Family History Tidbits – Charley Richards


A Goal for 2021

One goal for me this year is to share the bits and pieces of family history that I find. Some stories will never be fully revealed to the current generation as they are lost to living memory and otherwise undocumented. Even though I don’t have the full story of someone, I do want to share the crumbs that I find and hope they are helpful to future searchers.

An Intriguing Signature

Charles Richards signatureCharles Richards signature Thu, Apr 29, 1915 – 4 · The Eudora Weekly News (Eudora, Kansas) ·

I happened upon this tidbit while hunting for news of the Richards and the Joy family in the Eudora and Lawrence vintage newspapers. My bigger project was to find out more about the Richards family’s involvement in the abolition movement leading up to the Civil War.

Charles F. Richards’ signature isn’t vital to our family story. He’s a first cousin 3 times removed since his father, Oscar Grinman Richards, was the cousin of our second great-grandmother, Dacy Richards Joy. She was orphaned at an early age, so was raised with her cousins. I’m guessing that Charley was like a nephew to Dacy.

Now, back to the signature. The news tidbit made me curious to see the actual signature so off I went to Ancestry to see what documents I could find. Hurrah! I found the signature on his 1914 application for a passport and it is every bit as bad as the newspaper described it.

There are a few other tidbits to glean from this document. Charles was born in Leavenworth County, Kansas, on 29 April 1866. He deals in real estate and insurance in Eudora, Kansas. It isn’t clear why he is going abroad. The description shows that he is 48-years-old, 5 feet 7 inches, with a high and full forehead. His eyes are blue, his nose is straight and common, his mouth is common, and his chin is full and round. His face is full and smooth with a fair complexion. He has brown hair but is balding.

The Postman


My 2nd great-uncle, Erastus Laban Tower, served a number of years as the postmaster in Uniontown, Indiana. I wanted to find out more about his time as postmaster which at first I thought spanned from 1886 to 1911 (his obituary).

Then I found that he was appointed on January 13, 1892 (U.S., Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1832-1971 on

The 1900 census listed him as a farmer but perhaps being postmaster did not pay well enough so he combined farming and postal work. In his wife’s obituary, it said she served as assistant postmaster. There was a 1903 list with the compensation for being a postmaster. It listed Erastus L. Tower as receiving $103.87. I believe that amount was the total annual payment, not a monthly payment.

Laban and Clarvina Tower

The USPS site gave this information on how a person became a postmaster:

From 1836 to 1971, postmasters at the larger Post Offices were appointed by the President, by and with the consent of the Senate. Postmasters earning less than $1,000 per year were appointed by the Postmaster General, generally upon the advice of the local congressman or townspeople. Regulations required that postmasters execute a valid bond and take an oath of office. Prior to 1971, it was also required that postmasters live in the delivery area of their Post Office. 

I’ve shared some information about Erastus Laban Tower on this blog and also on a page at a site called Hubpages. Below is his obituary which I found in a library when we visited Indiana some years ago.

The newspaper mistakenly put an “s” on Tower.

This post is part of my participation in the Sepia Saturday blog challenge. They post a photo each week which sets the theme. Here’s their picture for this week, a postman in Sweden. I doubt that small town postmasters in the U.S. had official looking hats like that.

Sepia Saturday Theme Image (P) Postman, Swedish National Heritage Board

Bearded Men on the Family Tree


The prompt for the 52 Ancestors challenge was “beards,” so I started hunting through my family photos for bearded fellows. Wanting to be thorough and systematic, I started with the Kansas Vinings. It turns out that they were a pretty clean-shaven bunch.

I did find some handsome mustaches that must have been a popular look for the early 1900s.

Vining Family

Kennedy Family

I had better luck with the Kennedy family of Baldwin, Kansas. David Greacen Kennedy wore an impressive beard. His son, Jim, choose to go with a mustache.

Tower Family

For the Tower line in Kansas, my Civil War ancestor wore a beard most of his life. Abraham Bates Tower opted for the chin beard minus the mustache.

Martin Family

Three Martins with mustaches represent the Martin family.

McGhee Family

The McGhee family moved from Arkansas to Montgomery County, Kansas. Samuel Newton McGhee is the fellow with the mustache here.

Sam & Matilda 1903, with their children Clarence 7; Jesse 5; Roy 2; Bertha baby.

Joy Arrives in Colonial America


Peter Joy, my 7th great-grandfather, left England in 1663 for the British Colony of Maryland. His parents Mary Dover and Richard Joy had died in 1630 when Peter was just 2-years-old. The family had lived in Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, England which was part of Greater London.

We don’t know who raised the orphaned Peter and his sisters, Susannah and Rebecca. He chose a good time to leave in 1663, as the Great Plague of London started several years later killing over 100,000 people. It is possible that he left for religious freedom and economic reasons.

It seems likely that the Joy family traces back to Joyce in Ireland, but I have more work to do on that. Many of the immigrants to St. Mary’s in the colony of Maryland were Catholic and the Joy name appears on a list of marriages, births, and baptisms for the county.

He married Martha Goldson who had traveled to the New World with her parents in 1659. Their first child, Monica Joy, was born in 1663. His son, Peter Joy was born in 1665. Here’s my line of descent.

Richard Joy 1600-1630 – 8th great-grandfather
Peter Joy 1628-1686 – Son of Richard Joy
Peter Joy 1665-1740 – Son of Peter Joy
John Baptist Joy 1700-1778 – Son of Peter Joy
John C. Joy 1770-1856 – Son of John Baptist Joy
Thomas Tarlton Joy 1802-1888 – Son of John C. Joy
George Washington Joy 1836-1914 – Son of Thomas Tarlton Joy
Henry Alfred Joy 1874-1937 – Son of George Washington Joy
Cora Myrle Joy 1896-1969 – Daughter of Henry Alfred Joy
My father – Son of Cora Myrle Joy

Colonial couple – graphic from Pixabay

I found a few brief details on Find-a-Grave, “Catholic Carpenter. Landowner whose tracts ‘Joys Fortune‘ and ‘Kingston‘ were patented in Calvert County but later fell into the jurisdiction of Prince George’s County, Maryland.”

The 52 Ancestor prompt for this week was PROUD. I’m proud that my ancestors took part in the early history of the United States.


Newest Ancestor


I can rattle off the surnames that populate our family tree after some years of working on them. There’s Martin, McGhee, Vining, Joy, Stone, Kennedy, Tower, Babcock, Buckland, and Richards. I’m getting more familiar this year with Summers, Ellison, Wright, and Blair but still have a lot to learn about those.

The DNA test has opened up new connections and using Ancestry’s DNA tool (called Thrulines), I find new probable ancestors to investigate. Even though I share DNA with a dozen or more people that links back to the names below, it’s important to verify and document their place on my family tree.

It gets tricky following the female lines, so I’m on new territory with:

Elizabeth [Betsy] Stubblefield
BIRTH 28 JUN 1793 • Sullivan Co., Tennessee
DEATH 10 OCT 1860 • DeKalb, Buchanan, Missouri
3rd great-grandmother

Sarah Easley
BIRTH 1 DEC 1752 • Chesterfield County, Virginia
DEATH 1817 • Hawkins, Grainger, Tennessee
4th great-grandmother

Betsy’s mother was Sarah Easley who was born 1 Dec 1752 in Chesterfield County, Virginia. She died 1817 in Hawkins, Grainger, Tennessee. Someone later in the family must have been Mormon, as I found this, “She was sealed to her parents on 14 Sep 1796 in the Atlanta Georgia temple. Sarah was baptized 12 May 1778. She was endowed 15 Jun 1778. Sarah married Robert Loxley Stubblefield on 15 Jul 1772 in Halifax County, Virginia.”

I found out that applying Mormon rituals binding people can be done by a descendant. The people can be long dead, never having been members of the Mormon faith. The Mormon Church started in 1830.

My thanks goes out to the people who preserve these records and digitize them. The Stubblefield Bible is in the Tennessee State Archives. I’m sure many researchers have been ahead of me so I’m anxious to see what they’ve found and connect all the dots.

What were their lives like in Colonial Virginia and in the frontier times in Tennessee? I see in their dates and locations the steady westward movement that formed these United States.

Here’s the complete line of descent:

Sarah Easley 1752-1817 4th great-grandmother
Elizabeth [Betsy] Stubblefield 1793-1860 – Daughter of Sarah Easley
Martha Ann Carrol 1837-1887 -Daughter of Elizabeth [Betsy] Stubblefield
Cordelia Jane Stone 1865-1946 Daughter of Martha Ann Carrol
Charles Lorenzo “Ren” Martin 1891-1968 – Son of Cordelia Jane STONE
My Dad

Those Old Towers


It impressed me when I saw the advanced age that my 2nd great-grandfather lived to be. Born in 1837, he lived until 1930 after surviving the Civil War and 6 months in Andersonville as a prisoner of war. It gladdened me to have such a hardy soul on my family tree.

Abraham Bates Tower

I knew that his granddaughter, Bertha McGhee lived to the age of 96, so I searched further on the longevity of his children and grandchildren. Quite a few lived into their eighties, but I was hunting nonagenarians. Here’s what I’ve found so far.

Tower Descendants Who Lived 90+ Years

  • daughter – Melissa “Malissie” Angeline TOWER 1878–1970 (91 years)
  • daughter – Viola Matilda TOWER 1873–1964 (91 years)
  • granddaughter – Daisy Rachell FISCUS 1913–2006 (91 years)
  • granddaughter – Nancy Melvina TOWER 1899–1993 (94 years)
  • granddaughter – Bertha MCGHEE 1903 – 1999 (96 years)

I like to think that longevity may get passed along in our genes and hope that some of those Tower genes are strong in me.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week 40 Topic: Oldest

Ancestors — The Movie


The 52 Ancestors prompt for this week was “should be a movie.” I tried to decide what family story was worthy of becoming a movie. Would it be our great-great-grandfather, James Vining, in the Kansas Cavalry protecting the wagon trains from the Indians in Idaho? I’m picturing the scene where James was wounded when the troop was ambushed by 250 Indians. Another scene would show his brother struggling to reach the fort in a blizzard.

How about Clarence and Ruth, my grandparents, marrying in 1917 then saying farewell as he left on a troop train bound for combat in France in WWI? He was wounded by shrapnel, but survived. Scenes from War Horse come to mind.

Maybe it would be a Oh Pioneers kind of film with ancestors settling on the Kansas prairies. Living in their covered wagon while they built a cabin or sod house. Putting the plow to the virgin prairie land for the first time.

Another topic that would make an exciting movie was my abolitionist ancestors who aided escaping slave on the underground railroad and then helped Kansas become a Free State. There could be scenes showing the border clashes with Missouri. Historic figures, John Brown and Jim Lane would both have a short appearance in the film.

So many more stories come to mind featuring immigrants in a small wooden ship from England, the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, our own Rosie the Riveter, the Oklahoma Land Rush… I’ll stop now.

The Bourne Family Plot


It’s not always easy to find where an ancestor was buried. Quite often in colonial and pioneer times, families started their own family plot for burials. Time passed, families moved on or died out, and all that was left was an untended, isolated collection of headstones.

Whit Nuckolls provided this photo of the Bourne Family Cemetery

That’s why I was thrilled when a DNA match contacted me to say he was trying to fix up the Bourne cemetery in Grayson County, Virginia.

Our Family Connection

William Bourne Sr, my 5th great-grandfather was born 23 August 1743 in Louisa County, Colony of Virginia. He married 15-year-old Rosamund Jones in 1765 in Hanover.

New land opened up in 1768 when the Iroquois Nation signed a treaty and white settlement began in land south of the Ohio River and west of the Cumberland mountains. This led to William and Rosa getting a land grant in 1782 in southwest Virginia.

Our line is descended from their daughter, Charity, who was born in Grayson County on 17 November 1775. Charity married John Blair.

William Bourne Sr 1743-1836 – my 5th great-grandfather

Charity Bourne 1775-1860 – Daughter of William Bourne Sr

Rebecca Blair 1801-1879 – Daughter of Charity Bourne

Lorenzo Dow Stone 1833-1917 – Son of Rebecca Blair

Cordelia Jane STONE 1865-1946 – Daughter of Lorenzo Dow Stone

Charles Lorenzo “Ren” Martin 1891-1968 – Son of Cordelia Jane STONE

My father


The Letter

My name is Stephen Nuckolls and, like you, I am a descendent of William Bourne and Rosa Jones. Today, their homestead and the old family cemetery still stand in present-day Spring Valley in Grayson County. Unfortunately, the cemetery has become overgrown and the stones are in poor condition. We have created a GoFundMe to help maintain the cemetery and we hope you will donate! Stephen Nuckolls

The link for the Bourne Cemetery Go-Fund-Me if family members want to help preserve the graves of our 5th great-grandparents, William and Rosamund Bourne.

I’ve ordered this book from Amazon to learn more about my Bourne ancestors and what life was like for them and other early settlers in Grayson County, Virginia. Click on it to request a sample for your Kindle or to “See Inside the Book.”

A Train Tragedy


I should have plenty of relatives to research and not go off on tangents tracking ones that don’t fit my family tree. While hunting newspaper stories about our Richards family in the Lawrence, Kansas, newspapers, I found this sad story.

Harry Richards, son of H.B. Richards on North Lawrence, was seriously injured yesterday morning in the wreck of a work train on the Kansas Central. The work train was proceeding from Holton westward to repair the track at a washout. Richards, who was brakeman on the train was riding in the cab of the engine, when in passing over a small bridge it gave way and the engine and two cars were badly wrecked. Richards and Engineer McSweeney were thrown in such a position that the escaping steam from the boiler scalded each so severely that it is doubtful if they will recover. The fireman was also scalded, but not seriously. McSweeny was taken to his home in Leavenworth and Richards taken to the Union Pacific hospital is Kansas City.

Mr. H. B. Richards, who was in Manhattan yesterday morning, happened to be in the telegraph office when the news of the wreck flashed over the wires and was terribly shocked to learn of his son’s injuries. This was Harry’s second trip over the road, he having left here last week to take the position.

Lawrence Daily Journal
Lawrence, Kansas
21 Feb 1888, Tue • Page 3

What Happened Next?

Even though I couldn’t figure out how H.B. and Harry related to my 2nd-great-grandmother, Dacy Richards Joy, I couldn’t turn my back on this tragic event. Since Harry had worked for the Lawrence Journal leaving just the previous week, they provided more follow-up stories than they might otherwise give.

  • Feb 23 – the paper reported that Harry “was very low and rapidly sinking.”
  • Feb 26 – the paper said he was “slightly improved,” and his mother had been staying with him in the hospital in Kansas City.
  • Feb 28 – Harry was reported as being “not as well yesterday as the previous day,” and it was thought that he will not survive much longer.”
  • March 13 – Harry was reported to be recovering from his injuries.
  • May 3 – The Lawrence Daily Journal had good news to report:
Thu, May 3, 1888 – Page 3 · Lawrence Daily Journal (Lawrence, Kansas) ·

The Rest of the Story

I was glad to see in a subsequent story in the Lawrence Daily Journal that Harry became a conductor on the Union Pacific and then married a young lady from Salina, Kansas (dated Oct. 7, 1895).

I’ll search further to see if Harry connects at all with my family tree. By saving his story here, I’ll have it ready once I discover that.

Hamilton School 1909


My grandmother, Cora Joy, was 13 years old in 1909. There she stands in the back row, 3rd from the right in this school photo. The Joy family lived in Hamilton, Kansas at this time.

I’m curious about the identity of the other students. Even squinting, I’m having a hard time reading the sign held by the boy in front. I think the top word is Hamilton, the second line is Room 2, and the last line is 09. So would this be the 1909-1910 school year or the previous year 1908-1909? Were all these children schooled in one room?

I see that the school had a principal and that Mrs. J.E. Slater taught the grammar grades, Miss Gertrude Hartley taught the Intermediate grades, and Miss Metta Hughes taught the primary grades.

Teachers hired in Greenwood County - July 1909Teachers hired in Greenwood County – July 1909 Thu, Jul 8, 1909 – 2 · Democratic Messenger (Eureka, Kansas) ·

My best clues for the children in the photo is the 1910 census for Janesville Township, Hamilton, Kansas. One teacher is listed, Gertrude Hartley, age 24, living with her sister, Lois Colvin. From the clipping above, we know that she taught the intermediate grades.

I’ll list the school age children and their parents from the 1910 census.

Chart of School-Age Children – 1910 Census

There were more children in some families, but I’ve only listed the children who attended school in the year of the census.

Children & AgesParents
Faye 16 & Cecil 12Cora & William Barngrover
Beatrice 11, Mary 13Maude & Oliver Beal
Merle 16 & Blanche 19George & Mary Beevers
Russell 7, Melba 9, Earl 14, Carl 15Maggie & Fred Behmer
Howard 18Ora & Milton Brashear
Liola 8Mary & Edward Chartier
Mildred 15Lucy & Perry Clemans
Marvin 6, Herald 12Lola & William Colvin
George 12Bertie & Fred Cookson
Earl H 12 & Esther 16Thomas H & Victoria Dean
Glen 16 & Leslie 11Esther & Thomas Downing
Hugh 18, Philip 15, & Mildred 13Anna Edwards
Mary 9, Merrill 14Emily & Charles Gerkin
John 9 & Fred 14 MontgomeryRosa & Theodore Grant
Agnes 16Tracy & David Hall
Gladys 13James Heberling
Edith 7Alberta & Charles Holland
Lonnie 5, Orville 7Emma & Floyd Hoover
Cora 13 & Harry 11Alfred & Marie Joy
Elma 14 & Loren 16William Joy (Alfred Joy’s brother)
Homer 8, Caroline 12
Adam Jr 14, Lucy 17
Lizzie & Adam Kathary
Georgie Veach 7Aliene & Louis Kiracofe
Avis 14Maria Kuller
Olive 9 & John 6Alice & William Laidlaw
Herbert 6, Earnest 7, Lelia 9Josie & Howard Larure
Rolland 13, Nina 15Albert Levering
Grace 7Lillie & John Lowe
Roy 16Rebecca & Henry Monnies ?
Victor 12, Walter 17Jennie & Edward Myers
Wolsey 6Mary Newton
Rebecca 13, Anna 15
Mary 17, Fred 21
Etta & Fred Ott
Raymond 7, Velma 8Luella & Abraham Ott
Payton Jr 9 & Opal 6Hattie & Preston Parker
Martha 5Edith & Mark Shepard
Rosco 15, Melvin 9, & Neva 9Annie & Jeremiah Shook
Helen 7, Fay 13Lulu & James Slater
Marie 13Samuel Smith
Adolphe 8Lida & Earnest South
Zelma 11, Vera 6Emma & Pearl Tracy
Frieda 8, Earl 10Allie & Jesse Tucker
1910 U.S. Census – Hamilton, KS – Janesville Township, enumeration district 27

Identifying One Student

One student that we might be able to attach a name to is the Black girl in the photo (in front of the window). The 1910 census lists Mary Smith (age 64, Black, widowed) and Marie Smith (age 13, Mulatto). All other people in the census were marked as “W.” I believe the girl in the picture is Marie Smith.

There are two men in the household, Clarence Smith (age 52, single, laborer – odd jobs ) and Samuel Smith (84, married). The elderly Samuel is listed as head of the household, Clarence is listed as son, Mary is listed as servant, and Marie as daughter. That’s confusing, is it listing Marie as Samuel’s daughter? Mary is old enough to be Marie’s grandmother but the relationship is not defined. It does say that Mary has no living children.

I checked the 1900 census for those same 4 people. There Samuel is listed as widowed and 4-year-old Marie is listed as his granddaughter. There are 2 additional servants in the home. So, it is possible that Clarence (Samuel’s son) is Marie’s father and her mother may have died.

Going even further back, to the 1880 census, I find S.P. Smith with a son Clarence and a boarder (Stokes Smith) and a servant (Mary Smith). There are 2 children identified as daughter (Lizzie age 7) and son (Ray age 5) of the servant. Both Ray and Lizzie died before the 1910 census. Quite likely, one of them is Marie’s parent.

Why everyone in the household was named Smith (including the boarder and servant), remains a mystery.

In June 1911, there’s mention in the social notes of the paper that Mary and Marie Smith moved to Emporia. Then four years later, Marie is in Hamilton again on business about her property. She would have been about 18 by this date. Her grandfather, Samuel Smith died in 1920 in a veteran’s home.

Marie Smith and her property 1915Marie Smith and her property 1915 (nof) Thu, Oct 14, 1915 – 8 · Hamilton Grit (Hamilton, Kansas) ·

Identifying Others in the Photo

I’d love to identify others in the picture, but I can’t even determine if some are the teachers or just mature students. I’ll share this post in the Hamilton Facebook group in the hopes that some members there will recognize their grandparents or great-grandparents.

This is the teacher, I think.

There are more children in the census than there are in the group picture. Perhaps the 15, 16, and 17 year olds go to another school. If this is Room 2, some of the children may be in a separate picture for Room 1.

I’m not even sure which boy is Harry Joy in the school photo. Here he is with his sister Cora and their parents, Marie and Alfred Joy.

Marie (Kennedy) and Alfred Joy with their children, Cora and Harry