Vining Family Deaths in March 1870


In a recent post, we sorted out the people in a photo (John/Jack Vining, his daughter, and four grandchildren). If you missed it, here’s the story. Also in the photo was Jack’s second wife, Ellen Babcock. He married her after his first wife, Josephine died.

I heard from a descendant of one of the grandchildren after I posted the photo on Ancestry. She is the great-granddaughter of Edwin, the older boy. He’s the one in the picture wearing suspenders. She was thrilled to see her great-grandfather, great-great-grandmother, and great-great-great-grandfather all in one picture. As you see, Edwin is my 2nd cousin 1x removed.

Edwin R Frost pic and dates

I was curious about Josephine, the first wife. I didn’t have a maiden name for her but did have that she was born in 1942 in Connecticut and that’s the state the Vinings were from also. I haven’t been able to find their place and date of marriage. Was it in CT, Missouri, or Iowa? The Vinings moved a lot. Josephine and John Vining’s first son was born in Illinois in 1859, so the couple could even have been married in that state.

I did find the 1870 Mortality Record for Belmont, Woodson County, Kansas that listed Josephine Vining. She died in March of that year from “dropsy of the chest.” Today, that would be called pulmonary edema, where fluids accumulate in the chest. I found another description that said it could be caused by “inflammation of the membrane covering the lungs” and it mentioned pleurisy.

The very curious part of the Mortality Record was that two other Vinings were listed as dying in March 1870 in Woodson County. There was William Vining, age 4, who was born in Kansas. He died from typhoid fever. There was also a baby girl named Zora Vining, just a month old who was also born in Kansas. She died from inflammation of the brain. Are these Josephine and John’s children? The record was quite hard to read.

Ancestry com U S Federal Census Mortality Schedules 1870 Zora, William, Josephine Vining

Next, I looked at the 1870 census for John and the remaining children. The census was conducted June 7, 1870, so three months after the death of the three Vinings. It shows four families named Vining, all living adjacent to each other.  That complicates the sleuthing, as the William and Zora might be from those instead of from Josephine and John Vining.

Let’s sort out the possibilities:

Here are the family groupings with name, age, and place of birth.

  • James Vining, age 58 CT
  • James Vining, age 21 CT
  • Franklin Vining, age 15 CT
  • Jennie Vining, age 14 CT

James is my 2nd great-grandfather. His wife Almira died in 1864.

His second wife (Rhoda Harrison) was 53 when they married in 1864 so these are unlikely to be children born to her. Since they divorced in 1867 the infant girl, Zora, who died in March 1870 is definitely not theirs.

It is possible but unlikely that the baby was Jennie’s. She is just 14.

The three households below are three sons of James and Almira Vining. Most likely, they have each taken up homesteading claims adjacent to their father.

  • John Vining, age 37 CT
  • John Vining, age 12 IL
  • Ida Vining, age 4 IL

John Vining lost his wife Josephine in March 1870. Their daughter, Clara (age 3, Missouri) is missing but shows up in the 1880 census as back with the family. Possibly she lived with another family for a short while after her mother’s death.

It seems unlikely that William would be John and Josephine Vining’s son, as he is the same age as Ida. They could be twins, but William was born in Kansas and Ida in Illinois.

  • Henry Vining, age 32 CT
  • Charles Vining, age 25 CT

Henry and Charles Vining are brothers and are listed as “farmer” and “farm laborer” in the census. Four years later, Henry Francis Vining married Nancy Jane (Babcock) Ashlock. These two bachelors are unlikely to have lost 2 young children in March 1870. I’m going to rule them out.

  • Erastus Vining, age 27 CT
  • Elizabeth Vining, age 21 KS
  • Dora Vining, age 8 months KS

Erastus Vining married Elizabeth Richardson in 1865. It is quite possible that they lost a 4-year-old son named William in March of 1870. It is fairly impossible for them to have had a daughter Zora though just 3 months before Dora.

What have we deduced from all this?

The boy, William Vining, could be Erastus’ child. The one-month-old Zora Vining who died in March 1870 is most likely John and Josephine’s.

That’s as far as I can go without taking a trip to Woodson County, Kansas and checking first-hand some courthouse records.





John Vining’s Daughter and Grandchildren


On the back of the photo in faint pencil, it says “Aunt Ellen Vining, Uncle Jack Vining, Cousin Ida, Cousin Lulu, etc.”

My first guess was that Ellen and Jack (seated in front) were the parents of two grown daughters, named Ida and Lulu (unknown married names). I also hypothesized that the unnamed 3 children were Ida and Lulu’s. I was wrong. 
Ellen & Jack Vining and Ida and Lulu

I couldn’t find anything about the photography studio. On the border of the photo, it says, “Munson – Neosho, MO.”

When I consulted my family tree, there was no Jack Vining and no Ellen Vining. I did have an Ida Vining and that helped solve who was in the picture.

Ida, was born in 1866 to John and Josephine Vining.  John’s dates are 1833-1900 and Josephine was 1836-1870. After Josephine died, John Vining married Elleanor (Ellen) Babcock.

Ida married Abraham Frost. In 1886 they had a daughter Lula. Other children of Ida are Edwin 1888, Ethel 1891, Fred 1893.  This photo with only 4 names on the back looks like a good match for the Vinings and the Frost family.

Ida Vining daughter of John Vining - tree

John and Josephine Vining’s daughter Ida Mary Vining and her children.

From the size of the smallest boy, who looks about five or so, I first guessed this photo might be 1898. The clothing seems appropriate for the Victorian era, turn-of-the-century with Fred wearing a Little Lord Fauntleroy collar and tie. Women’s clothing was slimming down without the hoop skirts of the 1860s or the huge puffed sleeves of the 1880s.

If the photo were from 1898, Lula would have been 12. She looks a little more mature than 12 so the picture might be 1900. At that point, Lula would have been 14, Edwin 12, Ethel 9, and Fred 7.

The children’s grandparents would have been 67 and 54 in 1900.  John Vining died later that year. Ellen lived until 1924 and died at the age of 77.

Ellen and her sister, Nancy Jane Babcock, married two brothers, John and Henry Francis Vining. The above photos show Ellen Babcock Vining by herself, then Ellen, Nancy Jane, Ezra, and Elias Babcock. Nancy Jane is my great-grandmother, so Ellen is my great-aunt.

The Death of Roy Martin, Son of John and Cordelia Martin


The Hamilton Grit, Hamilton, KS

Thur. May 11. 1911

(transcribed from






A very sad accident occurred last Thursday afternoon, when Roy Martin, aged 14 years, 9 months and 11 days, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Martin, living about 10 miles northwest of Hamilton, was killed while at work in the field, the boy left the house at noon and went out to plow. About half hour after he had been seen talking to some boys, Dudley Dillingham and brothers, who were working nearby noticed him to be lying on the ground near the horses. On arriving where he was the boys found him dead.

One horse was standing on his lower limb which was broken, his foot entangled in the tug and his hand still grasping the lines. It is thought that the horse stepped over the tug and the boy attempted to raise its foot to put back without unfastening the tug and the horse had fallen or thrown itself on him, the dirt on it, showing it had been down but was standing quietly when found. Three of the child’s ribs were broken on one side, two on the other and his body otherwise mashed.

Funeral services were held at Prairie Bell church, 1:30 p.m. Saturday and were conducted by Rev. Wilson, of Virgil. Interment was made in the No. 8 cemetery.

Roy was a much liked little boy and had a host of friends who will miss him from their presence. He was the youngest of five children, three brothers and one sister surviving him. Relatives and friends have the heartfelt sympathy of all.


Citation for the clipping: 

11 May 1911, 1 – Hamilton Grit at

11 May 1911, 1 – Hamilton Grit at (2018). Retrieved 5 June 2018, from

Roy Martin was the brother of my grandfather, Charles Lorenzo Martin. Thus, he was my great-uncle. The other siblings were Archie, Robert, and Anna Faye. Roy Martin’s parents were John Thomas and Cordelia Jane (Stone) Martin.

Four Generations of Mothers


Originally posted on my mother’s blog.

Discovering Mom

Researching family history becomes more meaningful when you can see the faces that go with the names and dates. For Mother’s Day, I pulled together my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother. Beyond that, I have just the names and information, but no photos.

I like seeing them all lined up like this. Looks like that high forehead and the nose came down through the generations. I must have gotten my nose and blonde hair from the Martin side, but I do have the forehead.

Here are their names and dates (left to right):

    • Gail Lee McGhee Martin 1924-2013
    • Ruth Vining McGhee 1897-1960
    • Nancy Jane Babcock Vining 1851–1924
    • Ellenor Nancy Jane Wright Babcock 1820–1882

These four women had 36 children and that doesn’t count the miscarriages or ones that died at birth. Nancy Jane remarried not long after her first husband died. In 1873 Kansas, a woman with children didn’t have the…

View original post 88 more words

Learning about Woodward County, Oklahoma and the Vining Family


A Book from Gail Lee Martin’s bookshelf (reviewed by her daughter, Virginia Allain): Oklahoma Geological Survey Guide Book XV – Alabaster Cavern and Woodward County.

The University of Oklahoma published this in 1969 with a second printing in 1972. A slim 38 pages, but filled with useful information if you want to know about the geology or history of this area. The pictures are in black and white, but you get some maps, various charts and graphs explaining the geology and photos of the interior of the caves.

In the history section, starting at page 25, it covers the early times with the Indian tribes, then the military presence with the Custer massacre at Washita of over 100 Indians including women and children and the establishment of Fort Supply.

That was followed by ranching and then homesteaders in the land rush of 1893. Sod houses were constructed and hardy families eked out a living and built schools and eventually churches and towns.

In the oversized booklet, it describes a typical sod house as 12 feet by 16 feet with walls made from blocks of sod cut into brick-like shapes. The roof was slightly rounded and made of poles and tar paper and then covered with dirt to hold the tar paper in place.

The settlers would collect dried buffalo chips or cow patties to burn as fuel since wood was scarce. I found it fascinating reading about the early ranchers, then the land rush and homesteaders.

How This Relates to the Family History:

From Gail Martin’s notes: The Vining family came to Woodward County from the Pea Ridge School area which is probably “where the Vinings lived in Wilson County, KS, before moving to Woodward, OK, area when Mother (Ruth Vining McGhee) was 5 years old.” That would have been 1902.

Henry Vining was the son of James and Almira Vining. He was born 17 September 1837 and died 28 July 1897. He married Nancy Jane (Babcock) Ashlock on 30 March 1866. She had 3 children from her first marriage. Mom’s story about Henry’s mother is told in My Pioneering Great Grandmother. That story takes place in the eastern part of Kansas.

More about Woodward County, Oklahoma

There were 2,241 residents in 1894 (right after the land rush). For the next four years, the population kept dropping due to drought, harsh winters, and conflicts with the cattlemen.

The homesteader had to pay for the land in installments plus a filing fee of $15. Then he had to live on that quarter section of land for 5 years, grow crops and make certain improvements to gain title to the land.

The Vining family bought their land from one of the homesteaders who gave up and left.

The photo of the frame house shows Ruth (youngest child on the left) and her family in front of a small home on the Oklahoma prairie. Extending to the right is a dugout or sod house which was probably the original house. Her father, Henry Vining, died six weeks after his youngest daughter was born.

My aunt recently told me this tidbit of family lore: “Mother often slept with covers over her head; she said it was from her childhood years living in a dugout home, and insects scuttled across the ceiling”

My mother wrote a story from Ruth’s childhood that she heard many times. It’s called The Day the Mad Dog Came. This event happened at this location.

Ruth Vining’s older sister Belle Vining lived in Woodward County through the 1930s while married to Orville Espie Brock.


Here are more pages with Woodward County history.


In June of 1955, Albert Vining, his wife Vina, and two of his sisters (Ruth and I think, Bessie) made a trip to visit “the old home place.” My older sister, Susan went with them. At this point, there are only these two photos to remember the road trip. I don’t know if any remnants of the old sod and frame house remained or if they were able to visit any relatives still in the Woodward area.

The first photo is labeled “standing by the well at the old birthplace.” In the second photo, there’s a monument labeled “Rogers” so I’m guessing that they stopped in Claremore, Oklahoma to see the Will Rogers memorial. The link shows a video of what is there now, probably expanded quite a bit over the years.


Here are a few things I found online about the area. The map is from 1905 and as you can see the Kansas line forms the upper border of Woodward County. The street scenes are from 1910 and 1920.


Alfred and Marie Joy in the News


(From the Lawrence Gazette, Aug. 9, 1888) — “Teachers Institute. – The Institute now has an enrollment of 114, and the exercises are becoming very interesting…. [Discussion of sessions on grammar, physiology, history, school management, etc.] Marie Kennedy included in the list of those enrolled.

(Lawrence Gazette, July 16, 1891) “The County Superintendent yesterday issued certificates as follows, based on the examination held at the close of the Institute.” [Marie Kennedy, Baldwin, listed under “Second Grade.” Teaching certificates were issued as First, Second, and Third; these were based on your test scores and also on what subjects you were certified to teach, and they also determined how long you could teach before you had to take the test again. I believe a Second Grade certificate was good for six months.]

(From the Lawrence Gazette in August 1891) “No. 58: Director, Barnhart Kramer. Clerk, John Sturm, Clearfield, Treasurer, Wm. Brecheisen. Six months school, beginning October 5. Teacher, Miss Marie Kennedy.” (Marie Kennedy is also listed in the Lawrence Daily Journal on Aug. 24, 1892, as the teacher for No. 58, so she taught there for two terms at least.)

Alfred Joy had nine lives like a cat! These articles tell of some drastic injuries he sustained while doing farm work.

(Lawrence Gazette, Aug. 10, 1893) “Alfred Joy was badly, though it is not supposed fatally injured, one day last week. While helping to thrash at C. A. James’, he attempted to climb up on the wagon from the front, when one horse kicked him on the arm which made him fall to the ground and the wagon passed over him. Dr. Bishoff was immediately sent for and made him as comfortable as possible.” [This would be three years before marrying Marie Kennedy.]

A similar item from the Lawrence Daily World, Aug. 6, 1893, under the heading “A Boy Hurt.” “Alfred Joy was seriously injured Friday on the farm of J. H. Cox, near Hesper, by a wagon running over him. He attempted to climb on a wagon loaded with wheat but the team started throwing him under the wagon.”

Update from Aug. 31, 1893 Lawrence Gazette: “Alfred Joy is much better – is able to work a little; but it will be quite a while before he is as strong as before he was hurt.”

THEIR WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENT! Lawrence Daily World, Jan. 18, 1896: “Alfred Joy and Marie Kennedy of Baldwin, were married by the probate judge this morning. The contracting parties are well known in that part of the county and are highly respected.”


Then they bought a house, I guess! In the real estate transfers for March 9, 1898: “David G. Kennedy and wife to Alfred Joy and wife nw ¼ sec 31, t 14, r 21; con $2,500.” [The sellers are Marie’s parents.]

Then they sold it in 1902: In the real estate transfers for March 31, 1902: “Alfred Joy and wife to J. P. Bell, w ½ of n w ¼, 31, 14, 21; consideration $3,000.” [Looks like they made a $500 profit in 3 years on it.]

(Lawrence Daily World, in the “Belleview-Keystone” local notes, Dec. 27, 1905) “Mr. and Mrs. Tom Oskel, Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Douglass, Mrs. Alfred Joy and children took their Christmas dinner with Mr. and Mrs. George Joy.” [I wonder why Alfred Joy was unable to attend. I hope he wasn’t ill. George and Dacy Elizabeth Joy are Alfred’s parents. I’m wondering if Oskel and Douglass are also family. Maybe the Oskel should be Oshel. I have a Thomas Oshel married to Sarah Amelia Joy, a sister of Alfred Joy.]

Marie’s brother passed away in 1906, per this notice from the Lawrence Daily World, May 18, 1906: “James Kennedy died at the home of his brother, last Friday. He had been sick for some time but was only confined to the house for one week before his death. He leaves an aged mother, one sister, Mrs. Alfred Joy at Burlingame, Kan. And several brothers and many friends. Funeral services were conducted by Rev. Gray at the Presbyterian church Sunday at 2 o’clock. Burial at Baldwin cemetery.”

The Madison News of July 3, 1937 included the obituary for Henry Alfred Joy. He was born and raised in Eudora, Kansas (Jan. 21, 1874). They lived in Baldwin City until 1908, then moved to Hamilton and later moved southeast of Madison.


His wife, Marie (Kennedy) Joy lived until July 6, 1945. She was born near Baldwin City, Kansas on December 1, 1864. “She attended Baker University for four years and taught for several years in rural schools in Douglas County.” She spent the last four years of her life at the Methodist Home in Topeka.


(Many thanks to Sarah St. John for searching the newspaper database. The scanned clippings are from Gail Lee Martin’s family history notebooks.)

Seeking Laura Tower


I’m back to work on my ancestor-hunting. Family Search has added Indiana marriages for a wide range of years, so I pounced on that database.

Putting in my key ancestor, great-great-grandfather Abraham Bates Tower, I found a number of marriages where his name appeared. No, he wasn’t married a number of times, it was on his children’s marriage records that I found him.

That led me to pursue his daughter, Laura A. Tower through her marriage on 11 March 1886 to William Lewis Taylor. I already had that date, but the record provided me with his parents’ names. Always helpful to have that.

I already had a daughter for the couple, Rhoda Taylor, born the next year. Still, I needed more. I had no date of death for Laura. I hunted up some census records for William Taylor in Dubois County, Indiana. He shows up in 1900 with daughter Rhoda, some other children and a new wife, Eva.

Rhoda Taylor Grigsby and husband Tom - Laura towers daughter

Laura Tower’s daughter, Rhoda Taylor. Rhoda’s husband is Tom Grigsby. (photo provided by another genealogist, kiss110418, on Ancestry) 

Oh oh, that could mean that Laura died prior to 1900 or they got divorced. In 1899, William Taylor married Eva Taylor (former name, Eva Thomas?) and Rhoda now has an older step-brother Everett Thomas born in 1871 1892.

William Taylor has 2 additional sons in that census, Herman Taylor born December 1889 and about 10 years later, William T. Taylor born March 1900. Could Herman be Laura’s son and she died in childbirth or did she die sometime later before 1900?

I’ll be searching further for some clues on this and to find out what happened to Abraham’s daughter Laura.

I posted this to the Tower family group on Facebook and got this input from another Tower descendant: “There’s a Grigsby family association, too! (Which I am also a member of. And Du Bois. Ancestry is fun! :)) National Grigsby Family Society. Looks like Eva Thomas had two kids with Taylor, William Thomas Taylor and Alpha Taylor then ran off and married John F Thorn (according to the 1920 census listing Eva Thorn and the Taylor kids). Everett Thomas (later adopted the Taylor name?) was 8 in 1900, so born in 1892, not 1871, transcription error there! No help for tracking down when Laura died or where she was buried though.”