She gets the farm

A man has an affair and leaves his wife for the other woman. He plans to sell the family farm and other property, leaving his wife and children virtually penniless. Wife discovers the scheme and files a restraining order. She eventually divorces the man and receives a substantial settlement. Sound like a story from today’s headlines? Well, this story happened in the 1850s. In honor of Women’s History Month, I tell the story of Elvina Masters Cole, a woman who fought for her rights.

This is a true story gleaned from various records. I discovered the basic information as I researched my brother-in-law’s adoptive family.  Another descendant of Elvina’s graciously contributed his extensive research on this matter. Both gave permission to share her story here.

Elvina Masters was born 25 April 1813 in Bowling Green, Warren county, Kentucky, the daughter of Richard Clement Masters and Agnes Cochran.  She married Thomas J. Cole on 10 November 1831 at Springfield, Illinois. [1]   Children followed quickly with their oldest son, William, born on 16 October 1832. William would later become embroiled in the family scandal. About 1835, Thomas and Elvina moved to Bureau County, Illinois.  In June 1838, Thomas J. Cole was accused of adultery and fathering a child with Pyrena B Ellis. Although Pyrena claimed that he was not the father of her child, Thomas was indicted for adultery.[2]  

In March 1849, William married Ellen Emeline Bradshaw, a servant in the Cole household.  Ellen was later named in Elvina’s divorce. The year 1850 finds Thomas and Elvina with six children in Berlin, Bureau County, Illinois. [3] The children were Catherine, age 16; John,age 12; Albert, age 10; Thomas J., age 8; Elizabeth, age 4 and Mary, age 1.  The family farm was valued at $5000.  Two more children would be born to Thomas and Elvina– Cornelia in 1851 and Enos in July 1857.  

On 20th February 1857, Elvina Cole filed for divorce from Thomas J. Cole in Bureau County, Illinois.[4]  Her complaint stated that, about November 1848, her husband, Thomas, brought  “ into their family as a house servant Ellen Emeline Bradshaw.”  After which, Thomas’ “affections became alienated and estranged and at the same time showing a criminal fondness and regard for Ellen. . . “   (Note: Ellen is recorded as Emaline/Emeline in some documents). Recall that William, son of Thomas and Elvina, married Ellen in March 1849 and reportedly lived with his parents during the first months of their marriage.  In September 1849, William and Ellen “removed to a small tenement upon the farm of her [Elvina’s] said husband and lived there for about 18 months, when the said William Cole left her and departed from this County.” Thomas moved Ellen back to the family home and moved himself into Ellen’s bedroom.

By March 1856, Elvina had had enough of this arrangement and forced Ellen out of the house. Ellen supposedly moved to her father’s home. Thomas left home for weeks at a time “to find Ellen.“   On February 20, 1857, Elvina filed for a divorce. [5] (Bureau County case #395).  Her complaint stated that “Thomas left home on 5th January 1857 and has not returned. “ William Cole  filed for divorce from Ellen on August 12, 1857. [6]

Before he left, Thomas “tried to sell and dispose of all his property. . . “  including  two farms with an estimated worth of $25-30,000 plus “a large amount of stock, grain & money.” Elvina asked for a restraining order to prevent Thomas from selling and disposing of the property “then abscond” with the funds which would leave her and her children “helpless and destitute.”

The outcome? Elvina was granted a divorce on 29 September 1857 by order of default.  According to Neal Smith:

The documentation as being in Township 17, North Range 10 East (now known as Berlin Township in Bureau County). In Section 6, the property was the west half of the northwest corner, and the west half of the southwest quarter. In Section 7, the property was the west half of the northwest corner, along with 50 acres on the west side of the east half of the northwest quarter.

Neal Duane Smith, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings,” page 11.

William Cole was granted his divorce from Emeline/Ellen on April 19, 1858, also by default. [7]

Elvina was deeded the 140+ acre farm on which she was living, worth about $10,000 or more (equivalent about $335, 000 today). She was also to receive alimony payments of $700 yearly (about $21,000 today) with the property to be held as a lien. [8] If alimony was not paid, Elvina could sell the property or remain and take the profits.  In September, 1867, Elvina finally received all rights and title to the farm. She was now a wealthy woman.

Elvina’s land, circa 1875.
SOURCE: U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 [,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 13 March 2021), map of Berlin, p. 61; citing Atlas of Bureau Co and the State of Illinois, 1875; Microfilmed by the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Collection Number: G&M_43; Roll Number: 43.

Elvina never remarried. She died 16 December 1882 at Ohio township, Bureau County, Illinois, from bronchitis[9] and was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery at Dover, Ilinois.[10] Her grave is unmarked.

REFLECTION:

March is Women’s History Month.  I decided to write about at least one woman in the family tree. I am going to make this a specific goal each year from now on. As I mentioned earlier, I encountered Elvina as I researched my brother- in -law’s adoptive family. Her story impressed me then and it still impresses me.  She exerted her rights at a time when women had few rights. I am grateful to my brother- in- law and to Neal Smith for allowing me to share Elvina’s story.

What I learned:  the power of collaboration with others.

What helped: previous work done and documented. Neal Smith’s extensive work copying and transcribing handwritten county court records.

What didn’t help: incomplete entries for some items.

To do: still looking for Elvina in the 1860 census. Neal Smith also mentioned that she seems to have disappeared from the records in 1860 although there is an 1862 tax record for her in Bureau County Illinois.[11]


SOURCES

[1] Neal Duane Smith, transcriber and compiler, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings of Thomas J. Cole (1810 to 1873?), among the first persons of European descent to reside in Bureau County, Illinois, as well as documents relating to the divorces of his three oldest married children“ (PDF digital copy, 2012); privately held by Neil Duane Smith, [address for private use], Davenport, Iowa, 2021.

[2] H.C. Bradsby, editor, History of Bureau County, Illinois, (Chicago, Illinois: World Publishing Company, 1885); digital images, Hathi trust (https://babel.hathitrust.org :  accessed 14 March 2021); pages 274 & 295.

[3]  1850 U.S. Census, Bureau county, Illinois, population schedule, , p. 206B, family 343, Thomas C Cole 40; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 31 December 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M432_99.

[4] Bureau County, Illinois, Circuit Court Case 395, Elvina Cole vs. Thomas J. Cole; County Clerk’s Office, Princeton, Illinois. Original handwritten documents photographed, with permission of County Clerk, by Neal Duane Smith, 2012; included affidavits from William T. Cole, Elvina Masters Cole, John L. Cole, Catherine Cole Murphy  and William Masters.

[5] Neal Duane Smith, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings,” pp. 19-26.

[6] Neal Duane Smith, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings,” pp. 99-117.

[7] Neal Duane Smith, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings,” page 11.

[8] Neal Duane Smith, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings,” page 77. Transcription of Bill for Divorce, filed 29 September 1857.

[9] Public Member Photos & Scanned Documents, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/collection/1030/tree/119526247/person/390182674740/media : accessed 13 March 2021); “Masters, Elvina Death,” death certificate, posted 23 December 2012 by “erbowdle” ; citing Bureau County, Illinois, certified copy or abstract of vital records, issued 9 August 1999, certificate no. 98.

[10] Find a Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed & printed 10 March 2021), memorial page for Elvina Masters Cole, Find A Grave Memorial # 198838221, citing Pioneer Cemetery (Dover, Bureau, Illinois), memorial created by Good Oman,  no gravestone photo.

[11] “U.S., IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 10 March 2021), no page numer, Elvina Cole, Dover; citing The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for Illinois, 1862-1866; Series: M764; Roll: 20; Alphabetical list of persons residing in Division No. 11 Collection District no. 5 of the state of Illinois.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021 plus a grateful acknowledgement to Neal Duane Smith for his willingness to share.

Sarah’s Story –Sarah Ellen Richards Williams (1862- 1921)

In honor of Women’s History Month, I write about women in our family tree. This story is about Sarah Ellen Richards, firstborn child of Ostrander Richards and Amelia Magdelenne LaCoe, my paternal great-grandparents. My paternal grandmother, Jennie A. Richards, was the youngest child of Ostrander and Amelia (see my blog post – Mother’s Day 2017 for more information about Jennie).  Recently, one of Sarah Ellen’s descendants contacted me because of a DNA match. This contact prompted me to write Sarah’s story.

Sarah Ellen Richards, born 13 December 1862 in Newton, Pennsylvania, never met her father’s parents. Nathaniel Richards died in 1852. His 2nd wife, Sarah Ostrander, died in March 1836, shortly after Ostrander’s birth. Ostrander’s stepmother, Sarah Michaels, outlived her husband by almost 40 years. Sarah, called ‘Ella’ during her childhood, did know her mother’s parents – William Anthony LaCoe (1820-1910) and Sybil Rone Ash (1825-1901).

5generations w source and caption

By the time Sarah was five years old, her family moved to Lenawee County, Michigan, where her sister, Mary Amelia, was born in September 1867. [1] Sarah became big sister to three more siblings in Michigan: William Ostrander, born July 1870; Addie LaCoe, born November 1873; and Ora Nathaniel, born August 1876. The family moved back to Pennsylvania, specifically Newton in Lackawanna County, in spring of 1877.  [2] Two more siblings were born in Ransom – Leslie Frank, born in August 1881, and Jennie A., born January 1884.  The 1880 census taker found Ella Richards working as a servant for a family in Newton, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania, and still living close to her parents. [3]

Sarah experienced the deaths of one sister and two of her brothers. Mary Amelia Richards, age 11, died October, 1878. William Ostrander Richards died in January, 1883 at age 13. Ora Nathaniel Richards died in August 1893 at 17 years of age. Ostrander and Amelia are buried next to Ora.  [4]  These deaths occurred when Sarah was a teenager and young adult. How did they affect her? My guess is that Sarah and her remaining three siblings grew closer together as their immediate family size shrank.

sticky note Luzerne countyOn to a happier note- the marriage of Sarah Ellen Richards and Charles Curtis Williams  on 28 July 1882. [5]  Charles, also born in December, 1862, was the son of Britain ‘Bart’ Williams and his 2nd wife, Catherine McMillan. Charles lived in or near Ransom, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania throughout his life.

TRIVIA TIME Charles’ half-sister, Arminda/ Araminta L. Williams, married John Francis LaCoe, 8th child of William Anthony LaCoe and Sybil Rone Ash, who are also Sarah Ellen Richards’ grandparents. So, the blood relationship between Charles’ children and Arminda’s children is twofold:  first cousins on the Williams  side and first cousins, once removed on the LaCoe side.   

Sarah and Charles became parents of six children[6]:

  1. Pearl Edna, born 25 December 1884. (Pearl holds her daughter, Leah, and stands next to her mother, Ellen, in the FIVE GENERATION picture above).
  2. Willie H, born 12 July 1888. Died 29 July 1889.
  3. Isabelle Mae (or Myrtle) , born 22 November 1890. (Isabelle is my DNA match’s paternal grandmother).
  4. Walter Harry, born 9 December 1893.
  5. Myrtle Ellen, born 17 February 1896.
  6. James W., born 28 Jan 1898.

Lackawanna Luzerne counties 1894 from Library of Congress

Map of Luzerne & Lackawanna Counties, ca 1894.

Source:  G. Wm. Baist, Atlas of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys and map of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, Penna. : from actual surveys, official records & private plans (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1894); digital images, Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/item/2006627639/  : accessed 11 March  2018).

The family continued to live in West Abington, Lackawanna County, during the early decades of the twentieth century. [7] [8] [9].  Marriages occurred and grandchildren were born:

June 1904:  Pearl Edna Williams married Lewis Allen Clark, also from Lackawanna County.  Lewis and Pearl had 4 children.

March 1914:  Isabelle M. Williams married Harry Franklin VanDeMark, also from Lackawanna County.  Isabelle and Harry had 10 children.

September 1917:  Walter Harry Williams married Kathryn Francis Alexander, also from Lackawanna County.  Walter and Kathryn had 2 children.

May 1919:  James M. Williams married Agnes Streeter, born in New York.  James and Agnes lived in Detroit, Michigan in 1920[10] and moved back to Lackawanna County by 1930. [11] James and Agnes had one child.  James’ occupation as ‘repairman, motor co’ (as reported on 1920 census) probably explains the move to Detroit.

April 1927:  Myrtle Ellen married George Elmer Jacoby, also from Lackawanna County.  Myrtle and George had one child.  After George’s death in 1929, Myrtle married Maurice Jolly Black, a widower. [12] Myrtle and Maurice had one child.

Charles supported his family by farming, an honorable occupation. Weather often determined the success or failure of crops and, subsequently, the family’s welfare.   One event, the Great Blizzard of 1888, probably affected them.  The blizzard dumped several feet of snow on the northeast coast from March 11 to March 14, 1888.  Entire pages of local newspapers reported the effects on everything.  Read the Wilkes-Barre newspaper of March 18:

Sarah attended the weddings of four children. She witnessed the births of 10 of her 18 grandchildren.

How did World War I affect the family?  One son (Walter Harry) and two sons-in-law (Lewis Allen Clark and Harry F. VanDeMark) registered for the draft in 1917.  Service records for these men prove more elusive. I haven’t found records to confirm whether they actually served or not. Perhaps one of their descendants has that information.

Then, tragedy struck the family. Sarah Ellen Richards Williams died on 17 December 1921 at the age of 59.  Cause of death?  Lobar pneumonia.  [13]

pneumonic lung ca 1920

Pamphlet published 1920 by Denver Chemical Mfg Co, New York City. Image found on Pinterest.

Did you know that antibiotic treatment for pneumonia did not begin until the 1930s? For more information, read this article:
The Changing Fate of Pneumonia as a Public Health Concern in 20th Century America and Beyond. American Journal of Public Health, vol. 95, issue 12, December 2005, 2144-2154.  Available online:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1449499/

By 1930, widower Charles Curtis had married  Bertha J _____. [14] Charles died on 6 August 1930 in Dalton, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania. [15] Burial followed three days later at Fairlawn Cemetery in Dalton. Sarah’s death certificate does not contain the name of the cemetery. However, Sarah is probably also buried in Fairlawn Cemetery. A death certificate for Bertha Jane Williams, age 84, widow, who died 18 February 1951 is likely that of 64-year-old Bertha J. Williams listed with Charles in the 1930 census. Her maiden name was White. [16]

Sarah would not qualify as a ‘real woman’ on today’s reality television show. However, her life appears to be typical of many women in the early 20th century. Farmers primarily sought to provide food for their own family and, sometimes, sold the extra. Women gave birth to, cared for and buried children while keeping house. Many kept a small vegetable garden for the family. Some women also educated their children.  The woman/ wife/ mother kept the family together and, as such, became the cornerstone of American family life.

Women’s rights were hotly debated during the period of Sarah’s life. How did she feel about the issue? Was Sarah a suffragette?  The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified on August 18, 1920, granted American women the right to vote. Did Sarah ever vote? I don’t have an answer to these questions.

Sarah’s descendants number over 200.  Although not rich or famous, Sarah had an impact  on families living in and near Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION:  I wrote about Sarah Ellen Richards because of the DNA match. Her story affected me more than I expected. Women like her definitely provide the backbone of our society, particularly in rural areas but also in the cities. Her death at the age of 59 was due to a disease that is now readily treated and rarely fatal in someone that young. Yes, now that I am retired, 59 seems young. I am a Registered Nurse so I am familiar with pneumonia and its effects. I also realized that there is so much more to everyone’s story than what is found in census and other records.  As I wrote, I searched for events that may have impacted Sarah and her family.  I learned about the Great Blizzard of 1888 and discovered more online sources for maps. Distractions by BSOs (bright shiny objects) occurred only 3-4 times.

What helped? Having basic information about the family from the LaCoe family history and my own prior research.  Primarily, I research my direct line ancestors and have not ventured far into the sibling lines.  Improved research practices learned through Genealogy Do-Over also helped.

What didn’t help? Not starting a research log for Sarah and Charles before starting to write. I didn’t “know what I didn’t know” when I started.  Entering data on personal family tree is not the same as entering the same information plus an analysis of the information on the research log. I had to stop multiple times to locate information or a particular record.

Future plans:  Start or review research log before beginning to write about any person. Identify gaps and issues. Pose questions as I write.  Will I write about Sarah’s other siblings – Addie LaCoe Richards and Leslie Frank Richards?  Maybe.

Sources:

[1] 1870 U.S. Census, Lenawee County, Michigan, population schedule, Woodstock, p. 8 (penned), dwelling 66, family 65, Ostrander Richards age 33, farmer; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 1 July 2010); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication M593_686.

[2]  Susan A. LaCoe, Lenay LaCoe Blackwell, and Velma Sue Miller, compilers/ updaters, Commemorative Record of LaCoe Family: Containing Biographical Sketches and Genealogy. Illustrated. 1750-2010, Martha L. LaCoe, compiler of first edition, edition 2010 (Pennsylvania: Privately published, 2010), p. 12.

[3] 1880 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Newton, enumeration district (ED) 42, p. 8D(penned), p. 331 (stamped on previous page), dwelling 55, family 55, Ella Richards 17, servant; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 11 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T9, roll 1138.

[4] Milwaukee Cemetery (Ransom Twp, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania), marker for Richards- Ostrander, Amelia and Ora; personally read and photographed, 13 August 2017.

[5] J.B. Stephens, compiler, History and Directory of Newton and Ransom Townships, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania (Montrose, Pennsylvania: J.B. Stephens, 1912), p. 216; digital images, Penn State University, Penn State University Libraries, digital collections (https://collection1.libraries.psu.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/digitalbks2/id/20993/rec/2 : accessed & printed 8 June 2010).

[6] LaCoe, Blackwell & Miller, Commemorative Record of LaCoe Family, pp. 34-40.

[7] 1900 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, West Abington, enumeration district (ED) 123, p. 19A (penned), dwelling 2, family 2, Sarah E. Williams wife, 37; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 2 February 2015); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T623_1422.

[8] 1910 U.S Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, West Abington Twp, enumeration district (ED) 148, p. 8A (penned), dwelling 122, family 124, Chas E Williams head, 47; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 17 January 2015); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T624.

[9] 1920 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, West Abington, enumeration district (ED) 58, p. 5A (penned), dwelling 27, families 28 & 29, Williams Chas. E., head, 57 and Williams Walter H, head, 26; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 17 January 2015); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T625_1577.

[10] 1920 census for James & Agnes. 1920 U.S. Census, Wayne County, Michigan, population schedule, Detroit Ward 21, enumeration district (ED) 647, p. 7A (penned), James Williams; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 10 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T625_819.

[11]  1930 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Dalton, enumeration district (ED) 35-123, p. 9A (penned), dwelling 223, family 229, James M. Williams; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 10 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626.

[12] LaCoe, Blackwell & Miller, Commemorative Record of LaCoe Family, p. 39.

[13] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1924,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 17 January 2015), Death certificate # 120158 for Sarah E. Williams.

[14] 1930 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Dalton, enumeration district (ED) 0123, p. 6B(penned), dwelling 155, family 160, Williams Charles C.; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 17 May 2015); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington,D.C., microfilm publication T626, roll 2048.

[15]  Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966,” digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 10 March 2018), Death certificate # 77489 (1930) for Charles C. Williams.

[16] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966,” digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com:   accessed & downloaded 10 March 2018) Death certificate #  13170 (1951) for Bertha Jane Williams.

Elegy to Elizabeth  A. Hayes Ellerbee

In honor of Women’s History Month, I write about women in our family tree. This story is about Elizabeth A. Hayes Ellerbee from Alabama, my husband’s paternal great-great grandmother.

Elizabeth took a chance marrying Jim Ellerbee. She knew his story.  Along with other young men from Georgia, Jim joined the army of the Confederate States of America in 1861. He left his wife, Sarah Bailey, and their two young children in the care of her father, Judge William Bailey.  Rumor has it that Sarah’s stepmother, Indiana Cherry, Judge Bailey’s 3rd  wife, “did not like her step-daughter and step-children, so she had them move out of the house and into the slave quarters. . . .” [1] Sarah died before Jim returned home in June, 1865. A slave woman greeted Jim with his children, 6-year-old Sarah and 4-year-old William.

In November, 1865, Elizabeth A. Hayes, 21 years old, married James John Ellerbee, six years her senior, a widower, and father of two young children. How did Elizabeth and John know each other?  Elizabeth, born in Alabama in 1844,  and her family probably lived in the same county as Jim Ellerbee.

Elizabeth gave birth to 7 children during their 12-year marriage.  One child, John Uzemer, lived only 3 years and died in Georgia.[2]  James John Ellerbee died in December 1877, leaving Elizabeth with eight children, ages newborn to 10 years:  Asa (age 9 months); Wright (age 4); Barzellia (age 5); James Walter (age 8); Anna C. (age 7); Demarious (age 10); William (age 16) and Sarah (age 18).

The year 1880 – three years since her husband died. Jim’s oldest son, William Green Ellerbee (born 1861) followed his grandfather to Cherokee County, Texas, in the late 1870s.[3]  He must have corresponded with his stepmother.  Within a few years, William returned to Calhoun County, Georgia, and resided there with his sister. [4]  Elizabeth, now 33 years old, supported her family  as a field hand, possibly the only type of work available to her. Her two oldest children, 13-year-old Demarious and 10-year-old Anna, also worked as field hands in Early County, Georgia[5].  Elizabeth’s mother, 67 year old Moses Hayes, lived with them and cared for the younger children. The family’s situation can only be described as difficult.

Within a year or two, William moved his sister, stepmother and her children from southeastern Georgia to eastern Texas. [6] Elizabeth’s six children now ranged in age from 3 to 14 years old. Traveling in a covered wagon, the 700+ mile journey took 6-8 weeks. They possibly followed the south’s Old Federal Road through Alabama and Mississippi, crossing the Missisippi River at either Natchez, Missisippi, or Shreveport, Louisiana.

The next decades presented some stability for Elizabeth, her children and stepchildren. Two more of her children (Anna C. and Barzellia) died between 1880 and 1900.   “She managed her household with frugality and she educated her several children very well despite the hard times that prevailed everywhere.” [7]  . Marriages and the birth of grandchildren occurred in or near Cherokee County, Texas:

  • May 1888- William Green Ellerbee married Mary Ann Gulledge;  7 children.
  • November 1888 – Sarah Alice Ellerbee married John Grum Martin; 6 children.
  • January 1895 – James Walter Ellerbee married Katharine Deborah Powell;  6 children.
  • January 1898- Demarious Albina Ellerbee married Thomas Blanton; 7 children.
  • 1906 – Asa Alexander Ellerbee married Laura B. Lester; 3 children. They moved to Leflore County, Oklahoma by 1910.  Asa later moved to Oklahoma City, where he died.
  • About 1932 – Wright Roswell Ellerbee married Laura B. Lester; 1 child.

With one exception (Asa), all of these families remained close to Elizabeth. [8] [9]

Elizabeth A Hayes EllerbeeElizabeth Hayes Ellerbee died on March 25, 1917 in Cherokee County, Texas. She was buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery at Wells, Texas. Many of her descendants are also buried there.

Elizabeth Hayes Ellerbee ‘s life was full of unexpected events, some happy and some sad.  At the age of 21, she assumed responsibility for a husband, shattered by war and the death of his first wife, and his two children. She lost her husband after only 12 years of marriage. She gave birth to seven children and buried three of them.  She appears to have had close relationships with both of her stepchildren.  She left familiar surroundings in Georgia, traveling 700+ miles to post-Civil War Texas to pursue a better life for herself and her family.  Overall, I see her as a woman who took chances and left a legacy of hope for her descendants.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION

I rediscovered Elizabeth’s story during creation of an Ellerbee scrapbook for my father-in-law’s 80th birthday in January, 2018. What a wonderful story for my blog!  Women’s History Month in March is the perfect time to publish it. I began to appreciate the challenges and hardships faced by Elizabeth as I dug deeper into the records. She had to be strong to endure. She may say, “I did it for my children” and think little about the sacrifices that she made.  She met the challenges of being a single parent for her children and stepchildren. I am sure that she got discouraged at times.

Taking on the role of ‘man of the house’ had to be difficult for 17-year-old William. How I wish I knew more about the slave woman who cared for Jim and Sarah’s children after Sarah’s death. That is a story to be discovered! Secondary benefit: meeting one of my genealogy goals for the year to tell more stories about my husband’s family.

What I learned:  always more in the records to be discovered. Look beyond names & dates. I learned about the “Old Federal Road” which could have been the route taken from southwest Georgia to east Texas.

What was helpful: having records semi-organized and easy to locate for review.  Demarious’ Bible records sent to me last year by one of her descendants.  Research and commentary about the family in The Ellerbe Family History.

Not helpful: Nothing I can think of at this moment.

To-Do List:  Confirm death dates & locations for Anna and Barzellia.

 For more information about the Old Federal Road:

The Old Federal Road in Alabama:  http://oldfederalroad.aum.edu/

South’s Old Federal Road https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_Overland_Travel_1784_to_1839,_National_Road,_Old_Federal_Road,_Chicago_Road_(National_Institute)#The_South.E2.80.99s_Old_Federal_Road

Wagon trains to Texas:  http://www.genealogy.com/forum/regional/states/topics/ms/8044/

Archaeological Survey of the Old Federal Road in Alabama:     https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gregory_Waselkov/publication/259398790

Henry DeLeon Southerland & Jerry Elijah Brown. The Federal Road through Georgia.   Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1989.

Jeffrey C. Benton (compiler). The Very Worst Road: Travellers Accounts of Crossing Alabama’s Old Creek Indian Territory, 1820-1847. Tucscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama, 2009.

REFERENCES: 

[1] Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1986), p. 14-43.

[2] Family data, Demarious Albina Ellerbee Family Bible, Holy Bible, (New York: American Bible Society, 1876); original owned in October 2016 by Darby Blanton, [address for private use], Darby is descendant of Demarious Ellerbee & Thomas Blanton.

[3] Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, p. 14-43.

[4] 1880 U.S. Census, Calhoun County, Georgia, population schedule, District 626, enumeration district (ED) 4, p. 420B, dwelling 351, family 347, Sarah Elerbrie [Ellerbee] 20; digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed, downloaded, printed 3 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administratin, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9_0136.

[5] 1880 U.S. Census, Early Co, Georgia, pop. sch., Damascus, enumeration district (ED) 026, p. 214A, family #, Elizabeth Eleby [Ellerbee] ; digital images, Ancestry (http;;//www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 4 September 2011); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication T9, Roll 144.

[6] Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, p. 14-43.

[7] Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, p. 14-43.

[8]  1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, pop. sch., Justice Pct 8, enumeration district (ED) 30, p. 284A (printed), Family #21, John G. Martin (head) [wife, Sarah A. Ellerbee + 6 children]; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : downloaded & printed 4 September 2011); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Roll: T623_1619.  On same page: Family #22: Will R Ellesbee [Wright R. Ellerbee], head, 24; Elizabeth A. Ellesbee [Ellerbee], 58; Asa Ellesbee [Ellerbee], 23 ; Family #23: James W. Ellesbee [Ellerbee], wife Catherine + 2 children. Elizabeth is recorded as the mother of 7 children, 4 still living.

[9] 1910 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 8, enumeration district (ED) 0024, p. 14B (penned), dwelling 272, family 272, Ellerbee E (head), 60, wd; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 3 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T624_1538.