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Today’s blog post is about my paternal 4th great grandparents, John BELL and Sarah HARDIN who were married in January of 1822. I have never found a marriage certificate for them. The date given is one I have received from other researchers. I mentioned this couple in an earlier blog post. As I was writing this week I realized that in recent posts I’ve forgotten to tell you which line leads me to each of these ancestors. For John and Sarah, I descend through John and Sarah’s son Quincy, through Quincy’s daughter Eliza (whom I recently wrote about here), and Eliza’s daughter (and my great-grandmother) Bessie. I’ll try to remember to include an ancestral line in future posts.
John BELL was born about 1795 possibly in North Carolina or Kentucky. I don’t know for sure who his parents were. There is much about John that I haven’t been able to figure out. I have yet to find a birth or marriage record. His burial location is on private property and in the 1970’s the then-owners of that land destroyed the headstones and the Bell family cemetery. This information comes from researcher Shirley Davis who visited with the people who owned the land at that time.
Sarah HARDIN was born about 1806 in Rutherford County, North Carolina to Hardy and Tabitha (ROBERTS) HARDIN. Their last name is also commonly spelled HARDEN. Sarah has been easier to research than John but there is still much about Sarah that I don’t know. She is buried in the same location as John so there are the same difficulties with no one knowing exactly where that is.
John and Sarah lived in Sweetwater, McMinn County, Tennessee at the beginning of their marriage between 1820-1830. In 1838 they moved to Greene County, Missouri with their children- Quincy, Calvin, Serena, Elvina, Catherine, Alexander, James, Sarah, and Hannah. After the family moved there, Phebe and Mary were born.
John was the first Postmaster at the Dallas, Missouri, Post Office (Greene County). The first Postmaster appointment I can find for him was at the Dallas (Missouri) Post Office on 19 December 1844. He as there until 27 May 1846. The following day John SMITH replaced him at Dallas Post Office. On 15 January 1847, John was appointed Postmaster at the post office in St. Paul, Missouri. Another researcher (Shirley Davis) has said that the St. Paul Post Office was on John’s property. As I’ve said in previous blog posts, the postmaster often kept the post office in his own home. John’s property was Southwest of Marshfield, Missouri, on the James River. I believe it is that area that is known as Bell Ford, which you will see on several of the family records. There is also a place called Bell Spring that was named after our Bell family. Here is a map showing Bell Springs Road and Bell Ford Road.
Here is a zoomed-out map of the same area. #1 is Marshfield, Missouri. #2 is Fordland, Missouri. #3 is Seymour, Missouri.
This map will give you a better idea of location. Within this triangle of Marshfield-Fordland-Seymour is where John and Sarah HARDIN BELL lived and where Bell Springs and Bell Ford are located. My guess is they lived closest to where #4- High Prairie- is. When I looked for St. Paul (the name of the post office John ran out of his home) the Geographic Names Information System indicated that St. Paul Cemetery is located in a place now called High Prairie. So this is my best guess as to where they lived. St. Paul Post Office didn’t exist for very long and there is no longer a place in Webster or Greene County, Missouri going by the name St. Paul. The area shown in the map would, of course, also be the general area where the Bell family cemetery is located. These maps were found at Any Place America’s website.
I’ve read that John ran the St. Paul Post Office until his death. Government records show that he was Postmaster there until 30 November 1848. However, the will transcription given by Shirley Davis shows that John died “on or about” 7 September 1848. The Postmaster records for this time period are difficult to read so it is very possible that John had no gap in employment as a Postmaster. In addition to being difficult to read, the records aren’t indexed. At this time though, these are the only records I’ve found of his employment as Postmaster. The census records for his era do not list types of employment so this may be all we ever learn of what John did for a living.
After John’s death in 1848, Sarah remained in Greene County, Missouri. In 1855, Webster County, Missouri was created from part of Greene County, Missouri. This area included the place where Sarah BELL lived. As far as I can tell, Sarah remained there until her death. Her adult daughters lived with her for much of her life. At least one of the daughters never married. Sarah and John, along with some of their children and grandchildren, were buried in the Bell family cemetery which is on private property. (See above discussion.)
Here is a teaser for the next time I post about Sarah. She had two little girls living with her in the 1870 census- Sarah C. DeSHZER and Cynthia A. BELL. I don’t know who these girls are but I suspect they are grandchildren. Notice that living close to Sarah was her daughter Elvina BELL JACK. I believe the woman living in between Sarah and Elvina was one of Sarah’s other daughters but I haven’t been able to prove or disprove that theory. Here is a screenshot of that census:
(Screenshot from Ancestry.com)
There is so much more to know about this family but I’m going to stop here for now. I plan to return to this family later in the year to finish their story.
This week's theme is “luck of the Irish” either someone very lucky or someone Irish or however you choose to interpret that phrase. You're in luck today because I have lucky AND Irish. I love Irish proverbs, blessings, and toasts so you'll see several throughout this post. You'll know them because their text color will be green.
My Irish Roots If you're enough lucky to be Irish…you're lucky enough!
My grandpa BATES' mom was Dettie Louisa GIBSON. Dettie's dad was James Thomas GIBSON. For decades my mom and I researched this branch of her family and got nowhere and then one day I got a break on Ancestry. We learned James' parents were Samuel GIBSON and Lucinda BELL. Lucinda's grandfather (James BELL) was born in Ireland. Samuel's great-grandfather (George GIBSON) was also born in Ireland.
And now I present to you Samuel's and Lucinda's son, James Thomas GIBSON- my 2nd great-grandfather.
James Thomas GIBSON, born 1828 Kentucky Here's to a fellow who smiles
When life runs along like a song.
And here's to the lad who can smile
When everything goes dead wrong.
At various points throughout James' life he went by the names J. T., James, and Thomas. James was married first to Elizabeth GARDINER. She passed away and he later married Lucinda DOW ALBIN- my great-great-grandmother. When they married, James had 10 children from his previous marriage and Lucinda had one child living with her from her previous marriage. She had at least one other child that she gave up for adoption after his birth- a boy named William Edgar (ALBIN) GIESE. You can read about Lucinda in my blog post Fresh Start(s) here http://happy-girl-24.livejournal.com/14935.html. I feel James must surely have had the luck of the Irish on his side about 1879.
Before I get into James' story though, I want to say that history is what it is. We each make our choices- good or bad. I will never know in this life whether James was truly innocent or guilty of charges made against him. The court and a jury of his peers made a decision according to the law and that is what will stand for the duration of this world. I will present to you what I know based on court records.
Rough Beginnings, Rough Middles For the test of the heart is trouble
And it always comes with years.
And the smile that is worth the praises of earth
Is the smile that shines through the tears.
James entered into his marriage with Lucinda on 16 September 1875 in Adams County, Iowa. It was the second marriage (that I know of) for each of them. James' marriage had ended with the death of his wife. I suspect Lucinda's marriage ended because her husband abandoned her and their children although I can't say for sure. It's certainly possible that she took the children and left him or that he died. So with both James and Lucinda struggling, they united their families.
Rocky Paths If God sends you down a stony path, may he give you strong shoes.
In April of 1879, the world was turned upside down for the family once again. James' daughter Manda (his youngest daughter from his previous marriage) accused James of raping her. A case was filed and a warrant was issued on 8 April 1879. The charge was Rape. On 5 May 1879 James entered a plea of Not Guilty. Subpoenas were issued on 6 May and on 7 May 1879 a “Nolle” was entered and accepted.
Following are five transcriptions of court entries regarding James Thomas and his case:
The first: May, 1879
The State of Kansas
Now on this 17th day of May AD 1879, the same being the 12th Judicial day of the May 1879 term of this court, this cause came on for hearing, the State of Kansas appearing by E. S. Torrance county attorney, and the defendant Thomas Gibson appearing in person and by his attorney James McDermott and said defendant files a Plea in Bar to the charge contained in the information herein, to which Plea in Bar the county attorney aforesaid demurs which demurer is by the Court sustained, to the sustaining of which demurer the defendant duly excepts, whereupon said defendant is duly arraigned on said Information, and required to further plead thereto, and for further plea to said Information says that he is not guilty as therein charged,
Whereupon said cause is by order of the Court continued until the next term of this Court, and said defendant is required to enter into a Recognizance in the sum of Five Hundred ($500) Dollars, to the State of Kansas with sufficient sureties for his appearance before this Court on the first day of the next term thereof to answer to the charge of the Information herein, and not depart the Court without leave thereof, and to abide the Judgment of the Court, and in default of such recognizance that he stand committed to the Jail of Cowley County until he be discharged according to law.
James plead not guilty and filed a Plea in Bar above. At http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/plea+in+bar “Plea in Bar” is defined as:
An answer to a plaintiff's claim that absolutely and entirely defeats it. A plea in bar sets forth matters that deny the plaintiff's right to maintain his or her lawsuit; for example, because the Statute of Limitations has expired or because the claim necessarily overrides a constitutionally protected right of the defendant.
To demur is to disagree or dissent. According to the entry above, the judge affirmed and upheld the demurer of the County Attorney (attorney against James GIBSON).
Comes a Jury of Twelve Good and Lawful Men May the face of every good news
And the back of every bad news
Be toward us.
The second: August 1879
The State of Kansas
On the 27th day of August AD 1879 the same being the third Judicial day of the August AD 1879 term of this Court, the Jury in the above entitled case, who retired upon yesterday to deliberate of a verdict in said Cause, and returned into Court by the officer having them (?) in charge, and they announce to the Court through their foreman that they are unable to agree upon a verdict in said Cause the defendant being present by his Counsel,
Whereupon, it satisfactorally appearing to the Court that said Jury cannot agree upon a verdict in said Cause, and no objection being made thereto, the Court discharges said Jury from the further consideration of said Cause.
Above, the Jury has deliberated and returned to the judge as a hung jury. The judge accepts and releases them.
The third: September 1879
The State of Kansas
Now on this 5th day of September 1879 the same being one of the Judicial days of the August AD 1879 term of this Court, this Cause is by order of the Court continued until the next term of this Court for want of time to try the same at the present term of this Court. And it is ordered by the Court that the defendant enter into a recognizance in the sum of ($500.00) Five Hundred Dollars, to the State of Kansas with sufficient sureties for his appearance before this Court on the first day of the next term thereof to answer to the charge of the Information herein, and not depart the Court without leave thereof, and that he abide the Judgment of the Court, and in default of such recognizance that he stand committed to the Jail of Cowley County until he be discharged according to law.
Above, the judge is holding James over for trial and the trial will be scheduled for the following court term as the current term is about to end without enough time to re-try James' case.
Isn't waiting hard!?
Comes a Jury of Twelve Good and Lawful Men…Again The person bringing good news knocks boldly on the door.
The fourth: December 1879
The State of Kansas
Now on this 13th day of December 1879, the same being the 12th Judicial day of the December 1879, term of this Court, this Cause comes on for trial on the Information of the County Attorney filed herein charging the defendant Thomas Gibson with the offense of Rape, the plaintiff appearing by E. S. Torrance County Attorney and the defendant appearing in his own proper person, and by his attorneys James McDermott and W. W. Perkins, and the parties having respectively announced themselves ready for trial, comes a jury of twelve good and lawful men of Cowley County, to wit, Joseph S. Hill, I. (J.?) D. How, Amos Biddle, William White, H. C. Fisher, Pause King, W. R. Beadell, S. Morris, A. E. Woodard, S. H. Tolles (?), G. W. Webb, & C. C. Robinson, who are duly impanneled and sworn in said Cause, and who having heard the evidence adduced upon the trial of said Cause, the instructions of the Court and the arguments of Counsel, retire under charge of a sworn officer of the Court to deliberate of this verdict, and afterwards on the same day the defendant being present in person and by his Counsel aforesaid, the said Jury are returned into Court by the officer having them in charge aforesaid, and they announce to the Court through their foreman that they are unable to agree upon a verdict in said Cause, Whereupon, it satisfactorially appearing to the Court that said Jury cannot agree, upon a verdict in said Cause, and the defendant or his Counsel making no objection thereto the Court discharges said Jury from the further consideration of said Cause,
Whereupon, the County Attorney aforesaid, with the assent of the Court enters a Nolle Prosequi in said Cause, and said defendant is discharged from further custody and permitted to go hence without day.
The fifth: December 1879
The State of Kansas
On the 26th day of December AD 1879 the same being the second judicial day of the August hearing, the plaintiff appearing by E. S. Torrance County Attorney, and the defendant appearing in person and by his attorney, James McDermott, and the parties having respectively announced themselves ready for trial, comes a jury of twelve good and lawful men of Cowley County, Viz. M. Ellinger, J. P. Musselman, F. M. Osborn, Johnson Chandler, John Sinton (?), J. F. Tucker, R. Eastman, S. G. Castor, J. M. Hooker, John F. Miller, M. B.(?) Hennen (?), N.(?) J. Thompson, who are duly empanneled and sworn in said cause, and who, having listened to the evidence and the instructions of the Court, retire under a sworn officer of the Court to deliberate of their verdict.
Here you can see the court record where charges have been brought against him in State of Kansas v. Thomas Gibson:
On 13 December 1879 the charge was “nollied”. I looked up “Nolle Prosequi” in an online law dictionary and the definition said:
(no-lay pro-say-kwee) n. Latin for "we shall no longer prosecute," which is a declaration made to the judge by a prosecutor in a criminal case (or by a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit) either before or during trial, meaning the case against the defendant is being dropped. The statement is an admission that the charges cannot be proved, that evidence has demonstrated either innocence or a fatal flaw in the prosecution's claim or the district attorney has become convinced the accused is innocent. Understandably, usage of the phrase is rare. In the 1947 courtroom movie, Boomerang! the climactic moment arrived when the District Attorney himself proved the accused person innocent and declared nolle prosequi.
So I present to you now my Irish James as a free man- a vindicated man. In my heart I truly, very much hope he was innocent and there was some emotional or psychological flaw in Manda that caused her to accuse him. Perhaps, still grieving over her mother and angry at her father for remarrying, she chose to take vengeance in this way. That is my hope. I could forgive her for that. Grief is difficult.
A Man As Mysterious to Me Today as He Was 20 Years Ago Better the trouble that follows death than the trouble that follows shame.
James' life after the trial is somewhat confusing to me because of recent information I found.
What I knew before:
In 1880, James and Lucinda were not living together. Lucinda and her daughter Mary Rebecca were living with Lucinda's parents in Cowley County, Kansas. James' whereabouts were unknown. However, he had two daughters with my great-great-grandmother, Lucinda. They had Barbara on 12 January 1881 in Bentonville, Benton County, Arkansas. Then they had Dettie (my great-grandmother) on 7 December 1883 in Winfield, Cowley County, Kansas. So I figured perhaps he was off working somewhere or perhaps the legal trouble flared back up and he ended up in prison. There were ways to explain his absence
But then…WAIT! WHAT?!? In 1880, James appears to be living with a woman named Elizabeth who is almost exactly the same age as his supposedly-dead first wife Elizabeth and there are 3 children with the same names as 3 of his 10 children from his first marriage in the home with him!! All explanations just went out the window. Maybe more than one James Gibson? So I dig a little deeper.
I take a look back at Lucinda's timeline and see that in 1885, James and Lucinda ARE living together with Barbara (called Myrtle) and Dettie in Cedar, Cowley County, Kansas. Mary Rebecca was living with her maternal grandparents, Henry and Rebecca DOW. I wonder if they had prejudices against James because of the trial and I wonder if they'd had Mary Rebecca in their own home for so long that they felt she was more theirs and wouldn't allow Lucinda to take her into Lucinda and James' home? There will probably never be an answer to that question. I'm not sure Mary Rebecca ever lived with Lucinda again. Fast forward 5 years and Lucinda is married to David Jones. Does that clear things up? About as clear as muddy water…
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead May you have food and raiment,
A soft pillow for your head,
May you be forty years in heaven
Before the devil knows you're dead.
All my life I was told James died on 15 October 1886 in Benton County, Arkansas. The fact that I've never been able to find any death record or grave was not really that bothersome considering that happens frequently. So you just keep on looking and trying to find it. And then…
Um…why's he still with that Elizabeth woman in 1900 with one of his ten children?? I give. I'm stumped. Anyone want to help me solve this one?? I'm still searching. The answer is out there somewhere and one day I'll find it. But for now, I have no answers and no conclusion for you. So I leave you now with this unresolved mystery and a few of my favorite Irish blessings and proverbs.
We cannot share this sorrow
If we haven't grieved a while.
Nor can we feel another's joy
Until we've learned to smile.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
May you live all the days of your life.
~ Jonathan Swift