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Showing posts with label Kyle Bradley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kyle Bradley. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

FINDING EMMA'S GRAVE

A recollection of recent events by her 2nd Great Grandson
Kyle R. Bradley I want to share a fantastic experience I had recently and I want to share it with people who understand what a thrill this experience was for me however, it requires a bit of a back story to give you the whole story. Before I begin and first and foremost, I would like to extend a huge Thank You and a shout out as well as a hearty handclasp to Jeff at the WyCo Kansas Museum for his genuine interest in my search and for all of his help. His enthusiasm and extensive knowledge of all things Wyandotte County are a blessing! Seriously, Thank you again Jeff, I couldn't have had this moment without you!
THE BACK STORY When my father started tracing our family history in the early 1980’s home computers were just making their way onto the scene and were used more for organizing collected information than for building family trees so the research he was doing then, though not really that long ago, was certainly not what it is today. Making trips to the libraries, local museums, archive centers, courthouses, churches and cemeteries was standard practice whereas today we sit comfortably in front of our computers searching records that once only existed in the basement of a country church or the back room of a small town courthouse, sometimes halfway around the world! By comparison, today we study census records at our leisure on Ancestry.com instead of going to the library, we view headstones on Find-A-Grave and Billion Graves instead of strolling through the cemetery, we have birth records and death records and photos at our fingertips and instead of thumbing fondly through an old family album, we sit late at night in front of our computers clicking on thumbnails! We can virtually globe hop and visit the birthplace of our 3rd Great Grandparent in a foreign country. How amazing is that? All of these things we do with a few simple keystrokes! In this day and age, you can create an entire tree and never even leave the house! Now please understand, I am not condemning the “new age” genealogist! I will be the first to admit that I am as guilty as anyone of the sit at home electronic kind of research. In fact, that is a big part of why I had to tell this story! It is amazing what rewarding results a bit of footwork can produce!
THE RESEARCH
When certain family lines go stale and I have hit that proverbial brickwall I will move on to another line for a time and in this case, I began following up on some hints in my paternal Grandmothers line. Her name is Eleanor Louise Bates



Eleanor Louise Bates was born February 28th, 1913 in Bethel, Wyandotte County, Kansas to parents Vernon Howard Bates and Louise Marie Orlowski. Eleanor married William John Bradley on Oct 5th, 1935 in Liberty, Missouri. She lived her entire life in the Kansas City area and died on April 17th, 1988 at the age of 75.
Moving back through the years we meet Eleanors father, my Great Grandfather Vernon Howard Bates, we learn that Vernon was a simple farmers son from Ohio. Vernon was born March 16th, 1885 in Fostoria, Seneca county, Ohio to parents Willis Clark Bates and Emma Louise Bucher. By the time Vernon was 10 years old his family had moved to Kansas City Kansas. He married Louise Marie Orlowski on April 14th, 1906. Sometime between 1890 and 1895 his family made their way to the Kansas City, Kansas area via Tebo, Missouri. Vernon eventually 'made good' and from the fruits of his farm and his hard work, he was able to open a small grocery in Bethel, Kansas, located a few miles west of where he had lived with his parents as a teenager. On a cold February night in 1932, at the age of 46 years, Vernon Howard Bates was shot to death with his own gun in a botched robbery of his grocery store but that, of course, is a story for another day.

 
















 
In looking back a bit further we come to Vernon's parents, my 2nd Great Grandparents, Willis Clark Bates and Emeline Louise Bucher. Emma, as she was known, would marry Willis Clark in September of 1880 in Tiffin, Seneca co. Ohio.

They would have four children that we are aware of. Eldest daughter Minnie was born in 1883, next was my Great Grandfather Vernon mentioned above. He was born in 1885. Both of these children were born in Ohio. As stated, by 1895 Willis and Emma had made their way to Kansas City with their two children. As those children grew up and moved out of the parents house something would happen that would change their lives. In my genealogical research I have found it was not unusual for a woman to have children up into her late thirties and even into her forties but in this case, Willis and Emma had not had any more children in the fifteen years since Vernon’s birth in 1885 so when Emma became pregnant in 1899, it may have been a surprise to the aging couple. Now whether the pregnancy was planned or not, in the hot July summer of 1900, a set of twins were born to the couple. Sadly, these twins would die at birth and also claim the life of their mother. Emma died in July of 1900, four months after her 41st birthday. The details of the births and deaths are not entirely clear at this time and is another mystery yet to be solved. Now, I had saved a couple of hints for Emma a couple of years ago and had never followed up thoroughly on them. One of them was a Kansas Death and Burial Record, 1885-1930. On this record is listed the burial place of Emma Bates as Woodlawn in 1900.
 
Name:
Emma Bates
Gender:
Female
Race:
White
Birth Date:
abt 1859
Birth Place:
United States
Death Date:
30 Jul 1900
Death Age:
41
Burial Place:
Woodlawn
Marital Status:
Married
Residence:
2806 N 8 St
FHL Film Number:
1605148



Source Information:
Ancestry.com. Kansas, Deaths and Burials, Index, 1885-1930 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: "Kansas Deaths and Burials, 1885–1930." Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009, 2010. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records.

Description:
This database is an index extracted from almost 40,000 death and burial records from Kansas.
How could it be that I had missed this clue to something that was possibly right under my nose! Immediately I searched the web for Woodlawn Cemetery in Wyandotte County, Kansas and got several hits, including the two most popular gravesite web archives, and although this cemetery has many interments that are available for viewing on these sites, Emma Bucher Bates was not among them. A quick search on Google Maps confirmed that Emma’s residence listed in the above mentioned death record is only three city blocks from the Woodlawn Cemetery. The address is the same in a couple of early Kansas City Directories as well. I was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas, in Wyandotte County about 15 miles west of what I now know is the location of Woodlawn Cemetery. I am familiar with the area though I had never been to this cemetery. I now live across the state line in Missouri about 25 miles from Woodlawn. For two days I pondered making the trek across town just to ‘check it out’. Well, Saturday morning rolls around and I am sitting at my computer alone in the house as my wife was running her Saturday morning errands with the grandkids and it was a beautiful, sunlit, early fall morning. Far too nice a day to be cooped up in the house and besides, with winter fast approaching, there may not be many more days in the coming months that are beautiful such as this one.

THE FIRST LOOK


In my research in the preceding days I had found out that Woodlawn Cemetery is considered an abandoned graveyard, officially “closed for business” and no burials take place there any longer. I wasn’t sure what that entails and wasn’t sure what to expect but past experience tells me that's not generally good for the upkeep and condition of the cemetery or the headstones. With my camera in hand, a folder of family group sheets and a packet of what little information I possessed on Emma I decided to head over to the cemetery and look around. As I pulled up to the cemetery the first thing I notice is the front gate is open! That’s always a good sign. Having read earlier that it was abandoned had me thinking it would be locked up tight and/or overgrown to the point of being inaccessible. A sign beside the gate gave reference to a phone number to call for information about this cemetery.


Of course I called straight away in hopes of getting more info but being it was Saturday, all I got was a voicemail for the WyCo Museum. After leaving a short message and having no faith that anyone would ever return my call, I headed into the cemetery. Now, understand that this cemetery may be "closed for business" but it is surprisingly well taken care of and much larger than I had anticipated! Where in the world would I start? There were so many graves. I started in the North West corner and began walking the rows. I would do what I could with what I had and that day I walked a goodly portion of the cemetery. I took pictures of several interesting headstones, I brushed the dirt from a headstone that was all but inundated by earth, I sat in quiet thought as I ate a granola bar for lunch. I surmised that I had covered maybe one tenth of the stones and all I could muster was a heavy sigh! I left the cemetery that afternoon having had a wonderful walk but alas, having only the information from the earlier mentioned index and more stones than I could look at in a week, I had no luck locating Emma’s headstone, that is, if she even had one. I was beginning to think this was not going to be as quick and easy as I had hoped, I mean, I had envisioned walking up and down a few rows and stumbling across her headstone with crisp lettering and maybe a verse or two for posterity carved into it. Well obviously it was not meant to be, not on this day anyway! I took a few more pictures and headed back to the car. I would go home that morning somewhat disappointed but hopeful nonetheless.
Woodlawn Cemetery THE PHONE CALL
I spent the rest of that weekend searching the internet for any little clues that might provide some insight as to the location of Emma’s grave, all to no avail. In fact, at the time of this writing, we have yet to find a death certificate for her so you can imagine my delight when Monday morning rolled around and I get a call from the WyCo Kansas Museum. Someone was actually returning my call! His name was Jeff and he tells me they had taken over control of the cemetery and their museum extension office housed what records still existed for it. After a brief introduction and explanation of my search and filling him in with some pertinent information concerning Emma and Willis, he promised he would look into it and get back with me as soon as he had anything to pass on. Maybe they had information for Willis as well! In my excitement about possibly finding Emma’s grave I hadn’t thought about that possibility! You see, according to records I have found, in 1915 Willis was still living in the same residence as the time of Emma’s death. We believe he died in 1918 in Kansas City. Is it possible he was buried beside her? We ended the phone call with his assurance that he would email me a copy of the plot layout map for Woodlawn before close of business that day. Needless to say, it was a long day at work that day waiting on that email but sure enough, that afternoon he emailed me the plot layout map and had marked an X in the oldest part of the cemetery, indicating the general location of Emma's grave. He had found it!


THE MAP

Once I received the map I realized that the previous Saturday I had been searching on the complete opposite end of the cemetery from where Emma’s grave was. Comparing the map Jeff had sent me to a satellite map online it was obvious that the surrounding residential neighborhood had been encroaching upon the cemetery for the last century and many of the headstones in Emma's area had been buried, removed, relocated or vandalized and broken beyond recognition. I would find out later that there are actually headstones in the yards of the houses that border the East side of the cemetery.

In putting all of this together, I didn't have high hopes that I would be able to find her stone but that afternoon as soon as I got off work, with the latest information in hand, I would head back over there to look anew. Afterall, Jeff had told me previously that if I had any problems locating it, do not hesitate to call him and he would talk me in! As you can well imagine, I was getting excited at the prospect of finding her stone!
THE SECOND LOOK
You must understand, this all took place in the fall of last year and when I arrived in the general area of Emma's grave there was, at the very least, a foot of fallen leaves covering everything and in spots they were three feet deep! Her grave I was told was located along the extreme eastern edge of the cemetery, along a fence row that long ago, what had not been demolished completely, had fallen into serious disrepair. All that remained were a few stumps with rusted wire and overgrowth where the vegetation had grown up around the fence that used to be there. I can imagine the day of Emma’s funeral, the now tattered fence likely new with shiny and taut wire, the hot July sun beating down upon them, her two young children standing near to father, saddened by their mothers passing. I looked up and down along the fence line and at first glance I could see no headstones. Being so close to the houses along this side of the cemetery I dreaded the thought that her stone had been destroyed but with a sweeping of my foot I began to clear some of the leaves along what appeared to be the first 'row' that was not in the neighbors yard and uncovered a couple markers that were broken, illegible and fallen over face first buried in the soil. At this time I actually considered putting the search off until the spring. It would certainly make the search easier when the concealing blanket of leaves had blown and decomposed enough to reveal even the tops of any remaining stones but after some luck finding a stone or two with a name that I could actually read, I decided to call Jeff and see if he could help! I read him the names of the few that I could make out and he immediately tells me, "You're to far South, you need to walk North!" so I headed Northward up what I thought was the ‘row’ until I again could make out a name and date on one the few remaining stones and gave Jeff the information and I heard paper rustling as he turned pages in the index and then "Whoa, now you're to far North!" he said. By this time I was beginning to feel like I was just not meant to find her grave as I could not see any stones between "to far south and to far north". Jeff suggested I take another look so I grabbed a nearby fallen branch and using it as a makeshift rake, began to clear leaves from the area in between "to far" and "to far" and about halfway through I uncovered a small white stone! Was this it? Was it Emma’s grave! It had to be! Would I be able to read it? As I scrambled to clear away enough debris to make out the name you can imagine my disappointment to find it marked ‘INFANT’. The inscription also included “child of L.D. & Gertie Summerwell Sept 20 1900”. This child died just two months after Emma’s death! Even though it wasn’t Emma’s, I could feel we were getting closer. A mere two months separated this unfortunate child's death and my Great Great Grandmothers. The earth they had layed upon Emma’s grave had not the time to settle when they buried this child.



Next to this stone were two more stones that appeared to have shifted and been knocked over and unfortunately, also illegible but Jeff seemed confident that these must be this infants parents. I was getting excited! As I relayed all this info to Jeff I could hear the excitement in his voice too! "You're getting close now! The infant is buried in the North end of plot #897” he said. “Grave #5, the infants parents are to the South in grave #'s 4 and 3 and Emma is buried in grave #2, in the same plot as the infant!" he exclaimed!


At this point, it was as simple as counting backwards! Raking a few more leaves aside I finally uncovered what looked like an old sandstone marker, illegible but in the right spot! Had I finally found it? After a century and 13 years, was I actually standing at my 2nd Great Grandmothers grave? I fell into a reverent silence for just a moment until I realized that I was standing there with my phone still in my hand and Jeff was still on the line. I wonder now whether that happens to him very often. I told him I thought I had found it and he seemed almost as thrilled as I was. After graciously thanking him and probably overdoing it, I did remember to ask him about any record he may have found for Emma’s husband Willis. With a sigh he explained to me that the records for Woodlawn spanning the years 1913 through 1934 unfortunately had burned up in a fire. He could not confirm that Willis was buried next to her, or even that he was buried in this cemetery but he certainly would not discount it. The search for Willis continues. After a short conversation about the ravages of fire and flood and their devastating effects on the genealogical community I thanked him for all of his help yet again and before hanging up he assured me he would keep my number and if any additional information were to surface he would call me.



THE REFLECTION Standing alone in an abandoned cemetery, no noise but the rustling of leaves in the breeze, looking at this weather worn block of stone, I was speechless! It truly is hard for me to explain the feeling that came over me right then. With the crisp and gentle fall breeze blowing and the leaves fluttering down from the huge oak tree standing nearby, I experienced a moment of solitude, serenity and reverence that I cannot describe. It was an amazing feeling and it literally brought a tear to my eye. The thought then occurred to me, I would not be standing right here, right now, if not for the woman who lay in this grave. The journey she made through life and her eventual untimely death. Had any one simple little thing been different in her life, it most certainly would have altered my eventual existence. I know this is true for any one of my ancestors that have come before me but the fact hit me hard that particular day, I would not be here if not for her. I still wonder too, could this be the final resting place of my 2nd Great Grandpa Willis Clark Bates? Could he be resting in grave #1? Under my breath I cursed the fire that destroyed those records. No visible stone and no record to mark his passing. We may never know if that be his grave but I would like to think he is laid for eternity here next to his young wife. In the searching for the roots of my family tree I have found that moments like this are why I do this. I am blessed with getting to know the lives and the struggles of my kin that came before me, the joyous occasions they witnessed as well as the tragedies they experienced. For that and for them, I feel that I am obligated to keep turning over the leaves and brushing away the clutter that if left unattended, will ultimately cover up the history of ME!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Thoughts on the early life of William Henry Bradley (1874, Zanesville, Oh. - 1967, Kansas City, Ks.)

A Share on the search for ancestors Kyle Bradley



My name is Kyle Bradley and I was born in Kansas City, Kansas in June of 1963 to James Harold Bradley and Sandra Gail Stott. My mother Gail is a sweet and endearing woman and in the interest of my love for her and mostly for her gentle feelings, I promise soon to put pen to paper and record my thoughts on my lineage from her lines also but alas, as the purpose of this particular essay is to reflect on what is known of my fathers line, regretfully I shall have to save the Stott story for another day. James Harold Bradley was born to William John Bradley and Eleanor Louise Bates in Kansas City, Kansas in 1936. This we know first hand as at this time, I am most certainly blessed to have my father with me in this, the living world, even as I write these words.

Now, his father William John Bradley was born just a shy two years after the Great Kansas City Flood of 1903 in a small part of Kansas City known as Quindaro Township. I mention the flood of the Kansas and Missouri rivers of that year in large part for it's overall relevance to this essay, and in small part because it raises the first in a series of questions surrounding the early life of the subject of this composition, you see, it has been told to me for as long as I can remember and my Grandfather wrote of it in his 'papers', he was born upon his parents houseboat that was moored at the confluence of these two rivers. The account as told by him, to my father, and in turn told to me is, that an unnamed 'mid-wife' delivered young 'Bill' in the cold and early spring of 1905 to William Henry Bradley and German immigrant Franziska Johanna Overfeld. Aha, so finally you say, we arrive at the mention of the man to whom this narrative is given over to, I give to you my Great Grandfather, the only 'known' patron of my family's surname, William Henry Bradley. Let me say it once again, William Henry Bradley! Franziska "Francis" Overfeld pic below


You may think the introduction excessive and repetitive but let me explain. Over the course of these last five years, in my search to find my roots, I most assuredly have typed this name at least a thousand times and at this point, another hundred will likely not be enough to answer the questions we have about his early life, not to mention any hope of verifying the names of any one of his family that came before him. Does this frustrate me? Most certainly! Does this drive me to find more? Categorically! Does this discourage me from continuing my search? Absolutely not! I will continue scouring the census records. I will continue pouring over the birth records. I will not cease to post inquiries on the blogs and social media forums. I will pry what little information I can from the files tucked away in the backs of libraries, courthouses and archives.

The first incident that brings questions to mind is the record we have of William Henry in the Wyandotte County, Kansas Farmer Directory of 1921. A brief explanation of this record is in order and I obtained this information only from the hard work of Debra Graden. Wyandotte County, Kansas Farmer Directory, 1921 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 1999. Original data: Kansas Farmer Mail and Breeze, Wyandotte County Directory.
Ancestry.com keeps this record on their site and information concerning it appears as follows in quotes.
"In 1921, Wyandotte County was the most populous county in Kansas. With Kansas City within its boundaries, this is not surprising. Hundreds of thousands of people have lived in the area since Kansas was granted statehood. This database is a collection of records from the "Kansas Farmer Mail and Breeze," printed in 1921 and lists farmers and breeders in the county. In addition it includes the township in which the farm was located and the date the farm was settled. Researchers of ancestors from eastern Kansas may find this collection of over 9100 records helpful in their search. Ancestry.com regrets to inform you that Debra Graden passed away unexpectedly. Photocopies of the original data will no longer be available upon request. We are grateful to Debra for the long hours she contributed to making her databases such useful resources to so many people."
Here is the information as it concerns William H. Bradley:
Name: William H. Bradley
Post Office: Kansas City, Kan. R4
Township: Quindaro
Settled: 1903
Page: 181


This is very good information indeed and I was absolutely thrilled when I came across this! My Great Grandfather in 1903, settling his farm in Quindaro, Kansas. The name is right! The time is right! The place right! To this very day, it is in fact the earliest reliable record that we have found for William H. What a find you say? Well, yes, it is, but...this is the thing, must there always be a "thing"? Okay, the thing about this record is, I suppose right up to the rivers bank could be considered "Quindaro Township" and being such it is reasonable to assume that William was known in town and considered to be a member of the community, however, a houseboat is certainly not a farm and besides, it is said that William lost all in the flood of '03'! By the record above, Williams farm was settled in '03', the year he lost everything on the river! It is the most logical thing to think that William moved inland and settled. This casts serious doubt about the houseboat birth of William’s son in 1905, two years later! We will get back to this but maybe it is time to backtrack just a bit and fill you in on what we do know about William Henry Bradley, as told to me by my father James who was told by his father Bill and in turn by his Grandfather William. William maintained throughout his life that he was born in Muskingum county Ohio in a town by the name of Zanesville in the year of 1874 and the month of March. Fair enough! That is all good and well and obviously worked well enough for the duration of his 93 years in this earthly realm. In 1874 it was not a legal requirement in Ohio to obtain or record a Certificate of Birth and in the absence of a church or a family bible to write such things down, we rely on family oral history and the selective memories of aging people for names, dates and places of occurrences such as this that took place well over 100 years ago!


In 1965 or so, my Grandmother Eleanor, Bill's wife, after questioning William about it, wrote down what we now consider to be the family history and the members of William’s family. According to William’s stories, his parents were 'older' when he was born. His fathers name was John and his mothers name was Gertrude Pax or Packs. Nowhere have we found definitive proof that this is true but it is all we have to go on at this point! His older sisters name was Mary and she was old enough that William remembered her, more or less, raising him as a mother would. This makes one wonder, and it was not unusual for a young daughter to find herself with child yet no husband! Could Mary have been the unwed mother of an illegitimate child? Did her parents, in an attempt to protect her reputation, claim the child as their own? Were his 'parents' in reality, his "Grandparents"? Stranger things have happened and actually it was not an uncommon occurrence considering the lack of legal requirements for record keeping! William went on to say that he had two brothers as well and their names were John and Adam. Whether brothers or Uncles or both is unclear but this is his recollection. It is thought that Williams family was not well off by any means and were likely as poor as could be, living in the 'sticks' outside of Zanesville, or some other small Ohio town and it was a hard and trying time for a young boy in his position. Now Adam was, we think, the closest in age to young William and it is said that the two of them left home and started down the Ohio River on a raft they themselves had built when William was around twelve to fourteen years old. He told stories of his youth on the rivers, making a dollar a day, here and there, shagging logs in the mill towns along the river, winding down the waterways of Ohio like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn! Is it coincidence that the well known author, Mark Twain, published his works on Tom and Huck in 1884 and 1885 when young William would have been just eleven years old? The stories of the river life told in those novels pages would have sounded mighty fine to a lad who didn't have much to look forward to or aspire to in the backwoods coal mining area of Muskingum County, Ohio.




I have often wondered if William lied around on the banks of the Muskingum River on the hot summer afternoons, dreaming and romanticizing the idea that he too, like Tom and Huck, could float the river and be free from the chores and the watchful eye of his elders, the town folk and the constable. It makes a great story and sounds believable enough but there is the possibility that none of this ever took place, except in Williams riverside dreams, and having heard or read those Twain tales, later in life this may have been an easier and more romantic past for him to remember and it certainly sounded better, more exciting and adventurous, than his own real story which was likely one of hardship, hard times and hard knocks. As his story continues he told his grandsons, James and Larry, that he and his brother Adam made their way down the rivers as far as Cairo, Illinois where the Ohio River meets the Mississippi and, as brothers are wont to do, they had a falling out. At this point, they go their separate ways and to our knowledge, William never again had any contact with any of his family. It is hard for me to imagine what it would be like at 17 or 18 years of age to face the prospect of never seeing my loved ones again. The question for me looms large; Did he really even have a family? There was at the time, during the years of William’s youth, 1874 to 1890, a very well known children’s home, an orphanage named, The McIntire Children’s Home of Zanesville.



The home even had a baseball team! Is it possible he was an orphan of another name that ran off from "the home" and upon being asked, assumed a name that he picked up or made up along the way? Perhaps he never knew who his parents might be? Parents or no, we pick up where we left off with William and Adam feuding in Cairo, Illinois and parting company for the final time. For years I have heard my father and his brother Larry talk of the fight and, only half in jest, propose that William done his brother in with a konk on the noggin, threw him in the river, changed his name to William Bradley and made his way to Kansas City. We know only one part of that story to be true for certain and that is that eventually William made his way to Kansas City. The method and the timeframe are as sketchy as the previous occurrences so we will put the events in a timeline up to this point and reflect on what we know, or 'think' we know. William was born in 1874 in Zanesville. He leaves home at 12 years of age or so in 1886 to 1888. Picture of Mills from Wayne National Forest


It is possible that they lived on the river throughout his teenage years floating the Muskingum River to the Ohio, down the Ohio to the Mississippi river, working the mills along the way, begging, buying or stealing meals and supplies in whatever little river towns they could, perhaps he made one of the towns along the river his home for a period of time. We can only estimate William arriving in Cairo, Illinois around 1890 or so. As traveling up the river would have been tremendously difficult on a raft made for floating down the river, could it be that William worked his way to Kansas City by other means? At this point I think we must explore other possibilities concerning Williams’s whereabouts during this period of his life. We look at William’s marriage to Franziska Overfield. We are uncertain as to the date that William met Francis. We know that William was in Ohio off and on from 1875 until as late as 1900 and must have been there between 1890 and 1900 as Francis did not arrive in the states until 1891 and to our knowledge, never lived anywhere except Ohio. If the 1910 census is to be believed, they were married in 1897. When asked the census question, “How many years married?” they responded, “13 years”, or 1897.



Over the years there have been a couple of different stories about the wedding of William and Francis. One of those stories, told long before we ever ran across this 1910 census record is that they were married in 1897 in Ohio, and had a two day celebration after the wedding. However this does not fit well at all with what we find in the census record of 1900 as in that Census record in East Liverpool, Columbiana co. Ohio in 1900 we find Francis living with her sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth and John Miebach, she is listed as single and used her maiden name. Maybe she didn’t want her sister to know she had already married or if her sister gave the information the enumerator, maybe she hadn’t been told of the marriage. When and where did they meet? East Liverpool is quite some distance northeast and ‘up’ the Ohio River so it is unlikely that William made it up that direction in his travels but I suppose it is not impossible. Perhaps he was employed by a company that made excursions up the river to Liverpool in the course of the transport of pottery goods that East Liverpool was noted for. I am also looking for a connection such as relatives of Francis that may have lived further west that at some time she may have been visiting when she met William closer to Zanesville.


It is possible, and has been said in family circles that her family did not approve of her courtship with William as she was of a very staunch German Catholic family and we think that William likely had no religion to speak of. As a matter of fact, as late as 1905 he was still poking fun at religion when he stated on an informational form concerning himself that “In case of accident, notify: “The Devel”. Was it possible they had eloped and wed with few knowing about it, that they were keeping it a secret and therefore she used her maiden name when the census taker ‘came ‘round’? If it was a secret, who then was in attendance at the supposed ‘two day party’? A second story that relates somewhat to the marriage, although a marriage is never mentioned, is that of Francis’s departure from Ohio and her arrival at Kansas City. Francis and her sister Elizabeth did not get along well, her sister was a harsh and demanding woman and living with her, Francis was no more than a chamber maid and servant. Sometime after the 1900 census, she could take it no more and about 1903 she hired a coach to take her and her trunk to the train station in the night. She stole away to Kansas City to meet what was either her husband or her fiancĂ©, depending on what timeline we follow. Upon arriving in Kansas City shortly after the 1903 flood, she claimed William, having lost all possessions in the flood, had nothing but the shirt on his back and the remnants of a houseboat that was now tied up along the bank of the Missouri River near Quindaro Township, Kansas City, Kansas. Were they married after 1903 when Francis arrived? Where they ever really married? These questions remain unanswered. And so the story has come back around to the Farmers Index mentioned earlier that lists William settling his farm in Quindaro. The couple made a home right there on the rivers bank. We have a document written in 1905 in Williams’s handwriting in which he states his address as “Quin. & Mo. River” reinforcing the stories we had heard all these years. In their matrimony they were gifted in March of 1905 with a child, my Grandpa. As my Grandpa tells it, when he was just a lad, he would help his father tend to their garden/farm that was on the bank just a bit inland from their floating house and the actual owner of that land, whether in spite or for reasons unknown, put a fence up along the river bank as to keep William off of his property and prevent them from working their garden. When the ‘old man’ left the area, William and his son pulled the fence posts and used them for fuel in their stove and chucked the fence wire in the river. The rest of the story is, as they say, history and the record that remains from this point going forward is fairly concise and we believe to be correct. He lived out his life as a member of the Kansas City area, worked as a union sheet metal man and was also a carpenter and roofer.


William Henry Bradley died in October of 1967 when I was but five years old and my memory of him is faint and fleeting and mostly comes from the few pictures we have of him, all dating after 1910, but I do remember sitting on his lap and poking my finger through the hole in the thick smoke rings he would blow with smoke from his pipe. His son, William John Bradley, my Grandpa, lived until 2006 and died at the ripe old age of one hundred and one. Most of the information included in this essay comes directly from my Grandpas recollections and his writings about his life and times. He wrote extensively in the later years of his life and I cannot describe to you what a treasure it has been to go back in time with him as he told tales of growing up in the early 1900’s. Oh how I wish I had asked more questions! Oh how I wish he were here now to answer them!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Vernon Howard Bates 1932 Murders

A share from Kyle Bradley from FB Ancestry Page:






Vernon Howard Bates, his wife Louise M., and kids, including my grandmother, Eleanore Louise Bates Bradley, lived in this house. Vernon was shot and killed on the front porch during a nighttime robbery while his daughter Edith slept in the back room. The front half of the house in 1932 was a grocery store, they lived in the back.

This is the only known photograph of my great grandfather, Vernon Howard Bates. he was born in Foster, Seneca co. Ohio in 1885, married Louise Marie Orlowski in 1906, had nine children, one of them my grandma Eleanor, and was murdered in 1932 near the porch of his own grocery store in a botched robbery attempt. The grocery was located a mile north of Leavenworth Rd. at 63rd St. The porch the burglars stood on while shooting him and the house that his grocery occupied is still standing. Pictured with him is his son, Willis Charles Bates. This picture was taken in 1930, about two years before Vernon's murder.