About Me

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Just to tell you a little about myself, my name is Vickie and I was born and raised in Kentucky. The majority of my ancestors have been in Kentucky since the 1790’s. I have always loved history, a good mystery and puzzles and that is what Family History Research is all about. As a child we would take day trips on Saturdays and head down some dirt road looking for old cemeteries. A lot of the time we weren't looking for anyone in particular, we just like to read the epitaphs. We would have a picnic lunch packed and have lunch at whatever cemetery we were at. If the weather was bad my Dad and I would go to a courthouse and dig through old records in musty old basements looking for our ancestors. So as you can see I have had an interest in Family History for quite some time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Memories

I was just remembering some of the things my Daddy told me about him and his family during Christmas time when he was a kid.  Things were real tough, there was never enough of anything, money, food, clothes, etc.   He said if they were lucky they might get some oranges and some hard candy to share.  He didn’t really remember getting any kind of toys growing up, unless one of his older half-brothers, William or Harold bought them something.  Daddy never knew any of his grandparents they had all died before he was born, except for one, Rose Daniel Beard and she died when Daddy was four and he had never meet her because she was living in California.

One of the stories Daddy told me about was when he was around 5 years old, so this would have been the winter of 1939 or 1940.  They were living in an old house out by the Love Graveyard in Crittenden County, Kentucky.  The house was not weather proof at all, cracks in the walls and no insulation.  That winter whenever it would snow they would wake up in the morning with a thin layer of snow on their very thin blankets.  The four boys, George, Don, Jack and my Daddy slept in one bed and their three sisters, Helen, Dale and Sis slept in another all in the same room.  The baby, Bobby was in the room with their parents.  Daddy being the youngest in the bed, thankfully was able to sleep in the middle, but he said he was still so cold, poor George and Don were on the outside and they only had one thin blanket for all of them to use on each bed.  How none of them didn’t catch pneumonia and die is beyond me?

Daddy said that was a pretty rough year, his parents had been bickering and fighting and two years later finally got a divorce.  Daddy said his sister Helen would always try and fix something tasty for Christmas with the little food they had available.  I think this is why my Daddy always wanted to make sure me and my siblings always had a wonderful Christmas and we never went without.  I now know as an adult that we didn’t always have very much money either, but Daddy made sure we were always warm, fed and clothed and there were always presents under the tree.

Now my Mom on the other hand never had a lot of money in her family either, but her memories were so much better than my Daddy’s of the Christmas’ she and her family had growing up.  Mom said there was always lots of love in whatever they found in their stockings, be it candy, oranges, or a little toy.  My Mamaw and Papaw, my Mom’s parents, never had much as children growing up and so they made sure their children had a nice Christmas, it might not have been much, but it was the thoughts and the actions that counted.  Mamaw was a fantastic cook and there was always plenty on the table, no one ever went hungry at their house.

Mamaw and Papaw’s house was always full of love, not just at Christmas, but year round.  So many of my most special memories are going out to that little house on the hill in Henderson County, Kentucky on Christmas Eve and all my Mom’s siblings and their families would be there too.  All of us cousins would be lined up wall to wall in blankets on the floor in the living room with the Christmas tree in the one corner.  We would all be talking and laughing and Papaw would holler in, “you kids better be settling down or Santa Claus ain’t never going to be showing up”.  We would giggle and laugh a little more, because we knew Papaw wasn’t going to come out of his bedroom, but we would settle down and soon we would all be out like a light.

There might have been a handful of presents under that tree on Christmas Eve, but somehow in the middle of the night that little pile would be gigantic on Christmas morning and never mind that there could be ten to fifteen kids laying all across that floor around the tree.  How they got those presents under the tree without any of us waking up is still a mystery, because believe me, my cousins and I tried our hardest to stay awake and catch them, but we never did.  I just love the following pictures of Mamaw and Papaw on a Christmas morning a long time ago.

The next picture is of me with our oldest daughter, Elaine in 1980.  She is the only one of our kids to be able to spend Christmas Eve at my Mamaw and Papaw’s house.   We never lived close enough when the other kids came along to be able to do that.  That horse Elaine is setting on was given to her by my Aunt Iva and Uncle Roger and she played with that thing forever and then when her son, Elijah was born he got to play with it too.  Elaine now has it setting in her bedroom, because the wheels are a little bit wobbly now, of course that horse is 36 years old now.  It’s time to let him rest in the pasture.  This picture is a little sad too, because Papaw is no longer with us and neither is Little Guy.  Papaw passed in 1994 and Little Guy in 2007.  We sure do miss all of our family who have gone on to their heavenly home, especially at Christmas time.

My memories of Christmas when we did stay at our house and not go out to Mamaw and Papaw’s are pretty good too.  Sometimes we didn’t live close enough to go to their house and we all missed doing that, but Daddy and Mom always made Christmas special.   Mom could never make any small meals, so there was always plenty to eat and she was just as good of a cook as her Momma, my Mamaw was.  We always had plenty of toys, candy, books, clothes you name it.  Somehow my Daddy and Mom could sneak in and place presents under the tree and hide things that we never could find or catch them at.

When our kids were growing up we would alternate between my parents and my in-laws and so our kids got to spend time with both sets of grandparents.  We live in Utah and my parents were also in Utah and Roy’s parents were in Arizona, so it was either snow or sand, but fun times in both places.  My Mom would make your traditional Christmas meal of ham, turkey and the fixings and Roy’s Mom would make enchiladas, chili rellenos, tacos and always have fresh tamales from Mrs. Zamora.

Now as an adult with kids and grandkids of my own, I hope that they too will have special memories of Christmas with us, and with their grandparents.  

May we all always remember, that the reason for the season is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and his love for each and every one of us.

Merry Christmas to all of our family both near and far and to all of our friends as well and too all of those in heaven looking down and watching over all of us.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Violet Joy Beard Mahan

‘Aunt Sis’

I never thought I would get a call that said my dear Aunt Sis was gone, until much later.  She was healthy as a horse she always told me and she was only on one prescription, she was proud to say.   She had gotten up Friday morning fixed her cup of coffee and probably her one piece of toast with a little peanut butter spread on it.  She had then set down at her kitchen table opened her newspaper and started sipping on her coffee.  Thankfully Uncle George was able to go out to Clovis this past summer with his niece, Crystal, Uncle Jack’s oldest daughter and visit with Aunt Sis.  Here is a picture that Crystal took while they were there.  Crystal said, that if they were setting down it was always together and they would hold hands the whole time.  Aunt Sis told me they had a wonderful visit and Uncle George told me about his visit to when I called and talked to him.

Her morning routine was to eat her toast, drink her coffee and then check the weather for the areas where her family lived.  She always checked Kentucky for Uncle George and Uncle Bobby’s area, then Oklahoma for her sister, Dale’s family there, then here in Utah for my family, then she would check and see what her area was going to be like.  She next would look at all the obituaries and she loved to read about what was happening in Hollywood.  Once she was done she would get ready for the day, usually turn on the TV watch a little news, she didn’t like to watch very much, because she said it was so depressing anymore.  More than likely she would watch episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond or The Big Bang Theory, she had all the seasons for both on DVD and she had her favorite episodes as well, that she would watch over and over.  She loved Elvis too and had a number of DVD’s of him singing or his movies that she also watched over and over.

Uncle Norris had left me a message on Facebook to call him and when I finally saw the message I did just that and he told me that he had tried to call her a couple of different times yesterday morning and when she didn’t ever answer he had his caretaker, Steve, run over to the house and see what was going on.  The house was locked and Steve went around to the back to look in the windows and saw her slumped over on the kitchen table, she had never finished her coffee.  I am so thankful that she was able to go so quickly and that now she is with her siblings and her parents that have gone on before.  She missed them so much and would talk about all of them for hours.  I know she was welcomed with loving arms by all of them and my Daddy is probably singing some of her favorite songs right now.

Back in 1997 my Daddy, her little brother, Tog, had written a short little bio about each of his nine siblings and here is what he had to say about Aunt Sis.  “Violet, or ‘Sis’ as most of us called her, was the first one of the Beard children to graduate from high school.  She graduated from Woodlake Union High School in June 1953.  (This is in Woodlake, California).  After a trip to Kentucky to visit Mother and Pa, she came back to Woodlake where she dated and then married, Norris Dean Mahan in December 1954 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  She and Norris raised their three children and still live in the Fresno, California area.   Sis worked for David & Sons, packing and processing sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and other munchies for many years and retired from the job in 1995.  She is one of those rare gals that never seems to age.  Her hobbies that I know of is collecting antiques and going to yard sales.  She has a bumper sticker that reads, "This Car Breaks for All Yard Sales".  Sis is a special sister and friend.  She has had a lot of trials in life but is always able to overcome them with a smile.”  My Daddy thought the world of her and of all of his siblings.

Violet Joy Mahan was the daughter of Aubrey David Beard, 1895-1974, and Jessie Doss, 1899-1984, and the twin sister of Jackie Loy Beard, 1934-2004.  Aunt Sis and Uncle Jack were born in Providence, Webster County, Kentucky.  The following are some pictures I have seen and scanned, showing Aunt Sis and her twin brother, Jack, with their mother and with their father.

Aunt Sis and all her siblings had your typical childhood, but it was pretty rough sometimes though.  Food was scarce and the homes they lived in sometimes let the rain and snow blow through the cracks and onto the beds they slept on.  Aunt Sis didn’t like to talk too much about when she was a kid, but every now and again when I was visiting she would tell me little stories here and there and my Daddy told me lots more so I can kind of fill in some blanks.   In 1942 the Beard family, containing, Aubrey, Jessie, and their children Helen, George, Dale, Don, Jack, Sis, Tog and Bobby were living on Walker Street in Marion, Kentucky, this was an unusual place for the family to be living as they had mostly lived out in the country somewhere their entire life.  As a matter of fact, on the 1940 census they had been living out by the Love Graveyard, so they hadn't lived in town for very long.  Jessie’s two oldest sons, William Teague and Harold Walls were both in the military and serving overseas or getting ready to go overseas in the war.  Aubrey was working as a general contractor at the time, as he had been for many years.  His specialty was paper hanging, and he was the best in the area according to many that knew him.  Aubrey and Jessie didn’t have a very good marriage and were separated off and on and finally in 1942 they got a divorce.  The divorce decree stated that seven of the children, Helen, George, Dale, Don, Jack, Sis and Tog were to live with their father, the baby, Bobby, to stay with his mother. 

When I was back home in 2012, Uncle George and Uncle Bobby told me that the house they had lived in by the Love Graveyard was still standing and they told me how to find it, so I went and took a picture of it.  It was pretty cool to stand there and listen to the wind blowing through the trees and thinking about my Daddy and all his siblings living there and playing there.   Here is what it looked when I was there.

Here are some more pictures of Aunt Sis and her siblings.  The first picture is Harold, Helen, George, Don, Dale and the twins, Jack and Sis, in the buggy.   Next is one I have always loved, Aunt Helen is setting in the doorway, then from left to right is my Daddy, Tog, then Uncle Jack in the middle and Aunt Sis beside him.  The next Aunt Sis doesn’t look to happy but her world was being turned upside down around the time this picture was probably taken.  The last picture was probably taken around Woodlake somewhere and Aunt Helen, who my Daddy always called his other mother, has her arms around Aunt Sis and Uncle Jack.

It was shortly after the divorce that Aubrey took his seven kids and left Kentucky for Woodlake, California.   Woodlake was where Aubrey’s mother had lived and where his sister, Nina and his brothers, Duell and Petieman were living.  They left Marion, Kentucky and went over to Princeton, Kentucky and caught a train for California.   They were on a military troop train for most of their journey.   Aunt Helen told me about all the military men and how handsome so many of them were and that she flirted all the way across the country.  The trip started out to be fun and exciting for these poor little Kentucky kids, but it also was a very long, dirty, boring and exhausting ride for kids who were used to running wild all over Crittenden and Webster Counties.  Jack even got lost for a while and Helen and George and some of the soldiers on the train helped the family look through all the cars for him.  For a while there they thought the 8-year-old boy may have somehow gotten off the train at their last stop, but thankfully he was sound asleep right under the seat where Papaw Beard was setting.  Aunt Sis said she really didn’t remember any of that train ride even though she was eight years old at the time.  Daddy remembered quite a bit and Uncle George remembered even more when I ask him about the trip.

After the family arrived in California things were pretty tough until Papaw Beard could get a job and get them all settled.  They lived with Aunt Nina and Uncle Clyde for a little while, then they lived out at McGee’s Camp on the outskirts of Woodlake and then finally Uncle Duell, Papaw Beard’s brother, told them they could live in the house he had built for their mother if Papaw Beard took care of Uncle Petieman their handicapped brother.  Papaw Beard agreed and they moved into that little house on Walnut Street in Woodlake, here is a picture of that house with Uncle Duell’s car in the driveway.  Daddy always said it was the nicest house he ever lived in as a kid.  Aunt Sis told me lots of stories about this house and how much she loved living there.

Aunt Sis was pretty popular at school from everything I have heard, she was a beautiful young woman and was the first of her siblings to graduate from high school, which she did in June of 1953.   Aunt Sis went back to Kentucky right after graduation to visit her mother and stayed for a little while but came back to Woodlake and soon started dating Norris Mahan.   They were married in December of 1954 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The following are just a few pictures of this beautiful Aunt of mine.  In the one picture she is with her cousin, Peggy Lou, Aunt Nina’s granddaughter.  The last two pictures in this section is of my Daddy and Aunt Sis who are in the middle and two of their friends and then Aunt Sis in the front a friend in the middle and my Daddy on the back.

Aunt Sis loved all of her siblings, but she and her sisters had a very special bond.  I have a few pictures of her with these sisters, Aunt Helen and Aunt Dale, man did she miss them after they both had passed away.  The first picture is in about 1938, then about 1947 and then about 1951 probably.  Then Aunt Sis with some of her siblings in later years, from left to right Tog, Helen, William, Dale, Sis & Bobby.

Aunt Sis and Uncle Norris would have celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary this next month.  They became the parents of three children, Karen, Debbie and Brian, and the grandparents to ten grandchildren and one great-grandson.  Aunt Sis sure did love her family and was always telling me about what each of them were doing, she was proud of all of them.  Uncle Norris was so heart broken when he told me yesterday about Aunt Sis, I know he loved her very much and will miss her every day.  The following are some pictures of them and their family.

The first picture is of Aunt Sis and Uncle Norris right before they got married, then shortly after.  Next, Debbie, Brian and Karen.  Finally, Aunt Sis and Uncle Norris with their three kids.  Then Aunt Sis and Uncle Norris in later years.

Brian took his Mom back to Kentucky in 2015 to see her brothers, George and Bobby and they had a wonderful time.  She was so happy that she was able to go back one more time to see her old home and to see all of her family there.  The following are a few pictures that were taken on that trip.  With her brothers, George on the left and Bobby on the right.  Then with her brother, Don’s kids, Aaron, Cindy, Glendal and Becky, and then with a couple of her brother, Jack’s girls, Joy in the one and Crystal in the last one.  She loved all of her nieces and nephews and they all loved her too.

My husband, Roy worked out in Fresno for five years going out there pretty much every month until February of 2015.  I went with him just about every time and would drop him off at work and then go to visit with Aunt Sis and Uncle Norris and spend the day with them while Roy was at work.   Sometimes I would take Aunt Sis and we would drive to Woodlake.  She always wanted to go to the cemetery and then drive past the house on Walnut Street.  It is still standing, though it has been remodeled and added on to so that it no longer really resembles the old house she lived in as a child.  We always drove past Aunt Helen’s house too and once Billy was home so we stopped in and visited with him for a little while too.  I took her up to Sequoia National Park a couple of different times and we would stop in Three Rivers and have ice cream at the little shop that she said had been there for a very long time.  She loved her ice cream that is for sure.

I have sure missed my visits that I had with her, but I know she is in a better place with her parents and her siblings who she missed so very much.  I had just sent her a card last week with a picture of the dolls she has given me over the years and how I had found a place for them to display in my updated office. 

Karen sent me a text and sent me a picture of the card and the picture that was on the counter at her Mom’s house.  Uncle Bobby called me yesterday and he is so sad and heartbroken too and he said Uncle George was taking it pretty hard too.  He just wanted to let me know that he loved me and that he prays for all of us all the time.  That is what family is for and I am so happy I was able to go visit her and get to know her better than I ever had before.

Aunt Sis you were loved and will be missed by so many, tell my Daddy and my Momma hi for me and I love all of you so much.

Written by her niece, Vickie Beard Thompson on 20 Nov 2016

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Jens Adolph Thomsen aka James Adolph Thompson

Born: 22 Oct 1860 in Åby, Århus, Denmark
Married: 15 Dec 1889 in Bush Valley, Apache County, Arizona Territory to Sarah Etta Mortenson
Died: 16 Oct 1926 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah
Buried: 19 Oct 1926 in the Salt Lake City Cemetery
Oldest son of Hans Adolph Thomsen and Karen Karoline Sorensen

I have never seen a life story for Jens and so I decided to write one up myself.  If anyone that is reading this notices any errors or anything they think needs added to his story, please let me know.

Jens was the third child of his parents.  His parents had heard about the Mormon’s and soon listened to some missionaries and were both baptized in Denmark in 1861.  By 1863 they had gathered enough money for the family to leave and go to Zion.  So Jens along with his father, mother and three sister’s left from Denmark and made their way to England and the port of Liverpool.   From Hans A. Thomsen’s record book he states: “30th of April 1863 traveled from Aarhus with my family.  Making their way down the coast of Jutland to the River Kiel then across the sea to Hull, England and from there through England to Liverpool where they were housed in a large barn like structure for two days, along with many other Saints.” 

Hans was 28, Karen was 29, Mette Marie was 6, Ane Marie was 3, Jens Adolph was 2 and Sofie Frederikke was 1, when they left Liverpool for New York City.  They sailed onboard the B. S. Kimball, leaving Liverpool on May 8, 1863.  After a crossing of approximately 5 weeks they arrived in New York Harbor on June 13 and were permitted to come ashore on June 15, 1863. 

There were 657 members of the Mormon Church onboard this vessel.  Four deaths occurred during the crossing and two babies were born and a number of couples were married during the voyage.  In the evening of the same day they were allowed off the ship the emigrants continued by train to Albany, New York.  The company then proceeded to Florence, Nebraska from which place the journey across the plains was to begin for them.  Jens and his family crossed the plains in the John F. Sanders, Company in a wagon drawn by oxen leaving on June 6, 1863 and arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in the first week of September, a journey of almost three months.

We know from Hans Adolph Thomsen’s journal that they lost their three little girls to death along the way to Zion.  I am sure this was a very traumatic time for young Jens.  He may not have known exactly what was happening being as young as he was, but I am sure he would have noticed the somber countenance of his parents and others who lost children along the way.  He would have also realized his sisters were no longer with them in their wagon.

From a letter dated March 25, 1900 from Hans Adolph Thomsen in Colonia Pacheco, Mexico to a Brother Petersen, Hans wrote the following about the crossing to Utah.  “We got on a steamboat on the Missouri River, where a little boy drowned.  Kjarkens Tims came to the river where we left the steamboat and went to Florence.  We waited there while everything was finished to depart across the country with ox teams.  I had a little girl who died there and an older one died when we had traveled about 200 miles.  Our oldest daughter died when we were between Salt Lake City and Lehi.  Over 60 children died in this company.  On this trip our Captain’s name was John Sanders from Fairview, Sanpete County.  We arrived at Salt Lake on the 5th of September.”

They had left Denmark a family of six and by the time they arrived in Utah and were on their way south to Sanpete County, they were down to just the three of them, Jens, his father, Hans and his mother, Karen.  A new country, a new language and a new religion.  They soon found them a place and settled in the little town of Fountain Green.  Soon more children arrived to not replace, but to help with the loss of the three little girls.  The first child born to Hans and Karen after they got to Utah was a little girl, who as was Danish costume was given all the names of her sisters who had died before she was born, thus Ane Mettie Marie Sofie Frederikke, fifth daughter of Hans and Karen was born on June 13, 1864 in Fountain Green.  She died in childbirth with her third child.  Followed by Karoline who died when she was two, Hanssina, Soren Christian, Hyrum Adolph (murdered by Apache Indians when he was 18) and Peder Engmar (Peter Elmer, my husband, Roy’s grandfather).

For the next 18 years the family lived there in Sanpete County or at the fort in Monroe, as Indians were still rather wild during this time.  

Jens, father, Hans was a soldier in the Black Hawk Wars there in Utah and was wounded quite severely.  The following is the story as told by his daughter, Mary Ann Thomsen Hawkins, who gave the story as told by her father.  “After being hit by a flying arrow, he dropped to the side of his horse thus using the animal as a shield to his body, but was shot in the thigh that held him to the horse.  He was very weak from loss of blood and prayed for strength to get through.”  From another source the following is told: Journal History, page 3, April 5, 1868 states, “A company under Frederick Olson, numbering 22 men and 4 boys with 15 wagons were on their way to reopen one of the settlements in Sevier County.  On April 5 near Rocky Ford on Sevier River early in the afternoon they found they were being followed by the Indians.  They immediately corralled their animals to prevent a stampede and prepared for an attack.  An express was started to Gunnison and Richfield, one man to the former and two to the latter.  On the express to Richfield one man, Adolph Thomsen, was mounted on a tired horse which the Indians soon detected, pursued him and he had to turn back.  Another party of Indians tried to cut him off, when five men from the camp came to his rescue; but not before he received a bullet in the right thigh and an arrow in the left side.  He had to have part of his right foot amputated because the bullet in his thigh cut cords, nerves and veins running to his toes. “

Jens would have been eight years old when his father was wounded during the war, yet another traumatic event in this young boy’s life.  Things were not easy in the territory of Utah during his growing up years.  In the spring of 1869 the Thomsen’s moved to Spring City, also in Sanpete County, where Hans acquired a lot.   Though badly crippled he managed with Karen’s and Jens help to fence his lot with poles cut and brought from the hills and to support his family. 

I believe the following pictures of Jens and his parents was probably taken in the mid to late 1870’s, as Jens looks like he is probably about 14 to 16 years of age.

In 1875 Jens, father, Hans was asked to take a wife in polygamy, Jensine Christensen.  This woman had been married previously in Denmark, but her husband was a drunk and very abusive.  She had a young son who was just an infant when his father came home drunk one night and killed him.  Soon after she meet Mormon missionaries, joined the church and came to Zion.

Hans and Jensine had two daughters together, Mary Ann Thomsen, who was born a couple of weeks after Peder Engmar and Christena Alvina who was born two years later.  Now the family was up to eight living children.   Karen and her children lived on Polk Street and Jensine and her girls lived on Walnut Street just around the block from each other.

Hans was called during General Conference to go to St. Johns, Apache County, Arizona on April 6, 1881 in Salt Lake City.  Soon afterward accompanied by his 21-year-old son, Jens and 9-year-old Soren, they started for St. Johns.  When they reached the Colorado River it was too high to cross. They turned back and worked some time in a valley at or near Pioche on a railroad grading job.  They had left Spring City on September 20, 1881 and arrived in November of 1881 in St. Johns. 

Early in the spring of 1882 Hans, Jens and Soren returned to Spring City for the rest of the family. They traveled down to St. George where they stopped and did some temple work.  They had two four-horse outfits with wagons loaded to capacity with household goods, machinery and supplies driven by Hans and Jens, also a camp wagon with a single span of horses driven by Karen.  They had some saddle horses and twenty or thirty head of cows and heifers driven by Hyrum and Peter.  From St. George they traveled through Kanab, Fredonia, Kaibab Forest and Horse Rock Valley to the Colorado River.  It was a time of high water and they had to use a small boat because the big ferry was unmanageable in the swollen stream.  They had to unload everything, take the wagons apart, load them on the boat, ferry across, unload, reassemble the wagons, take the goods across and reload them, then swim the horses and cattle across.  After the river crossing came the long hard pull out of the canyon over Buckskin Mountain and the rocky ridge call Lee’s Backbone.  They reached their destination in St. Johns the latter part of May 1882.

In 1884 Hans was again asked to take another wife in polygamy, Elizabeth Pedersen Nielsen.  They were married in St. George and this time she was a widow woman from Denmark who had six children.  Hans and Elizabeth never lived together as husband and wife, but Hans furnished a home for her and her children and took care of all of them.  These six children considered Hans their father and they and their descendants, thought the world of him for taking them all in.

There were now fourteen children in this family and Jens was the oldest, Thomsen boy, but two of the Nielsen boys were slightly older then him.  These boys would have all started working at a very early age, helping with the farming, and the day to day chores to keep everyone feed, clothed and a roof over their heads.

Hans was called again on February 18, 1885 in St. Johns to go to Mexico and the colonies there that had been set up for the Saints.  Hans, took his wife, Elizabeth and two of her children and left for Mexico on March 22, 1885 and arrived in Colonia Juarez Wednesday, July 22nd having stopped along the way to work at various places.  Seemingly they arrived just in time to assist in laying out the now present site of Colonia Juarez.  As Fred Nielsen stated, “with a tool 16-foot-long of his own design and making Thomsen and Brother Moffat surveyed the ditches for the town and I was stake boy.”

In January of 1887, Hans returned to St. Johns for Jensine and their two daughters and started for Mexico.  They stopped in Deming, New Mexico for three months where Hans hauled freight.  While here they lived in a tent and daughter Mary Ann, told of an earthquake which rattled the harness hung on a stake near the tent.  In 1889 Hans returned to St, Johns for Karen, their three-year-old granddaughter Annie, sons Hyrum and Peter and step-son Fred Nielsen; all began their journey down to Mexico.  Karen drove a span of mules with the camp wagon.  Hans drove a four-horse outfit, while the boys handled the loose horses and cattle.

They traveled by way of Fort Apache, on down the White and Black Rivers to Gila, which was so high they could not cross with the wagon.  Here they ran out of bread so Hans swam his horse across, went to San Carlos and brought back 50 pounds of flour.  They traveled about fifty miles off the direct route to visit Jens, who was hauling lumber with a big team of horses, named Tip and Snip, using two wagons so as to haul more each trip.

Jens, now called Jim, was now in his twenties and he was hauling lumber, working as a cowboy and any other jobs he could find, but he was soon to find a young girl who would try and settle him down to one place.  Sarah Etta Mortenson was almost 13 years younger than Jim, but their families had known each other since at least 1863 as they crossed on the same ship and with the same wagon company and all lived in Spring City at one time.

Sarah and her family had left Utah after the 1880 census and went to Arizona where they lived in Bush Valley in Apache County.   I am not sure exactly how or when Jim ran into the Mortenson family again, but on December 15, 1889 in Bush Valley he and Sarah were married.

Jim was off working most of the time and was never really at home much to help Sarah with their children.  Jim and Sarah eventually had eleven children in their 37 years of marriage, before Jim died. Their children were: Violetta who was born in Bush Valley February 9, 1891; Caroline who was born in Luna, New Mexico June 19, 1893 as was James Adolph Jr. on August 17, 1895 and Elmer on December 2, 1897; Ernest and Etta who were twins were born down in Colonia Oaxaca, Sonora, Mexico on September 7, 1900 as was Mable Sophia on June 24, 1903; Clara Vernell was born in Douglas, Cochise County, Arizona on January 7, 1906 as was Ida Leona on August 15, 1908 and Zina on July 24, 1911 and Floyd M. on August 18, 1914.

While Jim’s parents were living in Mexico on a cool Sunday morning, September 19, 1892 renegade Apache Indians raided the ranch where Jim’s parents, his little brothers, Hyrum, age 18 and Peter, age 14 and his little niece, Annie, age 6, were living.  His father, Hans had left early Saturday morning to go with others to help harvest crops at the different ranches in the area, so Karen and the children were there by themselves.  Hyrum and Peter had gone out to do their normal morning chores, feed and water the animals, while Karen and her granddaughter, Annie were inside getting breakfast ready. Suddenly shots rang out and Hyrum fell dead in the corral and Peter fell has well.  Karen and Annie ran out when they heard the shots. I can only imagine her horror to see both of her young sons lying in what she was assuming was death out near the corrals.  She hurriedly hid little Annie under her dress when the Indians noticed her and came and bashed her head in with a rock.  Somehow little Annie stayed under her skirts.  Peter who was not dead, but severely wounded had somehow managed to drag himself under the chicken coop.

When the Indians came out of the house after raiding it, and saw that one of the boys was no longer lying where he had fell, immediately saddled up and took off in case he had gone for help.  Little Annie had crawled out from under her grandmother’s dress when Peter motioned for her to come to him.  They hid there for a while until they were sure the Indians were gone, before they went for help. Peter was shot and had lost a lot of blood and so could not go very far before he told Annie she would have to go on without him.  Remarkably it was Sarah’s father, James Mortenson, who was also living in the area, who felt prompted that something was wrong at the Thomsen Ranch and found little Annie in the dusk of the evening, walking towards him all covered in blood.  He sent out the alarm to all the adjoining ranches and got a wagon and went for Peter, who lay almost dead for over a month before he was finally able to get up and around again.

In 1910 Jim and Sarah and their children were listed on the federal census in Whitewater which is about 30 miles north of Douglas and where Sarah continued to live until the day she died on November 26, 1957.  She is buried at the Whitewater Cemetery on Mormon Road in Elfrida, Cochise County, Arizona.

Jim did not have an easy life; from the time he was small until he was a grown man tragedy seem to dog his every footstep.  We do not know his mind or what demons he had to deal with, but it seems to have caused him to wonder off on his own more and more frequently.

Sometime around 1914, Jim left home again and where he went is not exactly known at this time, but he ended up in Salt Lake City and that is where he was living when he died on October 16, 1926 and was buried at the Salt Lake City Cemetery which is up in the avenues area of Salt Lake.   He was at the County Infirmary when he died and a stranger was the informant on his death certificate.

These next two pictures are of Jim and Sarah, not sure when they were taken but you can tell they were older.

A number of years ago Wallace and Ruth Thompson, grandson of Jim and Sarah, ask me if I could help them locate his grave because they were going to be coming up from Arizona and wanted to go and see where he was buried.  I was able to find his grave and he did not have a tombstone at that time, so Wallace and Ruth had one made for him so that others could now find his grave.  The following is a picture of that tombstone that I took back in 2014.

Aren’t we glad we were born during this time, our trials maybe be different, but I am not sure I could have dealt very well with what Jens/Jim had to deal with from a very young age.  Never judge someone if you have never walked in their shoes, we don’t know what they may have gone through.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

John Franklin Evans

This story is about my husband’s, great-aunt, Althera McNeil’s second husband, John Franklin ‘Jack’ Evans.  Who was Jack Evans, and where did he really come from?  The first mention I ever find where I know it is really him is from an old newspaper article taken from The Argus in Holbrook, Arizona issue dated October 2, 1897.  It is talking about how Jack and Miss Belle Brewer had gotten married in Pinedale on September 28th at her parent’s place and says the following: “Mr. Evans shows what a man of thrift and enterprise may do.  He struck this place some six month ago with a burro and a corn cob pipe.  Now he has a wife and a half interest in a sawmill.” 

Other papers dated between 1897 and 1905 mention Jack as farming, moving from Taylor to Pinedale and back.  One paper mentions his wife having a son, which would have been their second son, John Franklin Evans, Jr. with Belle Brewer in 1900.   In another article in February of 1901 it states that Jack is home from the Gila where he has been since before Christmas. 

Then in March 1905 the paper mentions that Jack’s wife Belle has died.  I have yet to find any more mention of Jack in the papers anywhere in the state of Arizona after this article.  Anna Belle Brewer Evans dies on March 25, 1905 at Taylor in Navajo County, Arizona probably of the diphtheria that their two sons, Arthur Joseph Evans, died December 24, 1904 and Roy Edward Evans, died January 1, 1905 had died of barely three months before Belle’s death.  She had also given birth to her last son on December 12, just 12 days before her son Arthur had died, so it could have been complications of the birth that caused her demise too.  All three, Belle, Arthur and Roy are buried at the Taylor Cemetery in Taylor, Navajo County, Arizona.

Their tombstones have them all dying in 1904, but the only one who died in 1904 was Arthur and he was born in 1898 not 1897 and Roy was born in 1902 not 1901.   It makes me wonder if these tombstones were placed years after their death.  The above newspaper clipping is from the Holbrook Argus in Holbrook, Arizona issue dated April 1, 1905 which says that Belle had just died that past Sunday.

Jack and Belle had four sons born to them, Arthur Joseph Evans on June 25, 1898; John Franklin Evans, Jr. on March 20, 1900; Roy Edward Evans on March 15, 1902 and Ira Dewitt Evans on December 12, 1904.  John Jr. and Ira ‘Dee’ lived to have families of their own.  John Franklin Evans Jr. died April 25, 1977 in San Francisco, California and Ira Dewitt ‘Dee’ Evans died September 15, 1982 in Stockton, California.

A little over a month after Belle’s death, Jack remarried to a widow woman, Althera McNeil Petersen, whose husband, Vigo Petersen had died on August 15, 1904 in Pinedale, Navajo County, Arizona.  Althera had one daughter, Mary Frances Petersen, 1900-1967, at the time of her marriage to Jack Evans.

Jack and Althera were married on May 5, 1905 in Pinetop, Navajo County, Arizona.  Shortly after their marriage Jack took his two sons, John Jr. and Ira along with his new bride, Althera and her daughter, Mary Frances, and went to Colonia Morelos, Sonora, Mexico where Althera’s parents and some of her siblings had gone to live.  Jack’s mother-in-law, Betsey Crandall Brewer McCleve, Belle’s mother, according to family stories was not happy that her two grandsons were being taken so far from her and she prayed every day that she would live to see them again.

The following year Jack and Althera had the first of their three sons born to them.  Don Carlos Evans was born on February 9, 1906 in Colonia Morelos, Sonora, Mexico followed by Jesse Walter Evans on December 22, 1908 at San Pedro Mines in Cumpas, Sonora, Mexico and their last son, Logan Daniel Evans on January 11, 1908 at Halstead Ranch in Cos, Sonora, Mexico.  Althera’s father, John Corlett McNeil, had died of a stroke in Colonia Morelos, Sonora, Mexico in 1909 and her mother, Mary Ann Smith McNeil had gone back up to Arizona and was living and working in Douglas, Cochise County, Arizona.

The Mexican Revolution was going full swing and so around 1911 or so Jack and Althera and their children came up out of Mexico and back to Arizona and were apparently in Douglas by at least November of 1912.  Althera’s mother had gone up to Utah that fall to take care of her aged parents when she received a telegram from her son-in-law, Peter Elmer Thompson, Annie Frances’ husband (my husband, Roy’s grandparents), that said: "Douglas, Ariz. Nov. 23, 1912 to Mrs. Mary A. McNeil, Porterville, Utah Altha is very low may not live.  Annie".   Seven days later Althera died in Douglas on November 30, 1912 and was buried there in the Douglas City Cemetery.  John Evans ‘Jack’ was the informant on the death certificate.  Mary Ann Smith McNeil, Althera’s mother, was not able to get back home for the funeral and so she had stayed in Utah with her parents and was up there for at least another year after Althera’s death.

While at the McNeil Family Reunion in Showlow, Arizona in 2013 we started a collection to place tombstones at the graves of some of the McNeil’s and their extended family who did not have one.  Althera’s was one of those who did not have a marker.  We were able to get enough money to place markers on four graves, three of them in Douglas, Arizona.  Althera McNeil Peterson Evans, Alice Smith Gatliff and her husband Charles Gatliff who was Althera’s aunt and uncle and one in Salt Lake City.  The one in Salt Lake City was Althera’s great-grandmother, Mary Etchells Smith Dale.

I know that by June 30, 1913 Jack’s mother-in-law, Betsey Crandall Brewer McCleve, had all five of Jack’s sons, Belle’s boys, and Althera’s boys living with her in Taylor, Navajo County, Arizona as I find them listed on the Arizona, School Census Records for that year.  Where Jack went after this time is not known.  The last official record I have for him is being the informant on Althera’s death certificate and then I don’t pick him up again for certain until the 1930 census when he has apparently remarried to a woman named, Gertrude Agnes Sawyer and they are living in Florence, Pinal County, Arizona.

Where was Jack from November 1912 until I found him again in April of 1930 on the census records?  For almost 18 years he is missing from any records that he would normally have been on.  Jack’s sons all stay in the Navajo County, Arizona area for the most part until they are old enough to go out on their own.  Did he go back down to Mexico; or did he leave Arizona for another state?  The 1900 and the 1930 census state he was born in New York and his father was born in England and his mother was born in Scotland.  Census, tax records and his death certificate put his birth year anywhere from 1855 to 1865, but his birthplace of New York stays consistent.

His son, Ira Dewitt Evans, was the informant on his death certificate and he said his father was born in New York City in 1855.  The two census records, 1900 and 1930, place his birth year in 1857, though.  Ira also, says that Jack’s parents were both born in Ireland and that Jack’s fathers name was also John Franklin Evans, but his mother’s name was listed as unknown on the certificate.  The death certificate asks how long had the deceased lived in Arizona and the record says for 40 years which would put the year he arrived in the state at 1897 which matches up with the newspaper article in October of 1897 which stated he had first showed up in the area 6 months before.

John Franklin ‘Jack’ Evans died in Williams, Coconino County, Arizona on March 7, 1937.  His last wife Gertrude Agnes Sawyer, died the following year on January 1, 1938 and they are both buried in the Williams Cemetery, but there are no tombstones to mark their graves.  Jack’s son Ira Dewitt Evans was the informant on Gertrude’s death certificate as well.  So far I have not been able to locate a marriage record for Jack and Gertrude, if I could I would at least know a place to look for more records on him.

Jack must have kept in touch with his sons somehow because by 1934, Ira Dewitt Evans, son of Belle and Don Carlos Evans, son of Althera, were both living in Williams, Coconino County, Arizona and Ira was the informant on both his father and step-mother’s death certificates.  Ira was still living there in Williams in 1940, but Don Carlos had moved to California sometime after 1935 and was living in Fresno.

The following map shows Navajo County, Arizona and the towns where Jack, his wife Belle and wife Althera, all lived in at different times throughout the years as well as their sons.  I have circled the towns where they are mentioned as being in the most.  I circled Holbrook since that is where the paper was located that mentioned Jack Evans from 1897 to 1905.

Why am I writing about an in-law and not a blood relative this time?  The reason is because I received an email from a man who is friends with one of Althera’s grandsons.  This man is helping Althera’s grandson find out more about his family and in particular more about Jack Evans.  This grandson had heard a story when he was a young man in Arizona from an older gentleman who had known his grandfather, Jack Evans.  This older gentleman told him that Jack Evans was really Jesse Evans, the infamous/notorious bad man from the Lincoln County War in New Mexico in 1878.

From Wikipedia and for those that are not familiar with the Lincoln County War.  “It was an Old West conflict between rival factions in 1878 in New Mexico Territory.   The feud became famous because of the participation of a number of notable figures of the Old West, including Billy the Kid, sheriffs William Brady and Pat Garrett, cattle rancher John Chisum, lawyer and businessman Alexander McSween, and the organized-crime boss Lawrence Murphy.  The conflict arose between two factions over the control of dry goods and cattle interests in the county. 

The Murphy-Dolan faction were allied with Lincoln County Sheriff Brady, and supported by the Jesse Evans Gang.  The Tunstall-McSween faction organized their own posse of armed men, known as the Regulators, to defend their position, and had their own lawmen, town constable Richard M. Brewer and Deputy US Marshal Robert A. Widenmann.  The conflict was marked by back-and-forth revenge killings, starting with the murder of Tunstall by members of the Jesse Evans Gang.  Lawrence Murphy and Dolan also enlisted the John Kinney Gang, Seven Rivers Warriors and the Jesse Evans Gang, and their job was mainly to harass and rustle cattle from Tunstall's and Chisum's ranches, as well as being the faction's hired guns.  Frank Warner Angel, a special investigator for the Secretary of the Interior, later determined that Tunstall was shot in "cold blood" by Jesse Evans, William Morton, and Tom Hill.”  The article on Wikipedia goes on to tell some more about this conflict, but for now I will just stop with this part.

Here is what I have found out about Jesse Evans so far, from an official record and not just hearsay or fictionalized stories.  Taken from the Texas, Convict and Conduct Registers, 1875-1945 at Ancestry.com = Jesse Evans, age 27 (1853), born in Missouri, Register #9078, Huntsville Penitentiary, 5 foot 3/8 inches tall, 150 pounds, fair complexion, gray eyes and light hair.  He has two large scars on his left thigh, one full scar above his left elbow and another below his left elbow.  Not married, doesn't smoke (that seems unusual for the time), habits it says Int. (I am not sure what that means), occupation laborer, conviction date October 16, 1880 for murder & robbery, sentenced to 10 years for murder and 10 years for robbery for a total of 20 years, when arrested he was living in Fort Davis, Presidio County, Texas and his release date was scheduled for October 16, 1900.  However, he escaped on May 23, 1882 and he was never found and it is not known whatever happen to him. 

The following are copies of the two records found in this resource.

I have ordered a book entitled, Jessie Evans, Lincoln County Badman (The Early West) -1983- by Grady E. McCright.  I have heard this book is very well researched and so I am hoping there may be some clues to either prove or disprove that John Franklin Evans was Jesse Evans or he wasn’t.  I have also found a three pictures online that are purported to be of Jesse Evans, but none are 100% for certain really him.  The first picture is supposed to be Jesse Evans on the left and two of his gang in the 1870’s, but their names are not known.  The second picture is supposed to be of Jesse Evans and an unknown woman in about 1870.  The last picture is also supposed to be of Jesse Evans, but year is unknown, however I would place it in the 1870’s as well.  So far I do not know if a picture of John Franklin Evans exists or not, but I am on the lookout for one.

If our John Franklin Evans, aka Jack Evans, was really Jesse Evans, then he found a good place to hide amongst a bunch of Mormons in Arizona.  However, Jesse Evans had escaped from Huntsville Penitentiary in Texas in 1882 and Jack doesn’t show up in Arizona at least not that we know of until 1897.  Where was Jack/Jesse for those 15 years between 1882 and 1897?  Jack’s first two wives came from Mormon families, so it makes me think he must have been a smooth talker, because he wasn’t a Mormon and Belle was 23 years younger and Althera was 28 years younger than Jack.  Jack’s last known wife, Gertrude was 11 years younger than him.  If indeed Jack was really born in 1855, but add two more years if he was really Jesse and born in 1853, like the prison records say, either way he was a lot older then the three wives we know about.

What made these women, Belle, Althera and Gertrude, choose a man like Jack?  I know times were different back then and you had to do what you had to do to survive.  You would think if he had really been Jesse Evans, who from all accounts was one really bad hombre, and who murder was a common theme in his life, that they would not have given him a second look or even been around him to begin with.  Was Jack hiding from something or someone, without even being Jesse Evans?  He apparently just shows up out of the blue one day and smiles his way into a partnership of a sawmill and a young bride, then a little over seven years later he marries a young widow woman. 

Where was he before 1897 and where was he after 1912 and before 1930 and was his name really John Franklin Evans?  I know that Jack and Jesse were common nicknames for men named John back in those days, but is that just a coincidence?  I have been searching through old journals and life stories looking for any clues I can and if I find out more I will be sure and update this story.

So, what was it about Jack that drew these three women to him?  I am sure we will never really know, but I will keep digging to see what else I might find about this mysterious man.