John Alexander Springer: Farmer Extraordinaire (52 Ancestors #34)

I knew very little about my third great grandfather, initially.  I suppose that’s the case with most ancestors, really.  What I mean is that he is one for whom I only had a name and dates from my grandma’s pedigree chart, but even grandma wasn’t sure about the name.  She had written down that he was John Alexander Slaymaker Springer, but she told me that she wasn’t sure about the second middle name.

I started my search looking for John Alexander Slaymaker Springer who had been born circa 1836 and died circa 1919.2,3,5,6,7,9,10,14,15  I knew from the chart that he was married to Mary Lindley and had a son named Frank.4,5,6,7,9,10,15,16,17  I began where I usually do when I have a name and approximate dates.  Census records.  I found John A. Springer living with John S. and Lamira Springer in Paoli, Orange County, Indiana in 1850.3  The names I had for his parents on the pedigree chart were John Slaymaker Springer and Susan Lamira Nichols.1,2,3

I then found John A. with his wife, Mary on the 1860 and subsequent census.5,6,7,9,10  All of this was research I had done years ago, before FamilySearch.org was on my radar.  Ancestry.com didn’t have any vital records for John A., so I stopped my search and moved on to a new person.

Last year, I decided to look for John A. on FindAGrave.com.  To my delight, not only was there a photo of his tombstone, but there was also a photo of him!

John Alexander Springer, photo courtesy of Susan Huber, Findagrave.com

John Alexander Springer, photo courtesy of Susan Huber, Findagrave.com

By this time, my library had purchased a subscription to NewspaperArchive.com.  As I was researching Frank Springer, I widened my search to include his parents.  What I found was surprising.  There were several articles in The Paoli Republican about him, all dated near the time of his death.  The first reported that he was over 80, though he didn’t look it, and he had cataracts in both eyes that he was planning to have removed when the conditions were right.11  The second reported that he was looking to sell seven stands of bees.12  I knew he was a farmer.  I did not know he kept bees.

The third article reported that he was seriously ill.13  The fourth article was an obituary and an administrator’s sale notice.15

Obituary for John A. Springer, The Paoli Republican,  Wednesday, 21 May 1919, p. 4, column 1.  NewspaperArchive.com

Obituary for John A. Springer, The Paoli Republican, Wednesday, 21 May 1919, p. 4, column 1. NewspaperArchive.com

The last two articles were land sale notices, which gave the legal description of his land.  These articles also named four of his eight children:  Anna L., Frank, Charles B., and John A., Jr.16, 17

One of my ongoing projects has been to scan all of the photos and documents from the Rakestraw trunk at my grandparents’ house.  As I was doing this, I came across a letter, written by John A. Springer and addressed to Mrs. Rakestraw (Mary E. Rakestraw, whose daughter married John’s son, Frank).  This letter was dated in 1891 and was sent from Madisonville (now part of Cincinnati), Ohio.  In it, John talked about his regret in moving to Ohio and how homesick he was.8  This was an amazing find!  Since we have no 1890 Census, I would never have known he had moved.  By 1900, he was back in Paoli.9

I also came across a letter he had written to his granddaughter, which had a letterhead, and an envelope with a printed return address.

John A. Springer letterhead.

John A. Springer letterhead.

John A. Springer envelope.

John A. Springer envelope.

In addition to farmer and bee keeper, he was also a dealer in coal oil and fertilizer.  It was certainly nice to learn all of these new things about him, but I think my favorite thing about reading these letters was hearing his voice and getting a sense of his personality.


Sources

  1. “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images,FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZC4-PGD : accessed 22 August 2015), John S Springer and Susah L Nichols, 10 Feb 1831; citing , Orange, Indiana, county clerk offices, Indiana; FHL microfilm 1,316,696.
  2. 1840 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. Orange, Indiana. p.95. Line 18.
  3. 1850 United States Federal Census. HeritageQuestOnline.com. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. Paoli, Orange, Indiana. p.456. Family #698, lines 21-27.
  4. “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images,FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZCH-GFZ : accessed 15 August 2015), John A Springer and Mary Lindley, 22 Dec 1859; citing , Orange, Indiana, county clerk offices, Indiana; FHL microfilm 1,316,697.
  5. 1860 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. Paoli, Orange, Indiana. p.120. Family #921, lines 15-16.
  6. 1870 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. Paoli, Orange, Indiana. p.24. Family #176, lines 23-28.
  7. 1880 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. Paoli, Orange, Indiana. p.6B. Family #53, lines 17-25.
  8. Springer, John A. Letter to Mary E. Rakestraw. 08 Feb. 1891. MS. New Albany, Indiana.
  9. 1900 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. Paoli, Orange, Indiana. pp.8A-8B. Family #165, lines 50-55.
  10. 1910 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. Paoli, Orange, Indiana. p.2A. Family #29, lines 24-27.
  11. “Local News” Paoli Republican 28 February 1916, Wednesday ed.: 5. Print. column 2.  Accessed 27 Dec. 2014, NewspaperArchive.com.
  12. “For Sale” Paoli Republican 09 April 1919, Wednesday ed.: 4. Print. column 2.  Accessed 27 Dec. 2014, NewspaperArchive.com.
  13. “Local News” Paoli Republican 16 April 1919, Wednesday ed.: 5. Print. column 1.  Accessed 27 Dec. 2014, NewspaperArchive.com.
  14. “John Alexander Springer (1836 – 1919) – Find A Grave Memorial.”FindAGrave.com. Glenda Barry, 12 May 2012. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSvcid=546002&GRid=90018053&). Find A Grave Memorial# 90018053.
  15. “Obituary” Paoli Republican 21 May 1919, Wednesday ed.: 4. Print. column 2.  Accessed 27 Dec. 2014, NewspaperArchive.com.
  16. “Land Sale” Paoli Republican 04 February 1920, Wednesday ed.: 1. Print. column 3.  Accessed 27 Dec. 2014, NewspaperArchive.com.
  17. “Land Sale” Paoli Republican 11 February 1920, Wednesday ed.: 1. Print. column 3.  Accessed 27 Dec. 2014, NewspaperArchive.com.

 

Mary L. Lindley: What Does the L. Stand For? (52 Ancestors #33)

Mary Lindley is another ancestor that has always fascinated me.  If I’m being honest, they all have, but I think everyone has a handful that are especially interesting for one reason or another.

Mary L. Lindley Springer, circa 1910. Photo courtesy of Susan Huber-Jourdan, FindAGrave.com

Mary L. Lindley Springer, circa 1910. Photo courtesy of Susan Huber-Jourdan, FindAGrave.com

Mary L. Lindley was born on March 13, 1839 in Paoli, Orange County, Indiana.1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9  Her parents were Samuel and Anna (Braxton) Lindley.8  She is descended from Jonathan Lindley, who founded Orange County in 1811.  He was her great great grandfather on her mother’s side and her great great great uncle on her father’s side.  It took me a minute, too.

Mary married John Alexander Springer on December 22, 1859 in Orange County.7  I believe they had eight children.  It’s hard to tell, as one census says she had seven children born to her with six still living and the next census says she had five or six children born to her with four still living.5,6  The named children I have come across are Anna L. (ca. 1864), Edward (ca. 1866), Mary E. (ca. 1867), Frank (ca. 1869), Charley (ca. 1873), Stella (ca. 1875), Mattie (ca. 1877), and John (ca. 1881).1,2,3,4,5,6,10,11  I do believe these are all of their children, based on census records, but also because Frank wrote about each one of his siblings at some time or another in letters to his wife and daughter.

Mary died of heart disease on January 18, 1916 in Paoli.8,9  This may be the end of her life, but it isn’t the end of the story.

Tombstone, John A. and Mary L. Springer, photo courtesy of Allen Helderman, 20 March 2015, FindAGrave.com.

Tombstone, John A. and Mary L. Springer, photo courtesy of Allen Helderman, 20 March 2015, FindAGrave.com.

As if the confusion over her bloodline and her children weren’t enough, there seems to be confusion over her middle name as well.  On the pedigree chart that my grandma gave to me years ago, she is written in as Mary Lumire Lindley.  Now, I’m what some people call a name nerd and unusual names are of great interest to me.  Why Lumire?  I looked into it and could not find a logical explanation.  I looked at other pedigree charts on several different genealogy websites and also found her middle name given as Lumiere, Lamira, and Lamiah.

Knowing that records were often written by other people listening to the pronunciation of a name, I can see how these could all sound the same with the regional accent.  The interesting thing is, I have yet to find her middle name on any official record.  She is always Mary or Mary L.  I began to look at the names on their own merit.  Lumire and Lumiere are not names that I’m familiar with, however, lumière does mean light in French.  I don’t believe the Lindleys have a French connection.  Lamiah (or Lamia) is from Greek mythology and would have been a possibility.  However, the Lindleys were Quakers and I don’t believe they would have used a name from Greek mythology.  This leaves me with Lamira.  Lamira was a name first used circa 1613 by John Fletcher in his play The Honest Man’s Fortune.  The name rose to popularity in New York in the 1780s and the popularity had probably spread west by the mid-1800s.12

In the absence of a document with a middle name on it, Lamira will be the name I pencil in on my charts.  As always, I’ll keep looking for proof.


Sources

  1.  1850 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. Paoli, Orange, Indiana. p.879. Family #324, lines 16-24.
  2. 1860 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. Paoli, Orange, Indiana. p.120. Family #921, lines 15-16.
  3. 1870 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. Paoli, Orange, Indiana. p.24. Family #176, lines 23-28.
  4. 1880 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. Paoli, Orange, Indiana. p.6B. Family #53, lines 17-25.
  5. 1900 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. Paoli, Orange, Indiana. pp.8A-8B. Family #165, lines 50-55.
  6. 1910 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. Paoli, Orange, Indiana. p.2A. Family #29, lines 24-27.
  7. “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZCH-GFZ : accessed 15 August 2015), John A Springer and Mary Lindley, 22 Dec 1859; citing , Orange, Indiana, county clerk offices, Indiana; FHL microfilm 1,316,697.
  8. Orange County Health Department. Orange County, Indiana Deaths: book H-23, p.86. Issued 12 April 1979.
  9. “Deaths (Obituaries)” Paoli Republican 19 January 1916, Wednesday ed.: 6. Print. column 2.  Accessed 27 Dec. 2014, NewspaperArchive.com.
  10. Springer, Frank. “Various Letters.” Letter to Ella Rakestraw Springer. N.d. MS. In My Possession, New Albany, Indiana. Inclusive dates: 1892-1893.
  11. Springer, Frank. “Various Letters.” Letter to Mildred Springer Wiseheart. N.d. MS. In My Possession, New Albany, Indiana. Inclusive dates: 1905-1925.
  12. “Lamira.” Behind the Name: Meaning of Names, Baby Name Meanings. N.p., 03 July 2014. Web. 18 Aug. 2015.

Doppelganger

I was killing time on Facebook one day, just clicking on links to 22 weirdest things kids ever said, etc., when I came across a post on old black and white photos that had been colorized.  As I looked through them, I came across this one.

The staff of Andrew Porter with George A. Custer reclining next to a dog, 1862.

The staff of Andrew Porter with George A. Custer reclining next to a dog, 1862.

The man lying down on the far left of the photo looks remarkably like my great great great grandfather, John Alexander Springer.

John Alexander Springer, photo courtesy of Susan Huber, Findagrave.com

John Alexander Springer, photo courtesy of Susan Huber, Findagrave.com

Side by side comparison.

Side by side comparison.

John (1836-1919) was certainly an adult when the colorized photo had been taken, though the man in that photo looks a little older than John would’ve been.  But, it wouldn’t have been outside of the realm of possibility, or it could have been his brother or father.  I had to know who these men were.  The photo wasn’t labeled and was credited simply as Reddit.

After some digging, I found it on Reddit and it was labeled “The staff of Andrew Porter with George A. Custer reclining next to a dog, 1862.”  I also found that the black and white original of the colorized version had been taken from the Library of Congress.  The Library of Congress photo was labeled “The Peninsula, Va. The staff of Gen. Fitz-John Porter; Lts. William G. Jones and George A. Custer reclining.”  So, the man in the photo is Lt. William G. Jones, who is no relation that I know of.  But this was fun, and at least I know.

Side note:  This is why it’s important to always credit your source.