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Whatever happened to Jacob Bowman?

Whatever happened to Jacob Bowman?

Richard Bownam was born on October 20, 1767, in Somerset County, NJ. He married Mary Senteney and they had 10 children. By the time he was ready to draw up his will in April 1829, he was living in Hamilton County, Ohio. Apparently the first child Abraham and the last child William were deceased by that time as he does not mention them. George was living nearby in Ohio. Ezekial was in Indiana on his way to Illinois and the remaining children were in Logan County, Illinois. Three of the four girls and Ezekial were married to Lucases.

The remaining children except for Jacob that is. It is obvious from the will, which names every living child regardless of sex, that no one knows where Jacob is. Twice in the will Richard writes: “if my son Jacob return or call for his share within two years…” Richard thinks Jacob is alive and might return although he prudently makes provision for Jacob’s share if he doesn’t within two years.

All we know about Jacob is that he was born between 1802 and 1808 and that in 1829 his father did not believe he was dead. Did he run away? Did he go off on a trip and never return? I have never seen any research which finds Jacob.

It seems to have been a close family. They traveled together and lived in proximity even as adults. Four of them married into the same family, to three siblings and their cousin. After Richard’s death Mary moved to Illinois to Mt. Pulaski Township to be with her family and is buried in Steenbergen Cemetery.

So what happened to Jacob?

The Mystery of the Ashes

The Mystery of the Ashes

Buried among some discarded photographs the letter caught my eye.

It was from Charles R. Loomis of Loomis, Offers & Loomis of Buffalo, New York, to Mrs. Alma Cunningham in New York City. The date on the letter was September 24, 1943. It said: 

Dear Mrs. Cunningham: 
I have just returned from securing the permit for shipment of your sister’s ashes and for the burial of the same. Unless I am otherwise advised we will send the ashes by express to you, care of Mr. Carl Lipp, Mt. Pulaski, Illinois on Monday of next week. They should then arrive at about the same time you do. 

It seemed odd to keep such a letter so I had to track it down. I knew who Carl Lipp was, my great uncle by virtue of his marriage to my great aunt, and the letter was in their daughter’s possession. But I had no clue who Alma Cunningham was. So I dug.

Alma Vonderlieth Cresmer Cunningham was the daughter of George Vonderlieth and his wife Catherine Miller. George was a brother of Adolph who married first Elizabeth Lipp and second her sister Anna Catherine. Elizabeth and Anna were sisters to Carl Lipp. There’s the Lipp connection.

But who was Alma’s sister? A Vonderlieth. And then I knew. A quick check of dates showed Leonore Vonderlieth died May 28, 1943, in Buffalo. 

Leonore Vonderlieth, better known as Vaugh de Leath, was born September 26, 1894, in Mt. Pulaski. She was known as the “First Lady of Radio” in the 1920s and was one of the first “crooners.” One of her hits, from 1927, was a hit for a guy named Elvis years later. Hear Vaugh de Leath’s version here:

The ashes were buried in Mt. Pulaski Cemetery in the family plot with her parents and her sister Alma.

Samuel Day and Family

Samuel Day and Family

Samuel Day was the son of Mary “Polly” Matthews and her husband Thomas Day. They were married May 5, 1821, in Ohio and he died in a flood four months later in August. Samuel was born March 6, 1822. Mary’s sister Margaret was married to Samuel Downing. They had six children before she died in 1836. Mary and Samuel wed 16 months later and had two children, William Nelson and John Clark. The whole group migrated to Logan County and settled along the south side of Salt Creek on the Chester/Mt. Pulaski Township border. Also in the group were various Matthews, sometimes spelled Mathews. Mary died in 1847 and was buried in Downing Cemetery.

In 1850 Samuel is living four farms from Samuel, his uncle and stepfather, with his wife Sarah. In 1855 he is living next to Samuel. There are eight in his household. In 1860 there is a Samuel Day living in Lincoln. In the 1862 Military Census he is in Madison Precinct. In 1870 this Samuel Day is living in Aetna Township with wife Sarah, sons Thomas, 19, and John, 13, and daughters Lydia, 5, and Axey, 1/2 year. Neither he nor Sarah are in the 1880 census in Logan County or anywhere else that I could find.

Thomas is the only child who could have been counted in 1855. That leaves a total of eight children unaccounted for. What happened to this family?

A Happy Group in Mt. Pulaski

A Happy Group in Mt. Pulaski

This group of people happily posing for the camera raises so many questions. The people I can identify, which is only a handful, are all residents of Mt. Pulaski, all related in the same line and all members of the Christian Church. Since there are so few that can be identified none of those connections is necessarily the correct one. Several items, including the ages of the known people, indicate the picture was taken about 1930.

A couple years two of those I can identify were still living. Although side by side [they were cousins] in this picture they didn’t have the same story about the picture.

If you see this picture and can identify any of the people please let me know.

Where is Amanda Allender Beidler?

Where is Amanda Allender Beidler?

Henry M. Beidler was the brother of Samuel “Linn” Lindamuth Beidler of Mt. Pulaski and Dr. Jacob Hoke Beidler of Lincoln. Descendants of S. Linn Beidler owned the newspaper in Mt. Pulaski for decades.

Henry married Amanda J. Allender and they had one child, Henry Roy Biedler. Amanda died in August 1888. They were divorced at the time but Henry handled her estate. Apparently Henry thought one Frank Spears, who apparently played a part in their divorce, murdered his former wife. He put a notice in the paper saying he was having her body exhumed and an autopsy performed to find the actual cause of death.

Within days of this notice in December 1888 Frank Spears’ son shot and killed Henry Beidler. Amanda’s body disappeared before the autopsy could be done. Apparently Henry had feared someone would try to snatch the body as he had hired guards to watch over her for two days.

Henry ended up in the mausoleum but what happened to Amanda? That’s what the descendant wants to know. Research has not located any newspaper accounts saying her body was ever located. Remember, his family owned the local newspaper. That may or may not be related to the silence. Was she located and quietly buried in the mausoleum? Was the break-in at the mausoleum an attempt to steal her body again?

Can you help solve this mystery?

Who Is Buried in Biedler’s Mausoleum?

Who Is Buried in Biedler’s Mausoleum?

In Mt. Pulaski Cemetery there is a brick mausoleum. It is unique in that it is the only mausoleum in the cemetery. It is not attractive. But it is more unique because it is sealed tightly. For years I thought it was an abandoned storage building, not realizing it was the mausoleum in my grandfather’s story.

This is the mausoleum of Henry Beidler who died in December 1888. I know very little about Mr. Beidler. He escaped mention in the local histories, both contemporaneously with his life and the more recent ones. He comes from a family that married a daughter of Jabez Capps, one of the founders of Mt. Pulaski. Other members of his family were involved in publishing the local paper. He did marry and have heirs because one of them contacted me and basically wondered if I knew who is buried in Beidler’s tomb.

All I could relate is a story my grandfather told me long ago. A man was buried in the mausoleum in a coffin containing alcohol. It was supposed to be a preservative. Someone broke into the mausoleum. Officials went into the structure, opened the coffin and noted that the body was well preserved, sealed the coffin and then sealed the mausoleum. Presumably relatives were involved. That was all I knew.

Only one coffin was mentioned. The story, and the mystery, is related on the the Logan County Genealogy blog. Maybe you know something that will help a descendant find the answers.

Photos by Jane DeWitt

Rev. David Clark

Rev. David Clark

David Clark was born in New Jersey in 1776. No proof of his ancestry beyond his parents has been found. There were several Clark families in the town, so much intermarriage and so many people with the same name it is very difficult to determine the lines. Another theory is his father, also David Clark, came from Scotland to New Jersey where he married yet another Sarah Winans.

In 1799 David Clark and his brother John Winans Clark traveled to Bourbon County, Kentucky. There he married Rachel Rutter and they had two children, Samuel and Mary. Sometime before 1806 Rachel and Samuel had died and David married Sarah Winans. They were first cousins. Mary, of course, married a Winans. David Clark was an active Methodist preacher.

In 1807 Richard Winans, Rev. David Clark and Uriah Blue were the first settlers of Section 14, Staunton Township, Miami County, Ohio. Richard was Sarah’s brother, also married to a Sarah. Five children were born in Ohio. In 1829 he donated the land for the Hyattsville M. E. Church, sold his possessions to Robert Evans and they moved to Williams Township, Sangamon County, Illinois. He “settled on Wolf Creek, serving during the remainder of his life, as he had for more than twenty years before, as an acceptable and useful local preacher. He was a man of strong convictions, faithful, devout, and highly respected.” [Methodist Ministers, Vol. 1, Illinois Great Rivers Conference] Their last child was born in 1830.

Sarah died in 1843 and was buried in Mt. Pulaski Cemetery. Rev. David died in 1847. They share a stone. “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.”

They are the great grandparents of Lida.

A Real Stone

A Real Stone

Photo by Jane DeWitt

This the stone, literally, for Henry Volle at Mt. Pulaski Cemetery. Henry was born September 7, 1874, and lived for 92 years until October 3, 1965. He and his wife Margaret Horn had three children. The children grew up and moved away. I have no idea why he chose this very large rock.

Lillie Margaret Wood

Lillie Margaret Wood

Lida died before I was born. A couple great grandmothers hung around until I arrived. The one I knew most of Lillie Margaret Wood Ryan.

Lillie had a long hard life. She was a daughter of Berryman B. Wood. Her paternal grandfather was Solomon Wood, 2nd Coroner of Logan County, Illinois. Her great grandfather was Abraham Lucas saw Revolutionary War service and whose proven line goes back to the Huguenots in France. [Unproven and somewhat creative reports go to Charlemagne.]  The Lucases arrived in America in 1710. Other early ancestors were Quakers, arriving on the second voyage of the Kent. On her mother’s side she was a great great great granddaughter of the same Abraham and Marcy Kelsey Lucas.  Marcy’s father served in the Revolutionary War and her Kelsey ancestors arrived in New England in 1631.

As previously mentioned, Berryman B. Wood was not a great provider. While the family was in Kansas for a few years Lillie met Edward Daniel Ryan, son of a neighboring farmer, and they married. When her parents returned to Illinois the newlyweds remained.

That went sour fast. Apparently there was a major disagreement over the religion of their first child, daughter Sarah Catherine. Lillie came from a long line of early adopters of the “new religion.” Daniel and his family were Catholics, the religion her ancestors left. His parents came from Ireland as toddlers. Apparently they failed to discuss this prior to the marriage. There was no compromise.

In the 18 months between their first and second child the couple packed up a covered wagon and moved to Mt. Pulaski, Logan County, Illinois, where Lillie’s family lived. They never saw his family or any relative again although we know he received correspondence from his mother. His father died within two years of their departure.


Lillie and Daniel had 10 children, eight of whom survived childhood.  They never had much. Edward took up drinking although he worked every day there was work. According to my grandfather, who never had a drop of liquor in his life, his father-in-law put in a good full day’s work every day and closed the bar each night before rolling home to begin all over again.

In 1950, a few days before Christmas, Daniel died while exchanging gifts with his youngest daughter. He was 85. They buried him on Christmas Eve beside her parents and in the shadow of her maternal ancestors. Shortly thereafter Lillie took to her bed. For a few years she got away with it, her children and grandchildren coming in to cook and clean. Eventually she went to the Christian nursing home. On Christmas Eve 1956 Lillie died at the age of 85.