Sunday, July 24, 2016

An Unusual Bequest

It's 1733 and William Heard is dead.

The children have died or moved on.

His wife, Elizabeth Cole Heard, is the only family member left.

On a farm comprised of 500 acres.

Most likely growing tobacco.

A farm worked with slave labor.


What will happen to the workers when Elizabeth dies?

What will become of the laborers?

Will they be sold?

Sold away from their families?


What happened is remarkable.


Elizabeth Cole Heard specified in her will that the slaves were to be freed upon her death.

But beyond that, all the former slaves were to share equally in the 500 Acre plantation.

The 107 former slaves were to have an equal share of the plantation.

Simple math shows that each worker would get about 40 Acres of land.

But if the land was divided among family groups, there could be much more.


I wonder how it all turned out.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Memorial Day 2016 - Our Family's Military Heroes


Sanford S. Rankin - Spanish American War


Sanford S. Rankin was born in Perry County, Missouri in 1865. His first wife died young and left him with a daughter to raise on his own. He married a second time, and again, his wife and an infant died. Sanford was devastated. Leaving his daughter to be cared for by relatives, Sanford enlisted in the Army in 1894. 

In his first enlistment he was plagued by a number of injuries and illnesses. In January 1895 he suffered a severe sprain of his right hand due to an accidental fall and spent a month in the infirmary. Later that same year, in September, he contracted malarial fever. It became a recurring illness for the rest of his life. Then, in December, he was hospitalized with influenza.


On 26 September 1897, Sanford was discharged at Fort McPherson in Georgia, his service having expired. He went home to Perryville, but did not stay long. On 24 December 1897, the day before Christmas, Sanford enlisted again at St. Louis. He was assigned to Company A of the 20th U.S. Infantry. In May 1898, he was appointed Corporal. The "War with Spain" had begun, and Sanford was on his way to Cuba.


Cuba was a breeding ground for malaria and yellow fever, and the military leaders wondered if the soldiers would live long enough to fight. April was the beginning of the rainy season and the roads became impassible. By July, the army was reaching the limits of physical endurance. Manpower shortages required soldiers to remain on constant duty in the trenches. Rations were inadequate, and the men were suffering through alternate periods of scorching sun and drenching rain. Some men went temporarily insane from the heat. 


The generals reported that their troops could not march. Their feet were swollen by hours in the flooded trenches, and dysentery, malaria, and yellow fever were taking their toll. In July 1898, Sanford had an attack of fever, causing affection of the stomach and eyes, and deafness. He also was treated for rheumatism caused by exposure.


The camp hospitals were plagued by shortages of equipment and trained personnel. Volunteers recruited to work in the hospitals knew little about medicine, and even less about Army procedures. Their neglect of sanitary procedures helped spread typhoid throughout the camps. It was at this time that the first female nurses were employed to work in the hospitals. Their devoted and capable service won over conservative Army surgeons who had opposed their intrusion into the all-male military.



Most of the sick never reached the hospitals, but stumbled through their daily duties until they collapsed and had to be carried away on stretchers. Fear in the United States that returning soldiers would bring the diseases with them forced the sick to remain in Cuba until they had fully recovered.   By 27 July 1898, over 4,000 troops were in hospitals and the death rate reached 15 per day. The customary rifle volleys and bugle calls at burials were suspended so as not to undermine the morale of the remaining troops.

By 03 August, 75% of the Fifth Corps, commanded by General Shafter, had contracted malaria and were described as an "army of convalescents." It was imperative that the Army return to the U.S. before the troops in their weakened condition succumbed to an epidemic of yellow fever. Shiploads of soldiers began leaving Santiago on 07 August 1898. The severely ill, and those with yellow fever, were left behind, believing they were being left to die. Most of them, though, returned home by the end of the month. 


The so-called "splendid little war" was over.



Samuel E. Rankin - Civil War

Samuel E. Rankin enlisted as a Private on 26 August 1862, at St. Mary's, Missouri. Missouri was a border state and officially remained with the Union. However, there were sympathizers on both sides. The 78th was not engaged in any activities until 1864. Samuel served a total of 41 days and left the service with the rank of Sergeant.

The 78th Regiment enrolled between 22 July 1862 and 17 February 1863 and were ordered into service between 20 June 1864 and 25 September 1864. They were discharged between 1 December 1862 and 15 November 1864, then ordered back into service between 25 February 1864 and 31 October 1864. Their final discharge was between 31 October 1864 and 28 February 1865. They served under Colonel John D. Allen.


Sanford Rankin - Civil War

Sanford Rankin was born in Louisiana in 1830. Around 1837 his family moved north and settled in Perry County, Missouri. When the Civil War started, Sanford became a member of the Enrolled Missouri Militia. The E.M.M. was not a standing army but more of a "home guard," called upon for service as needed. 

Sanford's regular occupation was that of blacksmith. He had apprenticed under the guidance of Adam Fath, a German immigrant. Sanford was the only member of his extended family to pursue a career outside of farming. By 1860 he was operating his own blacksmith shop.

Sanford was married to Mary Elizabeth Scott in 1854 and by 1861 they had four children: Ellen, Samuel E.. Sanford Felix, and George Alfred. By the summer of 1863, Mary Elizabeth, abt. 4 months pregnant, would be preparing for the birth of her fifth child. 

Sometimes things don't go exactly as expected. In March 1863, the Weekly Perryville Union newspaper printed the following story:


MAN SHOT

          On last Tuesday, Sanford Rankin, residing on Saline creek in this county, a member of Captain Adair's company E.M.M., as we learn, was arrested for absence from the company, the said company now being on duty at Ironton, and after proceeding a short distance with the escort, (one soldier and guide) he made an attempt to escape and was shot in the hip.  A dangerous wound was inflicted, although it is thought not mortal."

Within a week, Sanford Rankin was dead, and his property seized by the county. The following month, a notice appeared in the Union regarding the settlement of his estate. The property was finally sold by the Sheriff at public auction to the highest bidder on 23 June 1865.

The name Sanford was given to a number of Rankin family children, probably as a way to remember the young, industrious, and talented family member that was gone too soon.


Harris Hopper Davis - Civil War

Harris Hopper Davis enlisted on 2 September 1861 at Camp Dick Robinson, Barbourville, Knox County, Kentucky. He was assigned to Capt. Mayhew's Co., 1st Brigade, Kentucky Volunteers for a period of 3 yrs. In May, 1862, Harris went home on furlough. When he had not returned by the 18th of August 1862, he was dropped from the rolls. He returned to his unit in November 1862, explaining that while on furlough he had become ill and was unable to return. He was restored to his military rank. His unit fought at Vicksburg, Mississippi; Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Harrisburg, Mississippi; and Chicamauga, Tennessee. The highlight of his career was his citation for the capture of Lookout Mountain. 

Gen. Hooker says, in his official report said: "Several regiments were detailed to scale it (the summit), but to the 8th Ky. must belong the distinction of having been foremost to reach the crest, and at sunrise to display our flag from the peak of Lookout amid the wild and prolonged cheers of the men whose dauntless valor had borne them to that point. The members of the 8th who were foremost in this daring deed were Capt. Wilson, Sergts. [Harris H.] Davis, Wagers and Woods, and Privates Hill and Bradley."

John Woolum - Civil War

John Woolum was 18 years old and just recently married. One week later he set off to join the Union Army. He enlisted for 3 years in the 4th Regiment, Kentucky Infantry. He mustered in with an advance payment of $73. On 16 May 1864, the Regiment marched to the front with twenty-five officers and about five hundred and fifty well-mounted men. Captain Bacon's men occupied the court house and jail and successfully fought off their assailants, who withdrew from the contest, and the 4th Kentucky Mounted Infantry coming up under Cols. Croxton and Kelly, the withdrawl became precipitate to a panic. Two brigades under Brigadier General Edward McCook left a dusty trail as they rode toward the Macon and Western Railroad. After destroying large sections of this line, the horsemen turned their sites toward Atlanta and the West Point Railroad.

Sherman's horse soldiers received special mention in the orders, which indicated the troopers main mission rested on destroying portions of the rail network lining the city. Hard fighting, often hand-to-hand, took place along the Ricketyback Road. McCook, shaken with the sudden onslaught, sat in his saddle, almost as if in a daze. 

On 30 July 1864, Private John Madison Woolum was captured and taken to Cahaba Prison in Alabama. In September 1864, John Woolum was transferred to Andersonville Prison. Then in February, 1865, with the war coming to a close, John Woolum was due to be exchanged, but he may have been too ill to leave the infirmary. By April, prisoners were being transported by flat cars to Vicksburg. John Woolum was awaiting transportation to Jefferson Barracks for a prisoner exchange. Returning Civil War soldiers were travelling to stops on the Mississippi River where the exchange was made. John Woolum boarded the Sultana

Around midnight, the boilers on the Sultana exploded, tossing people and cargo into the pitch black river. As the Sultana burned, most of passengers, awakened suddenly by the explosion, found themselves in the middle of the Mississippi River. Many passengers in this time period could not swim. Some passengers who did swim were able to reach the Arkansas bank. But many more died in the river than were saved. It was the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history.

And it was totally preventable.

John Madison Woolum died in the Sultana explosion somewhere in the Mississippi River. His remains are lost. As are those of hundreds of other soldiers who were on their way home. After initially being buried at Elmwood Cemetery, the Sultana victims were moved to the new National Cemetery in Tennessee. The story told at the cemetery is that the names were written on the coffins as they were removed from Elmwood so that they could be properly identified at the new National Cemetery. While the coffins were waiting to be reinterred, a rain storm came up. Unfortunately, the names had been written on the coffins in chalk, so all the names washed away with the rain, and the Sultana victims all lie in graves marked "unknown."


Ferdinand Klump - Civil War

At age 21, Ferdinand Klump was drafted into the Civil War, specifically, into the 8th Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia. The Klumps had come to Missouri from Germany, so it is not surprising that Ferdinand married Christina Doerr, whose family also had German roots. However, it is notable that while the Klumps advocated the Union's cause, the Doerr's were sympathetic to the Confederacy. Family lore states that while Ferdinand and Christina lived in the same house, they occupied separate sections for many, many years.


Samuel Richardson - War of 1812 (Militia Unit)

12th and 13th Consolidated Regiment, Louisiana Militia; Rank: Private. Samuel Richardson was a slave owner. When he died, his partition (term used in Louisiana) included a total of thirteen slaves.

"Frank, b. abt. 1814" and "Ann, b. abt. 1837" were left to daughter Polly Richardson. 

"Luke, b. abt. 1814" was left to my gggg-grandmother, Elizabeth. She did not own any slaves when she moved to Missouri. It's likely that Luke was sold to help pay for their move north.

"Albert, b. abt. 1819" and "Mariah" were left to daughter Martha Richardson. 

"Bill, b. abt. 1819" was left to daughter Margaret Richardson. 

"Matthew, b. abt. 1819" was left to son Augustus Richardson.  

"Jim, b. abt. 1819, Jerry, b. abt. 1835 and Sarah, b. abt. 1819" were left to Samuel Richardson, Jr., as well Sarah's three children: "Jane, b. abt. 1840, age 4" "Hana, b. 1842, age 2," and "Henry, b. July 1843, 1 year old." 


Joel Thorpe - War of 1812 (Militia Unit)

Joel Thorpe was a carpenter and apparently he could build anything. He was contracted to build houses in Buffalo, New York. He built a schooner, called Sally, a nickname for his wife, Sarah. When the War of 1812 began he joined a militia unit. He was killed at the Battle of Beaver Dams, abt. 1 June 1813, in Ontario, Canada. His militia unit had been ambushed by the Native Americans working with the British. Subsequently, the British burned the town of Buffalo to the ground. Joel's widow, Sarah, and her seven children had to flee for their lives. Legend has it that Sarah managed to hide the silverware and other valuables in her clothing.


Richard Applegate - Ranger on the Frontier

Richard Applegate served as a ranger on the frontier in Capt. Joseph Beckett's Company from Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.


Pvt. Stacey Applegate - Campaign Against the Indians

Stacey Applegate, who resided in the Pond Settlement, Jefferson County, Kentucky, assisted in establishing American Independence while acting in the capacity of Private. He served under Capt. Richard Chenowith and Col. Isaac Cox's Battalion of Militia, and  Col. John Floyd scouts under the command of Gen. George Rogers Clark commencing on 20 October and ending 24 November on a campaign against the Indians in 1782.


Pvt. Absolom Case - 4th Regiment, Ulster County, New York Militia

Absolom Case, who resided during the American Revolution at Ulster County, New York, assisted in establishing American Independence while acting in the capacity of Private for the state of New York in the 4th Regiment, Ulster County Militia.


Captain Jonathan Dayton - 2nd Militia Regiment, Connecticut

Jonathan Dayton, who resided during the American Revolution at New Haven, Connecticut, assisted in establishing American Independence while acting in the capacity of Captain. Jonathan served in the Connecticut Militia in the American Revolution as Lieutenant of the 9th Company, 2nd Regiment, Alarm List 1772. He was promoted to Captain. In July 1799 he defended New Haven, Connecticut, against the British.


Captain George Doherty - Washington Co, North Carolina & Augusta Co., Virginia

George Doherty who resided at Augusta County, Virginia and Washington County, North Carolina, during the American Revolutionary War, assisted in establishing American Independence while acting in the capacity of Captain.


James Goff/Gough - Patriotic Service, Maryland

James Goff/Gough signed the Oath of Alliegence at St. Mary's County, Maryland in 1778. 


John Manning - Patriotic Service, Maryland

Served from Jun 1778 - May 1779 in Capt. Lowe's as a volunteer attached to the Third Maryland Battalion. John Manning signed the oath of allegiance to the U.S. on 2 March 1778, as attested by Richard Barnes. 


Militiaman David Rankin - Soldier and Ranger, Pennsylvania

David Rankin is listed with Washington County, PA Militiamen who received pay for services listed 1778-1783. Acted in the capacity of Soldier and Ranger.


Private William Rankin - Captain Henry Heath, Virginia Regiment

He enlisted in Virginia, Sept. 1776, and served in an independent company commanded by Captain Henry Heath in Col. Gibson's 18th Virginia regiment. He served three years and was honorably discharged in Pittsburgh. The said William Rankin is the ancestor who assisted in establishing American Independence while acting in the capacity of Private.

Note: Capt. Henry Heath was of Winchester, Frederic County, VA.  Several of the name "William Rankin" served from Va. in the same general locality but this man's service is taken from his pension and the date submitted shows that he was the grandson of David Rankin who died in Winchester, VA in 1768, through the son, Hugh Rankin, of Winchester. 


Private William Rankin, Sr. - Capt. Munn's Company, Pennsylvania Militia

Ranger on the Frontier, Washington County, Pennsylvania. Private in Capt. Munn's Company, Washington County, Pennsylvania Militia. Serving in the Sandusky Expedition under Col. William Crawford. Of Smith Township.


Captain Enoch Richardson - Revolutionary War, Richmond County, Georgia

Enoch Richardson, who resided during the American Revolution at St. Paul's Parish, Richmond Co., Georgia assisted in establishing American Independence, while acting in the capacity of Captain in Thomas Pace's Co. of the Richmond County, GA Militia at Augusta in 1775. He assisted Capt. Thomas Pace in the execution of the measures adopted by the Congress for the Preservation of that Liberty which every American has a just right in.


Private Joel Thorp - Revolutionary War, Captain David Wooster's 1st Regiment

Joel Thorp who resided during the American Revolution at New Haven, Conn. assisted in establishing American Independence, while acting in the capacity of Private. Private Joel Thorp enlisted 1 September 1780 and was discharged 19 December 1780. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sonoma Pioneer Passes Away

Santa Rosa, Jan. 7 -- Chester Bethel, an old pioneer of Sonoma, died at his residence here to-day at the age of 79. He was a native of Indiana and was one time Grand Master of the Odd Fellows of that State. He was a bonded warehouse keeper during the first administration of Cleveland and for some time was a resident of San Jose.
Chester Bethel was born on the 27th of March, 1818. the second son of the Reverend Cloud Bethel and his wife, Rachel Floyd Bethel, in Orange County, Indiana. His elder brother, Thomas Floyd Bethel, was a merchant, and in 1847 he became a Captain of the 16th Infantry in the Mexican War. Chester replaced Thomas as Postmaster. By 1850, Chester was a merchant.

In 1852, at the age of 34, Chester married Eliza Lukens, who was just 15. In 1854, their first and only child was born. He was called "Tilman," which was a family name.

In February 1855, Chester Bethel, Franklin Bethel, his brother, and Charles Dickerson, were involved in a court case before the Supreme Court of Indiana. The matter had to do with the amount of $830 dollars. In today's money, it would be over $21,000 dollars! Chester and Franklin lost the case and had to pay 5% damages and court costs.

In abt. 1861, Chester & Eliza Bethel, their son, Tilman and Chester's brother, Warren decided to leave Indiana and go to California. At that time the railroad from the midwest to the Pacific was still under construction, and was not completed before 1870. Chester, with a wife and young son, traveled by ship. From Indiana they would have taken a boat south to New Orleans. Next a ship would take them to Panama, and they would spend about two weeks crossing the isthmus on donkeys. Once they reached the Pacific, they would board another ship that would take them north to the port of San Francisco. This must have seemed like at great adventure for 7-year old Tillie!

Chester's first stopping place in California was Santa Clara, and shortly after arriving Chester, Eliza and Tilmon Bethel went to Santa Rosa. Just three years later, the only son of Chester and Eliza, died in a terrible accident in 1864.
A MELANCHOLY casualty occurred at Lancaster, a few days since. Two fine, intelligent little boys, favorites with all who knew them, were drowned in the Humboldt. Tillman, son of Eliza and Chester Bethell, aged nine years and John W., son of Wm. H., and Sarah Hollis, aged eight years, were on the ice, in company with another boy. John ventured to where the ice was thin, and went through into the water. Tillman got a long brush as quickly at possible, and passed an end to John, who caught hold and commenced pulling to get out. The result was, Tillman, instead of rescuing his friend, was himself pulled into the water. The third boy ran and gave the alarm in town, and soon a number of men were at hand. The bodies of the two boys were recovered in about twenty minutes, and every effort was made to resuscitate them, but in vain. The water was so cold that the men who recovered the bodies were benumbed. So says the Humboldt Register.
After Tillie's death, Chester and Eliza left Santa Rosa and went back to Santa Clara. He and Eliza are not listed in the 1870 Census. Perhaps they were in transit and were missed by the census taker. By 1871, they were back in Santa Rosa.

Chester was a storekeeper and he and Eliza lived in a nice home at 802 Cherry Street. The house is no longer there, but the location of the property can be seen in the property books at the Santa Rosa Public Library Annex.

Photographic images exist for Chester's mother and all of his siblings but one. There are no images of Chester Bethel, his wife Eliza, or their son, Tillie. Chester outlived his only son by 34 years. Eliza, had the worst of it, for she outlived Tillie by 44 years.

"Little Tillie's Grave" is the inscription on his tombstone. He and his parents are buried together in the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery.