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Month: January 2009

Old Clark Stones

Old Clark Stones


This is the stone of Rev. David and Sarah “Sallie” Winans Clark in Mt. Pulaski Cemetery. No, I can’t read it either anymore but back when you could it was read and it says:

Sally Wife of Rev. David Clark and Daugh. of Samuel and Hannah Woodruff died Dec 3, 1843 by the 54th year of her age
Also Rev. David Clark Born Aug 28, 1776 Died Jan 6, 1847 In the 72d year of his age

Nice of them to include the genealogy on the stone.

This stone is standing thanks to the work of Eagle Scouts from the area who, as a project, righted and stabilized stones in that old area of the cemetery.


There are other Clark stones in the area including this one for their son Rev. Richard Clark. It is only a seven years younger but it has survived better than the other stone.

I took these pictures but if you have an ancestor buried in the Mt. Pulaski Cemetery it is likely you can get Jane DeWitt of the Mt. Pulaski Township Historical Society to take a picture of their stone for you.

Some Old Clarks

Some Old Clarks

Lida Harding Downing’s mother Mary Ellen was a Clark. Her father was Rev. Richard Clark, son of Rev. David Clark and Sarah Winans. Her mother was Margaret Clark, son of John Winans and Ann “Nancy” Isgrig Clark. John and Rev. David were brothers. Did I mention the mother of Rev. David and John Winans Clark was also a Sarah Winans and their father was also a David Clark? You really need a genealogy program to keep the Clarks [and Winans] straight.

The Clarks, whether ministers or not, were active in founding Methodist churches. David, John and another brother Isaac came to Illinois in the 1820s, spreading the word as they had in Ohio. Isaac went to Fulton County.

The above is said to be the adult children of John Winans and Ann “Nancy” Isgrig Clark. That would be Margaret on the right in the back. If it is those children [and it most likely is] they did not age gracefully. Margaret died in 1867 at the age of 59. Hannah had died the year earlier at the age of 61. That means the picture was taken before October 1866. Hannah and Margaret were the oldest so those “old” men were even younger as were the other women. Mary, in the lower right hand corner, would only be 44.

John Winans Clark died in 1859. The Rev. David and Sarah Winans Clark had been dead for more than 12 years by then. Ann “Nancy” Clark died on December 8, 1867, and her daughter Margaret Clark Clark died less than two weeks later on the 21st. Lida was not yet born. This may account for the lack of strong connection to the Clarks that is obvious is some later correspondence.

Daniel Harding

Daniel Harding


Benjamin Harding was born June 7, 1836, in Belmont County, Ohio. He fought in the Civil War in the 106th Illinois, lived in Logan County, moved to Iowa with all but one of his adult children in 1894. He died there June 29, 1915. He married Mary Ellen Clark on March 30, 1866, in Logan County. She was the daughter of the Rev. Richard Clark and his wife Margaret Ann Clark Clark. There were five children, only two of whom had descendants. One was Lida Harding. She’s on the left in the picture.

Benjamin Harding came to Logan County with his parents Daniel and Elizabeth Wilson Harding. They were married March 21, 1822, in Belmont County, Ohio. It is believed there were 13 children, including at least one set of twins, although we only know about six of them and what we know about five of those is very little. We know six married in Logan County, two into the Clark family. Some researchers have concluded that the other seven died before reaching adulthood. They apparently did not go to Illinois.

We know nothing about Elizabeth except she told the 1880 census taker she was born in Virginia as were her parents. Virginia at the time of her birth [October 30, 1801] included territory north into Pennsylvania and west into the unknown.

Daniel was also born in Virginia, on April 29, 1798. He died August 19, 1869, in Logan County, Illinois, so he didn’t get to tell the census taker where his parents were born.

Harding is a very common name. It is also spelled Hardin, Harden, etc., often in the same family. One of the theories is Daniel was the son of John Bennett Hardin, baptised in Stafford County, Virginia, in 1761. He was the son of William Harding and Clarissa Million.

John Bennett Hardin was living in Belmont County, Ohio, in 1820 as was Daniel. John Bennett Hardin was living in Knox County, Ohio, in 1830 and died there on August 18, 1849. Daniel was living in Knox County at least by 1838. He was living there in 1850 after which he left for Illinois. John Bennett Hardin had a son named Daniel whose birth date is the same as Daniel Harding’s. No proof has been located.

Abe and Me

Abe and Me

Where I come from is closely associated with Abraham Lincoln. “You can tell you are from Logan County because every school trip for 12 years was to Lincoln something.” [There are several counties which could say the same.] In addition, we had one of the two remaining courthouses where he practiced in town. Unfortunately after they moved the actual court a fire destroyed most of the records from that time.

As a result I confess I am not terribly interested in one A. Lincoln. While others were trying to find a connection I was happy not to have one. My ancestors were farming, not spending time in court…or if they were it will remain secret because the records were destroyed.

2009 is the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. Work has been going on for several years. It caused two web sites of interest to be created. One is the Lincoln Papers and the other is the Lincoln Log.

On July 10, 1834, in Sangamon now Logan County the Rev. Michael Mann married Thomas Lucas and Mary Turner. They had 10 or maybe 11 children before she died.

Mary had a brother named Spencer Turner. He lived in neighboring DeWitt County. Spencer Spencer liked his alcoholic beverages. One cold night, ironically April 15, in 1840 Spencer hit a fellow drinking buddy named Matthew K. Martin. Martin died on April 18 and my 3rd great granduncle became the first man charged with first degree murder in DeWitt County.

Spencer hired the legal team of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas defended him. Turner admitted that he hit Martin, saying Martin was drunk and made insulting remarks about Turner’s wife Nancy Hoblit. Lincoln and Douglas argued that Martin did not die from the assault but from alcoholism or exposure to bad weather. The court agreed and issued a not guilty verdict.

The Turner-Lincoln connection did not end there. As the Lincoln Papers and Lincoln Log show, their relationship would drag on for several years.

Spencer did not pay his legal fees. In October 1841 Lincoln sued for $200. He eventually got a judgment but could not collect. Douglas also sued and, for whatever reason, Spencer paid Douglas.

After the matter dragged on for some time Turner and Lincoln reached an agreement. He offered Lincoln a horse in exchange for the fees due and Lincoln accepted. The horse soon went blind.

Lincoln died on April 15, 1865, the victim of an assassin’s bullet. Spencer Turner died, presumably peacefully, on April 26, 1896, at the age of 79.

Where’s Callie?

Where’s Callie?

The Case of the Missing Poet

Decatur Daily News, Decatur, Il, Thursday, 30 July 1914

WRITER OF VERSE DIES
Miss Callie Harcourt of Chestnut, well known in this locality for her writing of verses, died suddenly Wednesday morning at her home.

That’s all the researcher knows. His original question was why couldn’t he find her listed at Laenna Cemetery in Chestnut.

Callie’s father Stillwell, who was still alive at the time of Callie’s death, is buried there. He died July 11, 1926. Also buried at Laenna are G. W. and Caroline Harcourt. The dates on their stones would lead me to think they are Stillwell’s parents, Callie’s grandparents. Caroline died in 1922, days short of her 88th birthday. Callie clearly had surviving family members.

A search of my records seems to indicate Callie is not buried at Laenna nor anywhere else in the county.

Upon inquiry, the research stated Stillwell was a piano tuner and salesman for the Kimball Piano Company in Chicago. He held a number of patents for improvement to the piano. The mother is not buried at Laenna with the father or elsewhere. Mercedes or Martha, as she sometimes went by, disappeared from family records about the same frame as Callie’s death. Phillip, Callie’s brother was born in Chicago; Dorothy, her sister, as born in Missouri; Callie was born in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. The Stillwell Harcourt family moved a great deal at the turn of the century. Callie’s siblings are not buried at Laenna.

It would seem there was a divorce — or at least Stillwell and Mercedes split — about the time of Callie’s death. Perhaps it was the precipitating event.

Death certificates were not mandatory in Illinois until 1916.

Where’s Callie?

An Airplane!

An Airplane!

On September 29, 1910, my grandmother, Ethel Ryan Downing, hitched up the buggy and took her month old son Orville [I never asked why he was named Orville. I don’t think he was named for Orville Wright but the plane was being hyped when he was born.] to town where she picked up her sister Cora Ryan Lipp, seven months pregnant. They stopped by their mother’s house but Lillie Margaret Wood Ryan absolutely refused to accompany them. She thought the plane might somehow harm her seven week old daughter, Ethel and Cora’s youngest sibling. Lillie didn’t think her daughters should go either. They weren’t afraid though and drove the buggy out to the big field on the south edge of town to see a real airplane.

There was a big race that day. The Wright Brothers bi-plane piloted by Walter Brookins, raced the Illinois Central train from Chicago to Springfield, a distance of 187 miles. Wilbur Wright was on the train. $10,000 was at stake.

The plane stopped twice to refuel, the second time in Mt. Pulaski, Illinois. Brookins lost a wheel on takeoff but he won the race.

The New York Times of September 30, 1910, proclaimed the news: Longest American Flight by Brookins; With Two Stops He Goes in Wright Biplane from Chicago to Springfield, 187 Miles. Loses Wheel, But Goes On. Declares It Was a Trying Experience. Believes Chicago to New York Race Is Practicable.

Later a pilot named Lindbergh would fly the mail over about the same the route as he flew the mail from St. Louis to Chicago with stops in Springfield and Peoria.

Ethel was one of Lida’s daughter-in-laws.

More pictures of the plane-train race here.

A Brief Marriage

A Brief Marriage

Ah the happy couple. Don’t they look blissful? I think they had pickles at the reception. This is William Nelson Downing and his bride Delilah Downing. Downing is her maiden name and no, they were not related. They were neighbors though. Two of her sisters had already married two of his brothers and, on February 27, 1862, they were married.

It didn’t last. Five months and one day later he was gone with her brother and other relatives in 106th Illinois Infantry out of Logan County, Illinois. She never saw him again. Their only son was born February 23, 1863.

William Nelson Downing died April 30, 1865, at Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Delilah’s father in law provided her with a hired man and Delilah soon married him.

Their son, William Henry Downing, grew up and married Eliza Sciota Harding – our Lida.

Warrick Cemetery Issues

Warrick Cemetery Issues

Warrick Cemetery is back in a field in West Lincoln Township less than a mile south of the Lincoln Correctional Center and the Logan Correctional Center, two “adult facilities” — in plain English they are prisons, medium security.

Warrick is a small, old family cemetery administered by the Logan County Cemetery District. Bill Stephenson, a Warrick descendant whose Black Hawk War ancestors are among those buried there, complained that the cemetery has been poorly treated.

The district is pretty good at taking care of cemeteries, even those that are rarely visited. Naturally those that get more visitors get more attention but all get mowed at least a couple times a year.

Bill told me the stones in Warrick have been pulled up and placed in a pile. This stunned me. He says he is not aware of any plot map of the cemetery so, even if the intention is to replace the stones, there is no way they can be returned to their proper location. The Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society may have some pictures but no map.

But Illinois law would seem to prohibit such removal of markers. From the “Illinois Historic Cemetery Preservation Handbook” issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency [June 2008]:

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) administers the Human Skeletal Remains Protection Act (20 ILCS 3440; 17 IAC 4170). This Act, passed in 1989, protects all unregistered graves, graves artifacts, and grave markers (including prehistoric burial mounds) that are over 100 years old and are not located in a cemetery that is registered with the State Comptroller’s Office under the Cemetery Care Act. The Human Skeletal Remains Protection Act offers protection from all disturbances including, but not limited to, excavation (including cultivation), vandalism, removal, defacement, or desecration in any way
(20 ILCS 3440/1). It is the agency’s preference that graves or cemeteries be undisturbed and preserved in place.

and further:

It is unlawful for any person or agent representing an individual to knowingly disturb or to allow the disturbance of human skeletal remains, grave artifacts, or grave markers without first obtaining a permit from the IHPA. Any violation of this Act is a Class A misdemeanor. Violators can face imprisonment of up to six months and a fine not to exceed $10,000. Any subsequent violation is a Class 4 felony (20 ILCS 3440/3-11).

I mentioned the two prisons in case the county or state is considering expansion and plans to relocate the cemetery. That has been done before. But the prisons would seem to be too far away for that to be practical and the local farmers are not aware of such a plan.

Stay tuned.

The post on Lida’s picture has been awarded the Proximidade Award by Tina Sansone of Gtownma’s Genealogy.

These blogs invest and believe in PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers, who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

Now it seems I must find eight genealogy blogs who meet the criteria. Now I have a great excuse to read more blogs!

MARRIAGE RECORDS IN HIDING

MARRIAGE RECORDS IN HIDING

A common question is “why can’t I find my ancestor’s birth/death/marriage certificate?”

The answer to no birth or death certificate is generally simple. The State of Illinois did not MANDATE such records prior to 1916. After that it is a bigger issue and the subject of a different post.

Marriage records were always required and yet many times they cannot be located.

Obviously, they may not have gotten married where you think they got married. For Illinois marriages prior to 1900 researchers are in luck. The State Archives database, online, free and searchable, lists most marriages prior to 1900. You do not have to know the exact year. You can search by bride or groom’s name, then by county or statewide.

Start your search here: http://www.ilsos.gov/GenealogyMWeb/marrsrch.html

The State Archives volunteers are working on 1900-1915.

My great grandparents have no marriage record in Illinois. I have searched statewide by their real names and assorted different spellings. I have been to the county courthouse in the county where one would assume they married and checked the county courthouse where his obit says they married. There were no courthouse fires between then and now.

Their first child was born more than nine months after the marriage, almost two years before if you believe the one census that lists it, the 1890 census being lost. [I don’t.] I can think of no reason to hide or otherwise destroy the record.

They married in the winter, Valentine’s Day. There is a formal portrait of the couple, probably not taken on the wedding day but undoubtedly shortly thereafter, before her first pregnancy was visible.

Less than 20 years later he was dead and she was left with four sons. There are court records certifying her as the widow. So where the heck is that marriage certificate?

Perhaps the minister lost the return before he had a chance to turn it in. Perhaps the clerk lost it. Perhaps it was lost sometime in the next 100 years that passed before anyone noticed it could not be found. Maybe they weren’t ever legally married. I find that idea intriguing although if it true I don’t think they or anyone else in the family knew it.

This is one of those mysteries I don’t think we will ever solve.