Friday, January 15, 2010

Westbound Day 9 Parker KS to Wichita KS 174 miles

The migration to Kansas actually ends in Wichita since two of William and Sarah's grandchildren eventually migrated to Wichita.  This leg of my trip is to see the Wichita cousins and educate them about how they came to live in Kansas today.  It would be a big effort to document all the other places the descendants of William and Sarah live today.  I have been able to find their descendants living in Kansas, Oklahoma, Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Alabama, Illinois, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oregon, Iraq, Hong Kong, Tennessee, and New York.  I am certain I have only accounted for a handful.

I intend to remain in Wichita for about a week then start the drive east.  There will be fewer stops and diversions going eastbound since I fulfilled the goal of the trip going westbound.  According to google maps I should be able to shorten the mileage to about 1400 miles versus the 2205 westbound.

I will be posting observations and impressions that have struck me as I make this trip that have nothing to do with genealogical research but more to do with what the county looks like from the road.  Watch for these posts beginning January 19, 2010.

Westbound Day 8 Overland Park KS to Parker KS 58 miles

Back in the 1940's and 50's cities like Overland Park, Lenexa, and Olathe KS were small burgs southwest of Kansas City and destinations for farmers' weekly shopping and supply trips.  They were self contained stand alone communities and considered to be quite a distance from Kansas City, the big city.  Today they are suburbs of Kansas City along I-35 with the typical assortment of malls and eateries that make them look just like any other interstate corridor around a larger city.

The improved four lane highways have shortened the commute to Kansas City which has further closed the distance to the even smaller communities down the highway from Olathe like Osawatomie and Garnett.  Consequently what I remember as a long distance when I was a child are today less than an hour away from Kansas City when you can cruise at a legal speed limit of 70 mph. No one is going less than that speed on clear, straight-as-an-arrow roads.  I tried to picture how William and Sarah viewed the approach to their Kansas homestead as they arrived in Parker Liberty Township in 1873.  It must have been daunting to William who at that time was a war veteran, not in ideal health, and 51 years old.  I presume 160 acres of farmland was too good to pass up, kind of a cash for clunkers government program to populate the west in the 19th century.

I had been to Parker KS many times.  The first trip I remember was probably in 1959.  We visited Parker for Memorial Day (they called it Decoration Day).  I remember the Grove obelisk monument at Goodrich Cemetery and I remember that the homes in Parker did not have indoor plumbing (that didn't come until 1962).  That left an impression on an 11 year old. I thought I had gone back in time.  After I became interested in genealogy in 1974 I was living in Warren, MI.  At that time I visited Kansas again and forced my father and grandmother to accompany me to Parker and tell me about the place.  It was in the fall and I remember my grandmother was worried that the roads would be impassable due to mud.  This seemed peculiar to me.  After we got closer to Parker she relaxed when she realized that all of the dirt roads she remembered when she left in 1939 had since been paved with asphalt and getting around was not hazardous.  My father was mildly interested in the family research I was doing but he did enjoy pointing out places he remembered.  We located the site of the apple orchards where they both remembered picking apples.  He pointed out a creek where he recalled hunting squirrels.  The house on Taft St. which they lived in and had moved from in 1939 was still standing in 1974 and there was a small cafe in town where we ate lunch and someone came in that my father had gone to school with in Parker in the 1930's.

Jump forward to 2010.  I arrived on a 15 degree morning and was met at the Parker Community Historical Society building by Barbara Hines.  I knew when I got into the building that I was about to find things no one in my family had ever seen. Barbara Hines and her husband were relative newcomers to Parker so she was as helpful as possible but really was learning Parker history along with me.

They have done a remarkable job of organizing and indexing the artifacts that have been donated by Parker families so it was surprisingly easy to immediately find Grove references.  I casually spotted a post card on a counter that showed a school class posed for a picture outside of the school building.  I looked at it carefully, flipped it over and there was listed all the student's names and John Grove and Cloyce Grove were in the picture.

The rest of the four hours I spent there were filled with other similar discoveries.  I was able to verify the date of the legendary tornado that destroyed my great grandfathers home by finding a news paper article that mentioned the damage done to his home in the April 11, 1893 tornado.  I found a framed picture showing my 14 year old grandfather behind a team of horses clearing the land for construction in 1920 of the "new" high school that he eventually graduated from in 1924.  This photo had been donated to the museum by Louise Dysart Stites who transcribed the information her mother had written on the back indicating it was Johnnie Grove behind the team of horses and WH Little's team of horses.  My host, Barbara Hines, offered to call Louise who had been the Parker postmaster for many years.  Louise was available and immediately came to the museum and pointed out pictures, newspaper articles, artifacts and anecdotes she knew about Parker and its history. 

Louise and Barbara gave me directions to find the actual 160 acres of land that William and Sarah farmed west of Parker.   Today it appears to be entirely farmland with no sign of residences or evidence of foundations or  any remnant of houses or barns from the 19 century.

When William and Sarah left for Kansas from Indiana in 1873 they were accompanied by their son John who was 24 years old and unmarried, their 20 year old daughter Cynthia Russell who was married in Indiana to Allen Russell in 1870,  16 year old son Franklin Shepherd, 13 year old son Edward and their 7 year old son Charles. Also accompanying them to Kansas was Sarah's unmarried older sister Ann Rebecca Miller.
I have always presumed that the lure of free land out west was what drew William and Sarah to Kansas.  I need to do further research about the Homestead Act to try to discover why their land was in Linn County Kansas. Unlike other communities they resided in from West Virginia to Indiana during their 36 year marriage, I have found no evidence of Grove relatives preceding them to Linn County

William lived until 1882 when he died at the age of 59, only nine years were spent in Kansas. Sarah lived until 1892 and her sister, Ann Rebecca died in 1893.  All three are buried about four miles south of Parker in the Goodrich Cemetery rather than the Parker Cemetery.  The Parker Cemetery was less desirable to the Grove family as it was said to have been subject to high water frequently.  It was on the eighth day of my trip, 2,205 miles from where I began that I reached William and Sarah's grave 128 years after William's death.  Over that period I had visited the church in Masontown, PA where William was baptized in 1822, the adjacent grave of his grandparents, the grave of his great grandparents in Sharpsburg MD, the courthouse where he got his marriage license in 1846 in Martinsburg WV, the spot where he enlisted in the Union Army in 1862 in Centerville IN, the town that each of their children had been born in and the land he farmed in Linn County Kansas in 1873.

William's will stated that the land was to be left to his sons Franklin Shepherd. John William and  Edward Dunlap.  It specified that there were 79 acres of farmland in Anderson County and on this expedition I discovered the county line divides the 160 acres almost exactly in half.  Charles Miller, his youngest son was 16 at the time of his father William's death.  William's daughter Cynthia was to be given cash that resulted from the sale of cattle at the time of William's death.  His widow Sarah was to be cared for by her children as stipulated in the will and upon Sarah's death their minor son, Charles was to be given $200 by his older brothers.  Not long thereafter Sarah was granted a widow's pension due to William's military service.  It was $12 a month plus an additional $4 for their minor son, Charles.

Charles, my great grandfather remained in Parker where all of his six children were born. He was Parker's town manager in the early part of the 20th century.  He served as a director of the Parker Telephone Company and participated in the 1907 Parker Silver Coronet Band.
He was also a jeweler and watch repairman.

Charles and his wife Kate Short raised six children in Parker.  Fern, Kenneth, Verle, Lotchen, John, and Cloyce.  I will post a pedigree chart at some point for those family members interested in seeing their lineage.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Westbound Day 7 Springfield, IL to Overland Park KS 396 miles

The temperature in Springfield IL this morning is -8.  From the view out my hotel room window it looks like there is some wind.  I'm not sure what this huge industrial complex is but it's pumping out heat into the clear sky.
For Grove family members you will be interested to hear I spoke with our cousin Sharleen Robison (she is Dutch and Ruth's oldest child) while I was in Springfield IL.  She let me know we have a cousin serving in Iraq, William Cloyce Grove.  As you can see he has the middle name of his grandfather whom we all knew as "Dutch" rather than Cloyce.  William also shares the nickname Dutch.  This is what the family calls him just as the family called his grandfather Dutch.  Sharleen confirmed that all her life she had been told name the Grove family was Pennsylvania Dutch and my research has confirmed that too.
Downtown Springfield IL on this frigid Sunday morning was empty.  Like most downtowns there were no retail businesses to speak of.  It seems the primary business of downtown Springfield is state government, it is the capitol.  The Lincoln Museum is not open on Sundays so I was certainly the only tourist in town.  According to my father's birth certificate his parents lived at 1205 S. 8th St. which is in neighborhood now designated as Aristocracy Hill.  I couldn't really see from the residences any aristocratic homes.  The house my grandparents lived in at the time of my father's birth in 1925 is gone and this 1950's era professional building stands in its place.
From Springfield I headed southwest over state highways to Roodhouse in Greene County.

Roodhouse IL is the town my Short ancestors come from.  I have not done research on this surname.  It was provided to me but I thought since it is on my way west I should pass through.  Roodhouse has a population of approximately 2300.  It has seen more prosperous times.    I found one cemetery  but could not find any Short graves.  Donald S. Short and Lawrence Short are listed on the veterans memorial in the town square.
From Roodhouse I headed south to Altonville and crossed the Mississippi River into Missouri.  The river appeared choked with ice and had a small channel of moving water but I saw no ships in the river.

The drive east to west on I70 in Missouri is one I have made many times but not since the early 1980's.  St. Louis suburbs have sprawled  even further west.  The most striking feature of this drive is the spectacular view of flat, cold terrain.  You can see for miles in any direction.  This makes it easy for you to find yourself going 80 mph without realizing it.  I was bored on this drive and having the Pats lose along the way did not help matters.
I knew I was getting closer to Kansas because the sunset was spectacular.  Here is how it looked heading west at 70 mph in Emma MO at 5:30 pm January 10, 2010.

Parker, KS is about 60 miles from Overland Park.  I will conclude the Grove migration there as Parker is where William and Sarah settled in 1873.  I have an appointment to get in to the Parker Community Historical Society in the morning.  Depending on how much is there I may spend a second day if not I will go on to Wichita.

Continue to read the blog as I will be posting events on the reverse trip west to east and I will be taking a different route.  I also will be posting facts about the trip and observations I have made along the way.