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.

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.

More Clues for Frank Springer

As my uncle was going through things at the house yesterday, he came across a ledger belonging to Mildred Springer.  It mostly contains dates and amounts received.  I’m not sure what they are exactly, but I think they could be child support payments from her father, Frank Springer.

Frank left his home in Paoli, Indiana in 1893 for the World’s Fair in Chicago and I have lost track of him from then until 1920 when he appears in Paoli again.  On one page of this ledger, Mildred wrote about her father’s land holdings.

A page from Mildred Springer's ledger, 1908-1917.

A page from Mildred Springer’s ledger, 1908-1917.

In 1910, Mildred writes that Frank has a lot in Oklahoma and two lots in French Lick.  A newspaper article regarding land in Oklahoma was tucked between this page and the next.

Newspaper article from Mildred Springer's ledger, 1908-1917.

Newspaper article from Mildred Springer’s ledger, 1908-1917.

On the ledger page from the previous image, Mildred also writes that by 1912, Frank had sold his lot out west and purchased a third lot in French Lick.  There is also one page of the ledger that lists two payments coming from Madison, Illinois in 1913.

My theory is that he left Chicago after the World’s Fair and travelled West.  He settled in Oklahoma circa 1904 for a time, but was on the move again before the 1910 Census. I’ve searched for Frank Springer in the 1900 and 1910 Census for Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas with no luck.  With some fairly strong evidence to suggest he was in at least two of those states, a transient lifestyle seems a logical explanation as to why I can’t find him.

Here’s my theory with a visual…

Frank Springer's journey

1.  Living in Paoli, Indiana (1892).

2.  Goes to World’s Fair, Chicago, Illinois (1893).

3.  Possible trip to Iowa.  (Part of family legend is that he spent some time in Iowa).

4.  Back to Paoli to check in with family.

5.  Purchases land in French Lick, Indiana (circa 1900).

6.  Claims land near Woodward, Oklahoma (1904).

7.  Possible trip to California.  (Part of family legend is that he spent some time in California).

8.  Sells land in Oklahoma (circa 1912).

9.  Buys another lot in French Lick (circa 1912).

10.  Goes to Madison, Illinois (1913).

11.  It is possible that the California trip fit in here instead of after Oklahoma.

12.  Back in Paoli (1920).

This is the guide I’ll be working with to try to locate Deed and City Directory records for Frank.  It’s confusing, and kind of a long shot, but it’s definitely more than what I had to go on before.  As my co-worker said just a few days ago, most genealogists don’t do it because it’s easy, they do it for the thrill of following the clues and solving the mystery.