Mary Elizabeth Gilliland: What Makes A Home? (52 Ancestors #25)

Mary Elizabeth Gilliland Brown Rakestraw

Mary Elizabeth Gilliland Brown Rakestraw

Mary Elizabeth Gilliland was born on January 22, 1849 in Edwardsport, Knox County, Indiana to Leason and Serilda (Long) Gilliland.1,2  It appears that Leason wasn’t around very much during Mary’s childhood, as she and her mother and siblings are living with Asa and Maria Loundsbury in 1850.3  Family legend is that Leason worked on a steamboat and was traveling on the river all the time.  According to the 1840 Census, Leason was employed in agriculture.4  While the steamboat story isn’t impossible, it seems unlikely.  In any event, Leason died in about 1855, when Mary was six years old.5,6

It wasn’t long before Serilda became involved with John Bridges, whom she married in 1857.6  Mary did not like John and life with him was difficult for her.  She married James Brown on January 29, 1865, having just turned sixteen.7  James, however, did not live long and Mary married Francis Marion Rakestraw on October 22, 1867.8

Mary had two children with Francis, Zerilda Eleanora “Ella” and George William “Willie.”9,10  In 1892, Ella became very ill, which prompted Mary and Francis to adopt their granddaughter, Mildred Gertrude Springer, in 1894.11  Ella died just two weeks after the adoption.12

When Mildred married Sanford Wesley Wiseheart, Mary moved in with them.  She lived with them until her death on October 11, 1935.2,13,14

Since Mary moved around a lot, I thought it best to present that in chart form.  I have her location for her birth year, census years, and death year.1,2,3,4,5,9,10,13,14,15,16,17

Green = living with mother Blue = living with husband Purple = living with granddaughter

Green = living with mother
Blue = living with husband
Purple = living with granddaughter

Mary Elizabeth Gilliland had a bit of rough start in life and her family seemed always to be changing and on the move.  I think, for Mary, home was the people she chose to surround herself with rather than any particular place.  Certainly she became the central figure in her home and the home of her granddaughter’s family.  Mary passed down her family stories to her granddaughter and great grandchildren, who also passed them down.

House on County Line Road.  Mary Elizabeth Rakestraw holding Sanford William Wiseheart and George William Rakestraw holding Mildred Lorena Wiseheart.  1924.

House on County Line Road. Mary Elizabeth Rakestraw holding Sanford William Wiseheart and George William Rakestraw holding Mildred Lorena Wiseheart. 1924.

Mary Elizabeth (Gilliland) Rakestraw with her great grandson, Sanford "Bud" Wiseheart, circa 1924.

Mary Elizabeth (Gilliland) Rakestraw with her great grandson, Sanford “Bud” Wiseheart, circa 1924.

Mary's bonnet.

Mary’s bonnet.

A quilt that Mary had started.  The pieces look to be from feed or flour sacks.

A quilt that Mary had started. The pieces look to be from feed or flour sacks.

Inscription on the reverse side of Francis Rakestraw's tombstone at New Albany National Cemetery.

Inscription on the reverse side of Francis Rakestraw’s tombstone at New Albany National Cemetery.


Sources

1.  Transcription of the Rakestraw Family Bible.

2.  Floyd County Health Department. Microfilm. Floyd County, Indiana Deaths CH-37 (1935): p. 67, record 276.

3.  1850 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 02 Aug. 2011. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p. 601.

4.  1840 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. Hardin, Kentucky. p. 30.

5.  1860 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p. 106.

6.  Floyd County Clerk. Microfilm. Floyd County, Indiana Marriages Volume 4 (1857): p. 485.

7.  Floyd County Clerk. Microfilm. Floyd County, Indiana Marriages Volume 6 (1865): p. 81, record 233.

8.  Floyd County Clerk. Microfilm. Floyd County, Indiana Marriages Volume 6 (1867): p. 369, record 1076.

9.  1870 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p. 15.

10.  1880 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p. 4D.

11.  New Albany Daily Ledger 26 May 1894, Saturday Evening ed.: 5. Print.column 3.

12.  “Deaths (Obituary).” New Albany Evening Tribune 14 June 1894, Thursday ed.: 4. Print. column 2.

13.  1920 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 24 Sep. 2014. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p. 11A.

14.  1930 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. Silver Creek, Clark, Indiana. p. 14B.

15.  1900 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p. 9B.

16.  1910 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p. 14A.

17.  Caron, C.K. Caron’s Directory of the City of New Albany for 1890-91. New Albany, IN: C.K. Caron, 1890. 279. Print.

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.

Frank Springer: The Wanderer (52 Ancestors #01)

Frank Springer is my great great grandfather on my father’s side.  He was married to Zerilda Eleanora Rakestraw.  Their daughter, my great grandmother, Mildred Gertrude Springer, was my grandpa’s mother.  Frank was born in Orange County, Indiana circa 1869 and Zerilda “Ella” was born in Floyd County, Indiana in 1868.  Presumably, the two met when Ella went to visit relatives in Orange County.  This entire family has been difficult to research, due to various problems such as incorrectly printed information in the newspaper and changing of names without legally changing them.  Frank, however, is the biggest mystery.

Family legend says that Frank was a wanderer by nature and also had some mental issues.  He left his wife after about a year of marriage, and just after the birth of their daughter.  It is said that he went to California and nobody ever heard from him again.  There are no known photos of Frank, which adds to the mystique.  I think a timeline is the best way to approach this one.

1870

On the Census, Frank is one year old and living in Paoli Township, Orange County, Indiana with his parents, John Alexander and Mary (Lindley) Springer.  His siblings are Anna L., born 1863; Edward, born 1865; and Mary Elizabeth, born 1867.¹

1880

On the Census, Frank is ten years old and still living in Paoli Township with his parents.  Siblings are Anna L.; Edward; Charley, born 1873; Stella, born 1875; and Mattie, born 1877.²

1892

On February 28th, Frank marries Ella N. Rakestraw in New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana.³  (My grandfather told me that Ella hated her first name, Zerilda, and broke up her middle name into Ella Nora and started going by that).

By March 9, Frank and Ella had moved to Ed Springer’s farm, which he had recently vacated, near Paoli.4

On November 20th, their daughter, Mildred Gertrude Springer, is born in New Albany.5

1893

On March 23rd, a blurb in the Paoli Republican said that Ella had visited her parents in New Albany and returned home to Paoli.6

On November 22nd, the Paoli News reported that Frank Springer had gone to the World’s Fair in Chicago.7

1894

In May, Francis Marion and Mary Elizabeth Rakestraw petitioned for the adoption of their granddaughter, Mildred, citing that Frank had abandoned her over a year ago and that her mother was an invalid.  The petition was granted.8,9

On June 13th, Ella died of consumption.10

1900

On the Census, Mildred is living with her grandparents in New Albany.11  I could not find any record of Frank.

1910

On the Census, Mildred is living with her grandparents in New Albany.12  I could not find any record of Frank.

In July, the Orleans Progress Examiner reported that Miss Mildred Springer had been visiting Edward Springer and his family.13  (Orleans is just outside Paoli).

1911

In March, the Orleans Progress Examiner reported that Mildred had been visiting her grandparents.14

1920

On the Census, Mildred is living with her grandparents in New Albany.16  Frank is living alone in Paoli Township.15

In May, at the time of Mildred’s marriage to Sanford Wesley Wiseheart, Frank is living “near Paoli.”17

1930

On the Census, Mildred is living with her husband and children in Silver Creek Township, Clark County, Indiana.  Mildred named her second son Frank.18  (I’m wondering if this an indication that she had some sort of relationship with her father, or if it’s more that she wished she had.  My grandpa said that Mildred always had a fear that her family would leave the house and never come back.)  I could not find any record of Frank.

1940

On the Census, Mildred is living with her husband and children in New Albany.19  I could not find any record of Frank.

To summarize, I have Frank Springer pinned down from 1870 to 1893 and he randomly pops back up again in 1920.  My theory is that he went to the World’s Fair in 1893 and got a taste for travel and saw what wondrous things there were in the world and decided to experience it.  By 1920, he would’ve been about fifty and was probably ready to settle down, so he came back home to Paoli.  I’m thinking the reason that I can’t find him in the 1930 Census is because he died sometime between 1920 and 1930.  I have yet to find any obituaries or a tombstone, so that’s my next course of action.


Sources

1.  1870 U.S. Federal Census, Paoli Township, Orange County, Indiana, p.24, Ancestry

2.  1880 U.S. Federal Census, Paoli Township, Orange County, Indiana, p.6, Ancestry

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

4.  Paoli Republican, Wednesday, 9 Mar 1892, p.3, c.5, NewspaperArchive

5.  Floyd County, Indiana Deaths, Book H-12, p.10, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

6.  New Albany Evening Tribune, Thursday, 23 Mar 1893, p.4, c.2, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

7.  Paoli News, Wednesday, 22 Nov 1893, p.3, c.2, NewspaperArchive

8.  New Albany Evening Tribune, Friday, 25 May 1894, p.3, c.2, NewspaperArchive

9.  New Albany Daily Ledger, Saturday, 26 May 1894, p.5, c.3, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

10.  New Albany Evening Tribune, Thursday, 14 Jun 1894, p.4, c.2, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

11.  1900 U.S. Federal Census, New Albany Township, Floyd County, Indiana, p.9B, Ancestry

12.  1910 U.S. Federal Census, New Albany Township, Floyd County, Indiana, p.14A, Ancestry

13.  Orleans Progress Examiner, Thursday, 28 Jul 1910, p.2, NewspaperArchive

14.  Orleans Progress Examiner, Thursday, 23 Mar 1911, p.3, NewspaperArchive

15.  1920 U.S. Federal Census, Paoli Township, Orange County, Indiana, p.21A, FamilySearch

16.  1920 U.S. Federal Census, New Albany Township, Floyd County, Indiana, p.11A, Ancestry

17.  Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Vol. 20, p.375, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

18.  1930 U.S. Federal Census, Silver Creek Township, Clark County, Indiana, p.14B, Ancestry

19.  1940 U.S. Federal Census, New Albany Township, Floyd County, Indiana, p.10B, FamilySearch