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Category Archives: Curbow

Genealogy of the Curbow Family

Will the Real Frank Miller Please Stand Up?

When researching an ancestor with a common surname such as Jones, or Smith or Miller it often quickly becomes a tangled and confusing mess. If you combine that common surname with a common first name such as Joe or Bob or Frank – it can be enough to make you want to pull your hair out! And so it has been with our Frank Miller, son of Elijah Spencer Miller and Harriet Curbow. Basically, when performing family history research you will run across clues about your ancestry – you will dig a little deeper – and if all goes well you find some answers to your family mysteries.

Frank Miller was one of those mysteries. In the beginning, the only thing that we knew for certain about Frank Miller was information provided by the 1880 census where we find him living in McLennan County, Texas with his father Elijah Spencer Miller (age 31 born in Mississippi) and mother Harriet Curbow (age 26 born in Mississippi). “Our” Frank was about 6 years old having been born in Texas in 1874. Also in the home is Frank’s grandfather, Tilman P. Curbow, who is 55 years old and who is a widower. Frank has three siblings: Thomas, Jesse and Minnie.

Fast forward to the turn of the century – 1910 to be precise –and we find Elijah Spencer Miller living in Akers, Carter County, Oklahoma. Harriet has died – Elijah has remarried – and Frank is nowhere to be found – or so I thought.

While researching the children of Elijah and Harriet, I met Tom Hedges, a great-grandson of Elijah Miller and wife Harriet (through their daughter Lou Ida Belle Miller) – and we’ve been trading information on the Miller/Curbow family ever since. Tom advised that he believed our Frank ended up out in California. With this lead, Tom and I started tracing a gentleman named Frank Miller who was born in Texas in July of 1873 and whose parents were both born in Mississippi (locations and date matched!). Over the ensuing months (years??!) – I had further contact with the descendants of the “California Frank” Miller. These family members indicated that he was from Nocana, Montague County, Texas, and that his family was from Indian Territory and had come from Mississippi. (Again – basic facts matched!) We learned that he had married Frances Mary Mehn and had two sons, one of whom was still living. We happily exchanged family photos, stories and documents. Tom and I felt certain that we had the right Frank Miller family. But not so fast!

I made contact with “California Frank” Miller’s grandson, who is also named Frank Miller (you see how confusing this could get?!). Mr. Miller told me that his father had no recollection of the surname Curbow. Further, his grandfather’s death certificate (which I have seen) indicates that his mother was Sarah Jane Clinton – not Harriet Curbow. Further, in the 1910 census he is not yet in California – rather living in Montague County, Texas with his mother. So basically – the way it looks – we have three Frank Millers – one in Oklahoma (ours); one in Texas; and one in California!  I was deflated – time to take down all the lovely photographs and records from the website – which belonged to a Frank Miller that was not ours. So now we’re back to square one when it comes to Frank Miller.

Fast forward to February of 2014 when I received an email from Tom Hedges outlining his recent work on the Miller family. The death of a cousin – Alta Faye Miller Porterfield – prompted Tom to take another look at his Miller family genealogy. Tom found Alta’s memorial on Find-a-Grave which confirmed that she was the daughter of “Monk” Miller. Tom knew that “Monk” was a son of “Our Frank” Miller. After I made contact with the creator of the memorials, David Miller, we all felt like we had made a connection. David subsequently ordered “Frank” Miller’s death certificate, and it is confirmed that he is the son of Elijah Spencer Miller.

“Our Frank” Miller is William Franklin Miller who was born in Texas on 17 Sept 1874. He left Texas and went to Oklahoma with his parents and lived his entire life in Carter County, Oklahoma. On 4 Dec 1904 he married Rachel Bondurant in Carter County. This is the same day that Elijah Spencer Miller married his second wife, Rosa. Frank and Rachel had six children that I am aware of: Tulle (1906); Jesse Eugene (1911); Roy Franklin (1914); William Columbus (1916); Cleva Bell (1921); and Annie Belle (1923). These names are also very prevalent in the Curbow family genealogy. It appears that Frank was a farmer all of his life. He died 2 Apr 1948 in Milo, Carter County, Oklahoma, and is laid to rest in the Milo Cemetery.

The search for “the real” Frank Miller has been an invaluable lesson to me not to jump to any hasty conclusions. I am glad that the correction has been made – and a big thank you to Tom Hedges and David Miller for untangling this Miller web!
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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in Miller

 

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And We Have a Winner !

Today we held the drawing for the ancestry.com prize package winner!  Congratulations to Jan Shaffer of Dallas, Texas!  Courtesy of ancestry.com, Jan will receive a 6-month U.S. membership and the 2012 version of Family Tree Maker.  Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter.

In her submission, Jan shared as follows:

One of my favorite pastimes is researching my family tree.  Being a history buff I have enjoyed finding exactly where my forefathers fit within history.  I first began when I had my first child and one had to write letters and spend hours in libraries looking at microfilm for information.  The forward movement was very slow and I made very little progress.  When my father died I connected with one of his (mine too I guess) cousins who was the keeper of the Smith family history.  She shared much of her written records with me.  Of course, we didn’t have a copy machine so there was a lot of hand scribbled notes during long distance phone calls from Dallas to Tucson. She has since died and her research I assume is with her children.  Next I purchased a little software package called Family Tree Maker that helped organize the information on my tree.  At this point I was on my way to something that could be passed down to my descendants.  This was when I got hooked; but, the big breakthrough was when Ancestry.com was launched.  I had data at my fingertips that I never knew existed.

My big brick wall was finding the parents of my maternal grandfather.  My grandfather Bedwell died when my mother was one year old.  As my grandmother had passed away my mother couldn’t even tell me her grandparent’s first names.  I found a hand full of pictures when my mother died but did not know who they were or to which side of the family they belonged. I connected with other researchers through Ancestry.com and by comparing pictures the other researchers owned, found I had a picture incorrectly identified resulting in having a young picture of my great-grandmother and a more mature picture shared by another researcher. Another researcher was able to provide the father, to who we now know is Belle, and she came alive for us.  Belle has been the fuel for my continued research and now I have over 2,000 people listed in my tree.

I have also learned from my fellow researchers how important documentation of your facts is for your research.  The experienced researchers are happy to guide one through the brambles of information and at the same time teach good habits of research.  As a result when someone contacts me for information I pass along the kindness and experience others have shown me.  I consider some of my Ancestry connections personal friends.

The latest Ancestry.com option I have taken advantage of is the DNA testing.  I never knew where my ancestors immigrated from and having grown up as a Smith I could have come from anywhere.  Now I can say I am mostly from Great Britain with a little Eastern and Southern European thrown in and as a result I am planning a trip to Great Britain this fall.

Jan Shaffer
Dallas, Texas

Congratulations to Jan !!

And to all of you:  HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY !!!!!!
 
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Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Bedwell, Odds and Ends

 

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Testimony of an American Patriot – Part 2

On 7 June 1822, under an Act of Congress, the United States made provisions for veterans to receive a pension for their service during the American Revolution.  William Kerby (or Curbo) was among those that filed an application for a pension.  His pension hearing was held in the Precinct Court on 16 Sept 1833 in Jackson County, Tennessee before the Honorable Abraham Caruthers, Circuit Judge for the Third Judicial Court in Jackson County as follows:

On the 16th day of September, 1833 personally appeared before the Honorable Abraham Caruthers, Judge of the Third Judicial Circuit for the State aforesaid, now presiding in the County of Jackson and State of Tennessee, William Kerby, or as it is sometimes written William Curbo, a resident of the county and state aforesaid, aged seventy-four years on the 6th of July last {this suggests a birth year of 1758} who being first duly sworn according to law doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the pension made by the Act of Congress passed June 7, 1932.

That he enlisted into the Army of the United States in the year 1775 {he would have been 17 years old} as he believes, but being wholly illiterate, in this he may be mistaken.  He will however proceed with the narration of such facts or will enable the department without any difficulty to ascertain the justice or injustice of his application.  He enlisted with Captain Thomas Harris, and served in the 4th Regiment of the North Carolina line, as he now understands it.

The regiment to which he belonged was commanded by Col. Thomas Polk, who was from the County of Mecklenburg, North Carolina.  The first Major of the Regiment was George Davidson – long after this period Major Davidson was killed at Beatty’s Ford on the Catouba {Catawba??} River in a skirmish with the British and this declarant is of opinion and his recollection is so that at the time of his death he held the rank of General, in the state troops of North Carolina.  James Fair was lieutenant in Capt. Harris’ Company.  James Costs was Ensign.  When he entered the guard he resided in Anson County, North Carolina near the town of Wadesborrough. 

Captain Harris’ company joined the Regiment at Wilmington, North Carolina.  The next day after reaching Wilmington, they set out on their march for Headley’s Point, near Charleston, South Carolina – where they remained in winter quarters until the following spring.  From Charleston, the troops returned to Wilmington, where they remained, he believes about a month.  From Wilmington, the troops marched to the town of Halifax, North Carolina.  There were then at that place according to his recollection, five Regiments – General Francis Nash had the chief command of what troops were there – they remained there something like a month.  From there they marched to Fredericksburg, Virginia where they only remained a few days and continued their march to the head of Elk in Pennsylvania, where they joined General Washington’s army.  {Yes – the General Washington – future President George Washington!}  From there they went to Philadelphia, by the way of what was called “the floating bridge” on the Schuylkill {River}.   

The Army remained some time in Philadelphia, how long he does not distinctly remember, but according to his recollection, he was in Philadelphia on the day that independence was declared.  {Did you just get the goosebumps?  I did – this is American history in action!}  He was in the Battle of Brandywine [September 11, 1777] where he received a wound in the right arm near the shoulder.  This wound was given by one of the British dragoons with a sword.  {When I first read this I thought that a “dragoon” was a type of weapon; however, I found out that it was actually a type of soldier known as a Dragoon Guard.  This designation was given to refer to a certain type of cavalry regiment in the British Army.}  The wound is now distinctly to be seen, or rather the scar which the found first ??? and will be visible while he lives.  At the same time and as he suppose from the same sword, he received a wound in the right hand, which in like manner has left an indelible mark.  After the Battle of Brandywine, he went with the main Army into winter quarters at Valley Forge, there a great many of the North Carolina troops died, and this declarant, with others, was transferred to the Company commanded by Captain John Somers of Somers.  The name of the Lieutenant was McGibboney.  The name of the Ensign was Blount Whitmil. 

He states that previously to going into winter quarters at Valley Forge, he was in the Battle of Germantown.  The winter of 1776 they occupied Valley Forge as winter quarters.  The following summer, and according to his recollection, on the 17th day of July 1777, he was in the Battle of Monmouth.  They remained, he says in Jersey, the winter of 1777.  The following year, the period of his enlistment which was for three years, expired, and he obtained a discharge, signed by General Washington{I wonder what that would be worth if we had that now??!}  His father’s house was burnt in Anson County, North Carolina, at which time his discharge was burnt.  This was during the war, and while this declarant was in the militia service.  He had gone out as a substitute for his brother Joseph Kerby or Curbo, and the discharge had been left with his father, John Kerby.  The whole period which he served his country was six years and three months; but, he was only three years in the regular or United States Army.  He experienced many privations and hardships while in the militia, and on one occasion, at the capture of Charleston, was taken prisoner.

After, reading and digesting William’s testimony, I was overwhelmed with the wealth of information it contained.  I wondered – was William Kerby just a fanciful story-teller?  Or did he really live out this very fascinating piece of our American history?  The oral family history insists that “William and Joseph were present when Cromwell surrendered to General Washington.”  At first I thought – sure – wishful thinking!  Now, I’m not so quick to disregard this family story.  I found out that he was in fact not a storyteller – all of his claims are historical fact.  (See my notes below regarding the people he mentions in his testimony.)  In the end, William’s testimony was credible and the Judge ruled favorably by stating,,,,,and the said Court does hereby declare their opinion that the above-named applicant was a revolutionary soldier and served as he states.  

Captain Thomas Harris, the Army officer that William claims to have enlisted with, did in fact exist.  He was a resident of Iredell County, North Carolina.  His pension hearing took place on 24 May 1821.  On his oath he declared that he joined the continental army in April 1776 as a captain in the Fourth North Carolina Regiment and served in that army for {page torn} years in which time he rose to the rank of Major.  He then on account of his health and other circumstances resigned his commission but afterwards went out in the Militia and acted as Aid to General Griffith Rutherford and was wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Camdon  on 16 Aug 1780.

The following commanding officers – all served in the Revolution – actually existed – and are documented:

Thomas Polk – born abt 1732 in Pennsylvania – was one of the original settlers in the area now known as Charlotte, North Carolina.  During the 1750s, this area was located in Anson County, North Carolina.  In 1775, Thomas was one of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.  He was a revolutionary war officer and rose to the rank of Brigadier General.  He died in June of 1794.

George Davidson – born abt 1738 in Ireland – was a Captain who commanded the First Regiment of the North Carolina Line from Sept. 1775 to Feb 1777.  He later rose to the rank of Colonel of the North Carolina Militia.  He died in Iredell County, North Carolina.

John Summers/Somers – He served in the North Carolina Regiment as Lieutenant and later as Captain.  He was taken prisoner at William’s Plantation in July of 1780.  He retired from military service in 1883.

Patrick McGibboney – was a Captain with the Fourth Regiment, North Carolina Continental Line.  He was born in Scotland about 1743 and died in Greensboro, Gilford County, North Carolina in February of 1804.

Thomas Blunt Whitmill – was known as Blunt.  His widow filed an application for his pension.  She stated that he was a Lieutenant in the North Carolina Continental line.  She states that her husband received a land grant for his service; that he participated in the Battle of Brandywine.  She stated that her husband died in September of 1798.

General Francis Nash – was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia in 1742.  Early in his life his parents moved to North Carolina.  At a young age, General Nash became a merchant, attorney and Justice of the Peace.  In 1775, he was elected Lieutenant Col. of the First North Carolina Regiment, Continental Army.  He took part in the expedition to Charleston – and was in short order promoted to Brigadier General.  He received orders to march his troops north to join the Army of General George Washington.  While in the north, General Nash commanded a bridge at the Battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania where on 4 Oct 1777 he was mortally wounded.  Further, when researching life in the City of Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War, I found out that what is now known as Market Street Bridge is located where Market Street crosses the Schuylkill River.  Before the bridge was built, the citizens depended on ferry boats and a couple of crude floating bridges to cross the river.  While the British were in possession of Philadelphia during the war, there existed a pontoon bridge at this location and later a plank floor bridge of floating logs.  I suppose this could be the “floating bridge” of which William speaks in his testimony.

Stay tuned for Part 3 – brick walls – a contest – and a prize !!

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Curbow, Times and Places

 

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Chasing the Curbow Brothers – Part One

Some days I get thoroughly disgusted with trying to track down my brick wall ancestors. Why don’t they make their presence known to me?! I am sure the answers to my unsolved mysteries are right under my nose – I just need to practice patience – not always one of my strong virtues.

My husband’s ggg-grandfather, Tilman P. Curbow was born around 1821 in Georgia. It is believed (but not yet conclusively proven) that he is the son of Henry B. Curbow. Henry was born sometime around 1770 in Anson County, North Carolina (probably near Wadesboro). Many children have been attributed to Henry so it seems likely that he had more than one wife over his lifespan. He spent most of his life in Georgia and then came west to Texas. He died in the spring of 1850 in Cass County, Texas (which was formed from Bowie County, Texas in 1846). Based on Bowie County Tax Rolls along with a claim filed with the Republic of Texas, we know that Henry was in Texas as early as 1846. Now – (and here is where my lack of patience kicks in!!) I know I shouldn’t jump ahead when there are still so many unanswered questions about Tilman and Henry – but I want to know!! Who are the parents of Henry B. Curbow?! According to the vast majority of trees on ancestry.com (which are in large part not documented or sourced) the parents of Henry B. Curbow were John Corbo (various spellings) and Ann Phillips (who married near Baltimore, Maryland).

So I decided to search the early census records – and I found no John Corbo. In fact, the first census (1790) only yielded one Curbow – and that was Henry Carboe who was living in Edgefield County, South Carolina.

In the 1800 census I found two Curbow families – both in South Carolina: (1) Joseph Carbon (Edgefield County) and Henry Kerbow (Barnwell County).  Operating on a gut instinct that there had to be some sort of a family connection, I started researching Joseph. I found out that Joseph was a Revolutionary War soldier who eventually settled in Gwinnet County, Georgia. I also noted that Joseph was born in Maryland. Once I obtained Joseph’s Revolutionary War Pension application, I discovered that Joseph had a brother named William Curbo who stepped in and fulfilled his enlistment when Joseph was injured. I had trouble locating William’s Revolutionary War service records because he is indexed as “William Kerby.” After reading, reviewing and digesting William’s Revolutionary War application for a pension, the pieces started to fall into place.

Based on the applications, these are the things we know for sure about the John Corbo/John Kerby family:

Father:  John Kerby (or Curbo) – lived in Anson County, North Carolina during the Revolutionary War period; his home was burned by the British during the War.  In the database entitled: North Carolina Heads of Families at the First Census of the U.S. Taken in the Year 1790 there appears among other Kerbys, a “John Kerby.”

Sons of John Kerby:

John Kerby (or Curbo) born abt 1768.  He appeared in Court in September of 1833 in Jackson County, Tennessee and testified on his brother William Kerby’s behalf confirming William’s Revolutionary War service.  He stated that he (John) was 65 years old in 1833.  (Could this be John Curbow whose wife was Abigail?)

William Kerby (or Curbo) born abt 1758; Enlisted in the Army at the age of about 17 in the year 1775 – served with Capt. Thomas Harris in the 4th Regiment of the North Carolina line; residing in Anson County, North Carolina near the town of Wadesborrough; He states in his affidavit that he is illiterate; He filed his application in Jackson County, Tennessee, with the judge making a notation: William Kerby, or as it is sometimes written, William Curbo, aged 74 years on the 6th of July;   Brother John Kerby (Curbo) states in his testimony that he was present when his brother William Kerby enlisted and joined the company….that his brother marched off in said company and did not return for three years….that he was aware of William’s ‘surcharge’ and had read it and that it ‘was burned in his father’s house.” 

James Kerby (or Curbo) – said to have also been a Revolutionary War soldier. Brother John Kerby (Curbo) states in his testimony about his brother James Kerby (Curbo), that James Kerby enlisted at the same time, marched at the same time in the same company, returned at the same time, and had always understood from James that they (James and William) had both served out their full term of three years.  He also stated in his testimony that James died many years ago.

Joseph Kerby (or Curbo) – born about 1755 in Maryland; Revolutionary War Soldier; application filed from Gwinett County, Georgia; Served: Capt Thomas Harris, Col. Polk, 4th Regiment; also resided in Anson County, North Carolina; married to Mary Corbin; DAR has “associated” applications for John Curbow and wife Abigail on file.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – I think you will agree, William’s pension affidavit reads like a chapter out of your American History book!

Let me know how you have been successful in breaking down those brick walls with your own ancestor search.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Curbow

 

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Sins of the Father

Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.

The heartbreaking truth is that most of us don’t have to look very far into our family history to find trauma and tragedy. The majority of us can trace back to within a generation or two and find an ancestor who struggled with an addiction.  It has been said that certain crosses must be borne by certain families – alcoholism/drug addiction, depression and mental illness are but a few examples.

As I work through the genealogy of each particular family line, I always take note when I see that a certain addiction or illness seems prevalent among its members.  I often ask myself: “How did this person get so far off track”?  Does addiction run in families because a child learns to become an addict from his parents?  What role does the home environment play in the development of an addict?  Or alternatively does he become an addict because he inherited the predisposition genes from his parents?  Perhaps the addiction stems from a combination of these factors?  Researchers are conflicted – and so am I.

We have many examples of both scenarios in our family lines. Here are two:

Georgia Zimmerle by all accounts came from a loving and stable family home. Neither her parents nor her siblings were known to have issues with drugs and/or alcohol. She was the youngest and only daughter of William Riley Zimmerle and Sarah Agnes Patterson – born in the small west Texas town of Lawn, Taylor County, Texas. She was doted upon by her parents and older brothers. She met, fell in love with and married a baseball player by the name of Bill Shores. Bill went on to become a Major League player, playing for the Giants and the White Sox. Georgia traveled with him and lived in places far from her home in small-town Texas. Georgia and Bill had two beautiful daughters – two more little girls died in infancy. I don’t know if Georgia’s drug addiction and alcoholism played a role in the subsequent dissolution of her marriage. Georgia remarried a man by the name of Oliver Jennings Gibson. Not much is known about Georgia’s life in the ensuing years.

Georgia Zimmerle

The addiction that Georgia suffered from (some say prescription drugs – her death certificate indicates barbiturates and alcoholism) eventually took her life. Her family agonized with her through it all and tried their best to help her overcome the demon of addiction. Tragically, Georgia lost her battle on a summer day in August of 1951 at the age of 46. Her body was discovered many days after she had died at home in Dallas from a barbiturate overdose. Georgia was brought home and laid to rest in the small cemetery of Dewey in Lawn, Texas – back among her family who loved her. In this family line, Georgia’s addiction seems to have been an isolated incident.

Georgia Zimmerle - News Article

However, in some family lines the addiction seems to follow a generational (and predictable) pattern.

Tilman P. Curbow, in the spring of 1876, at the age of about 55 years, was charged with aggravated assault when he “cut” the bartender in a “barroom difficulty.” The article leaves many details to our imagination. Am I insinuating that Tilman Curbow was an alcoholic? No, but the story is intriguing nonetheless, particularly when you look at the lives of some of his children and grandchildren and then beyond.

Tilman’s son, Henry Harrison Curbow, died tragically young at the age of only 26 years old in Waco on 10 Jan 1885 of causes not known to me. He was apparently boarding and being nursed by a non-family member to whom he was paying room, board and nursing care. In his estate papers I found a notation that Henry owed the caretaker $3.00 for “three quarts of whiskey at $1.00 per quart.” Again, I am not jumping to a conclusion that Henry was an alcoholic, but it is an interesting pattern.

Tilman’s grandson (and son of Martha Isabell Curbow), William Franklin Bedwell was said to be an abusive alcoholic who died young at the age of 46. At the time of his death William was incarcerated in the Tarrant County jail on a drunk charge. While imprisoned there he was murdered by a fellow inmate. William’s brother, James Monroe Bedwell was said to also be a “drinker,” though not at the level of William and not abusive or violent. James’ daughter Floy Bedwell, when writing her life story, often laments about the addiction that ran through her family and how it adversely affected the lives of many of her siblings.

If you follow this family line, you will find many of its members who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction to this very day.

Again, the question must be asked – is this genetic or is this a learned behavior? As Jan Shafer (daughter of Floy Bedwell) so aptly stated: If we can learn anything from our genealogy as it pertains to addiction issues, it should tell us to be vigilant with our children. If the issue is openly discussed and recognized – early intervention could be the difference between life and death.

If you or a family member are stuggling to overcome an addiction – get help – now.  Alcoholism isn’t a spectator sport. Eventually the whole family gets to play – Joyce Rebeta-Burditt.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Curbow, Zimmerle

 

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Always a Smile

I’ve heard it said that a sacrifice without a price is meaningless. Today, I wish to speak to you of a mother’s love and sacrifice for her children. To be sure, our family tree is full of wonderful mothers; however, this one continues to stand out. Olive May Waldie Bedwell – wife of brothers William Franklin Bedwell and James Monroe Bedwell – protected and nourished and bestowed each of her many children (and some that weren’t biologically hers) with love and continued devotion. She sacrificed many things in her life time – and always did so with a smile on her face and joy in her heart.

Olive was one of eight children born to Thomas Harrison Waldie and Josephine A. Wylie on 28 April 1882. She spent her childhood in McLennan County, Texas where she presumably met William Franklin Bedwell. William was the son of Martha Isabell Curbow and the grandson of Tilman P. Curbow. According to granddaughter, Jan Shafer, Olive was in love with William’s younger brother James Monroe Bedwell; however, her parents pressured her into marrying William because they thought that he could provide a better life for her. The couple married in McLennan County on 21 Jan 1901. William and Olive had four children: Evelyn in 1901; Preston Wiley in 1903; William Langston in 1906; and Merrill Fern, 1912. Due to William’s apparent alcoholism this couple eventually divorced – formally sometime around May of 1916. Later, in 1927, William was incarcerated in the Tarrant County jail on a drunk charge where he was murdered by another inmate.

In the meantime, the love of her life, James Monroe Bedwell had married and subsequently lost his wife (Clara) in child-birth – leaving him with two small babies, Homer and Paul Bedwell, to care for. Whether or not Olive and Jim ever “formally” married is not know; however, they began living together in a common law marriage sometime between 1913 and 1915. Olive took Jim’s two babies and raised them as her own. Jim and Olive subsequently had six more children together: Llese Deloris in 1915; Maurine Lillian in 1917; James Madison in 1915; Floy Laverne in 1920; Joy Lavonne in 1920 (twins); and Nana Ruth in 1921. Sadly, James Monroe Bedwell never saw the birth of his youngest child, Nana Ruth.  He died of an unexpected heart attack – he was only 38 years old.

The death of Jim Bedwell must have come as a heavy blow to Olive and the family. Granddaughter Jan states: Olive’s life was a very hard one. Jim worked for the railroad. The family lived within a block of the tracks and after Jim’s death they continued to live there until sometime in the late 50s. Olive worked as a laundry woman washing and ironing for others from her house. The older children helped a little with supporting themselves. As my grandmother aged she earned money by babysitting children (something she had experience with), so you see her house was always full of people. Every year she won the prize at church for having the most children. (She had 14 pregnancies total but some did not go to term). I was told there was an agency that wanted to remove the children from the home because they did not think she could support them. A newspaper picked up the story and there was a huge public support for her to keep them. The children stayed with their mother. I saw this crumbling article once. It had all the kids in the picture standing on the steps of (maybe a church or mission). I have looked for this newspaper article but have no idea what paper or date. My mother told me they never believed in Santa because he couldn’t visit them. She remembered sitting on the floor as a small child with Jimmie and Maurine wrapping a brick with newspaper and taking turns unwrapping it with surprise like it was a package – this story broke my heart and every year I gave my mother a big beautifully wrapped package with a toy inside for the child that Santa forgot.

Just this last weekend, we were able to locate the newspaper article that Jan mentions above.  It was published on 4 July 1926 in The Advocate:

Fort Worth, Tex., July 3. – Twelve children are growing up in the Fort Worth home of Mrs. Olive Bedwell. There is only Mrs. Bedwell to support and care for them. She supports them by taking in washing. They are healthy children, and happy. “Sweet children,” adds Mrs. Bedwell, “and such a comfort to me.” The story of them is an epic of what two hands can do. Nana Ruth is the youngest. She was two some time ago. Nine of the others are Nana Ruth’s brothers and sisters. Two are orphans whom Mrs. Bedwell took to raise.

Always a Smile – Mrs. Bedwell’s husband died several years ago. Since then she has earned $10 to $15 a week by washing and ironing. And though her hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., no visitor to her home finds other than a smile on her face. When her husband died, there was $6 due from his employer. Mrs. Bedwell offered it to a doctor who aided when Nana Ruth came. The doctor refused it, and Mrs. Bedwell spent the $6 for a Bible for the children to read. Every Sunday she takes her flock to Sunday school, along with a dozen other children of the neighborhood. “They like quantity at my church,” Mrs. Bedwell laughs, “and I’m a mighty popular member.” Two of Mrs. Bedwell’s children are old enough to earn a little money for themselves now. Another, a girl, now in high school, has been given a business college scholarship and is ready to study shorthand and typing. “My goodness, what have I to complain of?” this mother asks. “Lots of people ask me how I can be so cheerful. I just don’t have time to get blue.”

Were Seven Others – Somebody gave Mrs. Bedwell an electric washing machine. Once in a while people give her dresses for the children. The Union Gospel Mission of Fort Worth gives $10 of the $25 per month Mrs. Bedwell is paying on the little house in which she and the children live. “We get along beautifully,” Mrs. Bedwell sums up. “We never have been hungry. If people bring us things, I am thankful and accept them as gifts from God, who always will provide.” In addition to her ten living children, Mrs. Bedwell was the mother of seven who died. “I wish they all were with me,” she says, as she tells the striking story of what two hands, simple faith, unfaltering courage, and unwavering love can do.

Olive – you built a wonderful legacy, and here’s to a job well done!

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Bedwell

 

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Little Boys No Longer Lost

A new and fresh genealogy find always gets my heart to pumping. I so love how the genealogy community works together to solve each other’s mysteries. My hat is off to those of you that started out “pre-internet” – I don’t know how you did it!

Today I received a comment on the blog from Norma Thronburg. And guess what? The little sons of Jennie Curbow and Robert Alexander Story have been found! Not that they were ever lost – we just didn’t know where they were laid to rest! We always assumed that the boys were laid to rest in Axtell Cemetery along with their parents and brother Frank Story (the only son to survive to adulthood). However, they are not listed on the burial index nor did my husband and I find markers for them when we visited Axtell last summer.

Well, thanks to Norma and Find-a-Grave volunteer Mark Dutton, we now know that the boys are laid to rest in Yowell Cemetery. I haven’t been successful in finding any history on this cemetery but it appears to be a small abandoned family cemetery located on ranch land near Axtell in McLennan County, Texas. Many of the stones seem to be toppled and some are broken. Thankfully, the Story boys each have a stone that is still readable.

How our Story family connects to the Yowell family is unknown to me. It looks like most of these burials took place prior to 1877 when Robert purchased his farm in Axtell. So perhaps they were neighbors? Or perhaps Robert worked for the Yowell family? In the 1880 census Robert and Jennie are in McLennan County with their sons (on Page 55). At the top of page 55 directly above the Story family two Yowell family members are enumerated: Frank Yowell, age 20, born Missouri, indexed as “son”; and John Yowell, age 19, born Missouri, indexed as “son.” However, when you check the previous page (page 54) there is no Yowell “head of house” listed. This is apparently an enumerator error – so the relationship between the families remains unclear.

The following is a listing of the Story headstones that were located in Yowell Cemetery:

Levy Story (click on the link to see a picture of the headstone)
Born: 27 Nov. 1869
Died: 20 July 1871
Levy lived only about 30 months. Robert and Jennie married on 23 Feb of 1869. He was born practically 9 months to the day!  Levy was 8 months old when the 1870 census was enumerated. He was with his parents Robert and Jennie Story – his Curbow grandparents lived a few doors down – all living “east of the Brazos River” in McLennan County. Also in the home was Harriet Hamilton (and her relationship to the family is also unknown.)

E. Story (click on the link to see a picture of the headstone)
Born: 17 Feb 1870
Died: 17 Mar 1870
Lived about 1 month – it is unknown whether E. was a male or a female – and we did not previously have this child listed in our database.  E. does not appear in any census record – the 1870 census was enumerated in July of that year, after the time of death.

T. Story (click on the link to see a picture of the headstone)
Born: 20 Nov. 1872
Died: 29 Dec 1873
Lived about 13 months – it is unknown whether E. was a male or a female – and we did not previously have this child listed in our database.

John F. Story (click on the link to see a picture of the headstone)
Born: 20 Nov. 1873
Died: 7 Nov. 1882
John lived almost 9 years and can be found with his parents in the 1880 census. We know the circumstances of John’s death through this newspaper article published in the Waco Daily Examiner, on Tuesday, November 7, 1882:

Mr. R. A. Story, who lives seven miles east of the city, on Williams Creek, lost a son, Sunday, about nine years old from a very peculiar attack of sickness. The child was recuperating from chills and had got strong enough to pick cotton. Friday morning, while going to work, he was attacked with a spasm, and from that time until death never moved or spoke, dying at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday. Two physicians were called in. Dr. Pitts, of Mt. Calm, described the malady to congestion of the brain and spine. Dr. Howard of Waco, said it was black jaundice. The stricken parents only know that their child is dead and buried.

Henry A. Story (click on the link to see a picture of the headstone)
Born: 20 Jan 1875
Died: 27 Jan 1883
Henry lived 8 years. We can find him with his family in the 1880 census where he is misindexed as “Kenny A.” It is believed by me that his mother’s grandfather was Henry Curbow of Cass/Bowie County, Texas. Perhaps he is named after him?

In addition to these children, we know from the 1880 census that Robert Alexander and Jennie Curbow Story also had a son named Joseph who was born sometime in 1879. He can be found with the family in the 1880 census. Jennie stated in the 1900 census that all of her children but one had died – and it is presumed that Joseph died prior to 1900.  Joseph’s burial location is unknown to me at this time.

The only son of Robert Alexander Story and Jennie Curbow to reach his adulthood was Frank Edward Story (1892-1954) who is laid to rest in Axtell Cemetery in McLennan County with his parents.

While performing this genealogy study, I have come across many family stories of drama and trauma – but this story strikes me as one of the most tragic.  I simply cannot comprehend what it must have been like for Robert and Jennie to bury one child after the next. The death of one child would change your life forever – but this couple lost 6 of their 7 children – incredible heartache and an incredible testimony to their perseverance.

Thank you again to Norma and Mark for their time and effort and dedication to the genealogy community.  We appreciate you!

Yowell Cemetery; Axtell, McLennan County, Texas; From the collection of Mark Dutton

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2012 in Curbow, Story

 

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