O Canada! Paul Huffman & Rebecca Crawford of Halton Co., Ontario / Loyalists Face a Disunited Empire / David Huffman & The Great Dunbar Nebraska Train Wreck of 1887 / Elizabeth (Finch) Huffman is Assertive

•August 17, 2014 • Comments Off

Here’s the solution to a family mystery that’s baffled everyone for decades:

Tyler Huffman, Federal Civil War veteran, was the son of Paul Huffman and Rebecca Crawford. They were my third great-grandparents.  Rebecca is said to have died giving birth to Tyler.

It’s known that Paul Huffman was born in Canada on 4 Aug 1817, and died on 25 Jun 1892 in Rome, Henry Co., Iowa.  In 1850 Paul Huffman was living in White Co., Indiana with his second wife, Azubah Washburn, whom he had married on 8 Apr 1841 in Fulton Co., Indiana.

But who were Paul and Rebecca (Crawford) Huffman?  Where did they come from?

Paul Huffman married Rebecca Crawford in Halton Co., Ontario on 2 Feb 1837.  The marriage bond is dated 25 Jan 1837.  Paul Huffman was of Trafalgar Township and Rebecca Crawford is listed as of Esquesing Township.  The marriage bond is found in “Upper and Lower Canada Marriage Bonds” at the Library and Archives Canada (Microfilm reel no. C-6786 Bond # 5791).  Halton Co. is in southern Ontario.

This information enabled me to document the ancestry of Paul Huffman.  Of Rebecca Crawford’s ancestry at present I have no information, but the name is Scottish.

Christopher Huffman, a loyalist of  German descent, whose family had emigrated to NJ in the mid-18th century, initially settled in Sussex Co., NJ.  Christopher Huffman married Anne Smith, daughter of Jacob Smith (UEL) and wife Elizabeth Lewis. He enlisted in the New Jersey (Loyalist) Volunteers on 26 Jan 1777 at Mansfield Township, Sussex Co. (now Warren Co.), seeing action as far south as South Carolina.  In 1788 he removed to Canada, ultimately obtaining a land grant in Glanford Township, which is now in Wentworth Co., Ontario.  Wentworth Co. is adjacent to Halton Co.

Christopher and Anne (Smith) Huffman had 6 children:  Henry 2nd (1781–1862) m. Catherine — (1785–1858); Jacob (Jan 1786–4 May 1851) m. Elizabeth Finch (1786–1871); Elizabeth m. James Choat;  Paul (ca. 1791–25 Jun 1869) m. Phoebe — (liv. 1851); Godfrey m. Eliza A. —; and Ann m. Elisha Bingham.

In the 1851 Halton Co. census, Christopher Huffman’s sons Henry Huffman and Paul Huffman were residing in Trafalgar Township.  Henry was Episcopalian and Paul was Wesleyan Methodist.  Their brother Jacob Huffman served as a private in the War of 1812, and also moved to Trafalgar Township where he assembled substantial holdings.

Wading through the offspring of the four sons of Christopher Huffman, and eliminating Godfrey as too young to have a son b. 1817, it became clear that the parents of Paul Huffman (1817–1892) of Henry Co., IA were Jacob and Elizabeth (Finch) Huffman. Jacob Huffman had a large family of 11 children and is credited with a son “Paul Godfrey Huffman.” Descendants of Paul Huffman of Henry Co., IA identify him as “Paul Godfrey Huffman.” Jacob Huffman’s large family explains why Paul Huffman left Canada in search of land on which to raise his own family.

Paul Huffman (1817–1892) was probably born in Glanford Township, Wentworth Co., Ontario.  Upon relocating to the United States ca. 1838, he would have thought it politic not to mention his Loyalist ancestry.  The Revolution had ended only 55 years earlier, and British outrages during the War of 1812 were still in the popular memory.  The perception that the British favored the South during the Civil War, though in the event they remained neutral, did nothing to rehabilitate their reputation.

[Paul Huffman (4 Aug 1817---25 Jun 1892).  Tombstone at White Oak Cemetery near Trenton, Henry Co., IA.]

Paul Huffman’s son Tyler was named after prominent politician John Tyler (below), nominated in 1839 as the Whig Party candidate for Vice President.  Tyler became President on the untimely death of William Henry Harrison in 1841.  “Tippicanoe and Tyler Too” was a popular jingle of the day.  This suggests that Paul Huffman had actually moved to the United States not long after his marriage.

The early 1850s found Paul Huffman living in Crawford Township, Washington Co., IA.

(Detail of 1854 Iowa State Census Roll IA-122 Line 17 showing Paul Huffman living in Crawford Township, Washington Co., IA, with 2 males and 4 females in household.)

I located this material on Crawford Township in an 1880 history of Washington Co.

___________________________________

Here’s a truly obscure item.  Paul Huffman briefly left Iowa and in 1885 was located in Delaware Precinct, Otoe Co., Nebraska (NE).  Otoe Co. is in the eastern part of NE adjacent to the IA border.

(Detail of 1885 Otoe Co., NE State Census, ED 567, Page 8. Click on image to enlarge.)

The above record, of Paul Huffman the father, and David Huffman the son, recalls a family tale so tragic it must have broke Paul Huffman’s heart.  It’s straight out of a Hollywood western—and it really happened.  Paul Huffman left NE for Decatur Co., KS, and ultimately returned to Henry Co., IA.

[(1888).  Defenders And Offenders.  New York: D. Buchner & Co.]

The facts are these:

(Actual image of article from The New York Times of 13 Jan 1887.  The Kankakee wreck was not connected to the wreck at Dunbar,Nebraska.)

(Forepaugh’s Circus was a major attraction.  Click on image to enlarge.)

This story was printed in The Perrysburg Journal, Wood Co., Ohio on Friday 21 Jan 1887 and adds some details to The New York Times account.  Friends of the engineer DeWitt blamed the wreck on labor unrest, but that proved to be untrue:

“S.D.  Wilson, conductor of the wrecked train, says that fifty-two passengers were aboard of the train, and that their escape from death was almost miraculous.  The engine landed fifty feet from the track, and the baggage-car, strangely, was carried as far beyond the engine.  The throttle lever was forced through Dewitt’s right lung, and his face was scalded black.  The express messenger  is frightfully wounded.  His skull is badly fractured and every bone in his face broken.  A dispatch from Nebraska City to the Times advances the theory that the motive of the crime was robbery, there being $17,000 worth of bullion on the train.  This theory is discredited here, however.  An official of the road at this point says there is no evidence that the work was instigated by any Knights of Labor organization, but that the animosity of the ex-strikers toward Dewitt was well known.  A special from Wyandotte, Kan., the home of the dead engineer, says Dewitt’s friends openly charge his death to the Knights of Labor.  It appears that he was a delegate to a convention held at St. Louis last spring during the great Southwestern strike to determine whether the engineers should go out or support the strikers.  Dewitt represented two districts, and cast two votes against the strikers. If he had voted for them it would have turned the scale.  Subsequently he received several warnings not to run his engine, but he disregarded them. “

The newspapers used the spelling “Hoffman” instead of “Huffman.”

The Gazette: Fort Worth, Texas on Friday 14 Jan 1887 carried an account of the arrests:

“Two Arrests Made.

Nebraska City, Neb., Jan. 13.–David W. Hoffman of Dunbar and James W. Bell of Unadilla, Neb., were arrested at Dunbar yesterday afternoon, charged with having caused the wreck Tuesday night.  Hoffman was recently a brake-man of the Burlington and Missouri road, while little is known of Bell.  Both have been idling about for some time.  Neither one is a member of the local Knights of Labor.  Both were somewhat intoxicated when arrested, and Hoffman was badly frightened.  The coroner’s jury returned a verdict this morning to the effect that the wreck was caused by Hoffman, Bell and others.”

According to the Sedalia Weekly Bazoo, Tuesday 18 Jan 1887, published at Sedalia, Missouri, the Dunbar train wreck had incited a mob:

“MOB ORGANIZED.

It is learned that a body of men had organized at an early hour this morning to break the jail at Nebraska City and lynch the villains. Public sentiment was very much wrought up, and if reports are true, the necessity and cost of a trial will be dispensed with

The gentleman who participated in exacting the confessions from the accused, describes the mob as one that was worked up to such a pitch of fury that if they had caught sight of the prisoners, they would have made short work of them.  The mob gathered around the jail and furiously demanded the surrender of the self-confessed villains, and threatened, in case of refusal, to break and burn the jail.  The sheriff appeared in front of the jail and attempted to mitigate the rage of the mob, but his words only increased their fury.  He was met with jeers and curses and missiles were thrown at him.  In the meantime the prisoners had been removed and taken in a sleigh to Nebraska City.  It is not improbable, however, that the transfer may result only in changing the locality of, and not prevent, the lynching, as the feeling of the people of Nebraska City is at fever heat.”

It appears that David Huffman and James Bell were removed from the jail at Nebraska City and taken to an undisclosed location elsewhere in the town.

Justice in Nebraska took no liberties with time.  The Omaha Daily World for Thursday Evening, 7 Apr 1887 ran this:

“A Forced Confession.

Train Wrecker Hoffman Claims He ‘Fessed’ Only at the Point of a Revolver.

Nebraska City, April 7.–The trial of David Hoffman, one of the two Missouri Pacific train wreckers of Dunbar, began yesterday before Judge Chapman.  Attorneys A.S. Cole and C.W. Seymour are defending and John C. Watson prosecuting.  Hoffman’s counsel created a sensation by producing an affidavit signed by Hoffman, in which he claims that the so-called confession was forced from him in the Grand Pacific Hotel in this city at night by Missouri Pacific Detective Tutt and his associate; that Sheriff McCollum and his deputy, Joseph Huberle, took him to the Grand Pacific Hotel at night, where there were two or three strange men supposed to be Missouri Pacific detectives; that one of them held a cocked revolver to his head, a watch in his hand, saying that he would give him (Hoffman) just two minutes to tell about how the trains were wrecked at Dunbar; that all of the time the Sheriff and deputy were present and did not attempt to stop these men in any manner …; this ground the attorneys asked the judge to discharge the jury, as it had been drawn by a prejudiced Sheriff.  The motion was overruled.  They then asked for a separate trial, which was granted, and David Hoffman was put on trial. A jury was secured at 6 o’clock last night.”

This item from the Omaha Daily World for Saturday Evening, 9 Apr 1887 relates some testimony in the case:

“TURNED AGAINST HIM.

Hoffman’s Brother Does Not Shield the Train Wrecker—Startling Testimony.

Nebraska City, April 9—The sensation of the trial of David Hoffman, the Dunbar train wrecker yesterday, was the testifying of his accomplice Bell, who, as predicted, turned state’s evidence. He testified that he was in Dunbar the day of the wreck on business; got drunk, was arrested, and fined; he appealed to Hoffman, who was present, to pay the fine; Hoffman said he did not have any money, but would have enough the next day; Bell put up his team as security for the fine, and followed Hoffman around the town.  He drank considerable, but Hoffman did not; Hoffman asked witness to go along down the railroad track; Hoffman broke open the Burlington & Missouri tool house and secured a crowbar and wrenches; both men proceeded up the Missouri Pacific track; when they arrived at the place where the wreck subsequently occurred,  Bell sat down on the track and Hoffman proceeded to remove the rails; witness asked him what he was doing, and he replied that he was going to wreck the train and rob the express car; Bell remonstrated, and said that many people would get killed.  Hoffman said he didn’t give a d–n, he had made up his mind and would carry it out; Hoffman removed the spikes and rail; saw the train approaching, when Hoffman pulled him down in the ravine; when the train jumped the track both ran.

The counsel for the defense endeavored unsuccessfully to break down Bell’s testimony.  John Hoffman, a brother of David, testified that when he ran to the wreck he saw a man jump out of a ravine west of the track and run, he could not tell who it was, but it looked like Dave Hoffman’s form.  The Missouri Pacific detectives testified that Hoffman made a voluntary confession to them without inducement, threats or force.

The citizens of Dunbar testified that Hoffman promised them that he would pay money due them next day; this on the day of the wreck.  Hoffman was cool and unconcerned until Bell testified, and then uneasy.”

The Omaha Daily World for Tuesday Evening, 12 Apr 1887 carried this brief notice:

“Hoffman Hangs July 22

NEBRASKA CITY, April 12.–David Hoffman, the Missouri Pacific train wrecker, has been sentenced to hang on July 22, for the murder of Engineer DeWitt.  Hoffman, who has appeared somewhat indifferent during the trial, broke down when sentenced was passed, and wept like a child.  The Sheriff and deputy were obliged to support him to his cell.”

According to the Omaha Daily World of 22 Jul 1887, David Huffman was hanged at Nebraska City at 10:25 a.m. on 22 Jul 1887.

In its coverage of David Huffman’s hanging, the Omaha Daily World gave an account of his family:

“David Hoffman was born near Trenton, Henry county, Ia., on April 8, 1864.  He resided on a farm with his parents until he was thirteen years of age, when he went to Fremont county, Ia., and worked for a farmer near  Randolph for some time.  He was in Fremont county off and on for nearly five years.  After remaining in Fremont for about a year and a half he went to Phillips county, Kan., where he and one of his brothers farmed some, but most of the two years that he was there he worked for other farmers in Phillips and Decatur counties.  He went from there to York and Filmore counties, Nebraska, where he and his brother John Hoffman farmed for nearly two years.  Tiring of farming he drifted westward as far as Denver, where he worked one winter for a horse trainer named Hurne.  Here is a period of his life he fails to fully detail …. [Huffman was thought to be implicated in cattle rustling.]  After tiring of Denver he went back to Randolph where he remained until three years ago, when he came to Dunbar, Neb., and rented a farm with his brother John, and remained nearly two years.  He went back last spring to Creston. Ia., and, with the aid of two brothers who were working on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, secured a position as brakeman on that road, which he retained but a short time.  He then went to Taylor Station, eighteen miles east of Council Bluffs, Ia., where he clerked in a store and also worked on a farm about two months.  On July 8, 1886, he came to Unadilla, this county, and began work on a farm with his brother-in-law, Taylor Fitch, near that place, where he remained until he went to Dunbar the day that the train was wrecked.  His father and mother reside in Decatur county, Kansas. He has four brothers and four sisters living.  Paul and Thomas Jefferson Hoffman are employees of the C. B. & Q. at Creston, Ia., and are highly esteemed by all who know them.  Tyler Hoffman resides on the old homestead in Henry county, Ia., while John Hoffman, near whose house the wreck occurred at Dunbar, is now residing on farm in Nelson Co., Neb.  His sisters are Mrs. Mattie Fitch, Elmwood, Neb.; Mrs. Rachel Norton, Randolph county, Ia.; Mrs. Mary Corney, Decatur Co., Kan., and Mrs. Rebecca Messer, Henry county, Ia.

“His father wrote him shortly after his sentence that he would much prefer to see him hung than have him go to jail for ten years like his partner, James Bell.  Hoffman claimed to have a sweetheart residing at Hamburg, but she never visited him or wrote him letters….  He stoutly denied that he was guilty of the crime for which he was punished, and said that Bell was the one who removed the rail while he stood by and watched him, and that he was innocent of any wrong, but was too drunk at the time to take any part or fully realize what was being done.”

Train wrecking was a common method of robbing a train. In this case, it proved deadly, for both the engineer and the robber. David Huffman was the brother of my 2nd great-grandfather Tyler Huffman, and was atypical of the Huffman family generally. David Huffman’s crime was so sensational it was included in a book of outlaws.  I suppose Paul Huffman’s words that “he would much prefer to see him [David] hung than have him go to jail for ten years like his partner [Bell],” is both a comment on what the father thought was David’s obligation to satisfy justice, and the evil of James Bell, whose role in the crime was more than he admitted.

So what of James Bell?

The Omaha Daily World of Thursday Evening 14 Apr 1887 ran this item:

“Bell Gets Ten Years.

Nebraska City, April 13.–James Bell, the accomplice of David Hoffman, pleaded guilty yesterday to train-wrecking at Dunbar and was sentenced to ten years in the Penitentiary.  Bell seemed relieved when sentence was passed, particularly as Hoffman is sentenced to be hanged.  The popular feeling was such that the Sheriff took him at once to Lincoln without trying to keep him over night.”

The Penitentiary at Lincoln was until after WWI the only adult correctional facility in Nebraska.  In 1889 it housed about 400 inmates, of whom, presumably, James Bell was one.

_______________________________________

The following biographical sketch of Elisha B. Huffman, son of Jacob and Elizabeth (Finch) Huffman, gives a detailed family history of the descendants of Jacob and Elizabeth (Finch) Huffman (click on images to enlarge).  Homer, MN is in the far southeast of the state, on the bank of the Mississippi River.

(1895).  Portrait And Biographical Record Of Winona County, Minnesota Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County, Together with Biographies and Portraits of all the Presidents of the United States.  Lake City Publishing Co.  Chicago:  Chapman Publishing Company, Printers And Binders.  pp. 294–295

There is, in connection with Jacob Huffman, a lawsuit which provides contemporary evidence concerning his family, in:

Jones Esq., Edward C.  (1853).  Reports Of Cases Decided In The Court Of Common Pleas of Upper Canada; From Trinity Term 15 Victoria, To Trinity Term 16 Victoria Volume II. Toronto:  Henry Rowsell, King-Street, pp.423–430.

It was a messy affair: Elizabeth (Finch) Huffman, widow of Jacob, asserted her dower rights to a property then occupied by James Finch, which property had been acquired during her marriage to Jacob Huffman.  The property was extensive, consisting of a large tract of land and improvements, in Trafalgar, Halton Co., and seems to have included another, smaller lot.  For his part, Finch claimed to have had a deed dated 28 Apr 1815 from Jacob Huffman, now lost, in which Elizabeth duly relinquished her dower.  The court ruled for Elizabeth as Finch could produce no evidence. There’s nothing stating the relationship of Elizabeth (Finch) Huffman to James Finch, but surely they were related.  It’s a case with implications on both sides of the Canada/USA border, because it illustrates what could happen when a wife didn’t legally alienate her dower.  In this instance, James Finch had to satisfy Elizabeth (Finch) Huffman’s dower portion.

This passage, found on p. 425, proves the identity of Jacob Huffman, and his real date of death:

JACOB HUFFMAN LAWSUIT

There are discrepancies in the available information regarding the descendants of Christopher Huffman.  The broader outline seems correct, while some details are conflicting.  Some of the dates in the Elisha B. Huffman sketch don’t match other data. One can only work with the facts at hand while being careful to correct the record with more accurate material as it’s unearthed. However, Elisha B. Huffman can be expected to have intimate knowledge of his parents and siblings.

As I examined the lives of Christopher Huffman and his family in Halton Co., Ontario, I realized how closely they resembled pioneers in the United States.  These were the people who were the backbone of nations, who cleared the land, built roads, established courts of justice, and erected houses to their faith.  In this there was more that bound together Christopher Huffman and Virginia pioneers like Abraham Fulkerson than set them apart.

The following marriages are also found in Halton Co, Ontario:

Charlotte Huffman to Alexander McKenzie, both of Trafalgar Township, 26 Dec 1835 (Charlotte was the dau. of Henry Huffman)

Susan Crawford to Charles Coote, both of Esquessing Township, 23 Mar 1831

Patrick Crawford to Elizabeth Madden, both of Trafalgar Township, 5 Apr 1833

Thomas Crawford (carpenter), of Trafalgar Township, to Barbara Watkins, of Esquessing Township, 1 Nov 1837 (Barbara was the dau. of Samuel Watkins)

To celebrate my Canadian heritage, these are the lyrics to the Canadian national anthem:

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

____________________________

Newspapers can be crucial in reconstructing family history.  “Chronicling America” is a free newspaper database operated by the Library of Congress.  Check their website first before subscribing to a paid service.

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/search/titles/

An excellent resource for Canadian genealogical research is Library and Archives Canada website:

http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng

Another useful website is United Empire Loyalists:

http://www.uelac.org/

to resume is to begin again (but not in the same place)

•August 16, 2014 • Comments Off

In November 2012 I was relieved to completely terminate any relationship with Alcatel-Lucent, following an Alcatel-Lucent initiated program that affected thousands of ex-employees.  The company wanted to clear its books of Deferred Vested Pensions.  When I left AT&T Information Systems (a predecessor company to Alcatel-Lucent), I didn’t have enough time in the job and I wasn’t old enough to qualify for immediate payment of the pension rights I’d earned.  Instead, I had a Deferred Vested Pension, to be paid at some point in the future.  

The company’s pension buy-out program was a big hit.  With the disposition of my pension rights resolved, there was no longer a legal relationship of any kind between myself and Alcatel-Lucent.

Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) has teetered on the brink of insolvency for years. Frankly, I’m amazed they’re still in business.  At the close of today’s trading (22 Aug 2014), ALU was selling for a robust Three Dollars and Thirty Two Cents per share.  If anyone needs a hot product, it’s Alcatel-Lucent.

As this letter clearly shows, Alcatel-Lucent and I did not have a contractual agreement.  I would not enter into any agreement with them in the future.

I’ve retained most of the papers for the period I worked for various entities that had been parts of the old Bell System.  The resume below chronicles my experience with what was at the time hi-tech.  I started as a clerk for Illinois Bell Telephone Company in 1974—you’ll see I passed over my clerkdom in silence—and then got a better job as a Communications Consultant.  The last job, Marketing Support Specialist, was actually Communications Consultant with a different name.  To describe these jobs as a Mind Sore doesn’t begin to convey the excruciating boredom of the work or the stupefying mediocrity of the management.

My first assignment as a Communications Consultant was in Bellboy Marketing.  A “Bellboy” was a phone pager.  You dialed the “Bellboy’s” number, and it chirped or vibrated.  That told you to call the office.  Lots of doctors and sales people used them. I also handled car phones.  They were the size of a large toaster. To get one, you were placed on a waiting list because there were only so many frequencies available at a time. Customers waited years to get a car phone and it was a big production to install it.

What I managed to salvage from AT&T was hands-on experience with some genuine technology.  AT&T bought a stake in Olivetti and sold Olivetti personal computers rebranded with the AT&T logo.  AT&T had one really good computer, the 3B2, manufactured by Western Electric.  It ran UNIX.  I had an Atari computer and an IBM terminal emulation program on a floppy, so I dialed into the 3B2 and screwed around with the UNIX shell.  I wasn’t a propeller head and it didn’t turn me on. The 3B2 wasn’t marketed as it should have been—even though it used a WeCo processor—and AT&T lost its shirt in computers.  If they’d plopped a useful interface on top of UNIX, the 3B2 might have been real competition for Microsoft.  But in a few short years, it was over.

And the way the market is trending, PCs and their dumbed-down Tablet children will probably be swallowed up before long by Smart Phones with super-subminiature processors and clever displays.

So this resume is a snapshot of me.  The picture’s fuzzy, but you can see the outlines.

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN THE UNITED STATES: WHAT DOES THE FIRST AMENDMENT REALLY GUARANTEE?

•August 11, 2014 • Comments Off

I received the following letter dated March 15, 2012 from Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis, which oversees the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.  It was in response to my letter asking the Archbishop to make clear the Catholic church’s position on Religious Freedom.

I direct your attention to the fourth paragraph of Archbishop Carlson’s letter in which he states:

“This [First] amendment includes both the right to establish religion and also the freedom of exercise.”

The archbishop is confusing the issue by saying it’s legal to formally institute religion and the religion can do whatever it wants without government interference.  Obviously that view is opposed by Constitutional scholars, but it’s the official position of the Catholic church.  The Catholic church considers itself the highest authority on Earth.

Religious Freedom is a core value of American life.  People fought and died for Religious Freedom. And we can lose it.

missouri’s mental health law governing involuntary commitment to a mental health facility & appointment of a guardian and conservator

•August 10, 2014 • Comments Off

I’ve discussed this before, and I know it’s disturbing to those coping with mental illness. But the issue impacts everyone from the homeless to celebrities.  This column reviews Missouri’s guidelines for involuntary commitment to a mental health facility, and the law regarding appointment of a guardian and/or conservator. Guidelines in other states may vary.  Understand the law in your jurisdiction.

Under Missouri law, if a person presents a danger of imminent harm to himself or others, that person can be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility.  Usually the police are involved.  The initial hold can be up to 96 hours with a judge’s approval. Should circumstances warrant, the hold can be extended to 21 days, 90 days, or 1 year, IF this standard is met:

The criteria that a person must be mentally disordered and, as a result, present harm to self or others includes a standard that a person may be harmful if, as a result or an impairment, he or she is unable to make decisions regarding hospitalization or treatment as evidenced by not providing for basic necessities of food, clothing, shelter, safety, or medical care.  Presenting harm to self or others doesn’t have to be an actual attempt at suicide or homicide—threats of suicide or homicide suffice.  An individual’s past behavior, if it resulted in harm, may also be considered when determining how long the hold will be.

Valerie Hughes Stalcup, Missouri’s New Mental Health Act: The Problems With Progress, 1979 Washington University Law Review 209 (1979).

In Missouri:

“The state may involuntarily commit for treatment a mentally ill person who, as a result of his mental illness, presents a likelihood of serious physical harm to himself or others. Likelihood of serious physical harm to oneself, under the code, requires a showing of a ‘substantial risk’ that physical harm will be self-inflicted as evidenced by ‘recent threats or attempts to commit suicide or inflict physical harm on himself, or by failure or inability to provide for his essential human needs.’ Likelihood of serious harm to others, on the other hand, must be evidenced by ‘recent overt acts’ that placed another in ‘reasonable fear of sustaining such harm.'”

Overt means “observable.”  Stalking someone you have threatened to harm is an example of an “overt act.”

Note that the law requires the likelihood of harm to oneself or others must be “recent.” The law seeks to protect the public but prevents concocting a case against the mentally ill.

However, under Missouri law:

“Persons who are mentally retarded, developmentally disabled, senile or impaired by alcoholism or drug abuse, shall not be committed judicially … unless they are also mentally ill and as a result present likelihood of serious physical harm to themselves or others.”

Every doctor, nurse, social worker—any professional in Missouri who works in the field of mental health—is briefed on this law.  Every attorney who practices family and probate law in Missouri understands this law.

So is everything on the level in Missouri?  Not exactly.

As the case of Garner v. Missouri Department Of Mental Health shows (US Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit No. 04-3013/13 Mar 2006), there has been corruption in the mental health system.  In June 2000, two social workers at The Western Missouri Mental Health Center, a facility operated by the state, accused drug counselor Brenda F. Garner of taking money from a patient’s Social Security check.  Garner was suspended with pay. The head of the center ordered an investigation which revealed that “Garner and other employees had received gifts and bought items from patients, both violations of Center rules.”  Garner was fired, but subsequently sued the center for racial discrimination because the white employees weren’t fired as well.  The case dragged on into Mar 2006.

The potential exists to suborn clinic staff and government officials in Missouri’s mental health system.  Patients are often confused, vulnerable, and unaware of their legal rights.  Advocacy organizations like NAMI stress cooperation with mental health professionals and lawmakers to improve conditions for the mentally ill and are reluctant to antagonize those they want as allies.  One wants to believe impropriety is rare. Nonetheless, corruption can occur.

Although there has been much progress in recent decades, those with serious mental illness still struggle with social stigma.  Some mental health professionals tell patients with Bi-Polar Disorder or Schizophrenia that if questioned about their illness to say they have Clinical Depression, because it is so common and carries less stigma.  Anti-depressants like Prozac are the most commonly prescribed drugs of any type.

SO—sometimes involuntary commitment to a psychiatric facility leads to a guardian and conservator being appointed for those adjudged mentally incompetent under the law.

What’s that all about?

According to “Guardians And Conservators Under Missouri Law Revised 1/14,” a publication of The Missouri Bar:

“A guardian is a person who has been appointed by a court (usually the probate division of the circuit court) to have the care and custody of a minor or of an adult who has been legally determined to be incapacitated.

“A conservator is a person or corporation, such as a bank or trust company, appointed by a court (again, usually the probate division of the circuit court) to manage the property of a minor or of an adult person who has been legally determined to be disabled.”

How is someone determined to be incapacitated or disabled?

“As defined by Missouri law, ‘an incapacitated person is one who is unable by reason of any physical or mental condition to receive and evaluate information or to communicate decisions to such an extent that he [or she] lacks capacity to meet essential requirements for food, clothing, shelter, safety or other care such that serious physical injury, illness, or disease is likely to occur.’  Similarly, a disabled person is one who ‘is unable by reason of any physical or mental condition to receive and evaluate information or to communicate decisions to such an extent that the person lacks ability to manage his [or her] financial resources.'”

As is evident, the terms “incapacitated” and “disabled” as used here have specific legal meanings in context of this law.  The key here is that the individual “is unable by reason of any physical or mental condition to receive and evaluate information or to communicate decisions.”

Let’s say you’re at an intersection where a cop is directing traffic.  You’re mentally ill and cannot understand the cop’s direction to wait until it’s safe to cross the intersection, so you walk out into traffic.  You may be “incapacitated.”

You have $5,000.00 in the bank, and you give it all to someone who claims they’ll invest it with Space Aliens and in 3 days you’ll receive a Million dollars by teleportation.  You may be “disabled.”

Petitions to appoint a guardian and/or conservator are filed in the probate division of the circuit court in the county in which the minor or alleged incapacitated or disabled person (the “respondent”) resides.  If the “respondent” lives in Greene County, then the petition must be filed in Greene County, even if the proposed guardian/and or conservator live elsewhere.  Both parties must be represented by attorneys.

As is evident under the law, you’ve got to be really out of it to be remanded to a psychiatric facility, or have a guardian/and or conservator appointed for you.  There must be a hearing, and the burden is on the petitioner to show that the “‘respondent” cannot meet these very basic requirements to maintain life or cannot handle their money because of “any physical or mental condition.” You could walk out into traffic because you were preoccupied, and you could lose a lot of money in a bad investment—but if it wasn’t due to “any physical or mental condition,” the court will not appoint a guardian/and or conservator. The bar is set very high to prevent the law being abused by those who just want to get control over someone’s money—and it happens.

Having religious views out of the ordinary isn’t evidence of being “incapacitated” or “disabled.”  The issue isn’t your religion—it’s if you can take care of your physical needs and handle your money.  Having words with a store clerk isn’t evidence of being “incapacitated” or “disabled.”  An occasional lapse of memory isn’t evidence of being “incapacitated” or “disabled.”  You don’t have to be perfect—if the petitioner has no evidence showing you can’t take care of yourself, there will be no hearing.  The law doesn’t permit yanking someone off the street and making them prove they’re “sane.”

It’s important to the self-esteem of those coping with mental illness that they retain control of their property and can direct their legal affairs.  Don’t allow anyone to railroad you out of your rights.  If you don’t understand the legal situation in your area, talk to an attorney.  I advise everyone, especially if you have assets, to have an attorney.

DARPA & JEFF (enveloping technology)

•August 1, 2014 • Comments Off

I’ve invented a robotics operating system that is capable of operating any robot.  It allows the robot to engage in multiple, different behaviors—with or without sensors. The operating system is protected by copyright.  (Copyrights last a long time.)  That means no one can use it for any purpose—including testing—without my permission.

Silicon Valley has a reputation for stealing technology.  If any company has incorporated my operating system into their products, they did it illegally, and I will defend my rights. Large corporations can attempt to intimidate you out of your property.  Keep important correspondence, including envelopes.  You’ll need it.

 

The Ancestry of Allie May (OXLEY) Chipman: Beckwith & Riddle of Stoddard Co., MO / The Creath Family / Oxley & Faulkner of Lenoir Co., NC

•July 31, 2014 • Comments Off

John Franklin Riddle (1828-1904) and Joellan Beckwith (1831-1896) were the grandparents of Allie May (Oxley) Chipman, wife of my great-grandfather James Edward Chipman.  It’s their families we’ll explore in this column.

We begin with Allie’s parents, Aquilla Voin Oxley and Mariah Caroline Riddle.  They were married on 2 Jul 1874 in Dunklin Co., MO.  Aquilla’s middle name was “Voin,” not “Vester,” as the marriage record proves (Dunklin Co., MO Marriage Book 1, p. 38).  On 5 Jan 1888, Mariah C. Oxley applied for Letters of Administration on her husband’s estate, and the application lists A.V. Oxley’s heirs as William V. Oxley, Ida Oxley, Jennie Oxley, and Allie Oxley:

What is known of the origins of John Franklin Riddle and Joellan Beckwith, the parents of Mariah Caroline (Riddle) Oxley?

Joellan Beckwith was the daughter of Joseph and Eliza J. (Creath) Beckwith, who married on 20 Jan 1823 in Granville Co., NC.  Joseph Beckwith was born in CT, and thus presumably a descendant of Mathew Beckwith, the early CT immigrant, who died in Lyme.  Mathew Beckwith’s parentage is unknown.  He was deceased by 6 Jun 1682, when his inventory was filed, although he is said to have died in 1680 by falling from a cliff.  He had four sons:  Mathew, Joseph, Nathaniel, and John (John Beckwith’s son John m. Prudence Mainwaring, daughter of Oliver Mainwaring). 

To give an idea of the scope of the problem in identifying Joseph Beckwith’s parents, by the 1800 Federal census there were 130 Beckwith households in the USA, with 111 of those reasonably attributable to descendants of Mathew Beckwith the immigrant.  78 of those households are found in CT alone, and a further 23 in NY, which was a popular migration point.  Some descendants of Mathew Beckwith are found in the 1800 NC census as well, although I haven’t been able to connect any of those NC Beckwiths to our Joseph Beckwith.  And those are just households listed under the name “Beckwith;” there were undoubtedly more Beckwiths in households enumerated under a different name, as in the case of Beckwith widows who remarried.  Her Beckwith children will be merely numbers in the household of her new husband.

Beckwith is a common surname.  We need to know more about Joseph Beckwith before we can identify his parents.

The early probate records in Stoddard Co. are lost, but I was able to locate through the Stoddard Co. court record books sufficient proof of Joseph Beckwith’s heirs.  Joseph Beckwith was deceased by 5 Oct 1847 when his administrator, David Huddleston, was ordered to cover the estate’s debts.  By 3 Jul 1849, Joseph’s widow Eliza had become administratrix.  The court records listed the following heirs of Joseph Beckwith:  Franklin Beckwith a minor, Joanna (Joellan) Beckwith a minor, Amanda Beckwith a minor, and Laura M. Beckwith a minor.  Brumfield Beckwith wasn’t listed because he wasn’t a minor at the time.  Eliza J. Beckwith posted a $400.00 bond. 

It has been suggested that this Joseph Beckwith was the son of Seth Beckwith of Montville, CT.  Seth Beckwith, a Revolutionary War soldier, was a descendant of Oliver Mainwaring, and the Mainwaring family has a valid royal line from King Edward I.  However, our Joseph Beckwith was just a chronological contemporary of Seth Beckwith’s son Joseph.  That Joseph was born in 1785, and died ca. 1820 in Montville.  Thus, the parentage of Joseph Beckwith of Stoddard Co., MO is unknown.

Can we say anything about the birth date of Joseph Beckwith?  There are only two extant census records for Joseph Beckwith, both in MO:  in 1830 he’s listed in Cape Girardeau Co. (p. 454) as 30-40, and in 1840 in Stoddard Co. (p. 4) he’s 50-60.  This gives a range of birth years of 1780-1800.  A discrepancy like this can mean he was born in a census year.  That would place his year of birth in 1790, but it’s just a possibility.

Three of Joseph Beckwith’s children had issue: Brumfield, Joellan, and Laura.  Franklin Beckwith d. childless on 18 Mar 1873.  An affidavit filed 31 Mar 1873 listed his heirs as Bromfield Beckwith, Joella Riddle, Lorah McWherter, Amanda Cosby, and Elizabeth Beckwith (Franklin’s wife; her first name was Mary):

On 18 Nov 1878, in Dunklin Co., MO, John Franklin Riddle, husband of Joellan (Beckwith) Riddle, was granted guardianship of “Amanda Crosby (insane).”  Amanda had married W.L. Cosby, a miller.  In the 1860 Federal census the couple was residing in New Madrid Co., MO, with three children:  Mary J., James, and Sarah M. Cosby.  It’s not clear if any of the children were Amanda’s.

Brumfield Beckwith, died 10 Jan 1877, has descendants in the male line.  I managed to salvage 14 pages from his probate file, which was in a deteriorated condition, and may have disintegrated by now.  On 5 Feb 1877, in Dunklin Co., administration of Brumfield Beckwith’s estate was granted to Jacob R. Beckwith and Nathaniel Payne.  Brumfield’s heirs were listed as Harriet A. Thompson, Jacob R. Beckwith, and M.F. (Moses Franklin) Beckwith.

Brumfield’s sisters Joellan (Beckwith) Riddle and Laura M. (Beckwith) McWherter have descendants.

Concerning the problem of Joseph Beckwith’s parentage, I have this from Beckwith expert Hubert S. Beckwith: 

I can add that Joseph Beckwith, son of Seth Beckwith, served in the War of 1812 as did his brother Russell Beckwith.

It was common for young couples to migrate from their home state in search of land to support their families.  During this time period, the migration pattern was often to the south, because that’s where land was plentiful and inexpensive.  As Hubert S. Beckwith suggests, in this situation, records in CT may be scant.

(Detail from 1822 Islands Creek District, Granville Co., NC Tax List.  The sixth entry from the top reads “Beckwith, James,” followed by “Creath, John Sr.”  In my opinion the “Beckwith, James” entry is an error, and should have been “Beckwith, Joseph.”  I have never found a James Beckwith that had a demonstrable connection to Joseph Beckwith.  Errors do occur in official documents.  Why was Joseph Beckwith in Granville Co., NC?  Granville Co. is in central NC on the VA border, across from Mecklenburg Co., VA, where John Creath Sr. had relatives.  Click on image to enlarge it.)

This deed, recorded in Cape Girardeau Co., MO, between Joseph and Eliza J. (Creath) Beckwith and Franklin Cannon, might contain a clue to the ancestry of Joseph Beckwith:

Joseph and Eliza J. (Creath) Beckwith had a son named Franklin.  “Franklin” as a given name isn’t completely unknown during this period, but “Francis” is more common.  Onomastic evidence is sometimes very helpful , but it can be misleading.  Then as now, couples could use a name they like, whether or not it belonged to a relative.  Joellan Beckwith married John Franklin Riddle, and there’s no known “Franklin” in his pedigree. “Franklin” may have been derived from a county in VA where his mother’s family, the Hales, had once resided. 

Nonetheless, it’s a striking coincidence that Joseph and Eliza sold land to Franklin Cannon, and named a son Franklin.  “Cannon” isn’t a surname that shows up in the ancestry of Eliza J. (Creath) Beckwith.  It appears that Franklin Beckwith was named for Franklin Cannon.

There’s evidence that Joseph Beckwith wasn’t a good businessman: in 1831 he was sued in the Cape Girardeau Circuit Court by William Ranney and John Ranney over a debt of $67.00.

Eliza J. (Creath) Beckwith, b. ca. 1801, is perhaps best known for the extensive litigation surrounding her husband’s estate that eventually wound up at the Missouri Supreme Court in 1853.  Of her ancestry, Eliza was probably the daughter of Samuel Creath (ca. 1773–1813) and wife Nancy Ragland, m. 14 Feb 1795, not John and Mary (Irby) Creath, m. 1 Jan 1794.  Nancy (Ragland) Creath was the daughter of William Ragland (DAR no. A0933397, Patriotic service, NC).

A Dunklin Co., MO resident with a connection to the Creath family of Granville Co., NC was Erby (Irby) Beckwith Creath (11 Sep 1855–18 Feb 1937), son of Oliver Creath.  On 26 Oct 1876 he married Susan Emily Elder, and is buried at Elder Cemetery at Campbell.  I believe this individual to be a descendant of Samuel Creath’s brother John Creath, and thus a relative of Eliza J. (Creath) Beckwith.

Deloris Williams, a family historian working with records of Granville and Warren Cos., NC cleared up a family mystery:  a close friend of the Samuel Creath family was Bromfield Ridley (ca. 1742–1796).  who was also called “Broomfield.” Bromfield Ridley was the son of James and Mary (Bromfield) Ridely.  Brumfield (or “Broomfiled”)  Beckwith was evidently named after Bromfield Ridley.

The family connections of Eliza (Creath) Beckwith should be further explored.

I also compiled notes on the Creath family.

(The above notes refer to Samuel Creath and Peter Oliver as being “insane.”  At the time, the elderly who suffered from senile dementia were termed “insane.”  I’ve seen this before.  Having the elderly adjudged “insane” allowed the family to take control of their affairs.)

(The following item corroborates the above notes.)

John Franklin Riddle was the son of George Riddle (or Ruddle), born ca. 1790 in VA, died ca. 1859 at Crowley’s Ridge in Stoddard Co., MO, and his wife Sarah Hale (liv. 1860).  George Riddle married Sarah Hale on 8 Nov 1818 in Floyd Co., KY.  The origin of George Riddle is unknown, but he named one of his sons Bird Riddle.

I urge readers to use caution when researching the Riddle or Ruddle family—you’ll encounter contradictory statements.  The first assumption made in the literature is that John Ruddell Sr. and wife Mary Cook are the progenitors of the Ruddle family of VA.  There is no definite proof that any Riddle or Ruddle male married a Bird.  However, the following from John Ruddell of the Shenandoah Valley: His Children and Grandchildren by Harold Turk Smutz (June 1974) seems relevant to our Riddle family:

Smutz lists the following children for this George Ruddle:  John, Elizabeth, George, Andrew, Ingabo, William, Mary Ann, and Clare.  I have not personally verified this information.  I know of no will or estate for this individual, and the list of his children must be conjectural; however, he seems a good candidate for the grandfather of George Riddle of Stoddard Co., MO.

So far we’ve extended the pedigree of Allie May (Oxley) Chipman into the mid to late 1700s, but there’s another ancestral line we should examine.  John Franklin Riddle’s mother, Sarah (Hale) Riddle, has some interesting VA ancestry.  She was the daughter of Peter and Sarah (Morris) Hale.  The following are notes I made concerning the Hale family:

Peter Hale was the son of Joseph Hale of Patrick Co., VA (will dated 8 Dec 1798), and there his pedigree ends, but Peter Hale’s wife Sarah Morris was the daughter of Ezekiel Morris and Mary Thurmond (or Turman), daughter of Benjamin and Frances Turman.  Ezekiel Morris was the son of Daniel Morris.

The next item is a letter I was fortunate to receive from Debbie Hudspeth of Louisville, KY.  Mrs. Hudspeth is probably long departed, and though her disapproval of incompetent genealogists is obvious, I think I may now in the year 2011 share her research into the Hale family.  She was very thorough and I was unable to improve upon her work.

The Oxley family had deep roots in the colonial NC.  A catastrophic courthouse fire in 1878 was thought to have destroyed all records in Lenoir Co., NC (formed 1791, county seat Kinston), from whence came her grandfather, James Monroe Oxley and his wife Annaretta Faulkner, daughter of William Faulkner.  But the Grantor/Grantee deed indexes surfaced:

Certainly among the above names are the parents and relatives of James Monroe Oxley and William Faulkner.  This data is supplemented by Federal Census returns of the Oxley family in NC from 1820–1840.  Note the use of the given name “Aquilla.”

The progenitor of the Oxley family in NC was John Oxley Sr., who was in Bertie Co., NC as early as 1738, and left a will dated 24 Feb 1767, in which he named the following:

Sons, George and John Oxley; Son-in-law Isaiah Johnson and Mary his wife; Daughter, Olive Oxley; Son-in-law John Parrot and Elizabeth his wife; Son-in-law John Ray and Rachal his wife; Daughter, Martha Oxley; Son-in-law William Fleetwood; Son-in-law James Baker; Granddaughter, Susanna Fleetwood; Wife, Ollive Oxley; Friend, Joseph Parker.  Executors: George Oxley, Isaiah Johnson and John Crickett.  Proved March Court 1767.

The following are notes I made concerning the early history of the Oxley family in NC:

John Oxley Sr. had only two sons:  George Oxley and John Oxley Jr.  The general structure of the Oxley family is that the Oxleys of Lenoir Co., NC were descended from George Oxley, who had moved to Dobbs Co., NC (which later became Lenoir Co.), while those of Bertie Co., NC were descended from John Oxley Jr.

George Oxley’s will is lost, but that of his brother, John Oxley Jr., made 8 Jan 1805, was recorded in Bertie Co., and names the following:

Wife, Elizabeth Oxley; Son, John Oxley; Son, Hardy Oxley; Daughter, Martha Henry; Daughter, Elizabeth Oxley; Daughter, Salley Reddy; Son-in-law George Ward and daughter Nansey Ward; Daughter, Charlotty Oxley; Son, Quilley Oxley; a tract of land purchased from his brother, George Oxley.  Executors:  William Copeland, Hardy Oxley, Geo. Ward.  Proved August Term 1805.

Elizabeth Oxley, daughter of John Oxley Jr., never married, and in her will dated 6 Mar 1839, proved November Term 1840 in Bertie Co., she left her estate (except for a cow bequeathed to her niece, Nancy Ward) to the daughters of her brother, Aquilla Oxley:  Elizabeth, Manday (Mandy), Anjackline, and Dicy.  The 1820 and 1830 census data indicates Aquilla Oxley had sons, but they received nothing from their aunt.

The will of Hardy Oxley, undated, was proved February Term 1836 in Bertie Co.  It names his wife Sary and mentions his children, but doesn’t give their names.  He nominated his “frend” Aquillah Oxley (actually his brother) as Executor.

However, in a rather strange turn of events, Hardy Oxley’s wife Sarah on 2 Jan 1830 made her own will, “in addition to my Husbands will,” proved February Term 1830, naming:  Son, William Oxley; Daughter, Sally Ann Oxley; and children Nancy Oxley, Elizabeth Oxley, John D. Oxley, and Jonathan H. Oxley.  Executors:  Jas. Mardre and Thos. J. Castellaw.

Thus, Hardy Oxley’s will was actually written before that of his wife, but he survived her—and he didn’t write a new will.  I have no will for John Oxley, brother of Hardy Oxley and Aquilla Oxley, who disappears from the scene after 1810.  Aquilla Oxley wasn’t old enough to have a son born ca. 1803.

In any event, these wills don’t show a son named James.  While technically James Monroe Oxley could have been a son of John Oxley Jr.’s son John, John isn’t present after 1810, so he’s not a very good candidate.  Since the Faulkners resided in Lenoir Co., it’s far more likely James Monroe Oxley was a grandson of John Oxley Jr.’s brother George Oxley of Lenoir Co., and that tracks with everything else we know about them.

Re-winding to the period of 1784-1810, we find two sons of John Oxley Jr., John Oxley and Hardy Oxley, in the census records.  Aquilla Oxley first appears in the 1820 census.

Since “Quilley” was mentioned last in his father’s will, he was probably the youngest son, and that’s corroborated by the census data.   John Oxley Jr.’s widow Elizabeth was still living in 1810.

Obviously, George Oxley of Lenoir Co. did have descendants.  I re-construct his family as follows:  George Oxley Sr. died ca. 1798; Mary Oxley in the 1800 Lenoir Co. census was his widow (a 1774 deed recorded in Bertie Co. identifies her as his wife); and he had sons John, Jonas, and George.  Penelope Oxley must have been the widow of Jonas Oxley, as Jonas is absent in the 1820 Lenoir Co. census, while George Oxley and John Oxley are still living.

The James Oxley who appears in the 1820 Lenoir Co. census is probably the same individual who appears in Pitt Co., NC in 1830, which shows him with children.  He was still residing in Pitt Co. in 1850, so he was not James Monroe Oxley, who was in Haywood Co., TN by 1838.  This James Oxley probably was the son of Jonas Oxley, out on his own after the death of his father.

John Oxley was born ca. 1770-1780, and George Oxley was born ca. 1780-1790.  Because Jonas Oxley died before the 1830 census, placing him in the correct birth order is difficult.  In 1800, Jonas Oxley was in Craven Co., NC, unmarried, and born ca. 1755-1774.  Combining the data from the 1800 and 1810 censuses, he was born ca. 1765-1774, and may have been the oldest of George Oxley’s sons.  His wife Penelope was born ca. 1780-1790.  At least we can say that Jonas Oxley and John Oxley were older than George Oxley.

James Monroe Oxley is found in the 1840 Haywood Co., TN census, p. 416, as follows:  2 males under 5, 1 male 30-40, 1 female 10-15, 2 females 20-30.  It begs the question:  was Annaretta Faulkner his first wife?  At this point, we don’t have enough data to concretely identify the father of James Monroe Oxley, but we do know that his father was likely a son of John Oxley Sr.’s son George Oxley.  Given the chronology, my best guess is that his father was John Oxley rather than George Oxley, so as a hypothesis, our line looks like this:

Allie May Oxley 6, Aquilla Voin Oxley 5, James Monroe Oxley 4, John Oxley 3, George Oxley 2, John Oxley 1.

Though most records in Lenoir Co. have been lost, the situation isn’t hopeless.  One day the story of this old pioneer family might be told in greater detail.

Annaretta (Faulkner) Oxley, daughter of William Faulkner ( ca. 1787-1870), and wife of James Monroe Oxley (b. ca. 1803), was born ca. 1813 in NC.  By 1838, James Monroe and Annaretta (Faulkner) Oxley were living in Haywood Co., TN.  They resided in Haywood Co. until 11 Jan 1860, when they sold their land and moved to Dunklin Co., MO. 

William Faulkner (ca. 1787-1870) left a will dated 10 Oct 1870, recorded in Haywood Co., TN Will Book E, pp. 332–333.  It’s an interesting document.  In it he mentions the following:

To wife Harriet M. Faulkner (not the mother of his children), the household furnishings she possessed when she married him, plus $150.00 per year for life paid to her by his sons William and Murphy M. Faulkner in lieu of her dower interest in his lands; to daughter Annaretta Oxley $500.00; to daughter Teresa Sandlin $500.00; to daughter Talitha Jones $500.00; to daughter Jane Ward $500.00; to the children of his deceased son Jessee Faulkner $500.00 to be divided among them, but the youngest child Jessee Catharine to have $300.00 of it; to son Lafayette Faulkner return of a note for $100.00 which William Faulkner paid on his behalf to H.A. Partee, and that is all Lafayette is to have; the residue of his estate to sons William Faulkner Jr. and Murphy Moore Faulkner, who are enjoined to pay his wife the $150.00 per year as promised. 

The name of the mother of William Faulkner’s children is unknown.

Allie May (Oxley) Chipman is a respected figure in our family, and researching her ancestry has been a fascinating look at some genuine American pioneer families.  Some lines are proved and others conjectural.  This is the first time a comprehensive survey of her ancestry has been attmepted, and I hope it encourages further research.  These are yeoman families, the backbone of the pioneer class that carved out roads and built towns.  I see no royal or noble descents here.

Of Allie’s great-grandfather, Joseph Beckwith, I have only a skeletal theory , based upon little evidence:  he was born in CT, and thus probably a descendant of Mathew Beckwith of CT; lived for some time in VA; married in Granville Co., NC; and died in Stoddard Co., MO.  A key piece of information may one day surface.  Until then, Joseph Beckwith is one of the greatest mysteries in our family.

Who Do You Think You Are? (The life and death of Beecher Edgar Chipman) / Beecher The Bounder / Who’s Buried In Jean Chipman’s Tomb?

•July 1, 2014 • Comments Off

Behind this seemingly ordinary document is a story.  Beecher Edgar Chipman was my paternal grandfather.  And this is his previously unknown third marriage.

Why did a couple who lived in Flint, MI drive to Bowling Green, OH to get married on 24 Apr 1950?

On 23 Apr 1959, Beecher drowned while fishing in a lake in Pendleton Township, MO.  His companion, listed as Jean Esther (Southard) Chipman on her death certificate, also drowned.  They’re buried side by side in a cemetery in Farmington, MO.

Who was Jean Esther Chipman?

The answers may shock you.

______________________________________________

But first, who was Beecher Edgar Chipman?

He was the second son, and third of five children of James Edward and Allie May (Oxley) Chipman.  The family owned a small cotton farm in the fertile Missouri boot-heel county of Dunklin.  Dunklin County was named in honor of Daniel Dunklin, governor of Missouri 1832–1836.  The Missouri boot-heel, virtually unknown outside the state, was leveled by the New Madrid earthquake of 1812.

Beecher was born in the small town of Senath, southwest of Kennett, the county seat. Other than cotton, Dunklin County’s most famous export is singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow, who hails from Kennett.  Senath is now virtually a ghost town.

Although he read classics like David Copperfield and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the best grade Beecher could muster in high school was an “M,” equivalent to a “C.”  More often he scored an “I,” which is equivalent to a “D.”

(Click on image to enlarge it.)

Beecher married Jewel Winifred Bailey (my grandmother), the daughter of Alvis Cowan and Mary Ann Cordelia (Harkey) Bailey.  The Harkeys came to Dunklin County about 1851, from Wilkes County, GA via Mississippi.  Like many young families during the Depression, Beecher and Winifred moved north to Flint, MI, where the men sought work in the factories.

In a letter to me dated Jan 1988, Beecher’s niece, Beverly Ann (Page) Budzynski, had this to say about Beecher:

“I’m sure your father [1] is bitter and has every right to be.  Beecher was not a good father—but he was a very interesting and complex person.

“Many people disapproved of him but they liked him.  Even as a child, I can remember his visits.  He came in like Santa Claus—a big, good-looking man, big smiles and a big hug.  I know my mother [2] loved him very much—but really didn’t know what to do or say.  My dad [3] disapproved, I’m sure because he was such a family man, but I know he really liked Beecher.  (Of course, it was through Beecher that he met my mother!)

“Beecher was a tool and die maker in the factory—well respected in his job.  In those days, men heard the factories were hiring and they would gather outside the gates.  Someone would come out and choose likely candidates.  The story goes that Beecher got jobs for many men!  He simply stood there, got chosen—and gave the other fellow’s name.  The next day, the other fellow reported to work!  He must have looked like  a good worker!

“I have one surviving aunt on my dad’s side.  She’s 75 and knew Beecher well—in fact, I’ve always wondered why they never got together as they would have made quite a couple!!  She remembers Beecher with great fondness—describes him in modern teminology as a “hunk.”  She said he was full of life and fun.

“I can remember many discussions about Beecher and why he did what he did!  My mother thought Beecher was devastated  by his first wife’s [4] death.  He seemed to punish himself thereafter.  He sought out low life bars and low life women.  Then, he would return to some semblance of family life.  But, he couldn’t seem to stay on the straight and narrow.  Who knows what would have happened had Winifred lived.

“Also, Beecher was a product of the ‘Roaring Twenties’ and was always popular with the girls.

“My mother used to tell me how she learned to drive at seven.  She had gone somewhere with Beecher and she wanted to return home.  He wasn’t ready so let her drive the car home!  She was allowed to keep on driving—in fact her father [5] never learned to drive well, and I think Allie May [6] didn’t drive at all.

“Mother drove them on family trips to Hot Springs, Ark, St. Louis, and when she was 13, drove them to Flint!!”

[Notes:  1. Ralph Vernon Chipman; 2. Pauline Aquilla (Chipman) Page Moffit; 3. Carl Davis Page; 4. Jewel Winifred Baiely; 5. James Edward Chipman; 6. Allie May (Oxley) Chipman.]

This letter dated 18 Mar 1989 from my father to his half-sister Dixie painted an unflattering portrait of Beecher:

“Upon receiving news of our father’s [1] death, while at work with the railroad in Cicero, Ill., my first reaction was a sense of lost opportunity for any improvement ever in my relationship with him.

“The uneasiness and threat was my fear that Dad would appear, (or “show up out of the blue,” as you well express it), get drunk and thrown in jail, or fight, causing me and my family embarassment among my work friends, and our social and neighbor acquaintances.  From reports from Poppa [2] and Aunt Lawcie Mason [3] he had indeed done exactly that around Senath and Kennett.  He had borrowed money from Lawcie and Orval Mason for jail bond.  Poppa, of course, was always indulgent of Dad.  However, Lawcie, Jewell [4], and Winnie [5] were not.  As close as Dad ever came to causing this fear was his taking Jeff [6], then some three years old, and spending a couple of hours at one of the sleaziest bars in Burlington, Iowa.  At the time, we thought he was just going to the nearby grocery to to buy cigarettes, but instead the two of them returned some 2–3 hours later with Dad definitely smelling of alcohol, and only then told us where they had gone.  Of course that was the last time any of our children went anywhere with Dad.

“So my secondary feeling … was relief.  He had lived his life as he had chosen, and now he was gone.

“My earliest recollection of Dad was his visit to James Edward and Allie Oxley Chipman’s 10-acre farm near Senath, Mo. when I was perhaps 4–6 years old.  People sat on the little front screen porch visiting in the evening.  Dad was laughing a lot, talking, and in a genial mood.  I asked him if I could smoke his cigar butt, and he said sure and when I smoked it I was very ill and threw up.  He thought it was funny, but Momma Chipman [7] was duly critical.

“Dad was involved in the historic auto labor union lockouts/riots in Flint sometime around 1934/1935.  The men barricaded themselves in the auto shops, while some overturned cars outside, etc.  The contention was to get the union recognized.  Also, General Motors, before the union, generally annouced each December a flat $100 Christmas bonus:  that was a significant sum….

“Dad was … drinking quite a bit, and I recall he and Essie [8] arguing over it.  I believe there were other women problems too, between them.

“He regularly practiced, with [his] pistol, behind our house [in Clio, MI], and could usually keep a tincan rolling with a fusillade of shots.

“In the end, the reason I left Flint was that Dad agreed I could quit school and get a job at Champion Spark Plug Factory.  This proved to me he really did not care about me, because previously he had always said I should get good grades, and aspire to attend General Motors School of Technology.  His work clothes and shoes were always saturated with oil and grease, so he told me, “you don’t want to work in the shops and always be dirty and grimy, which is why you should study and get an education.”

“I think Dad meant well sometimes.  But he was addicted to alcohol.  He never learned any self discipline.  He did not seem to recognize that he was responsible for his actions, and omissions.  Our family history reveals him based on the evidence, despite his charisma, or powers of verbal persuasion.  And maybe Momma Chipman’s Pentecostal devotion penetrated his mind sometime, kicking his butt around the block, whether he liked it or not.”

[Notes:  1. Beecher Edgar Chipman; 2. James Edward Chipman; 3. Lawice Idella (Chipman) Mason; 4. Jewell Vester Chipman; 5. Winford William Chipman; 6. Me; 7. Allie May (Oxley) Chipman; 8. Essie Lee Hyatt, Beecher's second wife.]

______________________________________________

Which brings us to the mystery that began this column—the utlimate fate of Beecher Chipman, and the last two (as far as is known) women in his life.

Beecher had four proven children, by Winifred and Essie, and five more probable by Imogene, for a total of nine.

1. Beecher Edgar Chipman married 1st, Jewel Winifred Bailey (my grandmother), b. 5 Apr 1907 in Senath, Dunklin Co., MO, d. 1 Sep 1929 in Flint, Genesee Co., MI, bur. Cude Cemetery near Senath, daughter of Alvis Cowan and Mary Ann Cordelia (Harkey) Bailey. The Harkeys were a prominent family in Dunklin Co.

(Beecher Edgar Chipman and Jewel Winifred Bailey; probably taken about the time they were married.)

Children:

(a)  Donald LaVerne Chipman, b. 4 Jan 1927, d. 4 Mar 1929


(b)  Ralph Vernon Chipman, b. 3 Nov 1928, only surviving child by Beecher Edgar Chipman’s first wife, Jewel Winifred Bailey

(The first and third obituaries are from the Dunklin Democrat, Kennett, MO.  The second obituary is from the Flint, MI newspaper.)

[Alvis Cowan Bailey, father of Jewel Winifred Bailey, from a tin-type, mid to late 1880s.  Alvis Cowan Bailey died on 25 Jul 1934.  Of his family, we know that his parents were Meschach and Lucinda Bailey.  Meschach Bailey was evidently the son of Carr Bailey of Hawkins Co., TN, who was a son of William "Flea Buck" Bailey.  William "Flea Buck" Bailey made his will on 30 May 1828 (Hawkins Co. TN Will Book 1, p. 42)  Beyond that, I have reservations as to published accounts of the family.  A family story relates that William "Flea Buck" Bailey was the son of Samuel and Sarah (Bryan) Bailey.  Sarah (Bryan) Bailey was allegedly the sister of Rebecca Bryan, wife of the famous pioneer Daniel Boone.  This tale is unsubstantiated.]

(This sketch of the Nesbit Community is from an 1896 Dunklin Co. history.)

[My grandparents, Jewel Winifred (Bailey) Chipman and Beecher Edgar Chipman.]

Jewel Winifred (Bailey) Chipman d. at Flint, MI on 1 Sep 1929.

In 1930 Beecher was a lodger in the home of Charles K. Williams in Flint, MI.  Carl Davis Page, who later married Beecher’s sister Pauline Aquilla Chipman, was also a lodger in the home:

(Detail of 1930 Genesee Co., MI Federal Census, city of Flint, ED 25-29, SD 10, Sheet 22B.)

Beecher had placed his son Ralph V. Chipman with Beecher’s father James Edward Chipman:

(Detail of 1930 Dunklin Co., MO Federal Census, Salem Township, ED 35-27, SD 17, Sheet 6B.)

These entries from Polk’s Flint, MI City Directories chronicle Beecher’s marriages.

1929:  Chipman Beecher E (Winifred J) auto wkr r1335 Smith

1936:  Chipman Beecher A (Essi L) autowkr h 1041 E Foss av

1941:  Chipman Beecher E (Essie L) auto wkr Chevrolet h1073 E Austin

1950:  Chipman Beecher E (Jean L) diemkr Fisher h826 E Hamilton av

1954:  Chipman Imogene (wid Beecher) h905 Mary [Record shows that by this time Beecher had left Imogene.  Women who had been deserted sometimes gave their marital status as "Widow."]

(Beecher Edgar Chipman, 1931, Flint, MI.)

2. Beecher Edgar Chipman married 2nd, on 18 Feb 1931 in Genesee Co., MI, Essie Lee Hyatt, b. 2 Feb 1908 in Nashville, Howard Co., AR, d. Jul 1998 in Fresno, CA, bur. Clovis Cemetery, Clovis, CA.  Beecher and Essie divorced in Genesee Co., MI on 31 May 1949 (State File No. 25 18514, Docket No. 47577).

Children (information from obituaries supplemented with my research):

(a)  Joyce Elaine Chipman, b. 22 Feb 1932; m. on 21 Mar 1953 in Genesee Co., MI, Troy L. Barnett, b. 9 Sep 1929 in Lawrence Co., AR, d. 30 Nov 2012 in Fresno, CA.  According to Troy L. Barnett’s obituary published by Yost & Webb Funeral Home, Joyce and Troy’s children are:  LeRoy T. Barnett and Teresa Lynn Saldivar (m. Henry Saldivar). Grandson: Vincent Saldivar.  I have nothing further on this family.

(b)  Dixie Lee Chipman, b. 12 Oct 1940, d. 12 Nov 2013 in Greeneville, TN; m. Jack Alton Dodd, d. 19 Jun 2012.  According to her obituary published 9 Jan 2014 in the Greeneville (TN) Sun, her relatives and descendants are:  sons David Alton Dodd of Baja California, Mexico, and John Edward Dodd of Kingsport, TN; sister Joyce Barnett; half-brother Ralph Chipman; half-sister Sue Bartlett; grandchildren Rebekah Dodd-Crosby (dau. of David Alton Dodd by Irving), Joshua Alton Dodd (son of David Alton Dodd by Irving), Juan Huerta Dodd (son of David Alton Dodd by Guzman), Sharon Guzman Dodd (dau. of David Alton Dodd by Guzman), and Anna Margarita Dodd (dau. of David Alton Dodd by Guzman); and three great-grandchildren (not named).  David Alton Dodd is a sportswriter and freelancer; m. twice: (1) 23 Mar 1985 in Clark Co., NV, Lynette Joan Irving; (2) Rocio Luna Guzman.  I have nothing further on this family.

(Beecher Edgar Chipman and his second wife, Essie Lee Hyatt, 1933.  Bottom row:  Ralph Vernon Chipman, Joyce Elaine Chipman.)

3. Beecher Edgar Chipman married 3rd, on 24 Apr 1950 in Bowling Green, OH, Imogene Lulu (Oliver) Golden, b. 26 Feb 1915 in Malden, Dunklin Co., MO, d. 15 Nov 1995 in Leesburg, Lake Co., FL.  Of her, the facts at hand are these:  she was the dau. of John and Minnie (Kiethley) Oliver.  In the 1920 Dunklin Co., MO Federal Census, Malden City, SD 12, ED 73, Sheet 17A, Line 47, Imogene Olliver age 5 is residing with her widowed mother Minnie Olliver age 20.  By the 1930 Dunklin Co., MO Federal Census, Malden City, SD 17, ED 35-7, Sheet 14A, p. 102, Imogene Oliver age 15 (step-dau.) is residing with her mother, Minnie J. King, and Minnie’s new husband, Earl M. King.  According to the 1940 Genesee Co., MI Federal Census, SD 6, ED 85–70, Sheet 7B, Imogene Golden (divorced in 1936, no children) was employed as a waitress, occupying the rear apartment of a residence which she shared with Minnie King, her mother, who was also divorced and working as a seamstress. Imogene had no siblings, and no children prior to her relationship with Beecher.  Imogene’s relationship with Beecher must have begun in 1943.  The couple never divorced.

Children:

(a)  Susan Deanne Chipman, b. 22 Oct 1944, of Tavares, FL

(b)  Donna Chipman, b. 21 Apr 1946

(c)  James Edward Chipman, b. 10 May 1948, d. 8 Aug 2013

(d)  Glenda Chipman, b. 9 May 1949

(e)  David Chipman, b. 21 Feb 1954.

[Imogene Lulu (Oliver) (Golden) Chipman]

Beecher met Imogene while both were working in the Chevrolet plant in Flint, MI. Although Beecher married Imogene on 24 Apr 1950, four of his children by her were born prior to the marriage.  Obviously he divorced his second wife in order to marry the third.  Essie refused to give Beecher a divorce unless he picked up the expenses.  In the 1940s having children out of wedlock was scandalous, but today it barely rates a yawn in liberal enclaves like Hollywood. Beecher married Imogene in Bowling Green, OH so people in Flint, MI wouldn’t know the couple had been “living in sin.”

Without a DNA test, I can’t be 100% certain of the paternity of Imogene’s children.  In all probability, they’re Beecher’s.  Beecher deserted Imogene and took a job with a toy company in St. Louis.  I found an old letter which gives the reason:  “BE [Beecher] claimed child No. 5 [David] was not his, and evidently Imogene and BE separated about the time child No. 5 was born.”  Beecher may have used that as an excuse to extricate himself from Imogene and the children.

It’s the third child by Imogene, James Edward Chipman (just known as James), who interests me here.  The details were sketchy, and came from a correspondent (not James’s family):  James “killed a policeman in Flint, was sent to prison & escaped.  He was recaptured and is serving time in Marquette Prison.”

Using this information, I was able to locate a dossier (including photograph) on James.  He had been incarcerated in the maximum security facility at Marquette Branch Prison in Marquette, Michigan.

The letter wasn’t entirely accurate.  Using newspaper accounts from The Flint Journal, I was able to  piece together events:

James was in the Genesee County (Michigan) jail for the 10 May 1970 murder of a Flint teenager, with whom he’d been arguing about a woman.  On 6 Apr 1971, Genesee Co. Deputy Sheriffs Ben Ray Walker and Harry G. Abbott took inmates James Chipman, Charles Macklin, and Jesse Bailey to a local dentist.  When Walker took off James’s handcuffs, James jumped Walker. In the ensuing struggle, Macklin gained control of Walker’s handgun, fatally shot Walker and wounded Abbott. James and Macklin hid in a nearby home but were apprehended.

Charles Macklin confessed to the murder of Walker.  Macklin was later killed while attempting to escape from prison.

On 20 Jan 1972, James was convicted of manslaughter for the murder of 10 May 1970 and sentenced to 7-15 years.  On 9 Aug 1971, James was sentenced to life in prison for the Walker murder, and drew 50–70 years for the attempted murder of Abbott, the same sentences given Macklin.  (The trial took place in Pontiac on a change of venue.)  Circuit Court judge Donald R. Freeman told James:  “Even though you did not pull the trigger of the gun that killed Walker, you are equally guilty because you plotted with Macklin to escape.”  Although James wasn’t technically guilty of Walker’s murder, he was an accomplice.

In Jan 1984, James and another convicted murderer escaped from Huron Valley Men’s Facility near Ypsilanti, MI.  James eluded the manhunt for nearly seven weeks until he was recaptured in Phoenix, AZ.

James appealed his  “concurrent life sentences for his jury conviction of first degree murder and assault with intent to commit murder” to the United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.  On 7 Dec 1987, the appeal, alleging unconstitutional instructions to the trial jury, was denied.

According to the Jackson Citizen Patriot, on 26 Jan 1990, James and four other prisoners  escaped from the Southern Michigan Prison Central Complex in Jackson County, Michigan, overpowered two guards, took them hostage, and stole their van.  After a brief high speed chase, the prisoners surrendered peacefully.  The two guards sustained minor injuries.  The kidnapping charge earned James an additional 25-50 years, but it hardly mattered.

I don’t know any of the children by my grandfather’s third marriage, and I’m not going to judge them.  They maintain James was innocent.

The story came to an abrupt end on 8 Aug 2013 with the death of James Edward Chipman.  He brought tragedy to the family of Ben Ray Walker, tragedy to his brother and sisters, and tragedy to my family as well.  Having seen his photo, I think James probably was the son of Beecher Edgar Chipman.

But who was Jean Chipman, with whom my grandfather is buried?  The facts are these:

According to her death certificate, she was Jean Esther Southard, born 16 Feb 1913 in Morehouse, MO, the daughter of Robert E. and Lillie (England) Southard.  Her family was located in the 1930 Mississippi Co., AR Federal census, as follows:

Lila Southard 34 b. MO (head) widow; Esther 17 b. MO (dau.); Lester 13 b. MO (son); Lucy 10 b. MO (dau.); Edna 9 b. MO (dau.); Eva 7 b. AR (dau.).

Lillie (England) Southard is listed as an orphan born March 1896, living in the home of Samuel Evans in the 1900 New Madrid Co. Federal census.  Lila Southard is probably the Lula Southard who died on 16 May 1931 in Mississippi Co., AR.  Jean’s brother Robert Lester Southard was born 9 Oct 1916 in MO, and died 26 Mar 1989 in San Diego, CA.  His death record lists his mother’s maiden name as “England.”

New Madrid Co., MO marriage records show that R.E. Southard married Lillie England on 10 Mar 1912.  Robert Ephron Southard was born on 3 Feb 1892 in Fredonia (Caldwell Co.), KY, the son of Brice and Jennie Southard.  Although Lillie (England) Southard gave her marital status as “widow” in the 1930 Mississippi Co., AR census noted above, Robert Ephron Southard actually died on 11 May 1969 and is buried at Mansfield Cemetery in Richland Co., OH.  

The death certificate of Jean Esther Southard “Chipman” checks out.  I have no birth certificate confirmation for Jean’s birth date as 16 Feb 1913, but it tracks with the 1930 census entry.  The informant on her death certificate, Giniver Shockley, was correct in all other details, so I think she may be trusted here.

Jean had an insurance policy worth $800.00 with Bankers Life and Casualty Company of Chicago.  The policy was issued in 1954, and Beecher was the beneficary.  I wrote Bankers Life and Casualty asking for a copy of Jean’s application, but received no reply.  However, it’s known that Jean lied about her birth date on the application.  Evidently the insurance company spotted the discrepancy when they examined Jean’s death certificate, and reduced the payout on her policy from $800.00 to $550.00.

Probate papers were filed with the St. Francois County, Missouri Probate Division, appointing Berl J. Miller, then St. Francois County Coroner, as administrator of Jean’s estate.  But because Miller had ruled that Jean and Beecher died simultaneously, the money was paid into Jean’s estate as if she had survived Beecher. 

According to the estate papers, Jean had two sons:  Carl Wayne Crader of Fresno, California and J.C. Crader, address unknown.  Miller determined that Jean had no relatives in Missouri.

Mr. and Mrs. Carl W. Crader are listed among the relatives attending Beecher’s funeral.  Carl Wayne Crader was born 28 Aug 1932.  That places Jean’s marriage to Carl’s father as ca. 1931.  The location of the marriage is presently unknown, but could have been in Mississippi Co., AR.

So who got the money from Jean’s estate?  Berl J. Miller—who was also the proprietor of Miller Funeral Home (now Taylor Funeral Service) of Farmington, Missouri.  Jean’s sons received nothing.  Before you cry “foul,” after burying Jean and performing the duties of an administrator, which included newspaper notices to locate heirs, Miller actually wound up with a deficit.  In reviewing the estate papers, it would appear no one contributed anything to help defray his expenses.

There is no record of Jean’s marriage to Beecher.  My father and Beverly Ann (Page) Budzynski ( Beecher’s niece) agree that Beecher and Jean had never married.   Beecher hadn’t divorced Imogene, so Jean’s use of the “Chipman” surname was as an alias.  Missouri abolished common law marriage in 1921, but the few states that accept it require the parties to be free to marry.  Beecher and Jean were cohabiting in rural Missouri in the 1950s, and found it prudent to say they were married.

The insurance policy, effective 22 Feb 1954, comprised Jean’s entire estate.  Why is that date significant?  Because David Chipman, Beecher’s last (probable) child by Imogene, was born the day before, on 21 Feb. Beecher had abandoned Imogene before the birth of David Chipman.

Beecher had no children by Jean, who was in her forties when she met him.  My father signed Beecher’s Social Security death benefit over to Imogene at the urging of Beecher’s sister Pauline Aquilla (Chipman) Page Moffit (who was Page then).

Beecher and Jean are buried at Doe Run Memorial Cemetery in St. Francois Co., Missouri.   They are buried together and will remain together.  The cemetery is sometimes informally referred to as “Rosella McCloud” because of the memorial arch which bears her name.  The cemetery is an association.

For now, the legend on Beecher and Jean’s shared tombstone giving her surname as “Chipman” will remain.  Here’s how their tombstone should read:

Beecher Edgar Chipman

Son of James and Allie Chipman

Born May 15, 1908                          Died April 23, 1959

Jean Esther Southard alias Chipman

Daughter of Robert and Lillie Southard

Born February 16, 1913                   Died April 23, 1959

The birthdate on Beecher’s death certificate of June 16, 1909 is wrong—his father, James Edward Chipman, filed a delayed birth certificate in 1939 so Beecher could register for Social Security.  Beecher was born before birth certificates were mandatory in Missouri.

Beecher and Jean had gone fishing that calamitous day of 23 Apr 1959.  What really happened?  I located the couple’s obituary, and discovered there had been an eyewitness:


Berl J. Miller, St. Francois County Coroner, ruled the deaths “Accidental Drowning,” and no inquest was held.  Note that Beecher’s wife is listed as “Esther E. Chipman.”

Beecher’s funeral was on 27 Apr 1959 at Miller Funeral Home in Farmington, Missouri.  It was attended by many family members and friends.

But that’s not quite the end of the story.  This is:

After a life of self-indulgence, Beecher Edgar Chipman had become a modest farmer.  He left behind a car with a blown clutch, a few chickens, and some ethereal hogs. And scars along the way.  You don’t just walk away from someone like Beecher.

(Beecher Edgar Chipman, ca. 1950s, sporting a W.C. Fields look.)

One uncorroborated tale about Beecher I feel compelled to record.  It’s known he carried a gun.  He told his son Ralph the gun was for protection from “tough” neighbors.  But another version claims Beecher was involved in the numbers racket in Flint.  He was not a career criminal or a killer, it was low level, just quick money.  He left Flint and moved to St. Louis, then left St. Louis for a farm near Doe Run, an unincorporated community in rural St. Francois Co., MO—allegedly because of “heart trouble.”  But was Beecher in some other kind of trouble?  Was the farm a hideout?

Beecher could not have been more different from his four siblings, who were all (as people said in those days) “upright.” Every family has a Beecher. He could be superficially charming, as such men often are. In the end, alcoholism turned him into a cartoon. He made one more grand gesture, but the Earth was having none of it.

___________________________________________

Material in brackets mine.  The inspiration for this column was the TV series “Who Do You Think You Are?”  But there’s nothing heart-warming about the story of Beecher Edgar Chipman. His children depended upon him, not just for the basics of life, but for emotional support as well, and he treated them cruelly.  He was not only irresponsible, he was emotionally abusive, a bully who struck his victims with words.

In many family histories written between the 1880s and 1930s, their “Beechers” are concealed in a hiding place of a few words.  Complete wastrels, if they have the “right” ancestry, assume an importance they never had in life.  Beecher Edgar Chipman was a descendant of Mayflower passengers and Anglo-Saxon monarchs, yet he couldn’t have been less idealistic, and he was no prince among men.  He was of one of the oldest families in America, but had he known the details of his ancestry, I doubt he would have cared.

Having written this column, I feel as though I have finally buried Beecher.  And the woman, though not his wife, who lies buried with him.  There are no additional scandals known to me or my informants, just a trail of scars.  People have survived horrors far greater than this dismal tableaux.

The best way to exorcise a ghost is to bring him into the light, and let him evaporate like dew on the mourning grass.

RIP.

 
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