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.
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.
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.