Monday, February 24, 2014

Thomas Brown, Native of Ohio 1843-1927 (52 Ancestors #8)

Thomas Brown was my great-great-grandfather on my Grandma Ethel's side.  His parents and siblings are unknown at this stage of my research.  However, there are hints of a father or brother named James, mother Sarah and a Van Pelt line.

Thomas was a husband, father, farmer and Civil War veteran.  He was also Ohio through and through.  With two exceptions discovered so far, he resided there all of his life beginning on June 3, 1843 until his death on April 7, 1927 at almost the age of 84.  Thomas lived in at least three counties:
  • Highland (Jackson Township)
  • Clinton (Wilson Township and Blanchester)
  • Warren (Lebanon, Harlan Township and Morrow)
Civil War Service
From 1862 to 1865 he mustered in and out of the Civil War at Camp Chase and Camp Dennison in Hamilton County, Ohio.  His service took him about 46 miles away from home using a current day map.  He was only 19 years old.   Thomas's first tour of duty was with Company D, 85th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on July 2, 1862.  His second tour was with the 24th Ohio Light Artillery [Hill's Independent. Battery] on July 27, 1863.

About 1881 when he was 38 or so, Thomas filed his initial Civil War pension claim on the basis of the effects of measles he acquired during his service.  His claim would be approved eventually.  For the next 45 years until his death, he continued to file claims for pension increases.  Documents obtained in his pension file revealed several medical affidavits and notarized testimony of his health from personal friends.  Following his death, his widow, Rebecca Edwards Brown, filed and was approved for a widow's pension.

Marriage and Family
On January 30, 1866 Thomas married Jane Clark of Adams County, Ohio.  They had three children:
  • Joseph Daniel Brown born 1867
  • Ida May Brown born 1868 or 1869
  • Hannah Ellen Brown born 1872
Ida May Brown was my Grandma Ethel's mother.  Ida was born in Worth County, Missouri according to her marriage and death records.  However, no other evidence supports that claim.  Perhaps a relative or neighbor of the Browns and Clarks lived in Worth County who drew the family there.  Some evidence suggests that Joseph and Hannah were born in Ohio.  Clues to follow-up on!

On January 10, 1880, a divorce notice appeared in the local newspaper.  Thomas had filed for divorce from Jane based on her "wilful absence for more than three years last past".  The divorce was granted on February 20, 1880 due to her non-response.  The children were not mentioned in the decree.  Census records indicated that Joseph remained with his father and Hannah became the 'adopted' daughter of Mahlon and Margaret Clark, Jane's brother.  The mystery remains as to who raised Ida, my great-grandmother.  She never spoke about her childhood so I'm currently piecing together her life through photos and newspaper articles when she moved to California hoping for hints related to the people with whom she interacted.

 On February 22, 1880, Thomas married Rebecca Edwards.  They had four children:
  • Emma Blanche Brown born 1880
  • Frank Leslie Brown born 1882
  • Ollie Agnes Brown born 1885
  • Murta Alma Brown born 1889
The life of Jane Clark Brown took a far different path.  In December 1881 she was committed to the Athens Insane Asylum in Athens, Ohio.  She remained there for the rest of her life, her brother Mahlon Clark serving as her guardian. 

I'm fortunate to be in touch with a descendant of a child of Thomas and Rebecca who is also interested in genealogy.  With our combined efforts we hope to learn more about the lives of the Browns, Clarks and Edwards.  Based on family stories and information in the pension record, Thomas Brown lived a quiet life, worked when possible despite various infirmities and was a respected, god-faring man.

Note: This is another article for the series in which I'm participating, "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks", a challenge by Amy Johnson Crow on No Story Too Small.  The story was originally posted on June 17, 2013.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Comings and Goings of Adam Clark, 1842-1926 (52 Ancestors #7)

Editor's Note:  this is another article for the series in which I'm participating, "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks", a challenge by Amy Johnson Crow on No Story Too Small.

“Uncle Doc” would show up at the ranch, stay for awhile, then leave.  That was the story Uncle B’s mother told him but not much else.  He figured Uncle Doc was related to either Henry or Ida Kendall.

I found this newspaper story that lent support to the comings and goings of this guy.
Covina Argus Newspaper 1910

Ah, nicknames.  Not a researcher’s friend.  

What could “Doc” refer to?  A physician or medic?  Maybe the nickname was “Dock” referring to boating, waterway, mariner?  It was futile to put too much effort into guessing.

Miraculously, a newspaper clipping surfaced from a box of memorabilia that solved the mystery of who Uncle Doc was.  

Adam Clark obituary from unknown newspaper.
Click to enlarge.

Uncle Doc was Adam Clark, my great-grandmother Ida May Brown Kendall’s uncle and her mother, Jane Clark Brown’s older brother.  He was born about 1842 in Adams County, Ohio to Daniel Benjamin Clark and Hannah Carrigan Clark.  He served in the Civil War and according to his obituary, he came west in 1868 to work in mining and was a resident of the Soldier’s Home at Sawtelle, California from 1900 until his death in 1926.  In current day calculation using Google maps, the driving distance from Sawtelle to the Kendall ranch is about 37 miles.  Uncle Doc probably came by train. 

This is the extent to which I know Uncle Doc.  It sure would be nice to have more details about his life and how about that town he founded? And I still don't know where the nickname came from.


  • Uncle B’s recollections and memorabilia collection
  • Obituary from unidentified newspaper

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Charles P. Kendall - the Newspaper Interview (52 Ancestors #6)

Editor's Note:  this is another article for the series in which I'm participating, "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks", a challenge by Amy Johnson Crow on No Story Too Small.

Uncle Charlie was probably seated at his kitchen table with the reporter from the Progress Edition of the Covina Citizen Newspaper sitting across from him listening intently while rapidly scribbling in his notebook.  The interview may have included a tour of the orchard and the barn. The story would run in the June 12, 1936 edition. 

Article Title in Progress Edition Covina Citizen Newspaper
 Oh, to have all of the reporter’s notes, oh if only there had been photos (since none accompanied the story).  But really, I am grateful that the small town newspaper where my California ancestors lived was digitized by  The digitized versions of the Covina Argus and its successor, the Covina Citizen are available at the Covina Public Library or on[1]

Washington Navel plant catalog
I found this gem of an article in 2013 during an ancestor newspaper mining expedition.  The article was bursting at the columns with information about my great-grandfather Henry Martin Kendall and his son, my great-uncle, Charles Pirl Kendall.  Henry, 1864-1937, was born in Rowan County, Kentucky.  Charles (1888-1972), his oldest and first-born son, was born in Kansas.

For this week’s 52 Ancestor challenge, I decided to put this article under the magnifier to learn just how many rich details were in this story.  The list will serve as the beginnings of a research plan.
  1. Size of orchard - 35 acre orange grove[2]
  2. How it began – 2 gallons of orange seed
  3. Cost - $8 per gallon
  4. When, who, where, how – in 1909 Charles carried the seed by horse back from Alhambra to the Baldwin Park area [California][3]
  5. Orchard address – 541 E. Ramona Blvd, Baldwin Park[4] [can it get any better?]
  6. Status of orchard in 1936 – where the grove now thrives
  7. Who planted the seeds – Charles and his father H.M. Kendall [Henry Martin Kendall]
  8. Why plant the seeds – to start a nursery, bud the trees then start their own orchards
  9. When the orchard was started – 1912
  10. Stats for acreage – H.M. Kendall had a 25 acre tract bought in 1905 for $2,300.  Chas. P. Kendall had a 10 acre tract bought in 1911 for $3,000.  [yep, more better]
  11. Type of oranges – 2/3 Washington navel; 1/3 Valencia
  12. When they came to the area - came to Azusa, California in 1889 from near Council Grove, Kansas
  13. Local landmark - Santa Fe depot there was being used as an orange packing house with “Chinamen” employed to wash and pack the fruit
  14. Uniquely California? – the Kendalls had never seen the “golden fruit”
  15. Age – H. M. Kendall was past 70 when the story was written
  16. Self-employed – Charles did most of the work on his grove
  17. Tools used – Charles reported that his father sawed wood by hand to avoid an attack of rheumatism; Charles preferred the power saw to avoid an attack of rheumatism [Uncle Charlie the techie?]
    Sears catalog 1920
  18. Other income – Charles was also in the domestic pump and water system business and installed many systems on ranches throughout the valley
WOW!  I hope you’re using newspapers in your research and are as fortunate as I am with my ancestor’s hometown newspaper.

[1] Digitized versions of these newspapers are Copyright 2008 Heritage Microfilm, Inc. and
[2] How big is 35 acres? From If a person has 35 acres of land, it is considered to be a pretty big amount of land to many different people. If you put together 26 American football fields together, it would be equal to about 35 acres of land. One acre of land is equal to 4046.86 square meters or 660 feet. Most people that would have this much land would live in an area that is considered to be in the country. The land is probably used as farmland or used for hunting.
[3] Walking distance calculated with current day Google map is about 12 miles or nearly 4 hours one-way.
[4] Benlow, Bob and Lorraine O’Brien. Baldwin Park Images of America.  Arcadia Publisher, 2011. Print.  From the back cover:  “Known as the “Hub of the San Gabriel Valley” due to its location as the geographical center of the valley, Baldwin Park formerly consisted of cattle-grazing  lands for the San Gabriel Mission.  Known as Vineland by 1880, and renamed after legendary investor and landowner Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin in 1906, the city incorporated in 1956.  Baldwin Park evolved as a diverse community along the San Gabriel River, where Ramona Boulevard and Maine Avenue became major thoroughfares. ..”

Tuesday, February 4, 2014