Francis Rakestraw: The Effects of War (52 Ancestors #21)

George William

George William “Willie” Rakestraw, Charles M. “Charlie” Rakestraw, and Francis Marion Rakestraw, circa 1900. Three generations.

Francis Marion Rakestraw was born on December 22, 1847 in New Albany, Indiana to parents Milton and Mary Susan (Henderson) Rakestraw.1,2,3,4  He was the oldest of three children, all boys.4  When Francis was seven years old, his father died.5  Mary Susan married James Hand two years later.6,7

Francis enlisted in the army on December 28, 1863 in New Albany.  He had just turned sixteen, but he told the recruiter that he was eighteen.  He gave his occupation as fisherman.  Francis entered as a Private and was assigned to Company B of the Thirteenth Cavalry, 131st Regiment of the Indiana Infantry.8,9,10,11

The Thirteenth Cavalry was the last cavalry organized in Indiana.  Recruiting for the companies began in September of 1863 and ended in April of 1864.  Colonel Gilbert Marquis Lafayette Johnson was the commanding officer.  On April 30, 1864, the Cavalry left Indianapolis and boarded a train for Nashville, Tennessee.  They trained in Nashville for a month and then departed, again by train, for Huntsville, Alabama to garrison the post there.  They were engaged in several skirmishes while trying to keep the supply lines clear.8,10  In Nashville, Francis was thrown from his saddle mule, which caused a back injury.  In Huntsville, he contracted malarial fever.12,13

On October 1, 1864, the Thirteenth Cavalry held the post against the command of the rebel General Buford.  On October 16th, six of the companies went to Louisville, Kentucky for fresh horses.  Company B remained at the post.  The companies that had gone to Louisville did not come back to Huntsville, but were rerouted to fight in Nashville.  Company B and the remaining five companies were sent to Nashville as well.  The Thirteenth Cavalry fought in the Battle of Nashville, alongside several other regiments, against Hood’s troops and defeated them on December 16, 1864.  After the battle, all of the companies were reunited and assigned to the Second Brigade, Seventh Division of the Cavalry Corps of the Military Division of Mississippi under Colonel Johnson.8,10

On February 11, 1865, the Thirteenth Cavalry boarded transports bound for New Orleans, but were rerouted to fight at Mobile Bay.  Mobile fell in April of 1865.  The Cavalry then participated in a number of raids in the area, until they were assigned to garrison at Macon.8,10

Francis mustered out with the rest of the regiment at Vicksburg, Mississippi on November 18, 1865.  His discharge paper says that he was eighteen at this time, which is accurate.8,9,10,11

Francis Rakestraw's Civil War belt buckle.

Francis Rakestraw’s Civil War belt buckle.

Francis Rakestraw's Civil War sword.

Francis Rakestraw’s Civil War sword.

Having some disability after his accident, Francis took a job with J. Bragdon & Co., proprietors of New Albany Rolling Mills.14

On October 22, 1867, Francis married Mary Elizabeth (Gilliland) Brown.1,3,15  They had two children, Zerilda Eleanora “Ella,” born in 1868, and George William “Willie,” born in 1873.3,16,17

After Willie’s birth, Francis began working as a driver for Israel P. Park’s coal yard.18  In 1882, he began working for Ohio Falls Iron Works, as a laborer.19  In 1886, he took a job as a driver at E. W. Fawcett’s coal and ice company.20  Francis became a driver at John Newhouse & Bro. coal company in 1892.21

Francis’ daughter died in June of 1894 of consumption.22  George Shrader was the undertaker, and it was at about this time that Francis began working as a driver for Shrader, who also owned a livery.23,24  He worked for the Shraders until November of 1910, when he contracted Pulmonary Tuberculosis.1,25,26

Francis Marion Rakestraw died on January 27, 1911 and was buried at Soldier’s National Cemetery in New Albany, Indiana.1,2,3,11

Francis Rakestraw's G.A.R. Information Committee ribbon.

Francis Rakestraw’s G.A.R. Information Committee ribbon.

Francis Rakestraw's G.A.R. 3rd Annual Convention (1896) ribbon.

Francis Rakestraw’s G.A.R. 3rd Annual Convention (1896) ribbon.

Francis Rakestraw's G.A.R. In Memoriam ribbon.

Francis Rakestraw’s G.A.R. In Memoriam ribbon.

Tombstone,  #3054, New Albany National Cemetery, New Albany, Indiana.  Photo taken 25 May 2015 by Melissa Wiseheart.

Tombstone, #3054, New Albany National Cemetery, New Albany, Indiana. Photo taken 25 May 2015 by Melissa Wiseheart.


Sources

1.  Floyd County, Indiana Death Records, Book CH-22, p. 17, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

2.  Obituary, New Albany Evening Tribune, Friday, 27 January 1911, p. 4, column 2, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

3.  Transcription of the Rakestraw Family Bible.

4. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Jeffersonville, Clark, Indiana, pp. 313-314, Ancestry.com.

5. Clipp, Mary Cuzzort, et al. Fairview Cemetery, Volume 1, New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana. New Albany, IN: Southern Indiana Genealogical Society, 1991. 62. Print.

6. Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Volume 4, p. 340, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

7. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, New Albany, Floyd, Indiana, p. 134, Ancestry.com.

8. Terrell, W.H.H. Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana. Volume 3. Indianapolis: Samuel M Douglass, 1866. 290-296. Print.

9. Terrell, W.H.H. Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana. Volume 7. Indianapolis: Samuel M Douglass, 1866. 306-308. Print.

10. Powell, John W. History of the Thirteenth Indiana Cavalry Regiment, 1863-1865. Utical, KY: McDowell Publishing, 1987. Print.

11. Discharge papers, Francis Marion Rakestraw, 18 November 1865.

12. Notice, New Albany Evening Tribune, 7 January 1888.

13. Letter, U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Pensions to Francis Marion Rakestraw, 14 September 1904.

14. Sholes, A.E., compiler. Sholes’ Directory of the City of New Albany, 1873-1874. New Albany, IN: John R. Nunemacher, 1873. 134. Print.

15. Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Volume 6, p. 369, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

16. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana, p. 15, Ancestry.com.

17. 1880 U.S. Federal Census, New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana, p. 4D, Ancestry.com.

18. Caron, C.K. Caron’s Directory of the City of New Albany for 1877-78. New Albany, IN: C.K. Caron, 1877. 166. Print.

19. Caron, C.K. Caron’s Directory of the City of New Albany for 1882-83. New Albany, IN: C.K. Caron, 1882. 218. Print.

20. Caron, C.K. Caron’s Directory of the City of New Albany and Jeffersonville for 1886-87. New Albany, IN: C.K. Caron, 1886. 237. Print.

21. Caron, C.K. Caron’s Directory of the City of New Albany and Jeffersonville for 1892-93. New Albany, IN: C.K. Caron, 1892. 310. Print.

22. Clipp, Mary Cuzzort, et al. Fairview Cemetery, Volume 4, New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana. New Albany, IN: Southern Indiana Genealogical Society, 1991. 71. Print.

23. Shrader receipt written to Francis Rakestraw for burial preparations, 14 June 1894.

24. Caron, C.K. Caron’s Directory of the City of New Albany and Jeffersonville for 1895-96. New Albany, IN: C.K. Caron, 1895. 381. Print.

25. Caron, C.K. Caron’s Directory of the City of New Albany and Jeffersonville for 1909-10. New Albany, IN: C.K. Caron, 1909. 308. Print.

26. Letter, George William Rakestraw to Francis Marion Rakestraw, 15 December 1910.

Syntha Irey: The Synthesis of a Name (52 Ancestors #15)

The Rakestraws have always been a difficult bunch to try to track down, the women in particular.  Like her great granddaughter, Syntha (Irey) Rakestraw lived a short and mostly undocumented life.  Also like her great granddaughter, her name is different on every record.

Syntha was born on April 8, 1803.  Her father was Phillip (or Philip) Irey of Butler Township in Columbiana County, Ohio.  She married Charles Rakestraw on December 6, 1821.  The couple and some of their children moved to New Albany, Indiana sometime between 1832 and 1840.  I’m still not sure how many children they had, but I have been able to prove eight and have leads on two more.  Syntha died of consumption on December 11, 1849, and was buried at Fairview Cemetery on the 17th.  I don’t know whether or not she originally had a tombstone, but she currently shares a stone with her daughter, Rebecca Dowerman, who died in 1901.

The first piece of documentation that I ever found for Syntha was the 1850 Mortality Schedule, on which her name is spelled “Sintha.”  I had only “known” that she was married to my Charles Rakestraw because of a pedigree chart that my grandma had given me years ago.

1850 Mortality Schedule, Ancestry.com

1850 Mortality Schedule, Ancestry.com

With a piece of evidence in hand, Sintha is how I spelled it until someone saw it on my Ancestry tree and sent me a very nasty message about how I was spelling Syntha incorrectly and that I should have more respect for my ancestors than to spell their names incorrectly.  Luckily, this didn’t turn me off to genealogy, but it did turn me off to having a publicly viewable tree on Ancestry.

The next record I came across was the marriage record for Charles Rakestraw and Sinthy Irey.  Now, my grandpa always used to pronounce Missouri as miz-ur-ah and Sunday as sun-dee, so I can see how Sintha might have become Sinthy.  I still couldn’t figure out where Syntha had come from, though.

Columbiana County, Ohio Marriages, Vol. 2, p. 103, FamilySearch.org

Columbiana County, Ohio Marriages, Vol. 2, p. 103, FamilySearch.org

The next piece of the puzzle came when I borrowed the Rakestraw box of paperwork from my grandpa so that I could scan it all into my computer.  Among the papers was a copy of Phillip Irey’s will, which appears to have been part of a probate record.  For some reason, whoever copied it was only concerned with the will.  In the will, Phillip names his daughter, Syntha Rakestraw.

At last, I knew where Syntha had come from!  One day, while working, I came across a roll of microfilm labeled Fairview Cemetery Records, 1841-1864.  I thought this strange because the Southern Indiana Genealogical Society had indexed all of the Fairview Cemetery record books and their first index started in 1852.  So, like any history/genealogy obsessed, mystery loving librarian, I put the roll on and started to scroll through it.  I took note of some names and dates, doing a random sampling.  One of the pages that I happened to stop on was an interment record for a Mrs. Rakestraw who had been buried on December 17, 1849.  Even though this record said the cause of death was “old lady,” which actually made me picture an old lady beating her to death with a purse, and Syntha had died of consumption, I was sure this had to be her.  I included her name and interment date on my sample list.

Fairview Cemetery Records, 1841-1864, microfilm, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Fairview Cemetery Records, 1841-1864, microfilm, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

I began to go through the books on the cemetery index shelf to see if anything matched my sampling.  I finally found matching names in Persons Buried in the Ground by the City of New Albany, which was a transcription of records for burials at the State Street Burying Ground that were later moved to Fairview, and early Fairview burials.  Unfortunately, this didn’t clear up the Sintha/Syntha issue.

Then, last year, I decided to research my Rakestraw line to prove that they were here before December 31, 1840 to get a certificate from the Southern Indiana Genealogical Society’s First Families Program.  In so doing, I had a hard time proving that Milton was the son of Charles and Syntha.  I had to use a lot of siblings to prove connections.  One of the records I used was Rebecca Dowerman’s death record.  She was Milton’s sister, and her death record listed her parents names as Chas. Rakestraw and Cynthia Irey.  Cynthia.  Well, I guess I can see how that happened.  The informant may not have really known Rebecca’s mother’s name, or they might have said Syntha and the clerk heard it differently.  We all know how easily names can be butchered.  I still had no second source for proving how to spell her name.

After I had completed the research for the First Families Program, I made plans to go to Fairview and try to find Syntha’s tombstone.  My dad went with me.  He said he remembered visiting a bunch of ancestor’s graves with his mom and he thought he could remember where they were.  We did find a tombstone for Rebecca Dowerman with Cyntha Rakestraw also listed on it.  So, now I also had Cyntha in the mix.

Tombstone, Rebecca Dowerman and Cyntha Rakestraw, Fairview Cemetery, photo taken by Melissa Wiseheart, 1 September 2014

Tombstone, Rebecca Dowerman and Cyntha Rakestraw, Fairview Cemetery, photo taken by Melissa Wiseheart, 1 September 2014

Tombstone, Rebecca Dowerman and Cyntha Rakestraw, Fairview Cemetery, photo taken by Melissa Wiseheart, 1 September 2014

Tombstone, Rebecca Dowerman and Cyntha Rakestraw, Fairview Cemetery, photo taken by Melissa Wiseheart, 1 September 2014

A different name for every source.  In case you are having a hard time keeping track, here are the variations:

rakestraw, sintha 1850 mortality schedule crop copy

Rakestraw, Charles - Columbiana County, Ohio Marriages, Vol. 2, p103 copy

Last Will & Testament, Philip Irey, 1841

Dowerman, Rebecca - Floyd County, Indiana Deaths, Book H-4, page 50 - part 5 copy

2014-09-01 14.48.07 copy

I finally settled on Syntha because, in the absence of corroborating sources, I broke the name into parts and synthesized it in the most logical way I could think to.  I most frequently saw it spelled with an “S” instead of a “C.”  I most frequently saw it spelled “yn” over “in.”  I most frequently saw it spelled “tha” over “thy” or “thia.”  So, S-yn-tha.  Syntha.  It coincidentally agrees with the person who had rather harshly corrected me, but that didn’t influence my decision.  I’m always on the lookout for records and would be excited to see if something finally agrees with one of these spellings.

George William Rakestraw: The One with the Confusing Timeline (52 Ancestors #13)

George William Rakestraw was the brother of my great great grandmother, Zerilda Rakestraw Springer.  Unlike his sister, he is very well documented.  Even so, I’ve had a difficult time researching him.  He had an uncle who was also named George William, so he went by William or Willie, but he also had a son named William, who seemed to go by Willie as a child.  Willie also had a son, Charles Marion and a cousin, Charles Marion.  I understand wanting to honor family members, but at some point, it’s just too much.  After hours upon hours of searching, deciphering, and some math, I have Willie mostly figured out.

George William Rakestraw, circa 1900.

George William Rakestraw, circa 1900.

George William “Willie” Rakestraw was born on August 20, 1873 in New Albany, Indiana, to parents Francis Marion and Mary Elizabeth (Gilliland) Rakestraw.  He had dark hair and blue eyes.  He was the baby of the family, as his sister was five years older.

An article appeared in the New Albany Evening Tribune, saying that Willie had married a Mamie Haine on February 2, 1891.

New Albany Evening Tribune, Tuesday, 3 February 1891, p. 4, column 3, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Evening Tribune, Tuesday, 3 February 1891, p. 4, column 3, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

I could not find a marriage record for them in Floyd county, surrounding counties, or Illinois, where I though Mamie might be from.  Willie would’ve been seventeen at the time, so he also would’ve needed parental permission to marry.

I did find that Willie married Mamie Haney in Floyd County, Indiana on October 9, 1891.  It also appeared in the paper the following day.

Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Vol. 10, p. 55, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Vol. 10, p. 55, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Daily Ledger, Saturday, 10 October 1891, p. 4, column 3, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Daily Ledger, Saturday, 10 October 1891, p. 4, column 3, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

It seems their honeymoon period was short-lived because the paper on October 24, 1891 reports that Mamie had filed suit against Willie for support.

New Albany Daily Ledger, Saturday, 24 October 1891, p. 8, columns 2-3, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Daily Ledger, Saturday, 24 October 1891, p. 8, columns 2-3, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

I couldn’t find what became of that suit, but I believe that Mamie went to Illinois without Willie and was pregnant at the time.  I’ve looked at several family trees that say Mamie gave birth to Otto William Rakestraw in Mound City, Illinois on December 25, 1891.  I have a copy of a photo of Otto Rakestraw that I got from my grandfather, but I have no proof of his relationship.  I’ve sent letters out to try and obtain a copy of a birth record and I hope to hear from someone soon.  Willie is listed as being in New Albany in both the 1890 and 1892 Caron’s City Directories, which is how I know he didn’t go with Mamie.

Here is where the timeline gets messy.  That’s right, it wasn’t messy before.  On October 8, 1893, William W. Rakestraw was born, the son of Willie by Lillian Margaret Bennett.  At least, according to both of William W.’s marriage records (1917 and 1933).  The 1900 Census and the transcription of the Rakestraw Family Bible both give October 8, 1894.  I’m inclined to believe the marriage records, as Census are often wrong and I don’t have access to the original Rakestraw Family Bible to know if there were any transcription errors.  There is no birth record on file for him, and his death record gives his birth date as October 8, 1898 (I’m thinking this was written by the informant as 1893 and misread by the clerk as 1898).  I’m still holding out hope for a primary source to prove one or the other.

In those same family trees that mention Otto’s birth, it is written that Willie and Mamie were granted a divorce from Mound City on October 23, 1893.  I have inquiries out on this as well, but it seems logical to me that infidelity would cause Mamie to file for divorce.

Willie married Lillie Bennett on April 14, 1894 in Floyd County, Indiana.

Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Vol. 10, p. 363, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Vol. 10, p. 363, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

There are articles (I’ll get to them in a bit) that give marriage dates of January and April 1893, but since Willie and Mamie were still married that wouldn’t be possible, or at least not legal.  I also couldn’t find any marriage records for Willie and Lillie on those dates.

Charles Marion Rakestraw was born on January 22, 1896 in New Albany, Indiana.  He is the second son of Willie and Lillie.

Things go downhill for Willie and Lillie the following year.  On April 9, 1897, Lillie filed suit against Willie for maintenance.  The suit was dismissed on June 11, 1897.

New Albany Weekly Tribune, Friday, 9 April 1897, p. 7, column 2, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Weekly Tribune, Friday, 9 April 1897, p. 7, column 2, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Weekly Tribune, Friday, 11 June 1897, p. 7, column 4, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Weekly Tribune, Friday, 11 June 1897, p. 7, column 4, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Lillie then filed for divorce on December 1, 1897.  This must have been a long process.  It was listed on the court docket on January 14, 1898 and then again on October 1, 1898 and still the divorce was not granted.

New Albany Daily Ledger, Wednesday, 1 December 1897, p. 4, column 4, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Daily Ledger, Wednesday, 1 December 1897, p. 4, column 4, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Weekly Tribune, Friday, 3 December 1897, p. 5, column 2, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Weekly Tribune, Friday, 3 December 1897, p. 5, column 2, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Weekly Tribune, Friday, 14 January 1898, p. 7, column 4, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Weekly Tribune, Friday, 14 January 1898, p. 7, column 4, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Daily Ledger, Saturday, 1 October 1898, p. 4, column 5, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Daily Ledger, Saturday, 1 October 1898, p. 4, column 5, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

On February 20, 1899, Louise Rakestraw was born.  Three weeks later, Lillie petitioned to dismiss the divorce case.

New Albany Daily Ledger, Tuesday, 14 March 1899, p. 4, column 4, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Daily Ledger, Tuesday, 14 March 1899, p. 4, column 4, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

On May 24, 1899, Willie filed for divorce and it was granted by the court on June 17, 1899.  He asked for and was granted custody of William and Charles.

New Albany Daily Ledger, Wednesday, 24 May 1899, p. 4, column 2, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Daily Ledger, Wednesday, 24 May 1899, p. 4, column 2, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Public Press, Wednesday, 31 May 1899, p. 4, column 3, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Public Press, Wednesday, 31 May 1899, p. 4, column 3, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Daily Ledger, Saturday, 17 June 1899, p. 4, column 1, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Daily Ledger, Saturday, 17 June 1899, p. 4, column 1, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Lillie and baby Louise went to live with Lillie’s mother.  Willie, William, and Charles moved in with Willie’s parents and his niece, Mildred Springer.

On June 5, 1902, Willie married Lorena Bender in Louisville, Kentucky.  By 1910, Willie and Lorena were living in Madison County, Illinois, but William and Charles were still living with Willie’s parents.  Charles did spend some time in Illinois with his dad, as this letter, dated December 15th, indicates.

Willie and Lorena moved to Louisville at some point after 1918 (Willie’s draft registration shows he was still in Illinois).  Willie and William ran a music store in Louisville until Willie’s death in 1935.

Tombstone, Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky, George William Rakestraw, 1874-1935, photo courtesy of Rob M, Findagrave.com

Tombstone, Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky, George William Rakestraw, 1874-1935, photo courtesy of Rob M, Findagrave.com

I still have to wonder about Otto and Louise.  Why did Willie not seek custody for either of them?  Why didn’t he even acknowledge them?  With all of my grandfather’s stories that had been passed down through the Rakestraw family, I had never heard of either one until I started researching Willie.  William’s obituary said that he was survived by a sister, Louise, so I suppose he must have had some contact with her.  I guess these are questions to which I may never know the answers.

Zerilda Rakestraw: Almost a Ghost (52 Ancestors #11)

If I had only official documents to go on, I’d know next to nothing about my great great grandmother.  Using the usual vitals, census, and obituary, her life could be summed up as follows.  Zerilda Eleanora Rakestraw was born circa 1869, the daughter of Francis Marion and Mary Elizabeth (Gilliland) Rakestraw.  She married Frank Springer on February 28, 1892.  She gave birth to Mildred Gertrude Springer on November 20, 1892.  She died of consumption on June 13, 1894 and was buried at Fairview Cemetery.

The biggest hurdles I had in my research were the lack of official documents.  The state of Indiana didn’t require birth records until 1882.  There was no birth record.  The 1890 Census would’ve been the first census to list her occupation.  There is no surviving copy of the 1890 Census for Indiana.  For reasons I can’t fathom, her death was never reported to the city or the county Health Department.  No death record.  Another hurdle was that Zerilda changed her name, and not legally.

Fortunately, I had some good information from my grandfather, who had heard it from Zerilda’s mother.  There are also a handful of more unconventional records for her.  Additionally, the Rakestraws saved a lot of things, for which I am eternally grateful.  And now, I present the life of Zerilda Rakestraw, as complete as I believe it will ever be.

1868

Serralda Ella Nora Rakestraw was born on  June 5, 1868 in New Albany, Indiana to parents Francis Marion and Mary Elizabeth (Gilliland) Rakestraw.  (This is according to a transcription of the Rakestraw Family Bible.  I don’t know where the Bible is currently located.  I have been spelling it Zerilda Eleanora based on the official documents that bear her name.  I’ve been thinking about whether or not I should change how I write it).

1870

She appears on the Census, with her parents, as Zerilda, age 1.

1880

On the Census, she is living with her parents and her younger brother.  She is listed as Elnora, age 11.

1890 (ish)

Here, I have no documentation.  My grandfather said that she taught school in Louisville for a year or so before she married.  I could not find any mention of her in New Albany or Louisville City Directories.  He also said that she hated her first name and, as an adult, decided to go by Ella Nora Rakestraw.  This may have started before adulthood, since she seems to have gone by her middle name(s) on the 1880 Census.  I have a couple of photos to share here.

Zerilda Eleanora Rakestraw (ca. 1890)

Zerilda Eleanora Rakestraw (ca. 1890)

Grandpa said this is the photo she had taken for the school.  Presumably for a yearbook or similar type of thing.

Zerilda Rakestraw's desk bell.  Purchased circa 1890.

Zerilda Rakestraw’s desk bell. Purchased circa 1890.

1891

By December of 1891, Ella had met Frank Springer.  It would seem that they were long-distance courting by this letter from Frank, dated December 17, 1891.

1892

Frank and Ella were married on February 28, 1892.

Frank Springer and Ella Rakestraw Marriage License

Frank Springer and Ella Rakestraw Marriage License

Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Volume 10, p.114, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Volume 10, p.114, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Daily Ledger, 29 February 1892, p.4, column 6, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Daily Ledger, Monday, 29 February 1892, p.4, column 6, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Within a week, Frank and Ella had moved to his brother’s farm, outside of Paoli, Indiana.

Paoli Republican, Wednesday, 9 March 1892, p.3, column 5, NewspaperArchive.com

Paoli Republican, Wednesday, 9 March 1892, p.3, column 5, NewspaperArchive.com

Ella’s mother, Mary, wrote to her on March 23, 1892.  After receiving this letter, Ella wrote back, saying that she was very sick.  She had weak spells and was often sick to her stomach.

In April, Ella received a letter from her cousin Othela, congratulating her on her marriage to Frank and expressing concern for her illness.

Sometime in May, Ella had gone back to New Albany to stay with her parents, probably having realized that she was pregnant and would need her mother’s help.  Frank wrote to her shortly after her arrival.

It seems that Frank visited from time to time, but didn’t stay long.  From a letter written circa June 1892 and a letter dated July 3, 1892, it is evident that Ella’s mother did not want Frank around.

On November 20, 1892, Ella gave birth to a daughter, Mildred Gertrude Springer.  Frank was present for the birth of his daughter, as this letter dated November 27, 1892, suggests.

In December, both Ella and baby Mildred were sick.

Zerilda Springer, circa 1892.

Zerilda Springer, circa 1892.

Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to find this photocopy and not the original.  Since the quality is so bad, I cannot tell if this is just Ella, or if Mildred is perhaps in a bassinet to the left.

1893

In a letter dated January 22, 1893, Frank writes that he is sorry to hear that Ella and the baby are both still sick.  He also writes that he will come for them when the weather is better.

New Albany Evening Tribune, Thursday, 23 March 1893, p.4, column 2, NewspaperArchive.com

New Albany Evening Tribune, Thursday, 23 March 1893, p.4, column 2, NewspaperArchive.com

Here the letters have stopped and it would seem that Ella was home with Frank from here on, however, she must have gone back to stay with her parents before the end of May in 1894.  And, in researching Frank’s story, I learned that he did leave home sometime in 1893 for the World’s Fair in Chicago, so it makes sense that Ella would not stay alone on the farm with the baby.

1894

New Albany Evening Tribune, Friday, 25 May 1894, p.3, column 2, NewspaperArchive.com

New Albany Evening Tribune, Friday, 25 May 1894, p.3, column 2, NewspaperArchive.com

New Albany Daily Ledger, Friday, 26 May 1894, p.5, column 3, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Daily Ledger, Friday, 26 May 1894, p.5, column 3, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

This one should read “adoption of Mildred G. Springer,” but as we all know, the papers sometimes get things wrong.

On June 13, 1894, just two and a half weeks after her parents adopted Mildred, Ella died of consumption.  She was buried at Fairview Cemetery in New Albany, Indiana.

New Albany Evening Tribune, Thursday, 14 June 1894, p.4, column 2, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

New Albany Evening Tribune, Thursday, 14 June 1894, p.4, column 2, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Receipt from The Northern Cemetery (Fairview Cemetery) for payment on grave preparations.

Receipt from The Northern Cemetery (Fairview Cemetery) for payment on grave preparations.

Fairview Cemetery Index, Volume 4, p.71, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Fairview Cemetery Index, Volume 4, p.71, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

It took me quite some time to find her in Fairview, as her tombstone reads “Ellen N. Springer” and Frank is not buried there.

Tombstone of Ella Springer, Fairview Cemetery, photo courtesy of Douser, Findagrave.com

Tombstone of Ella Springer, Fairview Cemetery, photo courtesy of Douser, Findagrave.com

So ends the short life of Zerilda Eleanora (Rakestraw) Springer.

Rebecca Gilbert: Quaker Daughter, Seneca Daughter (52 Ancestors #07)

Rebecca Gilbert is my favorite ancestor to research.  I feel close to her, not because we have any similarities, but because she is the first ancestor of mine who had a story that I could read.  All I had in the beginning of my research was a pedigree chart from my grandmother and a handful of notes.  One day, after Sunday lunch, my grandpa told me he had a book about my sixth great grandmother, Rebecca Gilbert.  The book was Captured by the Indians:  The Seldom Told Stories of Horatio Jones and the Benjamin Gilbert Family by George Henry Harris and William Walton (2003).  He lent it to me and, as I read and learned about what she had gone through, she became real to me.  She was no longer just a name on a pedigree chart.  I wanted to learn more about her, but I wasn’t entirely sure where to start.

A few months later, I was helping a patron at work who wanted to research Native American ancestry.  It was then that I noticed a smallish, red bound book with gilt lettering on the spine, which read, “Gilbert Narrative.”  When the patron had finished, I took my break and went back for the book.  The book was The Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and His Family, 1780-83 by William Walton and Frank H. Severance (1904).  This one included a copy of the original text, plus an illustration of Benjamin being led off by Indians, a photograph of the Gilbert homestead in Byberry, the ancestry of Benjamin Gilbert, memoirs of the surviving captives, a family tree for Benjamin’s children, and historical notes.  It should have contained a map of their travels, but it had long since been torn out.

Suddenly, I had more information about my sixth great grandmother.  It had been right under my nose for two years.  I spent my breaks over the next week reading this book and writing things down.  This reprint also included a bibliography of all related publications.  Since this book differed so much from the one my grandfather had shown me, I wondered what other editions might reveal.  I began my search for these other books.  Luckily, Internet Archive had digitized some of them.  They have recently added the original as well.

Each one has something to add to the story, whether for the best or not.  Before I begin the story I should note that the family were Quakers and they never used the names of the days of the week or the months of the year since most of those names were derived from the names of pagan gods.  They also had an old and new style of dating, which can be confusing at times.  I’m writing the dates here exactly as they appear in the text.

The basic story of the Gilbert family is that the family were surprised at about sunrise on the 25th day of the 4th month, 1780 by a party of eleven Indians.  These Indians were Rowland Monteur and John Monteur (Mohawk); Samuel Harris, John Huston, and John Huston, Jr. (Cayuga); John Fox (Delaware); and five unnamed Seneca.  They raided and burned all of the buildings on the property.  They took captive fifteen people:  Benjamin Gilbert and his wife, Elizabeth; their children, Joseph, Jesse, Rebecca, Abner, and Elizabeth; Jesse’s wife, Sarah; Elizabeth’s sons from a previous marriage, Thomas and Benjamin Peart; Benjamin Peart’s wife, Elizabeth, and their daughter, Elizabeth; Benjamin Gilbert’s nephew, Benjamin Gilbert; Abigail Dodson, a neighbor’s daughter; and Andrew Harrigar, a hired hand.

The Indians bound their hands and forced the captives to walk northward toward Fort Niagara.  The journey was difficult, with little rest and not much to eat.  Andrew Harrigar managed to escape on the tenth day.  On the 24th day of the 5th month, Colonel Guy Johnson and Colonel Butler secured the release of Benjamin and Elizabeth Gilbert and their son, Jesse.  The rest of the captives were given over to various Indian families.  Rebecca and her cousin, Benjamin, were given to Rowland Monteur and his wife, who was the daughter of the Seneca Chief Siangorochti (Sayenqueraghta) and a Cayuga mother of high rank.  They lived with the Seneca on Buffalo Creek (Buffalo River), about four miles from Fort Erie.  They were adopted into the family of Siangorochti as replacements for family members that had been killed.  The story, according to William Walton, another of Rebecca’s cousins, is that Benjamin was happy in his new life while Rebecca suffered much and only wanted to get back home.

Another account, given by Rebecca’s fourth great grandson, Everitt Kirk Harris, states that “she was reluctant to leave her adopted relatives and customs.”  This account was passed down through the family.

Regardless of the conditions, there are some facts.  Benjamin Gilbert, Rebecca’s father, died on the 8th day of the 6th month, 1780.  Her adopted father, Rowland Monteur, died in September of 1781 (according to Severance’s notes).  Rebecca and Benjamin were released on the 1st day of the 6th month, 1782, and sailed for Montreal two days later.  They were the last two members of the Gilbert family to be released.  The entire surviving Gilbert family arrived in Byberry, Pennsylvania on the 28th day of the 9th month, 1782.

Walton’s third edition gives a synopsis of Rebecca’s life after returning home.

Walton, William.  A Narrative of the Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and His Family, Who Were Taken by the Indians in the Spring of 1780.  Third Edition.  Philadelphia:  Printed by John Richards, 1848.  pp. 222-223.

Walton, William. A Narrative of the Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and His Family, Who Were Taken by the Indians in the Spring of 1780. Third Edition. Philadelphia: Printed by John Richards, 1848. pp. 222-223.

Rebecca’s will names only nine children:  Elizabeth, William, Joseph, Rachel, Rebecca, Hannah, Charles, George, and John.

Last Will and Testament of Rebecca Rakestraw, 5 Jul 1841

Last Will and Testament of Rebecca Rakestraw, 5 Jul 1841

I feel as though I have a complete story for Rebecca.  I am, however, left with a question.  Why are only nine of Rebecca’s eleven children named in her will?  Only three possible reasons come immediately to mind.  Either the person who wrote the synopsis was incorrect and there were only nine children, the other two children died without heirs before the date of the will, or Rebecca did not count them as her children for some reason.  Even though I have a fairly complete story for Rebecca, I continue to look for information.  One item on my bucket list is to follow the path that Rebecca and her family followed.  At the very least, I want to see the monument in The Seneca Indian Park in Buffalo, New York.  I found an image of the plaque recently.

First White Women Monument, Seneca Indian Park, Buffalo, New York, Ancestry.com.

First White Women Monument, Seneca Indian Park, Buffalo, New York, Ancestry.com.