Saturday, May 25, 2013

John R. Vamplew's Little Cabin on the 1884 Kansas Prairie?

For several years now, I kept passing over this side-view image of a cabin. I think it could be great-great uncle John Rouse VAMPLEW's "cottage" near Larned, Kansas. This was the only cabin picture I knew of until yesterday, when I ran across a front-view of the same cabin in another box of pictures! That got me to this John Vamplew's Cabin?

I don't know where the cabin is located. I don't know who the persons are in these pictures. I've seen other pictures of a man with the same hat on as in the second picture show. Maybe the account in diary entries written by John's nephew James Wright VAN PLEW will yield a clue.

Could this be great-great uncle John R. Vamplew's cottage near Larned, Kansas?
Who is that carrying a fry pan?

Could this be great-great uncle John R. Vamplew? The hat he's wearing looks like one worn by a man in another image I have. I can only guess the starkness of the countryside around this cabin could be the high prairie near Garfield and Larned, Kansas.


My great-great uncle Henry Vamplew (Van Plew) did come to America in 1871. Prior postings on this blog discusses letters of his wanting to and then deciding not to come to America, but he did about a year later when he found he had enough assets to immigrate. He became a citizen 15 Feb 1887 in Waukegan, Illinois. On 18 Sep 1873, Henry married Sarah Almond, daughter of the Wright Almonds who ran the boarding house Henry stayed at in Chicago. The Almonds were natives of Lincolnshire, England which is where all my Vamplews were also from.

Henry carried on the profession of carpenter and evidently he had a chance to go to Denver, Colorado. According to James' entry in the diary, he said on "10 Mar 1879 He went to Denver Colo to work with a company who put up cottages and shak [sic] for miners in the mining towns. He left his family in Rockefeller, Ill. He build cabins for those miners in different parts of Colorado for instance, Colorado Springs, Cripple Creek, Manatou Springs, Gunnison district, Leadville, Ouray, Durango, Salida and others and finally Denver."

Then in 1882 Sarah and the three kids, James W., John, and Annie, went out to Denver where Henry rented a "brick cottage at 705 Glenarm Street and settled down with his wife and three children, James, John and Annie." In 2011, Bob and I were out near Denver and we went into the city to see if we could find that house. The street numbers have changed so the images we thought were of the house turns out to be a block away. Anyway, someone from the (now defunct) Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) helped me out and sent pictures.
House at 705 Glenarm St., Denver, Colorado. Taken and sent to me 
in 2006 by Paul Daraghy who was a volunteer at RAOGK. It is hard to tell, but the 
house is brick, at least on the bottom. Paul said, "Denver had an all-brick building code after 
a disastrous fire in 1800s; finally repealed only a few decades ago. The upper 
story is probably just wooden shingles over a brick wall." 
Which seems to have been common practice then.

In August of 1884, "He left Denver with his family and his possessions in a covered wagon traveling east across the prairies of Colorado and Kansas as far as Atchison Kansas from where he took railroad train" on to Libertyville, Illinois to stay with the Almond's until they could get a place to live.

When we were in Denver, Bob and I thought we should take near the same route as the covered wagon since we were also traveling to the same area in Kansas to do a little more research on the Porteous family. 

James' accounts of their trip home to Illinois in a covered wagon had caught my fancy. James said, "I remember seeing the wagon in front of the house all loaded up and the two chicken cages each with a chicken in it, Johns and mine, hanging underneath the wagon just missing the ground. Also underneath at the back was a sheetiron cookstove having four griddles and oven. Mother would get it off and on the ground at meal time."

Could this also be a view James saw as they traveled south from Denver? [Photo by me.]

Now a free public park - a plaque on one of the rocks, "Garden of the Gods, given to the 
city of Colorado Springs in 1909 by the children of Charles Elliott Perkins, in fulfilment of his 
wish that it be kept forever free to the public." [Photo by me.]

They traveled "thru one place where red rocks big slabs sticking up high in the air on their edges heaved up in the past ages and left standing there." [Garden of the Gods?] and they stopped at Johnson's ranch near Colorado Springs to give the horses a break. They set up camp and stayed for a couple days. James said, "their dog got into our tent and stole a smoked ham. I missed that ham a lot because we did not buy another one."  

We drove to the Garden of the Gods as you can see by my pictures above and I was amazed and excited to explore the area. Can you imagine how a young boy of about 10 years old felt seeing these rock formations jutting up out of the earth? He never saw something like that before. Bob and I had a chance to walk through the park in 2011, but in 1884 it was wild country with no nice paths and stations explaining the view's history.

On their way again, James said the foothills were "high and up and down for a long way. Then is when I heard the breaks grind as they rubbed against the wheels when we were going down one of the many hills." The family stopped for awhile; the breaks evidently needed some time to cool off as well as the horses need a rest. James said this also gave him and his brother a chance to play around the area, but not too far from the wagon; they didn't seem worried about anything as they scavenged the area as young boys would do. "We found horned toads and big grasshoppers to play with and had them in pens like sheep. The grasshoppers were so big and clumsy that they could not fly and could not hop very far."

Traveling along to Kansas, they would stop in the evenings to set up camp. Sarah would get out her stove and make their supper. The boys were sent out to find firewood. "If we could not find kindling wood for to burn in mother's stove she would send us boys out with a basket to pick up buffalo chips which burned fine and made a hot fire." 

Continuing on to Kansas, they followed the Santa Fe Railroad and "I remember of hearing them speaking of Garden City and Garfield and others. When we got to Larned we took the road for a while then started across the fields to go to our Uncle John Vamplew's where we had planned to visit for a few days." John R. Vamplew and Henry are brothers to my great grandmother Mary Ann (Vamplew) PORTEOUS of Rockefeller, Illinois.

This landscape view is located approximately where John Vamplew's land purchase was about 1878.
I didn't have the cabin pictures, so didn't know there was a hill nearby. Next time Bob and I go
through there, we will definitely look for that hill behind the little cabin.

"As we were coming across the field toward his house we saw him sitting near his kitchen door with his foot bandaged up. As we came along he got up and pointed to where we should go. He had cut his big toe and had it bandaged up with a soap and sugar mixture. He lived in a sod house with a bedroom and kitchen."

A "soddie" is a sod house which many settlers could erect rather quickly. It was warm in the winter and cool in the summer. One problem, it also had worms, bugs, and other living creatures the humans had to share the space with.

This image of a Pawnee County "soddie" is from a collection of such housed at 
the Santa Fe Trail Center in Larned, Pawnee Co., Kansas. The curator at the center couldn't identify 
whose soddie this was. It does have some of the characteristics described in the diary, but I doubt 
this was great-great uncle John's house, it looks a little bigger than 12' by 15'.

This soddie is part of the living history outdoors displays at the Santa Fe Trail Center in 
Larned, Kansas. According to the site, the Santa Fe Trail Center is an American Alliance of 
Museums accredited institution. The museum is a not-for-profit organization, privately 
owned and operated by the Fort Larned Historical Society. [Photo by me.]

In another part of James' diary is an interesting description of uncle John's sod house: "We had an uncle 'John Rouse Vamplew', brother of our father living near Larned Kas. not far from Garfield on a farm. Dad had planned to go there to see him. He lived alone in a sod house about 12 ft by 15 ft inside, flat roof covered with sod. A small narrow kitchen with stove at far end and bedroom with door at left hand of it leading to main part of the house which served as bedroom, dining room and parlor. The bed was built in center of room, four posts to ceiling which served as four bed posts as well as supporting the roof. It was built in as a permanent fixture off from foot of the bed was a window. There was room enough between the bed and the window for a small table. There was only one door for entrance into the kitchen which was only just wide enough for the stove to fit in place at the far end. It was a regular cast iron kitchen stove with four griddle and oven. The house was back from the road about 100 feet and he had a vegetable garden along the road between the house and barn. Next to the barn was a chicken house. Practually [sic] no fencing on the place except around the barn, chicken house and garden. A wide space was kept plowed around the buildings to stop prairie fires that might come that way." 

The Henry Van Plew family set up camp to stay a few days. "After we got our tent up mother started to get things in shape. She planned a real supper which was a real treat for Uncle John. His garden was complete and he told her she could use anything in it. He had musk melons and watermelons ripe. We had fun with them. One day we went to a ravine a mile away and picked wild plumbs and they were very sweet." 

Visiting for a few days turned into staying a month. Henry had brought all his tools and I guess when he saw the sod house he decided to build a "frame cottage for his brother." Before the construction started, James helped locate the North Star and "I remember helping to find it to get the house lined up." 

When the cottage was built and ready for habitation, Sarah prepared dinner for all of them, and "we had the first meal in it and the old sod house was abandoned." They left Uncle John's soon after the cottage was built and continued following the Santa Fe Railroad in their wagon. Along the way one of the horses got sick and died. "My parents then decided to sell the other horse and the wagon and take the train to Libertyville Ill."

Who can tell me? I got no clues like I thought I would from the diary. I really don't know except the cabin is small enough for one person and I know Uncle John never married. I believe Uncle John wore that type of hat shown in the second image. I also believe this image below is of John Rouse Vamplew at the Arkansas River...sure looks like the same hat! Oh, by the way, what is the name of that hat?

Possibly John Rouse Vamplew sitting on a log by the Arkansas River
near Garfield, Kansas. [old image found in family picture box]

It wasn't too many years after his brother Henry's visit and the cabin was built, John sold his property and moved in with my great-great grandfather William Dennis Porteous at the north edge of Garfield, Kansas. Uncle John lived there until his death in 1921. He immigrated to America on the same ship the SS Bothnia with the Porteous family in 1875. About 1878 John settled in Kansas, the same time the W.D. Porteous family did. I feel it was only natural since he never married and he lived with the family for so many years that he would be buried in the Garfield Cemetery in the Porteous family plot. [ memorial # 59225622]

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Fish Story Out of Dad's 1937 Social Security Application

[added a new image - hunting / May 23, 2013]
Rummaging through some of my images and the HP scan archives (or a folder to catch all scans), I came across my dad's Application for a Social Security Card (form SS-5) . Social Security Act was signed by President Franklin Roosevelt on August 14, 1935 according to the official website of the Social Security Administration, and it says that taxes were collected for the first time in January 1937 and the first one-time, lump-sum payments were made that same month. Regular ongoing monthly benefits started in January 1940.

Dad applied June 5, 1937 about six months after Social Security started. He must have had one of the early numbers which number was handwritten on this application in the upper right corner, but I erased it for this blog post, even though my dad had died in the early 1970s and no one could use it anyway.

I don't know how thrilled anyone would be seeing this application, but it does reveal some little known facts about my dad. One of those little discoveries on this "application for account number" is how he officially spelled his middle name. Lee Roy must be the way it was since this was for an official government document. Or was it the beginning of the spelling the way he wanted it. I have no idea because on his birth record was "Un Named Porteous," and I don't know when he actually got his name. I also wish I knew why he was named Carroll since there aren't any friends or relatives I have found with that name. One can only speculate he was named after his mother Caroline (Carrie) only with a masculine spelling.

If I didn't have his birth record, I would be relying on this application to give me the information of his birth date, who his parents were, where he lived, and that he was a "white male." This is odd, I would never have suspected this question - #13 "If registered with the U.S. Employment Service...?" [USES] and his answer was "No" This has something to do with immigration or receiving unemployment compensation of sorts. [Read about "USES" on]

I never knew where he was employed back then. I always thought he was a carpenter. So a little known fact -- he was employed even though the "Great Depression wouldn't end until 1939. This job at Tack-L-Tyers gave him the outdoor adventure he loved. I found this blog on fishing history which had an image about the place dad worked. []

From a boy, dad loved fishing so it seems appropriate that he would work at a tackle store. Besides fishing, he liked making his own flies and lures along with making and repairing fishing rods. All the paraphernalia was in our basement.

I remember him sitting many nights down in the basement at an old desk tying flies. There was an old goose-neck lamp he would bend over the special vice that held the hooks tightly during the tying process. Dad had jars of different colored feathers and small drawers stuffed with chenille and special heavy thread. The feathers were from various birds like the pheasant, and ducks.  Dad would tell stories about traveling on a circuit from Illinois to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan selling his flies. I imagined he did the circuit on a horse like Abraham Lincoln did, but no, he drove his car. Dad told of several women he had who were experts in tying the most popular fly -- the tiny bee. He showed me how to tie them, but I'm sure I wasn't quite as good as those ladies.

Tying flies wasn't all occupying, he also painted lures to look like minnows or small creatures the muskies would like. They were giant whittled pieces of wood with giant four-hook hooks attached. He would also taxidermy the trophy fish he caught. I remember looking at those fish with their mouths open and all the teeth showing. They were really scary. 

There were muskies, large mouth bass, and trophy sunfish hanging
on the walls down in the basement where dad tied his flies.

Dad would hunt pheasants and ducks for their meat and their beautiful, colorful feathers.  When he'd come home from one of his hunts, I helped pluck the feathers and separate the different colors into fruit jars. I loved the pheasant tails or the iridescent mallard feathers, too. He collected deer tail in different colors to use in various special flies. I can still smell the moth balls he put in the jars to keep the moths out of the collection.

I don't know if he ever used rabbit hair for his flies, but I found this picture
of dad, his dog Dottie, and the rabbits he hunted. [added May 23, 2013]

I don't ever remember his hat without at least one fly stuck into it whether it were a baseball hat or fedora. He would point to one of the flies in his hat and say, "this one is worth a shot, and this one worth a beer." Well, he must have been true in his bartering because he knew all the "watering holes" in those four states and parts of Canada!

At dad's funeral, he was dressed in a suit, something he very seldom wore. I wanted him to be wearing his plaid flannel shirt and hat, but mom didn't think it was right for a funeral. So we compromised and put his fishing rod next to the coffin and pinned a fly on his lapel. There were so many people who upon seeing the fly, told us their fishing story of my dad.

Monday, May 6, 2013

FINALLY! The Connection – Luther son of Abel Fowler

Abel FOWLER Jr. (3x great grandfather) married Lydia FULLER sometime around 1797 in White Creek, Washington Co., New York. They had six children that I know of: Peter abt 1798; Mary (Polly) 1800; Rodney B. abt 1802; Rensselaer abt 1804; Rhoda abt 1810; Luther abt 1815. 

According to several family history accounts and cousin Kevin, Luther (2x great grandfather) was born probably in South Onondaga, Onondaga Co., New York. His death certificate (from the Department of Health: city of Chicago) states Luther was 83 years 3 months old as of 14 Mar 1898 -- his death date. From this, I can only guess he was born about Dec 1815.

[My first posting on July 8, 2012 post - Proving a connection to LutherSlowly I'm building on the research for this family.

I knew Luther was the son of Abel Jr., but I need proof of some sort. So until I have exhausted my search for a record, I will settle for the document Kevin sent to me. I would think this can serve as proof for now.

Well, I am to an extent. If anyone can add to this with more proof, I would really appreciate it with source citation(s) included. 

This legal document (two parts) is a signed statement to "honestly & faithfully discharge the duties of administrator of the estate" and the "application for letters of administration on the estate of Abel Fowler deceased"; these two items were signed by Abel Jr.'s son Rodney B. of Marcellus in the county of Onondaga, New York.

Signed on 22 Feb 1848 -- a day before the next document.

Signed 23 Feb 1848 by Rodney B. Fowler of the town of 
Marcellus, New York in the county of Onondaga.
This document above is the application letter recorded in the Oswego County Surrogate's Court. It is the document that has specifics as to heirs and the locations of those heirs.

Rodney B. Fowler is the son who must have been the one named as executor in Abel Jr.'s Will, otherwise why would he be the one applying? Abel's eldest son Rensselaer lives in Michigan which leaves Rodney the next in line. I don't know if Abel died intestate.

At the middle of page where the line starts with "dollars" Abel Jr.'s children are named: Elder son Renslaer [Rensselaer] Fowler a resident of Michigan; Luther Fowler residing in Clarkson Monroe Co., N.Y.; Polly Wood [Mary] wife of Silas Wood & Rhoda Gardner wife of Russell Gardener both residing in Hastings Oswego County N.Y. They were "the only next of kin that the said deceased left. No widow him surviving and that this deponent (?) is of full age." Of the six, only five children were named -- Peter wasn't mentioned which means he must have either died earlier or done something in which Abel wrote him off. I haven't found a death record for him. Rensselaer was described as the "Elder son" so Peter no longer is for whatever reason.

Taking this as proof, Luther's FOWLER family should be able to connect with other DAR applications which usually stop with Luther as the last child and youngest son of Abel Jr. and Lydia. My direct line isn't continued because the applicant descends from another sibling. I'm not sure I want to join the DAR, I just want to know my ancestors and their lives better. The DAR application for Abel Sr. just gives me a lineage to verify and cite.

I'm still not done, though, I still need more documentation for Luther. I don't like to guess. I've been accumulating various documents like taxes, organizations, land, etc., but not so much with the vital records. I'll be looking for his birth record and marriage records to Lydia CORNELL and second wife Hannah [surname unknown].