Category Archives: Historic Events

Research Questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why and sometimes How

The questions Who,What,Where,When,Why and How are known as the journalistic questions, but they cover pretty much and research questions you might have.  In genealogical research, the why may be the most enticing and the hardest to find answers for, but who, what, where, and when rank as essential.

Several people commented to me and expressed some curiosity about how the pieces came together to show my great grandmother’s connection to an Archbishop who became famous in a novel.

Because some readers were curious about the research path, I decided to do a rare “behind the curtain” look at where the stories come from that I tell on Ancestors in Aprons.

After all, that Archbishop, Jean Baptiste Lamy gained some fame serving in New Mexico, and my great-grandmother, Anne Marie Smith (Butts)  never left Knox County, Ohio.  So how did he get into the story? And how did I find him?

Who is Ann Marie Smith (Butts)?

First, I have to inventory what I know.  I’ve been doing research (of various types) for a long time, so I no longer feel a need to write down a list of “things I know” before I start asking research questions.  However, with my genealogy research, a timeline makes the skeleton I build on.

In creating a timeline for Ann Marie Smith (Butts), I relied on the usual paper trail– birth or baptism records, census reports, death information (if no death certificate, Find a Grave provides clues and a photo of a gravestone is more solid evidence, family Bibles shine.) But with Annie, I had the advantage of some background from family members.

My father had written a bare bones report of his ancestors, that included Annie’s name, so I knew her maiden name was Smith.

From a cousin who has been a mentor in my research, I had a transcription of information from a Smith family Bible. The Bible provided her parents’ and siblings’ names and the date of Annie’s birth. I also learned of the deaths of some of her siblings.

I had an informal family history that had been dug up by a remote cousin who in the nineties had written about the Butts of Danville, Knox County, Ohio that included details about Annie’s life.

So from the Bible and census reports I knew that Annie was born in Knox County, Ohio, in 1835, and that she stayed there.  From the informal history, I knew that she had been a devout Catholic. On Ancestry, I discovered her marriage certificate proving the date she married Henry Allen Butts. Census records also confirmed the names of siblings and their dates of birth.

Another bonus that doesn’t usually exist came in four letters from Henry Allen to his wife when he was in the Civil War, which gave a feel for their life that goes beyond the bare facts. For those letters I have my brother to thank. He talked to a relative in Ohio and found a man in California who owned copies of the letters. Although he would not part with the originals, the man allowed us to have copies.

Finally, I had made a personal visit to St. Luke Catholic Church in Danville, Ohio that Annie and Henry Allen attended. (I knew they attended there because of the family history and because Henry Allen is buried there, and I talked to a priest who showed me their register with the names of Butts family members.)

Background on Lamy

Who is Jean Baptiste Lamy?

Incidentally, I had recently read  “Death Comes to the Archbishop” by Willa Cather, together with a short bio of Jean Baptiste Lamy. I learned that before becoming Archbishop of New Mexico in 1850, he was an itinerant priest in Ohio, based in Cincinnati (in the southwest of Ohio).  Since Danville is in the northeastern central part of Ohio, it did not occur to me that he might have been anywhere near St. Lukes.

What Else Do I Want to Know?

After inventorying what I know, my next step is to start asking research questions.  Using the Who?What?When?Where?Why? and sometimes How? questions, I check to see if I have already discovered answers to some, and what questions remain.

I won’t go through all the questions I had about Annie and her life, but start with one of the research questions, “When?” . I recalled my visit to St. Luke’s church, and looking at the time period when Annie and her siblings were born, I realized that the church I saw probably was not there when Annie and her earlier siblings born in Ohio were christened. While I know that the Danville church has hand written records that go back to at least the early 1900s, I have not discovered their records on line. Since I already had satisfactory proof of Annie’s birth I did not plan a trip to Danville, nor did I write to the church, although I may some time in the future.

The church is a beautiful brick building, and much too sophisticated to have been built in the early 1800s.  So I looked for a church website to answer my “when” research questions. Fortunately St. Luke maintains a website that includes a history.  My objective was to find when the brick building was built, but as I read down through the chronology of events at St. Luke, I abruptly stopped with this entry:

The first resident pastor was appointed in September 1839. He was a young Frenchman Father John Baptist Lamy born October 11, 1814 in Lempdes, France and ordained in December 1838.

Was there more than one John/Jean Baptiste Lamy? Or was this the Archbishop written about by Willa Cather?  As I read more of the history, I learned that Danville’ Ohio’s Father Lamy was indeed the man eventually made Archbishop of the territory of New Mexico.

Father Lamy arrived as pastor to St. Luke in 1839.  Annie had been baptized in 1835, so the celebrant at that occasion would have been a visiting priest, because Lamy was the first appointed exclusively to Danville.  Although there may have been a wooden building constructed earlier for church services, no one is sure.  However, it is known that Lamy constructed a log cabin sanctuary at the graveyard–the graveyard that I visited just down a rural road from the church, which stands on the Main Street of Danville.

Father Lamy continued to serve the congregation at St. Luke until September 1847, and in 1850 went west to Santa Fe according to the church history on line.

Next I asked the research question, “What?”  What was happening during the period Father Lamy was there?

Four of Annie’s siblings were born during that period, and three died. Another baby was born in September 1847, so I don’t know if Father Lamy would have presided over her baptism.

UPDATE:  Look back at the story about Annie to see a new piece of evidence I collected that ties the Smith family to Father Lamy!

At any rate, from the timeline of the Smith family, and the timeline of Father Lamy’s service, I could clearly see that the family had extensive contact with him over eight years.

And by the way, the answer to my original questions, “When was the brick building of St. Luke built? ” proves that I was definitely right about it being much to new for Annie’s childhood–although she certainly attended it as an adult.  The first St. Luke brick church was dedicated in 1877. However, it stood near the original wood church by the cemetery rather than in the present location. Re-reading the history, I find that when Henry returned from the Civil War, and he and Annie eventually moved into town, various changes came to the church.

I do not have pictures here, because all of the good pictures of St. Luke that I have found are copyrighted. You can see several photos at the St. Luke website.

Annie’s father died in 1886, and her mother in 1892, so their funerals would have taken place in that church by the cemetery. (I have not checked to see if they or other family members are buried there, but it is a good guess.)

Henry and Annie would have been there in 1895 when the brick church near the graveyard burned and services resumed temporarily in the old wooden church built by Father Lamy. Congregants had to bring their own chairs, as there were no built-in pews.

In 1896, the present beautiful church was dedicated.  Members of the community had pitched in to help with the details of hauling materials, cementing the bricks, installing pews and windows.  I have no doubt that Henry Allen Butts, listed as a laborer on some census reports, would have been one of the laborers, and I can imagine Annie helping other women feed the laborers.

My great grandparents DID attend the church that I visited on Main Street in Danville, and mass would have been said for them when they died. But when she was young, great-grandmother Annie Smith knew Father Lamy as her priest.

So putting together Father/Archbishop Lamy and the life of my great-grandmother Annie Smith Butts, turned out to be less strenuous than much genealogical research. However, it did involve a source that might not have occurred to you in the past.  Look not just for histories of your family, but histories of the town, county, state in which they lived.  If they worked on or lived near a railroad, look for the history of railroads in the region.  Look at school yearbooks and school histories. And don’t forget to look for the history of the church they attended.

Now that I have learned the history of St. Luke, I can tie events in the lives of other Smith and Butts families to a particular building and a particular minister. All I have to do is remember to ask the right research questions.

Prisoner of War: Capture and Release

William McCabe Anderson, 1841-1902

William McCabe Anderson

William Mc Cabe Anderson, former prisoner of war.

 

Today I talk about the contrasting experience of two brothers, one who died and one who was captured and spent a year as a prisoner of war, but returned to live out his life at home.

Erasmus Anderson was the son of my 3x great-grandfather, John Anderson and his first wife, Emma Allison. William was the son of  John Anderson and his second wife, Isabella McCabe Anderson, my 3x great-grandmother.  When her first son was born, Isabella honored her family name by using McCabe for William’s middle name.

 

Two Brothers Go to War

Civil War Regimental Flag

Civil War 16th OVI Regimental Flag

You may have read the letters of Erasmus Anderson, my great-great uncle who served on the Union side in the Civil War and died at Vicksburg.  In his letters, he sometimes refers to his younger half- brother Will (William McCabe Anderson), who was also a soldier. For a time the two served side by side as their respective companies marched together as part of the 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. William’s obituary hints that he was imprisoned at the infamous Andersonville, and I wanted to get at the actual story of his service and his time as a prisoner of war.

Will enlisted in the army one year earlier than his brother, Erasmus. He was twenty years old and unmarried when Union patriots in Ohio began staging giant rallies to encourage enlistment.  Young Will, who was listed on the census of 1860 as a farm worker on his family farm, did not have any specific plans for his life, and no doubt the war sounded like a great adventure. On September 12, 1861, Will signed up in the same regiment that his brother would later join–16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (16th OVI). William was in Company B, made up entirely of men and boys from Monroe Township of Holmes County.

After gathering at Camp Tiffin in Wooster, Ohio during September and October, the new recruits were loaded onto trains and traveled by rail to Cincinnati’s Camp Dennison. (Follow the link to see two pictures from Camp Dennison.)

I have no letters from William, so have to depend on the newspaper report of the OVI 16.  Captain Theodore D. Wolbach wrote about the Regiment twenty years after the fact.  These wonderfully detailed accounts, published in the Holmes County Republican newspaper under the banner “From the Field” covered every movement of the regiment from 1861 until the surviving soldiers mustered out in 1864.

Not only does Wolbach fill in the details of the battles, but he also gives us sometimes hilarious and sometimes devastating descriptions of the everyday life of the Union Soldiers.  We are fortunate to have those articles, accompanied by additional battle maps, photographs and reams of information on OVI 16 at the website maintained by Michael Wood. I used that website for extensive research while I was writing about Erasmus Anderson, and will not repeat all of the information here.

The Making of a Soldier

In mid December the recruits traveled by boat , railroad and foot to Lexington Kentucky, where they stayed until mid January 1862. ( The beginning of many ‘hurry up and wait’ orders for this regiment.)

During the last half of January, the new recruits were broken in with daily marches of varying lengths, and Wolbach reports several days that they marched all day in the rain. When they arrived at Camp Duncan in Pulaski County, Kentucky (the area called The Wilderness), they spent ten days waiting. After all that marching, this break probably was quite welcome.

More marching through February, until they engaged in their first big battle–the campaign to secure Cumberland Gap.  Will had now been in the army five and a half months, and the regiment saw its first casualty at the end of April, two more months into his life as a soldier. The Cumberland Gap operation took time, and was not firmly in Union hands until June 18, 1862. However, the Rebels did not give up and the Union army found themselves under siege at Cumberland Gap in August until by September 8 and 10, the commander’s order them to withdraw from a hopeless battle.

Brothers Reunite

The now battle-hardened soldiers cheered the arrival of new recruits in October.  It is wonderful to imagine the enthusiasm with which the hardened, muddy, bedraggled Will Anderson welcomed his brother Erasmus, who had recently joined up. They had not seen each other for a year, and there must have been much catching up to do as the younger brother, now having gained the respect due to the tested troops, talked with his older brother whose feet were just beginning to toughen up from the long marches. Not only was this a family reunion, but the companies they belonged to were packed with men from Holmes County–men they knew well–had gone to church and school with–had harvested each others crops–and now were called upon to protect each other’s lives.

The day after Christmas, a steamboat took the troops to the Johnson plantation beside the Chickasaw Bayou. The battle that started the next day, the opening of the campaign against Vicksburg Mississippi,  was hopelessly difficult.  The 16th Regiment’s beloved Col. DeCourcey an Englishman who had volunteered service with the Union, did not believe his troops should have been given orders to make a suicidal attack on a bluff on December 29. The Southerners had brought in reinforcements and commanded the high ground  But General William Tecumseh Sherman was reported to have said, “We are going to lose 5000 at Vicksburg. We might as well lose them now.”

A Disaster for the Union

Sherman’s later report on the battle still rankled twenty years later when Wolbach wrote in the Holmes County Republican that he must correct the record.  It was not true that the men of the 16th were not up to the job and refused to follow orders to attack. Rather, they did everything they were called upon to do until they were pinned down by such devastating fire that they could not move.

By January 2, 1863 Sherman had decided further attempts were useless, and he ordered the troops to withdraw.

208 Union men were killed, 1005 wounded and 563 captured or missing. The South lost 63 dead, 104 wounded and 10 dead. It was a devastating defeat for the Union, and a warning that Grant’s plan to capture Vicksburg was not going to be easy.

William is a Prisoner of War

On January 5, 1863, Erasmus wrote home that he hoped that William was taken prisoner (rather than being killed.) He had no idea of the fate of his brother, who had been captured on December 29 and held in Pearl River Bridge camp, near Jackson Mississippi, where he was held as a prisoner of war until November the following year. The camp was built in and around a covered bridge. The prisoners of war were not allowed blankets. They could not build fires for warmth or cooking, or light candles because of fear of fire. Although that camp caused much illness and many deaths–probably including a lingering lung ailment for William,–the camp at Jackson was nowhere near the horror of Andersonville (Fort Sumpter).  See a sketch of the unusual setting here.

Sad News Greets His Release a Year Later

On November 10, 1863, the men who had been captured were released to join their comrades in Algiers, Louisiana  There, Wolbach reports, the men had a good time catching oysters and clams in the bays. Perhaps William survived because he was young and used to hard living.

Surely Will would have written to his family, and learned from them that his brother Erasmus had died at Vicksburg May 22, 1863, five months after Will’s capture. Sad news to follow the joy of his own release from the prisoner of war camp.

I lose track of Will’s wartime path at this point, although I know that some of the men who had been held as a prisoner of war were given a furlough and rested at home for some months before returning to their regiments.  I do know that Will continued to serve until the OVI 16 was dismissed on November 4, 1864.

Did he see further battles after being held as a prisoner of war? Did he join the enormous march in Washington D.C. to celebrate the end of the war? That I do not know.

I will write more later about Will and his life before and after the war.

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Leonard Guy Anderson, who is the son of
  • Joseph Anderson, who is the son of
  • John Anderson and Isabelle McCabe Anderson, the parents  of
  • William McCabe Anderson

Notes on Research

United States Federal Census, 1860, Ohio, Holmes County, Monroe Township.

United States Federal Census , Veteran’s  Schedule, Ohio, Holmes County Monroe Township The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Number: M123; Record Group Title: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs; Record Group Number: 15; Census Year: 1890

Holmes County (Ohio) Republican, series entitled Camp & Field, by Capt. Theodore David Wolbach. Published Feb 24, 1881 to August 17, 1882.  Accessed at the website dedicated to the 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 

Letters from Erasmus Anderson, from copies provided by a relative, published at Ancestors in Aprons.

Bent’s Fort, Book Gives A Close-Up View of a Distant Relative

Charles Bent (1799-1847); William Wells Bent(1809-1869); George Bent (1814-1846); Robert Bent (1816-1841).

Wouldn’t it be nice if every ancestor we researched had been investigated by a meticulous scholar, and written about in an exciting and readable book?  Definitely too much to ask for in most cases–but in the case of the Bent brothers and Bent’s Fort, we can read a close-up of their lives in a book.

When I was writing about the Bent family--relatives and descendants of my 7x great-grandmother, Martha Bent How— I made a brief reference to “Charles Bent and his brother.” Charles Bent and his siblings were descendants of Martha’s brother Peter and the sons of a high achiever who went west to St. Louis and became a judge.  As I wrote earlier:

The judge’s son, Charles Bent, served briefly as the first American Governor of the Territory of New Mexico.The National Park Service maintains a fur trading fort Charles Bent and his brother established on the Santa Fe Trail: Old Bent’s Fort.

Bent's Fort

Bent’s Fort

During the Mexican War, the fort served as a base for the troops of American General Kearney. General Kearney  appointed Charles Bent as Governor of New Mexico after the Mexican War. He served from September 1846 until soldiers of the Pueblo uprising killed him in January 1847. (For those keeping track, Charles is the 4x great-grandchild of John Bent through Peter Bent. That makes Charles my 5th Cousin, 4x removed.)

A Closer Look at Distant Relatives

That reference was enough to make me curious to get a look closer at the lives of Charles Bent and that “brother”, which it turns out included three brothers and a sister and the children of all the above.

After reading all about the place, in David Lavender’s book, Bent’s Fort. I also would like to get a close-up view of Bent’s Old Fort.  [Picture from The Boomer Culture.com]The reproduction  that is pictured above now stands as a National Historic site. It’s Colorado location, just north of New Mexico, would fall within the range of a reasonable road trip from my home in Arizona.

Others besides Historian David Lavender have written about the Bent brothers, but none as thoroughly and in such depth.  His book, a close-up not just of the Bent brothers–mainly Charles, William, George, and Robert focuses on the second son, William a bit more than Charles, but only because Charles life was cut short.  We also hear the fascinating stories of Williams half-Cheyenne sons, also named Charles, George and Robert, who to varying degrees “went native” in the bloody post Civil War period when Western Indians fought in their last gasp attempts to retain their land and way of life.

Bent’s Fort and Western History

Charles Bent’s first ventures west of St. Louis coincided with the enormous fur trade when beaver skins drew hunters and trappers–the rough mountain men and canny merchants–into uncharted territory.  Without realizing it, they were preparing the way for an influx of settlers and farmers who would follow the roads they developed and weave through the mountain passes they discovered and radically change the very idea of the United States.

This map shows the history in capsule form.

Soon after Charles started working in the fur trade, he decided to become an independent trader. His younger brother joined him on the westward treks from St. Louis to the territory still ruled by Spain, and called New Mexico.  That territory include most of today’s New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and a little Texas and Kansas, too.  But the traders, including the Bent brothers, were not only dealing with mostly roadless wilderness, and Indians who were hostile one day and wanting to trade the next, but they were also dealing with a foreign government if they proceeded into New Mexico.

William oversaw the building of Bent’s Fort and they settled there with surrounding Indians–mostly Cheyenne–to selling goods. The Bent’s kept expanding their business–Taos, Santa Fe, other trading post/forts, and constantly changing political situations.

Through this book, I learned about a slice of American history in the early 19th century that somehow had escaped me.  As Beavers became early extinct and Beaver hats were no longer fashionable, the emphasis switched to buffalo skins.  Methods of transportation shifted from boat to foot and mule, to wagons pulled by mules, to wagons pulled by oxen, and eventually the railroads moved in about the time that the buffaloes disappeared. And Bent’s Fort, under the management of the Bent brothers, adapted to the changes.

The Conclusion for the Bents

The outcome for my relative, Charles Bent, was not so good.  After long years of trying to work fairly with the Indians and the governments of the United States and Mexico, he was made the first Territorial Governor of the newly American New Mexico.   It was a brutal time, medieval in the execution of “justice” and revenge on all sides.A few weeks later, Taos Pueblo men angered that some of their own were imprisoned, attacked Charles’ home in Taos. Although his wife and children escaped, Charles was brutally murdered.

William also had worked so well with Indians that no less than Kit Carson declared him the man who knows the Indians better than anyone.  Nevertheless, the U.S. government dragged its feet on a peaceful settlement with the Indians that William proposed.  The Army had already taken advantage of his good will by camping at the fort without paying rent, and when they proposed buying the fort, he burned it down, moved upstream and built a new, smaller trading home.

William tried to civilize his children, but the book shows that  sending them to St. Louis for their education wound up having little effect on two half-breed young men. His daughter who married a trader, also wound up living with Indians, and the results for the children were devastating.  Except for his son George, who lived to dictate his memories of the stories that came from Bent’s Fort.  Those memories fuel much of the book by Lavender, although he disproves many of the details of George’s family legends.

The Book

Many of the names of traders and soldiers who passed through the Bent territory were familiar to me. You’ve heard of Kit Carson and perhaps of Jedidiah Smith or Jim Bridger and  General Kearney. All these passed through Bent’s Fort from time to time. But that just scratches the surface of the men (mostly men) whose stories we hear.  Perhaps some of your ancestors were there, too?

If you want to learn about the beginning the Mexican war that finally made the United States an ocean-to ocean country; if you are curious about the lives and wars of the Native Americans in the west; if you had ancestors who joined the great western migration–you will learn much from Bent’s Fort.


For a guide to all the stories I have written about the Bents, go here.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, the daughter of
  • Vera Stout (Anderson),the daughter of
  • Hattie Morgan (Stout), the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett (Morgan),the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Stone (Bassett) the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Howe (Stone), the daughter of
  • Israel Howe, the son of
  • David How, the son of
  • Martha Bent How, the daughter of
  • John Bent, Sr., who is the 4x great-grandfather of Charles, William, Robert and George Bent, sons of Silas Bent (1768-1827)