Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm not in Kansas anymore!

Ah, there's no place like home. An old cliché but oh, so true. As much as I enjoyed the brief sojourn in Springfield and roaming around the countryside in eastern Kansas, and even though I was gone only ten days, it sure feels good to be home.

I decided not to go to Iowa. Mixed results and a bit of frustration in Kansas, combined with realizing that there really just wasn't enough time to do full justice to the search, and the fact that I was just plain tired, lead to the decision to head home yesterday. I got home at about 6 p.m. this evening.

On Monday, from Baxter Springs I drove west on US 160 towards Grenola, in southwestern Elk County. I stopped at the library in Moline, but it was closed. I was hoping they had a diagram of the layout of the cemetery in Grenola. On Sunday (11/18) I had found the transcriptions online for Rachel (Fisher) and John Harvey in Greenlawn Cemetery in Grenola, Greenfield Township, along with several of their children, in section "B". Rachel is the sister of my 2nd Great Grandmother, Louisa Fisher Phend. Rachel died February 18, 1899 and John died in September 1899.

Moline is a small town but Grenola is even smaller. It was about 3 p.m. as I drove down Main Street and I felt as though I was in a ghost town. Not a soul was stirring, not an open store in sight. At the end of Main Street was a sign pointing left that said "cemetery" so I turned. It was a narrow road and seemed like miles, but was probably only about one. The cemetery was on the left, on top of a hill. I turned into the cemetery on the first lane. It was huge. The sections weren't marked. I thought there was no way I'd find them. I drove down each lane, slowly, hoping I'd see their stones.

There have been several times when searching for ancestors that I've gone to a cemetery knowing they were buried there but not knowing where and walking directly to their gravesites. But alas, no such luck this time. I stopped and walked around for a while then gave up and drove on to Winfield, county seat of Cowley County. Rachel and John had moved to Harvey Township in Cowley County sometime between 1870 and 1880. Harvey Township is bordered by Greenfield Township, Elk County on the east, which is probably why they are buried in Elk County.

Tuesday morning I went to the Courthouse in Winfield. Their original marriage record books have been moved to the Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum in Arkansas City, about 12 miles south of Winfield. The Probate office has the records digitized on CD Rom discs and they charge $12 for a lookup if you don't have the exact date of marriage. Which of course, I didn't have. Just have an approximate year, and several names to lookup. I asked about Guardianship or Probate records since Homer, the youngest son of Rachel and John, was only 16 years old when they died. The index books didn't list them. The clerk didn't seem to know what the transcribed information online for Homer meant.

Next stop was the Winfield Library. They have a nice little local history section but I didn't find anything helpful there. I then went to the Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum. If you have ancestors or relatives that lived in the Winfield and Arkansas City areas then this place should definitely be on your list of places to visit. In addition to the Original Marriage Record Books, they have cemetery records, obituary notices, miscellaneous newspaper clippings, etc., etc. for COWLEY county, and lots of neat things on exhibit. I didn't find anything helpful in my search for the Harvey family except that it appears that none of their children were married in Cowley County!

Since it was "sort of" in the direction of my next destination (Iola, Allen County) I decided to go back to the cemetery at Grenola thinking maybe I'd get lucky this time. Nope. I walked through each section, up and down the rows, for about two hours. It was a gorgeous day. Sun shining, blue sky, not cold, just a little windy. Maybe John and Rachel and some of their family are buried there, but I sure didn't find them! Did get some exercise though.

One of Rachel and John's children, Lillian, and her husband Orlando Sellers are buried in Moline Cemetery so I stopped by there on the way to Howard, the county seat of Elk County. I found the cemetery but when I saw how big it was, bigger than Greenlawn, I turned into the first drive to turn around and leave. As I glanced to the right to check traffic, there they were, right up front, next to the road. Now, why couldn't that have happened with John and Rachel?

By the time I got to Howard the courthouse was closed so I went on to Iola. My intent was to spend Tuesday night in Iola then go to the cemetery and library, etc. to see what I could find on William and Minerva (Joslin) Knight. Minerva is a sister of my 2nd Great Grandmother, Malissa Joslin Brubaker Bower. William died in 1902. Minerva then married a J.N. Storey and reportedly died May 12, 1905 in a wheelchair on the street in Hot Springs, Arkansas. William and Minerva are buried in the Iola Cemetery.

It was dark when I got to Iola so I went to find a motel room, but there was no room at the inn. Three motels in town and they were all full. Nothing available in the nearby towns, according to the innkeeper. It was 50 miles or more north to I-35 and Ottawa, which was near my next destination of Lyndon. . . to be continued.

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