Monday, August 15, 2011

Pioneer Women - Are there any in your family tree?

Last week I was helping on a book project for our Family History Center and on Tuesday a staff member brought in some books to share. I looked through the books and was intriqued by the book, Pioneer Women, Voices From the Kansas Frontier by Joann l. Stratton. It was published in 1982, so some of you may have run across it. The author's story is also fascinating, as her great grandmother Lilla Day Monroe collected eight hundred stories of pioneer women who settled in Kansas. The author discovered them in filing cabinets in her mother's attic. I am not sure where the manuscripts of this collection are today, but they would be a genealogist's gold mine.

My attraction to the book is anchored in the story of the wife of my Civil War ancestor. She is not in the collection, but the book will help me to place her in a time and locality of predictable circumstances. Caroline Shuey married Samuel Reed on December 13, 1855 in Sasona, Carroll County, Illinois. She was seventeen and he was thirty-two. Her husband appears in the voter registration in Kansas on March 30, 1855, so it appears that he visited there before his marriage. Caroline gave birth to her first child Barbara Elmira Reed on November 4, 1856 in Brookville, Ogle County, Illinois, where her parents lived. The midwife was Christine Bouman.

In the 1860 US Census taken on July 11,  Samuel, Caroline and Elmira are living with another family in Owl Creek, Neosho Falls, Woodson County, Kansas. It would seem that they had not been there long. There are thirty-nine families living there at this time. By September 28, 1861 Samuel was enlisting in the US Army in Humboldt, Allen County, Kansas. Samuel enlisted again on January 16, 1862. He must have returned home for visits during this time as his second daughter was conceived about February 1863. Almira Louise Reed was born on October 14, 1863 in Humboldt. Her birth was overseen by Dr. George A. Miller, and was recorded in his record book that was in the possession of his estate. There are two unknown children based on the 1900 census and they could have born between the births of these two children. On October 6, 1864 Samuel died of dysentery at Little Rock, Arkansas and is buried there in the national cemetery. Caroline remarried to John Solomon Straw on May 27, 1869. He assumed guardianship of the two girls.

There is so much history to this time and locality. I am left in awe when I picture a young wife age twenty-seven, with two young daughters in a place like Humboldt. The drought of 1860 when thirty thousand people left Kansas and the remaining sixty thousand survived by miraculous intervention would have been enough for me. The town site of Humboldt was established on November 16, 1860 and there were about three hundred people and fifty buildings. At the outbreak of the Civil War most of the men went off to fight. In September 1861 the town was robbed and in October rebels burned it. Not much was left of the town and there was little protection for the inhabitants. So, what became of Caroline and her two little girls while Samuel was gone fighting?

Lately I have felt a need to pursue this puzzle. The piece I most want to know is when and where was Samuel born. In ordering Caroline's Civil War Widow's Pension File I learned much of what I have shared above. His birth was listed only as Northumberland, Pennsylvania. His Military Service File also did not provide any further information about his birth or parents. So, now I am looking for other records that may solve this question.

Recently I stumbled on the record of what appears to be his service in the Mexican War in which he enlisted on May 10, 1847 and mustered out on June 24, 1848. The physical descriptions of the two men are identical and they were both listed as carpenters. This man is listed as being born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

Today I worked on land records from the website and found a land record for Caroline Reed and the heirs of Samuel Reed dated February 20, 1868, four years after he died. Does this mean she stayed in Kansas until this time or was the paperwork filed to settle the estate of Samuel? The bounty land warrant of Thomas Reeves for his service in the War of 1812 and his heirs is released to Samuel's heirs, seeming to indicate that this was finalizing the deed to the land ownership. It would seem that they occupied this land for several years prior to this date.

The work in glo records included the land in Ogle County, Illinois, with deeds for Samuel Reed. It appears that there is more than one Samuel Reed and this needs further study. As you can see it has been a full day of work on this family. I even did some sideways research on Caroline's sister Louisa. The last great discovery of the day was locating someone working on the family in the ancestry world tree project. Her latest entry was yesterday. I sent off an email in hopes of sharing our information.

My last piece of work was finding three microfilms from the Family History Library catalog on land and probate records in Allen County, Kansas. Maybe they will provide some of the further clues that I need. I think I should read the sixty-two page pension file and military service record again. New insight might help me understand things I previously overlooked.

This turned out much longer than I anticipated and I have veered off track some. That is the life of a genealogy researcher. I hope you are having as much fun as I am.

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