Milton Rakestraw: Circumstantial Evidence and Corroboration (52 Ancestors #37)

As I was researching to apply for a First Families of Floyd County, Indiana certificate last year, I came across one ancestor in the line who proved difficult.  Milton Rakestraw.  I always “knew” he was the son of Charles and Syntha (Irey) Rakestraw simply because my grandparents had said so.

When I gathered all of my documentation, I had very few actual facts about him.  He was born circa 1825 in Ohio.1,2  He was a ship carpenter.1  He married Mary Susan Henderson on March 8, 1845 in Floyd County, Indiana.3  They had three sons, Francis Marion, Charles H., and George William.1  Milton died circa January 1855 in Little New Orleans (now Orleans), Orange County, Indiana and was interred in Fairview Cemetery in New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana on January 26, 1855.2

Luckily, Milton was born into a large family and I was able to research his siblings for more information.  I began with the one census record he appeared on.  In 1850, he was living with his wife and three sons in Jeffersonville, Clark County, Indiana.  A William Rakestraw was also living with them.  Based on William’s age, birthplace, and location on the record, I believe this is Milton’s brother, William Arlie Rakestraw.

I looked for information on William Arlie and found a marriage record.  He married Mary C. Neighbors in Floyd County, Indiana on November 3, 1867.4  I then found William and Mary C. Rakestraw living in New Albany in 1870.  An Elizabeth Flora was living with them.5  This could be his sister, but there is an age discrepancy.  Additionally, Elizabeth seems to have disappeared after 1850, when she appeared on the census with her father and three of her sisters.

I came across an obituary for William Arlie, which indicated that he died in Clark County.6  The Archivist/Indiana Room Librarian at Jeffersonville Township Public Library was kind enough to e-mail a copy of the death record to me.  Unfortunately, his parents were “unknown.”7

I decided to look for the daughters of Charles Rakestraw that were listed on the 1850 Census.  I started with Adeline.  From the census, I know she married Henry Hardy.8  I found their marriage record, dated August 26, 1847 in Floyd County, Indiana.9  Henry and Adeline lived in Lawrence County, Indiana in 1860.  Also living with them was Arvine Rakestraw.10  Based on occupation, age, and name similarity, I believe this is William Arlie.  I have been unable to find William Arlie in the 1860 Census with his first or middle name, which lends credibility to this theory.  The 1860 Census also shows that Henry and Adeline have a son named Milton.10  Presumably, this son was named for Adeline’s brother.

I moved on down the list and looked for Susan Rakestraw.  Susan married John Flora on March 6, 1851.11  I couldn’t find any information that would link her to Milton.

I looked for Minerva next.  Minerva married Charles Ennis on June 12, 1864.12  Again, I found no evidence linking her to Milton.

At a loss, I decided to compare the make-up of the 1830 and 1840 Charles Rakestraw household to what I know of his family.

I first filled in Charles and Syntha, and then all of the children I could prove.  Next, I added the children I couldn’t prove.  They all fit, with no children left over.13,14

My speculation on the Charles Rakestraw family in 1830 and 1840.

My speculation on the Charles Rakestraw family in 1830 and 1840.

There is other evidence, or perhaps lack of evidence, that I believe confirms Milton as a son of Charles.  I searched the 1840 Census for all Rakestraws living in both Floyd and Clark counties.  Charles is the only one.  I performed the same search for 1850.  Charles and Milton are the only Rakestraw patriarchs in both counties.  From this, I think it’s safe to say they are at least related.

When taken individually, none of these pieces of information can prove Milton’s lineage.  However, taken as a whole, they make a pretty compelling case.  It’s often difficult for my analytical mind to keep all of these abstract details together, so I created a logic diagram of the circumstantial evidence and how each piece corroborates the rest to form the conclusion that Charles Rakestraw is the father of Milton Rakestraw.

Milton Rakestraw logic diagram.

Milton Rakestraw logic diagram.


Sources

  1. 1850 United States Federal Census. HeritageQuestOnline.com, 2009. Web. 12 Jun. 2011. Jeffersonville, Clark, Indiana. pp.313-314. Family #256, lines 40 and 1-5.
  2. Ang, William, Marguerite Ang, James Thornton Eiler, Jackie Murray Nance, and Shirley Wolf, comps. Fairview Cemetery: September1, 1852 to November 18, 1865. Vol. 1. New Albany, Ind. (P.O. Box 665, New Albany 47151): Southern Indiana Genealogical Society, 1989. Print. The Indiana Southern Counties Collection. p.62.
  3. Floyd County Clerk. Microfilm. Floyd County, Indiana Marriages Volume B (1845): p.147.  Accessed 23 Sep. 2014, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.
  4. Floyd County Clerk. Microfilm. Floyd County, Indiana Marriages Volume 6 (1867): p.372.  Accessed 13 Jun. 2011, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.
  5. 1870 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 17 Aug. 2014. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p.9. Family #70, lines 20-23.
  6. “Local Gatherings (Death Notice).” New Albany Evening Tribune 21 November 1904, Monday ed.: 4. Print. column 2.  Accessed 18 Aug. 2014, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.
  7. Clark County Health Department. Microfilm. Clark County, Indiana Death Records, Book H-28 (1904): p.16.  Accessed 03 Sep. 2014, Jeffersonville Township Public Library.
  8. 1850 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 08 Nov. 2011. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p.421. Family #549, lines 5-12.
  9. Floyd County Clerk. Microfilm. Floyd County, Indiana Marriages Volume 3 (1847): p.101.  Accessed 09 Sep. 2014, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.
  10. 1860 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 09 Sep. 2015. Shawswick, Lawrence, Indiana. p.126. Family #858, lines 1-8.
  11. Floyd County Clerk. Microfilm. Floyd County, Indiana Marriages Volume 3 (1851): p.332.  Accessed 09 Sep. 2014, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.
  12. “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VKJD-CWT : accessed 17 August 2014), Charles Ennis and Minerva T Rakestraw, 12 Jun 1864; citing , Lawrence, Indiana, county clerk offices, Indiana; FHL microfilm 1,317,626.
  13. 1830 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. Hanover, Columbiana, Ohio. p.486. Line 18.
  14. 1840 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 09 Sep. 2014. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p.255. Line 16.

Charles Rakestraw: Beginning Again (52 Ancestors #22)

Charles Rakestraw is my Floyd County, Indiana pioneer ancestor.  I registered for First Families of Floyd, Clark, and Harrison Counties through him last year.  This year, the Southern Indiana Genealogical Society asked me to talk about him at their July program, Stories of the First Families.  They also asked me to provide a photo of him or his tombstone for their display board.  I have no photo of him or his tombstone, which makes me wonder what I could give them instead.  The first family member of his for which I have those pictures is his grandson. I really want to represent him with a photo of some kind.  Since he was a ship carpenter, perhaps a New Albany steamboat that he could have worked on, or something to do with carpentry. Charles Rakestraw is an ancestor about whom I know a lot and nothing at the same time.  How is that possible?  He had a lot of new beginnings, but the details of his life after one beginning and before the next seem to be non-existent.

Birth – The Very Beginning

Charles was born circa 1800 in Pennsylvania to Joseph and Rebecca (Gilbert) Rakestraw.1,5,8  Joseph and Rebecca were Quakers, which ordinarily would mean that the Meeting minutes would have a record of Charles’ birth.  However, Joseph and Rebecca were also second cousins and were disowned by the Society of Friends for marrying a close relation. Currently, the chain of evidence I have that Charles was indeed the son of Joseph and Rebecca, and for his birth year and place, is:

  • Charles Rakestraw lived in New Albany, Indiana in 1840.  He was between the ages of 40 and 50.  There is a mark in the 30 to 40 column on the female side, which is presumably his wife.3
  • A 44-year-old “Sintha Rakestraw” appears on the 1850 Mortality Schedule.6  In 1850, Charles is living with a daughter and son-in-law.5
  • Charles Rakestraw married “Sinthy Irey” in Columbiana County, Ohio in 1821.7
  • Charles and Syntha are living in Hanover, Columbiana, Ohio in 1830.2
  • Most of Charles and Syntha’s children were born in Ohio; the others were born in New Albany.2,3,4,5
  • Rebecca Rakestraw’s last will and testament, dated July 5, 1841, lists a son Charles as an heir.8
  • Joseph and Rebecca moved to New Garden, Columbiana, Ohio before 1829.1
  • Rebecca gave birth to nine children in Northampton County, Pennsylvania and two children in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania sometime before she and Joseph moved to Ohio.1

It’s a work in progress, but I haven’t given up the search.

A Move to Ohio

Certainly, the Rakestraws were in Ohio by 1829 because Joseph died in the spring of 1829 and was buried in New Garden Friends Cemetery.1 According to William Walton, a cousin of Rebecca, Rebecca married Joseph in 1786.  They settled in Northampton County, where nine children were born to them.  At the least, they would have lived here seven years, if Rebecca would have had baby after baby.  More likely they were born every one or two years, so averaging that I’m using fourteen years, which brings us to 1800.  They then moved to Lancaster County, where they lived for about twenty years, which brings us to 1820.1 Depending on how long they actually did live in Northampton County, Charles would have been a teenager or young adult at the time of the move.

A Marriage

Assuming 1820 as the year for the Ohio move, Charles would not have been there long before his first marriage.  He married Syntha Irey on December 6, 1821.7

A Move to Indiana

Charles and his family moved to New Albany, Indiana sometime between 1835 and 1838.2,3,4,5  This is based on Lucinda, the youngest of the Ohio-born children, having been born circa 1835, and Elizabeth, the oldest of the Indiana-born children, having been born circa 1838.  They were most definitely here in 1840.3

A Death

Syntha died of consumption on December 11, 1849, which caused Charles to adjust his living situation.6  With three younger children, Charles needed to be sure they were taken care of.  His son William, age nine, was sent to live with an older brother, Milton.4  Charles and his two young daughters, Elizabeth and Minerva, went to live with his daughter Adeline and son-in-law, Henry Hardy.5

A Second Marriage

Charles wasn’t long in this situation before he re-married.  He married Dorothy Houston on October 19, 1850.9

The End, or Maybe Another Beginning

I lose Charles after his marriage to Dorothy.  He is not listed on the 1860 Census, which leads me to believe he died before this time.  I cannot find any obituaries or other records of death for him.  An obituary for Dorothy shows that she was still going by Dorothy Houston and does not mention Charles at all.10  There is a rumor that he was buried out at Fairview Cemetery in New Albany, but cemetery records have yielded no results and I can find no tombstone for him.


Sources

1.  Walton, William, and Frank H. Severance. “Memoirs of the Captives.” The Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and His Family, 1780-83. Reprinted from the Original Edition of 1784. Cleveland: Burrows Brothers, 1904. 177-78. Print.

2.  1830 U.S. Federal Census, Hanover, Columbiana, Ohio, p. 486, Ancestry.com.

3.  1840 U.S. Federal Census, New Albany, Floyd, Indiana, p. 255, Ancestry.com.

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

5.  1850 U.S. Federal Census, New Albany, Floyd, Indiana, p. 421, Ancestry.com.

6.  1850 U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedule, New Albany, Floyd, Indiana, p. 325, Ancestry.com.

7.  Columbiana County, Ohio Marriages, Volume 2, p. 103, FamilySearch.org.

8.  Last Will and Testament of Rebecca Gilbert Rakestraw, 5 July 1841.

9.  Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Volume 3, p. 305, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

10.  Obituary, Dorothy Houston, New Albany Daily Standard, Wednesday 13 December 1871, p. 4, column 7, NewspaperArchive.com.

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.

The Importance of Re-checking Your Old Documents

My grandparents had been working on our genealogy for pretty much their whole lives.  I didn’t really get into it until about twelve years ago, when my grandma gave me several pedigree charts for different lines of the family.  At that point in time, having just graduated from high school, I was content to just have that.  Of course, now that I’m working at the Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room, I know the importance of sourcing everything.  My grandparents have several cardboard boxes full of documents, some original and some copies, from which they have gotten the genealogical information.

A couple of years ago, I sat down with my grandpa and we discussed my plans for documenting everything.  He agreed to let me borrow a box to start with to digitize everything and sort it a little.  He said the boxes had originally been separated by which line of the family the information pertained to, but as the years went by, things just got tossed into whichever box was most convenient or least full at the time.

The first box he gave me was the “Wiseheart” box, but there were some Rakestraws, Von Allmens, church history, and several other things in there as well.  I just scanned everything and labeled it as best I could, even if I didn’t know what it was or how it fit.  I then returned the box and borrowed another.  At that point in time, I was just learning how to use my scanner with my new Mac.  Everything I scanned got saved to a default location and I, for some reason, haven’t looked at it since, until today.

Here, I will digress for a bit, to give some context as to why this is significant.  In October of 2013, the Southern Indiana Genealogical Society (SIGS) held its first First Families of Floyd County program.  Basically, if you can prove that your ancestor was in Floyd County, Indiana on or before December 31, 1840, you qualify for a First Families certificate.  I wasn’t anywhere near ready for the deadline for that one, but they announced that First Families would continue the following year.  I researched the Rakestraw line of my family because I knew Charles Rakestraw was on the 1840 U.S. Federal Census, which was enumerated on June 1, 1840, thus before the requisite date.

After tracing my family pretty far back, I hit a snag.  I couldn’t find a way to link Milton Rakestraw to his father, Charles.  The 1840 Census only lists head of household with tallies for people of certain age groups in the household.  By the 1850 Census, Milton had married and moved out.  I decided to use siblings to prove his relationship.  In the 1850 Census, Milton’s younger brother, William Arlie, was living with him, while his father, Charles, and two sisters, Elizabeth and Minerva, were living with his brother-in-law and sister, Henry and Adaline Hardy.  I looked for William Arlie’s death record, to see if his parents were named.  They were not.  In the 1870 Census, Elizabeth Flora is living with William Arlie Rakestraw.  I “know” this is his sister Elizabeth, but I couldn’t find any record of Elizabeth Rakestraw having married a Flora, or anyone, for that matter, in either of the two counties where she had lived.  I needed this to close the connection circle.  All of this was enough for SIGS, but it wasn’t enough for me.  Having completed the application for the program, I set the Rakestraws aside to give myself a break and decided to focus on the Springers for a while.

This brings us back to today.  I found the default folder in which my scanner had saved everything.  One image was labeled “Flora, Marion Elizabeth – Cemetery Record,” which had meant nothing to me at the time.  I had no idea then that the Floras were in any way related to us.  Now, however, this could be a big clue as to why I couldn’t find a marriage record for Elizabeth Rakestraw to a Flora.  If her name was in fact Marion Elizabeth Rakestraw, the marriage record might have been filed under Marion Rakestraw.  The “Cemetery Record” is page 49 from Fairview Cemetery, Volume VIII, January 1, 1930-December 31, 1934, published by the Southern Indiana Genealogical Society.  The whole thing is quite lengthy, as it includes two obituaries, but the important part is:

FLORA, Marion Elizabeth; 20978; 78 yrs; res L. A. CA; d. 13 Aug 1933; bur 19 Aug 1933; ; ; P 2 R 8 Lot 21 G 5; Charles Rakestraw and Henry Hardy trans. to Susan Flora; Chr. Myocarditis; Frank W. Webb; Elmer H. Dieckman; 20978–Former Local Woman Dies in Los Angeles–Mrs. Marion E. Flora, 78, widow of William Flora, a former New Albany resident…

I know from this that Marion Elizabeth Flora is from New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana, that her husband was William Flora, that she is approximately the same age as my Elizabeth Rakestraw, and that she is in some way related to Charles Rakestraw, Henry Hardy, and Susan (Rakestraw) Flora.  Now I need to go back through the marriage records for Floyd County to see if a William Flora married either a Marion or an Elizabeth Rakestraw.

This is a prime example of why it is important to re-check your old documents periodically.  Something that doesn’t seem to fit now might turn out to be the missing puzzle piece you’ve been beating your head against the wall for months to find.