Sunday, May 29, 2011

What's in the Probate Record?

Emery Waller's Probate Record
Franklin County, Kansas
Filed February 10, 1893
I received the Probate record for my 3rd great grandfather, Emery Waller.  Emery has been an elusive ancestor and one I've been pretty focused on for the last few weeks.

What have I learned from his Probate record?  I'm really not sure yet.  It does show, via the Affidavit in Proof of Death, that his date of death was December 11, 1891 and that the document was filed in Franklin County on February 10, 1893 by George W. Waller, Emery's son.  And then there's a list of Emery's heirs in 1893, some of which I can identify and some of which are a complete mystery to me.

Here's what matches the information I have:

George W. Waller was the son of Emery and Clarinda Waller and was the only son to live into adulthood.  He was born in 1855 so he would have been about 38 in 1893.  The record shows he was 39 - close enough.

Elizabeth Waller was the eldest child of Emery and Clarinda and married John Asher Page in 1864 so Elizabeth would have been known as Elizabeth Page in 1893.  Check.  She was born in 1846 which would have made her 47 in 1893.  The record shows she was 52 - five years is a bit of a discrepancy but I'm not sure I'll worry about it.

The second child of Emery and Clarinda was Nancy Hannah Waller.  Hannah was born in 1848 and married Philip Holloway in 1866.  The Probate record shows her as Hannah Cass at 48 years old.  Again, the age is a little off (maybe these people forgot how old they were?) but showing her last name as Cass is perplexing.  I know that Philip remarried in late 1894 so I had assumed that Hannah had died prior to that.  But since she's showing up here as Hannah Cass, maybe they divorced and she married Mr. Cass by 1893.  Hannah and Philip were together in DeWitt County, Illinois in the 1880 census and when their only child, Maud, died in 1886, the obituary said she died at the "residence of her parents".  Maybe the death of their child tore them apart?  I need to do some more research on Hannah with some emphasis in Missouri since her place of residence in 1893 looks to be MO.

Minnie Waller, the youngest child of Emery and Clarinda, was born in 1857 so her age of 35 is about right.  She married James Jones in 1879 and then John Scully in 1892 - maybe her family forgot what her name was so just left it blank?  The residence of Colorado is curious as Minnie and John's son was born in Illinois in 1894.  I guess they could have been in Colorado in 1893 but it seems odd.  More research necessary.

When I first looked at this record, I initially thought that my 2nd great grandmother, Rebecca Waller McAboy, had been excluded.  My blood started boiling!  Then I looked down the page a bit more and spotted her - McAboy.  It looks like Morris McBoy but her name was Rebecca Moriah (or Maria) and in some places I've seen her referred to as Moriah.  If I squint my eyes a bit, I can imagine that the listing does indeed say Moriah McAboy.  Rebecca and her husband, William McAboy, moved to California in about 1890 and I would guess that if you were living in or around Kansas at the end of the 19th century, California probably seemed to be halfway around the world.  So I guess it's not surprising that it doesn't show her place of residence as they probably had no idea where California was.

And that's all I know.  These other people are a complete mystery to me.  It looks like two more daughters - Caroline Foster and Ellen Tinder (or Linder or Finder) in Illinois.  Could these be Clarinda's daughters from a first marriage?  And a couple of grandchildren - Pearl Sessions and Emma Willis.  The only clue that might help me is that Emery's sister, Mary Ann, married Edward Sessions and they had a son named Emery.  And as I look a little closer, Emery might also be known as Perle.  Mary Ann must have died quite young as Edward married Sarah in 1865 and guess what?  There is also a child named Emma who was born in 1860.  It appears that Emery/Perle and Emma were the children of Emery Waller's sister Mary Ann and Edward Sessions.  When she died did Emery vow to take care of her children?  Something more to research.

Last on the list is what looks like Mollie Bidle or something close to that.   Who was Mollie and why would they show a deceased person on the probate record? 

At the bottom of the page an estimated value is listed - is that $1,000 or $100?

The other two pages of the record is an Administrator's Bond and an Affidavit to Administer Estate.  The only 'new' information was the mention of George's wife, Mary, and a person named B. Campbell who is listed with Mary as 'sureties'.  Not sure what that means.  And the Administrator's Bond says:

Know all Men by these Presents, That we Geo W Waller, as principal, and Mary F. Waller and B. Campbell as sureties, are held and firmly bound unto the State of Kansas in the sum of two hundred dollars to the payment of which sum, well and truly to be made, we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, firmly by these presents, sealed with our seals and dated this 17th day of Feb, A.D. 1883.  The condition of the above obligation is such that :  Whereas, the said Geo W Waller has been, by the Probate Court of Franklin County, Kansas, duly appointed Administrator of the estate of Emory L Waller, Deceased.

There seems to be some discrepancy in Emery's date of death.  My original non-documented date was December 21, 1890.....and the cemetery shows his death date as December 25, 1890.  It could be that he really did die December 21 and was buried on December 25, 1890.  That makes sense.  But I don't see how the cemetery could show he died in 1890 and the Probate record shows a year later. 

I think I need to study up on probates, estates, etc.  If anyone has any suggestions or can offer assistance, I'm all ears.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I found him!

Photo by dynamosquito

Get a load of this - I found Emery Waller!

The past week has been a flurry of activity and a wealth of information has surfaced.  So much, in fact, that I can hardly keep it straight in my mind.  Right now if you asked me to tell you the sequence of events that led to this discovery, I couldn't do it.

What I do know is that I found a probate record for Emory L Waller in Franklin County.  I contacted the Genealogical Society by e-mail and after clicking the "check mail" button a minimum of 1447 times, 36 hours later I'd received no response.  I know these people are volunteers and I know their hours are limited but geez, didn't they realize how important this was to me?  So I sent off a written request with the probate number and a check which I figured would more than compensate them for their research time and copying as listed on their web site.  Finally, the next day I heard from them! 

Debi, I am chair of the research committee of Franklin Co. Genealogical Soc. & received your request for copies of the probate records for Emory L. Waller, #6605.  There were 3 pages & I had copies made. If you will send me your address I will mail them to you.

EUREKA!  Of course I couldn't stand the suspense so I quickly sent him a message back and asked for the date of death.  His response - December 11, 1891.  Now that was interesting since my records showed his date of birth as December 11, 1813.  Sure he could have died on his birthday ......OR, their records could be incorrect.

Next stop, Find a Grave.  Now I'd already looked for him in Franklin County but I decided to just search on E Waller, Kansas and see what might appear.  And there it was - E L Waller in McPherson County with a death date of 1890.  This had to be him!  And in the same cemetery was Clarina Waller, death date 1885, which was too close to his wife ClarinDa to be a coincidence.  I was getting close!  So I hit the 'request a photo' button in hopes that someone would help me.  And within an hour or so, my request had been 'claimed'.  I was so close now I could taste it!

This afternoon the e-mails really started flying and I knew I'd hit pay dirt.  A kind gentleman from Find a Grave sent me a link to the cemetery that had all of the information for those interred in McPherson Cemetery.  Quick scroll to the W's......and there it was.  WALLER.  One more click and I was there - Clarinda and E L Waller, Block 14, Lot 15, Graves 7 and 8.  My 3rd great grandfather and his wife!  And there was a Cemetery Location Map included. PAY DIRT!
Within an hour, the e-mail from Find a Grave I'd been waiting for appeared - SUCCESS!  Someone had been to the cemetery and photographed the graves for me.  And so I give you Emery and Clarinda Waller.


Emery Waller
Photo by Art Hoch, Find A Grave

Clarinda Waller
Photo by Art Hoch, Find A Grave


But wait, there's no marker for Emery!  My 3rd great grandfather, who served in both the Mexican and Civil War, is lying in an unmarked grave.  This is unacceptable for anyone, much less a veteran who gave so much to his country.  I'm going to contact the Department of Veteran Affairs to see if I can't rectify that.

I've concluded that Emery and Clarinda moved to Kansas in 1882 and were living in McPherson County in 1885 when Clarinda died.  Based on Emery's pension records, I know they were there July 7, 1885 and Clarinda died in November of that year.  From there Emery must have gone to Ness County and, eventually, to Franklin County where he died in either 1890 or 1891.  I'm guessing that after his death his family took his body back to McPherson County for burial with Clarinda.  And they either didn't have the money, or didn't want to spend it, on a tombstone.

So the journey is complete.  Or at least will be when I'm able to get Emery's grave marked.  While the Pension File didn't directly give me the information I was hoping for, I was able to find Emery's final resting place.  In Kansas, no less.  Who knew I'd find him there?  And finding Clarinda was a bonus because I really hadn't given too much thought to ever finding her.
I'm emotionally drained.


Sunday, May 15, 2011


Photo by The National Guard

Stop the presses!  Step back, take a deep breath, and CONCENTRATE.  New information may have just surfaced.  My mind is reeling!

Emery Waller may have spent the the last years of his life and died in Kansas.


When I received his pension records, I thumbed through it fairly quickly and thought that I may not learn anything new.  There are pages and pages of information about his disability - diarrhea and piles caused by eating green corn.  While I feel terrible that my 3rd great grandfather, Emery Waller, had to endure such pain, I was a little disappointed that I didn't find any mention of his wife, children, parents, or anything.  So I set the records aside until the next day.

24 hours later, I started reading a little more carefully.  There were requests to increase the pension (from $7.50 per month to $20 per month!), examination reports by physicians, statements from friends confirming that Emery served in the Civil War, etc.  Each statement said pretty much the same thing.  Blah, blah, blah.  And then, I spotted it - KANSAS.  What?  Emery was in Kansas?  I've always believed that Emery spent the end of his life in DeWitt County, Illinois and, most likely, died there.  But here he was in Ness County, Kansas all the way up to 1889!

I decided to google Emery Waller, Ness County and here's what I found from the Society of Ness City, Part I - Handbook of Ness Co., KS 1887
Col. Emery L. WALLER, who commanded the 4th Ohio Infantry in the Mexican War, and held a command in the western army in the late war for the Union, and whose associations with Generals Grant,, Shields, Logan, and others lend interest to his military life, has recently settled here for the improvement of his broken health and fortune, and pronounces the climate the finest and most healthful of any he has ever known.  Col. Waller has led an eventful life, rich in experience of many countries and is a brave, genial, sociable and entertaining gentlemen, whose opinions are worthy of the highest regard.  He has resided here since 1884, and believes in a grand future for this region.
So how 'bout that????

Now since Emery was born in 1813, serving in the Mexican War seems logical since he would have been about 33-35 during the war.  And since he enlisted as a First Lieutenant, and later as a Captain, during the Civil War, that makes sense.  And I know his health was poor in the 1880's because I read about it in his pension records.  Did he have experiences in other countries?  I don't know.  And what about living in Kansas in 1884?  I do know he was born in Ohio so it also makes sense that he served in an Ohio regiment in the Mexican War.

As I go through his pension records, I find him in McPherson county in 1882, 1883, 1884......and by 1886 he's in Ness County.  The last record I have for him in Ness County, Kansas was 2 Aug 1888.  Could he have died there?  But then I found him later in Franklin County 18 April, 1889.  Did he die there?

Early on in my research I made a note that his death date was 21 Dec 1890.  Sadly, even though the super smart Kerry Scott told me to cite stuff, I didn't do it and now I don't know where or how I came up with that date.  But if his last medical examination was in 1889, it is entirely possible that he died in 1890 in - gasp! - Kansas. 

So now I'm on a quest to find Kansas death records from 1889 and beyond.  And Mexican War records for the 4th Ohio Infantry.  But so far, I'm hitting a brick wall.  Any suggestions?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Research Trip

Photo by Ben Gallagher

I'm going on my first research trip!

Well, it's not exactly a research trip but I will be able to sneak in the better part of two days in DeWitt County, Illinois to look for dead people in cemeteries, libraries, historical societies, and who knows where else.

During a road trip next month, we'll stop for a few days in DeWitt County which is where several generations of my family lived.  In fact, Rebecca Waller was married here to William Warren McAboy and gave birth to my great grandmother, Mabel McAboy, in Clinton, Illinois.  I've been able to identify the final resting place for many of the McAboys and Wallers and am anxious to get to the cemeteries to find their graves (the photo volunteers on findagrave in this part of the country haven't been too responsive).  I also think that my 3rd great grandfather, Emery Waller, and maybe his father, Solomon Waller, might be buried here.

I'm looking for suggestions as to what I need to do to plan my trip. 

What preparation should I do before I go?  Who do I need to call before I arrive on their doorstep?  I have purchased the book Courthouse Research for Family Historians by Christine Rose - just need to actually open it and start reading ;-)

What should I take with me?  How should I organize it?  I'll have my little netbook with me and maybe some hard copies of specific people I want to research but what else?

Do I need a portable scanner?  I've looked at the flip-pal mobile scanner and a wand type scanner from Costco.  What do you have?  What do you like about it or not like about it?  Since my time will be limited and I'm technologically challenged, I'd like something easy to use that will provide me with a clear scan.  Or do I even need this?

How do I "find" my ancestors who might be buried there?  Where do I start?  I've been in touch with the DeWitt County Historical Society but they were unable to find my people.  Do I just show up at the courthouse and start going through records from the time frame they died?  In one case, I don't even know exactly when he died.

I've already done some pre-planning but I'd love any and all advice from the experts out there.  Let's hear it!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Look what arrived today!

I know you can't see it well but yes, that says National Archives, Washington, D.C. 


(You can read here how I requested the pension file)

I've taken some time to browse through the pages and I don't think I'm going to find too many clues.  It doesn't mention Emery's death date but it does give me clues as to when he was alive because he re-applied for his pension several times.  And it does tell me that he applied for pension due to diarrhea which continued throughout his lifetime.

Now I need to study Civil War battles so I can truly understand what he went through during the war.

Stay tuned as I learn more.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Awaiting shipment!

My Civil War Pension file for Emery Waller is awaiting shipment!!!!!!!

I've been tracking the order every few days and yesterday the status showed 'awaiting shipment'.  According to the status legend this means "We were able to locate the records you requested and have made your photocopies. Your order will be shipped shortly."

It's still awaiting shipment today.  How long does it take to put a stamp on an envelope, anyway?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Eastern Star

Remember the little book I found in the package of photos I received? The Eastern Star book that I thought must have belonged to my great uncle Wilt?

Imagine my surprise when I finally opened up the document folded inside the book and saw the name Rebecca Schwartz staring back at me!  It's very hard to see in the 'before' document above but if you look closely, about 3/4 of the way down in the middle of the page, it's there.  REBECCA SCHWARTZ.  See it?  And what you probably can't see is the date in the section marked "In Testimony Whereof" of November 16, 1888.  This document was presented to my great great grandmother, Rebecca Steen Schwartz, when she was elected Grand Matron, Order of the Eastern Star in California in 1888!

My hands began shaking and my heart was pounding as I realized what I had in front of me.  This 120+ year old document had been folded up in this little book for who knows how long and now here it was!  Oh my, what do I do?  I thought about scanning it on the oversized scanner at work but honestly, I was afraid the light would damage it.  Besides, I was afraid to even open it up all the way for fear of damaging it.

After a lot of research on document restoration, and a near-miss dumb move, I found an art restoration business in Seattle .  The woman I contacted explained what she would be able to do and asked me to bring it by the shop so she could see the document.  Together we unfolded the document and she examined it.  She told me the paper was fine quality and was stamped with the date 1886.  The tape on the back, where someone had tried to repair it, was a fairly recent addition but for $1 per inch, she could remove it.  Then she would spray it with de-acidify and mount it to repair paper.  It wouldn't look perfect but it would be my great great grandmother's original document!  She apologized that it would take 4-6 weeks to complete but since it had been folded up for over 120 years, I told her I could wait a few more weeks :-)

When I picked it up, I was astounded at the difference.  While the crease marks could still be seen, it was absolutely beautiful!  And just like Rebecca had done 120 years before me, I held the document in my hands and was mesmerized by the meaning it held. 

Next stop was the framing shop.  I knew this had to be framed in such a way as to preserve the document while still showcasing it.  We spent quite a bit of time with the framing expert in order to find just the right material and when we finally finished, I knew it would be perfect. 

And it is!