Saturday, December 7, 2013

Edmund Anderson, Promoting Charlottesville Virginia

Edmund Anderson was born in 1785 in Virginia, near the close of the revolutionary era.  He is likely to be the son of Richard Anderson and his second wife Mildred “Milly” Thomson.  I like to think of this 4xgreat-grandfather of mine as a “visionary”.  But, “dreamer” might be closer to the truth. 

Charlottesville Virginia, Downtown Mall, 2009; wikimediacommons
Edmund Anderson grew up in Louisa and Albemarle counties in Virginia, and as a young man, he looked to his future in Charlottesville, Albemarle’s county seat.  The town of Charlottesville was established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1762.  It is of particular interest to our family, that the land was donated by another of our grandfather’s, Dr Thomas Walker of Castle Hill.  It has been told that Thomas Walker drew up the earliest deeds and offered prizes to encourage settlement of the new town.  The original plan set aside fifty acres of land for lots and streets, with the courthouse sitting outside of the town to the north.  Growth for the new town was slow.    Almost fifty years later, in 1810, the town had only grown to “forty five houses, a courthouse, a jail, and an academy.“ 

By that 1810 date, one of those forty-five Charlottesville houses may have been the home of Edmund Anderson, or he may have lived outside the town proper.  Others in the household were his wife, Frances Moore, and infant children, Pamelia Mildred Anderson (my 3xgreat-grandmother) and John Mortimer Anderson.  A few years later, in 1813, Edmond Anderson purchased sixty acres, near the courthouse and established his “Anderson Addition”.  He had plans to be a part of Charlottesville’s further growth!

Author, Edgar Wood, in his “History of Albemarle County Virginia”, 1901, tells us:
In 1813, Edmund [Anderson] purchased from Clifton Rodes, Executor of John Jouett, sixty acres of land lying east and north of Charlottesville, and extending from the present Ninth Street east to the hill overlooking Schenk's Branch, and laid it out in town lots. This tract was known as Anderson's Addition. He sold a number of lots, chiefly on East Jefferson and Park Streets, during the decade of 1820 . . .

The property Edmund Anderson purchased outside of Charlottesville had some interesting history.  As indicated above, he purchased it from the estate of John Jouett who had died in 1802.  Jouett had acquired the property as part of a one hundred acre purchase from John Moore in 1773.   It included Jouett’s Tavern (also called Swan Tavern) which had been erected by John Jouett to serve the Charlottesville community and travelers through the area.  It sat directly across from the courthouse, and its claim to fame arrived during the Revolutionary years. 

The Albemarle-Charlottesville Historical Society website tells the story this way:
The Swan tavern resided at 300 Park Street, where a brick townhouse now stands. Jack Jouett, whose father owned The Swan, made the tavern famous. In 1781, Jefferson and Virginia’s  government quit Richmond under threat of capture by the British, and reconvened in Charlottesville. Jouett rode through the night on back roads from Louisa County to warn Governor Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and other members of the General Assembly of the approach of British forces under the command of Colonel Banastre Tarleton. Eluding capture, most legislators fled to safety in Staunton. Tarleton’s men destroyed some court records and military stores, but spared the town from destruction . .

Not long after Edmond Anderson’s 1813 purchase of the Jouett property, he removed his family to Richmond Virginia.  His wife Frances Moore Anderson died around this same time, and he was secondly married to Nancy Cole.  He took up other pursuits in Richmond Virginia, but continued to manage his Albemarle county property.  In 1818 the property was annexed to the town of Charlottesville.  This was about the same time that Thomas Jefferson’s Central College was established in Charlottesville.  Over time, Central College grew into the University of Virginia, and ensured the continued growth of the town. 

But, as Charlottesville’s prospects improved, Edmond Anderson’s vision faded.  It seems that his endeavors in Richmond were draining his pockets.  “The History of Albemarle . . “ gives this clue:
[speaking of Edmund Anderson] . . he removed to Richmond, and entered into business under the firms of Anderson & Woodson . . , but the business failing, he transferred all his property in Albemarle to John R. Jones as trustee, who in 1829 sold it for the payment of his debts.

Edmund Anderson struggled on in Richmond, investing in other properties, operating several businesses, and even serving as the city’s postmaster.  But, the few available records do not suggest that his “visions” ever brought financial success.   When he died of “old age” in 1861, his Charlottesville years were long behind him.  I like to think his “dreams”, and his willingness to invest, made a worthwhile contribution to a lovely and enduring community. 

For more details on Edmund Anderson, visit his page at Family Stories,

Moving back in time:  Albert Luther Clarkson 1901 > Aubin Mildred Fry 1878 > Reuben Macon Fry 1847 > Pamelia Mildred Anderson 1810 > Edmund Anderson 1785.

Further Reading: 
Bio for Edmund Anderson, by Pam Garrett, at Family Stories,
History of Albemarle County Virginia, by Rev. Edgar Woods, 1901.  Look for this as a scanned ebook on the internet.  Details about the Anderson Family are found on page 139.
From Cuckoo to Charlottesville: Jack Jouett’s Overnight Ride, by Rick Britton, 5 Mar 2013; at the Journal of the American Revolution website.
Charlottesville and the Albemarle County Courthouse Historic District; National Register of Historic Places Inventory.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Growing Up With Jasper Indiana: The Edmonston Family

In November 2012 I wrote a blog post titled Bazil Brooke Edmonston, Indiana Pioneer.  It gave of brief biographical account of my 5xgreat-grandfather, mentioning his move to Dubois county Indiana.  Now, almost a year later, I want to return to his story.

Bazil Brooke Edmonston sr and his wife Hannah Rose Edmonston, settled in Dubois county Indiana in 1818, living near the White River in Harbison township.  Later they moved closer to the future town of Jasper.  Three of their ten children remained in Dubois county – Bazil Brooke Edmonston jr, Benjamin Rose Edmonston, and Nancy Edmonston who did not marry. 

The town of Jasper was established in the mid 1820’s, and became the county seat for Dubois county in 1830.  Tradition suggests that the town name, Jasper, comes from Revelations 21:19, “and the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones . . . the first foundation was of Jasper.”

The Edmonston family is frequently mentioned in George R Wilson’s, “History of Dubois County from Its Primitive Days to 1910”. According to Nancy Edmonston Weathers, "the first house erected in the original town of Jasper was built on lot 153, by B. B. Edmonston, Sr (her grandfather), about 1830 . . The house became the first post office at Jasper and its owner was the first postmaster. Mail then came from Vincennes and Paoli once a week.”  Nancy Edmonston Weathers was the daughter of Bazil B Edmonston jr.  She tells about her school room in the first Court House at Jasper, and the oxen teams that pulled goods between the towns of Troy and Jasper. 

Besides being the first Postmaster of Jasper, Bazil B Edmonston (sr) served as Associate Judge and Probate Judge until his death in 1841.  According to George R Wilson, Col B B Edmondson (jr), namesake of his father, was “for a long time one of the most prominent officials of Dubois county. His hospitable home stood at the west end of Eighth street in the town of Jasper, and here he fed and housed hundreds of guests.

It is thought that most of the Edmonstons were Presbyterian, probably participating at the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church near Jasper.  Several members of the family are buried in the adjoining cemetery.  Wilson’s Dubois County history informs us:

Shiloh camp ground was for years a place of Protestant worship, and here gathered the Armstrongs, Alexanders, Andersons, Dillons, Stewarts, Normans, McMahans, Kelsoes, Roses, Brittains, and many other pioneer families from the northwest quarter of Dubois county. It is said that the most eloquent sermons of pioneer days were delivered at Shiloh. Log houses or huts were erected forming a hollow square, and in this square church services were held. This was long before a meeting-house had been
Erected . . Meeting House. The church edifice was built in 1849. A cemetery was started in what was once the hollow square, in 1860. Miss Minerva Edmonston, a daughter of Col. B. B. Edmonston, was the first to find a grave at Shiloh . . Protestants, strict in their church creed, both at Ireland and Jasper, favor Shiloh as a burial ground. Here lie the remains of many of the most prominent pioneer families associated with Jasper and Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

More details on the Edmonston family, and their years in Dubois county Indiana, are available at Family Stories,

Photo:  Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church, southeast of Ireland in Dubois county Indiana.  Built in 1849, the church and cemetery are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Photo, by Nyttend, was submitted for use to Wikimedia Commons in 2011.

Moving back in time:  Albert Luther Clarkson 1901 > Samuel Edwin Clarkson 1875 > Elizabeth Jane Robinson 1848 > Sarah Nugent Edmonston 1821 > William Edmonston 1796 >Bazil Brooke Edmonston (sr) 1766.

Further Reading:
My Own Edmonstons and a Few Others; Charles Ninian “Chuck” Edmonston, 1971.
Dubois County Indiana GenWeb
Shiloh Meeting House at the Ireland Indiana Website
Shiloh Church and Cemetery at Indiana GenWeb

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Riding With Isaac Parker: Deputy Marshall RM Fry

In the 1980’s I made a trip, along with other family members, to Fort Smith Arkansas.  We were in pursuit of stories about our Clarkson and Fry ancestors, who had lived in Fort Smith during the latter 19th and early 20th centuries.  One of our exciting finds was the name of my 2xgreat-grandfather, Reuben Macon Fry, on the list of Deputies that “Rode With Isaac Parker”, the noted “hanging judge” of the US District Court of Western Arkansas.  It was an intriguing find, but it has taken me almost twenty-five years to set about learning more about this interesting grandfather. 

To give a brief biographical account – Reuben Macon Fry was born in 1847 in Orange Court House Virginia.  As a student of the Cadet Corp of Virginia Military Institute he may have participated in some minor skirmishing during the Civil War.  After the war years, as he moved into young adulthood, he removed with his older brother to Lake Village in Chicot county Arkansas.  There he served as county clerk, operated a retail business, and married Eliza Brooks Hutchins, a “refugee” from Natchez Mississippi.  Business losses probably induced him to move on, and in 1880 he settled his family in Fort Smith Arkansas. 

Reuben Macon Fry’s obituary, twenty-five years later, gives an account of his career in Fort Smith:
. . He followed mercantile pursuits for several years and then became connected with the revenue service.  He afterward served as deputy circuit clerk during the incumbency of AA McDonald [circuit court clerk] and was also chief deputy sheriff during the six years' administration of Sheriff William Bugg.  After Captain Bugg retired he was elected justice of the peace, which position he held until he died. 

Reuben M Fry was commissioned as a Deputy Marshal of the Western District Court at Fort Smith in February 1884, and again in November 1887.  These were the years that he served as a Revenue Officer, and one of his occupations was to incapacitate “moonshiners”.  In the summer of 1888 he participated in an operation in Montgomery county Arkansas, during which one of his fellow officer, John Trammell, was killed.  I have come across several accounts of this 1888 event in newspapers and biographies. 

A report in the St Louis Post Dispatch (St Louis Missouri); 28 June 1888, begins:

Hot Springs, Ark., June 28: News of a desperate fight between revenue officers and moonshiners; which took place near Black Springs, Montgomery County, yesterday, has just reached this city. Internal Revenue Collector R. M. FRY, in charge of a posse, was in that vicinity raiding moonshiner's camps and destroying illicit distilleries. They had succeeded in ferreting out and destroying three. Shortly after they had destroyed the last one they were attacked from ambush by a band of moonshiners armed with Winchester rifles when a desperate battle ensued,. . .

Reuben Fry was accompanied by Deputy Marshals, John D Trammell and Otis K Wheeler.  Trammell was killed in the ambush.  An inquest was held which revealed that two of Trammell’s killers were relatives, a brother and cousin, of Bill Cogburn who was being held in custody.  The primary characters in the bootlegging scheme were Carter Markham, Matthew Pervine, Joseph Pepper, J.D. Hollifield and several members of the Cogburn family.  Community fear held back any witnesses, and the murderers were never convicted. 

A detailed account of this incident can be found online in Brett Cogburn’s recently published book, Rooster:
The Life and Times of the Real Rooster Cogburn, the Man Who Inspired True Grit, 2012; beginning on page 52.

 For more details on Reuben Macon Fry, visit his individual page at Family Stories,

To learn more about the Deputy Marshals of Isaac Parker’s court:
Law West of Fort Smith; Glenn Shirley, 1957.
Larry McMurtry's 1997 novel Zeke and Ned tells the story of Zeke Proctor, one of Parker's deputy marshals.
Loren D. Estleman's 2009 novel The Branch and The Scaffold relates to Parker's tenure at Fort Smith.
Charles Portis features Judge Parker in his novel, True Grit, which has twice been adapted as films of the same name.
Movie – Rooster Cogburn, 1975, based on Charles Portis novel; starring John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Into the FRY Pan!

This Family Stories Blog was established to share with family, friends and fellow genealogists some of the stories I have gathered during nearly thirty years of family history research.  It links with my companion website, Family Stories,, that houses my genealogy database and an extensive collection of documents, notes, biographies, and photos.  I’m delighted to announce that my database website is growing again!

Recently I have added about three hundred new family members to my online database, along with significant details about many of their lives.  This is my FRY family, descendants of my 6xgreat-grandfather, Joshua Fry of Albemarle county Virginia.  Joshua Fry is a most interesting grandfather – immigrant from England, teacher at William and Mary College, friend to George Washington and Peter Jefferson, significant player in the history of Virginia.  And, many of his descendants have led interesting and note-worthy lives. 

Joshua Fry, and some of his descendants, have been the subject of many biographies and histories.  Philip Slaughter’s, “Memoir of Col. Joshua Fry . .”, 1880, has made its way around the genealogy circuit for years.  I have not been interested in “duplicating” well established genealogies.  But, it is the nature of a genealogy database to link individuals and families together, and most of the well-known relationships of the Fry family are repeated in my database.  I have tried to include some new bits and pieces of information that might add to the Fry family story.  I have particularly emphasized my own “branches” of the Fry family – a visual of my branch, Moving Back In Time, is given at the close of this post. 

I am gathering materials for a few upcoming blog posts on my Fry Family.  Some proposed titles include: 
Riding with Isaac Parker
Joshua Fry in the Classroom, a Williamsburg Story!
The Hospitality of “Bathing”

I’m excited to introduce these ancestors, and to share a few of their stories.  I hope you will join me for the fun!

Moving Back In Time:  Albert Luther Clarkson 1901 > Aubin Mildred Fry 1878 > Reuben Macon Fry 1847 > Philip Slaughter Fry 1801 > Reuben Fry 1766 > Henry Fry 1738 > Joshua Fry 1700.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Anna Stransky's Letter: A Fridrich Family Story

In May of 1946, Anna Stransky, daughter of Joseph Stransky and Anna Fridrich, wrote a letter to her cousin Bill Svejkovsky of Oklahoma.  Bill Svejkovsky was collecting information for a family history, and Anna Stransky gave a helpful account of her grandmother’s Fridrich family.  As far as I know, Anna Stransky never married.  In 1946, when the letter was written, she was living with her sister Mary in Casper Wyoming.  From my mother-in-law, I received a copy of a ‘hand-written copy’ of this letter.  I do not know the whereabouts of the original letter.  This hand-written copy was all run together, without paragraphs. There probably were introductory and closing remarks in the original letter that were not included in the hand-written copy.  I have retyped from the copy, and present that portion of the letter here.  I have added a few bracket comments to aid identification:

Letter -  Anna Stransky of Casper, Wyoming to Bill Svejkovsky,  May 1946:

 . . . I think we have more information than you about Grandma Fridrich's [Frances Felepena Fridrich] family, but of course we would as Aunt Mary [Mary Fridrich Smith] and our Mother [Anna Fridrich Stransky] still remember the past very well.  Then there are some papers of Grandma's  that Aunt Mary saved when Grandma passed away.  There wasn't much, but I remember the divorce paper and we persuaded Aunt Mary to keep it as there were dates in it and mention of the children.  It proved helpful to Aunt Mary in establishing her birth and residence in this country when she applied for her old age pension...Grandma went by the name of Fridrich and so did her children after this first divorce, but it was not their name by birth.  Their father's name was Joseph Wasatko and that was your Mother's [Bozanna “Bessie” Fridrich Svejkovsky] rightful maiden name.  Grandma divorced him when the children were still young, and he married again, some widow [Frances Beska] in Nebraska.  She had children of her own, and they had one son together, his name is Anton Wastko [Anton Wasatko].  So he is a half-brother of your Mother's also.  We looked him up one time and he was in a bank in Lynch, Nebraska.  He had a nice family and seemed to be quite a progressive fellow.  They came over to Yankton to see us one summer about 10 years ago, but we haven't heard of them recently.  He said both his Father and Mother died years ago, and Mom says she remembers it as our Uncle Joe Fridrich from Tyndall went to the Funeral I believe.  Grandma married Mr Peseck [August Pesek] some years later and they had the one son who is Uncle August [August Bert Fridrich].  However, he never went by his right name either which should have been Pesek, but was always known as August Fredrick [also, August Frederick]. He didn't spell his name like Grandma did either.  You will notice her name has the German spelling, and her Father was a German.  She divorced Mr Peseck also, but I don't know when.  Then after her first husband's wife died in Nebraska many years later, and when she was quite elderly, she married Mr Wastko (our grandfather) again.  It didn't last but a very short time though and she left him and went back to Tyndall to live.  He didn't have any money and neither did she, so Aunt Mary says, and his son didn't approve of the marriage, so it didn't work out.  I often think that Grandma was sure ahead of her time, about fifty years at least.  We don't have any information ourselves, only what Mom and Aunt Mary know and remember.  For that reason we were of the opinion that some facts might be written in this old bible that your folks were supposed to have, that Grandma always said was given to her by her Father when she left the Old Country.  ..We don't know anything about Uncle August, other than that the last time we heard of them they were traveling with a Circus side-show.  Their son [Carlisle Frederick] was a musician and a nice boy, and we had heard that he was killed in the war in Germany.  We don't know this to be true though.  They had a girl [Maxine Frederick], who must be in her twenties now.  I saw her perform in the circus once, and she was very attractive.  Mom and Aunt Mary never could understand Uncle August going into that sort of life. He had a mail route in Geddes, S Dak for years.  But I rather think his wife was the promoter . . .

For more details about the people mentioned in Anna Stransky’s Letter, visit their pages at Family Stories, Also see my blog post, dated 7 August 2013, and titled - The Fridrich Family: Moravia to America.

Photo:  South Dakota Landscape; USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service, 2009. Creative Commons – Share Alike license.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Swanda Family: An Immigration Story

Family stories recall the Swanda Family Inn in Bohemia. The inn was not an overnight hostel, but rather a gathering place for the community.  It was common practice among the Czechs to finish their work in the late afternoon and gather for social time and drink before heading home for the evening meal.  The Swanda family made whiskey and prepared food for this daily ritual.  My mother-in-law, Aline Garrett, remembers her mother and aunts speaking of the Inn being in or near the town of Lidice which is about fifteen miles west of Prague.  She has always understood that the Swanda family came from around Lidice.  During her 1996 trip to the Czech Republic Aline visited Lidice, which is remembered for a tragic massacre that occurred there in 1942 under the hand of Hitler. Since that visit Aline has relocated the naturalization paper of her grandfather, James Svanda, which states that his last foreign residence was Blela, Bohemia.  We have located the likely town of Bela that is in the same general area where the Soper family lived.  It is just north of the town of Pilsen and a considerable distance east and south of Prague.  There is another town of Bela, northeast of Prague. We continue to question exactly where the Swanda Inn was located.   

John Swanda and Antoniette Cihlar* Swanda

John Svanda (Swanda) and his wife Antoniette “Nettie” Cihlar* were the owners of the Swanda Family Inn.  They had been married in Bohemia about 1863 and became the parents of eight children between 1864-1880:  Joe, Jim, Frank, Antoinette, John, Anton, Charlie and Pete Swanda.  When their first born son, Joe, reached the age of sixteen they were concerned that he would be drafted into the Austrian army so they decided to send him, along with his next younger brother, Jim, to America with their uncle, Joseph Swanda.  They sailed on the SS Neckar from the port of Bremen 26 September 1880 and arrived in New York about three weeks later.  They moved on to Omaha, Nebraska and spent the next three years working in a smelting plant.  They were able to send back enough money to their family in Bohemia to help them make the trip to America about 1883-84. 

Aline Garrett recalls several stories about their trip to America that were told by her family.  John Swanda decided to lease his inn rather than sell it, as he was not certain he would like America.  Later he had someone sell the inn for him and he received a poor price for it.  John and Nettie Swanda and their six younger children sailed on the SS Uener (Vender) from the port of Bremen.  The family always said that Nettie was a “Princess”.  No one really knows just what that meant, but apparently she wore fine silk dresses on the boat to America.  Her fancy dresses probably didn’t serve her too well as the family set up housekeeping on a forty-acre farm near Sioux City, Iowa.  Their first home in America boasted a dirt floor.  They were not long there before the home, and all of their possessions, were blown away in a cyclone.  John Swanda made several moves after that, living in Omaha, Nebraska and White Lake, South Dakota.  But, in 1889 he heard about the land opening up in the new territory of Oklahoma and he decided to make the Oklahoma Land Run.  He joined the ranks of the Sooners, who came illegally into the area and staked their claim before the run on 22 April 1889.  He had to hide out for a time, but managed to keep his claim. This original Swanda farm was located 2 ½ miles south of present day Yukon, Oklahoma.

In the 1990’s Aline Garrett and her cousin Eleanor registered their grandparents, James “ Jim” Swanda and Mary Soper Swanda, on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor at Ellis Island.

For more details on John Swanda, visit his page at Family Stories,  There you will find a slightly longer version of The Swanda Family: An Immigration Story, and further information on John Swanda, Nettie Cihlar, and their descendants. 

*Additional:  It is of interest that the work of researcher and descendant Thomas Carlile records Nettie's maiden name as Kotoneva.  My mother-in-law's family records her maiden name as Cihlar.  I have not had the opportunity to study this significant discrepancy.  See more at Nettie Cihlar Swanda’s memorial page at FindAGrave website.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Last Journey to America: The Sopr (Soper) Family

Thirty-five years after my husband’s first Svejkovsky ancestors set sail for America, Joseph Soper, his wife Anna Housner and eight of their children made the journey in 1893. They had been married in 1870 in Bohemia and had ten children by 1893:  Joseph, Mary, Anna, Matt, Frances, James, Frank, Christie, Rose and Anton.  Records for this family give a variety of birthplaces for the children, but when carefully studied, it seems clear that the family lived around the towns of Kralovice and Kocin, which are just north of Pilsen in Bohemia. The town of Pilsen is noted for the famous Pilsner Beer.  When my mother-in-law, Aline Garrett, made her trip to the Czech Republic in 1996 she visited the town of Kralovice and took pictures of the old church and town streets.

Aline recalls some of the stories her grandmother, Mary Soper Swanda, told her about life in Bohemia as a young girl.  The Czech people lived mostly in small villages and often their houses and barns were combined under one roof.  Families would go out each day to work their small farms.  They had plots that were worked with spade and hoe by the whole family and primarily supplied the family needs.  Their livestock was usually driven out to a common grazing area and watched over each day.  Mary confessed that she preferred her job of herding geese to the schoolroom. In later years she regretted her choice.  The goose feathers were used for huge feather beds and warm comforters for cold nights.  The villages had large ovens that could bake sixteen loaves of rye bread at one time.  Czech hospitality meant brown bread and wine for guests.    

The Soper family embarked from Hamburg, Germany and arrived in New York City in March 1893.  They lived briefly in Chicago and then moved to Kingfisher in Oklahoma Territory where they lived with the Jindra family.  Shortly thereafter, Joseph Soper made the Cherokee Strip Land Run and established his residence in Garber, Garfield county, Oklahoma Territory.  The family built their first, dugout home around a tree and in those first years they met with very hard times.  The older children set out for Enid Oklahoma to find jobs.  Joe and Matt joined a cattle drive to Dodge City, Kansas and Anna and Mary did housework for families in Enid.  Mary Soper went to work for Joe and Frank Swanda and that is where she met her future husband, Jim Swanda, who she married in 1898.

According to descendant, Emma Irvin, “The hard times for the Sopers didn’t last forever and by 1900 they had built a comfortable home which included 14 windows and 5 doors.  The 160 fenced acres boasted a barn, corncrib, granary, hen house, well with pump and 150 fruit trees.”  Joseph Soper and Anna Housner Soper lived out their lives in Garber, Oklahoma.  Joseph died in 1920 and Anna in 1923.

For more details on Joseph Soper, visit his page at Family Stories,

The Svejkovskys come to America

The Svejkovskys were the first of my husband’s Czech ancestral families to come to America.  They came just after the year 1855.  Frantz Svejkovsky was born around 1825 and he was married to Rosalie Smolik about 1854-55 in the vicinity of Prague in Bohemia.  In 1855, their first child, Mary, was born near Prague.  Shortly after that time their little family decided to immigrate to America.

The Svejkovskys were part of what is known as the first wave of Czech immigration to America between 1852 and 1862.  Most Czechs came into the port of New York.  This was long before the time of Ellis Island.  The Svejkovskys followed a typical Czech pattern of the time, first settling in Chicago and then moving on to settle near Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  In Chicago there was a developing Czech community that took in new immigrants.  Most were involved in the garment and timber industries and many worked in the area slaughterhouses.  But, for most Czechs, Chicago was a starting point for exploration of the rural areas where they would go to farm.  A large group of Czechs was taking up land around Cedar Rapids, Iowa and the Svejkovskys remained in that area for ten or twelve years.  Four more children were born to the family during those years:  Annie 1858, Rosalie 1860, Frank 1862, Joe 1867.

In 1862 the Homestead Act was passed in America to encourage westward movement.  It promised 160 acres of wild land to immigrants.  They would become the owners of the land after 5 years of cultivation.  This induced Frantz Svejkovsky to follow other Czech immigrants to an area around Yankton, Dakota Territory (southeast corner of present-day South Dakota).  He settled in Bon Homme county, just west of the town of Yankton.  According to the research of William “Bill” Svejkovsky, “His farm was located on the Missouri River, southwest of Tabor, South Dakota, a distance of about 10 miles.”  In 1871 and 1876 he claimed 3 more farms in the area. 

In the year 1880, when Frantz was 55 years of age, he died.  His will is of record in Bon Homme county, South Dakota.  An abstract of the will tells us that he left quarter sections of land to his two sons, Frank and Joseph, and small bequests of land or money to his daughters.  The remainder went to his wife Rosalie.  Frantz Svejkovsky was first buried in the Ptak (Polish) Cemetery across the road from his farm in Tabor, South Dakota.  In 1890 he was reburied at the Yankton Cemetery in South Dakota.  Bill Svejkovsky reports that the “tombstone is now weathered so that the inscription cannot be read.”   

For more details on Franz Svejkovsky, visit his page at Family Stories,

Photo:  Home in South Dakota:  Frank Svejkovsky, Bozana Fridrich Svejkovsky, and daughters Ludmilla, Albina and Bozan “Bessie” Svejkovsky.  Frank Svejkovsky is the son of Frantz Svejkovsky and Rosalie Smolik.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Fridrich Family: Moravia to America

Frances Fridrich (Wasatko) with her children

Joseph Fridrich and his wife Anna Novotny were both born about 1820 in Zamel, Moravia.  As best I can determine, Zamel is about 70 miles east of the city of Prague, near the present day town of Chrudim.  We only know the names of two children of Joseph Fridrich and Anna Novotny, but there were several others.  The known children were Frances Felepena Fridrich (1840) and John Fridrich (1848), both born in Zamel, Moravia.  Frances Fridrich married Joseph Wasatko about 1863 in Zamel.  America’s Homestead Act of 1862 invited a second wave of Czech immigration. In 1869 the Fridrichs and Wasatkos immigrated to America and settled near Cedar Rapid, Iowa. 

The story of Frances Felepena Fridrich is quite interesting for its time.  Family stories say that her father, Joseph Fridrich, was German.  Very little else is known of him except that he did die in Bon Homme county, Dakota Territory.  Frances first married Joseph Wasatko about 1863 in Zamel, Moravia.  Their first two children, Joseph and *Bozana “Bessie” Wasatko were born in the old country. In 1869 they immigrated to America and settled in the town of Norway, near Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Three more children, Anna, William and Mary Wasatko were born to them there.  Then in 1875, Frances filed for divorce from Joseph Wasatko (Washatko) in the Iowa courts.  She received full custody of their five children and changed their names to Fridrich.  By 1877 she was found homesteading near Tyndall in Bon Homme county, Dakota Territory.  Five years later, in 1882, she filed for full ownership of her land.   She was among the first women homesteaders in the area.

Joseph Wasatko and Frances Fridrich both eventually remarried and each had one other child who would be closely related to our family.  Joseph Wasatko moved to Nebraska and had a son Anton Wasatko.  Frances married secondly August Pesek and had a son August Pesek jr.  Apparently she was also divorced from Mr Pesek, as her youngest son went by the name August Fredrick (“Americanized” spelling). Frances lived the rest of her life in Bon Homme county, Dakota Territory.  In 1905 she remarried her first husband, Joseph Wasatko, but this third marriage was of short duration. 

Most of Frances Fridrich’s children remained in the general area of Yankton, South Dakota.  Her son William, who was a cripple all his life, died at the age of 24.  There is a family story that her son August and his family traveled as circus performers for many years.  Her oldest daughter Bozana “Bessie” Fridrich married Frank Svejkovsky in 1883 in Tyndall, Bon Homme co, Dakota Territory.  She removed with her husband to Oklahoma Territory in 1891.                  

Frances Felepena Fridrich died 19 June 1931 at the age of 91 years and is buried at Tyndall, Bon Homme county, South Dakota.

For more details on Frances Fridrich, visit her page at Family Stories,

Aside:   Researcher Diane Moore maintains an interesting memorial to John Fridrich and his wife Josephine Dvoracek (brother and sister-in-law to Frances Fridrich) at the Find A Grave website.  It includes photos and an excellent biography taken from "History of South Dakota Territory, Its History and Its People" by George W. Kingsbury, 1915.  It gives wonderful flavor to life in South Dakota for the Czech immigrants.  You will enjoy reading it!  Link for John Fridrich at Find A Grave.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Those Robinson Girls: Joeannah Robinson Mason Doss

Preston M Robinson married Sarah N Edmonston,  1847 in Washington county Missouri.  To them were born five daughters – Elizabeth Jane Robinson, Mary Alice Robinson, Martha Thomas Robinson, Julia Parkhurst Robinson, and Joeannah Robinson.  This Blog Series on “Those Robinson Girls” gives a brief account of each daughter.

Joeannah Robinson was born 1862 in Washington county Missouri.  She was the youngest of five daughters of Preston McGrady Robinson and Sarah Nugent Edmonston, and my gg-grandaunt.  The interesting spelling of her name "Joeannah" is probably correct as it appears this way in her father's 1903 Will and then again on her tombstone.  Little is known of her childhood.  At the tender age of fifteen she was married to  Ezra Elmo Mason, a young man of about thirty who hailed originally from Virginia.  It is assumed that they married in Washington county Missouri, but no record has been located.  The marriage date of 8 January 1878 comes from a family record. 

Two years after their marriage EE Mason and his young wife Joeannah appear in the 1880 census of Carter county Missouri, in Jackson township.  His occupation is given as manufacture of lumber; no surprise in this growing hotbed of the timber industry.  They have a little daughter Essie Mason.  

Over the next ten years three more children are added to the Mason family, Edna Mason, Lou Mason, and Elmore Mason.  The family probably moved northward to the big city of St Louis Missouri.  In 1891 EE Mason is shown as the president of Clarkson Christopher Lumber Company in St Louis. 

A writeup in "The industries of Saint Louis:  Her relations as a center of trade, manufacturing establishments and business houses"; J. W. Leonard; J.M. Elstner & Co., 1887. (google ebook):

Clarkson - Christopher Lumber Company
EE Mason, President; HC Christopher, Vice-President; RM Fry, Treasurer
Wholesale Commission Lumber Dealers; Office, Northwest Corner of Fourth and Walnut streets.
This is one of the largest and most successful concerns in its line in the city or the West, and has done a large and steadily increasing business from its inception.  They deal very heavily in dressed yellow pine flooring, ceiling, siding, bridge, car and dimension timber and Tennessee yellow poplar, all of which they sell to large dealers, car works and railroad construction companies in car load lots or otherwise, delivered at any point.  They maintain the most favorable relations with manufacturers and are enabled to offer unsurpassed inducements, both in price and quality, to the trade, and do a very large business not only in the city but also throughout Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and other States tributary, in a commercial sense, to St Louis.  They possess unsurpassed facilities, and enjoy the respect and confidence of the trade as a result of their prompt and satisfactory filling of orders.

A family record indicates that EE Mason died 18 July 1891 in Fordyce, Dallas county Arkansas. He would have been forty-three years old.  About this time, Fordyce was opening up as a timber district and it seems likely that Ezra Mason was conducting business there.  Did he meet with an accident?  Hopefully old newspapers in Arkansas or St Louis will produce answers to this question.  

Ezra Mason's early death left his twenty-nine year old widow Joeannah Robinson Mason, with four young children to raise.  It is not known where she went, or who she turned to during her widowhood, but her oldest daughter, Essie Pearl Mason was married five years later, in 1896, in Washington county Missouri, so perhaps the Mason family returned to live near Joeannah Robinson Mason's parents.  I have not been able to identify this Mason family in the 1900 census.  But, when Preston M Robinson wrote his will in March 1903, he named his youngest daughter Joeannah Mason, so we know that she did not remarry before that time. 

In our Clarkson Family Letters there is a letter dated 4 August 1908 from Richard Albert Clarkson to his son Samuel Edwin Clarkson.  He mentions his sister-in-law Joeannah “Josie” Robinson Mason and her son Elmo (Elmore E Mason):  “We enjoyed Elmo’s short visit. A letter from sister Josie received yesterday says he likes Oklahoma so much she thinks she will probably move out with him to Bartlesville.”

Sometime between 1908 and 1910, Joeannah Robinson Mason was secondly married to Frank Doss of Farmington, St Francois county Missouri.  He was a widower, whose first wife Sarah McFarland Doss had died in 1906.  His youngest daughter Nellie Doss was living with Frank and Joeannah in the 1910 Census of St Francois county. 

Frank Doss died in 1932 and is buried with his first wife in Farmington, St Francois county Missouri.  His death certificate shows him as a widower, his deceased wife being Sarah McFarland.  It makes no mention of second wife Joeannah.  The reason for this is not known.  Joeannah Robinson Mason Doss, died in 1945 and is buried with her first husband in St Matthew Cemetery in St Louis, Missouri. 

The four Mason children all married: 
Essie Pearl Mason to Edwin J Bean, an attorney and judge of Jefferson county Missouri.
Edna Marie Mason first to Edward Berryman Barrow, a dentist, and secondly to Arthur C Norwine.
Lou Mason to Edward Butler, living in Ironton Missouri in 1913.
Elmore E Mason, a musician, to Caroline McNaughton of Trumball county Missouri (eventually divorced).

For more details on Joeannah Robinson, visit her page at Family Stories,

Photo:  Farm Woodlot near Farmington Missouri; Department of Agriculture, National Archives Collection.

Aside:  In 1885, Ezra E Mason was appointed one of four executors in the Will of George W Clarkson of Iron county Missouri.  George Clarkson was the cousin of Richard Albert Clarkson, brother-in-law of Joeannah Robinson.  It is noted here to show some of the earliest relationships between the Robinson, Clarkson, and Mason families.

Aside:  For a time I speculated that the RM Fry, indicated as treasurer of Clarkson-Christopher Lumber Company, was my gg-grandfather, Reuben Macon Fry.  But, I have since learned that he is Robert Maxwell Fry – no apparent relationship to my own Fry family. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Those Robinson Girls: Julia Parkhurst Robinson Ward

Preston M Robinson married Sarah N Edmonston,  1847 in Washington county Missouri.  To them were born five daughters – Elizabeth Jane Robinson, Mary Alice Robinson, Martha Thomas Robinson, Julia Parkhurst Robinson, and Joeannah Robinson.  This Blog Series on “Those Robinson Girls” gives a brief account of each daughter.

Julia Parkhurst Robinson, the fourth daughter of Preston McGready Robinson and Sarah Nugent  Edmonston, was born 17 January 1855 and lived out her childhood in Washington county Missouri.  She is my gg-grandaunt.  In 1876, when she was twenty-one years old she married James Paul Ward.  A few years later they are found in the 1880 census of Poplar Bluff in Butler county Missouri.  They added a little son Ivan Ward to their family.  James P Ward is shown as an engineer.  Shortly after the census was taken another son named Joseph Bartlett Ward is born. 

According to Mamie Edmonston's 1948 letter, "They (James and Julia Ward) had two sons, Edward and Ivan.  Ivan, a very handsome young man, was murdered by a drunken miner while they were visiting once at my aunts."  I have not been able to find any evidence of a son Edward Ward.  He is not with his parents in either the 1880 or 1900 census.  Joseph Bartlett Ward lived to about the age of ten, dying in 1891.  He is buried with his parents in St Louis.  I wonder if he might be the "Edward" Ward of Mamie Edmonston's recollection.  The 1900 census shows Julia Ward with one of two children living, and this would be her son Ivan Ward. In the following year Ivan would also be gone.  I know very little about the murder of Ivan Ward.  I have come up with a newpaper clipping to substantiate Mamie Edmonston's comment. 

Warsaw, Mo. - A man giving the name of L. F. Jackson, alias Charles Hicks, was arrested by authorities Saturday about five miles south at the Branstetier Ferry.  He answers the description of James Fatchett, who is wanted for the murder of Ivan Ward, committed at Irondale, Washington County, Mo., and is still at large and  $800.00 is offered for his capture.
[source]  The St. Louis Republic (St Louis Missouri), April 28, 1901

A followup places a James Fatchett in Washington county Missouri about this time and indicates that he died many years later, 1950 in Jefferson county Missouri. In October of 1901 the St Louis Republic announces changes to the Missouri National Guard, indicating "Ivan R Ward, killed by accident."  I would like to learn more about this "murder", a trial, and verdict.  This must have been a tremendous sadness in the life of our Robinson family. 

During these years around the turn of the century, the Wards moved to St Louis where James P Ward is shown as a railroad contractor.  Sometime before 1920, probably at James P Ward's retirement, they returned to Washington county Missouri and settled into the old Robinson family homestead at Irondale.  Julia Robinson Ward died in 1935 and James P Ward died in 1940.  They are buried with their sons in St Matthew Cemetery in St Louis Missouri. 

For more details on Julia Parkhurst Robinson, visit his page at Family Stories,

Photo:   Street scenes showing railroad ticket broker offices on Market Street in St. Louis; about 1903.  record creator - U.S. District Court for the Eastern (St. Louis) Division; housed – NARA Central Plains Region (Kansas City); available through wikimedia commons.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Those Robinson Girls: Martha Robinson Thompson

Preston M Robinson married Sarah N Edmonston,  1847 in Washington county Missouri.  To them were born five daughters – Elizabeth Jane Robinson, Mary Alice Robinson, Martha Thomas Robinson, Julia Parkhurst Robinson, and Joeannah Robinson.  This Blog Series on “Those Robinson Girls” gives a brief account of each daughter.

Martha Thomas Robinson was born on the 13th of November 1852 in Washington county Missouri.  She was the third daughter of Preston McGready Robinson and Sarah Nugent Edmondston, and my gg-grandaunt.  Just before her 20th birthday, in 1872, she was married to Newton Jasper Thompson, and they settled near their parents in Concord township, Washington county Missouri.  Their farm was probably outside of the town of Irondale, and they appear in Concord township in the 1900, 1910 and 1920 census. 

Newton Thompson and Martha Robinson were the parents of nine children, including a set of twins.  Six or seven of their sons, and one daughter, lived to adulthood.  The children probably attended local schools in Irondale and participated in the family farming operations. 

Newton Thompson and his wife Martha both survived into their seventies, Newton dying in 1921 and Martha in 1929.  They are buried with many extended family members in Hopewell Cemetery in Washington county Missouri.

Identified children of  Newton Thompson and Martha Robinson:
Robert  Preston Thompson;  married Lora Ellen Morehouse; resided in Washington county Missouri; he died young of tuberculosis.
Edwin Thompson (twin); married Bessie Emerson; resided St Louis and Emeryville, Alameda county California.
Richard Albert Thompson (twin); married Maude Martindale; eventually settled in St Louis. 
Joseph G Thompson; married Marie Hoeffner; member of the St Louis Fire Department; died in line of duty 1915. 
Arthur Ivan “Pat” Thompson; married Ella Lowe; Methodist pastor; died 1961 in Breton, Washington county Missouri.   
Sarah Julia Thompson; married William Philip Carlyon and lived in Washington county Missouri.
Grover Cleveland Thompson; married Loretta; resided Berkeley, Alameda county California. 
Henry Thompson; may have lived in St Louis; nothing further known.

For more details on Martha Thomas Robinson, visit her page at Family Stories,

Photo:   Hopewell Cemetery,  Washington county Missouri; Wikimedia commons, submitted by Txnerd.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Those Robinson Girls: Mary Alice Robinson Bebee

Preston M Robinson married Sarah N Edmonston,  1847 in Washington county Missouri.  To them were born five daughters – Elizabeth Jane Robinson, Mary Alice Robinson, Martha Thomas Robinson, Julia Parkhurst Robinson, and Joeannah Robinson.  This Blog Series on “Those Robinson Girls” gives a brief account of each daughter. 

Mary Alice Robinson was born on the 11th of December 1850.  She was the second of five daughters of Preston McGready Robinson and Sarah Nugent Edmonston, and is my gg-grandaunt.  In 1874, at the age of twenty-three, Mary Alice Robinson was married to Robert Bebee at Irondale in Washington county Missouri. 

In the 1880 census of Washington county Missouri, Robert Bebee was noted as a Forman at the Pilot Knob furnace.   He and his wife, Mary Alice Robinson, were the parents of six children, three of whom died in childhood. 

Sometime in the 1890’s, the Bebee family removed to St Louis where Robert Bebee took employment with the St Louis Fire Department.  He was a ladderman at Engine House #32, Hook and Ladder Company 8.  A Fire Department record indicates that he died in service 13 May 1902, but his tombstone gives his death date as 13 March 1903. 

Gould’s Blue Book of St Louis, 1903 and 1907, gives the Bebee home address as 6718 Virginia Avenue.  By 1910 Mary A Bebee, widow, is living with two of her grown children in St Louis.  A cousin, Mamie Edmonston in her 1948 letter describes Mary Alice as "one of the most ladylike and gracious women I have ever known."

Mary Alice Robinson Bebee died in 1923.  She is buried with her husband in Saint Matthew Cemetery of Saint Louis, Missouri. 

Children of Robert Bebee and Mary Alice Robinson, who survived to adulthood:
Maude Etta Bebee; married Thomas Mellow of England; resided in St Louis.
Robert Irl Bebee; married Alice Marion Dates; resided in St Louis and Charleston, Mississippi county Missouri.
Joseph Allen Bebee; married Martha Enid Ponder; resided St Louis and San Jose, California.

For more details on Mary Alice Robinson, visit his page at Family Stories,

Photo:  Advertising poster; Fire Extinguisher Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of "Babcock" and "Champion", chemical engines . . ; US Library of Congress.

Further Reading:
History of the St. Louis Fire Department, with a review of great fires and sidelights upon the methods of fire-fighting from ancient to modern times, from which the lesson of the vast importance of having efficient firemen may be drawn. St. Louis Firemen's Fund.(St. Louis: Central Publishing Company, 1914).
A copy of this item is located at the Central Library, St Louis Public Library (ST 352.3).

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Those Robinson Girls: Lizzie Jane Robinson Clarkson

Preston M Robinson married Sarah N Edmonston,  1847 in Washington county Missouri.  To them were born five daughters – Elizabeth Jane Robinson, Mary Alice Robinson, Martha Thomas Robinson, Julia Parkhurst Robinson, and Joeannah Robinson.  This Blog Series on “Those Robinson Girls” gives a brief account of each daughter. 

Elizabeth Jane Robinson was my gg-grandmother.  She was born on the 11th of January 1848 in Washington county Missouri.  She was the first born child of Preston McGready Robinson and Sarah Nugent Edmonston, and she was the first of a family of five daughters.  In fairly quick succession would arrive her younger sisters, Mary, Martha, Julia and finally Joeannah in 1862. 

I don’t know much of my gg-grandmother’s childhood, but it appears that she grew up on a family farm near the communities of Caledonia and Irondale in Washington county Missouri.  I can only speculate on the schooling of Elizabeth Robinson and her sisters, but it is clear that they received a worthwhile education.  Whether it was at home, in a local schoolroom, or at a boarding school is not known.

“Lizzie” Jane Robinson married Richard Albert “RA” Clarkson on the 3rd of September 1868.  He hailed from Essex county Virginia, had been orphaned as a young boy, and came west with his uncle a year or two after the Civil War.  He must have married Lizzie Jane not long after his arrival.  They appear with their infant daughter Camilla Clarkson in the 1870 Census of Washington county Missouri, in Harmony/Osage township.  RA Clarkson is noted as a Retail Dry Goods Merchant, a business he carried on through most of his life.  The town of Annapolis, in neighboring Iron county Missouri, was established in 1872, and RA Clarkson is listed among the first residents.  Lizzie Robinson and RA Clarkson lived in Annapolis for fifteen years.  Their four children were born there.

Our family is most fortunate to have a large collection of letters exchanged by our Clarkson family.  The largest portion of the letters is written between RA Clarkson and two of his children, Henrietta Clarkson and Samuel Edwin Clarkson, between 1903 and 1913.  But, there are a few earlier letters, and several letters written by Lizzie Jane Robinson Clarkson.   In May of 1886, Henrietta Clarkson writes to her two older sisters, Cammie and Annie, who are likely away at boarding school.  She mentions the chicken and dumplings they had for dinner, and the “train wreck” Papa met up with when he was returning from Ironton.  Also enclosed in the envelope is a letter from Mama (Lizzie Jane) to her daughter Cammie.  It’s an odd and hurried letter, discussing dresses that the girls are in need of.  Lizzie offers to purchase fabric in St Louis to send on to their dressmaker, if the girls will make clear what they need.  She closes the missive:

I do hope you are not just wanting these things to make a show, but if necessary then I will try and get. Now don’t go to crying and fretting over it just write on receipt of this a few lines telling me what you know, what color of silk and fingered or not. I do hope the Good Lord will forgive me for spending my Sabbath evening thinking about dress.

Just after this 1886 letter, the Clarkson family moved to Fort Smith Arkansas.  This would be Lizzie Robinson Clarkson’s home for the next forty-five years.  She became involved in many ministries of the Presbyterian Church.  She worked with a group of women to establish the Rosalie Tilles Orphan’s Home in Fort Smith. 

Elizabeth Jane Robinson was described by her granddaughter Elizabeth Boyd Reynolds in a letter to Charles Ninian Edmonston. She called her a colorful person who for many years supervised, from her home, a Ft. Smith orphanage, much to the dismay of her family.   She always drove a black horse hitched to a phaeton, wore sweeping skirts and a little bonnet on her head long after hats were in vogue.  She would stop her horse anywhere in the middle of the street to visit, much to the despair of the merchants, who finally wrote to the family to please keep her off the street before she was run over.  She was a large, strong woman both physically and mentally . Elizabeth claimed to be "scared to death of her" but said her younger sister Henrietta constantly chided her for not "kidding her along" as she did. 

Elizabeth Jane Robinson Clarkson died in 1930, at the age of eighty-two.  She had faced the death of her husband and two of her daughters, and a young grandson.  She is buried with her family in the Oak Cemetery in Fort Smith Arkansas.   

Children of Elizabeth Jane Robinson and Richard Albert Clarkson:
Camilla Hall Clarkson; married William Henry Vick of Fort Smith in 1898; removed to Oklahoma City.
Annie Preston Clarkson; married Alfred Waller Boyd in 1893; removed to Oklahoma City.
Henrietta  Jeffries Clarkson; unmarried; predeceased her parents in 1910 at age thirty-seven.
Samuel Edwin Clarkson; married Aubin Mildred Fry of Fort Smith in 1899; removed to Oklahoma City.

For more details on Elizabeth Jane Robinson, visit her page at Family Stories,  You will find several of her letters to her son, Samuel Edwin Clarkson, among the Clarkson Family Letters at Family Stories,

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Preston McGready Robinson, Washington County Missouri

Preston McGready Robinson, son of Archibald Robinson and Jane VanLear, was born on a farm near Caledonia, Washington county Missouri on 8 July 1820.  His older siblings were John Robinson and Sarah Robinson who came with their parents to Caledonia the very year Preston Robinson was born.  Later three more daughters, Mary Robinson, Jane Robinson and Elizabeth Robinson, were born to Archibald Robinson and Jane VanLear. 

The Robinson’s migration followed a few years after a group of mostly Scots – Irish families left Kentucky to settle the Bellevue Valley of Missouri and establish the little town of Caledonia.  The first lots were auctioned in Caledonia in 1819.  It isn’t clear whether the Robinsons set up housekeeping in the new town, or on a farm outside of town.  But, they must have played a role in the growth of a brand new community.  Today Caledonia is a small village in Washington county Missouri, but it is noted for its Nineteenth century charm, with thirty-three homes and buildings on the National Historic Register. 

Preston McGready Robinson, was married on 2 November 1847 in Washington county Missouri to Sarah Nugent Edmonston, daughter of William Edmonston and Elizabeth Royse of adjoining Reynolds county Missouri.  She was born 12 November 1831 in McComb, Illinois.  Preston was twenty-six years old and Sarah sixteen!  They were married by John Thomas, preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  The witnesses to their marriage included Sarah’s brother, John Edmons(t)on, and Preston’s sister, Elizabeth Robinson. 

The 1850 Census of Washington county Missouri, Belleview township, page 109, consecutively lists three young families – Richard and Elizabeth (Robinson) Terrill, Preston and Sarah Robinson, and Samuel and Jane (Robinson) Reyburn.  The father of these siblings, Archibald Robinson, is also in Belleview township, on page 117.  It would be interesting to know the location of this "family" homestead. 

Minimal record searching does not yet tell us much about what Preston Robinson did for a living, but in census records he is shown as farmer and planter.  The few deeds I have read show him selling parcels of land, probably inherited from his father Archibald Robinson, though there are some buying and selling transactions he may have initiated himself. 

Preston Robinson and Sarah Edmondston were the parents of five daughters.  Birthdates and marriage information were found on a hand-written record in some Robinson – Edmonston family papers: 
Elizabeth Jane Robinson;  born  11 Jan 1848; married Richard Albert Clarkson on 3 Sept 1868
Mary A Robinson; born  11 Dec 1850; married Robert Beebe on 24 Feb 1874
Martha Thomas Robinson; born 13 Nov 1852; married Newton Jasper Thompson on 3 Sep 1872
Julia Parkhurst Robinson; born 17 Jan  1855; married James P Ward on 12 July 1876
Joanna Robinson; born 24 Oct 1862; married Ezra Elmo Mason on 8 Jan  1878

Probably Sarah Edmondston Robinson was responsible for the education received by these five daughters.  Eldest daughter Elizabeth Jane Robinson was obviously intelligent, and a good business-woman in her later years. 

Southeast Missouri was not a major player in the action of the Civil War, but it did see both Union and Confederate troops moving through.  There was probably more fear stirred, and more property damaged by the Northern Jayhawkers and Southern Bushwhackers, local outlaws with personal grudges.  In 1864, Confederate General Sterling Price drove his men across Missouri in an event known as Price’s Raid.  The Battle of Pilot Knob occurred on 27 September 1864, when Price’s 12,000 troops faced a small garrison at Fort Davidson.  If our Robinson family was “at home”, they may have been aroused by this battle in the neighborhood. 

One final postscript to the seemingly admirable life of Preston McGready Robinson is a 1902 letter written by Richard Albert Clarkson, Preston Robinson's son-in-law, to his cousin Richard Mundie, which says:

Mr. Robinson, my wife's father has a tumor on his hand which they fear is a cancer.  The poor man cannot live much longer and the unfortunate part of it all is he is unprepared as we fear, for death.  The drink habit fastened itself upon him years ago and it has sapped his manhood.  Poor fellow, how I pity him.   

Preston Robinson died on 1 July 1903, at the age of eighty-three, and is buried in Hopewell Cemetery at Irondale in Washington county Missouri.  His obituary tell us, “About two months ago, he accepted Christ as his Saviour, and gave every evidence of being ready and waiting, simply trusting and with patience he calmly awaited the summons 'come up higher’. “ It credits him with twenty-six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

For more details on Preston McGready Robinson, visit his page at Family Stories,

More Reading:
There is an article available on the internet, written by Thomas Flanders, published in the Spring 1992 issue of Ozarks Watch, and titled Kith and Kin of Caledonia.  It doesn’t include any mention of our Robinson family, but it gives a nice flavor to the community in which they lived. 

History of Caledonia Missouri, by Muriel Akers   

History of Irondale [Missouri], by Joy Scott

Photo:  Tombstone of Preston McGready Robinson and his wife Sarah Nugent Edmonston Robinson in Hopewell Cemetery, Irondale, Washington county Missouri.  Photo courtesy of Esther Ziock Carroll, at  This is a fabulous website for learning more about Washington county Missouri!

Moving back in time:  Albert Luther Clarkson 1901 > Samuel Edwin Clarkson 1875 > Elizabeth Jane Robinson 1848 > Preston McGready Robinson  1820.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Is that you Grandma?

The Royse (Royce) family has been a recent topic on the Family Stories Blog.  My 5xgreat-grandfather, Frederick Royse, established the town of Fredericksburg Indiana in 1815.  This post introduces his youngest daughter, Elizabeth Royse, and corrects some misinformation related to her father, husband, and children. 

Elizabeth Royse is my 4xgreat-grandmother.  She was born in 1799, and moved with her family from Bardstown Kentucky to Washington county Indiana when she was still a girl.  An Edmonston family record indicates that Elizabeth Royce (Royse) married William Edmonston,  22 Feb 1816 or 1817.  No location is given, but at that time, William Edmonston was living in Jasper, Dubois county Indiana, about fifty miles west of the Royse home in Fredericksburg.  If these dates are correct, Elizabeth would have been about age sixteen or seventeen at the time of her marriage.

In the 1820 Census of Dubois county Indiana, it is of interest to note a Joseph Royse and a John Royse living within close proximity to William Edmonston.  I have not been successful in identifying Joseph and John Royse, but it seems possible that they are uncles or cousins to Elizabeth Royse Edmonston  – perhaps through her father’s brother, John Royse. Did these family connections bring about a meeting of William Edmonston and Elizabeth Royse?

About 1829, William Edmonston and his wife Elizabeth moved near Macomb Illinois where he served in as a representative for McDonough county in the Illinois State Legislature from 1832-1844.  Before 1850 they moved to Missouri where they lived in the counties of Reynolds, Bates, and finally Cooper county Missouri.   

William Edmonston and Elizabeth Royse were the parents of eight identified children:  John Royse Edmonston, Argyle Edmonston, Benjamin Franklin Edmonston, Sarah Nugent Edmonston, Elizabeth Edmonton, William Clay Edmonston, Thomas Benton Edmonston, and Bazil Edmonston. 

For a time there was a theory passed around that Elizabeth Royse was the daughter of a John Royse and Sarah Nugent.  I have never found evidence of this.  The 1826 Will of Frederick Royse in Washington county Indiana, names his daughter Betsy (Royse) Edmonson.  Betsy’s sister, Sarah (Royse) Nugent is also named.  Sarah is probably the aunt for whom Sarah Nugent Edmonston is named. 

Recently I have come across several family history databases on the web that suggest Elizabeth Royse, daughter of Frederick Royse, married a William Edmonson and was the mother of John, Martin, James, Lucy and Susan Edmonson.  On inspection I find this suggested family in 1850 and 1860 Harrison county Indiana.  But, the mother’s name is Susannah and a family record names her as Susannah Durr.   This is not the family of our Elizabeth Royse Edmonston. 

Recently I came across this wonderful photograph of Elizabeth Royse Edmonston at her Find A Grave memorial.  What a treat!  Cousin Ernest Edmonston has contributed some wonderful biographies, photos and documents there.  Family historians won't want to miss these!  - Elizabeth Royse at Find A Grave.

For more details on Elizabeth Royse and her husband William Edmonston, visit their pages at Family Stories,

Moving back in time:  Albert Luther Clarkson 1901 > Samuel Edwin Clarkson 1875 > Elizabeth Jane Robinson 1848 > Sarah Nugent Edmonston 1821 > Elizabeth Royse 1799.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Royse (Royce) Family of Fredericksburg; Part 2

Frederick Royse's names appears on the War Memorial at Washington County Courthouse in Salem, Indiana

Frederick Royce is my 5xgreat-grandfather.  He was probably born between 1750-1760 in Pennsylvania or Virginia.  He married Sarah Dewitt, and sometime after the Revolutionary War he moved with his young family to Bardstown in Nelson county Kentucky.  My recent blog posting, The Royse (Royce) Family of Fredericksburg; Part 1, details his move from Bardstown, to a salt lick along the Buffalo Trace in Indiana Territory.  From about 1806, this area began to be called Royse’s Lick.  By 1815, Frederick Royse sold his property around the Lick and, at the age of about sixty, he moved a little south and started a new venture – establishing the town of Fredericksburg, Indiana. 

 In 1814 Washington county Indiana was formed from Clark county, and two years later Indiana made the transition from Territory to State.  These changes peaked the enthusiasm of forward-looking men.    In 1815 Frederick Royse and his sons laid out the village of Fredericksburg, just north and across Blue River from the site of present day Fredericksburg, Indiana.  

According to Goodspeed’s 1884, “History of Washington County [Indiana]”, Frederick Royse, by the county surveyor William Lowe, surveyed and platted fifty-nine lots in the month of September 1815.  Goodspeed identifies some of the early town fathers as Theodore Catlin, James McClung, John T Ferguson, Jacob Harris and Dr William A Boyles. 

Frederick Royse and his wife Sarah Dewitt Royse lived out the remaining ten or twelve years of their life on their farm near Fredericksburg.  By the time the 1820 census was taken in Washington county Indiana, most of their ten children were married and raising their own families. Frederick Royse, and his sons John Royse, William Royse, Martin Royse, Gabriel Royse, and daughter Lydia VanLandingham, all appear within two pages of each other on the census.  The youngest son, Benjamin Royse is probably still in the household of his parents.  Four other daughters, Hannah Royse Campbell, Sarah Royse Nugent, Rebecca Royse McFall, and Elizabeth Royse Edmonston all appear in nearby counties.

Frederick Royse died in 1826, and his wife Sarah Dewitt Royse died the following year. It is believed that they were buried, along with other family members, in the now defunct Royse Farm Cemetery.  There is a Historical Marker, dedicated to Frederick Royse and family, at the nearby Horner’s Chapel Cemetery.

Several generations of Royse descendants remained in and near Fredericksburg.  They built mills and bridges, participated in the county militia, served in community offices and local churches.  They saw the town move across the Blue River to higher ground.  The names of Frederick Royse, several of his sons and sons-in-law are remembered by the county.  They appear on the Honor Rolls Memorial at the Washington County Courthouse in Salem, Indiana.  Further information can be found at the Historical Markers Database.

I located this photograph of Beck’s Mill in Washington county Indiana.  It has no direct relationship to our Royse family.  But, the Beck and Royse families had similar stories – immigrating from near Louisville Kentucky to Clark’s Grant in Indiana Territory about the same time, platting nearby communities and competing for county seat status (neither won), developing their farm land and establishing grist mills along the Blue River.   I feel sure the Beck and Royse families were acquainted.  The story of Beck’s Mill, beautifully restored in 2007, makes interesting reading.

For more details on Frederick Royse and his family, visit his page at Family Stories,

Photo: Washington County (Indiana) Honor Roll Memorial, photo by Marilyn S Wolf, 2011.

Moving back in time:  Albert Luther Clarkson 1901 > Samuel Edwin Clarkson 1875 > Elizabeth Jane Robinson 1848 > Sarah Nugent Edmonston 1821 >  Elizabeth Royse 1799 > Frederick Royse abt 1760    
Further Reading:
Frederick Royse, 1750 – 1825: Revolutionary War Militiaman: Chelsea Dinn, 1971. 
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