Leason Gilliland: The Elusive Leason (52 Ancestors #30)

The Elusive Leason.  It sounds like a magician’s stage name or something.  Perhaps he should have been a magician.  When I think of ancestors who have been a challenge to research, several names come to mind, but none have been more challenging than Leason Gilliland.  I mentioned him once before.  He is the ancestor that my grandpa had said worked on a steamboat and was away from home all the time.  I have little idea where he came from and no idea where he ended up.  He just disappeared.

In the beginning, all I had was a name on a pedigree chart.  My grandparents had done some research, but I had no idea what it was or where it was.  Honestly, I was a teenager at the time and really didn’t care very much.  I just wanted the names.  As I got older and worked with my grandparents more, I began to understand the importance of documents and researching things for oneself.  The first piece of documentation that I found for Leason was the 1840 Census.  Being a pre-1850 census, it didn’t yield very much information.  What it did yield was Leason Gilliland (age 20-30), presumably a wife (age 20-30), and presumably two sons (both under 5).  He was employed in agriculture and living in Hardin County, Kentucky.1

Agriculture to steamboating seems like a big leap to me, but I can’t totally discount it.  The story was told to my grandpa by Leason’s daughter, Mary Elizabeth.  It seems to me that if anyone knew what became of Leason, his wife or children would.  And it would go a long way to explaining why he just disappeared.  I discussed this with a co-worker and she suggested that perhaps steamboating was more lucrative than farming at this particular time and place.

I looked for Leason and his family members on the 1850 Census.  I found that Zerelda Gilliland (31) and her children, Daniel (12), William (10), Ezra (8), and Mary (1), were living with Asa and Maria Loundsbury in New Albany, Indiana.2  I could not find Leason.  I looked at the clues I had from this record.  If Zerelda was 31 in 1850, she would have been 21 in 1840.  If Daniel was 12 and William was 10 in 1850, they both would have been under 5 in 1840.  The other children would not have been born yet.  This all fit.  Also, Zerelda and all of the children except for Mary were born in Kentucky.2  I was left with two questions here.  How did the Gillilands know Asa Loundsbury?  Did Leason die before 1850?

I researched Asa Loundsbury a little but could not find any obvious connection, so I moved on.  I knew from other research that Serilda Gilliland married John Bridges in 1857.3  I looked for Leason in the 1860 Census anyway, just in case they got divorced.  No luck there.  John Bridges’ household included Zerilda Bridges (39), Daniel Gilliland (20), William Gilliland (18), Ezra Gilliland (16), Mary Gilliland (10), and Sarah Gilliland (6).4  This was a surprise.  If Sarah Gilliland was born circa 1854, then Leason did not die before the 1850 Census.  Why wasn’t he listed?  Maybe he did hop a steamboat.  He must have died before 1857 though, for Serilda to have remarried.

With all of this census research, I still didn’t have any real proof that Leason was the husband of Serilda or the father of her children.  All of this was based on what Mary Elizabeth Gilliland told my grandpa.  While I was doing some more research on Ezra Gilliland, I managed to find his death record.  His parents were listed as Leason Gilliland and Cerelda Lone.5  I re-checked Mary Elizabeth’s death record, but her parents names were unknown by the informant.  I have been unsuccessful in locating death records for any of the other children.

With nowhere else to go moving forward, I decided to move backward.  I really had no way of knowing who Leason’s father might be since I don’t know when or where he died to begin to look for death records, obituaries, church records, or the like.  I took a wild leap on my break last week and searched for all Gillilands in Hardin County, Kentucky on the 1820 Census when Leason, theoretically, would have still been living at home.

The only Gilliland in Hardin County in 1820 was James Gilliland (age 26-44), presumably a wife (age 26-44), what appears to be a mother or mother-in-law (age 45 and over), and children: one male 16-18 and two males under 10, and one female 10-15 and two females under 10.6  In 1820, Leason would have been under 10.  Not proof, but a good lead.

I pursued this lead and looked for James Gilliland on the 1850 Census to see who else might be listed in his household.  For some reason, James was enumerated twice in 1850, once in August and once in October, both in Hardin County.  I guess they moved between these months.  They are enumerated first as the 228th family visited and then as the 549th family visited.  The problem I have here is that some of the ages are vastly different in the span of just two months.  What I do gather from these records is that James’ wife was Mary and a son, Thomas, was living with him or next door.7,8  Averaging the two enumerations, Thomas would have been born circa 1819, which means he would have been under 10 on the 1820 Census.

I knew we had some Kentucky books at work, so I checked the shelf and found two marriage record books for Hardin County, Kentucky in the early 1800s.  I looked for James Gilliland and Thomas Gilliland.  I found that James married Polly Morrison on October 4, 1808 and Thomas married Elizabeth LeMaster on June 30, 1838.9,10  James Gilliland gave consent for Thomas to be married, which would put Thomas under 18 in 1838.10  If he had been born in 1820, he could have been under 10 on the 1820 Census, 17 and almost 18 at the time of his marriage, and 30 years old on the 1850 Census.

I went home and told my dad about the new lead and what I had discovered.  He called me back in the room a little bit later because he had done some searching with the new information and stumbled across Steven Butler’s website, which includes an interesting little history on the James Gilliland family.

According to this, James’ daughters were Letitia (1810) and Sarah (1811), which would put them in the under 10 category in 1820.11  This didn’t match what I found on the 1830 and 1840 Census for James Gilliland and family, so I set to work with a pile of census pages and copies from the Hardin County marriage books and filled in a Family Group Census Grid for James Gilliland.  Luckily for me, most of James’ children were under age at the time of their marriage, which gave me a good idea of approximate birth dates to compare with the census records.  After checking records, doing some math, re-checking records, and re-checking my math, I finally came up with what I believe is an accurate account of the Gilliland family movements.

James Gilliland Census Grid

What is really exciting to me is that Leason fits the unnamed son’s criteria!  I can find no other evidence of possible parents for Leason and I can find no other evidence of a different son for James and Polly.  It’s still not definitive proof, but it’s better than the thread I had in the beginning.  I may never find any more on Leason Gilliland or his possible connection to the James Gilliland family, but I look forward to trying!


Sources

1.  Ancestry.com. 1840 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.   Year: 1840; Census Place: Hardin, Kentucky; Roll: 113; Page: 30; Image: 65; Family History Library Film:0007827.

2.  Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.  Year: 1850; Census Place: New Albany, Floyd, Indiana; Roll: M432_145; Page: 301A; Image: 14.

3.  Floyd County Clerk. Microfilm. Floyd County, Indiana Marriages Volume 4 (1857): p.485.  Accessed 09 Jan. 2015, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

4.  Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.  Year: 1860; Census Place: New Albany Ward 6, Floyd, Indiana; Roll: M653_257; Page: 422; Image: 426; Family History Library Film: 803257.

5.  Floyd County Health Department. Microfilm. Floyd County, Indiana Deaths CH-33 (1920): p. 54, record 300.  Accessed 11 Feb. 2015, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

6.  Ancestry.com. 1820 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.  Year: 1820; Census Place: Philadelphia, Hardin, Kentucky; NARA Roll: M33_23; Page: 8; Image: 15.

7.  “United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M657-T64 : accessed 17 December 2014), James Gillilan, Hardin county, Hardin, Kentucky, United States; citing family 228, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

8.  “United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M65W-7XK : accessed 17 December 2014), James Gillelund, Hardin county, Hardin, Kentucky, United States; citing family 549, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

9.  Jones, Mary Josephine., comp. Hardin County, Kentucky Marriages 1793 to 1829. Vine Grove, KY: Ancestral Trails Historical Society, 1996. Print. p. 12.

10.  Jones, Mary Josephine., comp. Hardin County, Kentucky Marriages 1830 to 1850. Vine Grove, KY: Ancestral Trails Historical Society, 1996. Print. p. 24.

11.  Butler, Steven. “Biographies: James Gilliland.” Steven Butler’s Family History Website. N.p., 11 Feb. 2011. Web. 18 July 2015.

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.

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.

Sanford Wiseheart: The Strong, Silent Type (52 Ancestors #05)

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.

Sanford William “Bud” Wiseheart was born on May 30, 1923 in New Albany, Indiana to Sanford Wesley and Mildred Gertrude (Springer) Wiseheart.1  Bud’s great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Rakestraw, lived with the family until her death in 1935.2,3  She was the widow of a Civil War soldier and passed down many family stories to Bud and his siblings.  In 1941, Bud’s father bought a farm just outside New Albany.  They raised crops and chickens.  Plucking the chickens was one of Bud’s jobs.  He never would eat any poultry after that.

Sanford "Bud" Wiseheart on the farm.

Sanford “Bud” Wiseheart on the farm.

Bud married Dolores Louise Schroeder on August 2, 1958 at Atkins Chapel United Methodist Church in Floyd Knobs, Indiana.4,5,6  (For their engagement story, see Dolores Schroeder).  They had four sons.6  Bud was a carpenter.  He worked for New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corporation and he also did some freelance work.  He was also very active in the church.  He was an usher, bell ringer, Sunday school teacher, and maintenance man for Atkins Chapel.  He also built the church’s Harvest Homecoming booth and assisted with Vacation Bible School.  Bud died at home on October 30, 2014.7

Sanford William "Bud" Wiseheart

Sanford William “Bud” Wiseheart

My grandpa was a hard working man who didn’t seem to have much to say, but when he did say something, it was more than worth it to pay attention.  He was an excellent story teller and knew a lot about a lot of things.  Every time he told me a story, it was full of heart.  Bud was no stranger to hard times, but he weathered them all.  The following is a story, in his own words, that includes two such times:

World War II.  I must’ve been nineteen when it started.  After a while, they started draftin’ and they had a bunch of us went over to Louisville and we were sent letters that we were to be inducted into the Armed Forces.  Thirty three of us went over in that bus from New Albany to Louisville and eleven of us came back rejected.

They examined me and I had a bad ear.  And the psychologist held me up and asked me all kinds of questions.  He asked me what I got out of life.  I told him, ‘I like to help other people, my mother and my father.’  And he kept callin’ me ‘Old Man.’  Nineteen years old and he’s callin’ me ‘Old Man.’  He said, ‘Tell me, Old Man, was there ever somebody in your life you loved very deeply?’  And I said, ‘Well, I can’t think of anything right off.’  Of course, what it was, my little sister, Mary Katherine, I used to sometimes change her diapers.  I was kind of an interpreter.  Sometimes she’d say something to her mother and Ma would ask me what she said.  And so, when she was two years old, she walked right past where I was cleanin’ the stables out and into the neighbors’ yard and fell in the fish pond and drowned.  That went pretty hard with me.  I felt responsible, like I should’ve seen her.  I should’ve saved her.  I even prayed to God to bring her back and take me in her place…

But gettin’ back to it.  I took a heck of a lot of flack.  One time I was goin’ to the grocery with Pap and someone remarked, ‘There’s a young man who ought to be in the military.’  Well, now you can’t tell by lookin’ at somebody that they ought to be in the military.  I just never did have any desire to shoot and kill anybody, but I never made any effort to avoid the draft.

They sent a notice out, ‘All people that are unfit for military service are expected to get into the defense work to help the cause.’  And if we didn’t go somewhere voluntarily, they were goin’ to draft us into defense work.  So I went on up to Charlestown and got in on the construction over there.

My mother got a letter one day from Clara Edwards.  ‘My Dear Mrs. Wiseheart, Thank you for your compliments on Albert and Vernon.’  They had both been inducted into the Army, you see.  ‘Thank you for your compliments on their nerves.  Well, let me tell you something.  All you’ll ever see out of the Wiseheart boys is dirty bedsheets, the dirty yellowbacks.’  And then she signed it off.  ‘Course Frank was too young and I was 4F, I couldn’t help it.  Not that I wanted to go, but they said I was unfit for military service.  So anyway, all them years of this hostile attitude.

Sanford "Bud" Wiseheart hanging the flags for the 4th of July.

Sanford “Bud” Wiseheart hanging the flags.  July 4, 2009.  Photo taken by Sarah Wiseheart of Wiseheart Photo.


Sources

1.  Floyd County, Indiana Births, CH-14, p.113, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

2.  1930 U.S. Federal Census, Silver Creek, Clark County, Indiana, p.14B, Ancestry

3.  1940 U.S. Federal Census, New Albany, Floyd, Indiana, p.10B, FamilySearch

4.  Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Vol. 55, p.244, Floyd County Clerk’s Office

5.  New Albany Tribune, Sun 24 Aug 1958, p.6, c.1, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

6.  New Albany Ledger & Tribune, Sun 2 Aug 1998, p.B2, c.3, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

7.  New Albany Tribune, Sat 1 Nov 2014, p.A4, c.3, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room