John Ford and Elizabeth Dye

Story by Fred Gahimer. Cover Photo: Land of John Ford near Nevada, IA in 2000.
Children of John and Elizabeth:

 1. Mary Ellen
     Born:  April 12, 1839; Zionsville, IN
     Died:  August 15, 1839; Zionsville, IN

2. Mary Pricella
     Born:  April 11, 1841; Howard Co., IN
     Died:  April 4, 1874; Rock Creek Twp., Jasper Co., IA
     Buried:  Bevin's Grove Cemetery, Clemons, Marshall Co., IA
     Married: George See, Marshall Co., IA  December 25, 1866
     Children:  Sophia, James, Harriett, Conaway, Andrew

3. Sarah Parintha
     Born:  July 23, 1843; Howard Co., IN
     Died:  July 24, 1930; Buffalo Co., NE
     Buried:  Westlawn Cemetery, Omaha, NE
     Married: Alexander Boyce McCain; July 12, 1864
     Children: Dode, Orran Ford, Adell, Effie Maude, Elizabeth Gay & Isabella May (twins), Fannie Fern (Hewett), and Hattie (May) & Mattie (twins)

4. George Dye
     Born:  May 19, 1845; Howard Co., IN
     Died:  Jan. 25, 1912; Liberty Twp., Marshall Co., IA
     Buried: Bevin's Grove Cemetery; Clemons, Marshall Co., IA
     Married: Nettie A. Rooker, Polk Co., IA; Oct. 2, 1889
     Children: Chella E (Hale), Mary E., John W., Gertrude L.(Robinson), George S., Louis E., Lois, Gailerd B.

5. Martha Serepta "Matt"
     Born:  Nov. 27, 1847; Howard Co., IN
     Died:  Feb. 5, 1935; Lafayette, IN
     Buried: Zionsville Cemetery
     Married: James Webster Rooker; Dec. 23, 1880
     Children: None

6. John William
     Born:  July 28, 1850; Howard Co., IN
     Died:  Sept. 15, 1851; Howard Co., IN

7. William Nineva "Jim"
     Born:  Sept. 14, 1851; Howard Co., IN
     Died:  Dec. 23, 1891; Victor Twp., Osborne Co., KS
     Buried: Cole Cemetery, Covert Twp., Osborne Co., KS
     Married: No

     Born:  Feb. 14, 1854; Jasper Co., IA
     Died:  April 2, 1904; Zionsville, IN
     Buried: Zionsville Cemetery
     Married: Hattie "Katie" Huson; Buffalo, WY; Dec. 17, 1882
     Children: Mabel (McFatridge), Myrtle (Wagoner), Harry
     Married: Mary A. Johnson; Orleans, IN; Jan. 1, 1892
     Children: Oscar L.

9. Frances Emiline "Fannie"
     Born:  Dec. 27, 1857; Jasper Co., IA
     Died:  Feb. 26, 1932; Zionsville, IN
     Buried: Zionsville Cemetery
     Married: Paul J. Lang; Kattitas Co., WA; Feb 28, 1889
     Children: Nora (Shore), Myrtle (Stanley), Gene, Lloyd, Clyde

10. Effie Jane
     Born:  Nov. 24, 1859; Story Co., IA
     Died:  Feb. 16, 1937; Portland, OR
     Buried: Portland, OR
     Married: James H. Rice; October 25, 1884 in Big Horn, WY
     Children:  At least a son & daughter; names unknown

11. John Lincoln
     Born:  Aug. 15, 1863; Story Co., IA
     Died:  Oct. 11, 1863; Story Co., IA
     Buried:  Nevada Cemetery, Nevada, Iowa  with John and Elizabeth


1800 – John Ford and his wife [Mary] and one son were listed in the Federal Census in Ashe County, North Carolina, for the first time.  John became listed in the county history as one of the earliest of settlers, arriving 1790-1800.

1810 – John Ford was listed in the Federal Census with wife [Mary] and five children (4 females and 1 male), and three slaves.

1811 – John Ford, Jr., was born on September 22.

1820 – John Ford, Sr., and wife [Mary] were listed in the Federal Census in Ashe County as having five females and five males in their household plus one slave.

1830 – In the Federal Census, Mary Ford was the head of the household.  John, Sr., had apparently died since the 1820 census.  She had five males (including John, Smith, Ninava, and Ephraim) and five females in the household.  No slaves.

1838 – John Ford emigrated to Indiana 1830-1838, and he and Elizabeth Dye were married in Zionsville, Indiana by Warner Sampson, M.G., on March 11, 1838.

Elizabeth Dye Ford (wife of John Ford, mother of Ephraim)

1840 – John (28) and Elizabeth (20) are found in the Federal Census living in Zionsville next door to Elizabeth’s brother Jacob Dye and his wife.  John and Elizabeth’s first child, Mary Ellen, had been born the year before on April 12, and died four months later on August 15.

John’s brother, Smith Ford, was listed in the Federal Census as living in Ashe County with his own family, which included a female 50-60 years old; probably his mother Mary.  Two females, probably his sisters, were in the household also.

1841 – John (28) and Elizabeth (20) moved to Howard County, Indiana. Mary Pricella born April 11, 1841. Sarah Parintha born July 23, 1843. George Dye born May 19, 1845. Martha Serepta “Matt” born Nov. 27, 1847

1848 – John Ford received a letter from J. W. Mast, a lawyer in Sugar Grove, Ashe County, North Carolina, on July 12, telling him that he had “Sold land for $40 to G. M. Bingham and paid off various debts of John’s.”

Sugar Grove, N. C. 
10 cent postage
July 16
To: John Ford, Kokomo, Howard County, Indiana
From: Sugar Grove, Ashe County, N. Carolina, July the 12, 1848

Mr. John Ford

Dear Sir I have set down to inform you I have sold your land for forty five dollars in money.  I adverised it that I would sell on a certain day but there was not a man attended.  But G. M. Bingham he offered me the 45 dollars and no more and I excepted it he paid me the money and I made him a title and should have sent it to you before this time.  But Landrine Eggers talked of going to your county and I thought it would be safer to sent it to you by him than by the mail.  I thought that I would mail a part of it and forward it on to you.  I have not as yet been able to affect a settlement with Daved Lewis, he is holding some claims against you one from Jordan Councill for something over six dollars this claim  will have to be settle as it was taken out of his hands by as attachments he has another he says he got of you on Willis Megee for something over two dollars and he says he must have his pay out of the amount of the receipt and I find if I would allow him all his claims he is not willing to pay any interest on the ballance as he says that he has been ready to pay at any time when cald on how to settle with him about the note.  I do not know he has taken two judgments on the debt and could not find property to make the money out of and I do not expect that the money can ever begot of McGee as he cut his knee last January two year's ago and he was confind to his bed nearly two years and is now a criple and dose not work at all and is ensolvent.  You will please to as nite when these comes to and let me know all about how the note was traded to Lewis and how I must proceede about it whether to settle it out of the reciept or not I went to see Solomon Isaaks and his wife Sarah they informed me that soon after I got your first letter that they received a letter from Hugh Eggers with Twenty Dollars in the letter and they nor I neither know whether that is all that is coming to Sarah or not so I thought it would be best to send you a part of the money and you could inform me wether I should pay to her or not so I sill incloes twenty five dollars on the bank of the State of South Carolina all curent money.  Hear your mother is as well as could be expected for as old a woman as she is.  Your connections are all well as fare as I know.  Your brother in law Piolert Piolapt departed this life sometime last fall and your sister Polly Yelton has moved back from Tenneysie last fall.  Your mother  received a letter from Nannevi dated some time in March..  He writes that they Indians are some what troublesome in his country.  He was out two hundred miles from home after the Indians when he wrote the letter.  We had a tolorable moderate winter but the spring was wet and backward but our summer has been warm with the exeption of a few day about the midle of June when there was in several freazes an hard enough to kill the corn.  Our wheat crop are as good as the commonly get to be, oats are likely and forward corn looks very promising.  People are generally well though out this country as fare as my information extends.  With these remarks I conclude and remain yours most affectionately.

To John Ford                                    
J. W. Mast

1850 – The Federal Census lists John and Elizabeth Ford and children living in Howard County, Indiana and owning about $2,000 in real estate.  Mary, Sarah, and George are in school.

John William born July 28, 1850; died Sept. 15, 1851

William Nineva “Jim” born Sept. 14, 1851

The Federal Census shows John’s two brothers out in Oregon Territory.  Ninava (35 yrs) was farming in Clackamas Co., near Oregon City with his 20 year old Missouri wife, Martha, and their one year old son John J., who had been born in Oregon Territory.  Ephraim (29 yrs) was in Yam Hill Co., just west of Clackamas Co., in the northwest corner of Oregon Territory.

1852 – John Ford’s brother Nineveh wrote from Oregon City, Oregon Territory entreating John and Elizabeth to come west with their family.  He tells of their group finding about $5,000 worth of gold in California, including a single nugget worth $64 which he still had.  Their brother Ephraim Ford was with Nineveh, and had married the previous spring.


TO: John Ford,  Kokomo, Indiana
FROM:  Oregon Territory, Oregon City, March 16, 1852
John and Elizabeth Ford

Dear brother and sister

I can inform you that we rec'd yours of the 28 Dec. last which gave us great satisfaction to heare from you.  I have wrote since I returned from California.  Ephraim was married last spring to Miss Martha.Sarrijon.  We returned from California the fall after we went in the spring.  We had tolerable luck in the mines making near 5 thousand dollars between us.  I dug one piece of gold that was worth $64.

I have got it yet.  I wish you could come and see it.  I think you would like to dig some of the yealow stuff but if you was here you could get it and stay at home.  Those that stays at home does as well as those that goes to the mines, which you will see when I give you a feew facts.  The mines are being worked very extensively in Oregon in or near a rich fertile and in a healthy country.  You say that times is hard there.  You wish to know how land rates in Oregon is.  I will try to give you a general idea in relation to land here.  The Congress of the USA pased a law on the 21st Sept. 1850 granting to all american white settlers on the public lands over the age of 18 that was in Oregon at the pasage of the law or and those that got here before the first day of December 1850 one half section or 320 acres if he be single man, and if he be maried or shall become maried on or before the 1st day of December 1851 one section or 640 acres of land, one half to the wife and the other to her husband, the wifes half to be held in her own name.  The donation is extended to those that come since up to the first day of December 1853 in half the amount of the above.  So if you can get here before the 1st day of Dec. 1853 you can get 320 acres without paying anything.  One half to your wife which is one quarter section each after 1853.  I think land will be sold by government at $1.25 per acre.  If you have any notion of coming to this country, start next spring 1853, then you will git here in time to git your half section.  I can write as I have wrote before that this is the healthiest country that I have seen.  Winters are miled, summers plasant, not so hot as your summers.  Winters are so.....and mild that stock keeps fat all winter.  This winter past was near a total failure for snow.  I did not see one particle fall during the winter.  The best country for stock perhaps in the contenent.  They keep fat all the time without feeding.  When I say stok I mean all kinds.  Our beef is fater off of the range here than I ever saw it in the stats out of the stall.  Pork fat all the year and the range stock increases fast.

I have got letters from home generaly.  Brother Sinut died in '49.  His wife has maried again.  Syrena is maried.  I got a letter last summer from mother.  They condition was generly well.  I have wrote since and am looking for a letter now.  We are all well except colds.  Mrs. Ford is quit porly at this time with a cold.  Our little snow storm has set some of us to coughing.

If you do conclude to come to this country I would advise you by all means to sell out next fall and come to Missouri and winter there and start early in the spring with first that starts.  You will come with one and get you a good team at home.

I want you to write as soon as this comes and tell me what your calculations are and so I will know what to advise.  Never think of coming without our family.  It is too far.  Do not come without Elizabeth is willing.  Elizabeth, I wish you was here with your family.  I think you would be hapy and we would be brother and sister here.


Yamhill O. T.   June 9th  1852

Dear broth and sister,  threw the .... of diveme providence an blesses with the opertunity of writing you a few lines to let you know that we are still in the living and enjoying a tolerable .... of health at present wishing these lines may find you in posesion of the same blessing.

We have the pleasure of reading your letter baring date Decemba the 28  1851  which is a sorce of grate satesfaction to hear from you and to hear that you are still living and well but sarey to learn of your misfortune in loosing your child but we must be reconsiled to God as he is just in all things.

You requested us to write concerning our country as to climate.  I suppose yours are informed, but I will say that it is the best I have ever lived in with the acception of rain in the winter and as to agriculture purpeses fare before your country not withstanding it is a pore corn growing country but we can make that up in small grain and I find of late by manuring our land we can rase as good vegilables as you can in....., and as to stock rasing I believe we can but would, we can rase a hors or cow here with as you can a chicken there.

Land is what you would call high but if you wish to cum to this country do not let that stop you for I think you can make a living in this part of our republic easeyer than you can there at your prices

for produce.  Perhaps you wish to know how times is, times is good.  Health is good.  Money is plenty.  Goods is cheap.  Produce is high.  Good horses from 100 to 150 dollars american, mares from 150 to 200, cows from 50 to 75 dollars per head, sheep 8 dollars, hens one dollar, beef 8 dollars per hundred, pork 10, butter 50 cts per pound, egg 50 cts per dozen, wheat 1.25 cts per bushel, wages from $2 to 4 per day.

If you wish to cum to this country git you a well made light three hors wagon and three or fore yoke of cattle and start from Missouri about the first of aprile.  Start with only clothing and bedding to last you threw as it will not pay, start with plenty of provision and if you wish any further information write as soon as you can and I will answer the same and if you start to this country I want you to write to me before you leave Missouri and send your letter by the mail and when you git on the road write by the packers if you wish any asistance and I will try to administer to your wants.

If you calculate on emmigrating to this country I think it advisable to cum next spring so that you can have a chance to hold 320 acres of land under the donation act which will be out the first of December 1853 which is cum next year.  Nineveh is still living in Oregon city and was well the last acount and is making money very fast.  I am still marreyed and think I am settled for life as I am satisfide with this country that I can make faster and easer than any other in my knowing.

I have stock a plenty to answer my perpose and to spare and a moderate crpoe of grain and calculate on sowing plenty this fall for you and I in Pardenership.

I would be extremely happy to see you all but think sometimes we will never have the pleasure of meeting in this world but hope that we will meet in the next where parting and sorrow will never be nomore.

Direct your letters to Yamhill Co. Lafayette Po O. T.

We want you to give our love to your childer as we would be glad to see them.

So nothing more at present best remans your with respect.

From Ephraim and Martha Jane Ford


TO:  Mr. John Ford, Esq.,   Kokomo, Indiana
FROM:  Oregon Territory, Nov. 26, 1852

Dear brother and sister.  It is with much pleasure that we take the opertunity of writing you a few lines to let you know that we are still numbered with the living and enjoying a tolerable degree of health at present.  Wishing these lines may find you all in possession of the same blessing.  The last letter we recieved from you was dated December 28, 1851 which we answered before so that I do know that we share anything interesting to write to you unless it is in relation to your friends Joneses.  John Jones was at Nineveh's 4 or 5 weeks.  Since he stated that his father and brothers had got in about fifty miles of this place they had considerable sickness in the family while on the road, as there was much sickness in the last part of the immigration.  Jones could not giv any account what of your calculation was in relation to immigrating to this country but stated that your brother-in-law [Jacob Dye?] had sold with the calculation of immigrating to this country next season.

When Jones was here Nineveh and his wife was sick, but have got a bout health is generaly good with the acception of the immigration last to this country in consequence of experience on the way to this country.  If you calculate on immigrating to this country I think next season will be the best time in consequence of the donations being out in December will this country American mares from one hundred and fifty, hundred dollars cows from 50 to 100 dollars, 8 and 10 dollars per head beef, 10 pork per hundred, wheat 3 and 4 dollars per flour, 15 dollars per hundred, labor 2 and 3 dollars per day, lumber fifty dollars per thousand and other productions of the country in protion.  If you come to Oregon and wish to bring stock I will advise you to bring scheap or cows and be shore to start in the first part of the emmigration for the reason that their is not half the sickings in the first part of the emmigration as the last.  if you cum write before starting and while on the road as we can git your letter in a very short time by male.

I am here for the purpose of proving my clame to a donation write to 640 acres of land.  We are at the same burruls that we was when we wrote last to you.  I have a good crop in and sold the .... of six hundred hogs this season and some beef cattle.

We send our love to our cousins and be glad to see them and if you do not cum this aunt wants you to take that perty boys likness that you wrote about having blew eyes and black hare and send it to her but much rather see him..........(mostly illegible)

with respect

Ephraim and M. J. Ford

To John & Elizabeth Ford
direct your letter to Yamhil Lafayett or Oregon City

1853 – John Ford (41 yrs) and family headed west to the gold fields of California in a party of 40 would-be miners.  John became concerned about the danger to his family in continuing the trip west, and they lived for a while in Jasper County, Iowa.

Ephraim Worth born Feb. 14, 1854

Frances Emiline “Fannie” born Dec. 27, 1857

1858 – John Ford and family moved in the spring to Story County, Iowa, east of Ames, where they purchased a farm south of Colo, in New Albany Township about thirteen miles east of the county seat, Nevada.

1859 – John and Elizabeth Ford have Effie Jane, born Nov. 24.

1860 – The Federal Census shows them in Story County, Iowa with Mary (19), Sarah (16), George (15), Martha (13), William “Jim” (8), Ephraim (6), and Frances (2).   John’s assets had increased to $10,000 real estate, and $500 personal property.

1862 – John’s brother Nineveh writes to him from Oregon

State of Oregon
Wayco County

Sept. 7, 1862
John Ford

Dear brother

We recd yours last evening of the 22nd of last June directed to the post master at oregon city stating that you had not herd from Ephraim and we since 18.., heared that you and George Dye came to Iowa and stoped.  We did not learn where you was   we have wrote to our relatives in carolina but learned nothing   I had nearly given up all hope of evering hearing from you thinking that the colery [cholera] had swept you all off on the plaines   my [heart] leaped for joy when I opened your letter, this being the first that I have saw since you came to Iowa.  Ephraim is living where he first settled, in 2 miles of McMinville, yamhill co.  I am living in middle oregaon east of the cascads over 300 miles from Ephraim 627 miles west of fort Benton in the Walla Walla Valey.  look on the map and you will see where I live   I have been living here 3 years and am well pleased with the country   I have not hered from home for a long time   we have 6 chilaern [children] living and one ded   John Thomas Jefferson is nearly grone   our 2nd Mary Simpson died at 9 years old, 4 boys living and 2 girls   you perhaps are posted in relation to the development of this country concerning the gold mines, graizing and agricutureal pursuits   the miners are still making new discoverys of new digings   some 15 to 20 thousand miners and traiders in middle oregon.  This is the fastest country that I have heard of   towns going up in a few days   men taking out their weight in gold dust in a short time and thousands doing no good and spending fortions in a few days   I have not worked in the mines here yet for what would it profit a man to gain the whole world and loose his own sole   we hope to gain the selistial [celestial] city and too much gold is dead weight some times on that pilgrimage   he that will run let him lay a side every weight and that sin that so easly beset us, that sin I think is unbelief   I once was young but now am old and I never saw the children of the riceous [righteous] beging bread (Soloman)

We should not trust in uncertain riches so says christ     dear brother and sister we would be hapy to see you all in this life, but if we should not be favored with that opportunity let us strive to meet each other in heaven where our dear little ones are gon, our parents have long since gained that heaven, and we too are hastening to that unseen world when we shall bid farewell to this vain world of woe.

Wrie when this comes to hand   direct your letters to (Walla Walla Washington Territory)

no more at present only our best wishes and brother and sister until death

Nineveh & M. R. Ford

To John & Elizabeth Ford

1863 – John Lincoln born Aug. 15; died Oct. 11.

1864 – James Webster “Webb” Rooker of Mitchellville, Iowa, about 25 miles south of Colo, enlisted in the Iowa Calvary volunteers on March 1, at 20 years of age.  Wounded at the battle of Harpeth Creek, Tennessee on Dec. 18; shot in the eye; the ball entering the right and coming out under the left, destroying the sight of both.

James Webster “Webb” Rooker holding Harriett Rooker

John Ford (52) died June 19, and was buried near the home farm in Indian Creek Twp., Story Co., with young son John Lincoln.  He had been under treatment by Dr. Mark D. Shelton, who filed claim for visits and medicine.  At the time of his death, John Ford owned 520 acres in Marshall County, at least 84 acres in Jasper County, and 147 acres in Story County, for a total of 751 acres. Elizabeth stayed on the home farm near Colo, east of Nevada, and had the oldest sons George and Jim manage the various farms. The other son, Ephraim, went to Burr Oak, Kansas to farm with relatives.

Sarah P. Ford married Alexander Boyce McCain July 12, 1864.  He was a Civil War Veteran wounded at Shiloh.

Sarah Parintha Ford (Ephraim’s older sister)

1865 – James W. Rooker was discharged from the Iowa Cavalry volunteers at Keokuk, Iowa on June 1, by reason of blindness.  He received a pension of $50 per month starting on June 4, 1874.

Elizabeth Ford sold 204 acres of land in Jasper County.

1866 – Mary Pricella Ford (25) married George See (27) Dec. 25, 1866 in Marshall County, Iowa, just east of Story County.

1870 – Elizabeth Ford is shown in the Federal Census living in the Colo area on the family farm, about 13 miles east of Nevada in Story County, with her children George (25), Martha (22), William “Jim” (18), Ephraim (16), Frances (12), and Effie (9).  Only William, Ephraim, and Frances were in school.  Elizabeth’s assets were $4,200 real estate and $550 personal property.  Her son George had $1,000 in personal property.   Maria Romane, a niece, was living nearby.

In the 1870 census, W. Rooker is listed as a blind farmer in Franklin Twp., Polk Co., Iowa, just south of Story County, with his wife Martha and two year old son James.

1874 – Mary Pricella (Ford) See died April 4, and was buried in the Bevins Grove Cemetery north of Clemons in northwest Marshall County, Iowa.

187? – Sarah and A. B. McCain write to her sister, she on the front page, and he on the back page.


home matters, etc, etc  Aprile the 20

Dear Sister

After our love to you then comes the Home matters   Orra says he looks for aunt marth in the morning.  he said he went home to grandmaws to stay till aunt marth come home.  Orra hasent forgotning you nor never will   he gets newespaps and reads letters from you and Chella   wants too write to you. he can spell and read a little and count.  The prospect for fruit is good   mother thinks she will have som apels [some apples]   Seet [sweet?] folks came from Story today they were all well at home.  Anna is such a seet [sweet] girl.  She says she likes us well a nought [well enough] to live with us.

We think we might keep her.

[A. B. McCain]

Ephraim has rented my corn ground.  which will relieve me of much travelling this summer.  George was over some time ago and stayed with us three nights.  He informed us his intentions were to herd cattle this summer and probably a herd of colts.  George and Priscilla's folks are all in usual health.  They and Ephraim have gone to Story yesterday.  will be back to day.  How much do you get a month for teaching school.  Is it a subscription school of is it a district schooll.  I have no other news of importance that would interest you.  Nouthing more.

Yours forever
A. B. McCain

1878 – Elizabeth Ford was living in Colo, Iowa; but upon becoming ill, moved to Nevada, Iowa, about 13 miles west.

A. B. McCain is listed in the Directory of Marshall County as “a farmer in Section 14; P. O. Bevins Grove; owns 80 acres of land, valued at $30 per acre; born in Armstrong Co., Penn., in 1834; came to Iowa in 1856.  Married Sarah P. Ford in 1864; she was born in Howard Co., Ind., in 1844; have seven children – Owen, Jo, Ben, Adel, Effie Maude, Isabella M., Elizabeth G., and Fanny.  Are members of Methodist Church.  Enlisted in Company H, 13th Iowa V. I., in 1861, and was wounded in the battle of Shiloh, and was discharged in 1863 on that account.”

1879 – On March 28, Ephraim Ford, and the rest of Elizabeth’s children, received their share in the estate from Elizabeth’s guardian (probably George Dye Ford), and each signed a hand written receipt.

Rec'd of Elizabeth Ford Guardian
the full amount of personal property
due me and I release said Guardian
from all liability on my account -

Nevada, Iowa
Ephraim W. Ford
March 28, 1879

Elizabeth Ford (59) died intestate on December 7, and was buried at Nevada, with husband John and last-born son John Lincoln, (moved from their prior burial in Indian Creek Twp. near the farm) about 100 feet inside the Lincoln Way entrance and to the left (east) about 100 feet.  George Dye Ford arranged the funeral and burial.  He purchased three lots (Lot #24) in Block 3 of the Nevada Cemetery for $10, and a large gravestone for $225.  He paid James Green $12 to dig the graves, and to move the bodies of John and John Lincoln from the Indian Creek Cemetery  to Nevada.  Dr. George Stitzell was paid $16 for sick calls to Elizabeth from Nov 29 to her death on Dec 7.

Obituary - Died in Nevada, Iowa after a protracted illness, Mrs. Elizabeth Ford, whose obsequies took place at her residence in this city on the 9th inst.  Mrs. Ford survived her husband fifteen years and leaves a large and respectable family.  She became united with the M. E. [Methodist Episcopal] Church at an early period of life, and continued a consistent member of the same till her death.  Her house was not only always open to the ministers of the gospel, but her hospitality was of that liberal christian character toward all, which can be observed in the fine and the good at all times.


Jim Ford writes to Ephraim at Burr Oak, Jewel Co., Kansas telling of their mother’s death, and asking him to tell Aunt Sally (Dye) Harmon.


TO: Mr. E. W. Ford, Burr Oak, Jewell Co., Kansas    3c postage
Forwarded to Colo, Iowa (13 mi. E of Nevada); arrived Jan 9, 1880

Black border on envelope, used when there is sickness or death. 

FROM: Nevada, Iowa   Dec 8, 1879

Dear Brother,

With a sorrowful mind I will try and write a few lines to let you know that our dear Mother is gone forever. She departed last night, and will be buried tomorrow at 2 o'clock. I wish you could have been there. She spoke so often about you.

Let Aunt Sally [(Dye) Harmon] know of her death. So goodbye.

Write soon.
As Ever,  Your Brother

We will bury her in the Nevada Cemetery

1880 – George See filed for Letters of Administration for his two minor children by Mary (deceased) as heirs of Elizabeth Dye Ford.

Matt and Effie were living with their brother Jim Ford on the home farm in New Albany Twp., Story Co., Iowa. just south of Colo.

Ephraim Ford went to Wyoming.  Fannie and Effie joined Ephraim there later in the year..

In the 1880 census, James W. Rooker was listed as living in Beaver Twp., Polk Co., Iowa with his four children: Nettie (11), William S. (8), Martha E. (5), and an unnamed daughter of four months.  His wife must have died at the birth of the child four months earlier.  Matt Ford married the blind Civil War vet Webb Rooker, December 23.

DesMoines   Sept 5/81

Rec'd of Martha S. Rooker One Hundred Dollars to apply on Note of Margaret J. Rooker and James W. Rooker to Mary Singer dated December 20th 1876 for $400.

W. A. Young

1881 – Ephraim filed for a 160 acre homestead out on the desolate rolling prairie on Crazy Woman Creek near the Dry Creek Road about fifteen miles northeast of Buffalo, Wyoming.

1882 – Ephraim Ford married Hattie “Katie” Huson on December 17 in Buffalo, Wyoming at the home of her parents, Edward and Clarissa Huson, by Justice of the Peace, H. R. Mann, with her father, Edward Wing Huson, and a man named John Paul signing as witnesses.  Katie was 17 years old. (Marriage Book 1, page 16). They moved to the Crazy Woman homestead, and were joined there by Katie’s parents and children, who took up a quarter-section homestead adjoining theirs on the east side.

1884 – In January, Webb Rooker receives a letter from H. U. Dale.

TO: Webster Rooker, Mitchellville, Iowa,
Sent Jan. 25 from Centerville, Iowa,  1 ct postage
Arrived: Jan. 28
Centerville, Iowa  1-25-1884

Dear Bro. and Sister:  In compliance to your kind request I write.  I arrived home safely yesterday and found all well except Mrs. Dale was suffering from severe cold.  The girls were almost in ecstacies over my return.  Edna said she felt so good that she could not laugh.  Craving an interest in your prayers and assuring you that you have in mine I remain your brother.


On August 14, Jim Ford bought the S1/2 of SW1/4 of Sect. 23 (80 acres) in Victor Township, Osborne County, Kansas from Robert and Mary E. Wilson of Gage County, Nebraska for $500.  (Osborne Co., Deed Book H, p597)

Effie J. Ford was married to J. H. Rice in Big Horn, Wyoming on October 22 by Herbert Probert, a Congregational minister from England, at the house of Mr. Haund and witnessed by her sister Fannie Ford and Mrs. Belle Babcock of Big Horn.

1885 – A son was born to Effie (Ford) and Jim Rice in Buffalo during the week of September 26, 1885 so they must have moved there beforehand.


Sept. 26, 1885

The wife of J. H. Rice, the barber, gave birth to a son this week in Buffalo.

1886 – Fannie went to Washington state with Effie and Jim Rice.

1887 – On May 20, 1887, Jim Ford bought the S1/2 of NE1/4, the SE1/4 of NW1/4, and the NE1/4 of SW1/4 of Section 23 (160 acres) in Victor Township, Osborne County, Kansas from William and Hannah Bradley of Independance, Osborne County, Kansas for $1800.  This was adjacent to his previous land purchase.

(Osborne Co., Deed Book N, p220)  On December 29, Jim obtained a Land Patent for the NW1/4 of SW1/4 of Sectiom 23 (40 acres) in Victor Township adjacent to the previous purchases.  This brought his total known acreage to 280.  (Osborne Co., Book AD, p468)

1889 – Fannie Ford married Paul Jackson Lang on February 19 in Kittitas County, Washington

Frances “Fannie” Emilene Ford Lang (Ephraim’s younger sister)

George Dye Ford married Nettie Anne Rooker (Webb Rooker’s daughter by his first wife) in Polk County, Iowa. Witnessed by Webb Rooker.

George Dye Ford (eldest son of John and Elizabeth Ford, Ephraim’s eldest brother)

Matt and Webb Rooker returned to Zionsville, Indiana.

In August or early September 1889, Ephraim Ford’s wife Kate apparently had a miscarriage or stillbirth. Late in 1889, Ephraim and Kate sold their homestead and suddenly moved with their three young children and belongings to his brother Jim’s ranch in Osborne County, Kansas.  Kate died a month after arriving.  The following spring, Jim and Ephraim returned with the children to Zionsville, Indiana.  Jim returned to his Kansas ranch.  Ephraim was ill, and left the children with his sister Matt and her blind husband Webb Rooker while he went to Orleans in southern Indiana to the “Springs” to get well.

1891 – Jim Ford died on 23 December at the S. H. Noyes residence in Victor Twp., Osborne Co., Kansas, where he had been staying for the past two years because of illness.  He died intestate. Mr. Noyes petitioned the court in Osborne to name C. W. Baldwin, of Baldwin & Co. Drugs, to be the administrator of the estate, consisting of nothing but a note for $250 owed by Noyes [probably for the sale of stock to him by Jim], and a few small notes from others for a total of about $300.  The entire estate was used to pay the doctor and medicine bills, the funeral ($44), coffin ($28), burial suit ($5), and past boarding bills from Noyes.  The 160 acre farm of Noyes was at the head of Covert Creek close to the Victor-Covert Twp line.  Jim Ford’s 280-acre ranch was about a mile northwest of Noyes.

There are three identical very small FORD headstones near the gate to the Cole Cemetery just over the Covert Township line, about two miles southeast of Jim’s ranch.  It is thought that after Kate had a stillbirth in Wyoming, they sold their homestead on Crazy Woman Creek near Buffalo and brought the body of the baby with them to Jim’s ranch, where Kate died.  The two were buried together in the Cemetery, to be joined two years later by Jim.  There are no burial records for the Cole Cemetery, nor was there an obituary in the local paper to tell us where he was buried.

Alexander and Sarah (Ford) McCain were farming in Pleasanton Twp., in Buffalo Co., NE outside Kearney.


L – R: Sarah Parintha Ford McCain (Ephraim’s older sister), Fannie McCain Hewett (Sarah’s daughter), Alexander Boyce McCain (Sarah’s husband)

1892 – Ephraim married Mary A. Johnson in Orleans, IN on Jan. 1 where he had been recovering from illness he had contracted out west.

1900 – Ephraim and Alice (Mary A. Johnson) Ford were living on North Pike Street in Shelbyville, Indiana with their six year old son, Oscar L.   Ephraim was an insurance agent, and Alice was a dressmaker.  He never reclaimed his earlier children.

George Dye Ford was farming in Liberty Township, Marshall County, Iowa with wife Nettie of ten years, and children Chella E. (8), Mary E. (7), John (5), and Gertrude L. (1).

Sarah (Ford) McCain and her husband Alexander were farm owners living in Kearney, Buffalo County, Nebraska with their daughters Isabel and Elizabeth (twins, 23), Fannie (21), and Hattie (18).  Isabel is a school teacher, Elizabeth a seamstress, and Fannie a milliner.

Fannie and Paul J. Lang were living in Wenatchee Lake, Chelan Co., Washington with Nora (10), Myrtle (8), Eugene (6), Lloyd (5), and Clyde (1).

1901 – Fannie and Paul Lang return to Zionsville from Washington over the Oregon trail in a covered wagon.  Paul had made a table which was carried on the back of the wagon.  Each night when they stopped, Fannie would set out the table and fix a formal dinner.  She was a well-educated woman (rare in those times) who always dressed very properly.

1904 – Ephraim Ford, apparently divorced from Mary, died at Matt and Webb Rooker’s home in Zionsville on April 2.  He was buried in the Zionsville Cemetery next to William and Margaret Dye.

1909 – Effie and Jim Rice were in Portland, Oregon, having arrived there sometime between 1906 and 1909.  They are first found in the City Directory of Portland in 1909.  They were listed in the personal listings as:  H. J. Rice, residence at St. Johns; in the business listing as: Barber; H. J. Rice at 8 Fourth Ave. N.

1910 – George Dye Ford was farming in Liberty Township, Marshall County, Iowa, with his wife Nettie of 20 years, and children Chella (19), Mary (17), John (15), Gertrude (11), George (9), Louis (7), Lois (7), and Gailerd (2).  Chella was teaching, and Mary was in school.

Alexander and Sarah (Ford) McCain were living at 1828 Ave. G in Kearney, NE.

1911 – Jim Rice had apparently died.  In the 1911 City Directory, only Effie is listed; as:  Mrs. Effie J. Rice, 248 1/2 Montgomery.

1912 – George Dye Ford died January 25, buried in Bevin’s Grove Cemetery north of Clemons, Marshall Co., Iowa.

TIMES REPUBLICAN, Marshalltown, Iowa

Jan. 26, 1912


George Ford, Well-Known Farmer, Meets Death From Trivial Accident

Marrow from Broken Leg Forms Clot On Brain

Becomes Unconscious a Few Hours After Log Slides From Load of Wood and Breaks His Leg - Wife and Eight Children Survive - Funeral Saturday Morning.

An accident that, in itself, would be classed as trivial, resulted in the death Thursday afternoon of George Ford, a well-known farmer living one and one-half mile north of Clemons in Liberty Township.

Ford's death resulted from a thrombus, which formed on the brain following the man's injury Tuesday afternoon when his left leg was broken by a heavy log which rolled off a sled.   Mr. Ford was hauling a load of wood from his timber to his home, and was in his own dooryard when the accident resulted.  Ford was walking beside the bob sled when the heavy log slid from the top of the load, falling against Ford's leg, and breaking it above the knee.

Marrow Carried Into Circulation

Ordinarily the accident would not have caused the victim anything more than the usual pain and inconvenience resulting from similar cases, but in this instance an unusual complication resulted.  Some

of the marrow from the fractured leg was carried into the blood, and by 2:30 o'clock Wednesday morning the patient became unconscious.  He never rallied from the comatose state, and the end came at 1:15 Thursday.

Was Well-Known Farmer

Mr. Ford was well known in his neighborhood, where he had lived for several years.  He was 67 years old, and is survived by his wife and eight children - four sons and four daughters.  Four sisters also survive, in the persons of Mrs. Sarah McCain of Kearney, Neb.; Mrs. Martha Rooker and Mrs. Fannie Lang of Indianapolis; and Mrs. Effie Rice of Portland, Ore.

Brief funeral services will be held from the house Saturday morning at 11 o'clock, and the funeral proper will take place an hour later from the Bevin's Grove Church.  Rev. C. S. Stauffacher, of the Zearing United Evangelical Church, officiating.  Interrment will be in the church cemetery.

1913 – Fannie Lang visited old friends at Nevada, Iowa on the way to visit her sister, Sarah McCain, in Nebraska.

Nevada, Iowa Newspaper


An Old Timer Returns

Mrs. Paul J. Lang of Indianapolis, who old timers remember as Frances Ford, is spending a few days with the Sam White family, and greeting other old friends and neighbors in Nevada, Ames, and Colo while pausing in her journey to visit her sister Sarah (Mrs. A. B. McCain) in Nebraska.

Mrs. Lang's father, John Ford, was an early settler of Story County.  He and Mrs. Ford and their four children came from Indiana to Iowa with a party of forty miners which were bound for California.

Mrs. Lang says the fair fields of Iowa lured them from their interest to cross the desert plains and the Fords tarried for a while in Jasper County, then located permanently on a farm in New Albany

Township [Story County], and there Mrs. Ford died in the later seventies.  Frances was a member of the Nevada High School during the first years of its existence in its present location, and was included successively in the Dan McCord, William Gatsa, and Jerry Franks families till at the death of her father, when her mother moved to Nevada and here died.  Frances and her sister Effie soon after went to Wyoming to visit their brother Ephraim, who is now deceased.  Both married in the far west, and there Effie, orMrs. J. H. Rice, remains.  The Langs returned to Indianapolis twelve years ago and there rejoice in two promising daughters and two sons, all grown and in active life.  Another of the Fords, Martha, now Mrs. J. W. Rooker, also resides in Indianapolis.  Frances the maiden is pleasantly remembered, and Mrs. Lang, the matron of wide and varied experience, is gladly greeted.

1914 – In July, Alexander and Sarah McCain celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.


The golden wedding of Mr. and Mrs. McCain was celebrated enjoyably, when surrounded by members of the family, whose congratulations and gifts they received, were entertained yesterday.  Mr and Mrs. McCain have lived in Buffalo County for over thirty years.  They have been blessed with eight children, three boys and five girls, and with twenty-five grandchildren.  The gifts which were presented to them on the occasion were very elaborate and mark the appreciation which the children felt for all the sacrifices which the parents have made for them in other days.

Two gold watches, a gold bracelet, breastpin, and a set of collar, cuff, and stud buttons were among the presents.  A sumptuous dinner was served at 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon.  Captain S. James presided and made an appropriate presentation speech when giving Mr. and Mrs. McCain their children's gifts.  Mr. McCain responded and thanked those present for their loving remembrances.  After the dinner further speaking and musical numbers closed the enjoyable celebration.

The following children of the couple were present:  Mr. Orran McCain, Mr. Dode McCain, Denver, Colo.; Mr. Dell McCain, N. Platte, Nebr.; Mrs. Charles Wittlake, Omaha, Nebr.; Mrs. Charles Croston, Hazard, Nebr.; Mrs. Seymore Cruise, Mrs. Claude Hewett, and Mrs. Hattie May, Omaha, Nebr.

1915 – Effie Rice was listed in the Portland City Directory as: Effie Rice, 484 Burnside.

1917 – Alexander and Sarah (Ford) McCain were living in Omaha, Nebraska.

1919 – Alexander Boyce McCain died and was buried on the hillside behind the mausoleum in the West Lawn Cemetery in Omaha.

1920 – In the census, Effie (Ford) Rice (60), was living on Buck Street in Portland, Multnamah County, Oregon with her thirteen year old granddaughter, Donna Dixon.

Sarah McCain (75) was living in the home of her daughter, Fannie F. Hewett (40) and Fannie’s son Ross (6) on 42nd Street in Omaha, Nebraska.  Fannie was an office clerk.

Standing: Fannie McCain Hewett (Sarah’s daughter), Claude Henry Hewett (Fannie’s husband)
Sitting: Sarah Parintha Ford McCain (Ephraim’s older sister)


George Dye Ford’s widow, Nettie (50), was still farming the family farm in Liberty Twp., Marshall Co., Iowa.  Still at home were Lois and Louis, both 16, and Gailerd (12).  However, Nettie reportedly moved to Zionsville with Gertrude, Lois, and Gailerd, apparently during the last half of the year.  It is not known whether George S. came with them or came later.  Louis must have stayed, because he is buried in Bevins Grove next to his father George and sister Mary.

In the 1920 census, Paul Lang, at the age of 65, is living on Senate Avenue in Indianapolis with Forest Eaton, a boarder.

1923 – Webb Rooker died at age 79 in Lafayette, Indiana on Oct. 23; and was buried in Little Eagle Creek Cemetery southeast of Jolietville in Hamilton Co., Indiana next to Nellie G. Lutz (wife of his son, Wm. S. Rooker) and Mattie (daughter), both having died in 1900 in their 20s.

1929 – Nettie Anne (Rooker) Ford, widow of George Dye Ford, and daughter of Webb Rooker, died in Zionsville at age 60 and was buried next to her sister, Mattie, sister-in-law Nellie, and her father, Webb Rooker, in the Little Eagle Creek Cemetery.

Back row L – R: Fannie McCain Hewett (Sarah’s daughter), Alexander Boyce McCain (Sarah’s husband), rest ?
Front row L – R: Sarah Parintha Ford McCain (Ephraim’s sister), rest ?


1930 – Sarah Parintha (Ford) McCain died June 24 in Buffalo Co., Nebraska, and was buried alongside her husband in the West Lawn Cemetery in Omaha, Nebraska.


Sarah Parinthia (Ford) McCain, at the age of 86 years, 11 months, and 1 day, passed away June 24, 1930 at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Fannie Hewett of 3467 N. 42nd St., Omaha, Nebr.

Her father, John Ford, and family with two brothers, were enroute with the "Forty Niners" across the continent, but the father, being fearful for the safety of his family, left the caravan when they reached Story County, Iowa, and settled in the new country, when skins were hung for doors.

In 1864 she was united in marriage to Alexander Boyce McCain, a Civil War veteran.

In 1883 they moved with their family of three sons and six daughters to Buffalo County, Nebraska where they were pioneer residents of Pleasanton and Kearney.  Her husband preceeded her in death eleven years ago at the age of 84.

She is survived by two sons, Dode McCain, Hazard; and Dell McCain, Loretto; four daughters, Mrs. Maude Wittlake, Fanwood, NJ; Mrs. Charles Croston, Hazard; Mrs. William B. Rains, Hawk Springs, Wyo.; and Mrs. Hewett; and three sisters, Mrs. Martha Rooker and Mrs. Fannie Lang, both of Indianapolis, Ind.; and Mrs. Effie Rice of Portland, Ore., plus 25 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

She was known for her ever ready aid to those who were in sorrow, need, or distress.  As long as she  was able to be in active service for her Lord and Savior, her standard of living was, "In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me also", John 3:17.  Her ever ready advice was a repeating of the First Psalms.  Interned at the West Lawn Cemetery in Omaha, Nebr.

1932 – Fannie (Ford) Lang died Feb 26 in Zionsville at age 74 and was buried in the Zionsville Cemetery by Paul J. Lang, and near Ephraim Ford, Matt Rooker, and William Dye.

1935 – Matt (Ford) Rooker died in Lafayette, Indiana on Feb 5; buried on a Thursday afternoon in the Zionsville Cemetery near Fannie and Ephraim; reported in the Feb. 7 Zionsville Times:

Obituary - Mrs. Martha S. Rooker, 88 years old, a native of Boone County, died yesterday in a home for the aged in Lafayette.  She had lived in Indianapolis forty years and had spent part of her life in Iowa.  Her Indianapolis home was at 3609 N. LaSalle St.  Funeral services will be held in the McNeely & Sons mortuary, 1828 N. Meridian St. at 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon.  Burial will be in the Zionsville cemetery.  A sister, Mrs. Effie J. Rice of Portland, Oregon, survives.

1937 – Effie Jane (Ford) Rice, the last surviving child of John and Elizabeth (Dye) Ford, died Feb 16 in Portland, Oregon.  She died in the Multnomah Hospital of coronary thrombosis and generalized arteriosclerosis, made worse by pulmonary emphycema.  She was 78 years old.  Effie was in the hospital for nine days prior to her death.  She was listed on the death certificate as a widow and homemaker living at 313 NE San Rafael Street.  No family informant was listed on the certificate.


Frances [Fannie] Ford was born in Story County, Iowa and educated at Iowa State College in nearby Ames, Iowa.  She taught for a while in Iowa, then went west to Washington Territory with her younger sister Effie.

Paul Jackson Lang was born near Copenhagen, Denmark.  He came to America with his family and settled in Wyoming Territory, where they were in the dairy business.  Paul was studying to be a Lutheran Minister when he got the urge to go farther west.  He gave up his studies and went to Washington Territory where he met Fannie.  They were married in Kittitas County.  They had daughters Myrtle and Nora, and sons Eugene, Lloyd, and Clyde [the latter dying at age two].

By Myrtle (Lang) Stanley, written Aug-Sep 1972:

Written 1972

I was born in South Prairie, Washington on September 16, 1891. My parents had lived in Wenatchee.  I don't remember that because it was before I was born.  Then we lived in Ellensburg.  The only thing I remembered about that was when we moved from Ellensburg.  Nora and I were in the covered wagon for the night.  I remember my first sense of fear was when I heard the wolves howling.  I heard my father say "We will keep the fire burning and that will keep the wolves away because they are afraid of fire and won't come near it".

When we got to the ranch, there was a log cabin, and that housed us until my father and his friend Mr. Cahill built two or three more rooms with a large stone fireplace in the living room.  Papa cut the logs and split the firewood, and Nora and I helped to carry in the firewood when needed.

Nora and I would go on horse to get cow.  We would lead the horse up to a tree stump, then get on the stump,  and then get on the horse, as it seemed to understand, and we would go for the cow, as we could hear the cowbell she wore.

One day, near forenoon, a young buck Indian came to the ranch.  Papa had built what was then called a shed over the back door and like a roof (more like our patios).  He then put up a rope swing for us.  Our swing board split and broke, and the Indian took out his hunting knife (when Momma saw him take out his knife, she was frightened she admitted later).  He made a new swing board for us and then played with Nora and I pushing the swing.  Momma had him stay for dinner.  I don't remember what we had - probably a meat stew.

There were many wild roses, and Nora and I would pick the pink petals.  Momma told us to put them in bottles and hang them in the sun, and that melted the petals forming as oil perfume, so Nora and I had our own perfume.

Momma was teaching the country one-room school, when one of the big land owners (and also the sawmill) refused to pay his share for school upkeep on what was called Chumstick School that was part of the country where we lived.

Then my parents sold the ranch and homestead, and moved to Leavenworth so we children could go to school, as Momma felt our education was more important than the ranch.  We lived nearer the mountains since that was where the best homes were.  The railroad was between us and the main street of stores, and back of them was the Wenatchee River.

I remember Gene as a baby on the ranch, but I don't think Lloyd was born until we moved into Leavenworth.


  1. Edie Mahaney, Curator of the Patrick Henry Sullivan Museum in Zionsville, and her staff who helped me get started on the history.  And all those who contributed to the files there.
  2. Ester (Mills) Compton, a marvelous lady and a Dye cousin of mine, who mentored me in my early Dye research, and who was a fountain of knowledge about the early days in Zionsville.
  3. Ross and Emily Hewett, who showed me the McCain gravesites in Omaha, and who entrusted to me many old pictures of the Fords.
  4. John Hook of Cicero, who provided the old letters written to John Ford from the western gold fields, the letter from J. Mast of North Carolina, and Myrtle’s memories.
  5. Charlene Shropshire of Carmel, for her help with the George Dye Ford family.

Ephraim Ford and Hattie (Kate) Huson

Story by Fred Gahimer.

Ephraim Ford’s father, John Ford, emigrated from Ashe County, North Carolina to the little village of Zionsville just north of Indianapolis, Indiana between 1830-1838. There he met and married Elizabeth Dye, the daughter of George Dye, an early pioneer, and one of the first settlers of the area. They were married by Warner Sampson, M.G., on March 11, 1838. John was 26 years old and Elizabeth was 17.

For more information about Ephraim’s younger years, see this story.

In 1852, at the urging of his two brothers in letters to John to join them in the western gold fields, John and a group of other would-be miners headed west with their families.  When they got to Iowa, John became fearful for the safety of his family if they continued, so he settled in Story County in central Iowa and became a prosperous farmer.  John died in 1862, and Elizabeth stayed on the home farm near Colo, east of Nevada, and had the oldest sons George and Jim manage the various farms.  The other son, Ephraim, went to Burr Oak, Kansas to farm with relatives.  In 1879, Elizabeth took ill and died.

Her son Jim sent Ephraim a letter telling of their mother’s death.

TO: Mr. E. W. Ford, Burr Oak, Jewel Co., Kansas 3c postage

FROM: Nevada, Iowa   Dec. 8, 1879

Dear Brother,

With a sorrowful mind I will try and write a few lines to let you know that our dear Mother is gone forever.  She departed last night, and will be buried tomorrow at 2 o'clock.  I wish you could have been there.  She spoke so often about you.

Let Aunt Sally know of her death.  So goodbye.  Write soon.

As Ever, Your Brother


We will bury her in the Nevada Cemetery.

The following year, 1880, Ephraim Worth Ford headed west for Wyoming.


Wyoming did not at first prove attractive to homesteaders except in the best valleys along the Union Pacific railroad in the southern part of the state.  It was then discovered that the bunch and buffalo grass of the plains made excellent feed for cattle.  Not only did they fatten on it in the summer, but the thick ripe bunches, retaining all their nutritious food elements, penetrated the thin snows of the wind-swept plains, enabling the herds to live and thrive all winter without extra food or care.  Also, cattle could be grazed at a distance from the railroad and when ready for market transported themselves.  Soon great herds of longhorns were on the way north from the overstocked ranges of Texas.  By the 1870s, the ranges of Wyoming were well stocked.  Herds increased rapidly and almost without expense.

Gen. George Crook’s campaign against the Indians was begun in early 1876 to stop the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho from raiding the settlers coming into the area along the Bozeman Trail.  The Custer disaster on the Little Big Horn in mid-year triggered a national desire to end the Indian problems.  More forts were built, more troops were sent, and in early autumn the campaign began in earnest.  By the end of 1878, most of the hostiles had been driven out of the Powder River country, and, except for small sporadic incidents, the Indian menace was over.  As a result, the influx of the classic, honest, hard-working, pioneer settlers greatly increased, which ultimately led to increased resentment and friction between them and the big ranchers.  The cattle industry, so prosperous in the late 1870s, passed into an era of troubles in the 1880s.  The range was soon overstocked.  Market prices dropped.

In 1877, August Trabing set up a trading post on the Bozeman Trail near the crossing at Crazy Woman Creek.  It became known as Trabing.  Two years later he pulled up stakes and moved all his belongings to the settlement which became Buffalo.  He built his log store where the Masonic Building and First National Bank now stands.  The store eventually became the John H. Conrad and Company.  O. P. Hannah, a buffalo hunter, settled near what is now Sheridan, and he and his partner, Jim White, hunted deer and elk, plus occasional buffalo, for sale to the Army at Fort McKinney, as by that time the commercial quantities of buffalo were gone.

The Buffalo and Sheridan area in Wyoming Territory in the 1880s was characterized by growing friction between the big ranchers and the cowboys and settlers.  Rustling was the only livelihood many of the men had in those days.  The marshall during that period, Frank M. Canton, outdid John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn in tangling with such outlaws and rustlers as Arapaho Brown, Jack Flag, Big Nose George, Teton Jackson, and later broke up the Dalton gang in Oklahoma.  (Read his autobiography – “Frontier Trails”).

The trouble was, a lot of the so-called “rustlers” were cowboys and small ranchers who were running cattle on the open range along with the big ranchers.  Some of the “rustlers” were cowboys who would gather up mavericks (unbranded calves) born over the winter and would start their own herds, to the chagrin of the big ranchers, who viewed all such cattle as theirs.  The cattlemen tried to put a stop to it by not allowing the small ranchers to take part in the spring roundup, and started a brief war in 1892 which failed due to Army intervention.  Ephraim would have experienced the beginnings of this problem.


The first pioneer settlers of Big Horn were reportedly the family of W. F. “Bear” Davis.  After being a captain of wagon trains for twenty years, sometimes traveling through the Little Goose Creek area, he decided to settle his family there.  When his wagon train arrived at the creek on June 17, 1879, he found the Frank James gang there living in dugouts, with a corral of 300 stolen horses nearby.  As they tried to cross the swollen creek, the current was too much for the 4-mule teams, and they were stalled.  A black man came out of one of the dugouts and threw a lariat over one of the mule’s neck, climbed on a horse, and helped the first wagon across.  Bear recognized the man as “Nigger John”, who had belonged to his uncle, Redman Wolfly, back in southern Missouri prior to the Civil War. He had run away and joined the James gang during the war.  The wagon train moved on and camped in a circle.

That night, Nigger John, having recognized Bear, came to Bear’s wagon and talked to him in secrecy because the James gang would shoot him if they knew.  He told Bear to put their mules in the circle because the gang intended to take them and leave.  After doing that, the people danced all night to stay awake.  The next day Frank James and another member of the gang rode into camp.  They had come to say goodbye, for they were going up the trail.  A few years later, the James gang rode up to Bear Davis’ cabin where Mrs. Davis was alone.  She stood in the doorway while they replaced their guns in their holsters.  They politely asked if she could feed them.  She served them the company fare of a frontier kitchen: potato soup, venison steak, and buffalo berry pie.  They ate, and then courteously bowing and thanking her, they left.  In 1881, the settlers used the James gang dugout cabin for a school for a few months.  Outlaws were common in Big Horn and all around the Powder River area of Wyoming.

Ephraim Ford arrived in northern Wyoming and hunted buffalo, reportedly with Buffalo Bill; and worked as a cowboy in the area around the small unnamed settlement of forty hardy souls on Clear Creek at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains.  Later that same year, 1880, two of his sisters, Frances “Fannie” and Effie Ford joined Ephraim in the settlement which was soon to become Buffalo, where he had squatted on a site on the east side of what became Main Street.

Charles Buell and A. J. McCray built the Occidental Hotel at its present location on Main Street where it has been rebuilt and improved several times.  Later in the year 1880, in the bar of the hotel, Mr. Buell suggested that those present should write a name for the village of forty people on a piece of paper and that one of them be drawn from a hat.  The name drawn was “Buffalo” submitted by Will Hart, a young man from Buffalo, New York.

Many famous names have been entered on the Occidental Hotel’s register over the years, including Buffalo Bill (Bill Cody), Teddy Roosevelt, and Generals Crook and Sheridan.  Calamity Jane made her headquarters at the hotel when in town.

In the 1880s freight was hauled by trail wagons hitched in single file pulled by 7-10 yoke of oxen or eight mules or horses.  The stage coach lines ran between Rock Creek and Junction City, with stations at Rock Creek, Point of Rocks, Spring Canyon, LaBonte, Fort Fetterman, Sage Creek, Brown Springs, Weir Morlett’s Seventeen Mile Ranch, Powder River Station, Trabing, Buffalo, Big Horn, Dayton, Forty Mile Ranch, Crow Agency, Fort Custer, and after crossing the Big Horn Mountains, Ferry, and Junction City.  Holdups were frequent, and one point north of Fetterman was called “Hold-up Hollow”.

On October 4, 1881, E. W. Ford & O. J. Westman bought 80 cattle by chattel mortgage, probably in a partnership to run the cattle on the open range.  The herd was described as, “Twenty-four (24) cows branded JE on left side (56) fifty six stock cattle branded JE on left side making Eighty (80) head in all.  Known as Garvey and Brothers herd now running on Clear Creek about two miles east of Fort McKinney in the County of Johnson Territory of Wyoming.”  They mortgaged the herd from Garvey and Brothers for $500, to be paid on or before April 4, 1882 with interest at one percent per month.  [Chattel Mortgage Bk 3, p23-5]

Ephraim’s partner, O.J. Westman (25) married Mary Alice Dawson (21) on 9 Nov 1881 at the Johnson County courthouse. She was a resident of Marshall Town and he was a resident of Buffalo.

That same year, S. T. Farwell opened a cigar and tobacco store in Buffalo.  About December of 1881, Ephraim obtained a homestead of 160 acres of creek bottom land on Crazy Woman Creek just downstream of the junction of the Crazy Woman and Dry Creek roads.  It was made up of two 80 acre parcels in a lazy-L shape comprised of the W1/2 of the NE1/4 and the S1/2 of the NW1/4 of Section 10, T51N, R79W of the 6th Principal Meridian in Wyoming Territory.  He maintained his home in Buffalo, and probably went to the homestead during the ranching period each year.

The following year, on February 15, 1882, Ephraim apparently ended his partnership with O. Westman by selling 75 cattle to him.  Westman financed the purchase with a mortgage of $800 from Ephraim, to be paid on or before October 15, 1882 with interest of two percent per month.  On September 18, 1882, Ephraim was repaid and released the mortgage.  [Chattel Mortgage Bk 3, p63]

Seeing that much of the business in and around Buffalo involved providing supplies to Fort McKinney, Robert Foote saw an opportunity for growth, and opened a large log mercantile store across the street from Ephraim.  The Buffalo Flour Mill and the Fischer Brewery were established, and the first genuine physician, Dr. John Watkins moved to town.  Edward “Doc” Huson, a “country doctor,” merchant, and druggist, had moved to Buffalo from Trabing earlier in the year.  George “Pap” Myers, from Bavaria, organized the first band in Buffalo in 1882 (he was married to Alice Westman at the time, the mother of O.J. Westman), and was identified with every band in the city until his death in 1926.

Ephraim was married to Hattie K. “Katie” Huson by H. R. Mann, JP, on December 17, 1882 in Buffalo at the home of her parents, Edward and Clarissa Huson.  Witnesses were her father, “Doc” Huson, and John Paul.  Katie was 17 years old.  (Marriage Book 1, page 16)

For more information about Katie’s younger years, see this story.

Ephraim Ford and Hattie Huson Ford. Thought to be their wedding photo (Dec 1882).

In 1883, the townfolk decided to remove several unsightly old Indian graves which were high up in the forks of trees on the southeast side of town.  In August, The Echo was established as the first newspaper in the area.  Dr. R. E. Hollbrook became the first dentist.  C. P. Organ and Company established a hardware and implement store, George Holt started the first drug store, R. H. Linn was the first saddle and harness maker, and Billie Hunt and James Convey established rival livery and feed stables.

After the turn of the century, when autos were becoming more common, a man was herding three horses down Main Street.  One of them was an old saddle horse which had frequently been kept at the livery, which in the meantime had been converted into the Central Garage.  The horse walked in, looked around at the shiny new cars and decided this wasn’t where he belonged, so he just calmly walked through the plate glass window and up the street.

Other businesses in Buffalo were the Cowboy, Senate, Charlie Chapin, Minnie Ha-Ha, and Kennedy saloons. the “Q.T” Bowling Alley and Saloon, the Germania House Restaurant and Beer Depot, Charles Burritt Attorney-at-Law, B. Hertzeman’s Merchant Tailor shop, Hopkin’s Meat Market, and Sam Lung’s Chinese Laundry.  Webster and Pratt set up a barber shop, and R. V. Stumbo started a restaurant.

On August 4, 1883, Helen Buell, the first white child born in Buffalo, was delivered in her father’s Occidental Hotel.

On March 3, 1884, the Territorial Legislature approved a charter for Buffalo, and it officially became a city.  The first court house was built that year, and the day after Christmas they had a Citizen’s Ball in honor of its dedication.  Tickets were $5 and included supper.  The Occidental and Monroe bands combined their talents to provide stirring music for the dancers.  At midnight, the revellers retired to the Occidental Hotel where they were served “the finest supper ever served in this county.”

The Homestead Act allowed any person to acquire 160 acres of land by living on it and cultivating it.  However, under the Desert Land Act, one could acquire 640 acres by irrigating any portion of it.

The first patent of record in Johnson County was issued to Verling K. Hart.  It was a desert claim and was located next to Fort McKinney.  This land became the original site for Buffalo.  Major Verling was the commanding officer of the fort from 1882 until his death in February, 1883.  His widow, Juliet Hart, was granted a patent for it on June 19, 1884.  She wasted no time in platting what is now Buffalo, and the plat was filed on July 29, 1884.  Until then, there had been no city plan for laying out streets or locating building sites.  People had put up buildings anywhere, and it was virtually impossible to get the plats to conform to what was already there.  The result was crooked streets.

Ephraim Ford purchased Lot 24, Block 18, in Buffalo from Juliet W. Hart on September 18, 1884 for $10.  (Deed 547, Recorded in Book 1, Page 39).  He and Kate had been living as squatters (as all the early settlers of Buffalo were until Julia Hart inherited her husband’s desert claim for the land and had it platted).  Julia Hart sold the squatters’ land to them for a nominal sum (e.g. $10 for Ephraim’s lot).  On the same day, he sold the lot for $1000 to John A. Jones and J. C. Harrington, who went into a partnership in the first liquor store in Buffalo, apparently built on that lot.  The lot is on the east side of Main Street in Buffalo exactly where Highway 16 comes to a Tee at the main intersection at the Court House.  There was still a liquor store there in 1993, a century later.

Buffalo, WY courthouse. This would have been the view from Ephraim’s house. The courthouse was built in 1883 while Ephraim lived across the street. Photo taken in 2000.

One of Jones and Harringtons’ biggest customers was the “queen” of Buffalo’s night life, Nettie Wright.  She was one of the first women in Buffalo, and took advantage of that fact to ply the oldest profession there.  She could not read or write, but she knew how to make money.  She used the capital thus obtained, along with a loan from her friend, John A. Jones, to build a saloon and roller skating rink.  She bought 45 pairs of skates from Kansas City.

The Jones are also interesting.  John and his wife Ella were quite the business people.  They were handsome for those days, and were very busy running a variety of businesses while raising four children.  Their businesses at various times included a mortuary, liquor store, dress and milliner shop, a saloon, a furniture store, and they always kept about ten to twelve boarders, feeding them each day.

On September 25, 1884, Jim H. Rice purchased a barber outfit in Big Horn from Bernard Hertzman with a chattel mortgage (Book 3, p291-2).  On October 22, Ephraim Ford’s sister, Effie Jane Ford, at the age of 25, was married to Jim Rice (28) in Big Horn by congregational minister Herbert E. Probert, an Englishman, at the house of a Mr. Haund and witnessed by her sister Fannie Ford and a Mrs. Belle Babcock of Big Horn.


Oct. 25, 1884

J. H. Rice, formerly of Buffalo, has taken up his residence in Big Horn and has temporary quarters in the "Star of the West" saloon.  Mr. Rice is a barber of no small experience, and is securing a fair share of custom.
A quiet wedding took place in the parlors of the Oriental hotel the early part of this week, the contracting parties being J. H. Rice and Miss Effie Ford.  Rev. Herbert Probert officiated.  The newly wedded couple have been extended the congratulations of friends and acquaintances.
HE WOULD GO ON A "TOOT".   Fisher, a cook who has been employed for the past two months at Hanna & Babcock's hotel in this town, hired a horse this week out of Farwell's livery stable for the purpose of going to Buffalo and seeing the sights. Evidently he saw more than he bargained for, and after the second day's visit he concluded to come home, but first filled himself skin-full of "booze", and, mounting the livery steed, rode quietly out of town, headed for Big Horn.  He had gone but a short distance when he became too top-heavy, and fell off, the saddle turning under the animal's belly.  The horse ran and bucked for all that was in him until he reached Billy Hunt's stable in Buffalo.  Enroute, he ran over Mr. W. W. Pringle, throwing him to the ground, knocking him insensible, and severely bruising his right shoulder, and otherwise injuring him.  Mr. Pringle lay insensible about two hours, when he was taken to his ranch south of Buffalo.  Dr. Wood, the physician who was called in, says the injuries will not prove fatal.

On February 27, 1885, Ephraim Ford received a Stock Brand Certificate for his brand, best described as a running W with a F as the right stem.

Sign in Clearmont, WY with local brands. One brand is similar to Ephraim’s – on far right (WF)…but not exactly…

May 2, 1885

The practice of shooting off firearms in town is getting to be a nuisance.  Those who wish to become perfect in this line should select some place for practice other than our principal streets.  A stray bullet might accidently hit the wrong mark.

May 30, 1885

Charles A. Trabing, of the firm of Trabing Brothers, Laramie City, died in Omaha last Sunday of blood poisoning.  Mr Trabing was one of the pioneer residents of Wyoming.  He was also the first man to open a store and trading post in this county, and a post office on the Wyoming stage line is named after him.

June 6, 1885

In Buffalo, under the new city ordinance, a fine of not under ten nor over twenty-five dollars will be imposed on each woman for appearing on the streets in a "Mother Hubbard."  This is a move which concerns us but little either way or the other, only that we would say to the makers of that law, please don't extend your city limits so that is would take in Big Horn.

About this time, Ephraim and Katie moved to their Crazy Woman Creek homestead of 160 acres of creek bottom land just upstream of Bass Draw and the outlet of Dry Creek.  It was about 16 miles east and 4 miles north of Buffalo (as the crow flies).  Her parents moved onto Crazy Woman Creek in the SW1/4 of Section 9, immediately west of them.

Remains of “Doc” Huson and Ephraim’s dugouts at Crazy Woman Creek
View of Crazy Woman Creek and “Doc” Huson and Ephraim’s homestead from dugout

Mabel, the first child of Ephraim and Katie, was born that year at the homestead on Crazy Woman.  She was one of the first white children born in Johnson County, Wyoming.  She had golden hair, which the Indians fancied; and they had to keep a close watch over her lest the Indians kidnap her.  When the first white child had been born in Johnson County the previous year, the Indians tried to trade their best Indian ponies for her because she had blond hair.


Aug. 8, 1885

They Took Us In.   A small party of Crow Indians struck a picnic in Big Horn this week.  They loafed around several days and then interviewed THE SENTINEL office on the subject of horse racing, bringing to the office door a one-eyed, pigeon-toed, and ring-boned cayuse that didn't seem to have enough life in it to beat Charlie Round's slow mule in Buffalo, which made a record of a mile in ten minutes on the Fourth of July last.  Our "devil" had for some time been putting in trim his fleet-footed race nag, but being far minus of having enough funds in his exchequer, called upon the staff to make up the desired amount, in order that the Indians could return to the agency in a dilapidated condition financially.  The race came off, and on account of improper management on our part (we suppose this was the cause) the Indian pony came out a neck ahead.  A second race was made up the following day, with double the amount bet that was put up the previous day - and again the Indian managed to get his horse through about a neck ahead.  This was proof that either THE SENTINEL outfit didn't have a race horse, or that the Indians were equal to any emergency in the line of racing.

Aug 15, 1885

Bad Belly, a Crow chief who made a "clean-up" in horse racing in Big Horn last week, is reported to have gone north with several head of horses belonging to the Stoddard & Howard Live Stock Company.  If Bad Belly illegally came in possession of any horses belonging to a cow outfit, he will most likely receive a rounding-up from the cowboys in the form of a surprise party in the Crow camp.

Aug. 29, 1885

Col. Benteen, the officer who had charge of the pack train during Custer's campaign through this country in 1876 and who joined Reno on the Little Horn just before Custer and his command were taken in by the Sioux, is now stationed at Fort McKinney.
BIG HORN, : : : : : : WYO
For a Clean Shave or a Neat
Hair Cut give my shop a trial

A son was born to Jim and Effie (Ford) Rice in Buffalo during the week of September 26, so they must have moved there beforehand.


Sept. 26, 1885

The wife of J. H. Rice, the barber, gave birth to a son this week in Buffalo.

Oct. 17, 1885

Wanted, a barber -- Apply to the unshaven and unshorn inhabitants of Big Horn.
"The Chinese must go" is the cry all over the territory.  Will one please stop at Big Horn to open a laundry?  We hesitate to advocate importation of "Chinese cheap labor," but as we must have clean clothes once a month, if not oftener, and no one else seems inclined to relieve our necessity, we apply to the last resort offered.

Dec. 12, 1885

The cold weather has driven a large number of range cattle into town, and they go wandering up and down the streets at all hours of the night in search of food and shelter.

The winter of 1885-86 was one of the coldest in Wyoming history, causing terrible loss of range stock.  After the spring thaw, masses of dead carcasses were found in the draws.


Jan. 23, 1886

Dave Larison, that grittiest of stage drivers, arrived in Big Horn Thursday last with a frozen finger on each hand, his eyes almost totally closed by the cold, and not withstanding all these ailments, any one of which would have been enough for any ordinary man to give up in despair, in all honor to his duty, this nervy fellow refused to lay over at Big Horn and permit a volunteer, of which there were several, to finish his drive for him.  After thawing out as much as possible he again grasped the lines and continued his drive - of which Big Horn is about the central station - in the face of a blinding storm of wind and snow.  Fit stuff for a hero in that man.
 The cold spell continues with the thermometer thirty degrees below zero and a keen cutting wind from the northwest.

Jan. 30, 1886

Since Dave Larison, one of the drivers on the stage line from here north, was frozen so badly in the blizzard of last week, he has been laying up for repairs at Sheridan.

Feb. 20, 1886

The deepest snow of the season fell Wednesday night.

Mar. 6, 1886

The stages from the north have been delayed somewhat this week on account of the bad condition of the roads.

On March 11, 1886, Ephraim and Katie had their second child, Myrtle, while still living at the homestead on Crazy Woman Creek.  Ephraim had a ticket for a Pythias ball and supper for March 17 in Buffalo.  One of the men in charge of the reception at the ball and supper was Frank Canton, the famous lawman.  Ephraim must not have attended, since the ticket was among his mementos he brought back with him to Indiana.


Apr. 3, 1886

The drivers on the Wyoming stage line are a unit in declaring the present condition of the roads the worst in their memory.

June 5, 1886

Dave Larison, who pulled the ribbons on one of the coaches on the Wyoming stage line for a period of three years, and who recently located near Bingham to follow the life of a granger, has gone to Miles City, where he will list himself among the ranks of benedicts.  Dave's friends are legion in this neck o'the woods, who wish him joy and prosperity in his new departure.

Jul. 31, 1886

Grasshoppers are reported as doing considerable damage in some parts of the county.
A PUBLIC DISGRACE.  There is a period in the history of all frontier towns when it makes but little difference whether houses of prostitution are conducted openly in the principal business streets or not, but as towns build up and a better class of people become the controlling power, such places of infamy are usually consigned to the back streets and their inmates frequently brought before the city authorities and compelled to pay a fine in case they violate any of the city ordinances.  Different in this town.  A stranger coming to Buffalo need not wait until the gas light looms up in order to see the extent of vice.  The nigger houses of prostitution, conducted openly on Main street and the inmates thereof appearing in the street half clad, is sufficient for any ordinary being to become at once disgusted with the town and the men who have the power to enforce the ordinances.  Gentlemen of the city council!  We appeal to you on behalf of the business men of Buffalo, and for the sake of the better class of our female population, to make some move in the direction of compelling the colored prostitutes to take up quarters elsewhere than on the principal street, and to see that their appearance on the streets, in a manner beyond all lines of decency, will hereafter be a thing of the past.

On December 16, 1886 Ephraim gets final receipt on their homestead of 160 acres on the creek bottom of Crazy Woman Creek.  (Book D, p355)   Kate’s parents still had the one immediately west of them.

December 16, 1886

Received from EPHRAIM FORD of Johnson County Wyoming the sum of

Two hundred Dollars being in full for the

W1/2 of the NE1/4 and S1/2 of the NW1/4 quarter of Section No. Ten<br>in Township No. 51 N of Range No. 79 West, containing 160 acres at<br>$1.25 per acre.<br>


During 1888, Ephraim split his time between the Crazy Woman homestead, and the Bechton and Big Horn area, probably grazing cattle or working at one of the ranches there to augment his income.

View of countryside between Buffalo and Big Horn. Photo taken in 2001.
Big Horn, WY in 2001
Big Horn was on the Bozeman Train. Photo taken 2001

Ephraim and Kate received a formal printed wedding notice from her older brother William O. Huson addressed to E. W. Ford, Beckton, Wyoming Territory, postmarked received at Big Horn, Wyo., Feb. 10, 1888, one cent postage, as follows:

W. O. Huson.
Florence Grove.
Mr. & Mrs. W. O. Huson
Married January 23rd, 1888
After February 10th, 1888
Kingman, Arizona

Ephraim and Katie received an announcement of a social hop at Skinner’s Hall in Big Horn for Wednesday, February 22.  O. P. Hannah, the first settler in Sheridan County and a renowned hunter and scout, was on the invitation committee for the hop.


Feb. 4, 1888

Elsewhere in this issue appears the announcement of a dance to be given in Big Horn, on the 22nd, in Skinners hall.  Big Horn has always been noted for its dances, and from the arrangements being made for this one we are led to believe it will surpass any previous occasion of the kind ever given in that town.  Tom Green has the affair in hand, and you may rest assured of a pleasant time should you attend.


in Skinner's Hall,

Wednesday Evening

The best of music and a general good
time for everyone.

Feb. 25, 1888


The dance given at Big Horn last Wednesday evening (Washington's birthday) was well attended, and proved to be one of the most enjoyable of the season.  Early in the evening the participants, who were mostly Big Horn people, began to assemble at the hall, and soon there were arrayed in their best about twenty-five of her fair ones ready to trip the light fantastic, which commenced at about 8:30 o'clock.  This time Big Horn was in excess of its chivalry, which no doubt had a consoling effect on the young men, as on other occasions they often got left.  The music, which comprised three violins, cornet, and organ, was excellent, and the prompting of J. W. Howard was good.  At twelve o'clock supper was served at the Oriental, by the landlady of that popular hotel, who on this occasion prepared one of the finest repasts ever spread before a gathering of this kind in the country - turkey, chicken, oysters, salads, pickles, sauces, jellies, etc., etc. - and it undoubtedly had the desired effect of satisfying the appetites of the merry makers.  After supper was served they repaired again to the hall and continued the pleasurable excitement until the wee small hours of morning, when all left for their homes well pleased with the evening's entertainment.

Fannie Ford had gone to Olympia, Washington with Effie and Jim Rice.  She wrote to Ephraim and Katie at Bechton, Wyoming in April telling him about Washington and asking him to send some of her clothes.

TO: Mr. E. W. Ford,  Bechton, Wyoming

FROM:  Olympia, Washington    April 10, 1888

Dear Sister, Brother, and Girls,

As we have reached the jumping-off place. Jim got out of work at Walla Walla and got a job over here and they want me to come with them, so I might as well see this part of the world and its daisy. The nearer you get to the coast, the rougher it is.  This is the roughest looking town.  It is partly surrounded by water, and the rest by bluffs and pines.  It doesn't look as though there is a wagon road out. We was at the capital building. It's a two story white frame, four old-fashioned windows in front, and sets back in the pines or a place cleared just large enough for it. We came over the switch-back railroad over the cascades. Twas in the night when we crossed them and snowing. We could see far enough to see one track below running beside us.  You could look down into the canyons and up at the mountains.

Came from Tacoma about 5 hours ride on the Fleetwood Steamer on the bay.  There is one nice valley just on this side of Walla Walla, Yakima, and a county seat of the same name.  They have been trying to move the capital there.  Don't think I will stay here any longer than I can get away.  Gerdel's note is due the first of June, so I don't believe I will try to get a school here.  Have been sewing.

It's so rainy and cool here, still, flowers were in bloom when we got here and at Walla Walla three weeks before we left.  I never bothered the senator only the one time.  I don't think he would have done as he did sometimes if it hadn't been for his last wife.  She is hogdutch and his daughter Mary, she was so afraid he would help us.

They say it's healthy here, but if you could see the roofs that are covered with moss and wet, you wouldn't wonder.  I don't think it's as healthy as Wyoming.  It rains all winter here and they say they have delightful summers.

Say, there are nice farms a few miles from town.  Don't think you would like any place I have seen, only Yakima Valley.  It's so rough everywhere else.

May talks everything; knows all of your pictures, and talks about Maybell.  Says tell her Papa got some little dishes.  She is not as fleshy as when little.

We wrote to Chapman at B to get that horse.  He said while he had him, he had never been paid for him, and at first he claimed that I owed him - and was owing me.  Never paid me for that hay that was in the field.

Kate, wish you would send me my scarf right away by registered mail, and I will wait till I stop for good to send for the balance.  I wrote to you about your blankets and you didn't say where to send them or how.  I would have suffered on the road without them.

Eaf, I have wrote to that valley to see about land, and if there is a good show, I will write.  Think that was the nicest.  It was a mild winter there to what it was east of the range.  That's the most attractive feature of the west -nice winters and no cyclones.

We haven't heard from Chapman.  Do you know if W has that horse yet?  Everything is higher here than in Walla Walla.  Want you to write soon.  I wrote to McCain about land he said he could get.  Land in western Nebraska.  I thought I would go there till they have had such a hard winter and storms already.

Will send some pieces of dresses, blue and light maze, blue and plaid Effie's, brown mine.  Have just commenced ours.  I need my black dress bad.  It's so cool here.  Are wearing winter clothes.  If you can register mail at Bechton, you may send it.  Send them right away.  And write.  Had a letter from McCains.

Love to all.   Fan

May 12, 1888

For the past ten days our town has been crowded with cowboys and wagons taking in supplies and making other preparations for the spring round-up which commenced near Ohlman on the 15th.  George Lord is captain, and it is needless to say the work will be done thoroughly and well.


Some of the saloons have the following notices posted on their front doors during Saturday:  "Have your Sunday bottles filled here."

July 21, 1888

There is a dog in town called Dick which performed the remarkable feat of traveling alone from Missouri this summer back to Sheridan.  He was owned by a man who formerly lived here, but returned to his home in the east last fall, taking the dog with him, and great was the surprise of the people when he put in an appearance a short time ago.  He is evidently stuck on the country.

Nov. 24, 1888

The festive cowboy has returned from the range with his pockets filled with gold galore, after a season of hard toil, and asks for a new deal.  He will help make the town lively during the winter.

Katie gave birth to a son, Harry, in December.

L – R: Mabel Ford, Harry Ford, Myrtle Ford

In January 1889, Fannie Ford wrote to Ephraim and Katie at Buffalo, Wyoming telling of trouble with a man stealing money from her mail.

TO: Mr. E. W. Ford, Buffalo, Johnson Co., Wyoming

12 cents postage, registered mail

FROM: Ellensburg, Kittitas Co., Wash.    Jan. 8, 1889

Dear Brother, Sister, and Family,

As I haven't heard will write again and register, and now if I don't hear, will suppose you are dead or never intend to write. I don't know where you are. Was at Bechton but I couldn't hear from you there, and I directed to Bighorn and Buffalo.

Eaf, had a letter from Jim about two weeks ago.  He was better and was trying to sell to come out west.  Said he had written me a plain letter that he thought I would understand, but I never saw it.  He said he thought someone must be meddling with the mail.  Bice said he had never got any from him, but I suppose he did.  I told the postmaster not to let him have my mail and he said their mail come in my name as I did all the writing.  So I told him it didn't matter what he said, that he had better not let any more out of the office.

I sent Eaf $5.00 in a letter this winter with a fellow where I was at work, for her to send me a pair of shoes and the fellow gave the letter to Jim in his shop in the presense of another man that was with him when I handed him the letter, and he never was away from the other fellow after they started, and Bice says there was no money in the letter when he got it, and I went to town the next Sunday on the Train and asked Eff why she didn't send my shoes and she didn't know anything about it.  When he came to the house she asked him if he got a letter from me and said yes, it was at the shop.  He had forgot it.  And she told him twice to go and get it.  The women's mother was there when we got back with it.  The letter had been steamed open and a piece torn off large enough for the 5 gold piece to drop out (I couldn't get a bill) and said it was just that way when he got it.  So I took the letter and told the man what he said and he wrote to him and then went to town to see him, and he said Bice denied saying there was no money in the letter and he told him he was a lier.  He had said it and Bice flew at him to fight, and the man went and had him arrested and fined $25, and he said times was dull he would go to jail, but he didn't.  He got into the sheriff's sympathies so he gave him time and told him to go ahead and do the best he could, and he put the sheriff off 30 days and then told him he had no right to take him so him and the sheriff and deputy had a fight and the deputy drew a revolver on him and Eff went and got some men to go his bonds and he was out yet when I come from Yakima Christmas.  He is doing no good.  Nobody likes him.  He wants Eff to go to Jim [Rice].  Says he can't make a living there for her.  I never expect to go near them again.  I have got sewing here and can get all the work I can do.

I would like to see you all but we have such nice winters here.  I don't think I want to be on that side of the range another winter, although I may be there some time.  I will send you $5 and want you to send my things to me soon as posible by express.  Have my old bed sent from Beecer if it don't cost too much.

If you would rather have your blankets, I will send them, if not will send you the money for them.  Want you to tell me which and write soon without fail.  Send me the children's pictures if you have them.  Eff got Sophia's and her family's pictures.  Sophia has changed.  I didn't know her.  Has her hair shingled.  She wanted to know about Connie coming out here to get him away form her Pa.  I wrote to her that there was little dependence in Bice or her Pa and not to have him come unless Jim comes in the spring.  Now write without fail.

A great big kiss for Maybell and Myrtle.  As Maybell used to say that so sweetly.  Kate, you wrote direct to me and of course this is all.


Fannie Ford married Paul Jackson Lang in Kittitas Co., Washington on February 28, 1889.

In August or early September, Kate apparently had a miscarriage or stillbirth.

In September, Jim Ford, at his Victor Township, Osborne County, Kansas, ranch writes to Ephraim and Kate about having a horse ranch at head of Covert Creek, and sympathizes with their “sad bereavement.”

Covert, Kansas
Sept. 18, 1889
Dear Brother and Wife,

I just received your letter and was glad to hear from you.  Am sorry to hear of your bad health and sad berievement (remember what Mother used to say - it may all be for the best).

I got a letter from the girls a few days ago and answered it.  I haven't a letter from you or the girls but what I answered immediately.  I haven't any papers from you at all.

Well, Eaf, I never had as good health in my life.  Still, I am not very fat yet.  You know about how fat I am in the summer.  I wish you were close to me.  I have got lots of horses.  I tried to send you a team last spring by the fellow that Elias Hart used to go with running horses.  He said it would cost more than they would cost up there.

Well Eaf, you wanted to know what I am doing and how I am getting along, so here goes.  I have 13 forties of land on the head of Covert Creek 3/4 of a mile of the best timber on the creek.  My land all joins.  I have the best little stock ranch in Osborne County.  I have 25 head of Colorado horses from yearlings up, and a fine stallion 3/4 Noriker, weighs 14 hundred, 4 years old, and 13 head of yearling steers, and about $400 in notes drawing 12 percent.  A good wagon, two sets of harness, and a lot of other filth.  And I owe $600 that I am paying interest on, but I think I will make it all right.

But still, Eaf, I feel pretty blue sometimes.  I have a family engaged to come on my place.  He keeps one team to work and I furnish the rest of the horses and ten head of cows.  He does all the work and I give him half of what we make in the stock.  If you was here I would do better than that.  I have got to build this fall if he comes.  His name is Louis of Burr Oak.  You may know him.  He lived across the creek from the Jordans.

I would like to come and see you very much, but I can't get away.  I am fencing.  Got 60 acres of pasture, 6 forties to fence in the next one, so you see I have got something to do, as I always had.

Eaf, I am sorry.  I wish I had borrowed the money you wanted.  If you don't make a sale of your property, let me know.  Hope the girls is doing well, and you are feeling better.  Write soon and often.

As Ever,

Ephraim’s sister Martha “Matt” (Ford) and her husband James Webster “Webb” Rooker moved to Zionsville, Indiana.

On October 8, Ephraim and “Hattie” Ford sold the Crazy Woman homestead to Erain Wickard for $500 by Warranty Deed (Book E, p255).  Ephraim, Katie, and children then went to Jim’s ranch in Kansas, a trip of more than 500 miles as the crow flies, bringing their wagon, three horses, and herd of about thirty-some cattle plus calves and one bull.  Arriving in early November, Kate died a month later on December 9, 1889.

As reported in the local newspaper:

The Farmer, Osborne, Kansas

Wednesday, December 18, 1889

The wife of a Mr. Ford, of Victor Township, died Monday last.  She had been in this county only about a month, and was taken ill shortly after her arrival.

Fannie Lang (unaware of Katie’s death) wrote to Ephraim telling more of Washington and about Effie and Jim Rice in Seattle.

To:  E. W. Ford, Esq., Buffalo, Johnson Co., Wyoming Territory; forwarded to Osborne, Kansas; arrived in Jan.  l890
From:  Ellensburg, Wash., Nov. 17, 1889

Dear Brother and Sister,

As we have not heard from you for a good while, Fannie insisting on me a writing to you.  We would like to hear from you very much, and you must write to us when you receive this.  We quit the railroad in the month of August and come to this place.  Have bought a couple of lots here and have settled here for good.  We both like this place, and as property is advancing very fast in value, we likely will have a chance to make something of one of the lots.  The lots is 50 feet front by 140 feet back.  Paid $125 per lot, Fannie is busy doing sewing. Moved in to our new home a week ago.

This town was burned down last July, but it has built up wonderful since the fire, and it without a doubt will make a large place.  It is the best town between Spokane Falls and Tacoma.  It is about 250 miles west of Spokane Falls and 128 miles east of Tacoma.  It is situated 60 miles east of the Cascade Range in the Kittitas Valley.  Have the Yakima River a running a mile west of the town, and the valley extending about ten miles to the east.

The country is subject to irrigation, and without water the soil is useless.  Have two irrigating ditches through the valley, but they are not large enough to supply the want of water, but they are talking of running a canal next season which is supposed to be large enough to supply the want of water for irrigation.  Have not had any cold weather here yet, and am not liable to have any for Christmas.  I supposed you are having cold weather in Wyoming by this time.  Have been all through Wyoming some years ago, and I know it gets rather cold there.

James Rice and Effie is at Seattle.  Have not heard from Effie since she leaved.  We are both well.  No more for this time hoping to hear from you soon.  Yours sincere Brother and Sister

P. J. Lang and Fannie E. Lang

Jack and Agnes Davidson, friends from Buffalo, wrote Ephraim to offer their condolences at Kate’s death.

TO: Mr. Ephraim W. Ford, Osborne City, Osborne Co., Kansas     2c postage; arrived Jan 8, 1890, 9 AM

FROM:  Buffalo, Johnson Co., Wyoming Territory, Jan 2, 1890

Friend Ephraim,

Your letter of 24th Dec. 1889 came to hand this morning.  We were all very sorry to learn of your loss, as were all your friends.  I have told her friends of your bereavement.  Enclosed find Post Office Order for the sum of $5.  Trusting this will reach you safely.

I am your friend,

Jack Davidson

When asked who sends this, say Mrs. Agnes Davidson.

In February, Edith Morrison, a cousin in Longmont, Colorado, sent Ephraim her condolences at Kate’s death, and tells of her own recent loss of a month-old son due to lung congestion.

TO: Mr. E. W. Ford, Covert, Osborne Co., Kansas    2c postage
FROM: Longmont, Colorado, Feb 26, 1890, [black edge paper & envelope]

Dear Friend and Cousin,

How alike our troubles are.  Little did I think when I received your letter of poor Katie's death that next it would be my little family to be broken.  For Eaf, I have buried our little baby boy.  We only kept him one month, then God took him away from this world of sin and sorrow.  He was only a month old but no one could see him without loving him.  I think we all loved him too much to keep him here among us.  They say he looked like me with long dark hair and blue eyes.  I often wonder if in the other world if we know our relatives as we know them here.  If so, Kate will love my darling little angel boy.

It is hard to give up our loved ones, but God's ways are not our own.  Everything is for the best, I suppose, but it is hard to think so sometimes.  I am sorry you did not let us know Kate was sick.  I would of given so much to of seen her before she died.  I would of come to take care of her or Mother would of come either.  She was as dear to me as a sister.  It seems hard to think that we shall never see her any more.  How I wish you had come home with us.  Perhaps she would not of been sick then.  Mother says if the little ones were here she would take care of them for you.

We are still unsettled but Herb took a job today for six weeks, then we will go some place to settle for good.

I have been sick a good deal this winter, but am better now.  I believe Call is truly sorry for the way she treated Kate, for she has written to me.  She is quite different to what she used to be judging from her letters.

Jennie has a girl baby two months old.  Preacher Rollins has a divorce from his wife.  Mr. French is dead.  Will Fin married Ida Webber.  Herb says how is the chickens.

Are the children well?  Claud is growing fast.  He talks so much about Mable.  Herb and the folks send their regards and sympathies with your trouble.  Write soon.

Yours Truly, Edith Morrison

P. S.  The baby died with lung fever or congestion of the lungs.

In April, Ephraim’s sister Sarah (Ford) and husband A. B. McCain at Buffalo Co., Nebraska, wrote to Ephraim about their sadness at hearing of Kate’s death and how Sarah would like to come and take care of the three children, but must stay and care for her husband.

TO: [no envelope]
FROM:  Buffalo Co., Nebraska     April 16, 1890

Dear Brother,

We received your letter some days ago and we have been waiting, not knowing what to answer.  Sarah would like to go down and see you. It is impossible for me to go, as I am unable to yet sit up all day.  I took cold in one of my ears during my weakness, and it gathered and broke, and it is now affecting my head very much.

They fixed up the spring wagon and I lay down in it and they brought me to Kearney in order to doctor my head.

I am gaining strength very slowly.  Am able to walk through the house by being very careful.  It is possible she may come down, but at present she cannot think of leaving me.  However, we will try and let her go if possible.

The rest of us are in usual health.  I have not written all I can.  You must excuse me from writing further.  So goodbye.

A. B. McCain

[Written on the back of the above letter:]

Dear Brothers,

I cannot give up coming to you and your motherless children.  Pa has been so low all winter we could not leave him.  We are in Kearny now having his ear treated.  We sympathize with you in your affliction and bereavement.  We will come if possible.  I can't write any more I am so tired.  I wanted Dode and Maud to go and see you but it took all of us to wait on Pa.

Neal McCain was here all winter.  We kept him employed all the time Orra was at home this winter.  He wanted to come and see you but could not on account of Pa.

I will come if possible.

Love to all, Write soon
unsigned - [Sarah (Ford) McCain]

Also in April, Matt Rooker wrote to Ephraim at Jim’s ranch at Covert, Kansas telling of their disappointment that he and the children had not yet come to Zionsville.

TO: Mr. Eaf Ford, Covert, Osborne Co., Kansas; 2 cts postage
FROM: Zionsville, Indiana   April 17, 1890

Dear Brother and All,

We received Aunt's [Sallie (Dye) Harmon] and Maria's [Romane] letter last evening.  Uncle Jake [Jacob Dye], Willa [William Rooker], and I have been to every train for several days since we thought it possible for you to get here.  Webb and Willa went the most of last week, then Webb gave you up until today.  Said he thought sure you would come this morning.  Your letters always come from the south in the morning.

Before Willa and I got to the train, we saw two or three trunks tumbled off, then we thought sure they were yours.  Then we hurried faster if possible, but we soon saw by Uncle Jake's countenance that you wasn't there.  Then we went to the office, got your letter, read, and then we all wilted again.  Uncle said "I wish they hadn't written they thought of coming", he was so disappointed.  And, of course, we had to read it to Aunt Fannie [Dye], and she was feeling worse yesterday too, so that I fell afraid for her to know, but Uncle said she would have to know it all, so he went with me to Aunt's [Fannie (Dye) Stoneking].  Of course, she has been elated over Aunt's coming and felt so anxious for you boys, but said she felt like you wouldn't come.  She got quite nervous but took the news better than we thought she could.  She has had so many disappointments and shocks she has disciplined herself to meet almost anything now.  She thinks, and we all do, that when Jim gets able, that you will all come yet.  It is cold and backward here yet perhaps it will be more pleasant to come after a few weeks and better for the boys and children, but we don't want you to think of giving up coming only for the time being.  We won't tell you how disappointed we all are.  But Uncle Will [William Dye] said all the time you wouldn't come.  They have looked and hoped for you so much now I would show them that I could and would come home.

Uncle Jim [James Dye] and Ike [Isaac Cline Dye] have been coming down quite of late.  They too were very much set-up over you coming.  Poor Jim.  I do feel so sorry for him.  I am afraid his sickness is partly caused by worry and how wrong that is and absurd in him.  If he is bankrupted entirely, he is only one among thousands.  That is only a sacrifice of this world.  "What will it profit a man if he gains the world and loses his soul".  If we could only be more concerned about our future welfare, oh how much happier we would be.  I do hope and trust he will be more considerate hereafter, take care of himself, regain his health, then he can do all right.  With health and a willing mind, great things can be accomplished, and how well we all know that true happiness consists not in the things of this life.  How wicked for us to lay up treasures on earth.  His mind and health and soul is worth all on earth.  Now I want him to consider well his own welfare and quit his fretting.  Remember, "Do thyself no harm".  I trust when we hear again he will be very different, and as soon as he is able, I want him to start away from there, not waiting to get ready.

Send the children's pictures.  We had quit writing for them. Thought you would bring them.  Sis wrote so nice about them I already love the little things.  Tell them Aunt Matt wants to see them so bad, want you to write every few days, if only a few words.  I would have  written the first of the week, but Uncle Jake said  not, wait for them.  All usually well except Aunt [Fannie (Dye) Stoneking].  She is worked so much like Mother was, her limbs hurt her so bad now, we don't think she will ever get well.  She said as much a few days ago.  She had several.........for you.  They were waiting last evening.  Will go to Aunt's this morning.  Webb and Willa are hauling logs and make over $3 a day.  Don't blame you for not wanting to leave Jim, yet you can't be much benefit to him.  Do what you think best, but come as soon as you can.


In late April, Jim accompanied Ephraim and the children to Zionsville, Indiana.  Ephraim left his livestock, etc., at Jim’s ranch.

Back L – R: Ephraim Worth Ford, William Nineva “Jim” Ford (Ephraim’s older brother)
Front L – R: Harrison “Harry” Ford, Mabel Ford, Myrtle Ford (children of Ephraim)…thought to be taken soon after Hattie’s death.

Jim wrote several letters to Ephraim in the summer and fall after he returned to his Kansas ranch, telling of his troubles trying to sell out, and of going over to fix up Katie’s grave.

undated; probably in May

Well Eaf, I have been putting off writing to you for a long time as I had lots to do and to think of since I came back.  Alta, the girl that worked here came over the day we started for Indiana and had them buttons on her dress that was got for Katie's shroud and she had gone to Oklahoma when I came home, so I think she must have got the rest of the things.  As soon as I can hear of her I will find out for sure.

I am trying to trade for stock.  I don't know how I will make it. I want to get away this fall if possible.  Does Webb and Joe still talk Tenn.?  If I can turn my stuff into cash I will go with them, that is if I make the trade I am figuring on.  If not, I don't know what I will do.  I can hold the place for some time yet.

Well Eaf, I went over and fixed up Katie's grave.  Put a box around six inches high and filled it up with soil and Anna set out a lot of moss and flowers.  I put up a head and foot piece of wood.  It looks a lot better.  Write.  If there is anything you want to know that I haven't written, just write.  Liss was down from Jewell to get Line to plow her corn.  It is pretty dry up there.
June 22, 1890   At home alone

Well Eaf, I wrote you folks a postal at Osborne.  I had just delivered some stock.  I straightened up with the bank that day.  I let them have some of your cattle and put my cows and calves in the place of them for you.  So you have 32 cows, 31 calves, and one 3 year old bull, and Bill and Frank and Rowdy.  So if anything happens you will know what you have here.  Your wagon is here yet.  I have but one mortgage on stock and that is on hogs.  I will pay that off this week. 

It is very dry and hot, but I think we will have rain.  The grip is working on me again, but I think I can keep it off.  I took some medicine last night.

I don't know what to do.  I think some of going to Colorado and looking.  I will have to go up to McCains I suppose as I cannot get any word from them.  I wish you would write, or have Mattie or Willie if you are not able, and tell how you are, if you can walk or use your hands any, and how Aunt and Uncle are, and how everybody is and how you are satisfied.  I wish I had some of that mineral water.

Write All,   Jim

P.S.  I have bills as sent to the Office most every day for two weeks.  Have you changed your medicine, and what are you taking?  How is the children?  How I would like to see them all.  A big kiss for each one.

At home    Sept.  7, 1890

Am well and batching.  Have been for one week, and it is pretty lonesome, as I have been used to so much company.  But I guess I will get used to it.

I got your letter 2 or 3 days ago and thought I would wait until today for it.  Keeps me busy to cook and do the chores as I have all the water to pump and am trying to chop some wood.

I struck a man a few days ago to trade with.  Said he would bring his wife and look at the place.  I want to trade if I possibly can and get out of this country, for we have raised nothing this year.  I won't have a bushel of corn and only enough to feed a few days, and grass is terrible poor for hay.  There will be some fodder.

If I can I want to make a clean sweep, and if I don't, I will sell enough of something to comfort you and the children, and we will take the balance and go someplace.  I don't want you to get discouraged, for I will do all I can and as soon as I can.  There isn't much sale for anything at present.  Times is terrible.  Earred corn is 40 cts and scarce at that.  Aunts is all well.  How is crops and fruit with you?  Is Webb going to....  Love to all.  A big kiss for the children.


Aunt [Sally (Dye) Harmon] is talking of coming back to spend the winter.  Line went to Colorado to work and is on his road back.  Will get back with less money than he started with, and his horse's shin is poor.  The stock here is in good fix and I can get enough to winter on if we have to keep them.  All write.
Covert, Kansas

Nov. 13, 1890 Dear Brother,

I just received your letter.  Was surprised, I didn't know anyone had wrote about my sickness.  I had a bad spell but rallied, and thought I was getting along all right until I took a severe cold.  But am getting better.  It is the gripp.  I think I will be all right in a few days.  I have been waiting to hear from a trade I have on hands before I made any disposition of stock.  So I don't think it is worthwhile for you to come back home without you are out of danger, as I can ship the stock on the market and take what it brings.  I will write to Wash. and Kansas City for markets here in Kansas.  Does Uncle Will [William Dye] want a source of good cows?  I can pick out a carload of good milkers, some already fresh and will be coming in till May.  I will put them on the cars for $18 per head.  If not, I think of shipping one car of fat calves and trading the rest for good horses and bring a car of them.  You can't sell anything here for cash, so don't be uneasy for I am going to get out of this pretty soon.  So just rest easy and I will be all right.

As Ever, Jim

Covert, Kansas

In January, 1891, Maria Romane [a cousin] wrote from Covert telling about Jim being sick and staying with her for a few days, and how he is boarding at his neighbor’s – the Noyes.

Covert, Kansas Jan. 8, 1891

Dear Cousin Eaf,

Received yours of Jan 2nd Friday evening the 6th.  Was glad to hear from you and glad you are able to help yourself even a little.  That is an improvement over what you had been.  I do hope and pray for your return to health and strength so you will be able to care and look after your little ones.  Jim is sick most all the time.  Part of the time up and then down again.  He hasn't been able to do chores this winter; well I was going to say any, but he might a very few times, but I haven't heard of it.  I think he needs a change of some kind.  I don't know why he don't sell the cattle.  He could get them in at any price.  The calves are all that would bring anything like a living price, and they would only bring $10 apiece.  I don't know if he could sell the horses at any price, but he might on time and have notes, but I am only guessing at that.

We think if there is as heavy a harvest as people are expecting, that teams will bring a fair price just before harvest, but you see, that is in the future.  I suppose Jim wants to make the stock fetch all he possibly can is why he is holding back.  That must be it.

Carl, our second boy, has been herding the stock and doing chores for him since the 22nd of Dec.  They brought Jim up here last Monday and he stayed 3 days and said he felt better the day he left than he had for a month, and I know he did for he went at it that evening. Fixed a mop handle in for me, fastened it in the handle where it had come loose, but he was in bed again yesterday.  The children said he boards at Noyes and keeps the stock on his own farm.  I think they are good to him.  Seem to take as good care of him as if he was one of the family.

Feed is very scarce and you can hardly afford to buy it at the price it is, and stock so low.  We sold a fat cow ready to butcher for $10.  Just think of it.  I don't think I ever saw times any worse than at the present time.

Well, you know how it was when you was here and then a complete failure in crops.  This leaves us all, well, as usual.  Joe is never very stout any more.  Mother and Papa are still in Jewell County.  They are coming back in the spring.  They are all well when Lem wrote last.  Jim is here with us.  We are living here on Pap's place this winter and hope to hear you are improving.  First write again.  I did not show Jim yours.  I thought just as well not.  Goodbye.

Maria Romane

Ephraim was ill, and left the children with his sister Matt and her blind husband Webb Rooker while he went to Orleans in southern Indiana to the “Springs” to get well.

Mabel “Aunt Matt” Ford Rooker at her home in Indianapolis after husband James died

Matt wrote to Ephraim in March, unaware that he had moved north to Columbus, Indiana.

To: Mr. E. W. Ford, Orleans, Orange Co., Ind. forwarded to Columbus, Ind.

From:  Zionsville, Ind.  March 26, 1891

Dear Brother,

We received your letter.  Was getting anxious to hear.  We heard you stayed in the city overnight, so we concluded you would stay till Monday and go back with Wash, as he wrote, it would be as cheap for him to come home over Sunday as board.

The children are all well.  Myrtle and Harry playing, Maybell at Joe's.  We went up there Tuesday and she stayed.  The day we went with you to the train we went to Aunt Fannie's.  Stayed all day.  She is better than usual - all usually.

Well, nothing new to write - hope you are already improving.  You didn't write what the nurse there said of your case.  I feel sure that it will benefit you.  Uncle Jake said they claim those springs are the same as "French Lick", only not such a fashionable place.

We asked Harry why he don't take N. Webb to the barn.  He says cause mad dog bite.

Must close to send to Office.  Write soon and often as you can.


Myrtle's kiss                                

Harry's kiss

While Ephraim was at Columbus being treated by Dr. McLeod (a surgeon), Matt Rooker wrote the last two letters in April telling of the children and of things in Zionsville.

TO: Mr. E. W. Ford, c/o Dr. McLeod, Columbus, Bartholomew Co., Ind.
2 cts postage, [received same day sent]
FROM:  J. W. Rooker, Zionsville, Indiana    April 1, 1891

Dear Brother and Friends,

Received your letter from Columbus.  Was very much surprised at you leaving the Springs.  From what you had written us we were very much encouraged of your speedy recovery.  We are fearful you didn't give them a thorough trial.  "Uncle Jake" [Jacob Dye] says he wishes you had gone on to French Lick, yet it may all be for the best.  Will try to think so at least, and as far as Doctors are concerned, I think and trust her McCleod will do as much as most anyone can.

We were at Uncle Jake's the day we received your last letter.  Aunt Loe [Malora (Owen) Dye] said in answer to cousin Emily that she would like very much if she could see them in their new home, that they weren't fixed up yet, but they were quite well satisfied with themselves.  She was up this afternoon.  Said they had hired a boy to clean yard.  Waited until she was tired, then went at herself and spaded a bed and was tired and that Uncle laughed at her work.  They milk two cows, make butter to sell.

Billy's wife had another bad spell this week.  Aunt Fannie is better again.  She and Mrs. Jinler spent the day with us at Uncle Jakes.  Uncle Will took dinner there too.  Uncle Jim [James Dye] was down over Sunday week ago.  Harry and Elmer last in Madison came down Sunday to have a tooth pulled, but failed.  Said he had suffered very much with it.  Bertha has been down sick but not bad - is better.  Wanted to come to the entertainment, but they thought she wasn't well enough.  Dilla was up there several days.  Her father brought her home.  The relatives are usually well as far as I know.

Well Eaf, I have tried for a week to write, so today I got three lines written, when I had company from Lebanon.  The piano man (Stevens).  He asked me all about you and his .......... one of my old scholars and one of Betsy Roosi's girls which lost her husband this winter.  She was canvasing Parpel-Stretchers.  Said her mother was quite well, but so lonely.

Myrtle and Harry are in bed telling me what to write.  Myrtle says tell Papa her hair is long enough to braid.  Has two braids on each side.  Harry says a big kiss for Papa.  Write Papa.  Now he is telling how Edgar laughs ha ha.  They all sleep in your bed and think it grand.  They are all well and hearty.  Don't fret about them.  They are all right.  Wish you were half so well.  Besides, if anything gets wrong or that you ought to know, we will send word.  They and me worked in the  garden and flower beds most all forenoon.  They enjoy being out.  Maybell says tell Papa she has gone to two entertainments since you went away.  Thought it was so nice.  Last one Pa, Myrtle, and Harry stayed at the barn and ate Rea-nuts.  Pa says tell you to sleep good over the children, that if anything happens, we will telegraph you, that Harry is all right, only that he is too smart.  Says he will run off to the barn and hide in Prince's stall from Aunt Matt (they taught him).  We asked him why he don't take Jeb to the barn.  He says cause mad dog bite.  He talks most everything.

All tired and sleepy.  Will write again.  Pa says they are doing well, sold three at fair profits, think they will sell one tomorrow.  Nothing from Jim, do you?  We wrote you at the Springs.  Did you get it?  Write soon and often as you can.  We are very busy now.  Give our best regards to Dr. McC and his family.

Matt and Webb

P.S. Will send things as soon as I get time and chance to send safe.  Pa says tell you their "Bingo" horse is making a good start, hired a colored man to tend him, looks well.
To: Mr. E. W. Ford, Orleans, Orange Co., Ind forwarded to Columbus, Ind
From:  Zionsville, Ind.  April 5, 1891

Dear Brother,

After waiting to hear from you again I will write.  Received your two letters you last gave quite encouraging news.  Hope you are still improving.  The children are so glad you are getting better.  Harry says "Papa get well".  They send you kisses on all trains that go the way you started, then ask if that is Papa's train.  They are all well and hearty.  Their eyes are all right again.

They all sleep in your bed.  I think it is so nice.  May-Bell was at Joe's a few nights, so Harry, Myrtle, and Matt slept there.  They say wish Papa would come home.

Well, Aunt Fannie [(Dye) Stoneking] has had quite a poor spell again.  She caught her foot under her rug where she sits and fell.  Hurt her knee, hurt herself worse trying to get up She and Mrs. C was alone.  They worried so long before they could make it alone.  Thought she would have to call for help.  Is up and down.

Uncle Jim [Dye] and Matt was down this week.  Said Bertha had been quite sick, but better.  Uncle was down over Sunday.  They all seem anxious about you and read your letter to him.  He said he did hope you would get along, but to be careful what you done, not to do too much.  Uncle Jake said the same, he was afraid you would do something to hurt you.  I want to say you can't be too careful with your self and money.  I am afraid you will venture too far and maybe lose what you have.  Had better be quiet and use it for your health, then you can do all right, but if you lose that and no health, it will be far worse.  You are not able yet to undertake anything, so just be content for a few months at least.

I don't think they have used your money, but if they have, they can replace it, but that is not the object with me.  I want you to get able before you undertake anything.

Harry lost his old......mare last Sunday.  Acted like the other one did.  Got down and couldn't get up.  He is going to stop his "Nucter".  They are at the city now to straighten it.  That Stewart is a rascal.  Harry will come out behind as usual.  Now he sees it - when too late.

Billy Covel's wife has been very bad sick.  Thought she was losing her mind.  Is some better.  Uncle Jake is awful worried about them.  It is snowing this morning.  We got a hot bed partly made.  Will wait again for good weather.  No word from Jim yet.  Webb is afraid you will do something to hurt you.

Must close to send this to the Barn with MayBell.  Oh yes, we all went to our supper, had a good house, the band played on the stage.  Harry didn't take his eye off them while they were there.  They got cross and sleepy before they sold the baby elephant, but MayBell enjoyed that.  She says it was too quiet there.  The midget performed.

P.S.  You left both pairs of your glasses.  Did you mean to?  If you want I will send them to or anything else you want.  Got a letter from Mitchellville.  Another big fire there.  Several business men burned the Index office.  So we didn't get last week's paper.  Do you have lots of reading.  If not, will send you papers if you want me to.  Write often as you can without hurting you.

unsigned -  [Matt]

William Nineveh “Jim” Ford died on December 23, 1891, at the S. H. Noyes residence in Victor Twp., Osborne Co., Kansas, where he had been staying for the past two years because of illness.  He died intestate.  Mr. Noyes petitioned the court in Osborne to name C. W. Baldwin, of Baldwin & Co. Drugs, to be the administrator of the estate, consisting of nothing but a note for $250 owed by Noyes (probably for the sale of stock to him by Jim), and a few small notes from others for a total of about $300.  The entire estate was used to pay the doctor and medicine bills, the funeral ($44), coffin ($28), burial suit ($5), and past boarding bills from Noyes.

The 160 acre farm of Noyes was at the head of Covert Creek close to the Victor-Covert Twp line.  Jim Ford’s 280-acre ranch was about a mile northwest of Noyes.  There are three identical very small FORD headstones near the gate to the Cole Cemetery just over the Covert Twp. line, about two miles southeast of Jim’s ranch.  It is thought that after Kate had a stillbirth in Wyoming, they brought the body of the baby with them to Jim’s ranch, where Kate died.  The two were buried together in the Cole Cemetery, to be joined two years later by Jim.  There are no records of the burials in the Cole Cemetery, nor was there an obituary in the local paper to tell where Jim was buried.

Harry Ford, Mabel Ford, Myrtle Ford

On New Year’s Day of 1892, Ephraim married Mary Alice Johnson in Orleans, Indiana (16 miles northeast of French Lick, IN; 65 miles southwest of Columbus, IN). Mary was the daughter of Armstrong and Sophronia Johnson of Orleans, IN. Ephraim must have met Mary when he stayed in Orleans, IN after returning from Kansas.

On December 12, 1893, Ephraim and Mary had a son, Oscar L. Ford.

In 1895, the Columbus Republic posted a notice that E.W. Ford had mail at the post office that had not been picked up. He must have moved with his family to Shelbyville, IN by that time.

In 1900, Myrtle Ford (15) was boarding on the Peck family farm in Rush Co., Orange Twp., Indiana, and going to school.  The family consisted of the father, Newton Peck (67 yr), a carpenter and farmer, wife Harriet (63), and daughters Sallie Yager (30) and Georgia Peck (7).

Mabel Ford (15) was boarding with the Janis Allander family on their farm in Rush Co., Posey Twp., Indiana.

Harry Ford (12) was staying with Webb and Matt Rooker in Zionsville.

L – R: Mabel Ford, Myrtle Ford

Ephraim and Alice Ford were renting a house at 61 North Pike Street in Shelbyville, Indiana with their six year old son, Oscar L.  Ephraim was an insurance agent, and Alice was a dressmaker.  Ephraim never reclaimed Katie’s three children from their foster homes.

Ephraim was a member of the Washington Lodge of Knights and Ladies of Honor (KLH). The KLH fraternal organization originated in Louisville, KY in 1877 and is said to have been the first secret beneficiary society to admit women to equal social and beneficiary privileges with men. The headquarters were located in Indianapolis. Interestingly, one of their ritual odes recited at their ceremonies was:

“To take the orphan by the hand,
And lead him on aright,
To point him to that “better land,”
Should be our great delight. ”

In March, 1904, Ephraim became ill and began seeing Dr. G.F.H. Hossan, of Indianapolis (Ephraim was probably staying with his sister, Matt. Ephraim died from apoplexy on April 2, 1904 at Matt and Webb Rooker’s home in Zionsville, and was buried in the Zionsville Cemetery next to his sisters Matt Rooker and Fannie Lang and family, and his Uncle William Dye and family.

Obituary - Ephraim Worth Ford was born in Jasper County, Iowa, February 14, 1854, and died at Indianapolis April 2, 1904, aged  50 years, 1 month, and 18 days.  He was joined in marriage in 1881 to Catherine Huson.  To this union were born three children - Mabel, Myrtle, and Harry.  He obeyed the gospel and united with the Christian Church at Orleans, Indiana a number of years ago, and continued faithful until his death.  He was a lover of the Bible and delighted in it's study.  He was a good husband and devoted father.  He leaves to mourn his loss his children, four sisters, one brother, and a host of earnest friends.  He was a member of the Washington Lodge, No. 1352 of the Knights and Ladies of Honor.  In this he was a faithful brother and an earnest worker.  Only just a few days before his death he attended the lodge and made a very touching and earnest plea for the sick of the order.  To those in distress and trouble he ever extended a kind, helping, and sympathetic hand.  Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.  They rest from their labors and their works do follow them.

Descendants of Ephraim had speculated that he and Mary had divorced between 1900 and his death in 1904, but Ephraim’s death certificate shows that he was still married to Mary at the time of his death. It’s interesting that there is no mention of Mary or Oscar in his obituary.

Matt Rooker was appointed guardian for Mabel and Harry on May 2nd.

Oscar became a private in the Army and died of pneumonia at the age of 24 at Fort Dix, NJ.

Nothing else is known about Mary after the 1900 census.


At first, Mabel and Myrtle were placed as apparent boarders in the home of the Offutt sisters living in a big house on the southwest corner of the intersection of the Knightstown Road and State Road 52 in the middle of the town of Arlington in Rush County, Indiana.  They were reportedly treated rather harshly, and were subsequently placed in foster homes.

Mabel Ford McFatridge

Mabel was raised as a boarder on the Janis Allander farm near Carthage in Rush County, Indiana.  She married Charles McFatridge, a nearby farmer.

Mabel Ford McFatridge, Charles McFatridge

Mabel and Charles had no children.  After Charles died in 1938, Mabel went to Florida..  When Harry came to Florida after being permanently disabled, she cared for him there.  

Mabel Ford McFatridge
L – R: Anna May Gahimer, Mabel Wagoner Gahimer, William “Junior” Percell, Fred Gahimer, Claude Wagoner, Mary Rose Wagoner Percell, Martha Gahimer, Patti Percell, Beth Ann Percell Doddridge, Mabel Ford McFatridge, Huson Wagoner, Myrtle Ford Wagoner, Marjorie Wagoner, baby, Ruth Wagoner (Huson’s wife)

Anna Gahimer, Mabel Wagoner Gahimer, Bill “Jr.” Percell, Fred Gahimer, Claude Wagoner, Mary Rose Wagoner Percell, Martha Gahimer, Patty Percell, Beth Ann Percell Doddridge, Mabel Ford McFatridge, Huson Wagoner, Myrtle Ford Wagoner, Marjorie Wagoner, Ruth (Huson’s Ruth) Wagoner. At Wagoner place on 244 near Moscow.

Mabel died in 1961 and is buried with Charlie in the Arlington Cemetery in Rush County.  Mabel was well off.  She gave the bulk of her estate to the Christian Scientist Church, except for $3000 she gave to Myrtle to bury her.

Myrtle was raised as a boarder on the Newton Peck farm in Walker Township, Rush County.  They wanted her to carry water from a basement well, and to keep Mrs. Peck company when Newton was away on carpentry jobs.  The Pecks treated her very well, like one of the family.  She married Claude Wagoner, a nearby farmer, who was the son of William Bracken Wagoner, whose wife Lewie was the eldest daughter of the Pecks.  Myrtle and Claude had seven children.  She died in 1980 at the age of 93.  She and Claude were buried with the Wagoner families in the Moscow Cemetery in Rush County.

Claude and Myrtle Wagoner  Standing L-R: Nora (Lang) Shore, Mabel (Wagoner) Gahimer, Claude Wagoner, Myrtle (Ford) Wagoner, Herbert Wagoner, Martha “Matt” (Ford) Rooker, Frances “Fannie” (Ford) Lang, John Shore. In front L-R: Mary Rose and Norman Wagoner, John Shore’s daughter by a previous wife. 

Myrtle Ford

For more on Myrtle Ford, see this story.

Harry Ford

Harry lived with Matt for a while.  In the 1910 Indianapolis City Directory, a Harry Ford was listed as a clerk at the Kingston Hotel at 31-35 Monument Place.  He met and married Garnett Cleo Breen, a vaudeville dancer who performed with her sister Vivian at the Lyric Theatre in Indianapolis.

1907 Flyer for The Cleo Sisters Vaudeville Act

They had a daughter, Helen M., born in Danville, IL. While in Indianapolis, they had a daughter, Harriett Jane “Janie”, a son, James Breen, and a daughter, Betty Lee (called “Betty Lou”).

In 1917, Harry was a clerk at Nordyke Marmon & Company, manufacturers of milling equipment, located in west Indianapolis. Harry was of medium height, medium weight, with brown eyes and dark brown hair.

By 1920, they moved to Norfolk, VA. In Norfolk he was severely injured when a steel beam fell on him and pinned him, permanently disabling him, and he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. In Norfolk, they had three more children: Martha Ann, John Harrison “Junior”, and Garnett Vivian. At some time, they reportedly moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a bookkeeper. On May 17, 1924, Garnett Cleo died. Helen left home, and Janie, about 13 years of age, quit school to take care of her younger siblings. Garnett Vivian was about a year old and was sent to an orphanage (she was still there in the 1930 census). In the 1930 census, Harry was living with Betty and Breen and Helen Buck, a housekeeper.

About 1938, Janie, who was living in Miami, FL with her family, drove up to Bethlehem, PA and brought Harry to live with her. In the 1940 census, he was living with them and his daughter Garnett.

A some point (1946?), they had a fire in their home, and Harry was saved by his grandson Jack.

Harry Ford saved from fire in 1946 by grandson Jack

Harriett moved to California with her husband Bill, and so Harry lived with Joan (“Joni”) who was still in high school. When Joni married and moved to California, Harry moved in with his daughter Garnett Vivian until his death. Harry’s sister Mabel visited a few times while she lived in Florida.

(Much thanks to Teddi Schrakamp, daughter of Joni, for providing the information on Harry’s life)

Harry Ford

Oscar Ford (son of Ephraim and Alice)

Oscar was born December 12, 1893, in Orleans, Orange County, Ind. He was a railroad employee.

He enlisted in the U.S. Regular Army in 1914 in Oxford, Iowa. He trained at Camps Dodge, Iowa, and Fort Dix, N.J. He was assigned to the Cavalry. He transferred to the Supply Company, 133rd Infantry, and served as Wagoner.

He died of pneumonia September 29, 1918 (age 24) at Camp Dix, N.J. He was buried in I.O.O.F. Cemetery, Orleans, Ind.

Early Dyes

Story by Fred Gahimer.

Richard Dey (Derick Dytszen),  Denmark

In “This Old Monmouth of Ours” by William S. Horner, it states that “Richard Dey, or Derick Dytszen, as it is sometimes written, is said to be the founder of the family that spells its name Dey or Dye in different branches of the family.  He and his family are said to have been of the second party of six families and individuals that made up the second contingent of settlers of the present New York City.  There were 45 in all and they arrived in 1625.  Details of his family are not readily available, save that he is said to have had a son named Laurens.”   It is also possible that he is of another branch of Dyes, and not the father of Laurens.
Laurens Duyksen (or Dytszen or Duyts or Dey); son of Richard
Born: 1610 in Holstein, Denmark Arrived in New Amsterdam in 1639
Wife: Ytie Jansen
  1. Margaret 12/23/1639 in New Amsterdam
  2. Jan Laurensen 3/23/1641 in New Amsterdam
  3. Hans Laurensen 9/28/1644
Wife: Gritje (Gertrude) Jansen (sister of Ytie)   1666
  1. Catharine,  about 1667, died 1668 Bergen, NJ
The first Dye in America was, by most accounts, Laurens Duyts.  He was born in 1610 in the province of Holstein, on the south shore of Zraland, a large island, which at that time belonged to Denmark; thus he was a Dane.  He came to America in 1639 on the “De Brant van Trogan” (The Burning of Troy).  His fellow passengers included the Danes Captain Jochem Pietersen Kuyter, Pieter Andriessen, and Jonas Bronck.  Bronck had contracted Duyts and Andriessen to clear 500 acres of land he was to purchase from the Indians upon his arrival.  The agreement is supposedly still extant.  Bronck was to advance the two men 121 florins to pay their board on the ship.  They were to have liberty to plant tobacco and maize on Bronck’s land upon condition that they should break up a certain quantity of new land every two years, surrendering the other to the owner for the planting of grain.  The land became the New York Borough we know as the Bronx, named after Jonas Bronck.  Laurens was commonly known in New Amsterdam as Laurens Goatschoe (Big Shoe).
The following lease was signed when Bronk engaged Duyts and Andriesen to clear the land:
(Lease of Land in Westchester County)
Before me, Cornelis van Tienhoven, Secretary in New Netherland and the unsigned witnesses, appeared Sr. Jonas Bronk, of the one part, who amicably agreed and contracted as follows:
First: Sr. Bronk shall show said parties a certain piece of land belonging to him, situate on the mainland oppostie the flats of the Manhates; on which said land they shall have permission to plant tobacco and maize, on the condition, that they shall be obliged to break new land every two years for planting the tobacco and maize and changing the place, the land, upon which they have planted to remain at the disposal of said Sr. Bronk.  They shall be bound to surrender the land every time they change, made ready for planting corn and ploughing.  They shall make use of said land, for three consecutive years during which time said Sr. Bronk shall make no other claim upon them, than for the land, which Pieter Andriessen and Laurens Duyts by their labor shall have cleared, who on their side shall be obliged to fulfill the above mentioned conditions.  If Pieter Andriessen and Laurens Duyts demand within a year from said Sr. Bronk 2 horses and 2 cows on the conditions, on which at present the Company gives them to freemen, the said Bronk shall deliver the animals to them if he can spare them.
Pieter Andriessen and Laurens Duyts further pledge their persons and property, movable and immovable, present and future, nothing excepted for the payment of what Sr. Bronk has advanced them for board on ship ‘de Brant van Trogan’ amounting to 121 fl. 16st., of which Pieter Andriessen is to pay 81.4 fl. and Laurens Duyts 40.12 fl.  They promise to pay the aforesaid sums by the first ready means, either in tobacco or otherwise to acknowledgment and token of truth they have signed this respectively.
Done at Fort Amsterdam the 21st of July, 1639.
This is the mark X of Laurens Duyts.
Peter Andriessen and Maurits Janse,  Witnesses
Laurens married Ytie Jansen and they had three children:  a daughter, Margariet, who was baptized on December 23, 1639, the sponsors being Gerrit Janses of Oldenburg (Ytie’s brother?), Teuntje Joris and Tyntju Martens; a son Jan, who was baptized on March 23, 1641; another son Hans, who was baptized in 1644.  Jochem was sponsor at the baptism of the boys.
Laurens appears to have been farming in different places, leasing the lands he tilled.  In March, 1654, he had a land dispute with Francoys Fyn.  Fyn had a certain parcel of land lying on a long island over against Hog Island (now Blackwell’s Island).  Laurens sold this without Fyn knowing about it, claiming it was his own land.
Laurens leased for some time the bowery of the Norwegian woman from Marstrand, Anneke Jans.  He was to pay her two hogs in rent.  As he had paid only one, he was sued in May, 1658, by Anneke’s son-in-law, Johannes Pietersen Vergrugge, later mayor of New York, and was condemned to deliver the hog to the plaintiff.
Laurens Duyts got into trouble with Pieter Stuyvesant, the Dutch governor of New Amsterdam, who was a tough customer with a wooden leg.  On November 25, 1658 he gave Laurens a severe sentence for selling his wife and forcing her to live in adultery with another man and living himself in adultery.  He was to have a rope tied around his neck and then to be severely flogged, and to have his right ear cut off.  He banished Laurens for 50 years.  In 1666 he married the sister of his first wife and they had a daughter.
His son Hans lived at Harlem in 1667.  The other son, Jan, lived there also.  Laurens died at Bergen, New Jersey, about 1668.
Hans Laurensen (Laurens) Duyts (Dye)
Born: Sep. 28, 1644      New Amsterdam
Died: After 1706         Staten Island
Wife: Marritie Satyrs
  1. James Hance;
  2. Catherine;
  3. William;
  4. Isaac
2nd Wife: Sarah Vincent  (1st husband Vincent Fountain)
  1. John, born 1687 in Staten Island;
  2. probably also James
  3. Laurens (Lawrence)
  4. Catherine (Caterina)
  5. Richard
John Lawrence Dye
Born: 1687 in Staten Island
Died: March 8, 1751 in Middlesex Co., New Jersey
Wife: Anne Brown
Married: about 1710      Middlesex Co., New Jersey
  1. John, about 1711
  2. Ann, about 1715
  3. William, about 1718
  4. James, about 1720
  5. David, about 1725
  6. Vincent
  7. Joseph
  8. Catherine
John moved from Staten Island to New Jersey in 1725.  On Dec 21, 1725, he purchased from Minert Johnson of Perth Amboy Twp., 200 acres of land, bounded on the south by Millstone River, and settled on this tract.  This land is located near Prospect Plains and Cranbury, Middlesex Co., NJ, and is now owned and occupied by “Brick House” John Dey, a descendant of William Dey of 1718 (son of John’s half-brother James).  John died before March 8, 1751 at age 63, and Anne died in 1763, both at Macheponix, Middlesex Co., New Jersey.  John’s descendants are to be found in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, and other states.
James Dye
Born: about 1720 in Staten Island, New Jersey
Died: before April 6, 1764    Middlesex Co., New Jersey
Wife: Sarah Lautz
Married: before 1744
  1. James
  2. Andrew (married Sarah Minor, cousin to Martha Washington)
  3. David
  4. John
  5. Benjamin, about 1750
  6. Mercy
  7. Rachel
  8. Anne
  9. Sarah
A notice in a newspaper in Middlesex Co., about 1750:
Stolen on the Night of the 26th ult. from the Sign Post of Gilbert Barton, Tavern-keeper in Cranberry, a sorrel Mare, with a bald Face, and white Mane and Tail, four white feet, a white Spot under her near Eye, about 13 Hands high, 5 Years old last Grass, shod before, branded on the near Buttock *, paces pretty swift, trots well, and has a Mark of a Rope-gall in her near Hough, and some small white Spots on the near Side of her Nose.  Had on a Saddle and Bridle, the Saddle breasted both before and behind with red Plush Housing, and Curb Bridle.  ‘Tis supposed she was stolen by one John Martin, who has lately been in the Jersey Provincials. Whoever takes up the Thief and Mare, shall have Six Pounds Reward for both, or Three Pounds for the Mare, Saddle and Bridle, paid for by James Dye, in Cranberry
Three of James’ sons, John, Andrew, and Benjamin were early settlers on Big Whiteley Creek in Greene Co., PA.  Andrew went to Maryland before going to Pennsylvania.  We don’t know about John and Benjamin.
Benjamin Dye
Born: about 1750
Died: 1788
Wife: Sarah Elizabeth Lemley; died 1793
  1. James; April 26, 1784, Dunkard Creek, Greene Co., PA
  2. George; Jan. 30, 1786, Greene Co., PA
  3. Sarah; 1788, Greene Co., PA; married William Willey in 1803; and died before 1850; probably buried in Noble Co., Ohio.
Benjamin is listed as enlisting in Maryland on July 25, 1776 and serving under Ensign Nathan Williams in the American Revolution.  It is thought that he arrived in Greene County about 1779.  He died in Greene Co., PA in 1788 leaving three minor children.  Steven Gapen (a large land-holder in Whiteley Twp., Greene Co.) was appointed guardian of James Dye in Orphan’s Court on Sep. 12, 1799.  Daniel Jones was appointed guardian of George and Sarah on Nov. 14, 1806.


1. Benjamin
Born: Jan 15, 1808 in Green Co. PA
Died: May 18, 1879 in Zionsville, IN
2. Fannie
Born: Feb 24, 1809 in Morgan Co. OH
Married: Jacob Stonking, Zionsville
3. Isaac
Born: Dec 16, 1810 in Morgan Co. OH
Married: Elizabeth Clyne, Sep 25, 1834
Lived: Northfield, IN on farm
Children: 6 sons; 5 daughters, 10 surviving
  1. Jacob Dye, Union, Neb
  2. Burdetta Dye (a.k.a Mrs. Henry Reed, Northfield, IN)
  3. Mrs. J. R. Reed, Big Springs, IN
  4. Ingram Dye, Lebanon, IN
  5. Miss Ollie Dye, Union, Neb
  6. Mary Jane Dye (a.k.a Mrs. J. Ashley Johnson, Lamar, MO)
  7. Isaac Cline Dye, Union, Neb
  8. Ezekial Dye, Thornton, IN
  9. Mrs. D. W. Lapham, Lebanon, IN
  10. James W. Dye, Union, Neb
4. James
Born: Oct 28, 1812 in Morgan Co. OH
Married: Ruth Ann Harmon, Northfield, IN
5. Jacob
Born: Aug 14, 1814 in Morgan Co. OH
Died: March 26, 1901, Zionsville, Boone Co., Indiana
Married: Martha King, 6-13-1839; died Apr 19, 1884
Married: Malora Owens, 1891
Worked for the firm of Anderson & Co. Bankers, Zionsville
6. George W. Jr.
Born: Oct 3, 1816 in Morgan Co. OH; moved to Oregon
7. William
Born: Oct 18, 1818 in Morgan Co. OH
Married: Margaret Miller, 12-28-1837, Zionsville
8. Elizabeth
Born: Sep 13, 1820 in Morgan Co. OH
Died: Dec. 7, 1879;   Nevada, IA
Married: John Ford, Mar. 11, 1838, in Zionsville, IN
9. Sarah “Sallie”
Born: Jan 12, 1823 in Morgan Co. OH
Married: Robert John Harmon
10. Samuel H.
Born: Nov 11, 1828 in Morgan Co. OH
Married: Malissa Hage, Dakota
James Dye’s 91st birthday in 1903 was at the home of his daughter, Mrs. John Cooney, Northfield IN.  Present were: William Dye, wife, and daughter Chellie, T. J. Dye, Cal Dye, J. N. Harmon, Mrs. Jacob Dye (Malora Owens), John E. Dye and wife Ezekial Dye, Harry Dye and family, Mrs. Elmer Dye, Jennie Dye, James W. Rooker and wife  (Matt), John Stephenson, 77, Mrs. Hulda Murphy, 76, H. N. Marvin, 82


1756 – Frances Calvert born Nov. 28  (Sarah’s Calvert Dye’s mother) Frances’s husband is unknown at this time.
1785 – Sarah Calvert born in Green County, Pennsylvania on Dec. 7.
1786 – George Dye born in Green County, Pennsylvania on Jan. 30.
1807 – George and Sarah married on Jan. 7. (Not listed in Greene Co.)  George was a farmer, hunter, and Methodist preacher
1808 – Benjamin, their first child born on Jan. 15
Moved to Morgan/Guernsey County, Ohio.  Dyes were already there.
Fannie born Feb. 24, 1809
Isaac born Dec. 16, 1810
James born Oct. 28, 1812
1812 – George Dye fought in the Copus Battle in the War of 1812.  Three companies for the war were raised in Guernsey County.  The companies commanded by Simon Beymer and Absalom Martin were stationed at Beam’s blockhouse near Mansfield, Ohio, awaiting orders from Colonel Bay, of whose regiment they were a part.  Nine miles east of the blockhouse was the home of James Copus and wife and their nine children.  He was a Methodist preacher who had brought his family into the western country from Pennsylvania three years before the War of 1812 opened.  He had cleared about twenty acres of land and enclosed it with a rail fence.  The home was the usual cabin of the Ohio pioneer.
At the beginning of the war the English incited the Indians of Northern Ohio to hostilities against the Americans.  Copus was prevailed upon to bring his family to Beam’s blockhouse for protection.  After remaining there several days, he decided to return to his home.  Capt. Martin objected, telling him that the Indians were hostile, but he was determined and could not be dissuaded.
For the protection of Copus and his family, Capt. Martin ordered nine men from his own and Capt. Beymer’s companies to accompany them as guards.  Among the nine Guernsey County men were George Shipley, John Tedrick, Robert Warnock, George Launtz, and George Dye.
Arriving at the cabin, they found that neither it nor the stock had been disturbed.  When night came Mr. Copus invited the soldiers to sleep in the cabin, but they declined, saying they preferred the barn which was a few rods away.  During the night the dogs kept barking incessantly, which caused Mr. Copus to suspect that Indians might be lurking about.  Towards morning he called the nine men to the cabin and informed them of his fears.
To please him they remained inside until morning.  After daybreak several of them went to the spring a short distance away to wash.  Before going they leaned their guns against the side of the cabin.  The Indians, who had surrounded the place, seized this opportunity to make an attack.  They rushed in between the men and the cabin and began shooting.  Three of the soldiers at the spring were killed and scalped.  George Shipley, John Tedrick,  and Robert Warnock fled to the woods.  The two former were overtaken, shot, and scalped.  Warnock, although  wounded, outran the savages.  His wound proved fatal, however; his body was found in the woods a few days later.
George Dye succeeded in reaching the cabin, although his hip was broken by a bullet from the gun of one of the warriors.  Mr.  Copus was wounded, dying an hour later.  This left the two soldiers, the wounded Dye, Mrs. Copus, and the nine children to defend the cabin against forty-five Indians.  The firing continued until about ten o’clock when the Indians retreated.
George Launtz, one of the two soldiers who did not go to the spring, was wounded; also one of the daughters of Copus.  Several Indians were killed.
The unwounded soldier ran in haste to the blockhouse after the Indians left, and asked for assistance, which was sent immediately.  Six Guernsey County men were killed in this battle, and two were wounded.  Only one escaped unhurt.
On account of the danger, Mrs. Copus and her nine children could not remain at the cabin, and went to some relatives in a neighboring township.
In 1882 a monument was erected where the Copus cabin stood.  Upon it are carved the names of the six Guernsey County men who were killed by the Indians.
1814 – George and Sarah Dye were still in Morgan County, Ohio
Jacob born on Aug. 14, 1814
George W., Jr. born Oct. 3, 1816
William born Oct. 18, 1818
Elizabeth born Sept. 13, 1820
Sallie born Jan. 12, 1823
Samuel H. born Nov. 11, 1828
1819 – At an early session of the Board of Commissioners of Morgan County in July, seven petitions for roads were presented, all of which seem to have been granted.  The first ordered by Morgan County officials was Dye’s Road in Section 27, Township 11, Range 11 from Stanton Fordices (on Meigs Creek) by Ezekiel Dye’s and George Dye’s to the Guernsey County line.
1820 – At an election for township officers which was held on April 3rd in Noble Township, Morgan County (now in Noble County), Ohio, 43 votes were cast.  Among the list of voters were George Dye and brother, James Dye.
George and James Dye were early settlers in Morgan County. George had a mill on the old McCleary farm on the road from Iiramsburg to Sarahsville.  It was a small affair, and was erected by John Farley, millright.  George sold to Cramlett and he to James McCleary.  James Dye originally owned the farm on which the Children’s Home is located.  He became quite wealthy, sold out, and moved with his sons to Illinois.  Dye and his sons were all hunters.  In the winter they made enough money on the furs which they captured to enter 160 acres of land where Rochester now is.  They always kept about a dozen hounds, and hunted and trapped throughout the surrounding country.  James Noble was also a trapper.  In some way he incurred the enmity of the younger Dyes, who committed many depredations upon his property, and on one occasion fired bullets through his door.  After years of lawing, he succeeded in lodging some of them in jail.
1829 – Land in Eagle Township, Boone County, Indiana offered for sale for the first time.  Eel River Indians held a reservation in the county prior to that.
1830 – George Dye and family moved to Elizabeth Township, Miami County, Ohio near John and Andrew Dye.  His brother James moved to Illinois.  There were many Dyes in Miami County.  They were among the very early settlers up to 1807.  Many are buried in the Knoop Cemetery on Route 41 two miles east of Troy, Ohio.  Andrew Dye is buried with his second wife, Ann Evans, in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery about eight miles west of Troy.  There is a Dye Mill Road east of Troy going south off Route 41 just before crossing the Little Miami River.  It led to the Dye Mill.
1832 – George Dye and family moved to Eagle Creek, Boone County, IN, passing through the “village of Indianapolis” on April 5.  He bought 640 acres of land in what is now northeast Zionsville extending to Eagle Creek where he later built a mill.  Families did not live close to each other in those days, and they were compelled to call one another neighbors when they lived miles apart.  Neither Zionsville nor Eagle Village existed.  About the only other settlers were Elijah Cross, David Hoover (who was the first county clerk), and Austin Davenport.  Patrick Henry Sullivan and Mr. Sheets were down the creek a few miles.  School houses and churches were spoken of as things that would come.  The children received their schooling in private schools and their first religious training at home.
George Dye was reported in the Boone County history as: one of the best men that ever lived in the County, a Methodist, and a devoted member and public speaker, a great hunter, a very large, strong man, 6’1″ tall, and well made, a bold, fearless pioneer of Boone County
In a sketch of two early Eagle Village pioneers contained in the book Early Life and Times in Boone County, Indiana by Samuel Hardin:
George Dye and Frederick Lowe were to Boone County what Daniel Boone was to Kentucky; bold, fearless, and honest.  Both came early, both were religious men, raised large families, and contributed largely of their time and means to build up a “good society”.  Their houses were both open not only for the poor “new comer”, but to the itinerant preacher who follows close in the wake of civilization.  The first time I ever saw Mr. Dye, he came to our house to see father about building a church in Eagle Village.  He had his trusty big rifle with him, weighing nineteen pounds.  Yes, I said trusty, for once he got a bead on a deer or turkey it was Uncle George’s meat, sure.  That good old man did not live to see the church completed, for he died (in 1847).  He went to Lebanon on some business and was taken sick and died.  He was not what we now call a polished man, but he was more than that, he was useful.  Early he built the Dye mill, which was of untold usefulness to the early settlers.  Don’t forget George Dye.
Two of the Dye boys, James and Jacob, were solicited to clear the grounds in Lebanon for the Boone County seat public square and shooting deer and bear there.
James Dye also carried the mail from Indianapolis to Logansport on horseback for several years, it requiring several relays of men and horses for the daily trip.  He also made many trips to Indianapolis with his father to bring grain “to mill”.
Jacob Dye (uncle of Ephraim Worth Ford)
Recorder's Office, Court House, Lebanon, Indiana

NOTE: A fire in 1907 destroyed all the records prior to 1857.  People were asked to bring their documents in to have them rerecorded.  Thus, all the records described below were in volumes of "Deed Records Heretofore Recorded", or in the Tract Books.  The records which were found are listed here in chronological order.  No attempt was made to go beyond the 1854, since the objective was to determine the land holdings of George Dye, Sr.  No record was found of the original purchase of the section of land as reported in some of the histories.
Oct 28, 1830 Tract Book 1; p98-99

George Dye bot 160 ac

80 ac   W1/2 of SE Sect. 35, Twp 18, Range 2E

80 ac   E1/2 of SW     "       "         "            “
Nov 25, 1833 Heretofore Book 6; p638

George Dye paid $800 to Austin Davenport for 160 ac

80 ac   W1/2 of SW Sect 36, Twp 18, Range 2E

80 ac   E1/2 of SE Sect 35    "         "          “
Mar 6, 1834 Tract Book 1; p99

George Dye bot 40 ac   SW1/4 of NW1/4 Sect 36, Twp 18, Range 2E

1835 – The first brick house in Zionsville built on the Michigan Road by Austin Davenport.  Later bought by George Dye.
Jan 26, 1836 Tract Book 1; p98

George Dye bot 40 ac   SE1/4 of NW1/4 Sect 35, Twp 18, Range 2E
May 28, 1836
George Dye paid $1375 to Jacob Johns for 320 ac
E1/2 of NE1/4 Sect 15, Twp 18, Range 2E
W1/2 of NW1/4 & E1/2 of NW1/4 Sect 14, Twp 18, Range 2E
W1/2 of NE Sect 14, Twp 18, Range 2E
1838 – George Dye built the first mill on a section of Eagle Creek east of Zionsville.  It was fitted for making both flour and meal, and was well patronized in its day.  Jacob and James Dye bought the mill and ran it for many years.  The dam……………………………….being allowed 1/8 toll by law.  After the season’s grinding was over the mill would be stocked with corn for which there was little or no market.  One time they had a thousand bushels of corn stored that had been taken as toll, and no market for it closer than Cincinnati or Lafayette, and the price only 8 cents a bushel.  This was the proceeds of a season’s grinding.   (Zionsville Times)
In his Early Life and Times in Boone County, Indiana, Samuel Hardin recalls his first trip to mill – the Dye Mill of long ago:
The few hours I was in your vicinity last week were certainly very pleasant ones, full of interest to me in looking into the faces of those who I was acquainted with in years past.  Here and there are old landmarks of the past to be seen in and about Eagle Village and Zionsville.  Dye’s old mill-race is, I see, still visible, but the old mill and its ponderous wheel are gone.  Forty-two years ago I rode up to the old mill with grist tied on.  It was my “debut”.  Jake Dye was there in all his glory, ready for fun as he always was.  His first salutation was: “Boy, what in hell do you want?”  I stammered out that I had come to mill.  He took my sack and I went to warm at an old cracked stove.  There were several older boys there parching corn.  Jake saw there was a chance for fun.  He went and got his hand full of flour, stuck it under my nose and said: “Boy, smell this;” then he dashed all of it in my eyebrows, eyes, and hair.  I rushed out, half scared to death, and washed the flour out as best I could.  And this was how I was initiated in going to mill.  As I crossed the old mill race the other day, it was suggested to my mind.  Yet the old mill is gone but Jake is living.  I hope his last days may be pleasant and the sands of life not run out for years to come.
Sep 5, 1839 Heretofore Book 7; p274
George Dye paid $150 to Joseph Norris for 40 ac   NE1/4 of SW1/4 Sect 1, Twp 17N, Range 2E
1845 – George Dye’s wife, Sarah (Calvert) Dye died in Zionsville on July 8, and was buried in the Eagle Village Cemetery.
Jan 16, 1846 Heretofore Book 8; p405
George Dye paid $650 to Jacob Dye for 80 ac
40 ac  NW1/4 of SE1/4 Sect 1, Twp 17, Range 2E
40 ac  N end of E1/2 of SE1/4 Sect 1, Twp 17, Range 2E
1846 – George Dye married Jane Davidson on January 17, and she signed a paper relinquishing her right to administer George’s estate and recommended his son Jacob.  Patrick Henry Sullivan, the first settler of the Zionsville area, after whom the Zionsville Museum is named, witnessed the signing of the agreement.
1847 – George Dye, Sr. died at Lebanon on March 3; buried in Eagle Village Cemetery with Sarah and her mother Frances Calvert  There was no will.   Jacob Dye was named Administrator.  A complete record was filed 3/23/47.  It was finally settled in Feb 1852.  Recorded in Box 045, Book I.
1847 – Bear fight at Dye’s Mill:
The bear fight at “Dye’s Mills” in the year 1847 was one of the largest gatherings, up to that time, perhaps ever assembled in the county.  The Dye boys had a few months previous captured two bear cubs out in Howard County, kept them until about eighteen months old, when it was proposed to have a shooting match bear fight.  The time finally arrived for it to take place.  The result was a big crowd; the people came from far and near – sporting men from Indianapolis and many other places were there with their best guns and dogs.  Not less than three thousand persons were present.  The shooting match came first, and you may guess there was some good marksmanship on hand with their pieces in the best possible trim.  The result was, first, second, and third choices went in different directions.  After which came the dog and bear fight.  The dogs of war was turned loose; it became apparent soon that bruin was on top every time, and one of or two dogs were killed outright.  Notwithstanding this large, mixed crowd, there was no serious trouble.  The bears were dressed and awarded in parcels, satisfactory to all as far as I know.  The writer had a piece for dinner the next day, and it was the best bear meat he ever ate, for it was the only.
1852 – the I. C. & L. Railroad put through Zionsville
1878 – the Dye mill at Zionsville collapsed in a storm
1901 – Jacob Dye, brother of Elizabeth Dye Ford and the Uncle Jake of Aunt Matt Rooker’s letters to Ephraim Ford, died March 26.  His obituary was reported in the Zionsville newspaper:
Death of Jacob Dye

Death ended the long continued suffering of Uncle Jake Dye at about eight o'clock Tuesday morning.  His sickness had continued for many weeks and his death had been expected at any time for several days, and the coming was a shock to his many friends.

Jacob Dye was one of the pioneers of this place, having resided nearly all his life in this immediate neighborhood.  He was a man of sterling character and qualities, a representative of the early pioneers, who hewed this country out of the rough and made it habitable for the younger generation who know little or nothing of the hardships and privations of the early settlers.  A history of his life would make an interesting book in which the good would largely outnumber those in which any wrong was intended to any person.  His life was an open book in which there was no malice or harm toward anyone.  He always had a kindly greeting for friend or stranger and was most esteemed by those who knew him best.  He was a member of no church but lived an upright, honest life to the best of his knowledge and belief, leaving the unknown things of life here and hereafter to others.  He was three times married and as he expressed it to a friend a short time before his death, "In my first marriage I made no mistake; in the second, you know and I know I did make a serious mistake, but in my last marriage I made no mistake." The last wife survives him and during his last illness was a patient, loving, and careful nurse, giving all her time and care toward his comfort.  Uncle Jake will be sadly missed by those who knew him best.
The following story is about George Dye’s brother, James Dye

Perhaps the most exiting murder trial that ever took place in Fulton County [Illinois] was "The People vs. Rebecca Dye" in which the defendant was accused of killing her husband.  The year was 1855.  The case is interesting, from a historical standpoint, because at that time it was very rare for a woman to stand trial for a capital crime.  Also, the story behind the trial is a fascinating tale of family hatred and hidden passion.

Although it was tried at the Circuit Court in Lewistown, the case did not originate in Fulton County.  James Dye was killed at his home northwest of Colchester on May 27, 1854.

A McDonough County pioneer, he was born in Pennsylvania during 1787 and moved to Ohio early in the nineteenth century.  He married a woman named Barbara (last name unknown), and they eventually had twelve children.

During the 1830s the Dye family moved again, to Illinois.  Their homestead in Hire Township, McDonough County, was established in 1836 or 1837.

As the years went by, James Dye became a wealthy farmer.  By the time of his death, he owned hundreds of acres of land and much livestock, as well as four tenant houses.  Devoted to making money, he displayed little interest in his family.  He neglected the education of his children and often quarreled with his sons.  He ordered two or three of them off his property after they had come of age.

After his first wife died in the mid-1840s, he married Rebecca Brown.  That was in 1847.  She was twenty-four; he was sixty.  Dye's children, some of whom were older than their new step-mother, opposed the match.

This situation is remarkably similar to the story line of Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms (1924).  In that famous play, the father is a selfish, materialistic farmer who constantly quarrels with his grown sons and then marries a woman who is younger than they are.  Coincidentally, that play was set during the 1850s - and it ends with murder.

Little is known about the relationship between James and Rebecca Dye, but in the years that followed she commonly referred to him as "the old man" and addressed him as "Pap".  Dye never expressed any dissatisfaction with his young wife and apparently came to trust her with money matters.  Rebecca's opinion of him is unknown.  They had three daughters.

Dye continued to quarrel with his sons.  Arguments, fights, and lawsuits occurred.  During the early 1850's, for example, Peter Dye hit his father with a gun barrel during one fight, and the old man threatened to kill him if he set foot on the farm again.  All of the older children feared that they would not be included in their father's will, and that Rebecca would get everything.  At the time of his death, the old man, who apparently refused to recognize his advancing age, still had no will.

In the early 1850s Dye rented one of his tenant farms to Reverend David B. Burress, a much younger man, who raised a small amount of livestock and occasionally preached at nearby Christian churches.  During 1854 he quarreled with the old man, too, over the planting of corn on the rented acreage.

Burress developed a liking for Rebecca, and she evidently was impressed with him.  A love affair was kindled, but whether it led to adultery is one of the unresolved questions of the Dye murder case.  Burress was planning to leave McDonough County at the time of the murder.

Not long before the killing, Burress and the old man had a fight.  When Dye ran and got a pistol, Rebecca took it away from him and broke up the quarrel.  Apparently, their business disagreement had caused the fracas.

Some of the neighbors also found Dye hard to deal with and didn't like him.  One of them, Stokely P. Ray, evidently sent an anonymous letter to the old man, threatening his life, not long before the murder.  Ray felt he had been cheated by Dye in a business deal.

The murder took place on May 27, 1854.  Dye had gone to bed for the night, and while he was sleeping, someone bashed his head in with an axe.  Then he was shot in the chest.

The neighbors, who later testified at the trial, heard Rebecca yelling and came to see what was wrong.  According to Jessie Martin, when he arrived she cried out, "O, Jessie, some one has come here and killed the old man...".

A coroner's inquest was held the following day, at which the older sons of James Dye directed suspicion toward Rebecca, who was the only person known to be in the house at the time of the killing.  On May 29 she was arrested, along with David Burress and Stokeley Ray.

All three were indicted by the grand jury, but Ray was later released for lack of evidence.  The other two were held without bail until the fall term of the Circuit Court.

Rebecca engaged the most noted criminal lawyer in western Illinois, Macomb's Cyrus Walker, who immediately requested a delay until the spring court term.  He also got a change of venue to Fulton County and arranged to have Rebecca tried separately.

The case attracted several other talented criminal lawyers.  The prosecution staff included William C. Goudy of Fulton County, Alexander F. Wheat of Adams County, and Bryant Scofield of Hancock County.  Aside from Walker, the defense lawyers were William Kellogg and Lewis W. Ross of Fulton County, and Julius Manning of Peoria.

The case also aroused intense public excitement.  The McDonough Independent called it "a most diabolical murder", both "horrible and heart-sickening".  The very idea that a young mother might have committed such a deed was shocking, if not incredible.  Nearly ninety residents of the county were called as witnesses.

When the trial opened in April of 1855, the courtroom in Lewistown was jammed.  There was no standing room left, and some who wanted to see the proceedings could not get in.  Half of the spectators were women.

Jury selection was a long process because so many residents had formed an opinion about the case during the year since the murder had been committed.  Most people felt she was guilty.

The case was not only sensational, but potentially historic.  If the jury convicted Rebecca Dye of murder, she would be the first woman in Illinois to be hanged.


The trial of Rebecca Dye for the murder of her husband raised a number of important issues, including the value of circumstantial evidence, the problem of pre-trial prejudice, and the capability of females to commit premeditated murder.  In general, it revealed much about the functioning of the criminal justice system during the 1850s, but very little about Rebecca Dye.

William Goudy opened the trial by briefly stating the intent of the prosecution and stressing the value of circumstantial evidence.  That approach was taken because there was no witness to the murder.  In fact, he asserted that "circumstantial evidence, in many cases, was better than positive testimony, [because] the guilty mind always acts inconsistent with its innocence..."

The opening statement for the defense was made by Cyrus Walker.  He countered the notion that "circumstantial evidence could not lie", calling it an erroneous theory.  Rather, he asserted that "as the enormity of the crime increases, so the character of the proof should be more certain".

Walker also recognized that most people felt Rebecca Dye was guilty.  After all, her husband had been an old man, and rumor had it that there had been some kind of relationship between her and Dye's tenant farmer, David Burress.  Hence, the noted lawyer cautioned the jury against reaching a verdict on the basis of suspicions about an illicit love affair: "Suspicion [in the public mind] took the smallest circumstance and magnified it; and the natural disposition in every community to find out the cause - that restless, eager energy that seizes every point - directed attention toward the accused.  I warn you, gentlemen, against any such restless eagerness, against the suspicion that blights without investigation, and condemns without proof.  There is no contest here but as to who murdered Dye."

More importantly, Walker made it clear that there were others who had strong motives for killing the old man: "He had frequent quarrels with his sons, fights and law suits.  These engendered a bitter feeling between them, which often led to violence.  After the old man's death, the boys were active to show the prisoner's guilt - they charged her with the murder and hinted of circumstances to cast suspicion upon her."

In short, the sons of James Dye had spread the story about Rebecca and Burress.  And, of course, if she were convicted of the killing, she would not inherit the old man's estate.  His children would share it.

Walker also strove to evoke the natural sympathy that jurors have for a young mother, especially one who had already suffered separation from her children: "Her life is in your hands.  You can hang her up between the heavens and the earth, or you can send her home to her children, from whom she has been torn by the iron rule of law."

It was a superb opening address, which also included remarks "questioning the propriety of capital punishment."  Walker tried to make it as difficult as possible for the jurors to bring in a murder conviction. 

The prosecution did demonstrate that Rebecca and Burress had some kind of association involving money.  She had apparently wanted to help him pay off a debt to her husband.  And it was shown that Burress had quarreled with the old man.  But there was no evidence of a love affair, although that was asserted by the prosecutors.

Harrison Dye, one of the sons, was a major witness against Rebecca.  He claimed that she had said his father "wasn't going to live long" and "she didn't see any satisfaction with him."  He also asserted that Rebecca and Burress were "very friendly when there was no one there but them."  (He apparently didn't find it illogical that he could know that.)

Cyrus Walker did a superb job of impugning his testimony.  The young man was forced to admit that he and his brothers had quarreled with the old man, that he had opposed the marriage to Rebecca, that his father had ordered him off the farm, and that he had spent $900 to pay for vigorous prosecution of the defendant.  At one point, Walker demanded, "Do you want her hung?" and young Dye replied, "I believe it ought to be done."

The most important witness for the defense was Calvin Simmons, a neighbor, who testified that threats of violence were exchanged between Dye and his sons, that the old man was about to make a will that would leave most of his estate to Rebecca, and that Dye trusted his wife and lived harmoniously with her.

The weakest part of Rebecca's case involved her comments during the inquest.  At that time, she indicated that she had been awakened by a loud noise, and had helped her wounded husband from the floor into bed, and had heard someone leave the house and run off.  However, the coroner testified that James Dye probably couldn't have arisen from the floor with the wounds that he had.  It was more likely that he was killed in bed, and that the bullet wound came after he was dead.  (However, the assistant coroner, another physician, was not certain about either matter.)  Another damaging point: the Dyes had four watchdogs, and any intruder would have had to get past them, coming and going.

Rebecca Dye did not take the stand in her own defense.

The concluding arguments occupied two days.  While the prosecution portrayed Rebecca as "a criminal whose hands are reeking in the blood of her own husband," the defense asserted that her guilt was not proven.  Moreover, they claimed that the very enormity of the crime raised reasonable doubts about the defendant's guilt.  As Lewis W. Ross put it, "It is too unnatural to believe that the wife would do so foul a deed."  Julius Manning relied on the same conception about the nature of women: "where the wife of a man's bosom is charged with the murder of her own companion, there is something so revolting in it that we shrink with horror from such a conclusion.  Woman is not prone to crime..."

Since the evidence was not conclusive, the jury had a difficult decision.  They were split between those who wanted her hanged for murder and those who believed she was innocent.  They eventually reached a compromise, one that allowed the law to punish Rebecca, as the probable murderer, and yet avoided the prospect of hanging a young mother.  Nothing in the trial had suggested that Dye had been killed without premeditation, but the jury had been instructed at the outset of the proceedings that a verdict of manslaughter (killing without malice aforethought) was possible.  So, Rebecca Dye was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in prison.

The prosecution had failed to prove its case, had failed to demonstrate that there was animosity between James and Rebecca Dye, or that there was love between her and Reverend Burress.  But the victim was old, and the accused murderers young, and everyone felt that illicit passion was at the bottom of it.  In all likelihood, the decision to convict was morally right, but it was legally wrong.  The pre-trial prejudice that Cyrus Walker had warned about, which centered around the rumors of adultery, had been a powerful factor.

Interestingly enough, David Burress was never convicted.  He broke jail while awaiting trial in Warren County, then decided to give himself up.  But he changed his mind again, broke jail a second time, and was never caught.

Rebecca Dye was taken to the state penitentiary at Alton, where she was a model prisoner.  Before her sentence was half over, the warden recommended that she be pardoned, and Governor William Bissell released her.  She returned to Macomb, where she lived quietly until her death in 1874.

Because she did not testify in her own behalf, did not try to explain herself or accuse anyone else, Rebecca Dye will always be the embodiment of a poignancy that we will never know.  But because her husband, "the old man", was such a selfish and insensitive person, and because his sons so obviously pursued "justice" for all the wrong reasons, it is not hard to sympathize with the young woman, in spite of the fact that she probably committed one of the most brutal murders in the history of McDonough County.

SOURCE:  McDonough County Heritage, [Illinois], p45-49
Recorder's Office, Court House, Lebanon, Indiana

NOTE: A fire in 1907 destroyed all the records prior to 1857.  People were asked to bring their documents in to have them rerecorded.  Thus, all the records described below were in volumes of "Deed Records Heretofore Recorded", or in the Tract Books.  The records which were found are listed here in chronological order.  No attempt was made to go beyond the 1854, since the objective was to determine the land holdings of George Dye, Sr.  No record was found of the original purchase of the section of land as reported in some of the histories.

Oct 28, 1830
George Dye bot 160 ac                                   Tract Book 1
80 ac   W1/2 of SE Sect. 35, Twp 18, Range 2E                p98
80 ac   E1/2 of SW     "       "         "                   p99

Nov 25, 1833
George Dye paid $800 to Austin Davenport for 160 ac   Heretofore Book 6
80 ac   W1/2 of SW Sect 36, Twp 18, Range 2E                 p638
80 ac   E1/2 of SE Sect 35    "         "                    p638

Mar 6, 1834
George Dye bot 40 ac                                     Tract Book 1
40 ac   SW1/4 of NW1/4 Sect 36, Twp 18, Range 2E             p99

Jan 26, 1836
George Dye bot 40 ac                                     Tract Book 1
40 ac   SE1/4 of NW1/4 Sect 35, Twp 18, Range 2E             p98

May 28, 1836
George Dye paid $1375 to Jacob Johns for 320 ac            forgot
E1/2 of NE1/4 Sect 15, Twp 18, Range 2E                      to
W1/2 of NW1/4 & E1/2 of NW1/4 Sect 14, Twp 18, Range 2E    record
W1/2 of NE Sect 14, Twp 18, Range 2E                       source

Nov 29, 1836
Isaac Dye bot 153 ac                                     Tract Book 1
33 ac   NW1/4 of NE1/4 Sect 2, Twp 18N, Range 1E             p62
40 ac   SE1/4 of SE1/4 Sect 36, Twp 19N, Range 1E            p79
80 ac   W1/2 of SE  "        "        "                      p79

Jul 15, 1837
Isaac Dye paid $160 to Zachariah Turpin for 40 ac     Heretofore Book 7
40 ac   NE1/4 of SE1/4 Sect 10, Twp 18N, Range 2E          p271-272

Sep 10, 1838
Isaac Dye paid $150 to W. S. for 120 ac               Heretofore Book 4
W1/2 of SE1/4 & SE1/4 of SE1/4 of Sect 36, Twp 19, Range 1E  p679

Sep 5, 1839
George Dye paid $150 to Joseph Norris for 40 ac       Heretofore Book 7
NE1/4 of SW1/4 Sect 1, Twp 17N, Range 2E                     p274

Mar 14, 1840
Jacob Dye paid $120 to Joseph Norris for 20 ac        Heretofore Book 8
E of SE Sect 1, Twp 17, Range 2E                             p409

Jun 18, 1841
Isaac Dye paid $110 to Samuel Lane for ? ac           Heretofore Book 7
Beginning at NE corner of W1/2 of SE1/4 of Sect 10,       p273
in Twp 18N, Range 2E; turning south 80 rods; thence
west 20 rods; thence north 80 rods; thence east 20
rods to the beginning.

Aug 16, 1842
Isaac Dye paid $440 to Henry Nicholas for 40 ac       Heretofore Book 7
SW1/4 of SW1/4 of Sect 11, Twp 18N, Range 2E                 p280

Jan 16, 1846
George Dye paid $650 to Jacob Dye for 60 ac           Heretofore Book 8
40 ac  NW1/4 of SE1/4 Sect 1, Twp 17, Range 2E               p405
20 ac  N end of E1/2 of SE1/4 Sect 1, Twp 17, Range 2E       p405

Jacob Dye paid $1000 to Jacob Jones for 12 ac         Heretofore Book 9
N1/2 of E1/2 of SE1/4 Sect 3, Twp 18N, Range 2E              p128
on east side of Michigan Road as below:
Beginning at a stake on the edge of Mich. Rd.
dividing lands belonging to Riley Hogshire where
Samuel Nisely now lives, then running east at
angles with said road to the section line dividing
Sections 2 & 3, thence north on the section line
to a Lin tree to lands owned by Daniel Heaton, thence
west on Heaton's south line to the back of Rous lot,
thence south on Rous lot to the corner of same, thence
with the line of said lot to the Mich. Rd., thence on
said road to the place of the beginning, except what is
in streets and alleys between lots off of the foregoing
premises supposed to contain seven acres be they more
or less.  Also another piece of land adjoining the foregoing
and including the following boundaries to wit:  Beginning
at the northwest corner of the W1/2 of the S1/4 of Sect 2
in Twp aforesaid at a line thence east 40 poles to a stake
near a large Burr Oak; thence south 45 degrees west 56 poles
to a stake near a White Oak, thence north 40 poles to the
place of beginning containing 5 acres by measure.

Nov 2, 1850
Purchases from George Dye heirs:
William Dye paid $934 for 81.5 ac                  Heretofore Book 2
Part of SW1/4 of Sect 35, Twp 18, Range 2E                p530

Samuel Dye paid $530 for 58 ac                     Heretofore Book 2
Part of W1/2 of SW Sect 35, Twp 18, Range 2E              p535

James Dye paid $289 for 60 ac                      Heretofore Book 8
40 ac  NW of SE Sect 1, Twp 17, Range 2E                  p40
20 ac  E of SE    "       "        "                      p40

Jun 11, 1851
Isaac Dye paid $25 to John Murphy                  Heretofore Book 7
Part of the E1/2 of SW1/4 of Sect 11, Twp 18N             p279
of Range 2E.
Beginning at the SW corner of Henry Nicolas's
tract, thence NE with the Nicholas/Murphy line to
the center of Michigan Road, thence south far enough
with the center of Mich. Rd. to make 2 acres south of
said Nicholas lot so that the SW line will run parallel
with the NE line SW to the west line of the above
described 80 acre lot, thence north with said line to
the beginning.

Feb 15, 1854
Isaac Dye paid $1500 to Hiram McQuiety for 120 ac     Heretofore Book 7
80 ac  S1/2 of NW1/4 of Sect 1, Twp 18N, Range 2E            p332
40 ac  N1/2 of W1/2 of SW1/4 Sect 1, Twp 18N, Range 2E       p332

1810      Washington Co. *         Miami Co.
Ezekiel Dye  p55         
Anderson Dye
Andrew Dye, Jr.
Steven Dye
Vincent Dye

1814      Guernsey Co. *
Thomas Dye
George Dye  S12, T7, R9
James Dye, proprietor

1816      Miami Co.
John M. Dye  (2 entries)
Stephen Dye
Andrew Dye, Jr.
Benjamin Dye,  (2)
Andrew Dye, Sr.
Vincent Dye

1825      Morgan Co. *
James Dye  (5)
George Dye  (2)
Ezekiel Dye
Ezekiel Dye, Jr.
Vincent Dye  (2)
Thomas Dye  (2)
John Dye  (2)

* Morgan County was formed in 1817 from part of Washington, Guernsey, and Muskingum counties.  Noble County was formed in 1851 from parts of Morgan, Guernsey, and two other counties. I think the Dyes lived in the part that is now Noble County.

Washington Co. (later Greene Co.)
James Dye           >15 yr
3 females
1 boy               <16 yr

Andrew Dye          >15 yr
4 males             <16 yr
4 females

Elizabeth Dye                  Benjamin Dye's widow?
1 female
1 male              >15 yr
1 male              <16 yr     (George Dye, 4 yrs)??

Enoch Dye
7 females
1 male              >15 yr
2 males             <16 yr

Also, Ezekiel Dye; and Jacob, John, and George Lemly
1800  PENNSYLVANIA; Green Co.

James Dye         26-45 yr
1 female          26-45 yr
1 male            10-16 yr
1 female          10-16 yr
2 males             <10 yr
3 females           <10 yr

Andrew Dye          >45 yr  Benjamin's brother  12101-01201
1 female            >45 yr
1 male            16-26 yr
2 females         16-26 yr
2 males           10-16 yr   (George Dye, 14 yrs)??
1 female          10-16 yr
1 male              <10 yr

John Dye          26-45 yr                      00010-40110
1 female          26-25 yr
1 female          16-26 yr
4 females           <10 yr

Greene Co.,  Greene Twp.  p79 & 107
John Dye          26-45 yr
woman             26-45 yr
woman             16-26 yr
2 girls           10-16 yr
2 girls            0-10 yr
2 boys             0-10 yr

Greene Co., Wayne Twp.   p29
James Dye         26-45 yr       George Dye's father, Benjamin, died in
woman             26-45 yr       1788 in Greene Co., a neighbor of his
man               16-26 yr       nephew James Dye.  Benjamin's wife was
woman             16-26 yr       Sarah Elizabeth Lemley, who died 1793.
boy               10-16 yr
girl              10-16 yr       There were several Lemley families
3 boys             0-10 yr       listed in Greene Co., but none have
                                 been identified as her ancestors.
Andrew Dye        16-26 yr
woman             16-26 yr
boy                0-10 yr

Greene Co., Whiteley Twp.,   p035
Daniel Jones        >45 yr       23101-201111  George Dye's guardian
female              >45 yr                     appointed 11/14/1806
female            26-45 yr
male              16-26 yr
female            16-26 yr
3 males           10-16 yr
2 males             <10 yr
2 females           <10 yr

Where are George & Sarah (Calvert) Dye, having married 1/7/1807??

Where were they married?  No record of it in Greene Co., PA.

Greene Co., Wayne Twp.  p327
Andrew Dye          >45 yr
woman             26-45 yr
boy               10-16 yr
boy                0-10 yr
6 girls            0-10 yr

1820  OHIO  Morgan Co.  p82-84
George Dye        26-45 yr  (34)    2 engaged in agriculture
1 f. (Sarah)      26-45 yr  (34)
1 m.  ???         26-45 yr
1 f.  ???         16-26 yr
1 m.              10-16 yr  (Benjamin, 12)
1 f.              10-16 yr  (Fannie, 11)
5 m.                <10 yr  (Isaac, 11, James, 9; Jacob, 5; George, 3;
                             William, 1)

James Dye         26-45 yr          4 engaged in agriculture
1 f.              26-45 yr
1 f.              16-26 yr
3 m.              10-16 yr
2 f.              10-16 yr
1 m.                <10 yr
3 f.                <10 yr

Also, John, Vincent, and Ezekiel Dye and families
OHIO   1830

Miami Co., Roll 136, p61
George Dye        40-50 yr       (44 yrs)
1 woman           40-50 yr       (Sarah (Calvert), 44)
2 males           15-20 yr       (James, 19; Jacob, 15)
2 males           10-15 yr       (George, 13; William, 11)
2 females          5-10 yr       (Elizabeth, 9; Sallie, 7)
1 male               <5 yr       (Samuel, 1)
Benjamin (22), Fannie (21), and Isaac (21) are not in household.
George and Sarah move to Boone Co., IN in 1832.

John M. Dye       50-60 yr                10111001-00110001
1 female          50-60 yr
1 male            20-30 yr
1 male            15-20 yr
1 female          15-20 yr
1 male            10-15 yr
1 female          10-15 yr
1 male               <5 yr

Andrew Dye       90-100 yr  (91 yr)      000000000001-0000000001
1 female          70-80 yr

Ezekiel Calvert     p110  Greene Co., Greene Twp.
Reason Dye          p005     "        Jackson Twp
Lyte Dye            p005     "            "
James Dye           p010     "        Wayne Twp

George Dye is not listed in the 1840 Indiana Federal Census.
He died in 1847 in Lebanon, Indiana.  Where was he in 1840?

Died March 3, 1847.   No will.   Jacob Dye, Administrator.
Complete record.   Filed 3/23/47.   Settled Feb 1852.
Box 045.   Book I.

Early McDuffies

Story by Fred Gahimer

Tradition has it that the McDuffies were descended from the General McDuff who defeated McBeth and saved the throne of Scotland for Malcolm. He was the first Earl of Fife, and was rewarded with a grant of land in fee simple, and “fee” (or “fie”) was tacked onto the end of their name. A coat of arms was given to the family at the same time, which in Scotch heraldry was a lion rampant with a sword in his paw, guarding the crown and Kingdom of Scotland, having three hawks under his feet, representing the three witches who were met by McBeth, and a thorne bush representing Birnam Woods. Motto: “Pro Rege”. This ancient clan played an important part in the affairs of Scotland in those days, having the privilege of crowning the King, of leading the Scottish army, and privilege of sanctuary at the cross of McDuff in Fifeshire.


Marriage Bond of Robert McDuffie and Sallie Taylor 

[back of paper] 
Robert McDuffey 
To M. Bond 
Sallie Taylor 

[front of paper] 

Know all men by these presents that we Robert McDuffy & Jacob Taylor are hereto and firmly bound unto his excellency Christopher Greenup, esq. Governor of Kentuckey and his successors in the Sum of fifty pounds Current money for payment well and truly to be made and done to our Governor his successors and we bind ourselves & every of our heirs Extrs & adtrs jointly and Severally firmly by these presents Sealed with seals and dated this 1st day of May 1806. 

The condition of the above Obligation is Such that Whereas a Marriage is shortly intended to be solemnized Between the above Robert McDuffy & Sally Taylor now the above Obligation to be void else to remain in force. 

Robert McDuffie (seal)
Jacob Taylor (seal)

Witness Present 
W. Moore, clerk 

May the 1st, 1806 
This is to certify that I Robert McDuffie senear (senior) do give william moore the clerk of our county harrison leave to give Robert McDuffie, Jun. Lisence to Marry Sally S. Taylor given under my hand and seal

Robt McDuffie (seal) 
Jacob Taylor Richard Taylor


Gabriel Columbus McDuffie was born in Harrison County, Kentucky on May 12, 1791, the second son of Robert and Rachel McDuffie. His siblings included Robert, Jr., Fielding, Enoch, James, Rachel, Roberta, and Nancy. He married Priscilla Evans in Harrison County, Kentucky on February 13, 1812. She was born in Bourbon County Kentucky on September 20, 1790.

Their children included Rachel, Ursula, Polly, Priscilla, Nancy, Joshua, Walter, and Gabriel “Newton”. Nancy married John Waggoner, and a large group of Waggoners, Ritchies, and McDuffies emmigrated to Orange Township, Rush County, Indiana in 1826.

Gabriel was an elder and pastor in the Christian Church, and was responsible for organizing the Christian Church at Arlington in September, 1835, the Big Flat Rock Christian Church east of Gowdy in April 1851, and was a pioneer minister of the Plum Creek Christian Church. He was also a teacher in the early schools.

Priscilla died in August, 1849.

Gabriel married Mary Collins on June 6, 1850 in Posey Township, and settled on a farm there.

Mary Collins had been born in Fleming County, Kentucky on October 15, 1818. When she was seven years old, she came with her parents to Rush County, Indiana, whither they arrived on October 11, 1825. They settled in Posey Township where she grew to womanhood.

Gabriel and Mary had one child, Mary Asborene, born on March 24, 1851. The child died on November 3, 1853.

Gabriel died on January 30, 1864, and was buried in the Nelson Cemetery on the Marge Nelson property on the south side of SR 52 about a mile west of Arlington.

Mary died in 1900.

The McDuffies changed their name to McDuffee in Rush County. Both Robert and Gabriel McDuffie are believed to be brothers of Nancy (McDuffie) Waggoner. There is some argument among researchers about whether she was the daughter of Robert and Rachel (Murlie) McDuffie or his son Robert McDuffie and Sallie Taylor. The present consensus is that it is Robert and Rachel.

Early Wagoners

Story by Fred Gahimer


Godfrey Waggoner (deceased)

In the name of God, Amen.

I, Godfrey Waggoner, of Washing County and state of Pensylvania farmer being weak of body but of sound memory and calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing it is appointed once for all men to die think proper to constitute and ordain this to be my last Will and Testament and first of all I commend my soul to Almighty god that gave it to me and my body to the earth after the manner of Cristian Burial. And as for such Worldly things as the Lord hath been pleased to bless me with I give and bequeath in the following manner. Viz. I give and bequeath unto my well beloved wife Catharine Waggoner the plantation I now live on together with all my household furniture goods and Chattles and all Dues Debts and demands and all and everything in any ways belonging to me to be freely possed [possessed] by her during her natural life or so long as she shall remain my widow. Item it is my will that at my wifes Death or marriage that my plantation be Equaly divided between my sons and all such moveable effects that I am possed [possessed] of it is my will that they be Equally divided between my wife and Daughters and it is my will that if my wife should marry and her husband should die before her and she should come to want that my boys be oblidged to take her and maintain her well as they can afford and that my above mentioned estate be not unessecarily destroyd. I do nominate and appoint my wife Catharine Waggoner and Nicholas Christ and James Frye my Executors of this my Estate and do hereby revoke and disallow all former wills and covenants Constituting and ordaining this and no other to be my last Will and Testament given under my hand and seal this second day of December 1782

Godfrey Waggoner Signd seald and pronounced in presents of us.

Benjamine Frye, Jacob ….., Philip Fryman, Thomas Bape, Catharine Frye.


A scedule of the Will, whereas I have mentioned in my last will that my wife should have my plantation no longer than till she was married if in case she should marry I so hereby revoke that and it is my will that if she should mary that she is to have my plantation untill my live sons shall be of age and then to be divided as before mentioned it is also my will that my wife shall have my grey mare or her first colt.

Witness my hand and seal this twenty eighth day of December 1782. Godfrey (mark) Waggoner (seal) signed and pronounced in presents of Benjamin Frye and Philip Fryman.


Washington County, ss on the 31st day of January 1783.

Before me James Marshel Register for the probate of Wills in and for said County personally came Benjamin Frye and Philip Fryman two of the subscribing witnesses within named and on their Solemn Oaths did depose and say that they were present and saw and heard Godfrey Wagoner the Testator within named sign, seal, publish, pronounce and declare the Within Annexed Instrument in writing as and for his last Will and Testament together with the schedule or Codicil thereto Annexed and that at the time of doing thereof he was of sound and well disposing mind, memory and understanding to the best of their knowledge observation and belief Sworn before James Marshel – Reg. Be it remembered that on the 31st day of January – Anna Domini 1783 the last will and Testament (together with the Codicil thereunto Annexed) of Godfrey Wagoner, late of Washington County deceased was proved in due form of law, and letters Testamentary thereon were granted to Catharine Wagoner, Nicholas Crist and James Frye the Executors therein they being first sworn – well and truly to administer the Estate of the said deceased and to Exhibit a true and perfect Inventory thereof into the Register’s office at Washington and to render a true and just account of their said Administration when legally thereunto required.

Registered this 31st day of January Anno Domini 1783,

James Marshall, Reg.

John Jacob Waggoner (wife unknown) is thought to have been the son of Godfrey, and father of John Waggoner whose family immigrated to Orange Township, Rush County, Indiana from the Cynthiana, Kentucky area. The pattern of migration seems to have been from Germany to Rotterdam, Holland; to Pennsylvania; to North Carolina; to Kentucky; and then to Indiana.

The only two children of John Jacob’s about which anything is known are Jacob and John. Jacob Waggoner was born October 30, 1784. He was buried in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Lawrence County, Indiana. Two of Jacob’s sons were Civil War soldiers. Logan, born in the 1830s, died in a Pest House in Kansas in 1862.


John Waggoner, Sr. was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on March 31, 1776. He married Mary Catherine Ritchey on July 13, 1797 in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Their children were: John, Peter, Polly, Mahala, James, Milton, Wesley, Ariss, and Asburry.

John Waggoner was a Methodist Episcopal circuit rider in Bourbon, Harrison, and Nicholas counties in Kentucky, and in Rush and Shelby counties in Indiana. He performed many marriages in Kentucky, including some of his children. The Nicholas/Harrison County line ran through his property near Cynthiana, Kentucky. There is a Wagoners Chapel Methodist Church and Cemetery 12 miles east of Cynthania on Wagoner Chapel Road. A J. J. Waggoner donated the land for the church.

In the fall of 1826, John and Mary Catherine and their extended family moved to Orange Township, Rush County, Indiana with a large group of relatives. Those included Gilbert Ritchey (Mary Catherine’s father), Matthew and Susan (Ritchey) Busby, John Ritchey and family, Eve and John Ritchey and Adam Ritchey, along with brothers Robert and Gabriel McDuffie and their families.

When they arrived in Orange Township, the whole region was covered with primeval forest and nearly destitute of the appliances of civilization. The nearest cabin was seven miles away, the mill so distant that a trip for meal or grain was quite an undertaking, and little to console the incomer except the abundance of game and the fine fish that wriggled in the clear, unpolluted streams. John, with his sons, had to clear a trail through the dense forest between his newly entered land and St. Omer, a distance of seven miles straight south as the crow flies. John spoke no English.

His eldest son John, Jr. had already married Robert McDuffie’s daughter Nancy in Kentucky the year before, and they had brought their newborn son William A. Waggoner with them in emmigrating to Indiana.

One of the earliest school houses was built in the southwest corner of the Philip Reddenbaugh farm. Having no glass, the windows were made of paper greased with coon oil, to let in some light, but protect from weather. At one such township school in 1829, the teacher, George Winbro, gave his students whiskey on their last day of school. At another such school, an irate parent of a student who had been punished by the teacher the day before marched into the schoolhouse and started shouting at the teacher, causing the students to jump out the windows through the oiled paper.

John and Mary Catherine Waggoner were buried in a small plot on the Reddenbaugh farm near the schoolhouse, John in 1827, and Mary Catherine in 1841. Both the schoolhouse and the small cemetery have long since disappeared into the earth’s bosom.


John Waggoner, Jr. was born in Harrison County, Kentucky on September 15, 1803, the eldest child of John and Mary Catherine Waggoner. He married Nancy McDuffie, daughter of Robert and Rachel (Murlie) McDuffie, in Harrison County on September 20, 1825. Nancy had been born in Harrison County on January 17, 1805.

Their first child, William A., was born two months before they emmigrated to Rush County, Indiana in the fall of 1826 with their parents and other relatives. Their children were: William A., John, Sarah, Ellen, and Aris.

John had very little property, but a great deal of pluck and good common sense made great stock in trade, and a good investment of both made him a comfortable home in what was the “green timber” land. John lived a long and useful life, and was universally respected by all who knew him.

John died in 1881, and Nancy in 1877. They were buried in the Moscow, Indiana cemetery at the inset corner in the northeast part of the cemetery.

Early Innis Ancestors

Story by Fred Gahimer


Innes was the name applied to the land on which a man named Berowald settled, and throughout the following six centuries, its ownership descended from chief to chief in the lineage of the family Innes, later Innis.  The first to assume Innes as a surname was Walter, grandson of Berowald, about 1226 A.D., and thus he could be considered the progenitor of all the Inneses.
The land of Innes lies from the northern coast of Scotland south between the Rivers Lossie and Spey.  The town of Elgin is on the River Lossie.
Some of the significant events involving the Inneses include:
  • John Innes, Bishop of Moray, rebuilt the beautiful Elgin Cathedral after the “Wolf of Badenoch”, brother of King Robert II, burned it in the mid-15th century.
  • Sir James Innes, 12th chief, was Esquire to James III, and entertained James IV with much pomp at the Castle of Innes in 1490.
  • After Mary Stuart was forced to abdicate her throne in 1567 to her infant son James VI, he, at the age of twelve in 1578 took the sceptor of government, and the following year the Inneses were recognized as a “clan” by the Privy Council.
  • In the early part of the 17th century, Robert Innes of Innermarkie bought a castle, named “Balvenie”.  Robert had a difficult time during the next few years defending himself against his unruly neighbors, but his ability was obviously recognized, for in 1628 he was made a baronet of Nova Scotia.  Balvanie Castle was often the scene of fighting during the 17th century.  In 1635 the district was continuously under attack by the Macgregors and in 1644, after the Battle of Fyvie, the Marquis of Montross marched to Balvenie to allow his men a few days rest out of reach of Argyll’s cavalry.  Five years later a band of Royalists were defeated at Balvenie; 80 were killed and nearly 900 taken as prisoners.  amongst them was probably Sir Walter Innes, the owner of the castle.  In 1658 Balvanie had to be sold to Colonel Sutherland of Kinminity to pay the debts incurred by the Innes family in the Civil War.  The castle was still standing in 1993, and was open to the public.
  • When Charles II was recalled from Holland to assume the throne after Charles I was beheaded, he embarked for Scotland.  On June 23, 1650, he landed at the mouth of the River Spey, on the eastern edge of the Lands of Innes, and was ceremoniously received by Sir Robert, Laird of Innes and 20th chief from Berowald, and his wife, Lady Grizel.  The King then dined at the Innes House, built in 1640-53 by Robert, where, in the presence of the clergy of Moray, he subscribed to the Solemn League and Covenant.
  • In 1690, Father Lewis Innes was the Jacobite Secretary of State for Scotland.
  • By the end of the 18th century, the “seats”, or estates of the separate branches of the family of Innes in Ireland and Scotland exceeded 67.


Francis and Margery (Milliken) Innes emigrated to America from Scotland, and settled in the Tuscarora Valley in the central mountains of Pennsylvania in what became Lack Township in Mifflin County.
After many settlers had come into the valley, the Indians formed an uprising in 1756 and attacked them.  On June 11th or 12th, 1756, Bingham’s Fort, the stockaded home of Samuel Bingham was attacked and burned by a band of Indians led by the Delaware chief. King Beaver. All the occupants of the fort were either killed or captured.
On the day of the attack, John Gray and Francis Innis were returning from Carlisle, where they had gone for salt. As they were descending the Tuscarora Mountain, in a narrow defile, Gray’s horse taking fright at a bear which crossed the road, became unmanageable and threw him off. Innis, anxious to see his wife and family, went on, but Gray was detained for nearly two hours in catching his horse and righting his pack. John Gray’s detention saved him from death or capture. In the meantime, Innis pressed on rapidly toward the fort.
Many of the settlers were killed, and many, including the Innes family, were taken captive.  At that time Francis and Margery had three children, Jane, Nathaniel, and an infant, Mary. Francis was taken away and separated from his family.  As was customary with Indian Captives, Francis had to run a gauntlet of stones, sticks, and clubs by which the Indians tested the mettle of their captives.  Francis passed the gauntlet and was put to hard labor.  However, when the Sabbath came, he refused to work.  The Indians did not understand his religious convictions, and prepared to burn him at the stake.  A French trader happened by, and bargained for Francis’ release for a ransom after Francis promised to work for him until it was repaid.  He thus left with the trader to ply the St. Lawrence to Montreal and back.
Meanwhile, Margery and the children were suffering terribly.  Like Francis, she too had to run the gauntlet, and was stabbed in one of her breasts with a stick, though not fatally.  It was a bitterly cold winter with little food or warmth.  Little Mary’s feet had frozen, and the pain caused her to cry almost constantly despite all efforts of Margery.  The Indians soon tired of the crying, and chopped a hole in the ice of the Monongahela River and pushed little Mary into the hole to drown, while Margery wailed for mercy.  The hunger became so bad that the the Indians, upon hearing that a trader’s boat was approaching on the St. Lawrence River, decided to beg food from the trader.  They took Margery along, thinking that the trader might be more receptive if a white woman did the begging.  Francis was on the boat with the trader, and when he saw Margery, pleaded with the trader to give the Indians anything they wanted in exchange for Margery, and he promised to work until he repaid the ransom.  The Indians agreed, and Francis and Margery were reunited.  The children had been taken into the wilderness by the Indians.
Francis and Margery went with the trader on the boat to Montreal, where Francis continued to work off the ransom.  In February of 1758, they had a son, James, and in May, the ransom was paid, and the trader, true to his word, freed Francis and family to return home.  With the infant, James, in their arms, or carried by Margery papoose-style, they walked southward, following the trail along Lake Champlain, Lake St. George, the Hudson River, to New York City, and then across New Jersey to Philadelphia.  They finally returned to their home in the Tuscarora Valley, and with the other returning settlers, rebuilt their homesteads.  They had no news of the fate of Jane and Nathaniel.
Six years after the first uprising, Pontiac, the great Ottawa chief, began to stir up another war, and bloodshed began again.  When the Indian threat seemed imminent in the valley, the settlers crowded into the small fort there.  One night an Indian approached the fort.  The settlers were frightened and wanted to shoot him, but a trader, Sterrit, wanted to hear what he had to say.  The Indian reminded Sterrit that he was the Indian whom Sterrit had given food when he was hungry, and he had come to repay the favor.  He said that a large Indian war party was approaching, and that they should flee.  They did, and went to the next county, Cumberland,  The Indians came the next night, and finding the fort empty, burned it to the ground, and left a war-club painted red, to signify war, in a path in front of the fort.
The Indian war was finally ended in 1764 when English Col. Henry Bouquet and his army performed a brilliant maneuver which fooled the Indians and led to their total defeat.  As part of the peace agreement, Col. Bouquet demanded that all captives of the Indians be released within 12 days.
Francis traveled to Philadelphia to search among the released captives for his children.  It was hard for the settlers and the children who were captured very young to recognize each other after 8 years apart.  It was Jane who recognized her father, and told him that Nathaniel was among the group also, but that another family had claimed him and was preparing to leave with him.  Francis found the family and challenged their right to Nathaniel, and proved it by a hidden scar on Nathaniel’s body.  The family agreed and Francis’ entire family was together at last, except for little Mary.
It took some time for the youngest captives to become acclimated to civilization, since they had spent most of their lives with the Indians.  Some never did, and escaped to return to the wild.  Nathaniel slowly resumed life with his family, but for several years, he would at certain times of the year run outside and engage in some Indian dance to invoke the spirits for some purpose.  Both he and Jane eventually married and had families.
In addition to Jane, Nathaniel, Mary, and James, Francis and Margery had two more children, Elizabeth and Francis, Jr.  Nothing is known about Elizabeth, so it is assumed that she died at an early age.  All three sons served at least some time in the Revolutionary War, and Francis, Jr. Served through the entire war, including Valley Forge and Yorktown.


James was born in February 1758 while his parents were in Montreal, Canada, and Francis was working off the ransom the French trader had paid for he and his wife to the Indians.  Except for the brief period that the settlers had to go to the next county (Cumberland) to escape Pontiac’s Indian uprising, James spent the rest of his life in the Tuscarora Valley of Pennsylvania.
James obtained his education in the township schools.  In 1778, the Lack Township assessor declared James a “Freeman” (bachelor) and he thus owed a tax of one pound, ten shillings, quite a sum in those days.  James lost no time in marrying, at age 21, Ann Arbuckle, daughter of William Arbuckle, a nearby family who was the tax assessor in 1768, and had settled in the valley with a warrant for 100 acres dated Feb. 4, 1755.
In 1779, James was settled on 75 acres, with a horse for sure footed labor or transportation, and one cow for milk.  For Ann Innis, married life began on an uncertain note.  The Revolutionary War raged in the East, and periodic calls for James’ militia unit drew him away from home on several occasions.
Farming must have been a bit tough for James to handle in 1780.  There was the Militia duty, and the birth of his first child, a son, who they named for the infant’s grandfather, Francis.  James’ farm land had decreased to 50 acres, on which he had just one horse.  But soon there were more family needs, and more mouths to feed.  1782 brought James’ and Ann’s second son, William, into the world.  The farm was expanding again, with 99 acres, a horse, and two cows.  By 1785, a year after the birth of Elizabeth, their first daughter, the Innis farm covered 100 acres, and depended on two horses and cows.  In the next few years, James made no attempt to increase his acreage, and it appears he was sharing some of his father’s land, probably because of concern about the aging Francis’ abilities to handle the responsibilities alone.  On Jan. 2, 1795, Francis deeded a portion of his land to James, amounting to 233 acres, 63 perches.
By 1790, James was the father of two more sons, Samuel, in 1786, and James, in 1789.  At two-year intervals, Ann added four more sons to the family:  John, 1792;  Alexander, 1794; Nathaniel, 1796; and Joseph, 1798.  The last child, Ann, was born in 1801.
By 1801, James’ widowed mother, Margery, was living with his family of eight sons and two daughters.
The year 1801 also marked the organization of McCoysville’s United Presbyterian Church, of which James was ordained as one of the first Elders.  He was a Democrat in politics.
Sometime in the next few years, the family was grieved by the death of their wife and mother, Ann Arbuckle Innis.  Her grave, presuming she was interred in the Presbyterian cemetery that had been established in a corner of the farm, was marked, at most, by a smooth stone.  There are several such chunks of native rock standing to the right of James’ tombstone, which could be Francis, Margery, Ann, and perhaps Ann’s parents.  No epitaph was engraved, but we must conclude that they are buried there.  After their struggles to win this land from the wilderness and the Indians, would their families have the heart to bury them anywhere else?
After Ann’s death, James married Isabella Oliver, who had come from her native Ireland before 1790, on May 8, 1806.  The children born to this marriage were:  Sarah, Mary, Isabella, Robert, Jane, Ebenezer, and Nancy.
By about 1818, James family began to disperse.  The older sons went to Brown County, Ohio, the rest by the first wife to Rush County, Indiana.  In 1820, only Samuel, Joseph, and Ann of James’ older children remained at home with his second family.
His 68 years were becoming too much of a burden for James.  “Being in a frail Steat of body but of sound mind and Memory”, on April 11, 1826, he made his last will and testament, dictating it to an unidentified writer, but signing it with his own shaking hand.  Despite the care of Doctor Joseph Kelly, he died at home on Oct. 21, 1826.  Grave clothes were purchased from Joseph Laird, and his body was laid to rest in the cemetery on the edge of the farm, on the road to McCoysville.  A slab of white marble was placed to mark James’ grave bearing these words:
memory of
who departed this life Oct. 1826
Aged 75 years (an error)
His parents being taken captive by the
French and Indians at Bingham Fort,
he was born in Montreal
He served two terms in the Revolutionary War.
After peace was declared was brought back
by his parents and there resided until his
death and died a believer in Christ.”
The will was presented for probate on Nov. 22, 1826.  The following is a summary of the will:
To his wife, Isabella, he gave her choice of “one horse creature”, two cows, and six sheep, her choice of one bed and bedding, one table and table furniture, his bureau, and their house for her and the children’s use, or for her exclusive use if they should leave her.  She also was to have for her exclusive use yearly twenty bushels of wheat, ten bushels of rye or Indian corn, one hundred-weight each of beef and of pork, at all times pasturage and forage for her “creatures”, half a bushel of flaxseed sown on good ground, and to have wood and water from the place as needed.
Next, James gave to sons Francis and William, $25 each; to Nathaniel, $20; to James, John, Alexander, and Joseph, $50 each; to Elizabeth, $5; to Anne, $20; to son Samuel, “…a decent Mintenance of food and clothing During his natural life from off the place whereon I now live”; to daughters Sarah, Isabella, Jane, and Nancy, $200 each; to Robert and Ebenezer, all the remainder of the estate, real and personal, to be equally divided between them.
Robert and Ebenezer were to pay and perform all the above bequests out of the real estate, in the following manner: one year after the youngest child became of age, they were to pay their half-brothers and sisters, and at the end of another year, to pay their sisters Sarah, Isabella, Jane, and Nancy each $50, and so on yearly until they had paid each of them the sum of $200.  If land “continued to fall in value” so that Robert and Ebenezer might have desired to leave, then they were to go equal shares with their full-sisters.  James allowed for a sale of his movable properties to pay any debts.  He suggested that if any of the stock could be spared, the family might attempt to farm the place, but if not, then it must be rented out, its produce to go to support the family.  He added that, if the produce and circumstances permitted , the younger children should receive an education equal to that had by the older ones, without lessening their shares in the estate.
There was no time lost before the sale of surplus livestock and grain from James’ farm.  The bill of the vendue, held Nov. 16, 1826, shows receipts totaling $512.78, for the following items:  2 sows, 9 hogs, 8 calves, 5 heifers, 8 cows, 1 bull, 4 steers, 1 mare, 1 horse, 3 colts, 200 bushels of wheat, and 60 bushels of corn.  When other monies had come in, and debts and administration costs paid, the balance remaining in the accounts of the estate on Jan. 23, 1828 was $302.18, subject to distribution to heirs according to law.
By 1830, all the older children of James and Ann Innis had left their home except Samuel.  Five of his half-brothers and -sisters also remained with their mother, Isabella, to maintain the family farm.  About 1840, if the directives of James’ will were properly carried out, Robert and Ebenezer should have begun the cash distributions.
On Mar. 2. 1831, the land of the ancestral farm, and the surrounding Tuscarora Valley, was included in the founding of a new county, called “Juniata”, taken from the eastern part of Mifflin County.
In Sep. 1850, the census of Beale Township of Juniata County shows that Robert and Ebenezer had continued to live on the farm, valued at $7000, under Robert’s management, with their wives and children.  Ebenezer must have maintained the larger of the two homes, since Samuel, Isabella, and Nancy lived with him.
The year 1851 must have been a strain on Isabella’s emotions, as illnesses claimed the lives of three of her children, Robert, Isabella, and Jane, and Ebenezer’s wife, Ann.  The following year Robert’s widow, Jane, died also.
As a result of a new law in 1855, Isabella received a veteran’s widow’s compensation in the form of a warrant for 160 acres on Dec. 24, 1857, and on Dec. 10, 1858, Ebenezer warranted 60 acres in his own right.  The family farm, in later years, consisted of about 230 acres, so we must assume that a large measure of land that had belonged to James before his death had been sold in the meantime.
In 1859, Ebenezer built a new house on the Innis farm.  It was the third house known on the property, the first was a log cabin situated northeast of the present house, by a good spring of water;  the second stood to the right of the present one, closer to the road to the west, and was a long, narrow, shed-like building.
Isabella Innis outlived her son, Ebenezer, his wife and young son Robert and his wife, and stepson Samuel, while she shared the home with her family until death also claimed her on Dec.  17, 1864 at age 86.  She was buried in the family plot, by the road to McCoysville, with a well-carved tombstone to mark the spot.


Alexander Innis was born on Tuesday, Sep. 2, 1794, the seventh child and sixth son of James and Ann Innis.  He resided on the family’s Tuscarora Valley, Pennsylvania, farm until he was about 21, during which he must have been a bright and eager pupil, probably in the local schools.  He joined his brothers in their western migration, but paused in southern Ohio to become one of Brown County’s pioneer school teachers in his early twenties.
One of his schools was on the Pangburn Farm about 1820; another on the William Wall place, taught probably in 1819.  The first schools were held in deserted cabins; but in a few years, most neighborhoods built houses for school purposes, though of rude character.
On July 30, 1818, Alexander married Christiana Kirkpatrick at the home of her father, Andrew Kirkpatrick, in Wilmington, Ohio.
Alexander sought a place in Rush County, Indiana, wanting “good ground that had no ‘drift’ in the trees”.  They moved there from Ohio by wagon, Christiana walking a great deal and carrying their first child, James, because the jolting of the wagon made him sick.  Alexander didn’t have their house finished, so they had to live in the wagon temporarily.  Christiana’s parents had given them a team of two bred mares, two bred sheep, a bred cow, and sows for their wedding present.  They were well prepared for married life.  They settled in Anderson Township, Rush County, Indiana, near Milroy.
They raised seven children:  James, Elizabeth, Andrew, William Wilson, Ellen (or Eleanor), John, and Lucinda.  Alexander is said to have provided each of his children with parcels of land at the time of their marriages.
Alexander and family attended the Bethesda and Richland United Presbyterian Churches in the 1830’s, where he was clerk of the Sessions at times.  He was Elder of the Springhill church in 1830.  He and Christiana became charter members of the Milroy United Presbyterian Church on Oct. 15, 1835.  Alexander made his living by farming until death claimed him, at age 85, on June 9, 1879.
Isabella Farlow recalled, “My great-grandmother, Christiana, came to live with us at the place where my brother, John Frazier, now lives.  On her 83rd birthday all the relatives gathered in the celebration.  It was the most wonderful occasion I had ever experienced.  On her 84th birthday, her grandson Robert Innis brought his family and spent the day.  On her 85th birthday her final illness set in, and she lingered until April.  The Bible in which Alexander had written very concise obituaries was at our house while Christiana lived (for six years).”
Christiana’s death came on April 27, 1886, like Alexander, at the age of 85.  She and Alexander are buried in the Milroy Cemetery with a fine, arched monument, with her father, Andrew Kirkpatrick, buried nearby.

William A. Wagoner and Sarah “Sallie” Jones

Story by Fred Gahimer

William A. Waggoner was brought to Rush County, Indiana from Harrison County, Kentucky in 1826 by his parents when he was only two months old. He was reared on his parents’ farm in Rush County and received a fair education in the country schools. He farmed throughout his life, and although he had no capital when he began, he became a prosperous and representative farmer and citizen. He eventually owned 380 acres of prime farmland. In politics he was a staunch Democrat. He served four years as a Orange Township Trustee. For more on William’s early years, see this story.

He and his wife, Sallie (Jones) Waggoner, were buried in the left-center area of the Moscow Cemetery.

In the 1850 census, William A. Waggoner (age 23), a carpenter, was living with his parents, John (46) and Nancy (32) Waggoner in Orange Township with siblings John, Jr.(22), a farmer, Sarah H. (19), Ellen (17), and Aris (14). John Sr., Nancy, and William A. Waggoner were born in Kentucky, and the rest were born in Indiana.

In the 1860 census, William (34) was a farmer in Orange Township with a farm adjacent to his parent’s farm. His household consisted of his wife, Sally (Jones) (31), and children Franklin P. (6), Hardin (4), and Ellenor (2). His wife and children were all born in Indiana. William’s assets were estimated as $6,000 re (real estate) and $700 pp (personal property).

In the 1870 census, William (42), was still farming, and his assets were now about $14,850 re, and $1,028 pp. Sally (37) was still keeping house. The children at home were Franklin (17), Nehemiah (14), Mary E. (12), and William Bracken (7).

In the 1880 census, William (53) was still farming. His household consisted of his wife Sarah (Sally, 47), keeping house, daughter Mary (22), and William’s father, John Waggoner (76). John was listed as born in Kentucky, and his parents as born in Pennsylvania.

The 1900 census listed William (73) as still farming, with only his wife Sallie (67) at home. William’s parents were listed as being born in Kentucky.

The Rushville Weekly Jacksonian Thursday, Sep. 4, 1902

William A. Waggoner, son of John & Nancy Waggoner, was born in Kentucky Aug. 2, 1826. Died Aug. 26, 1902, aged 76 yr and 24 da. He came to Rush County with his parents soon after he was born and spent his entire life here. He was united in marriage with Sallie Jones Mar. 25, 1852. This union was blessed by the following children: Franklin P., N. Hayden, Mary E., and William Bracken, all of whom with his wife survive him.

The deceased was one of the pioneers of Rush County, and grew to be very prosperous in world’s goods. He was known as an honest, sober, sincere, and charitable member of society and was honored and respected by all who knew him. He lived a life filled with kindness and good deeds to his fellowmen, and example for others to follow. The community lost one of its most highly respected and noble citizens; the sorrowing wife, a kind, loving husband; the children and grandchildren an indulgent, self-denying father and grandfather.

His last illness was long and severe, but he bore his sufferings patiently and quietly, putting his faith in Him who sees even the sparrow fall. Everything that medical aid and loving care could do was done, but eventually when reduced to a mere shadow of himself, the silver cord loosened, the kind heart was stilled, and the spirit took its flight to Him who gave it. Gone from his loving children and devoted wife, Whom he cheered and loved through a long useful life; Gone over the river of death, so dark and cold, To the beautiful home in the city of gold.

The Rushville Graphic Friday, Aug. 29, 1902

William A. Waggoner died Tuesday morning at ten o’clock at his home near Gowdy. His death was the result of typhoid fever.

Mr. Waggoner was born in Kentucky in 1826. A few months after his birth, his parents moved to Indiana, where he has lived ever since.

He is one of the respected citizens of the county. He served four years as township trustee and was one of the most highly esteemed men in the township.

Mr. Waggoner leaves four children to morn his loss: Mrs. J. A. Thrall, Frank and Bracken Waggoner of the county, and Hayden Waggoner of Missouri. Funeral services were held at Gowdy Thursday morning at ten o’clock at Ebeneezer Church. Burial at Moscow.

The Daily Republican Tuesday, August 18, 1908


Mrs. Sallie Waggoner died last night at her home west of Gowdy after a lingering illness of paralysis. Mrs. Waggoner was one of the old pioneers of Orange Township, being 75 years old. Most of her life was spent in the neighborhood where she died. Four children survive.

The funeral services will be held Thursday morning at ten o’clock at the Gowdy Methodist Episcopal Church, conducted by Rev. Loren Killison of Blue Ridge. Burial at Moscow.

William Bracken Wagoner and Lewie Peck

Story by Fred Gahimer

For more information about William’s younger years, see this story.

The Daily Republican Thursday, September 21, 1922

William Bracken Wagoner, 60, died this morning at five o’clock at his home in Orange Township following a short illness of dilation of the heart. Mr. Wagoner was a prominent farmer of that vicinity and was a former stock buyer. The survivors besides the widow are three sons; Clyde of Orange Township, Claude of near Carthage, and Constance of Walker Township; three daughters, Mrs. Clarence [Edith] Greenwell, Mrs. Otis [Bessie] Bennett, and Mrs. Larue [Eva] Kirk, all of Orange Township; two brothers, Franklin of Orange Township, and Haydon of Oklahoma; and one sister, Mrs. Mary Ellen Thrall of Orange Township.


Claude Wagoner brother and sisters with Myrtle at Pitt’s Ford: Uncle Clarence Greenwell, Edith “Eddie” Wagoner Greenwell, Ethel Wagoner (wife of Connie), Connie Wagoner (brother of Claude), Aunt Bessie Wagoner Bennett (sister of Claude), Myrtle Ford Wagoner
Connie Wagoner, Aunt Bessie Wagoner Bennett, Claude Wagoner, Myrtle Ford Wagoner, Ethel Wagoner (wife of Connie), Edith “Aunt Eddie” Wagoner Greenwell


Atica Gruell and Rachel

Story by Fred Gahimer

All that is currently known about Atica Gruell is that he and Rachel were living near the little settlement of Waterloo in Fayette County, Indiana in May 1828 when their son Isaac was born. It is thought that they also had sons named William and John, and probably other children.

In 1836, Atica brought his family one county west to Rushville and where he operated a tannery for a number of years. He lived on a farm west of Rushville.

In 1850, the Federal Census shows Atica’s newly married son Isaac and his bride Sarah (Young) Gruell farming in Orange Township in Rush County. Lucinda Gruell, 43 years old, and five of her children were living nearby. She was the widow of Haddock Gruell, who is thought to be Atica’s brother. Also nearby are William and Minerva Gruell, and John and Emily Gruell, all farming, and probably either Isaac’s brothers or Lucinda’s sons.

Jesse Boyd and Lucinda Innis

Story by Fred Gahimer

Jesse was the son of Capt. John Boyd and Maria Veder, and was born in Rushville in 1830. In 1852, he married Lucinda Innis, daughter of Alexander and Christiana Innis. Lucinda’s parents gave them 40 acres of one corner of their farm north of Milroy as a wedding gift because they wanted her to live close to them. There Jesse built their home.

For more information about Jesse’s younger years, see this story. For more information about Lucinda’s younger years, see this story.

They had nine children: William Marshall, Hervey Alexander, Laura Ellen, John Franklin, Emma Irene, James Sidney, Charles Elbert, Christi Anna, and Frederick Burton.

Jesse was a carriage and buggy builder by trade, and constructed his shop on their home place. When the children grew older, he wanted them to have an education, so he bought a small farm for the boys, and built himself a large factory. In the 1879 Rush County Atlas, Jesse is shown owning 34 acres on the southeast corner of Rushville, south of the Big Flat Rock River, and east of State Road 52. Jesse was at least successful enough to give his children a chance to go to school. Two of his sons stayed in the factory with him, later building automobiles.

Jesse once perfected a double-shovel corn plow, which is believed to have been the first such device of its kind used. He secured a patent on it, but failed to protect one of the basic principles of his invention, the arch supporting the plows. An enterprising manufacturer of agricultural implements recognized the weakness of the original patent, and put out a plow which covered the principle, and made a fortune which might have otherwise gone to Jesse.

Lucinda attended the American Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia, where it rained, and she got a cold. According to her daughter, Anna, that began her final illness. She died on March 4, 1884 at age 49.

Jesse died June 29, 1911, at Rushville. Jesse and Lucinda are buried in the southeast corner of Section 4 of East Hill Cemetery in Rushville with many of their children, including Emma Irene (Boyd) Gruell.