Women’s History Month – Lois Joy Leslie


Lois Adelaide Joy was the third daughter born to George Washington Joy and Dacy Richards. Lois’ younger brother, Alfred Joy was my great-grandfather. She was born September 25, 1867 in Vinland in the eastern part of the new state of Kansas.

Lois Adelaide Joy (from the collection of Dick Joy)

Her older sister, Mary Frances Joy, died when Lois was just one. More sisters were added to the family and some boys too. The family moved to nearby Eudora when Lois was three. When Lois was eight, her mother died after giving birth to another baby girl, Ella Susan Joy. Lois left school after the 8th grade (according to the 1940 census).

Three years after the death of her mother, her father remarried and so a new baby came along two years later. That completed the family. Since Lois was 13-years-old by then, she probably helped take care of her little half-brother, Stephen Garfield Joy.

At 18, Lois married William Leslie whose nickname was Willie. He was 8 years older than Lois. I don’t know if the photo below is from their wedding or later on in life.

Lois and William Leslie’s Children

  • Lloyd Rodger LESLIE
  • Vernon Dee LESLIE
  • Vera Justina LESLIE (called Tina)
  • Alfred Willie LESLIE
  • Bessie LESLIE
  • Alonzo LESLIE (called Lon)
  • Dolly LESLIE
  • Ruth LESLIE
  • James Arthur LESLIE
  • George LESLIE

There were some sad times in their lives. Bessie only lived 3 months and Dolly died at birth and the last baby (George) died at the age of 5 months.

The picture below shows their first four children. You can read more about this picture in an earlier blog post. Tina, the girl standing in the photo, died suddenly at age 14. The oldest boy lost a finger in an industrial accident at age 17. In WWI, their oldest son, Lloyd Rodger Leslie, served in an Ambulance Company in France. What a worry that must have been.

Left to Right; Tina, Alfred, Vernon & Lloyd Leslie (photo from the collection of Dick Joy)

The 1925 Kansas census gives a glimpse into Willie and Lois’ later life. They were living in the Kansas City area and 65-year-old Willie lists his profession as grocer. Their 19-year-old son, James, is living with them and lists his work as railroad coach cleaner. William Leslie died on Christmas Day that same year, leaving Lois a widow at age 58.

Lois Adelaide Joy Leslie died in 1947 at age 79.

Read More About the Joy Family

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.


Women’s History Month – Popular Girl


Ancestor of the Week:  Cora Joy
Prompt of the Week: 52 Ancestors week 12 – Popular

I only knew my grandmother, Cora Joy Martin, as a sedate and rather stern, older woman. In searching for my family history in old newspapers, I found evidence of an active social life in her girlhood years. Cora’s mother, Marie Kennedy Joy, came from a very comfortable family in Douglas County, Kansas and her social inclinations likely came from that.

Although Marie and Alfred Joy moved a number of times, it seems that Cora’s mother created fun activities for her children no matter how small the town where they found themselves. These three stories are from their few years in Burlingame, Kansas.

Cora Joy birthday celebration. xCora Joy and mother - luncheon party. x

Cora and Harry Joy and teacher. xStories from The Burlingame Enterprise (Burlingame, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

The family lived in the Burlingame area from 1906 to 1908 before moving to Hamilton, Kansas. These small towns were still in their early years of development, but the early 1900s were times of progress. The Joy family had a telephone installed in 1906 and their number was 13-217. This probably made it more convenient to arrange visits and tea parties and “elegant luncheons.”

This was the era of hand-cranked ice cream, croquet on the lawn, and gatherings to pull taffy. There were Sunday School picnics, box suppers at the schools, and other social activities.

Alfred Joy gets a telephone x Thu, Apr 12, 1906 – Page 4 · The Burlingame Enterprise (Burlingame, Kansas) · Newspapers.com
Alfred Joy gets a telephone xAlfred Joy gets a telephone x Thu, Apr 12, 1906 – Page 4 · The Burlingame Enterprise (Burlingame, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

Slideshow of Cora Joy Martin’s Life

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Amy Johnson Crow challenges genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” This is week 12 of the 2020 challenge.

Women’s History Month – Joy Sisters


My great-uncle, Harry Earl Joy, married Mildred Evelyn Holland in 1918 and they had two daughters. This photo of the family was taken in the summer of 1925.

Orvetta Louise would have been three years old and Harriett Maxene was six.  The family lived at that time in the Eureka area of Greenwood County, Kansas. Harry was a farmer.

The Harry Joy family in Kansas

Harry and Mildred (Millie) Joy and their daughters Harriett and Louise.

I was looking for a picture to match the Sepia Saturday challenge photo showing a 1920s group at the beach. Since all my family was in Kansas at that time, a beach photo was unlikely. So, I’ve settled for a family group sitting on the front porch and hoping for a cooling breeze. The father sits on the porch swing while the rest of the family sits on the steps.

Here’s the Sepia Saturday photo. You can see the blogs that participated in the weekly challenge.

Women’s History Month – Strong Woman


March is Women’s History Month, so I’m featuring a woman from my family tree for every day of the month. Maybe a bit ambitious, but usually, the ladies don’t get their fair share of ancestral glory.  Too often, it’s difficult to track their early lives, find their maiden name, or discover what happened to them after they lose a husband.

pioneer woman statue mollie stark

I don’t have a photo of this ancestor, so I’ll feature this statue of a hardy pioneer woman.

Ancestor of the Week:  Mary Jane Rumery
Prompt of the Week: 52 Ancestors week 10 – Strong Woman

For a short time, I thought Mary Jane Rumery, wife of Cyrus Howard Richards, was my 2nd great-grandmother Dacy Richards’ sister-in-law. After a flurry of discoveries, I found more of the story and had to revise that. Cyrus was actually a cousin, not the brother, of Dacy Elizabeth Richards Joy who was orphaned at an early age.

The story became more complex as I realized that I’d stumbled upon some abolitionists on my family tree. Mary Jane’s father, Moses Rumery, and Cyrus’ father, Xenophon Richards, and Dacy’s father, George W. Richards were involved in the Underground Railroad in Livingston County, Illinois before the Civil War. The families moved down to Kansas as part of the influx of settlers wanting to make sure that territory entered the union as a free state.


Photo of a sculpture of a slave (courtesy of Pixabay)

It’s hard to tell how much the womenfolk were involved in the anti-slavery activities, but I’m sure that food had to be prepared for the slaves in hiding and they may have mended clothing for them or given medical aid. The women might possibly have had encounters with slave hunters snooping around and confronting the family as the Rumery abolitionist beliefs were well-known.

Ancestry com - The History of Livingston County Illinois - moses rumery

From a biographical entry on Mary Jane Rumery’s father, Moses Rumery in the book The History of Livingston County, Illinois

The Dates And Details of Mary Jane Richards’ Life

Mary Jane Rumery was born on June 21, 1839, in Lockport, New York. She was given the same name as an older sister who died the previous year at the age of 3.

Her father, Moses, was 36, and her mother, Sylvia Miranda Raze, was 32. By 1850, the family was in Jackson County, Michigan, as were the Richards family. Later, both families moved to Illinois.

She married Cyrus Howard Richards on March 12, 1856, in Livingston, Illinois. During their marriage, they had one child (Josephine Eugenia, called Phenie). The 1860 census shows them in Eudora, Douglas County, Kansas Territory when their daughter was 2-years-old.

In 1880, her husband was working as a carpenter. There was no longer a need for the Underground Railroad or anti-slavery activities after the Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves by Abraham Lincoln.

Mary Jane Richards died after a long and painful illness from an internal tumor on August 14, 1891, in Lawrence, Kansas, at the age of 52, and was buried there. At that point, Cyrus was working as a bridge watchman. Two of her sisters lived not far away in Burlingame, Kansas.

Amy Johnson Crow challenges genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” This is week 10 of the 2020 challenge.


The Heirloom Wedding Dress


Ancestor of the Week: Cora Joy and her great-grandmother, Eleanor Dunn Rosebaugh
Prompt of the Week: Week 1 – Fresh Start

I thought about resolving in the New Year to follow a plan and approach the family history in an organized fashion. Right away, that was shoved aside in pursuit of a shiny object when a first cousin, Lorna Stafford Geist, brought out some family heirlooms she had in her care.

dress made by rosebaugh 3

My cousin’s photo of a dress she has

We debated the identity of the seamstress who made this beautiful dress in 1840. Was it the same dress worn by our grandmother, Cora Joy when she married Charles Lorenzo (Ren) Martin in 1915?

dress made by rosebaugh - label
The label clearly attributes the gown to our Kennedy/Rosebaugh line. I’ve put their names and dates below to help us sort this out.  If this is Cora’s dress, then the label might have been made by her mother, Marie Kennedy. Cora’s great-grandmother would be Eleanor Dunn Rosebaugh.

Transcription of the Label

“Made by great grandmother Rosebaugh

Mrs. Elizabeth Kennedy

Made in 1840

By Grandmother Rosebaugh

Marie Kennedy”


Line of Descent

Eleanor Ellen Dunn 1792-1850
3rd great-grandmother (married George Rosebaugh II)
Elizabeth Jane Rosebaugh 1826-1918 (married David Greacen Kennedy)
Daughter of Eleanor Ellen Dunn
Marie C. KENNEDY 1864-1945 (married Alfred Joy)
Daughter of Elizabeth Jane Rosebaugh
Cora Myrle Joy 1896-1969 (married Charles Lorenzo Martin)
Daughter of Marie C. KENNEDY
Vivian Martin (married Edward Stafford)
Daughter of Cora Myrle Joy
Lorna Stafford
Daughter of Vivian Martin
Here’s the puzzling part:
  • If the dress was made in 1840 by Eleanor, who was it made for? Maybe her daughter Mary who likely married around that time. Perhaps the dress was passed along to other sisters (Jane and Elizabeth) who married later.
  • A dress from 1840 would be in a completely different style with a very full skirt while the dress Lorna has is slim in silhouette like the decade leading up to the 1920s.
  • How did the 1840 dress get preserved through a wagon trip to Kansas in pre-statehood days and survive to be passed down through 4 more generations? It would currently be 180 years old.
  • Who wrote the inscription? Do we have any samples of Marie Kennedy’s handwriting?

Sample of Marie Kennedy’s handwriting

I had this list of Marie Joy’s siblings and parents that she wrote. It gives us something to compare to the inscription on the dress. Note the curlicue on the capital E and the way she writes the capital M. Also the letter B is open at the bottom of the handwriting example below and you’ll see the same open capital B in the inscription on the gown.

I’m comfortable that we have enough matches to confirm that Marie Kennedy Joy wrote the inscription that goes with the dress.

marie kennedy joy list family dates

List of family members written by Marie Kennedy Joy

Now, let’s compare the two dresses using the photos from my cousin and the studio wedding picture that I have of our grandparents, Cora and Ren Martin. I’ve used the Topaz Gigapixel AI software that I have. It uses artificial intelligence to enlarge photos, adding pixels. I was able to increase the studio photo to 3 MB to see the details better.

Comparing the Two Photos

My cousin’s photo is on the left and the vintage studio photo enlarged with Gigapixel AI software is on the right

I believe the dress that Cousin Lorna has is the 1915 wedding dress of Cora Joy. the beadwork has darkened over the years making it more visible in the 2019 photos.

What confused us was the inscription by Marie Kennedy about 1840 and Great-Grandmother Rosebaugh. Here’s my best guess on that:


This old saying meant that brides should include each of those things in their wedding attire. I believe the inscription is from a much older cotton or linen dress and was attached to Cora’s 1915 wedding dress to satisfy the “something old” part of the saying.

The dress is now 105 years old. My cousin was worried about the care of the dress and how fragile it is. My thinking is the logical place for the dress to receive the preservation and care that it deserves is the local history museum.

At the Cemetery – Marie Kennedy Joy


The 52 Ancestors’ blogging prompt this week is “At the Cemetery.” Appropriate for Memorial Day, of course, but a bit of serendipity for me. I’d pulled out a box of family memorabilia to sort and scan. The first thing out of the box was a yellowed envelope labeled “Deed to my lot in Blakely Cemetry – Marie Joy.” She is my great-grandmother on my father’s side of the family.

Inside was the deed form, nicely filled out and embossed with two seals. Very official looking. The lot was purchased in 1937, so probably at the time of her husband, Henry Alfred Joy’s death. It would have been a double lot.

The cemetery location in Greenwood County is known to me as many of the Martins, McGhees, and Joys are buried there. Their daughter Cora is buried there with her husband Charles Lorenzo Martin. Some of Cora and Ren’s children are there as well (Zella and Dorothy). Of the McGhees, there my grandparents, Clarence and Ruth McGhee and their daughter, Melba McGhee Harlan.

Also in the envelope was a list of expenses for a funeral. It’s unclear if it was from Alfred’s funeral or from Marie’s. The handwriting looks like that on the outside of the envelope so my guess is that Marie wrote this in 1937 after her husband’s funeral.

marie joy death burial 3

I’ll transcribe it here to make it searchable online.

  • Dr Fairbrother $5
  • Dr Manning $25
  • Lot in cemetry $10
  • Digging grave  $8
  • Minister  $5
  • Singer  $2
  • monument  $90
  • burial clothes $8
  • flowers  $5
  • Dr Lose  $38.50
  • Mr Cook $295
  • prescription, Dr Manning  $1
  • total  $492.50

So, it would appear that this includes the medical expenses for Alfred Joy’s last illness. A newspaper clipping tells that he was bedfast for 3 months before dying. One wonders if it was a stroke or cancer or another illness.

The newspaper also gave us the name of the minister (Rev. G. Russell Fosmire of the Madison Methodist Church) and the singer (Mrs. Lois Hamilton sang “Saved By Grace” and “Sweet By and By”).

The last bit of paper in the old envelope was labeled “Family of Mrs Marie Kennedy Joy.” Here’s the list (with my own notes in parenthesis):

  • Father – May 14, 1821 – 1906 (David Greacen Kennedy)
  • Mother – Nov 14, 1826 – 1918 (Elizabeth Jane Rosebaugh)
  • Ed – Feb 13, 1851 (Edward Newton Kennedy)
  • Jim – Apr 1, 1853 (James Kerr Kennedy)
  • Ella – Feb 20, 1855 (Ellen Kennedy)
  • B.T. – Aug 13, 1857 (Bayard Taylor Kennedy)
  • Walter – Mar 1, 1860 (Walter C. Kennedy)
  • Marie – Dec 1, 1864 (Marie C. Kennedy)
  • John – Oct 8, 1868 (John B. Kennedy)
  • D.G. Jr. – Jan 23, 1870 (David Greacen Kennedy Jr.)

marie kennedy joy list family dates

I started comparing the names and dates to the family tree that I maintain on Ancestry. Everyone matches up. I wish I had the rest of the middle names.

X is for Xenophon


I’m fixating on Xenophon, a third great-uncle on my family tree. It was just last month that I discovered him and his family. It appears that he and his wife Lucy raised my second great-grandmother, Dacy Richards, after the death of her father George W. Richards and her mother, Sarah, in New Michigan, Livingston County, Illinois.

x letter pixabay

The part that fascinates me is trying to track the movement of the family and collect information on their anti-slavery activities in the 1850s and 1860s leading up to the Civil War. Having abolitionists in the family tree brings to life from the pages of the history books. The underground railroad and settlement in Kansas to secure it as a free state are no longer abstract bits of our country’s past. I should have paid more attention in grade school.

Kansas reader & history books (2)

Tidbits on Ancestry.com and from online searches give me a rough timeline for the Richards family:

  • 4 July 1804 – Xenophon Richards born in New York state (according to various census)
  • 1812 – brother George Richards born in NY state (Dacy’s father)
  • 1816 – brother Sardinia Richards born in NY state
  • 1819 – sister Diana Richards born in NY state
  • 1832 – Xenophon marries Samantha Whaley, daughter of an abolitionist, Otis Oliver Whaley in Jackson County, Michigan. Otis seems to have lived in Bruce in LaSalle County IL, in Cato in Cayuga County NY, in Skaneateles in Onondaga County NY, in Canandaigua in Lenawee Michigan, in Windsor in Eaton County Michigan, and in 1859 married Lydia Rumery in Livingston County, ILL. I detail all of those because the Richards, the Whaleys, and the Rumerys seem to have married into each other’s families, moved around in some cases together, and participated in anti-slavery activities together.
  • 1836 – still in Michigan. Son, Oscar Grinman Richards born.
  • 1848 – “In 1848, George, Sardinia, and Xenophon Richards, their sisters and brothers-in-law Russell Nelson, made the first settlement on the prairie in Illinois. They were from the state of Michigan.  This was the year of the completion of the Michigan and Illinois Canal and from this time forward, for several years, a good many emigrants came from Northern Ohio and Indiana and Southern Michigan by way of the canal. The Richardses settled in the vicinity of the site of New Michigan, naming it after their native state. They were enterprising and progressive men.”

    Article title: NEWTOWN HISTORY
    Website title: Livingston.illinoisgenweb.org
    URL: https://livingston.illinoisgenweb.org/newtowntownshiphistory.htm


  • 1857 – Came to Kansas, likely with the group of 27 emigrants that included his son Oscar Grinman Richards who had earlier been fighting under Lane in the skirmishes along the Kansas/Missouri border. Counted in Douglas County, Kansas 1860 census.
  • The rest of his life was lived in that area. He died in 1875.

Other Identified Abolitionists Associated with Xenophon Richards:

  • his son, Oscar Grinman Richards
  • brothers – George and Sardinia Richards
  • Dr. Horace H. Hinman
  • Otis Oliver Whaley
  • Moses Rumery
  • C. P. Paget
  • Capt. Wm Strawn
  • and perhaps James Stout

I need to track the Rumery and Whaley families to see where they were in Michigan and New York. This may shed more light on Xenophon and his brothers. If I can uncover the names of their parents, I can add my 4th great-grandparents, the Richards, to my tree.


The History of Livingston County, Illinois – Wm. LeBaron, Jr. & Co. – 186 Dearborn Street, Chicago (1878)

NEWTOWN HISTORY – Livingston.illinoisgenweb.org
URL: https://livingston.illinoisgenweb.org/newtowntownshiphistory.htm

Family Histories P-R. (2019). Eudorakshistory.com. Retrieved 15 January 2019, from http://eudorakshistory.com/families/PR/family_histories_pr.htm

History of the State of Kansas (1883) by William Cutler

A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans (1918) by William Connelly

S Is For School Days


My grandmother, Cora Myrle Joy, went to school north of Burlingame, Kansas. I know this because there’s an old photo that I finally took the time to look closely at it and analyze what it meant to our family history. This 1907 school photo shows Cora (with the X) and her brother Harry (with the check mark).

prairie center school cora joy

We learn more about the school from a program that the family saved. The Prairie Center School, District No. 59 was in Burlingame Township in Osage County, Kansas.

The teacher was Jennie Aletta Morgan. She had 31 students of all ages and abilities to teach.
souvenir school program

I’ll group the other children attending the school by their surnames, though they may not be siblings.

  • Nellie Cozine
  • Lee Roy Cox
  • Grace Crouch, Mabel Crouch, Orba Crouch
  • Edgar Fisher, Edith Fisher, Marion Fisher
  • Alfred Gates
  • Pearl Gehring
  • Myrtle Gifford, Roy Gifford
  • Cora Joy, Harry Joy
  • Charlie Kemble, Maude Kemble, Robert Kemble
  • Josie Long, Nettie Long
  • Edward Lyons, Ethel Lyons, Herbert Lyons
  • Ralph McRae
  • Ida Moore, Nellie Moore, Tom Moore, Willard Moore
  • Austin Shipley
  • Jesse Tucker, Toney Tucker

Tidbits about some of the families that I found in the census or other sources:

James O. Crouch and wife Lena had children Orby age 14 in 1907, Mary/Mabel age 11, Grace age 8, and two preschool children Norvil and Lloyd. J.O. Crouch is listed on the program as the director of the school (probably school board).

Alfred Joy (my great-grandfather) is listed as the clerk. His wife, Marie Kennedy, was a school teacher in Douglas County before they married. Harry (age 8 at the time of the photo) and Cora (age 11) are their only children. They were only in Osage County for a few years, approximately 1906  – 1908. I was able to find a newspaper clipping showing their public sale when they left Williamsburg in Franklin County, Kansas in Feb 1904. I’m not sure if they went directly to Burlingame at that time. A September 1908 clipping shows another auction of their horses, cattle, and farm implements. Then the family appears in records at Hamilton, Greenwood County, Kansas in 1908.

Nellie Cozine, born in 1893, had a unique enough name that she was easy to research. Her parents were William and Lavinia S. Cozine. Nellie had 2 older sisters, Carrie and Minnie. At one point, an elderly Caroline Cozine was living with the family. Probably William’s mother.

Pearl Gehring must have been one of the older students at age 18. Her parents were William and Luthna Gehring. William was born in Germany but spoke English according to the census.

There were several Shipley families in the census, but the one with Austin L. Shipley included his parents William M. and Rosa B., a grandmother named Rebecca Shipley and a brother named Alvia C.

The Fishers were age 7 (Edgar), age 10 (Marion), and age 13 (Edith) in 1907. Their parents were Joseph C. and Katie M. The younger children in the family were Effie, Emma, and Douglas. The children were all born in Kansas.

The 1910 census lists Vera Gifford and Leroy Gifford in different households, so likely they are cousins. I found 8 different Gifford families, but couldn’t find Myrtle. Perhaps she was older and by 1910 had married or maybe she had died.

The McRae family consisted of parents William and Maude, with Elsie, Ralph, and Hazel. Elsie was 8 in 1907 and Ralph was 11.

Herbert – age 8, Edward – age 14, and Ethel – age 16 were the children of John P. Lyons. By the time of the 1910 census, they’d lost their mother.

The Moores were a large family. Besides Ida – age 14, Nellie – age 12, Tom – age 10, William – age 9, there were three younger children (Frank, Pearl, Rubie) and the parents Robert and Sadie.

Prairie Center School report 1907Prairie Center School report 1907 Thu, Oct 17, 1907 – Page 5 · The Burlingame Enterprise (Burlingame, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

In this report, we see a few names that weren’t in the list that I extracted from the program. The additional students are Edna Tucker, Elsie McRae, Frank Moore, and Bernice Morgan. I wonder if Bernice is related in some way to the teacher.

Prairie Centre School reportPrairie Centre School report Thu, Nov 14, 1907 – Page 3 · The Burlingame Enterprise (Burlingame, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

Again, this report includes some new names: Norval Crouch, Mary Crouch, Cecil Gifford, and Vera Gifford.

Out of Place


The 52 Ancestors Blog Challenge theme this week is “Out of Place.” I’m struggling with an ancestor and trying to reconcile the records. All her life seemed to revolve around southeastern Kansas, then suddenly, late in life, she marries and dies in Dodge City, Kansas. At least that appears to be her in several family trees. Is there something out-of-whack here?

Nellie Oshel’s full name was Arnell Gracia Oshel. She was born on March 19, 1890, in Johnson, Kansas, when her father, Thomas, was 28, and her mother, Sarah Amelia Joy, was 25. She seemed destined for spinsterhood as at age 20 and age 30, she is still living at home with her parents in 1910 and 1920 in Gardner, Kansas. For a while in 1914, she helped as a live-in housekeeper for her elderly grandparents and her uncle on his farm. But both Mary and George Joy died that year.

I had no picture of Nellie, but imagined her as looking similar to her mother, Sarah. My thanks to Dick Joy for this photo.

sarah amelia joy oshel

Sarah Amelia (Joy) Oshel, mother of Arnell Gracia Oshel who was called Nellie.

At age 40, she’s still single and is back in the household of her bachelor uncle, Stephen Garfield Joy who was age 49. The year was 1930 and the census taker recorded her as Grace Oshel instead of her nickname, Nellie. Her mother died a year later and her father died eight years after that.

Her uncle, Stephen, died the same year as her father. Grace was all alone and took a live-in job as housekeeper for a couple in their eighties, W.B. and Mary Woodburn of Ottawa, Kansas. At this point, she is listed as widowed, though I found no record of a marriage. One wonders if she was still a spinster but thought that “widow” gave her more status. I’ll search further.

Then she shows up on Find-A-Grave in Dodge City, supposedly married to Arthur Gregg Elliott and buried there in 1950. This raises red flags to me.

Where to Search Next

  • I’ll hunt up some Kansas census records which fall in between the U.S. census years.
  • I’ll ask in my cousins’ group on Facebook where a few people might have childhood memories of great-aunt Grace. Perhaps they’ll remember if she ever married.
  • I’ll query the genealogists who have the husband listed for her in their trees.
  • I’ll search the Dodge City and Gardner, Kansas, newspapers for 1940 to 1950 to see if I can find a marriage notice or an obituary.

I did find a photo that is labeled Arnell Gracia Oshel. To me, it appears to be a young lady in her teens or twenties which for it to be Grace would put the picture’s date around 1910. The dress isn’t right for that era. It seems more Victorian and appropriate for 1880s or 1890s.

nellie or grace Oshel from Ancestry may not be right

Is this Arnell Grace Oshel (Nellie) or someone else?