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?

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