Monday, December 08, 2008

The Heirs of Emily Bair

Last Thursday morning I finally connected with the lady that works in the Whitley County archives and was able to view the guardianship file for the minor heirs of Emily Bair.

There weren't very many papers in the file (packet #544), but more than enough to generate additional questions! (Click on the image for a larger version.)

On April 11, 1877 Franklin H. Bair was appointed guardian for his four surviving children:
Franklin H. Bair Jr., aged 13 years, Jany 22, 1877
Charles C. Bair, aged 12 years, March 14, 1877
Florence E. Bair, aged 5 years, March 17, 1877
Lulu Bair, aged 3 years, Dec 23, 1876
I could be wrong about this, but it seems a bit unusual to me that the father would have to be appointed guardian of his own children. Usually a guardian was appointed when the father died. But, perhaps it was because Emily owned real estate!

Before I get any further into what was in the file, I think I need to address the matter of the ages and dates of birth of the first three children. I didn't know about Lulu before so have not done any research on her except that there is no marriage record for Lulu (or Lula as she is mentioned in the other documents) in Whitley County and she has not been found in the Whitley County census records. I'm presuming that she was deceased by the time of Franklin Sr.'s death in 1917 since she was not mentioned by name in his obituary.

According to the guardianship file, Franklin Jr was born January 22, 1864. He was age 6 in 1870 and 17 in 1880. The cemetery transcription for the Franklin in Burnett County, Wisconsin gives his date of birth as June 12, 1862. The 1900 census (Black Hawk County, Iowa) gives his date of birth as June 1862. Census records for 1910-1930 support 1862 as his year of birth. It is possible that he is not the right person. However, the name of his wife, Nettie, is the same as the woman that Franklin Jr married in Whitley County in 1886.

On to Charles who was born March 14, 1865 according to the above document. In the 1870 census he was 5 years old. I haven't found him in 1880, but in the 1900 census (Christian County, Illinois), his birth date is given as October 1867. Subsequent census records support 1867 as his year of birth. Again, it is possible that he's not the right person. But in 1920, he is living in Pana, Illinois which is where the 1917 obituary of Franklin Sr. says he was living.

Then there is Florence (aka Flora), born March 17, 1872. Her middle initial is definitely an "E" and not a "C" in all instances where it is found in the guardianship file. In 1880 her name is given as Flora Cathy, she was 8 years old, and living with the family of William H. and Catherine Dunfee in Columbia City. She was listed as 24 years old when she married M. C. Leaman in October 1898. In 1900, Flora C. Leaman is listed as born in Mar 1875. In 1910 she is 36 years old; in 1920 she is 40; and in 1930 she is 54 years old. In the Naturalization Index, the birth date for Flora Katherine Hampton was March 14, 1874. As Randy said, changing names sure doesn't help with tracking her. Neither does inconsistent ages and birth information!

Okay, back to the guardianship file.

A document filed April 29, 1877 describes the location of the lot in Columbia City that Emily owned. It would be interesting to find out how and why Emily owned property that wasn't also owned by her husband! Anyway, the document further states that the "lot does not yield a sufficient income to pay the taxes; that said wards are all young children; that this guardian their Father is a poor man working by days labor to sustain said wards; that he has no home for them and is compelled to board them in other peoples homes at great expense; that it would be to the interests of said wards to sell said land and apply the proceeds to their support."

There was no document in the file to indicate when the land had been sold but apparently it was.

On September 26, 1885 Franklin H. Bair filed a report with the court stating that "he has received from the estate of his said wards the sum of one hundred and forty dollars and that he has disbursed the same according to law as follows towit: for board for said wards to John J. White during the year 1877, one hundred and thirty four dollars. For school books for said wards during the year of 1875 about six dollars. That the said sum of one hundred and forty dollars was the amt rec'd from the sale of the real property belonging to said wards."

All four children were listed as wards. There were no records in the file for other years. I'm not sure, but I think he should have been filing reports annually.

A year later, in September 1886, William H. Dunfee petitioned the court on behalf of Florence stating "he has kept maintained supported and schooled said ward ever since the death of said Emily C. Bair and for more than 10 years that she has lived with him and in his household all of said time. . . " that "said Franklin Bair guardian of said wards sold their lands. . . he has failed refused and neglected to make proper report of his duties. . . and has failed and neglected to provide for his said wards. . . wherefore he asks the court to remove him from his trust and from all other and proper relief. . ."

On December 11, 1886 William H. Dunfee was appointed guardian of 14 year old Florence E. Bair. There was no mention of Franklin Jr., Charles, or Lulu. By that time, Franklin Jr. would have been 22 years old, Charles would have been 21 and Lulu would be 10 years old (based on their ages in that first guardianship document).

There were no additional reports made by William H. Dunfee. On May 29, 1888 William passed away. Florence (Flora) would have been 16 years old.

What's next?
  • I've requested copies of the obituaries of Franklin H. Bair (Jr), his wife Nettie, and his daughter Myrta, from the Burnett County Historical Society Research Library. Hopefully, they will provide some useful information - like the names of parents, where they were born, etc. (I can hope can't I?)
  • Try to find out when and where Flora Katherine Hampton died.
  • Locate the land record for Emily's purchase of the lot in Columbia City.
  • Locate the land record for when the lot was sold by Franklin.
  • Hope that a descendant of Franklin H. Bair and Emily Robison see these posts and that they contact me!
For additional information on the Robison family refer to Robison Family - Index to Posts

1 comment:

Apple said...

I'm not too surprised at the birth years changing census to census but the month of birth? Odd. It is sad that the children were boarded out after their mother's death. I hope they ended up in loving homes.