Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Riggs/Craven Family

A couple of years ago I was working with a client and she wanted to find her grandmother's father. All she knew about him was that his name was William Craven, he was born in England and had abandoned his wife Martha Jane Anthony Craven and child Dora Craven, who was born in about 1868 in Oregon. Dora marries Joseph Alonzo Riggs in 1883 in North Powder, Baker, Oregon.

This family has some very confusing information in the census records.
In 1870 W. Cravin age 28, born in Ohio, is living in Union, Oregon with M. J. Cravin age 16, born in Ohio. No child is listed as living with them.
In the 1860 census Martha is living with her parents in Otoe, Nebraska Territory and is age 8, having been born in Illinois. There is a William Craven age 18, born in England, living in Perry, Pike, Illinois. By 1880 Martha (Mattie) age 28, has remarried to Frank T. Glisan and Dora Glisan is living with them in Baker, Oregon. Dora is 15 years old, having been born in Oregon.

In the 1900 Census Dora is listed as being born in October 1868 in Oregon, her father born in England and her mother born in Missouri.

With this basic information we pursued several avenues of research. At familysearch.org we found a probable match for William, with another wife and son born in Idaho. William Craven just seemed to disappear after 1874, and so I pursued the family found in the 1860 Census. I was able to track this family in Illinois back to England and found them in the 1841 Census there. I felt a high level of probability that this was the correct family, but wanted an additional proof to be 100% sure.

That week I met with the client and presented to her the possible family link. We worked for some time on her database of now over 4,000 people. As I was leaving she showed me an old magnetic photo album that had been stored in her bathroom. She showed me several family documents that were placed in the album in a rather random order. I stated to her that it was very important that she protect these items in acid free sheet protectors and put them into notebooks according to families.

Later that night, after I had gone home, she started to work on the album and
discovered in it a newspaper article about this William Craven. She was very excited to share this with me. It was certainly a serendipity moment. It is an amazing article written in response to a glowing article published previously about the wonderful return of a wandering son. In it he had explained to the reporter an incredible story of the family he had in Oregon. Obviously his ex-wife Martha Glisan was also well acquainted with people of this locality in Illinois. Call this a wife's vengeance on a scoundrel. It is possible there were other things about the story that we do not know.

The following is a transcription of the newspaper article. No publication information is provided. In the 1880 census he is listed as living in Missouri, Brown, Illinois with a new wife and child. He later settles with this family in Missouri and this marriage seems to have lasted until his death probably before 1920, as his third known wife is listed in the census that year as a widow.

False Statement

          We take the following from the Brown County (Ill.) Democrat of May 24, 1879. Mr. Wm. Craven, son of our esteemed fellow citizen, Henry Craven, Esq., after an absence of nineteen years on the Pacific Coast, and in the territories of the West returned home on last Saturday evening. Mr. C., left his home when but a boy not yet out of his teens, and has led a cheerful life amid the wilds of the West, the incidents of which would make a volume of intense interest. He first settled in Oregon, where he was engaged in mining and prospecting for a number of years with success. In _____ he moved to Baker County, Oregon, where he resided several years carrying on the blacksmith business. His wife died in Baker leaving her husband and one child, a daughter. Feeling the loss of his wife severely Mr. C. again engaged in mining and freighting, and about three years ago removed to Boise City, Idaho, leaving his daughter with relatives in Oregon. On the last raid of the Indians, almost nine or ten months ago, they entered the valley where the daughter and her relatives resided and murdered a number of families and among then was this child of thirteen years of age. Many of the bodies were terribly mutilated, but the child was shot and managed to get into the brush where the fiends did not find her. A day or two after Mr. C. at the scene and found the body of his child covered with brush, as though she crawled under it to die. The feeling of the father can not be imagined by one unacquainted with the fiendishness of Indian warfare. Mr. Craven will remain here some time, and will visit his old home in Pike county and friends in other parts of state before his return. He looks the very impersonification of good health. Mr. Simon Taylor who left Pike county with Mr. Craven nineteen years ago is residing in Boise city and doing well.

The Statement above of Mr. Craven is no doubt a fabrication of his imagination as we happen to know the facts in the case. The wife and daughter represented to be dead, live in our City and are well and doing well. Mr. Glisan a business man and a good citizen of our city married the wife represented to have died and her daughter Dora reported to have been killed by the Indians is living with her mother, she is a fine girl of about thirteen years of age. Craven failed to provide for his wife and child and she obtained a divorce from him. He has another wife and one child, a boy who left him for the same cause. This man Craven must have some motive in view, could have induced him such a plausible story when he must have known he would be exposed. We can ensure the friends of Mrs. Glisan in Brown County (Ill.) that her and her daughter are well and doing well, what this man Craven may say to the contrary notwithstanding.

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