Mildred Springer: A Life of Loss (52 Ancestors #24)

My family and I are fortunate to have a number of family heirlooms.  We owe a debt for those heirlooms to my great grandmother, Mildred Gertrude (Springer) Wiseheart.  She wasn’t quite in the category of a hoarder, but she saved a lot of things.  I think this is because she suffered a lot of loss in her lifetime and holding onto mementos of her loved ones was the best way she knew to keep them with her.  I’m going to write her story as a timeline, to allow for better visualization.  I know how hard it can be to keep a bunch of dates straight in your head.

1892

Mildred Gertrude Springer, circa 1892.

Mildred Gertrude Springer, circa 1892.

Mildred was born on November 20th in New Albany, Indiana to parents Frank and Zerilda Eleanora “Ella” (Rakestraw) Springer.1  She and her mother were both very ill at the time of her birth.2

1893

Frank Springer left for the World’s Fair in Chicago and allegedly did not come back.3  (Mildred received almost monthly correspondence from him between 1904 and 1918, possibly even later, and he did come back for visits periodically).  Ella was extremely ill and was considered to be an invalid.2,4

1894

Mildred was adopted by her grandparents, Francis Marion and Mary Elizabeth (Gilliland) Rakestraw.4  Just two and a half weeks later, on June 13th, her mother died of consumption.5

1900

Mildred Gertrude Springer, circa 1900.

Mildred Gertrude Springer, circa 1900.

Mildred was living with her grandparents, her Uncle Willie, and her cousins, Charlie and William.6  This seems to have been the normal living arrangement for the family, as Willie was unmarried for most of the time between 1890 and 1910.

1910

Mildred was living with her grandparents and cousins.7  Willie had moved to Illinois.  At some point during the year, Charlie went to live with Willie.

1911

Francis Marion Rakestraw died, leaving Mary Elizabeth, his wife, Mildred Springer (age 18), and William Rakestraw (age 16).8

1918

Mary Elizabeth and Mildred moved to 811 West 8th Street in New Albany, Indiana.9  William moved to Louisville, Kentucky.  Mary Elizabeth and Mildred became friends with Sanford “Sandy” Wiseheart, who lived down the street at 922.  When Sandy went to France to fight, they corresponded.

1920

George William

George William “Willie” Rakestraw and Mildred Gertrude Springer, circa 1920.

Mildred was still living with Mary Elizabeth on West 8th Street until she and Sandy were married on May 5th.10,11

1921

Mildred gave birth to her first child, Mildred Lorena Wiseheart, on May 9th.12

1923

Mildred gave birth to her second child, Sanford William “Bud” Wiseheart, on May 30th.12

1925

Mildred gave birth to her third child.12

1928

Mildred gave birth to her fourth child.12

1930

Sandy, Mildred and family were living on County Line Road in Clark County, Indiana.12  Mildred gave birth to her fifth child, James Roscoe “Jimmy” Wiseheart, on November 13th.13

1932

Jimmy died of pneumonia on December 12th.13

1934

Mildred gave birth to her sixth child, Mary Katherine Wiseheart, on October 3rd.14

1936

Mary Katherine drowned in the neighbor’s fish pond on July 9th.14

1940

Sandy, Mildred and family were again living at 922 West 8th Street in New Albany, Indiana.15

1944

Mildred had no idea where her father was, or if he was even still living.16

1951

Mildred died on November 3rd of cancer of the gallbladder.1

I’d like to end with what my grandfather, Mildred’s son, said about her:

She had a, I don’t know what you call it, maybe call it a vivid imagination, but she, sometimes at night, she’d take a flashlight and be lookin’ around and she’d say, ‘There’s somebody out there,’ and once a while she’d say, ‘I smell a real strong gag, they’re smoking something.’ And my dad, he’d blow up. I was the only one left at home, the others had all gotten married young and so she was always, like she’d save the last bananer or something and say, ‘Buddy, I saved that for you, that’s the last one.’ And two or three different times she’d say, ‘Buddy, do you think your daddy’s plottin’ against me to have me put away,’ or something. I said, ‘Oh, Mom, he wouldn’t do nothing like that,’ and then I get out walking with him on a job and he’d say, ‘I don’t know what the hell I’m gonna do, I’m afraid I’m gonna have to put your mother away.’ I’d say, ‘Oh, Pap, she ain’t that bad,’ and it was like that for three or four years. Course he blamed it on her father, Frank Springer. I think his problem started when his wife Eleanora died. She was twenty-eight. My mother was two years old when her mother died, so Frank Springer became a wanderer. He’d just wander around and people said there was something wrong with him mentally. And she always had that kind of reflection since people find an excuse to say he was mentally unbalanced and they sort of thought that my mom inherited that. It wasn’t really that way.  My mother was an intelligent person and she could draw and was pretty good in artwork and stuff, she just didn’t go anywhere and associate with people.


Sources

1. Floyd County Health Department. Floyd County, Indiana Death Records. Vol. H-12. p. 10. Microfilm.  Accessed 4 Aug 2014, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

2. Springer, Frank. Letter to Ella Springer. 4 Dec. 1892. MS. New Albany, Indiana.

3. Paoli News 22 Nov. 1893: 3. NewspaperArchive.com. Web. 27 Dec. 2014.

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

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

6.  1900 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p. 9B.

7.  1910 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p. 14A.

8.  Floyd County Health Department. Floyd County, Indiana Death Records. Vol. CH-22. p. 17. Microfilm.  Accessed 4 Aug 2014, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

9.  Caron, C.K. Caron’s Directory of the City of New Albany for 1919-20. New Albany, IN: C.K. Caron, 1919. 297. Print.

10.  1920 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 24 Sep. 2014. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p. 11A.

11.  Floyd County Clerk. Floyd County, Indiana Marriages. Vol. 20. p. 375. Microfilm.  Accessed 12 Aug 2014, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

12.  1930 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. Silver Creek, Clark, Indiana. p. 14B.

13.  Clark County Health Department.  Clark County, Indiana Death Records. Roll 20, Book 2, p.11.  Microfilm. Jeffersonville Township Public Library.

14.  Floyd County Health Department. Floyd County, Indiana Death Records. Vol. CH-37. p. 97. Microfilm.  Accessed 25 Jan 2015, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

15.  1940 United States Federal Census (database-online). Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 28 Jul. 2014. New Albany, Floyd, Indiana. p. 10B.

16.  Wiseheart, Mildred, Letter, 1944.  MS.  New Albany, Indiana.

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.

Friedrich Von Allmen: A Swiss Dairy Farmer in America (52 Ancestors #19)

I wrote a little about Friedrich when I wrote about his wife, Susannah Stähli, but there is more to his story.  Friedrich Von Allmen was born on May 9, 1832, in Switzerland, to parents Peter and Margaretha (Häsler) Von Almen.  Von Allmen is sometimes spelled Von Almen.  I’ve typically seen it with two “l”s in reference to Friedrich and one “l” in reference to his father.

The Von Allmen family had a dairy in Wilderswil, Switzerland.  In 1883, Friedrich moved his family to America to join his uncle Ulrich Von Almen, who had been here since 1833.  Friedrich and his family came over on the S.S. Canada and landed in New York.

Friedrich purchased land in Floyd County, Indiana in 1884.  It was located at the bottom of the knobs just outside of New Albany.  Friedrich went into the dairy business, as did his sons.

1898 Floyd County, Indiana Plat Map (annotated), courtesy of Shirley Wolfe, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

1898 Floyd County, Indiana Plat Map (annotated), courtesy of Shirley Wolf, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

He also swore an oath of allegiance in 1884.

Oath of Allegiance, courtesy of Shirley Wolfe, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Oath of Allegiance, courtesy of Shirley Wolf, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Friedrich and Gottfried Von Allmen, circa 1908, courtesy of Shirley Wolf, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Friedrich and Gottfried Von Allmen, circa 1898, courtesy of Shirley Wolf, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Friedrich’s wife, Susanna, died in 1898.  He remarried a few years later.

Marriage Announcement, courtesy of Shirley Wolfe, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Marriage Announcement, courtesy of Shirley Wolf, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Friedrich died on March 11, 1908 at his home.  He left a will, wherein he names his son, Peter, as executor.  Friedrich was buried next to his first wife, Susannah, at Atkins Cemetery.

Floyd County, Indiana Death Record for Friedrich Von Allmen, Indiana State Board of Health

Floyd County, Indiana Death Record for Friedrich Von Allmen, Indiana State Board of Health

Obituaries, courtesy of Shirley Wolfe, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Obituaries, courtesy of Shirley Wolf, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Kraft Funeral Home Record, courtesy of Shirley Wolfe, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Kraft Funeral Home Record, courtesy of Shirley Wolf, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Tombstone of Friedrich and Susanna Von Allmen at Atkins Cemetery, courtesy of Shirley Wolf, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Tombstone of Friedrich and Susanna Von Allmen at Atkins Cemetery, courtesy of Shirley Wolf, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Von Allmen Family Crest, courtesy of Shirley Wolf, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Von Allmen Family Crest, courtesy of Shirley Wolf, Von Allmen Family File, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Serilda Long: A Long Life (52 Ancestors #16)

Serilda Long is another ancestor that I have had a hard time tracking.  She has appeared as Serilda, Sirelda, Serelda, Serrelda, Serralda, Zerelda, Zerilda, and Cerelda.  She has been Long, Gilliland (sometimes Gilleland, Gilland or Gillen), and Bridges.  I really should re-evaluate how I spell it.  I’ve just been spelling it Serilda because that’s how it appeared on the first record on which I saw it written.  It appears most often as Zerelda or Serelda.  But I digress.

Serilda Long was born on January 15, 1820, in Kentucky, to parents Daniel and Ruth (Lewis) Long.1,3,5,7,8,9,10  She married Leason Gilliland sometime before 1840.11  The story I heard growing up was that Leason worked on a steamboat and was away a lot, but the 1840 Census says that he was employed in agriculture.2  I suppose it is possible that he switched professions, as many of my ancestors have done, but that seems like a big change to me.

Serilda and Leason had Daniel circa 1838, William T. circa 1840, Ezra W. in 1841, and Mary Elizabeth on January 22, 1849.1,3,5,7,8,11,12  In 1850, Serilda and the children were living with Asa and Maria J. Loundsbury or Longsberry.3  Leason wasn’t there, which caused me to suspect that he had died.  However, Sarah A. Gilliland was born in 1853.5,7,8  Either Leason was still alive and happened to be away from home, prompting Serilda to move in with a friend or neighbor, or Sarah was illegitimate.

Leason was most likely dead by 1857 (I haven’t found evidence of a divorce), as Serilda married John T.M. Bridges on October 15 of that year.4  Shortly after their marriage, John Bridges was tried for and convicted of murder and was sentenced to life in Indiana State Prison in Jeffersonville, Indiana in 1859.  (See Coroner’s Inquest, Trial Day 1, Trial Day 2, Trial Day 3, Trial Day 4, and The Verdict).  By 1860, Serilda had taken a job as a seamstress to provide for her family.5  At some point during John’s confinement, they must have realized that the “preacher of the Gospel” who had married them was not actually ordained and the marriage, therefore, not legal.  (See Marriage Mystery and Two Marriages).  John was released from prison for good behavior on February 2, 1871 (See John Bridges), and Serilda married him again the very next day.6

John died in 1899, and Serilda went to live with her daughter, Sarah, and her children.  Her son, Ezra, lived with them as well.8  Serilda lived with Sarah until her death on September 13, 1907.1,9,10  Serilda lived a long life, but I wonder if she would have lived longer without all of the stress that she must surely have felt.

Serilda Bridges, circa 1900.

Serilda (Long) Gilliland Bridges, circa 1900.


Sources

1.  Transcription of the Rakestraw Family Bible.

2.  1840 U.S. Census, Hardin, Kentucky, p. 30, Ancestry.com.

3.  1850 U.S. Census, New Albany, Floyd, Indiana, p. 105, HeritageQuestOnline.com.

4.  Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Volume 4, p. 485, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

5.  1860 U.S. Census, 6th Ward, New Albany, Floyd, Indiana, p. 106, FamilySearch.org.

6.  Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Volume 6, p. 644, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

7.  1880 U.S. Census, New Albany, Floyd, Indiana, p. 2B, HeritageQuestOnline.com.

8.  1900 U.S. Census, 5th Ward, New Albany, Floyd, Indiana, p. 16B, FamilySearch.org.

9.  Floyd County, Indiana Deaths, Book CH-20, p. 32, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

10.  Obituary, New Albany Evening Tribune, Friday, 13 Sept 1907, p. 4, column 2, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

11.  Floyd County, Indiana Deaths, Book CH-33, p. 54, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

12.  Floyd County, Indiana Deaths, Book CH-37, p. 67, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

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.