have been far too challenging to invest emotionally, and then "stand by," as a loved one was humiliated and physically abused.

Patterson's unnamed source seems willing to correct misconceptions. The Ohio soldier asserts Confederate military policy, summary execution for Negroes in Union service, "will turn the colored people against them."

"No, it won't," contends his counterpart. "[We are] against them now," says he ... of those who advocate such policy.

"Do you belong to the man of this house?" asks Patterson. In the current tense, as if emancipation has not occurred.

One glimpses a sense of humor as the freedman explains he never has. In his accounting, he asserts his master (likely former Tennessee Bank President, Granville Physic Smith) entered service as Colonel in a Confederate Army. "He run away from me," the subject explains.

Sandusky Daily Commercial Register (Sandusky, Ohio), 31 January, 1863. Pg. 2, cols 2 & 3.


The day following, on 1 February, reporting by the Daily Ohio Statesman in Columbus questioned the Proclamation's effect. "It is now just one month since the President's second and great Proclamation of Freedom, as the Abolitionists call it, was issued. By this time, according to radical prophecies uttered before the issuing of the proclamation, the backbone and sinews of the rebellion, which the radicals assure us are the slaves, should have been so broken and weakened that the Confeds would be about giving up the contest in utter despair.” Partisan, Democratic editors employed the term 'black bondman' when referencing an anticipated spike in recruiting: Lincoln's Proclamation “has called neither white not black soldiers into the field; it has not promoted slave insurrections, or excited a single black bondman to strike for freedom.”

“Abolitionists and their followers hang back from the service as much as before, and are trying to force the negroes to do all the fighting for them,” contend 'Copperheads' who are willing that the Union be restored, even if slavery remains intact. "Well, arm the negroes, as many as you can get, and do it quickly, and see what will come of it.” Editors no doubt hope readers will shudder at the thought of Blacks, so recently scarred by whips, finding rank while bearing lethal weapons.

*It's unclear, in the Sandusky reporting, which words are Patterson's and which result from editors. The interviewee, "almost a full-blooded negro," is to have used the term "they" when speaking of colored people. We might conclude the subject would have identified with this group ... and that an author or editor's voice has imposed itself on whatever the informer sought to convey.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Threads Make Up the Weave

Hard Honesty, as a blog, was initially created as a digital beacon: I'm signalling to other researchers that I want to know as much as possible about 'Uncle' Monk (died 1835), slave-named Estill. (See the tab above.) He saved the life of my 4x great-grand-father, and became the first slave freed in what is now Kentucky.

Over time, another character in my family tree, Squire Turner (1793-1871) became a subject of deep research. Think of him as a protégé of Kentucky Senator Henry Clay (1777-1852): a fellow Whig jurist with superior legislative talent. Ardently pro-slavery, Turner fades from history to waver, mainly, as a foil in one of the manic excesses perpetuated by Clay's pro-emancipation cousin, Cassius Marcellus Clay (1810-1903). 'Cash' Clay interrupted an 1849 campaign speech to disembowel Turner's son, Cyrus.

Another cousin, Antonia Ford (1838-1871) has my attention as well. She was implicated in the 1863 capture of a sleeping Union General by Confederate partisan raider, Lt. John S. Mosby. Ford was deemed a spy and imprisoned. The story pivots when a Union captor fell in love with Ford, left the army, and married her. (Antonia and I descend from Randolphs and Fords, occasionally depicted here.) Ford and her husband, Major Joseph Clapp Willard (Ret.), adjourned to his civilian role; as a wealthy proprietor of the Willard Hotel, premises of such profound influence in the nation's capital, it's as if the term 'lobbyist' would have originated there.

I'm currently unpacking the military exploits of Jeremiah Turner (1840-1917). Slave to Squire Turner, Jeremiah gained his freedom by enlisting in the United States Colored Troops in 1864. One of his descendants makes a compelling case that Jeremiah and I are related: Jeremiah is to have been the product of a slave rape by Squire or his father (my 3x great-grandfather, 'Ol' Marsh' Thomas Turner (1764-1847). In September, re-creators will gather at Camp Nelson, Kentucky - where Jeremiah enlisted - 150 years to the day of that enlistment. I want Jeremiah's great-great-grandsons to know of their ancestor's sacrifices for a re-configured Union.

I've been documenting the tortuous path the Lincoln administration took, in giving legal cover to drafting/ recruiting/ impressing slaves in the loyal state of Kentucky during the Civil War.

It's really just a small observation ... amidst huge reams of data that seem to clamor for my attention.

"After the fall of Fort Sumter and before Lincoln's call for troops could be met, Washington appeared to be defenseless." A "semblance of order" was created by Cassius M. Clay of Kentucky who, while negotiating with Lincoln for appointment as his Minister to Russia, "hastily organized" a small command: the 'Clay Battalion.'

"With three pistols strapped to his waist and carrying both a sword and his favorite knife, [Clay] was an inspiring sight at his headquarters in Willard's Hotel."
- pp. 131-132,  Lincoln of Kentucky by Lowell Harrison (2000)

Long enamored by Jungian synchronicity, I was momentarily stupefied as the tangled weave of three story lines manifest itself as a trio of overlapping threads.

Setting the stage for Jeremiah's eventual call to arms, I had uncovered a word portrait of not only the man ... but perhaps the very Bowie knife ... that had taken Cyrus Turner's life a dozen years earlier. (Jeremiah - and Cyrus' orphaned son, Charles - were nearly the same age & stayed in life-long relationship.) It takes but little imagination to see Antonia Ford's future husband in the background: as proprietor of the Willard Hotel, he was undoubtedly seeing to the flamboyant Clay's every need. It would be the following April before Joseph Willard would secure a position as Aide-de-camp on Brigadier General Irvin McDowell's staff.

I'm willing to give Google some of the credit. Algorithms have long been tracking my search predilections; they know of my hunt for Squire Turner and Cassius Clay, and may well have ranked results so that I'd come across Harrison's work.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Written Words For You All to Read

Running family lines feels, at times, like fishing. Occasionally, I land a catch that haunts me. A long-concluded life demands I consider our present circumstances.

I spend hours trolling databases, message boards and digitized documents. Sometimes I'll net evidence of further relationships. It’s usually gratifying. Given a seeming plethora of available data, and my low threshold of interest, I've disciplined myself – generally – to confine research to first cousins, and forgo crawling out far distant limbs in my family tree.

I was diverted from entering Turner family deed records from 19th century Madison County, Kentucky … based on a probate sale involving the estate of one Creed Turner.

One of my skill sets seems to be name retention. Immediately the name ‘Creed’ evoked ‘Curd’ Turner: a first cousin, 4-times removed, of whom I’d learned very little. My heart raced when I discovered Turner’s executors had distributed Missouri lands to Curd’s siblings. I'd cracked a nut! ‘Curd’ and Creed Turner were one and the same.

This, however, was only the first of several excitements.

We both descend from Turner's grandfather (my 4-times great-grandfather), John Turner, Jr. (c1738-1813). Technically, Creed and I are ‘half-cousins.’ John had perhaps 19 children by two wives. I am from John's union with Rebeckah Smith (1743-1774), Creed from second wife Jane Barnett Cooper (c1755-1816).

In 1814, Creed’s father, Barnett ‘Barney’ Turner (1790-1836), posted bond in Madison County, Kentucky, for his half-brother, Thomas ‘Trading Tom’ Turner (1764-1847). This enabled widower Thomas, my 3-times great grandfather, to also marry a second time … to my 3-times great grandmother, Annah Berry (c1785-1833). Ten months later, Methodist Deacon John Pace would also unite Barnett to Creed;s mother, Nancy Durret Taylor (1795-1836). Nephew Squire Turner (1793-1871) posted bond for this pair. Squire and his uncle Barnett had seen battle together, both serving as Privates in Capt. Robert Sturges' company of Kentucky Mounted Volunteer Militia in the War of 1812.

Nancy was a teen when her Revolutionary-era father died. Peter Taylor (c1750-1812) succumbed to a ‘stroke of apoplexy’ while overseeing some of his two dozen slaves in a garden. His estate, arising out of a land grant of 1,000 acres when Kentucky was yet an extension of Virginia, was considerable. It included fine pewter, a library and a chaise carriage. Taylor's 1807 will provided for children “yet to be reared.”

Barnett, with Annah’s father, James Berry (1752-1822, whose life Monk had saved in 1782), were among executors of John Turner’s will when Barnett’s father died the following year. Barnett’s earlier inheritance was considerably smaller: John Turner left him perhaps a sixth of his 200-acre tract. John had in 1811 been exempted from paying the county levy on half of his slaves, to wit “two old negroes Karon and Pender.”

On 30 December 1822, Creed Turner became the third son and fourth child born to Barnett and Nancy. He was likely named for his maternal uncle, Creed Haskins Taylor (1808-1832). The Turners could be considered clannish. They kept in touch. "Barnett Turner and his family is in common health," wrote Barnett's uncle Philip to son Talton, in Missouri by 1825. More importantly, these Turners could be migratory. Philip Turner (1762-1852), born with his brother John (above) in North Carolina, had westward momentum. Settled in Madison County, Kentucky, his name is found on an 1819 petition from the Louisiana-Missouri territory. Philip joins others in asking the President to appoint someone whereby they can register land titles. At the penning of the 1825 letter, in which he writes, "Our children is much annimated with the prospects of coming to your cuntry," Philip is poised to leapfrog his siblings. Like Daniel and his brother Squire Boone, he'll move from North Carolina, to Kentucky, and on to Missouri. Unlike the Boones, Philip will bring eight slaves.

The 1830 census shows Creed’s Madison County household to contain his parents, 7 siblings and 17 slaves. Neither Barnett nor Nancy would be reflected in the 1840 census. Nancy died in March 1831. Creed was several weeks beyond the age of 14 when his father died ... in February 1836.

In ten years, Creed was to mimic the western migration of his grandfathers. He had sufficient resources to purchase 160 acres in Atchison County, Missouri in May 1846. Surprisingly, a year later – on 27 May 1847 – the Oregon Spectator published Creed Turner’s name beneath a resolution of pioneers vowing to “not give their vote to any man for A public office who is in any manner, shape or form connected with claim jumping." Turner was in Oregon City, the administrative hub of a self-organized, provisional government that had proclaimed authority in the Pacific Northwest. The following year, part of this amorphous area would be partitioned and called The Oregon Territory.

1818-1846
I had to pause. Within an hour of discovering Creed Turner is kin to me, I must reckon with the idea that – a few weeks shy of 167 years ago – my subject was fifteen miles from where I sat, pecking away at a computer.

You see, I cast my net from Portland, Oregon.

It may have been the U.S. Senate’s June 1846 ratification of a treaty with Great Britain, finally delineating a northern border of the United States of America, that spurred my cousin to navigate the Oregon Trail.

Map of the administrative districts of the Provisional Government of Oregon, as of 1843.
1846-1849
State archives indicate Turner had been busy. He filed two land claims in September 1846: the first in Champoeg District, a second in Yamhill. In November of the same year, Turner filed yet another Champoeg claim. [See image.] Turner may have been speculating a pioneer settlement in Champoeg would, with territorial recognition, supplant Oregon City as the seat of government.

Creed Turner was certainly not without resources.

Goeres-Gardner, in her 2005 book, Necktie Parties, locates Creed Turner in Clackamas District. On 24 May 1847, only days before publicly committing to the set of resolutions on claim jumping, Turner had “signed ownership of fifty head of American cattle over to Thomas [McCutcheon] Chambers while Turner was traveling back to the eastern states.”* It's more likely Turner had driven stock before him in the trek from Missouri - animals that subsequently required fattening up - than it is he paid inflated, frontier prices for them.

Irish and a Presbyterian minister, Chambers and his sons left Oregon City in the fall of 1847 to lay claim to land owned by the Hudson Bay Company. I don't know what happened to Turner's cattle. If the men stayed in relationship, Turner would have known of Chamber's response to those sent to evict the (perhaps former) cleric, soon after his arrival in the environs of present-day Olympia, Washington. According to Perez in the Steilacoom Historical Museum Quarterly, "After no reply from Chambers, officials of the Company visited him on [Steilacoom Creek] and made their demands. Chambers replied by resting a rifle on his fence and made it quite clear he was going to stay. The Hudson's Bay Company never bothered him again."

Creed Turner ‘sold up.’ He was likely in Kentucky at the death of half-uncle Thomas Turner (above), on 17 November 1847. Madison County deeds, dated 29 November 1847,  reveal Cyrus and Thomas Turner – 'Trading Tom's' grandsons by Squire Turner – took possession of 420 acres Creed held on Tates Creek in the Bluegrass Country. Not only that, the sale included Creed's personalty; all goods, chattels, articles and movable property located thereon. It may be interesting to note that Cyrus Turner would be dead in 18 months, publicly disemboweled by an unstable political aspirant, Cassius Marcellus Clay.

A John Bonser and his party of immigrants arrived in Linnton, Oregon in December 1847. According to Thompson, in Oregon Pioneer Biographies, Ohioan Bonsers “were not shy in their hospitality.”
Image of John Bonser (right) and his Sauvie Island home/boarding house in Oregon.
John Bonser & home, c1880 or later.

The following year, the Bonsers settled a piece of land on the south bank of the Columbia River, at Sauvie Island. “In the spring of 1850 a large cabin was built on a knoll to avoid the annual floods, and added to for the next several years. It was to become a rambling structure capable of housing both a large family and guests,” says Thompson. The Bonser home was “a popular gathering place on the river.”

Thompson continues, “The Bonsers had taken in several young women of the Lee family who had been orphaned, and with John's own marriageable daughters, the Sauvies Island homestead drew a swarm of men from throughout the area.” The U.S. Congress had prompted a marriage market in far-off Oregon with the passage of the Oregon Donation Land Act: the legislation provided 320 acres to wives of white male citizens. (American, half-breed Indians with at least intent to obtain citizenship could file claims: the law explicitly excluded African Americans and Hawaiians.) “No young girl over the age of twelve was safe from the stampede of young farmers wanting to add another half section to their land,” declares Thompson.

The 29 year-old Creed Turner was boarding with the Bonsers by 19 October 1851. Newspaper accounts have him romantically invested in the Bonsers’ daughter Martha Jane. Attractive by many accounts, Martha had just turned 14 in September.

Following Turner, another, younger boarder had taken up residency in the Bonser’s ‘popular gathering place.’ Edward Augustus Bradbury (1827-1851) had arrived from Cincinnati. Son of Cornelius Saunders Bradbury (1799-1871), operator of Cincinnati’s most productive seed oil gristmills, Edward was likely scouting frontier opportunities.

“Turner had been attracted to Martha for some time but when Bradbury arrived they seemed to have eyes only for each other. Turner became jealous and was determined to see an end to their attraction for one another, so on October 19, 1851, as the family gathered for a quiet [Sunday morning], Turner entered the room and walked up beside Bradbury. Without comment or provocation he pulled a dirk, a dagger-like knife usually used for stabbing, and slashed at the young man,” reports Wilson, in Legal Executions in the Western Territories 1847-1911. “He gutted Bradbury with five deep gashes to his stomach, and then inflicted more deep cuts to his left side, chest, and arms.” Like the above Cyrus Turner, “the stomach wound … resulted in a terrible infection.” Like Cyrus, “Bradbury lingered for a day in excruciating pain and fever before he died.”

News clipping of Creed Turner's crime in Gallipolis Journal
Horrid Murder, 1851
Turner did not flee the scene, nor did he deny his involvement.

Newly appointed Portland Marshal William L. Higgins investigated, even though the crime occurred outside his jurisdiction. “Higgins’s arrest of the killer, Creed Turner, was the first extension of the city’s authority,” declares the Portland Police Museum. Having no deputies, Higgins alone is to have conducted Turner to the county seat at Hillsboro. It’s not known where Turner was secured: Washington County would build their first jail two years later.

The following day, when Bradbury was interred, a grand jury was convened. In short order, Turner was indicted for first degree murder. Witnesses testified the homicide “was unjustified and the jealous survivor a cowardly criminal.” Goeres-Gardner also states, “Turner was neither repentant nor dismayed at his action. He told the authorities that his only regret was that he was unable to kill himself.”

It was an unfortunate time to commit murder in the Territory. Attention was sharply focused on such transgression. Weeks before, on 9 September, the Oregon Spectator carried a story about a vigilance committee battering jail doors down in Alta, California. “The excitement was intense,” it was reported. “Only 17 minutes were occupied in rescuing [an incarcerated pair] and arranging the preliminaries for the execution of the culprits.” Nothing short of an immediate execution could have appeased the excited crowd. No crime was identified. “The bodies, after hanging for 40 minutes, were cut down.” Whittaker, a ‘hardened villain,’ “evinced some signs of life. He was swung up a second time, and was suspended for 20 minutes longer.” 'Hanging,' in this sense, was likely to be 'strung up' and strangled.

Justice was makeshift on the frontier. William Kendall, convicted of homicide, had been hung in Marion County, Oregon in April. Shortly thereafter, gambler William Keene was convicted of manslaughter in the death of a sailor named Cook – arising from a game of ten-pins – and sentenced to six years in the penitentiary. “As the jury had decided that he ought not to hang, and he could not be confined in an imaginary penitentiary, he was pardoned by the governor,” relay Bancroft and Victor in their 1888 History of Oregon.

In addition to the absence of a penitentiary or courthouse of any kind, a territorial judiciary had yet to stabilize. Justices elected and appointed by the provisional government had resigned, declined their appointment, or simply never shown up for trial. With the creation of an Oregon Territory, President James Knox Polk obtained the power of appointment. His nominee as Chief Justice to the Territory's Supreme Court, William P. Bryant, had resigned in 1850 ... but not before ordering U.S. Marshal Joseph Lafayette Meek to hang Kussus and Quallalwowt. The pair had been surrendered by Snoqualmie and Skewahamish people for a tribute of 80 blankets. They'd been executed following trial for the 1849 death of Leander Wallace in an 'affray' at Fort Nisqually ... in which a Native man had also been killed. Polk’s appointment for Associate Supreme Court Justice, Orville Charles Pratt, was busying himself in San Francisco, far beyond his jurisdiction.

Bancroft and Victor report, “At a meeting held in Portland April 1st [1851], it was resolved that the president of the United States should be informed of the neglect of the judges of the first and second districts, no court having been held in Washington county since the previous spring …” Obviously en route, Polk’s appointment, Chief Justice Thomas Nelson, arrived by sea at the end of the month. “The arrival of the new chief justice, and [return of] Pratt, brought a temporary quiet.”

Three days after his indictment, Turner was brought to trial. Attorney of the Territorial Supreme Court, Alexander Campbell, was responsible for prosecuting him. According to Scott, in his 1890 History of Portland, Oregon, Campbell “was particularly well drilled in the principles of common law. He placed great dependence upon his books, carefully preparing his cases, and appearing in Court with an armful of authorities on every occasion.”

Turner came before Campbell’s future millionaire, San Francisco law partner - Judge Pratt - on 24 October. Pratt had begun a law practice ten years earlier. In May of the previous year, he had presided in an Oregon City tavern, conducting a partisan trial for murders that occurred outside his jurisdiction. Tiloukaikt, Tomahas, Kiamsumpkin, Iaiachalakis, Endoklamin, and Klokomas were hung for the murders of missionary Dr. Marcus Whitman, his wife Narcissa, and eleven others. In addition to a dozen troubling rulings, Pratt had quashed an acting governor’s pardon of the Cayuse nationals. Clatsop County Court historians reflect on Pratt: “During his term, Judge Pratt was embroiled in controversy. He frequently traveled out of the territory to further his political and business interests, and he took advantage of opportunities to increase his personal fortune.” Likely a fellow speculator, Pratt had thrown his political weight into having Congress declare Salem the capital of Oregon Territory.

Turner was represented by Matthew Paul Deady, who had been admitted to the Ohio bar four years earlier. At age 27, he’d just been elected to represent Yamhill County in the territorial legislature. In two years he too would become an Associate Supreme Court Justice in Oregon. After President James Buchanan appointed him to the bench, the Oregon Encyclopedia reports Deady “showed an inclination toward ‘natural justice.’”

The rule of law was as fluid as territorial boundaries and vacancies in administration. A provisional government had self-organized as an association, primarily as a means of assuring valid land titles. Perhaps not even a majority of white men in these western hinterlands acquiesced to the formation of this government. Justice Peter Hardeman Burnett recalled veiled threats which showed the pernicious role of claim jumping in his memoirs, Recollections And Opinions Of An Old Pioneer: "The friends of the organization were active, kind, and wise in their course toward those opposed. When one opposed to the government would state that fact, some friend would kindly remind him that his claim was liable to be 'jumped,' and that he could not alone defend his rights against the violent and unprincipled; and that it was a desolate and painful condition for a citizen, in a civilized community, to be an outlaw." It was perhaps to organized, politically motivated coercion that Creed Turner had stood opposed in 1847.

The question of what laws were in effect "arose and vexed the country," declared Evans in his 1889 History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. Oregon's Organic Law of 1845, nominally in effect at Turner's trial, drew largely from British common law and the coincidence that someone had brought a copy of Iowa statutes to the frontier. "In the spring of 1850, the newly arrived United States District Attorney had pronounced the act making the selections from the Iowa statutes void," says Evans. No codified, written law was in effect at the time of Turner's 1851 trial. Technically, the death penalty for first degree murder would not become law until passed by statute thirteen years later. The Oregon Constitution, adopted in 1857, would make no provision for it.

Image of Martha Jane (Bonser) Armstrong.
Congregational Church Deacon Thomas George Naylor, who’d come overland with Burnett, was foreman to a 12-man jury. Campbell subpoenaed eleven witnesses. Turner apparently watched his coveted Martha (right), her father, and two Bonser brothers take the stand. Two neighbors Johnson (also Johnston) were called. It is not known how long the jury deliberated, but Turner was found ‘guilty as charged in the indictment’ at the conclusion of a one-day trial. On 4 November 1851, Pratt sentenced him to hang one month following. Turner’s death sentence was reported in San FranciscoDaily Union eleven days later. [See note, below.]

My heart raced, with my next discovery. Creed Turner began his autobiography! “As the days passed he became more frantic and dedicated to penning the story of his life,” relates Wilson. Goeres-Gardner has him ‘writing madly’ during the last week of his life: “Visitors to the jail heard him mumbling, “I’m coming to myself now, and life is getting sweeter and sweeter to me. Some have taken me for a grand scoundrel of the first water, and that I aimed to get a big name. I wasn’t smart enough to act insane.”

Goeres-Gardner reports Turner “savoring the last few hours of his remaining days.” He ate a large meal on the evening of 3 December. The following morning he had a shave. “He requested to be baptized, but it was too late to make arrangements.” The Oregon Statesman would report Turner “was equipped in his shroud” before being taken to his place of execution. Goeres-Gardner observes: “Perhaps the word is simply used to mean the garments he wore were the ones he was to be buried in.”

Smith tells us, “He was marched to the gallows, climbed the steps with a firm gait, and took his place upon the trapdoor.”

Although they’d been unable to baptize him, Reverend John Smith Griffin and political aspirant / circuit-riding Church Elder, Dr. James McBride both sermonized from the scaffold. Says Smith, “The sun broke through the clouds shortly before the execution and the reporter from the Statesman felt it was an omen of God’s pleasure” at the impending killing.

Several accounts note the absence of any blindfold, in Washington County’s first and last hanging. Turner was allowed to ‘scrutinize’ a crowd of perhaps 250 as he awaited the drop. (One contemporary account has numbers representing half the state's population in attendance.) Occurring well beyond harvest, remote farmers could behold the proceeding without substantial cost to themselves.

Creed Turner's final moments have been memorialized in several texts.



Much press attention was given County Sheriff William Hardin Bennett, a 25-year-old Kentuckian, executing Turner at precisely 11am, as ordered by Judge Pratt’s death warrant.

“Turner broke his neck in the fall and after he was pronounced dead the body was allowed to hang a sufficient time to ensure that he could not be revived,” relates Wilson. With Deady now likely in charge of his estate, Creed Turner’s body was placed in a pine coffin provided by the county. He was that afternoon one of the first interred, likely in what is now called the Hillsboro Pioneer Cemetery, then on the western edge of town. No marker exists for either Turner or Bradbury.

Creed Turner was not yet thirty. Death Penalty USA lists him, behind Kendal, as the second white executed in Oregon.

Seeking to separate state executions from public spectacle, the Oregon legislature later ordered they be screened by fences.

Perhaps you can imagine my excitement, at the discovery that Creed Turner and I - in proximity and separated only by time - have both committed to publishing family histories. Testimony regarding the Revolutionary-era exploits of John Turner is disappointingly scant. I crave to learn more about Thomas Turner (whom son Squire referred to as 'Old Marse' in correspondence). Thomas, if not Squire, is likely to have fathered Jeremiah 'Jery' Turner (1840-1917), by one their enslaved women.

Sadly, Goeres-Gardner reports in a footnote to her well-researched Necktie Parties that, while such texts were common in that era, "Turner's manuscript has been lost over time." When one considers crude, log structures were then contending with natives' cedar-plank longhouses as the ultimate in shelter, it would be extraordinary for Turner's work to have survived. I blame Deady, however. Judges Campbell, Pratt and Deady all left their papers. The latter can be found among collections housed in the Oregon Historical Society Research Library. Deady is said to have acknowledged his role in Turner's defense. 

There are no references to Oregon land among Creed Turner’s deeds settled in Madison County. It’s quite likely his attorney relied on the same strategy of collecting payment that he employed the following year. Judge Nelson appointed Deady to represent Adam E. Wimple, for killing his 13-year-old bride, Mary. In Nimrod: Courts, Claims, and Killing On The Oregon Frontier, Lansing has the ‘capable’ Deady receiving Wimple’s land claim to settle their account … via Wimple's will, likely drafted by Deady. ‘Crazy Wimple,’ who’d harvested $10,000 from California gold fields, was hung on 8 October 1852.

Marcus, William and Mary Jane; siblings and "heirs and legatees of Creed Turner, deceased," sold 3/4 of the Missouri lands for $375. Title went to one Littleton West Turner. Of this Turner's father, one researcher speculates, “This John is probably a grandson of John and Rebeckah Turner (above), but it is not known for sure through which son." Such speculation places Littleton beyond my 'first cousin prohibition,' and the story settles.

It transpires Creed Turner's estate was estimable. He had bright prospects. In March 1752, his heirs sold another 352 acres along Tates Creek to a Samuel Phelps, likely first cousin Samuel Brockman Phelps (1828-1909), another of Peter Taylor's grandsons. Turner's siblings sold another 95 acres on Tates Creek to Samuel Clifton Stone (1822-1901). Nephew to Squire Turner (above), it's difficult to justify having Stone, the nephew of the wife of my half-2nd great grand uncle, already in my tree ... but there you are.

*‘Back to the United States’ was a phrase employed in the era of Creed Turner's grandfather John. After joining into what had begun as the Transylvania Company, Judge Henderson’s speculative colonization of uncharted territory ... under fellow North Carolinian Daniel Boone’s leadership ... 'the States' were both geographically distant and politically distinct. Land we now know of as Kentucky was at this time being organized as Transylvania Colony.
NOTES ~
Bold face indicates the author's probable direct ancestor.

Elder, in Last Words of the Executed, indicates Turner’s death was reported in the New York Times. It’s unlikely folks in Madison County heard of their kinsman’s plight prior to his execution. The New York Daily Tribune only reported the “wanton murder” on 2 December. The story of the crime broke in the Indiana State Sentinel a week after Turner’s execution. It was part of a cautionary tale: “Emigration this year has been large, but too many of them have gone to sow their "wild oats" among the mines instead of the fertile plains, where it would certainly yield an hundred fold.” [sic]

News clipping of Creed Turner's crime in Gallipolis Journal
Family members may have learned Creed Turner would “doubtless be executed” nearer Christmas, when the murder was reported in an Ohio newspaper, the Gallipolis Journal (right).
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