Monday, November 3, 2008

Daniel Newhall - Lettice Johnson Headstone

Direct from the South Kirby Cemetery in Kirby, VT, the headstone for Daniel Newhall and Lettice (Johnson) Newhall.

Daniel and Lettice were the parents of Merritt Newhall, father of Lettice Newton, who married Hubbard McKoy and came out to California during the gold rush.

Daniel and Lettice are your gr-gr-gr-gr-gr-grandparents.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Oakland's Orne Family Vortex

I'm in touch with an Orne family relative who shed considerable light on Eben/Edward T Orne (your gr-great grandfather) and his family. Early on, I was intrigued by Eben/Edward T Orne (hereafter referred to as Edward T). I couldn't figure out why he wasn't showing up on any Dubuque-area censuses after 1870, but it didn't seem that he'd left the family, since he and his wife Ellen were buried together. Turns out (with the help of a Higgins family relative) I was able to prove that he lived in Chicago, where he ran various businesses with his sons Freeman and Warren. He probably had the business in Chicago and went back to the Dubuque area when possible (on weekends?); it's only 160 mi. away. Most of his children were born in Chicago.

Anyway, through this new Orne family relative, I learned that in 1849, Edward T Orne left home at the age of 17 to make his fortune in California. His mother Elizabeth (that's her in the photo above) begged him not to go, but he went anyway. I have no documentation of where he was between 1849 and 1860 (one presumes California, but I have no proof). For many many years afterward, his mother asked every person she knew going to California to look for her son. Edward's younger half-sister, Eliza, helped in mother in trying to locate Edward. The following was passed down through family history:

"It was a sad day in 1849 when Eliza's half-brother, 17 year old, Edward decided to leave home and make his way in the world. Anna was 6, Eliza was 3, and Mary was 6 months at the time. Edward planned to go to California to mine for gold. Their mother, Elizabeth feared for his welfare and wondered when she would see him again. There were tearful goodbyes and no doubt the two little sisters were also crying. Three year old, Eliza never forgot that day and recalled the details of that day many years later. That was the last they ever heard of Edward but his mother remained hopeful, and asked any stray traveler who happened into town if they knew of her son Edward Orne who may have gone to California.

"The years went by and Eliza and her sisters were getting big. Sometimes they would go out on the hillside and gather strawberries and blueberries for their mothers delicious berry pies. Their father was a house painter and the family owned considerable property. When the girls were young ladies, their father sold their holdings and moved the family to Chicago, IL. Anna found the young man of her choice and became Mrs. Jewell. Eliza and Mary still lived at home. Eliza clerked in a bookstore and in their spare-time, both girls embroidered lamp-mats, throws, etc.

"One day her mother came in with some exciting news! She had met a man from California who had not only seen Mr. Orne, but could also give her his address. Eliza wrote a letter at once and they waited expectantly for Edward's answer, but when it arrived, it was not from their Edward but from a stranger, Ebenezer Orne who they knew nothing about. It would be only right, however that Eliza acknowledge Mr. Orne's kindness in answering her letter - and he in turn to assure her he would try and locate her brother. So began a correspondence, which resulted in the course of a year in Eliza's accepting Ebenezer's proposal that she come to California and be his wife. His next letter contained money for her traveling expenses and she, in spite of her father's objections, left off, making lamp-mats to concoct a lovely little bonnet and wedding outfit. She was 26 years old at this time. Her father raged, he would never have anything more to do with her if she left and married a man who she had never seen. Some of their neighbors were going to California soon and Eliza was to go with them. So on the starting day she had her little outfit ready - said her good-byes - and climbed into one of the waiting prairie-schooners for the trip out west.

"There were only 3 schooners starting at that time, but they made it safely across the plains and through the mountain passes. The trail sometimes became tedious and dusty but the novelty of entering new landscape each day compensated for that. Eventually, the schooners neared their destination."
Ebenezer and Eliza were married and lived the rest of their lives in California. One of their daughters lived to the age of 102.

In 1910, after Eliza was widowed, she lived about two blocks from where Dave and Pam now live... and about a block from where Mayme Ware -- Edward's daughter --- lived in 1929. I've now dubbed this Oakland neighborhood the Orne vortex (click to biggify):

Did Edward's mother ever find Edward? Apparently so. I'm ordering her death certficate, on which, supposedly, Edward is an informant, and one of his half-sisters is listed as a survivor in his obit.

Edward/Eben T Orne:

Still a mystery: why/when did Edward go by the name of Eben? I suspect he may have been going by Eben when he left for California, thus leading to Eliza being put in touch with Ebenezer H Orne.

And as a footnote, it turned out that Ebenezer H Orne and Edward T Orne were first cousins. Their fathers, Joseph Orne III and Ebenezer M Orne were brothers. Eliza was not an Orne, however. Her mother's first husband was Joseph Orne IV; Eliza's father was Henry Bates.

While we're on the topic of Edward T Orne, here's a letter he wrote requesting his great-grandfather's Revolutionary War service records... click the thumbnails to enlarge:

Page 1:
Page 2: