Those Places Thursday – Bender Home in Lakin Township, Harvey, Kansas

Lakin Township is where my great-great-great-grandfather John Bender farmed in the late 1800’s.  I know from his obituary that he arrived in Lakin Township in 1876.  He and his wife Matilda brought with them 4 sons and a daughter.  After arriving in the area they had 2 more boys and another girl.

On my research trip to Kansas in October 2010, I had the chance to visit the Harvey County Historical Society in Newton, Kansas.  One of the many great finds that afternoon was the Harvey County Historical Plat Maps 1882.  My ancestor John Bender was listed in the index.

Bender Land Index


Here is an overview map Harvey County, Kansas.  I have added a blue star to section 25 in Lakin Township.  This is the area where John Bender resided as listed in the index.

Harvey County Kansas


I then looked at the Plat Map for Lakin Township and looked in section 25.

Bender Plat map


This was so exciting!  I had located where the family lived in the county.  Now my goal was to translate this plat map to a current map.  First, I found a historical map of Harvey County at the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.  The map I found was perfect.  It laid out the sections, towns, and railroad lines in the county.  I added the image as an overlay to Google Earth.  After lining up the historical image with all of the landmarks, I was able to identify where the 80 acres is today – 9169 Hertzler Road South, Sedgwick, Kansas.

Bender today

Here is the crazy part  – My Mom and I drove right past this house!!  We were heading north from the cemetery where the Benders are buried to the town of Halstead.  This is the street we traveled to get there.  We drove by without even knowing it!

I have gone a step further and checked the Bureau of Land Management Records website.  Sure enough, I have found a Timber Culture Patent for John Bender for 80 acres.  I was not too sure what a Timber Culture Patent is so it was time to research that.  According to Wikipedia, it was a follow-up to the Homestead Act that allowed homesteaders to gain 160 acres of land as long as a quarter of the land was planted with trees.

Here is a closeup of the property I have identified.  You notice that the area in the southwest corner is covered in trees.  When using the street view on Google maps, you can see the house in the trees.  This is the same area marked with a house on the Plat Map from 1882.  I believe that my 3rd great-grandfather planted those trees as part of his patent requirements.

Hertzler Road


What an adventure!  I cannot wait to do this same exercise for the land that Charles Bradley and his family lived on in the same county!

Tuesday’s Tip – An Obituary Is Only A Clue

Finding obituaries in newspapers is one of the many tools researchers use on a regular basis.  In my experience, obituaries are a valuable tool as they are usually full of information about a person and their family.

When I find an obituary, I will do my usual document “intake.”  I scan the article to my computer, add source citation to the digital document, transcribe the obituary to a word document, add any information to my genealogy software, again add source citations to each fact, file the digital document in the correct folder, and then add any to-do items to my research log.

I think the last step is the most important (besides citing my sources of course).  An obituary is only as accurate as the person who supplies the information.  I have found several obituaries with incorrect or biased information.  I say biased because the informant wanted to paint a “better” picture than reality.  Some people just don’t know information and some purposely misinform.

I use an obituary as a clue for each piece of information contained in the article.  Every piece of information needs to be checked and verified against other sources.

I recently found an obituary in the Hutchinson Daily New, Hutchinson, Kansas for my maternal grandfather.  He passed away in California.  The obituary probably ran in the local Kansas paper since my grandmother’s family lived in this town.  The obituary had many incorrect facts relating to my grandfather including his age, cause of death, and the names of his two youngest  children.

I am lucky because I have several other sources that confirm the correct information for the mistakes made in the obituary.  It is an important lesson to be aware that sources with secondary information are not always accurate.

I use my research log to not only list my research “finds” but also my “need to find.”  As I analyze a document, I list each source that I need to get my hands on to confirm each fact that I have identified.  Having two small children has done a number on my memory.  The research log allows me to always remember to follow up and deal with any conflicting information.

Happy Hunting!

Wedding Wedesday – Lawbaugh Mitchell Wedding Announcement

I was so excited to find this wedding annoucement on this week.  It features my maternal grandparents.  The timing could not be better as I fly down to Southern California on Monday to visit with my grandma.  I can’t wait to bring her a printed copy as a surprise!

Hutchinson News Herald, June 25, 1950, Page 7, Column 1


Wedding vows for Roberta Mitchell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. D.M. Mitchell, and William H. Lawbaugh, son of Mrs. Effie Lawbaugh of Bell Gardens, Calif., were wed at 8pm Saturday in 10th Avenue Evangelical United Brethren Church by Rev. C.H. Hartmann.  Organist, Mrs. Floyd Leatherman, and Duain Crain, vocalist, gave wedding music.

The church was decorated with two pair of candelabra, greenery and white satin bows.  Geraldine Linegarger of Emporia was maid of honor and Mrs. G.E. Cogzill, sister of the bride, was bridesmaid.  Robert Scruton of Wichita was best man.  Ushers were Raymond Mitchell of Augusta, Delbert and Kenneth Mitchell, brothers of the bride.  Donnie and Connie Cogzill, twin nephew and niece of the bride were rind bearer and flower girl respectively.  Tapers were lighted by Delores McAdams of Wichita and Betty Gragg of Guymon.

The bride wore a gown of white satin trimmed with nylon illusion net and a nylon illusion veil held by a crocheted ruffle.  She wore pearls, gift of the bridegroom, and a white Bible topped with an orchid corsage.

Her attendants wore ballerina gowns of pink and blue, mitts and nylon illusion veils held by crocheted ruffles.  They carried pink corsages on white Testaments.  The taper lighters wore yellow dresses and the flower girl wore a gown of white organza over pink taffeta.  Mrs. Cogzill made the bride’s dress and veil and the attendants veils and mitts.

A reception will be held in the Mitchell home with Mrs. Ruby Elliott of Salina in charge of the guest book.  Mmes  Raymond Mitchell of Augusta, Kenneth and Delbert Mitchell assisted at the reception.

For going away the bride wore a tan silk dress with brown and white accessories.  After short wedding trip the couple will be at home in Wichita where Mr. Lawbaugh is employed by Southwestern Bell Telephone company.  Mrs. Lawbaugh has just completed two years of X-Ray training at Wesley hospital in Wichita.

Mappy Monday – The Many Moves Of The Flock Family

Matthias Flock is my 4th great grandfather.  (me->my mom->Roberta Mitchell->Opal Strickler->Effie Flock->John Flock->Matthias Flock).  He was born about 1813 in New Jersey.  He died between 1860-1870 in either Appanoose County, Iowa or York County, Nebraska.  He married Margaret Fankboner in 1835 in Tuscarawas, Ohio.  I have documented 11 children born between 1835 and 1860.

One of the things that really sticks out to me about this family is how much they moved during their lifetime.  I created a timeline in excel to get a better idea of when and where the family lived.  As they moved from place to place, they seemed to leave a couple of kids behind in each location. (Not Literally! The kids would stay in a town after they married.)

Using the information I had gathered in the excel sheet, I created a google map to get a better visual idea of how the Flock family moved around the United States.  First they moved west, then South.

The excel sheet was pretty long so here is a quick snap shot of the family’s moves:

about 1813 – Matthias Flock is born in New Jersey
about 1815 – Margaret Fankboner is born in Pennsylvania
1835 – Matthias and Margaret marry in Tuscarawas County, Ohio
1835-1850 – The Flock’s live in Tuscarawas, Ohio as seven of their children are born
1850-1854 – The Flock’s live in Coles County, Ohio and have 2 more children
1855-1865? – The Flock’s live in Appanoose County, Iowa and have their last child
1865?- 1878? – Margaret now a widow, lives in York County, Nebraska.  One of her son’s remainded behind in Iowa and did not make this move.
1878-1884?  – Margaret moves in with son John and his family in Washington County, Kansas.  She has left another couple of sons in York, Iowa.
1884- 1904 – Margaret is no longer living with John.  She is found again in 1904 in the Cemetery in Ringwood, Oklahoma.  One of her sons, Charles, is also buried there with his family.  It is possible that she lived her last years in Oklahoma with him. An interesting note is that another son, John, died in Enid, Oklahoma.  Enid and Ringwood are only 21 miles apart.  For this family, that is a small distance.

When my ancestors moved in the mid and late 1800’s, they were definitely part of America’s great Western Expansion.  I took a look at the BLM website to search for any land patents.  I was amazed to see that most of Matthias and Margaret’s sons applied for patents in Iowa, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.  I will have to spend some time learning more about the Homestead Act of 1862 and my ancestors roll in populating the west.

Census Sunday – Dudley Mitchell Household 1940 Federal Census

Dudley Moses Mitchell is my great-grandfather.  I found Dudley and his family residing at 630 19th West, Hutchinson, Kansas in the 1940 Federal Census.  During a research trip to Kansas in 2010, I took photos of many city directories in Hutchinson spanning the years 1937-1958.  This made it easy to find my family.  I also found a collection of index cards for Sanborn Insurance including photos on the back of each card.

The 1940 census finds Dudley (64) living with Opal (wife, 49), Raymond (son, 19), Elbert (son, 15 – real name Delbert), Kenneth (son, 13), Roberta (daughter, 9), Robert Newby (grandson, 5), and Richard Newby (grandson, 4).  The census shows that everyone in the household was born in Kansas and had lived in Topeka, Kansas in 1935.

Dudley rented the house pictured above for $18 a month.  Dudley worked as the store manager of a grocery store in Hutchinson.  He only worked 6 weeks in 1939 and shows in income of zero dollars.  His sons, Raymond and Delbert also worked in the grocery store.  Raymond was in the meat department and Delbert worked as a clerk.  Raymond work for 40 weeks in 1939 and had an income of $350.  Delbert only worked 14 weeks and made an income of $112.  I believe that Delbert only worked 14 weeks since he was also in school.

My grandmother has always told us that she grew up without much money.  This census enumeration documents that there were 8 people in the household living off of $462.  Times were not easy.  Most of the families on other pages in Hutchinson had an average of 4 people in the household and were making $800-1000 a year.  
I found Loretta Mitchell Cogzill living nearby with her new husband, Grant Cogzill, at his parent’s house.  Loretta is the mother of Robert and Richard.

William Bender 1868-1902

William Henry Bender is my 3rd great grandfather.  (William Lawbaugh > Effie Bender>William Henry Bender)  He was the first child born to John Bender and Matilda Shireman on May 23, 1868.  Records show he was born in Pennsylvania.  The family moved to Kansas in 1876 or 1877.  They settled on land between the towns of  Halstead and Sedgwick which are located about 25 miles northwest of Wichita.

William had 5 younger brothers and 2 younger sisters.  Tragedy struck the family when the youngest, Leroy, died in 1884 at 6 months old.  There were more happy times as William married Mary Bradley on Thanksgiving Day in 1887 (November 24).  Mary was from several miles down the road in the town of Halstead.  On my trip to Kansas in October 2010, it was easy to imagine William riding a horse to town to see his girl.

William and Mary Bender age 19 and 18

William and Mary quickly started their own family.  Their first born, a son named William, arrived in 1888.   I have not found any death records for William but he may have died in 1889 around the same time of his Aunt Ella.  Ella was William’s youngest sister who passed away just a few weeks after her 8th birthday in April 1889.

William and Mary lived in the Riverside Park area of Halstead.  This is just north of the downtown area and across the river.  We tried to find the home on our trip to Kansas but it was no longer there.  There was evidence that a home had been on the property at one time.  The 1900 U.S. census lists William working as a Teamster.

William and his wife, Mary, had 6 more children.  Benjamin was born in May 1890.  Effie (my 2nd great grandmother) was born 30 December 1892.  Walter was born 15 march 1896.  An unknown child was born after Walter between 1896 and 1898.  This child did not survive.  Charles was born May 1899.  Last was Matilda born in 1901.

William died at the early age of 34 on October 4, 1902.  His children ranged in age from 1 to 12 at the time of his death.  His obituary says that he had been ‘in poor health for several months’ before his death. William’s headstone is located next to his parents and younger siblings at the Pleasant Valley Cemetery just outside of Sedgwick.  It reads ” W. H. Bender, born May 23, 1868, died Oct 4, 1902, dearest father thou hast left us and our loss we deeply feel. But tis god that has bereft us he can all our sorrows heal.”

Sunday’s Obituary – Matilda Shireman Bender

Matilda Shireman Bender is my g-g-g grandmother on my mother’s paternal side (William Lawbaugh> Effie Bender > William Bender > Matilda Shireman).  The following articles were found on my trip to Kansas in October 2010.  I got to spend a wonderful day at the Kansas Historical Society State Archives Library in Topeka, Kansas.  

We wish to express our sincere appreciation to the many friends and neighbors for the numerous and beautiful flowers and the kind deeds and words of sympathy extended during the illness of our beloved mother and grandmother.
Mrs. Nora Bastin
Irvin Bender
Lewis Bender and Family
Walter Bender

“Card of Thanks”, Halstead Independent, Halstead, Kansas, 3 March 1932, page 2, column 2: microfilm no. H1640, Kansas State Historical Society Archives, Topeka, Kansas.

Well Known Pioneer Woman Passes Following a Long Illness.
The last rites for Mrs. Matilda Bender who passed away at the home of her son, Irvin, south of town, on February 22, were held Thursday after noon at 2 o’clock from Pleasant Valley Church with Rev. D.H. Sills of Sedgwick, assisted by Rev. Moorehead of Wichita, and Rev. Bessie Koontz conducting the services. Music was furnished by the Pleasant Valley Church choir accompanied by Mrs. Virgil Wilson at the piano. The many beautiful floral offerings and the large attendance at the services gave evidence of the love and esteem in which Mrs. Bender was held.
The body was laid to rest in the family lot in Pleasant Valley Cemetery and those who served as pallbearers were Robert Trego, Joe Neal, Charles Berger, Will Hoke, Jas. McIntire and Lou Biggs, neighbors of the deceased.
Matilda Shireman Bender was born in Union county, Penn., December 21, 1847, and passed away at the home of her son on February 22, at the age of 84 years, 2 months, and 1 day.  Her death was attributed to a fractured hip received October 19.
She was united in marriage to John Bender, August 8, 1867.  They lived in Allenwood, Pa., until 1878 and moved to the farm south of Halstead.  For the past 54 years they lived within on half mile of the present home where they endured the hardships of pioneer days.
To this union were born eight children, four of whom with her husband preceded her in death, Mr. Bender having passed away February 15, 1925.  Those who survive are one daughter, Mrs. Nora Bastin, three sons, Irvin, Lewis, and Oliver and Walter, a grandson, whom she raised as her own.
Mourning her besides her children are two brothers, John and Samuel Shireman and one sister, Mrs. Emma Vaneida, all of Pennsylvania; a nephew, Herbert  King of Atlanta, Kans., who has been devoted to her during the weeks of her suffering; ten grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.
Grandma Bender, as she was familiarly known, was a faithful member of the United Brethern Church at Pleasant Valley, always showing a keen interest in all the affairs of the church and Sunday school whenever possible until a failure of hearing and poor health kept her at home.
She loved her church, her home and her community and was always ready to lend a helping hand, a cheery smile, and a word of comfort to the afflicted and unfortunate.  Grandma Benders’s happiest moments were when she was surrounded by her family and friends.  Her sunny disposition had endeared her to all who chanced to make her acquaintance, and while suffering intense pain during the last few weeks her faith in her Saviour was unwavering.  She displayed great patience and fully appreciated the worth of true friends who helped to ease her and who were with her during the long days and night of suffering. 
“A heritage of Faith and love you left us all.
Seems to me the sun shines brighter,
Seems that life is more worth while
Seems to me the load is lighter,
Having been blessed by the sunshine of your smile.”

Matilda Bender obituary, Halstead Independent, Halstead, Kansas, 3 March 1932, page 1, column 3: microfilm no. H1640, Kansas State Historical Society Archives, Topeka, Kansas.

Tuesday’s Tip – Verify You Have The Right Vital Record

Yesterday I was so excited to see an envelope in the mail with my handwriting on it.  Self addressed envelopes always get opened first!  I tore open the envelope with excitement at what new information may be waiting inside for me.

Due to budget constraints, sending off for vital records is not an everyday occurrence in my house.  This makes them even more special.  I am always very careful to fill out request forms with all of the information I have about my ancestor.  I have found that sometimes even with the information listed, I receive a record that is NOT my ancestor.

Last year, in preparation for my genealogy vacation to Kansas, I followed up on missing information.  I ordered several vital records and updated my searches on Internet sites.  I received a death certificate for Mary Switzer.  I had used a date range for her death in my request using dates my grandma vaguely remembered.  When the certificate arrived I was so excited and immediately jumped onto the Internet to see what else I could find using the new data.  After about an hour of finding lots of new information, I realized there were also lots of inconsistencies.  After some analysis, I found that there are two Mary Switzers who were married to a Frank Switzer around the same time and same area of Kansas.  The death certificate was not my 2nd great grandmother.  Thankfully, I was able to obtain the correct death certificate before my trip.  The correct death certificate led me to the cemetery in Halstead, Kansas.

I learned an important lesson that day – always take a moment to check your records and see if the vital record you received is really the ancestor you are looking for.

Yesterday, that self addressed envelope was a bright light on a difficult day with my almost 3 year old.  I have been waiting about 3 months for a response from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  After opening the death certificate for Edward D Lahey, I went to my computer to verify that it was my Edward.  Almost immediately my spirits fell.  This was obviously not my Edward.  This Edward died in 1973.  My Edward died between 1910-1920.  I am going to see if I can find any further information narrowing down the date of death before attempting to order this death certificate again.

After some irritation at the Department of Heath for not looking the details listed in my request, I poured myself a glass of wine and got over it.  I decided instead that the next time I go to Northern Virginia to visit my parents, we will just have to take a mini genealogy vacation to Pittsburgh.  We still have some relatives living there to visit, cemeteries to document, and prove the parents of Edward if we can.

Thriller Thursday – Falling down an elevator shaft

Dudley M Mitchell is my mother’s maternal grandfather.

Dudley was born October 20, 1875 in Valley Fall, Kansas.  He was child number 7/8 born to Mary Frances Coffey and Moses Mitchell.  He had a twin sister name Mary (aka Dolly).  She passed away between 1895-1900).

I heard this story last October from my mother’s Uncle Raymond.  He is Dudley’s second child.

Raymond remembers his mother being pregnant with his younger sister, my grandma, when this incident took place.  Since Raymond was born in 1921 and my grandma is 10 years younger, it was approximately 1930.

His father worked as a laborer in a cold storage unit in Topeka, Kansas.  The cold storage building did not have lights in it because they created heat.  There was an elevator that ran to the second story of the building.  The men were supposed to ride the elevator one at a time.  Someone had used the elevator while Dudley was on the upper floor.  They did not return the elevator to the second story when they were finished.  When Dudley completed his task upstairs, he worked his way back to the elevator in the dark.  Not realizing the elevator was gone, he stepped into the elevator shaft and fell.  He badly injured his back.

Dudley did not return to the cold storage unit after he recovered.  He opened a grocery store in Topeka.  Because of his generous nature, the grocery store would eventually fail during the Depression.  The family moved to Hutchinson where Dudley found a job in another grocery store.