Tuesday, September 10, 2013

1925 - John Porteous Dies in Garfield, Kansas

I've mentioned "gathering bits and pieces" in several of my posts. I never refuse information when it comes to me. I have found that accepting these morsels of information may turn out to be a missing puzzle piece. Take for instance a couple days ago, I got an email from someone in Kansas who was working on a project -- to add all Garfield Cemetery burials on FindAGrave.com of which I am also a contributor. He was reading obituaries on the local newspapers on various microfilm.

My great-great grandparents and family settled in Garfield. They are all buried in the Garfield Cemetery. My great grandfather died in Garfield, his body shipped back to Mundelein, Illinois and he is buried in Diamond Lake Cemetery. There were obituaries/death notices in Kansas and in Illinois.

In the email message was an obituary for my great grandfather John PORTEOUS. I opened the obit image. The obituary was a lot longer than the one I had originally from a Larned, Kansas newspaper; this one was from a different newspaper, The Pawnee County News, July 23, 1925 issue (on microfilm).


There isn't much here I didn't know before, but as I read the obit, one bit stood out -- a puzzle piece -- like the cloudless sky piece of a jigsaw puzzle, it doesn't have a lot to go by, but its die-cut shape can yield the information necessary to attach more pieces. This small part of the obit does just that -- it gets me a little closer to figuring out when John's father William D. actually settled in Garfield, Kansas.

John was "84 years old and had not seen his brother for 42 years." John's father came to America and landed at the Port of New York on 21 Apr 1875 aboard the ship SS Bothnia (found on the New York Passenger Lists on Ancestry.com). William D., wife Elizabeth, daughter Jane, grandson William M., and John's brother-in-law John Rouse Vamplew, were in Garfield at least by 1878 the date on an early deed I have. I haven't seen any deed prior to that. This is the "known" in the time line. 

So where were they for the first three years? Some people wouldn't care, but I want to know. Did the W.D. Porteous family go straight to Garfield, Kansas, from the Port of New York? Unlikely. I would guess they came to John's house in Lake County first to visit with family and then any Lincolnshire friends. They probably took a train down to Garfield; by that time the Santa Fe railroad ran through and stopped at Garfield. So it is likely the W.D. Porteous family would have used that mode of transportation. Wouldn't it be neat if  the ticket stubs turned up and then were given to me? In my dreams...

"This was his [John's] third trip here to see his brother, the last being in 1878." Let's see: 1925 - third of three trips, 1878 - second of three trips, and the first trip is before 1878! With John living in Lake County, Illinois, and Garfield being almost 850 miles away in Kansas, I would think the second trip wasn't that soon after the first.This might be the closest I'll come to knowing when they were in Garfield prior to 1878. Maybe revisiting some deeds will help me. 

About forty-two months after he arrived in America, W.D. bought land in Kansas. (This 1878 deed below is the earliest known.) The deed for three lots bought in Oct. of that year is for "Sixteen Hundred Dollars." W.D. was a farmer in Lincolnshire, England, but not a land owner. How did W.D. get enough money to buy that land in Kansas? Could he have secured a loan and if so, who loaned it to him? There must be loan papers out there I haven't found yet. I'm not sure he could have worked and saved it up having a family to support and all. Sixteen hundred dollars is a lot of money to have laying around.

Over the years, W.D. accumulated quite a few acres both in town and outside. According to his 1902 obituary (found in the Larned newspaper): "Mr. Porteous was considered an exemplary citizen and by thrift and industry had accumulated a considerable estate." The obit also stated he had "resided at Garfield for the past twenty years." This would imply he came there in 1882. That can't be correct because he and the family were shown on the 1880 census. Can't believe all that is written in obituaries or death notices.

I have a deed with an 1879 date on it showing John Porteous bought land south of Garfield. Looks like the trip in 1878 could have been to look at land and then it was finalized in 1879, but we know John didn't come down next until 1925. There must be a record of the dealings between lawyers in both states. I have no knowledge of any as yet.

The 1885 State census shows the Porteous family: WD 70 years old; E[lizabeth] 73 years; Will 22; Jennie 30. There is a column for where born - all said England. There is another column "Where from to Ks" and here they wrote Illinois. No where did it say how many years they were there. This is what made me believe they had stopped in Lake County before coming to Kansas. I can't find any mention of them coming to that area in the local newspapers either. 

By 1895 State census (no 1890 census), John R. Vamplew 22 has joined the household; WD is 74, Elizabeth had passed away (1886), Jenny is 40, Wm M is 35, and a Bertie Hand 8 from Indiana has joined the household. They were asked again "Where from to Kansas..." and again they said Illinois. Still nothing about how long in Kansas.

The last census W.D. was on is the 1900, and it shows William as a Naturalized citizen [1887], states he has been in the country 25 years as do the others except Bert. William is an 80-year-old widower and it shows he was born Jan 1820 even though I have his baptism record for 7 Dec 1817 Mareham Le Fen, Lincolnshire, England. Jennie is 42 single, William J. [should be M.] is 37 and single, Bert is now an "Ad Son" [adopted] and is 13 years old, John Vamplew is a boarder 49 years old and single. Jennie was born in 1843. That would make her 57 years old. Can't believe everything written on the censuses either.

As you can see, it's the little bits that can lead to hints cutting the shape of those family history puzzle pieces. Yep, there are many more pieces to fill in for the complete picture, but this is a start. This post does help put things into prospective and will help me sort things out later on. One of these days I'll get to the clouds on those sky pieces, then it will all come together. I have to keep gathering those bits and pieces!

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NOTE: A surprise on the 1895 Kansas Federal Census in Garfield, there is a Bert Hand in the Porteous household. He is eight years old. That would make him born about 1887. Although this could be for another story, I wanted to mention it here. When Bert came to be in the household he had his surname Hand. By the 1900 census in the same household, he was adopted and after that he is known as Bert Porteous. I believe he has a link to the "Orphan Train" where, right about that time, orphaned or homeless children from crowded cities were being distributed on the farms. I followed Bert to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1920 and then lost his trail. I haven't been able to find out where in Indiana he is from or if he had parents. I had contacted the headquarters for the Orphan Train, but they didn't have a database of names set up. At the time they were building one by persons submitting names and stories. Bert is a curiosity to me and I have a bunch of scattered puzzle pieces on him. One day I will spend a little time to look for him again and maybe the pieces will come together, too.

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