Monday, May 18, 2015

The History of Clinton County, Iowa: Containing a History of the County, Its Cities, Towns &c., Biographical Sketches of Citizens

Front CoverThe Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society recently held a "Night at the Library" event. The purpose was to give access to the Davenport Public Library's Richardson-Sloan special collection for interested family historians. The special collection is available during normal library hours, but this was an evening when the library is normally closed. And for a modest fee the society also provided an evening meal. Volunteers were on hand to give advice and assist with research.
Since I have visited this collection quite a few times, I did not expect to find a lot of new information, but I did find an interesting book that gave a few more details about the first Langford to arrive in Clinton County, Oscar's brother Charles Elliot Langford.
In the chapter concerning Elk River Township " On the 8th of July 1839 the following settlers were in the township:
Arthur Smith
Otis Bennet
CE Langford
Levi Shadduck
David Shadduck
George Hollis
John Hollis
James Mclntire
0 A Crary
Josepii McCrary
John Carr
William Alexander
William Dinwoodie
Martin Toel
Michael Toel
George Griswold
Alfred Brown
Thomas Calderwood
Daniel Smith
James Leonard Sr
Robert Cruthers
William Smilley 

This further suggests that the Shadducks were likely related to Charles Elliot Langford's first spouse, Hannah Shadduck. And, the Griswold name makes it likely these were relatives of Oscar's foster folks. In another part of the book, it mentions that the native Americans were still living in Elk River Township until the fall of 1839. This coincides with Charles account of having made claim on the land before the native Americans had moved off of it.

Another excerpt is here:
In 1841 Messrs Calderwood & Dinwiddie commenced the erection of a saw mill on the Elk River on Section 18 Township 83 north Range 7 east. After two failures resulting from the imperfection of the water wheels Mr Dinwiddie withdrew from the firm Mr Calderwood however succeeded late in the fall of 1842 in completing a mill that was of ample capacity for the wants of the locality The supply of timber being good plenty of Government land lumber was shipped to Galena and various other points for wagon building etc until 1850 when Mr Calderwood went to California selling the mill shortly after to Mr CE Langford who operated it for several years and there laid the foundation for the present extensive and first class steam saw mill owned by himself and Mr Hall in Fulton.

And there were a few other references about the Langford family as well. Charles served on the first jury in Clinton County and Orange Langford's Civil War service is also noted. It was a successful night at the library.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Update on Harriet Langford McGinnis

Until this week, the trail on Harriet went cold after the death of her husband, Alexander Stuart McGinnis. He died in Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1897. Harriet is found still living there in the 1900 Federal Census. It seemed likely that she also passed away between the 1900 and 1910 Federal Census, but I could find no records of such. So I put the issue aside for awhile.

One of the many new places I have looked for resources and help has been various genealogy related groups with Facebook Pages. I joined several of these groups in recent months:
Genealogy: Lost and Found
St. Louis Genealogical Society
Missouri Genealogy Network
Colorize Old Pictures
Your Genealogy Brick Walls
Genealogy and Historical Databases
US Gen Web Project
Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

It was in this last Facebook group that I posted a note looking for help on finding Harriet and Alexander's burial place and Harriet's death record at 11:30 PM night before last.

The response to my request was impressive. Almost 17,000 people belong to this group and some are very knowledgeable. Lucky for me, a couple of those folks grabbed the issue. I got responses including links to newspaper articles with both of their obituaries, links to records of Alexander's death of pneumonia and his burial at Union Cemetery in Coshocton County, a copy of a newspaper article reporting Harriet's death of old age in 1904 at the county Asylum. I quickly ordered both obituaries from the Coshocton County library.

It turns out that both Tunnel Hill and Smith's Hill are now both part of Union Cemetery where their son Walter is also buried.

The whole process took less than an hour. I was, and still am, amazed and very grateful.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Start of the Book

 One of the genealogy blogs I follow offered a challenge for February. Lynn Palermo began a writing challenge to encourage people to begin to write their family histories. I took this to heart and wrote the very first part of the book about the Langford family. So far, I have gotten pretty positive feedback along with a few really good suggestions. Here is what I have so far;

Oscar’s first memories were of his loving Griswold family. Pa Griswold had a farm near Fredonia, New York near the border with Pennsylvania. When Oscar was old enough to be a helper, he was Pa’s “cow” boy.  He would help milk the cows and feed them. It was, for about ten years, an idyllic childhood near the beautiful Lake Erie.

Oscar was sent to school at the big red school house in Laona, where he made many friends. As he reached his teens, Oscar became strong enough to help with the heavier work on the farm. There was a lot of wood chopping as every house needed firewood and Pa had lots of trees.

While he had many schoolmates there was one older girl who checked on him regularly. Oscar really liked her and was happy whenever Jeanette Walker came around.

Oscar also liked to read the local paper and was fascinated by the news. There was a lot going on in the country in 1850: westward expansion, Indian Wars, talk of ending slavery. It was in the paper one day that Oscar read about Jeanette’s upcoming marriage to a cabinet maker from Fredonia that Oscar knew, Peter Wise. But, her name was not Walker. It was Langford.

Oscar asked Ma and Pa how this could be so confused. He was 13 now so they sat him down and explained. When Oscar was about three years old, his mother, Fannie Mansfield Langford, died and the Griswolds took him in as their own. Jeanette was his sister and had been taken in by the Walker family. Oscar was still confused but he was very happy to learn that the older girl that came to visit was his sister! Oscar asked about his father but the Griswolds only knew that he left the area. But, Oscar had family.

Jeanette filled him in on the many brothers and sisters that he had, although they were scattered across the rapidly-expanding country by this time. Some had left before he was born. Two of the other young boys were also raised by families nearby. Oscar quickly discovered that he was part of a much bigger family and he couldn’t wait to learn all about them.

From that day forward, Oscar went by the name “Oscar Langford”.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


Eliza, can we talk? 
I have spent a lot of time looking for you. I know that you are one of Oscar's older sisters. You were born about 1817, possibly on one of Charles jaunts to Canada. But you seem to be able to dodge me at every turn. Oscar has helped. He told me that he met you for the first time in Monroe, Wisconsin, probably in the mid 1850s. But that's about it.
Cousins have provided a little more information including several possible married names and at least one other possible location.
On the back of some old pictures one cousin wrote that you might have lived in Unique, Iowa. Unique is now officially a ghost town according to Wikipedia.  And, unlike some of your siblings' locations, Unique is a long way from Clinton or Davenport.
How did you get married without leaving some kind of record behind, somewhere? Did you have children? How come no one has a birth or baptismal record for them?
I have looked, and looked and looked, but you still elude me. I have done searches in every place that I know, but no Eliza. 

So, I thought I better ask you directly if you can help me discover your story. One more solid clue, is all I ask. People are indexing new records every day for and Have one of them index a record that gives us the answer we need. Or send me back over some plowed ground where I missed a seed.
I know that Oscar wants me to find you and include your story. And, I believe, that Charles, your father, would want your life recorded. This Langford family story is waiting to be told so that every one, torn apart by the challenges of their times, can be brought together again. This time, we are not leaving anyone behind on their own. 
Just like all your brothers and sisters have done, help me.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Deciphering Old Pictures

Langford cousin Pierce Eichelberger provided a wealth of old pictures passed down in the family. Some had names on the back, others did not. Some had names of the photographer and studio, and some had the town name where taken.

The easy ones to figure out have already been posted. Here are a few more that I have tried to decipher.

I believe that this may be Peter Wise and the two daughters that he had with Jeanette Langford, Delia and Mary. I think this because it was taken in Clinton, Iowa, and the ages look about right. Jeanette and Peter also had a son, James Henry Wise, and it is possible that this is a picture of the three children. I am not very good at estimating ages.

Here is another picture that was labelled with only Wise on the back. It was taken in Winona, Minnesota, which makes it unusual.

Another picture which I think I have figured out is below.This was taken by a photographer in Boone, Iowa. The only Langford family to reside in Boone were descendants of Jane Langford and Merritt Allen. Their daughter Mary married MJ Mann and had several children.
This I believe is their son, Harry Mann. He can be found living in Boone from 1910 or earlier until 1940.
He and his wife Cora had two daughters, Neve and Dolly. The pictures below were all taken in Boone as well and may be their children at various ages:

And the three pictures below were all taken in Clinton or Lyons, Iowa. They are almost certainly relations of the Langfords in some way.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

More on the McGinnis Family

I looked further into the descendant of Oscar's sister Harriet and her husband Alexander McGinnis. They had one grandson, Walter Raymond, who we had lost track of after 1900 when he was living with Harriet on the family farm. Here is some more detail about Walter's life.

In 1918, Walter registered for the World War I Draft in Omaha, Nebraska. He listed his wife as "Nellie" and their address as 110 Golden. His occupation was Refrigeration Engineer for the Pilsbury-Becker Engineering Company with offices in the Central National Bank Building. He listed his height and weight as medium and said he had blue eyes and red hair.

In the 1919 Tulsa City Directory, Walter is now Manager of the same engineering company and his wife is "Nellie" again.

In the 1929 Houston City Directory, Walter is listed as Vice-President of Marine Service, Inc. living at 3812 Austin Street Apt 3. with his wife "Ellen".

In the 1930 Census, he is living with his wife now listed as "Helen" who is 40 years old and who was born in New Mexico. They also have two 23 year old roomers living with them, Nora Mae Clements and Alpha Barnes.

It also appears that Walter's 1952 death was big news big news back in Ohio. I discovered his death was on page 1 of the Coshocton Tribune. I suspect that his mother Bianca stayed in the Coshocton area and he visited regularly. I have sent away for a copy of the article. This should provide any information about his children, if any, and answer the question of his wife's correct name.

I obtained this article and can add this last note. The article described the death of a famous son of Coshocton. He was well known there because his wife's family continued to live in the area. His wife had died before him and it listed no children as surviving him. Apparently, this was the end of Harriet Langford's line.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Oscar's sister, Harriet Langford McGinnis

Pictured above about 1870, is Harriet Langford McGinnis, sister to Oscar Langford. Harriet came west with her father, Charles, to Iowa, in the early 1840s. Likely, she was the one who ran the household as one of the last older daughters still at home when they moved. In the 1850 census she is listed as living with the Hann (or Hahn or Haun) family in Elk River Township, Clinton County, Iowa. There is a little patch of land there known as Hauntown, which I believe is the correct spelling. Her age is listed as 28 and she is likely working for them helping with the household. Living in his own house in the same township, with his family was her brother Charles, his wife Hannah and four of their children. Also living in this township, was her father Charles. His age is 50 and he is living with Ellen Collins, 33, and her four children. His occupation was wool carder. 

Harriet was married to Alexander Stuart McGinnis in Iowa in 1851. Her birth year was 1819, according to the script on the back of this picture. Alexander had been married before and had children to raise following the death of his first wife, Ellen Collins.

Let me reconstruct this as best I can. Alexander McGinnis married Ellen Collins on April 5, 1838, in Clark County, Ohio. They moved to Perry in Jackson County, Iowa. Jackson County is directly north of Clinton County. They had three children: Angeline L (1839-1862), Helen A. (1841-1867), and lastly William Wallace (1844-1920). According to the McGinnis genealogy, Ellen died the day after William was born from complications of childbirth.

The fact that a Collins family is living in Clinton County with Charles E. Langford while Alexander McKinnis is found in Jackson County, Iowa in the 1850 census,with only his 11 year old daughter, Angeline, may just indicate there were two farms to run.

The bigger mystery seems to me, that the McGinnis family lore is that Ellen Collins died in 1844, yet here she seems to be, living as Ellen Collins. This may be coincidence as the children in the two households vary, and the first names might be Ellen and Elizabeth. They could have been twins or sisters. I will have to work further on this.

From letters written by Oscar to others we know that Harriet moved to Coshocton, County, Ohio, where they farmed. They can be found there is the 1870 census. We also know that Alexander was appointed postmaster of Wakatomika, Ohio, from 1873 to 1891. We further know that Harriet and Alexander had two sons, both named Charles McGinnis. The first son, Charles S., only lived for a year or so. The second son, Charles E., lived to the age of 34, but did marry, to Bianca Wright, and had two children, Georgiana and Walter Raymond. Georgiana was born in late November 1880 and died the day after Christmas.

In the 1900 census Harriet can be found listed as a widow and still living on the family farm at age 77, along with her grandson, Walter, age 18.

I have not yet been able to locate a death record or burial site for Harriet. Neither have I found out what happened to her grandson, Walter. But there is a tantalizing clue provided in the picture, above. The picture is captioned "Redding" and a search for the photographer indicates he was in California. So, did Harriet retire to a nicer climate?