Monday, August 5, 2019

The St. Louis Dunsfords at Work and Home

We have all had coworkers that were annoying, even aggravating, which is why I find it interesting when close family members work together. How do they do it? I don't think I could, no offense to my family members who likely wouldn't want to work with me either.

My great grandfather, James "Harry" Dunsford, had a whitening, or painting/whitewashing business with his half brother Arthur Chester Dunsford. They may have worked with and then inherited this business from their father John Dunsford, who shared the business with his half-brother Edwin.
Most of the rest of the brothers were firefighters.

The painters were poor. Harry and his wife Josephine Guyot Dunsford lived with their 3 sons and 3 daughters at 2221 Chouteau Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri. The house is no longer there. Josie died in 1940, when my dad was 7, and Harry in 1946 when my dad was 13.

My dad told me a few stories about his grandparents. The house was old. There was no indoor plumbing, and they had an outhouse. I always found it fascinating that, in the 1940s within the boundaries of a major city, people lived without indoor plumbing. I guess it's easy to forget how much progress we have made in basic comforts in the last 100 years when you were always comfortable. Anyway, the house was heated by a wood stove, and there was a lot of soot all over the wallpaper. My dad remembers cleaning the walls with a product called Absorene. He said it was kind of like Silly Putty. They lived near several slaughter-houses and butcher shops, so the neighborhood smelled badly. Harry and Josie had fly tape hanging all over the place to stop their unwelcome visitors from bothering them. When my grandfather, George Kienlen, asked Harry's daughter Margaret out for a date, she agreed to meet him somewhere because she was embarrassed about her house and the smell of the neighborhood.

My dad remembers sitting by the window in a rocking chair with Grandma Josie. Before his 7th birthday in 1940, she told him she was going to give him a whole roll of nickels, which is $2. Josie died 3 weeks before his birthday. Dad stated, "I never got my roll of nickels." Those childhood disappointments sure stick with us!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

What's Wrong With Women?

In genealogy, researching women can prove challenging. Women didn't leave as many records as men, which makes them difficult to trace. They had fewer rights, so before marriage their fathers would have acted for them, and after marriage their husbands would take over that duty. I have also found that there were way too many women named Mary! 

So, what's wrong with women? Patriarchy! 

Here's to hoping I'll learn more about my biggest mystery women someday:

1. Margaret (possibly Weiss or Whyle), born about 1854 in Missouri. She had at least three common-law husbands who were Albert Friend or Freund, Joseph Guyot, and Valentine Appel. She had children with each man. She died in St. Louis on 26 December, 1932.

2. Mary Ann Ware, born about 1822 near Ottery St. Mary, Devon, England (where she was baptized). She married John Dunsford, a rope maker, in 1841 at Upton Pyne, Devon. They had four children, two sons and two daughters, and lived in Clifton, Bristol, England. They immigrated to the United States in 1851, arriving at the Port of New Orleans. Mary Ann and the two girls then disappeared, never to be located again (yet). John remarried in St. Louis before 1854.

3. Malinda Ann Hembrey, born in North Carolina in 1824. She married James Thompson in Rowan County, North Carolina in 1844. The couple moved to Tennessee before their first daughter was born in 1846. They lived in Gibson County, Tennessee, then Obion County, Tennessee. Her husband was murdered in 1864. Malinda died in June 1876 in Obion County, Tennessee.

3. Mary [unknown], married Henry Barkley before 1753. They lived in Rowan County, North Carolina. They had 6 children. Some people say her surname was Knox, but I have found no proof of that although there were several Knox families near them. They all had daughters named Mary. Henry and Mary attended Thyatira Presbyterian church. Henry was either Scottish or Scots Irish. His origins are also a mystery.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Killed By Bushwhackers

When I began researching my family history, I got a lot of information from my Uncle Tom.
He told me the story of my 3rd great grandfather, James L. Thompson. He said that one night, some men came to the Thompson home and shot him. He said he heard that one of the Thompson children was holding on to James' leg when he was shot. 

This was the legend, and Uncle Tom said that no matter which branch of the family you asked, they all knew this same story. 

I have searched high and low for some sort of documentary evidence to prove this story. I cannot find any.
I know that James was killed during the Civil War, on 10 September 1864.
I know he had 8 children and his wife, Melinda, was likely pregnant when he died. That last child was named James, probably after his father.

During the Civil War, bushwhackers could have either Union or Confederate sympathies. They were not part of the military, and were often neighbors of the people they targeted.

In the spring of 2017, I made a trip to Obion County, Tennessee, where James was killed. I was hoping to verify the facts 
surrounding James' death.

There were no records because the courthouse had burned.
There were no newspapers.

I decided to visit the grave. I knew James, along with another man, donated land for the church and cemetery, and that he lived adjacent to the church. The town mayor, who happened to be in the courthouse, suggested I speak with the people living near the church. I had never done anything like that before, but I mustered all of my courage and knocked on the door.

I am so glad that I did. That man, who was not related to the Thompson family, grew up in the old James and Melinda Thompson house. He shared a similar story. He said that some men had come to settle an argument with James. They took him out into the field and killed him. He said that James made his way back to the house, where he bled to death on the floor with his wife and children near him. He said that the old house had pine floors, and his blood soaked into the wood. His mom kept the blood stain covered with a rug. 
The house had only recently been torn down.

Although I cannot verify the accuracy of the legend, I want to believe that, although tragic, my 3rd great grandfather was killed by Confederate bushwhackers. I don't know if James supported the Union or Confederacy, but I want to believe that James supported the Union cause. He was living in a southern state. He was not a slave owner himself, but that didn't mean much. Most southerners were not slave owners. 
I think my biggest piece of evidence for James' Union sympathy is that his son Thomas had a brother-in-law who was born in Obion County in about 1866 and was named Ulysses S. Stout. I can't imagine his family being friends with a Union-supporting family if James had been killed by Union sympathizers.

I have posted two of the four images before, but it was important to include 
them again to tell the story.

The St. Louis Dunsfords at Work and Home

We have all had coworkers that were annoying, even aggravating, which is why I find it interesting when close family members wor...