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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Brick Walls Come Down Little by Little

It seems to me that with each brick wall I bust through I may gain several more.  The very first line that I started searching when I started genealogy still has the most brick walls but I have also busted through a lot of them over time.  So wins and losses have been the theme for this line.

Tilghman Overton and Elizabeth Byers were my great great grandparents.  They came to Nebraska from Indiana in the early part of 1860 to claim free land through the Homestead Act.  Their homestead was located in Sarpy county, Nebraska.

Elizabeth I will save for another day because her brick wall is a tall one, except to give you enough information to help you understand Tilghman.  On the 1870 census the family is listed as:
Tilghman 28, Elizabeth 30, Margaret 7, Robert 5, Anna 2.

As soon as the Homestead Land was officially theirs Tilghman and Elizabeth took out a mortgage on it in 1871 from a James Preston.  In 1875 James Preston files suit in District Court due to default on the loan.  In his claim he states that the said, Elizabeth M. Overton has died since the mortgage was taken out.  This is the only proof I have of her death.  Newspapers from that time period were not perserved in that county.  There are some starting about 1875 but nothing from 1871-1874 that I have found.

All of Sarpy County's cemeteries have been documented and Elizabeth's name does not show up in any of them.
 * Brick wall #1:
-Where is Elizabeth buried and when exactly did she die?

In 1876 Tilghman marries Marie Adkins (a widow) in Sarpy County.  They are together in the 1880 farm census in Forest City, Sarpy Co., Nebraska.  Tilghman's children are not listed with them but Maria's children are.

Tilghman's daughter, Margaret (my great grandmother), is listed in 1880 as being 16 and working for a James Davidson.  Tilghman's son, Robert, is listed in an 1880 farm census as being 14 and I find him living with his aunt, Matilda Byers McClure Groth, and her husband.  I don't find little Anna at all and I never find Robert again after the 1880 census.
* Brick wall #2:
-What happened to Robert and Anna?

Tilghman next shows up in the Omaha City Directory in 1881 listed as a carpenter and boarding.  On future census records for Maria the marital status box labeled "widowed or divorced" is checked.  When Maria dies and her son inherits her land there is a sworn statement that Maria Adkins and Maria Overton are the same person and that Maria Overton has divorced Tilghman.  No divorce record has been found in either Sarpy County or Douglas County.

For a long time I could not find Tilghman after seeing him in the Omaha City Directory.  "Brick Wall".  He seemed to have disappeared from the census records and the Omaha city directories.  Then one day when discussing this problem with another genealogist he did a search on ancestry and told me that he found him in the California Voter Records.  These records had just became available and I had not done a recent search for Tilghman.  This was a great lesson for me...just because nothing comes up one day you shouldn't give up. Something new might come up the next day as new records are being added all the time!

So Tilghman shows up in the California Voter Registers and there is a great description of him.  He is listed as being 6' tall, dark complextion, brown eyes and dark hair.  That is exactly how I would describe my dad!  At this point in time I had no picture of Tilghman and this was great information.
I can find Tilghman in voter registers and city directories up until 1897in California and then he is gone again.
*Brick wall #3:
-Where did Tilghman go?  When did he die?

So now I only have my great grandmother, Margaret Overton, to track.  Margaret married John Fuller in Sarpy County in 1882.  They have 9 children during the time they are in Sarpy County and 2 more when they move to St. Francis, KS.  3 of the children die in Sarpy County.  2 girls die in 1891 and one son, Charlie dies in January 1900.  John and Margaret move their family to St. Francis, KS about March of 1900.
I am reading the newspapers of the time for more information about how Charlie died.  I find lots of little family snippets in the papers about this Fuller family.  I find some birth records, and I do also find that John has been to Kansas looking for land and that he will be moving his family there.  I then find a record about the death of Charlie.  Seems he was about 17 and died of pneumonia.  I am not sure why I kept reading the papers after that date because the family had moved but it was interesting and so I kept on reading and my heart just about jumped out of my chest when I came across this:

"Til Overton, who was well known to all the old-timers in this part of the country, died in Kansas on the night of May 4.  He was about sixty years of age and leaves one daughter, Mrs. John Fuller, of St. Francis, Kansas.  The cause of the death the MONITOR did not learn."
-Springfield Monitor 10 May 1900

I was so excited to find a record of what had happened to Tilghman.  I have a death date for him and a state...but new mysteries too.  Did he die in St. Francis while visiting his daughter?  I have not had a chance to really search the cemeteries there yet to see if he is buried there.  I have borrowed the newspapers for St. Francis, KS and looked for more information on his death but found none.  I can also now be pretty sure that Anna and Robert had both died at some point since it lists her as the only daughter left to mourn him.

Later I did receive one more awesome piece of history on Tilghman.  My cousin, Connie, and my aunt, Jody, from California have been going through some of my aunt's old photo albums and they scanned and sent me this.

,What a treasure!  Brick wall #3 was knocked partially down.  I hope to be able to find where he was buried.  1900  is just a little bit too early for death certificates in Kansas but I will keep looking for other records.

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