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So I went by Roselawn today as I was in town taking cemetery photos.

And I drove by this grave.


Now how could they not be related? But I didn't recognize the name.

I took the shot anyway.

Chester C and Mary Ruth Chapin

And came home and dug around.

Yep. Cousins.

I wonder if Chester and his eighth cousin, Hattie Belle, ever knew each other. They lived in Little Rock at the same time - for years.

And if they did, I wonder if they were ever able to puzzle through exactly how they were related?
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Twenty years ago (or maybe a tad more), before I started tracking my ancestors in any serious way, I got a phone call from my second cousin.

He was one of my Balding cousins, the only son of one of my grandmother's brothers.

His father died in 1980, and his mom couldn't live by herself any more. Larry was packing up her house to move her to Tulsa where he lived and could keep an eye on her.

The call was to let me know he had finished the packing and there were some leftovers in the house - bits of furniture and memorabilia, and he wondered if my sisters and I might want some of it.

I said sure, and we made a date for the next afternoon. I called my sisters to let them know.
I can't even remember now if my sisters accompanied me.

But I will never forget what I saw when I pulled into my aunt's driveway.

This portrait, leaning against the garbage cans on the curb.

Fred Chapin, 1858-1938

I grabbed it up as I went in the carport door. I gave it to Larry when I went in.

He looked at me. I told him I found it out by the trash. That's Grampa Chapin.

What he said just floored me.

Dee, that frame isn't worth anything. That's why it's out with the trash.

I may not know much about the monetary value of old portrait frames, but there's one thing I did know.

At that time, that portrait was 100 years old. Larry, we're not putting Grampa out with the trash.
Grampa Fred Chapin's portrait has hung in whatever humble abode I have occupied ever since then.

I had a very interesting text conversation with my nephew today.

It's his 24th birthday and I texted him to wish him a happy one. We kidded back and forth about where his envelope full of cash was, and I told him I'd remember him in my will.

What he said just floored me.

When I die, he wants this portrait of his great-grandmother, Doris Geneva Balding, Fred Chapin's granddaughter.

Doris Geneva Balding Williams, 1907-1998

I think Grampa may have a new home...

This is a Sepia Saturday post.
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I finally took my camera and went in search of four homes where my Baldings, Chapins, and Williamses lived in Little Rock.

The first one - the address listed on the World War I draft registration card of my great grandfather, Victor Claude Balding - was at 223 Rice Street. He signed his draft registration card on 12 Sep 1918.

The house is still there - although I'm sure it looks a bit different today than it did 93 years ago.

Next, I went in search of the houses at 213 and 217 Dennison.

They are next door to each other.

My maternal grandparents, Joe Duffie Williams and Doris Geneva Balding, lived at 213. I found them at that address in city directories from 1940 to 1949.


A whole bunch of people lived at 217 for many years - including my grandmother's parents and siblings, as well as her maternal grandmother, Eada Belle (Parrish) Chapin after the death of Fred Chapin right after Christmas in 1938.

According to Polk's Little Rock/North Little Rock City Directories, Fred and Eada lived at 913 North Valmar, and Eada was listed at that address in the 1939 City Directory. (I'll have to make another photo journaling trip to see if that one is still standing.)

But by 1940, Eada made her home with her daughter, Hattie Belle and son-in-law, Victor, at 217 Dennison.


In 1940, the house at 217 Dennison must have been full to overflowing, with Victor and Hattie Balding, Hattie's mother, Eada Chapin, and adult children, Ellington (Linky), daughter Marion (Murney), Marvin and Vera. All the children were employed except Linky, who was the youngest.
Across town, my grandfather's parents, Jo Desha Williams and Maxie Leah Meek, lived at 2310 South Ringo Street.


That was the home to which my grandfather, Joe Duffie Williams, took his bride Doris after they married on Halloween in 1926. They were still there when the census was taken in 1930.
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My direct line of Chapins was a curious bunch.

Of the 10 children born to my 3rd great grandparents, Nathaniel Foster Chapin and Elizabeth Harris, very few seemed to be content to get to one place and stay there.

Willard N Chapin, sixth in the line-up, was no exception to the bunch of his siblings with wanderlust.

The last time I can find him in a census where I know it's really him was the 1885 Kansas State census, and he was living with his mom and dad in Fort Scott, KS. He was 20 years old.

He followed in his father's footsteps and made his living with wood, as a carpenter.

I can document him living in Fort Scott through the printing of the 1889/1890 Hoyes City Directory for the city. Willard was living at 401 Coates Street, and was employed as a carpenter.

Then, I lose him for 20 long years, until he turned up in the list of registered voters for San Luis Obispo Co., CA in 1910.

San Luis Obispo County, 1910

From where ever he lived in southern California, it was on to Sacramento County, where he was registered as a Socialist among voters on the list from 1912-1914.

Sacramento County, 1912-1914

The next list was from Butte County for the years 1916-1930, which is quite a spread and doesn't help me figure when he was really there. I see he changed his party affiliation to Democrat.

The most problematic of the lists is the one from Nevada County, because it covers the years from 1900-1928.

I don't have a date of death for him, although he does not appear in Ancestry's California Death Index from 1940-1997. He either did not die in California, or he didn't make it to 1940. I wouldn't be surprised if the latter were true, because carpentry is a hard way to make a living as you get on in years.

Of course, it doesn't help that Willard was literally all over the map.

I guess, at least for now, Willard is just another brick in the wall...
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Somewhere along the way, I met a Parrish cousin online - I forget now how exactly it happened.

She shared some Parrish family photos, including one of my great-great grandmother Eada Belle Parrish, mother of my great grandmother Hattie Belle Chapin.

She also gave me a bit of information I was unaware of - Eada had another daughter, Ruth, who died as a child.

It was when I started nosing around in records for Evergreen Cemetery in Fort Scott, Bourbon County, KS, that I found little Ruth's grave documented. She was buried in the same plot as her paternal grandparents, Elizabeth Harris and Nathaniel F Chapin, on 27 Oct 1892. There was no date of birth for her in the records, but her parents married on 24 Dec 1885, so she was probably the younger sister of my great-grandma, who was born on 26 May 1887.

Some time, I'll have to go to Fort Scott.
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I have two pieces of "handwork" done by my great-grandmother, Hattie Belle Chapin. (We called her Mema.)

They were framed by my grandmother, Hattie's daughter, Doris Balding.

Hattie instilled a sense of reverence and respect in handwork in all her daughters.

In some way, a woman's handwork was for them a measure of her worth.

This was Mema's favorite type of decorative handwork - crewel embroidery.



On the paper cover of the back of each frame in her flourishing script, my grandmother wrote:

Done by Hattie Chapin Balding, 1970, in her 83rd year.

I hope to save them for my granddaughters when they reach an age where they can appreciate them.
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You never know until you ask...

I was informed that Essie Chapin and Elbert Carr married in Umatilla Co., OR on 13 May 1893.

So one day I called the Umatilla County Clerk to see if there was a copy of the marriage license.

She said yes, but they weren't married on 13 May, it was 1 May instead. She also said if I'd give her my address, she would mail the license and affidavit.

So I did.



The ceremony was performed at the cleryman's home, and it looks as if two of his relatives were the witnesses.

The affidavit says Essie was a resident of Umatilla Co., OR, and Elbert W Carr was a resident of Whitman County, WA.

So now I have another area of the country to search to find out more about Elbert W Carr.

One of the keepers of the (Essie Chapin) family Bible has been active with comments today. She is quite pissed that I use ~ gasp ~ historic records in my searches of the family history.

You know - stuff like census records, marriage, birth and death records, military records, obituaries, gravestone information, etc.

Apparently this stuff is not agreeing with her family Bible - and let me add, her oral family history as well - according to her most recent comment, which I deleted.

Her Bible and oral history gave forth the date of the marriage above as 13 May 1893. So this entry will probably make her blow a gasket.

I am getting very weary of someone who won't put up, and can't seem to shut up.

She needs her own blog.
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Mrs. Essie LeBolt Finn
Died at her home, 1421 Second street, last night at 3:10 o'clock. Surviving are her husband, Daniel J Finn; one son, Ward D of Philadephia; one daughter, Mrs. Broshia L Boorman. Another son, Elbert, died in Pontiac, Mich., two years ago. Mrs. Finn attended the Fourth Lutheran church. Friends will be received at the Axe funeral home after 7 o'clock this evening.

Altoona Mirror, 14 Dec 1948

Note: Interesting that Essie's maiden name of Chapin was not used by the writer of the obit, possibly leading people to think she was born a Lebolt instead of being married to and divorced from one. According to Elbert C Shephard's death certificate, he died on 25 Oct 1943, not in 1946.
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Keep the secret or not...that is the question.

I've discovered secrets in my family - on both sides. Some of more gravity than others.

But yeah...I blog about them.

And in some instances, I have questions...why did so-and-so do thus-and-such?

In most cases, I will never know the answer to that question.

Because most of the time, I lack the context in which to frame the answer to this...gee, do I think that was right or wrong?

So I really ought not to judge, huh?

It's also good to remember that they were then just like we are now. Most of them dealt the hand they were played.

Some better than others.

Yes, I write about things that were kept quiet for years - things that I or others have discovered.

From multiply married and murderous Chapins, to Burrises with multiple families or the mid-19th century bad boy Callaway who died so young and had a mysterious wife named Mary, my family tree provides me with countless opportunities to mutter, well, would ya look at that?

My newest curiosity is over a mystery Burris child, whom I would not be at all surprised to find was another of James Littleton Burris' sons.

The discovery of the Mountain Meadows massacre was probably the most shocking surprise I had one Saturday morning in my slippers, with coffee and cigarette...

No one in my family for four generations ever mentioned that.

Maybe they were just trying to forget.

It worked.

Some of the family secrets and mysteries are having an effect on lives today.

I know firsthand of multiple individuals who have questions about true parentage. The people about whom they have questions have been dead for decades - in one case, for over a century.

If there's information out there to help them establish *who they are* - their identity - then, I won't be keeping secrets about my family, and hindering that.

I won't attempt to draw some moral conclusion about my ancestors without knowing the context of their situation. Did James and Adeline have an "understanding" that they didn't blab to everyone else because it was none of their business?

They could have. I don't know.

But I also don't know that they didn't. That's not the point.

The point is - someone out there needs the facts in order to find out who they are.

Good enough for me.
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I hauled out my big honking plastic file box tonight to get into my Balding/Chapin/Parrish hard file.

I needed to make sure I had scanned all the prints sent to me by another Parrish researcher and cousin who discovered my family tree on Rootsweb in 2009.

I had, and they will be in the next post.

But while I was in it, I found a document of dates of death for Baldings/Chapins/Parrishes written by my grandmother, Doris Balding Williams, probably shortly after the death of her brother, Gene, in 1980. She may have been transcribing her own mother's entries in her Bible.


That was unusual for her. Pretty much everything I've seen written by Grandma was in her careful (and always legible) longhand.

What was not unusual was the editorial comment she made in her list of family members and dates of their deaths.


Now, she had to know someone would find this.

And keep it.

And look at it, and laugh out loud...

See you on the other side, Grandma...
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It's inevitable when you start looking at family history, you encounter varying levels of dysfunction. I don't think there really is a family with no dysfunction at all. The very nature of humanity begs dysfunctional responses and behavior.

From the tragic life of one of my Williams grand-uncles (which ended in suicide and was spun by his survivors as an automobile accident a heart attack) to the decades long wandering of my g-g-grandfather James L Burris (which resulted in two separate families), my family history is replete with surprising twists and turns - many of which have created hurt and confusion that linger to this day.

But it wasn't until I started taking a harder look at Essie Chapin that I was able to witness - for the first time in the decade I've been searching - the rewriting of history as you go.

Essie Chapin was my great great grand-aunt. Because of this blog, I "met" three of her direct descendants.

One of them is seriously seeking answers to questions about his roots. I am committed to helping him find those answers, if I can.

The other two believe they already have all the answers, and their primary source of information seems to be a family Bible, plus the oral history that was handed down to them. They do not wish to share any written documentation in their possession. Neither is convinced I even descend from "their" Chapins.

Fair enough.

I just hope they are not equally wedded to a refusal to look at other written documentation that cracks the veneer of what they believe to be true, and lets sunshine in.

Because they might gain new perspective.

Essie Chapin had four husbands and two children that I have been able to document. One of the "family secrets" is the issue of the father of her son, Elbert C Shephard, known to his family as "E C."

If Essie's first husband, George Franklin Shephard, was not E C's father, then Essie started lying about it very early on. My understanding is that Frank left the family in 1893, when E C was 2 years old. If Elbert W Carr (whom I am having *great* difficulty locating) was E C Shephard's father, and Essie continued to live with Frank Shephard all that time, well...

In the 1895 Kansas state census, she said she was a native of Kansas - hadn't come from anywhere else. At that time, her daughter Broshia was 4 years old, and E C was 3. Essie's brother Cyrus was also living with them. She said both children were born in Kansas.

In the 1900 census, Essie said the father of both her children was born in Iowa. Frank Shephard was born in Iowa.

So where did the two cousins with the Bible records get the idea that Frank Shephard *was not* E C's father? Their comments on my blog entries seem to indicate it was from the family Bible and E C's sister, Broshia Shephard.

So, that stuff was written down in a Bible? That didn't make it gospel.

The more I learn about Broshia Shephard Boorman, the less credibility I am able to put into anything she allegedly said.

Broshia went through at least 12 years of her life saying she was a widow before her husband actually died.

Joseph Aloysius Boorman was born on 23 Jan 1892 in Altoona, Blair County, PA to David C Boorman and Sarah E Monaghan. According to census records, he and Broshia Shephard (who, according to the cousins with the Bible, preferred to be known as Broshia Lebolt - the surname of her mother's third husband) married in 1914.

They had 3 children - Broshia, Adaline and David. In the 1930 census, Broshia Boorman was listed as the married head of her household, and Joseph was not enumerated in that household.

By 1941, the Polk's City Directory for Altoona, PA had a listing for Broshia Boorman, widow of Joseph.


Ditto 1945...


1948/49 City Directory...


I have no idea what happened between Joseph and Broshia Boorman. Maybe they were divorced. Why not just say that?

Saying "He is dead to me," is one thing.

But saying "He. Is. Dead." is a whole 'nother deal.

One of the ironic twists in that lie was that even during part of the time Broshia was holding herself out to be a widow, Joseph Boorman lived 98 miles from his children in York, PA.

His World War II draft registration card listed his address as 316 South Duke Street in York.


He signed the card on 27 Apr 1942.

According to his obituary in the Altoona Mirror on 24 Jul 1953, Joseph Boorman died on Wednesday, 22 Jul 1953.

He was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Altoona.

If any of the Chapin kin want to produce some documents, I'm happy to look at them.
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Over the last week or so, I've made a point to study on the branch of the Chapins who are my direct ancestors.

There was a little dust-up in the comments of several of my Chapin entries by a couple of descendants who swore and bedamned that I had the facts wrong.

So I decided to dig a little deeper.

Here are some new findings...

Courtesy of the Old Fort Genealogical Society, I have located some graves in Evergreen Cemetery in Fort Scott, KS.

Nathaniel Foster Chapin and Elizabeth Harris are buried there, in Section 1A, Row 8. Dates of birth and death are as noted in previous entries.

Also buried in Section 1A, Plot 10 in unmarked graves are Immogene Chapin (1869-1886), daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth, and Ruth Chapin, daughter of my great great grandparents, Fred Chapin and Eada Belle Parrish. (I had known for a long time, courtesy of another Parrish researcher, that Ruth was born and died before 1900 in Fort Scott.)

Immogene's date of interment was 24 Apr 1886. Ruth's was 27 Oct 1892.

I now know dates of death for three of Essie Chapin's husbands, and burial places for two.

George Franklin Shephard is buried right where I thought he would be, based on consistent census information from the State of Iowa and the federal government. He died in August 1934, and was interred in Winfield and Scott Cemetery, Winfield, Henry Co., IA on 7 Aug 1934.

Joseph Young Lebolt died on 16 Jan 1938, in Chicago, Cook Co., IL, where his family was (and descendants still are). I suspect, but have not been able to confirm, that he is buried in Jewish Graceland, aka the Hebrew Benevolent Society Cemetery, since his father, Lazarus, was instrumental in its founding. But the jury is still out on that one until I have time to make proper inquiries...

Daniel J Finn (the one I thought was hatched) was the son of John Finn and Margaret Naughton. He died on 18 May 1953, and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Altoona, Blair County, PA, as was Essie.

Still looking for the elusive Elbert W Carr, who does not seem to exist, either in census records, marriage records, city directories, or other historic documents...

Essie's son, E C Shephard, did not die in 1946 as was reported in his mother's obituary.

He died in Oakland Co., MI on 25 Oct 1943, as was reported to me by his grandson and confirmed by the vital records website for Oakland County. I have just ordered his death certificate from that county.

Other children of Nathaniel Foster Chapin and Elizabeth Harris are:
Cyrus Foster Chapin, 2 Dec 1853-3 Mar 1926, buried Rose Hill Cemetery, Altoona, Blair Co., PA;

Edwin Manly Chapin, 12 May 1855-22 Mar 1916, buried Woodmere Cemetery, Detroit, Wayne Co., MI;

Frederick Chapin (Fred), 8 Oct 1858-29 Dec 1938, buried Oakland Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR;

Adaline (Addie) Chapin, Dec 1860-15 Mar 1925, died in Denver, Denver Co., CO, per her brother Cyrus' obituary. I have not been able to locate her grave, and will probably do a post on her wanderings and marriages soon;

George Chapin, Sep 1862-9 Feb 1933, died in Atlanta, Fulton Co., GA (thank you GA for a good death index). Have not located his grave either;

Willard Chapin, 4 May 1865-? At the time of Cyrus' death, the obit said Willard was living in California. I've chased him as far as Packard, Pershing Co., Nevada in the 1920 census, where he was still working as a carpenter with two business partners. The census said he was married. He does not show up in the California death index on Ancestry (which begins with 1940), so he either died before then, or died somewhere else;

Albert Edward Chapin, 16 Apr 1867-? He died sometime before Nathaniel moved everyone to Bourbon County, KS, and it was probably in Olean, Cattaraugus Co., NY;

Immogene "Emma" Chapin, discussed above;

Essie, much cussed and discussed, and whose descendants are in for MOAR discussion in the future; and

Ward Chapin, 1872-18 Sep 1894. And now I know where Ward is buried - in the Alexandria National Cemetery, Pineville, Rapides Parish, LA, where all the remains of the soldiers buried at Fort Brown, TX were relocated in 1911.

As my daddy would say...

I'm on a roll.
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Cyrus F Chapin

Died at 3 o'clock this morning at the home of his sister, Mrs. Essie Lebolt Finn of 1421 Second Street, following an illness of six weeks. He suffered from a complication of diseases. He was born in Bradford County, Dec. 2, 1853, and resided with a sister in Denver, Colo., until March 15, last year when the sister died, Mr. Chapin then removing to this city. He is survived by three brothers, George Chapin of Atlanta, Ga., Fred Chapin of Little Rock, Ark., and Willard Chapin of California, and the sister in this city. Surviving also is a niece, Mrs. J A Boorman of Altoona, and a nephew, E C Shephard of Pontiac, Mich. He was a member of the International Bible Students' association. The funeral will be held from the Laferty and Tobias funeral parlors on Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock. Interment will be made in Rose Hill cemetery.

Source: Altoona Mirror, Wednesday, March 3, 1926

Mrs. Essie Lebolt Finn

Died at her home, 1421 Second Street, last night at 8:10 o'clock. Surviving are her husband, Daniel J Finn; one son, Ward D of Philadelphia; one daughter, Mrs. Broshia L Boorman. Another son, Elbert, died in Pontiac, Mich., two years ago. Mrs. Finn attended the Fourth Lutheran church. Friends will be received at the Axe funeral home after 7 o'clock this evening.

FINN: Funeral services for Mrs. Essie Lebolt Finn will be conducted Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Axe funeral home in charge of Rev. Ralph W Lind. Interment in Rose Hill cemetery. Friends will be received at Axe funeral home after 7 o'clock this evening.

Source: Altoona Mirror, Tuesday, December 14, 1948
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The first husband of Essie Chapin became very easy to track once I threw enough wildcards into the spelling of his surname.

A delayed birth certificate provided to me by a new-found Chapin cousin said that Frank Shephard was born in Fairfield, Jefferson Co., IA in 1871. As I tracked Frank through both US and Iowa censuses, I found that the year of birth on the certificate was correct, and the county, almost.

Frank was actually born in Henry Co., IA in September 1871 to Lewis W Shephard and Martha E Cox. He had at least two younger siblings and may have had older ones I have not yet found. His father, Lewis, was born in March 1840, also in Henry Co., IA, and his mother, Martha, was born in April 1842 in Ohio.

Frank left tracks. I found him in the 1885 Iowa census, living in New London, Henry County, IA, with his parents and two younger brothers, Lloyd Lewis and Isaac Hugh. (Later records show that Isaac Hugh chose to be called Hugh, which may help to understand why on some documents Frank was alternately shown as G Franklin, G F, F G, and just "Frank.")

I found the record of his marriage to Essie Chapin on 15 Oct 1889 in Fort Scott, Bourbon Co., KS.

The 1889/1890 Hoyes Directory for the City of Fort Scott had a listing for "Shepherd, G Frank," employed at Goodlander Furniture, with a residence address of 1244 E Wall.

The 1895 Iowa census showed Frank Shephard living in Fairfield (Second Ward), Jefferson Co., IA. There were no images on Ancestry for the census page, but both of Frank's parents were also individually enumerated in the same location.

The 1900 U S Census showed Frank living with his parents and brothers Lloyd and Hugh, in Fairfield, Jefferson Co., IA. His marital status was divorced, so he and Essie must have divorced by 1900.

On 17 February 1904, George Franklin Shephard married Viola Mae Hobart in Henry Co., IA.

By 1910, Frank was living in Canaan, Henry Co., IA, with his wife, Viola. The census image showed this was the second marriage for Frank, and first for Viola.

By 1915, the Iowa census found Frank and Viola in Mount Union, Henry Co., IA. In the 1920 U S Census, they were still in Henry County, but the town was shown as Canaan. Since the 1925 Iowa census said Mount Union, Henry County, I saw a pattern emerging - the federal censuses (of 1910 and 1920) called the town Canaan, and the Iowa censuses of 1915 and 1925 called it Mount Union. I think this may be a difference in town and township, but not actual location.

The 1925 Iowa census contained a wealth of information - it listed the names and birthplaces of both sets of parents, including mothers' maiden names.

The 1930 census showed 59 year old Frank and 50 year old Viola Shephard living in Canaan, Henry Co., IA.

Now I just need to find some Henry County cemetery information...I'd be real surprised if they did not live out the remainder of their lives there.

Another synchronicity...Frank's father was a cabinet maker. Various censuses gave Frank's occupation as a house painter. Essie Chapin's father was a carpenter and woodworker.

Wonder if Nathaniel Chapin introduced his daughter to her first husband?
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For so many years, she was Elizabeth MNU.

Then she became Elizabeth Harris, born about 1830 in Pennsylvania.   She married Nathaniel Foster Chapin about 1853. 

Then, one of my Chapin cousins found me, and the focus immediately narrowed with wonderful details in three handwritten pages.

They were enough for me to find her parents, and several of her siblings.

She was my third great grandmother.

She was Elizabeth Harris, born on 19 Nov 1831 in Pennsylvania, to James Elisha Harris and Sally Miller.  She died in Fort Scott, Bourbon County, KS on 30 Oct 1887.

She had at least 8 or 9 younger siblings.

The ones I have documented (thanks to those three handwritten pages) are:
  • Lyman Harris, born 9/1837 in PA. Married Catharine Hoover on 4 Jul 1868;
  • Mary Harris, born 1839 in Pennsylvania;
  • John Harris, born 1841 in Pennsylvania;
  • Emma (Emily) Harris, born 1843 in Pennsylvania;
  • Henry Orten "Ort" Harris, born 9 Aug 1846 in Ridgebury, Bradford Co., PA. Married Mary Elizabeth Green on 30 Oct 1873 in Elmira, Chemung Co., NY;
  • Elisha Alden Harris, born 1847 in Ridgebury, Bradford Co., PA;
  • Sarah Harris, born 1851 in Ridgebury, Bradford Co., PA;
  • Josephine Harris, born 1854 in Ridgebury, Bradford Co., PA; and
  • James Harris. (E C Shephard's handwritten notes at page 3, in private collection.)

James Elisha Harris must have died before the 1860 census. In 1860, Sally Miller Harris was living with her children Lyman, John, Alden, Sarah and Josephine in Ridgebury, Bradford Co., PA.

In the 1870 census, Sally was living in Ridgebury, Bradford Co., PA. Her son Henry, daughter Josephine, and a granddaughter named Ella Harris (born in 1864), were living with her.

I have been unable to find Sally Harris after the 1870 census, and still have a lot of work to do to find spouses and dates of death for many of Elizabeth Harris Chapin's siblings.

I know that Elizabeth died on 30 Oct 1887, and when I get my recently ordered cemetery transcription book, I believe I will find where she is buried.

But those three little handwritten pages flung the door wide open...
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One of my co-workers, whose family tree I am currently researching, asked me today how much my "hobby" costs me on an annual basis.

I hadn't really thought about it. So I ticked off the subscription services...

Thirty bucks a month for Ancestry (I have the international membership, so I can track my German ancestors, my son's Canadian ancestors, and now, my co-worker's Serbian ancestors - and I pay monthly just in case I need to stop...).

Eighty bucks a year for Footnote.

Fifty-six bucks a year for Genealogy Bank.

So, what? Five hundred dollars a year for subscription services.

Throw in the cemetery transcription books now and then, usually between twenty and fifty dollars a piece. But you only buy them once, and then you list yourself on Books We Own and do look-ups for other folks.

Add in some gasoline for the inevitable road trips. The cost of CDs on which I burn all sorts of stuff to send to cousins, known and just discovered.

What if all of that came up to $1,000 a year?

You gotta look at the pay-off...

I was "discovered" by three new cousins last week.

One I've already blogged about, here.

Another has been emailing me about her Gotts. Her Gotts (female) married into my Williamses (male) back in 1774 in Maryland. Then my Williamses went to Kentucky and the rest of her Gotts trekked on over to Tennessee.

I found some of her Tennessee Gotts for her on Find a Grave - she had never heard of it.

And I told her I had subscriptions where I could do some searching for her.

While I was searching tonight for any of her Tennessee Gotts who might have served in the Civil War, I found something on Footnote I have never seen before.

An amnesty document. Apparently, her direct ancestral Gotts were "all loyal to the Government of the United States, and have been so during the late rebellion..."

And their signatures are on the document.


I may never find one of those again. My own Southern direct ancestral families were often divided in their loyalties during that "rebellion," and brother sometimes fought against brother.

And I would never have gone looking for it, much less found it, if she hadn't emailed me one day last week, and said, hey, I think we may be related...

My newly-found Chapin cousin sent me an email this past weekend that had eleventy million exclamation points in the subject line, so I knew the attachment was gonna be a good one.

And it was...three pages of genealogical treasure, handwritten by his grandfather, who was born in 1891. As a result of that, we have busted down a brick wall on the woman who is my cousin's second great grandmother, and my third.

How do you put a price on that?

Hobby? I guess you could call it that...

Obsession? Most likely.

What about a calling?

I don't really care what anyone labels it.

They *all* have stories.

And I am a storyteller.
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I guess he did a Google search, and hit on my entry about Essie Chapin. She was his great-grandmother. That makes him my third cousin once removed.

He left a comment and his email address. We have been corresponding for about a week.

Turns out mine is not not the only mind Essie messes with...

At issue is our very own Chapin version of who's your daddy?

Today, my cousin sent me three pages of Chapin genealogy handwritten by his grandfather that made me realize I had the wrong daddy (and mommy) for Nathaniel Foster Chapin. I corrected the GEDCOM, and now need to figure out just which Joel Chapin we are dealing with in that generation.

That should be a piece of cake when compared to puzzling through all of Essie's relationships.

Because I am not yet convinced she was married to all those men.

I've tried to be thorough in researching Essie, following her from cradle to grave. At first glance, it appears that she was married four times.

First, on 15 Oct 1889, to Frank G Shephard in Fort Scott, Bourbon Co., KS.

I tracked her after her marriage in both Kansas State and US censuses. In the 1895 Kansas State Census, as well as the 1900 US census, she was Essie Carr, and said she was a widow.

And my heart went out to her. Oh wow, only 29 years old and twice a widow, with two little kids, Broshia and Elbert Shephard. Then, I found a Chapin message board post that said Elbert was really not a Shephard...that he was Elbert C Carr's son, and after she became pregnant with him, Essie married his father in Oregon.

So I moved little Elbert to the second marriage.

Then, I got the comment from my cousin:
The story in my family is that when EC Shephard (my grandfather) was 2 years old, his family...Essie, Broshia and EC, were abandoned by their father Frank Shephard. The only mention of other husbands of Essie was a vague mention that she later married a man named Finn. I am very interested in tracing back the line of Frank Shephard and have little information. I have a photocopy of a REPLACEMENT birth certificate for EC Shephard, born Sept. 5, 1891, issued Feb. 3, 1932 or 1942 (date blurred). It lists his father as Franklin Shephard, 20 years old, undertaker, born in Fairfield, Iowa and residing in Ft. Scott, KS at time of birth. It lists his mother as Essie Chapin, 19 years old, housewife, born in Olean, NY, residing in Ft. Scott KS. I would very much like to know the date and place of death of Joseph (Franklin?) Shephard and the date and place of marriage of Essie and Elbert C. Carr. It seems a real question as to why the baby is given the name of Essie's second husband and surname of the first husband. Who is the biological father? This of course is an important question to me. I would REALLY appreciate any information I could obtain about this.

I looked back at the 1900 census. Essie said the father of both her children was born in Iowa.

I moved little Elbert back to the first marriage.

And wondered who it was who "widowed" her in that census...

Elbert and Broshia lived with Essie and her third husband, Joseph Young Lebolt in Altoona, Blair Co., PA in the 1910 census. Even though the "kids" were almost grown, they were using the Lebolt surname. (More about Lebolt later.)

I looked at that census to get the year that Essie and Joseph married.

I don't know who said it - Joseph or Essie...that it was the first marriage for both of them and they had been married 21 years.


By 1920, Essie had married Daniel J Finn. She was enumerated with him in both the 1920 and 1930 censuses.

So I was thunderstruck to find her obit details from the Altoona Mirror archived at the Altoona Library, which listed her as Essie Lebolt Finn.

Because in 1930, Joseph Y Lebolt was living in Los Angeles, CA with his brother and widowed a single man.

I decided to take a different perspective in looking at Essie's life.

I was going to track the husbands.

Hubby #1 ran off. So if the information in the 1900 census about Essie's marital status was correct, then that meant Elbert Carr died.

But shouldn't there be a divorce on record in Bourbon Co., KS for Essie and Joseph Shephard? And why was Essie's son named for husband #2, and carrying husband #1's surname? (I think the preponderance of the evidence indicates that E C Shephard was Joseph Shephard's son...maybe Elbert Carr was just the kind of guy who would pick up another man's slack...)

If Essie was married to Elbert Carr, then he died (or disappeared) before the 1895 Kansas State Census. I can find no record of a marriage for them in either Kansas or Oregon.

Likewise, I have no idea where or when Essie married Joseph Lebolt. He was the son of German immigrants, Lazarus Lebolt and Jeanette Rubel, and was born in Chicago, where his father and brothers made silverware and fine jewelry. Even to this day, the Lebolt family is still dealing in fine jewelry in Chicago.

Essie's marriage record to Lebolt could reasonably be in any one of three states - Kansas, Illinois or Pennsylvania. In the 1900 census, 40 year old Joseph was living with his parents, several younger adults siblings and two female servants in Chicago.

In that census, Joseph's father, Lazarus, was an agent for the California Wine Association. Three years earlier, he won his petition for a writ of habeas corpus against the City of Chicago, arguing that it was not in the City's power to regulate the interstate commerce of liquor sales from California to Illinios. See decision In Re Lebolt, 77 F 1d 587, in the West Reporter, Vols 77-78 (West Publ Co.), digitized at Google Books.

Joseph died in Chicago on 16 Jan 1938. At the time, Essie was married to Daniel J Finn - for at least 18 years. So it makes even less sense to me for her obituary to read Essie Lebolt Finn.

I think Daniel J Finn was hatched.

All I know about him is that he was born in Pennsylvania in 1877, died in Altoona on 19 May 1953, and had to have married Essie in Altoona sometime before the 1920 census.

But I can't find a marriage record for them either.
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Was digging around in my Chapins (there are 635 of them to date), and ran across some information on the net about Mary Williams Chapin (1820-1889), daughter of Oliver Chapin, II and Anna Pierce.

According to what I found, she was a teacher and principal at Mount Holyoke Seminary for many years, prior to her marriage (her first) at age 45 to Claudius Buchanan Pease.

I wondered if that was in a book somewhere. So I checked Google Books.

It was.

One of her students wrote a memorial to her a year after her death, and combined it with a memorial about Mary's own teacher and mentor.

Memorial of Mary W Chapin Pease, by Helen Sarah Norton, (publ. Beacon Press, 1890) has been digitized by Google and is in the public domain.

I spent about an hour paging through it.

The part about her death was particularly poignant to me.


In years past she had repeatedly suffered from pain in her head, yet few of her friends had apprehended danger. During the winter of 1889 her health was unusually good, while her bright and vivacious spirit gave a peculiar charm to her expressive face. In the spring she accompanied Mr. Pease on a trip to Georgia, and about half-past four on Wednesday, May 8, while they were in consultation with their business agent, she suddenly became speechless, and realizing her condition, her eyes filled with tears. A physician was summoned, everything possible done to relieve her suffering was done, but she soon became unconscious, and in the afternoon of Thursday, "peacefully entered into rest." The funeral services were held at the family residence in Somers, Tuesday afternoon, May 14...

If not for the book, all I would have known was that Mary Williams Chapin died in Savannah, GA, and was buried in Somers CT.

And a lot of the humanity would have been lost.
dee_burris: (Default)
Whatever could they have been thinking - Fred and Eada Belle - when they let their only daughter marry at the tender age of 14?

 photo HattieBelleChapinBaldingcrop.jpg
Hattie Belle Chapin, around the time of her marriage in 1901

Hattie Belle Chapin married Victor Claude Balding in Little Rock, AR on 25 Sep 1901. She was 14. He was 27.

She called him Mr. Balding - all her life.

They were my maternal great grandparents.

Their kids called her Mama and him, Pop. The grandkids called them Mema and Pop.

We great grandkids called her Mema, and not too many of us ever met Pop. He died in 1945, just a month after her mother's death.


Victor and Hattie Balding, undated photo

Everyone who knew them said they were head over heels in love with each other.

And Pop's Hattie Belle never let the romance end. She remained a widow until her death in 1976.

Life was hard for the Baldings. Pop worked for the railroad as a telegrapher. There were many mouths to feed.

By the time Hattie was 20, she had three children (my grandmother was the youngest at the time). By 1917, their family was complete, with seven children in all.

My grandmother talked about how the home was run. Every evening when it was almost time for Pop to come home, her mother would go to the kitchen, put on her apron and begin to get supper ready.

Even though times were hard, Victor and Hattie were aware that they were harder still for others. Every holiday, Pop would bring home various and sundry people who had nowhere else to go. Everyone made room at the table.

Pop coached a boys' baseball team when his own sons were young. Mema made their uniforms, and those of their teammates.

Mema loved family gatherings. She seemed content to show up and take her place as a matriarch. And she was good to pose for photos.

She is on the far left in this one, taken in my grandmother's backyard in 1967.


Shortly after that photo was taken, Mema's mental faculties started to decline. At first, it was just a little forgetfulness.

But soon, the forgetfulness became apparent, even to her great grandchildren. I remember going to see her. I'd go into the den to talk to her, and I'd have to introduce myself. If I left the room, and came back, we had to start all over again.

My name didn't seem to register with her any more. So I started saying I was Doris' granddaughter.

She beamed at me. That made sense.

We carried on.

One day when my grandmother and mother took me to see her, something strange happened.

We were sitting and having a nice chat when all of a sudden, Mema got up and left the room.

My grandmother found her in her bedroom, getting ready to curl her long hair and put it back up again. She used one of those skinny little metal curling irons that heated up in its own electrified holder. And real hairpins.

I followed my grandmother in. She asked Mema what she was doing.

I have to get ready. Mr. Balding will be home soon. He likes for his women to look pretty.

It was one of the only times I had seen my grandmother at a loss for words. She helped Mema curl her hair and put it back up again.

Mema headed for the kitchen. Pots and pans started clattering. She was going to make supper.

Grandma tried to stop her - to explain that Mr. Balding wasn't coming home.

Mema shushed her. Couldn't she hear the baby was crying? She needed to tend to the baby and get supper ready before Mr. Balding came home...

My grandma turned away from me, but not before I saw the tears in her eyes.

The decline was rapid toward the end. She was diagnosed with Altzheimers, and the family found a female companion to live in with her.

Mema lived in a world decades past. We humored her.

Her doctor said she was not aware that she had developed breast cancer, and at her age and overall medical condition, there was no point in surgical intervention. He would make sure she stayed comfortable.

Hattie Belle Chapin Balding died on 18 Jan 1976.

And finally re-joined Mr. Balding.
dee_burris: (Default)
My direct line of Chapins in this generation are quite frustrating to track. This generation seems to be the most nomadic of the bunch, and Essie was no exception. I imagine she, as did her siblings, got their wanderlust from their father, who moved their family from New York westward between the 1880 federal census and the 1885 Kansas State Census.

She was born in Olean, Cattaraugus County, New York, in August 1870, and was the ninth of ten children born to Nathaniel Foster Chapin and Elizabeth Harris.

Apparently, Essie's first marriage to Joseph Shepherd occurred in 1889 in Kansas (if anyone knows of a way to get a definitive marriage date other than me traveling to Kansas to do so, please let me know). They had a daughter, Broshia S Shepherd (born 27 Jan 1890), and then Joseph died.

With the help of another Chapin descendant from this line, I was able to puzzle through the birth and actual surname of Essie's second child, Elbert Carr, as well as get some further information on her second, third and fourth marriages to Elbert C Carr, Joseph H Lebolt and Daniel J Finn, respectively. According to that cousin:

Essie Chapin married Elbert Carr in Oregon, because she was pregnant with his son, Elbert. Broshia was her child by Joseph Shephard. Thus, Elbert was named after his father and Broshia and Elbert were half brother and sister. I don't know what happened to Elbert Carr, but Essie did marry LeBolt - his family were jewelers and silversmiths in the Chicago area. Essie and Dan Finn were married later. Ward Finn was not Essie's natural child, he was adopted by her. They moved to Altoona, Pa. because Essie’s family (the Chapins) were carpenters and owned lumber mills. As the Pennsylvania Railroad expanded, the Chapins had contracts to mill lumber for railroad ties. Altoona, Pa was (a "boom town" at one time) one of the fastest growing cities in the USA in the late 1800's because of the Pennsylvania Railroad expansion. Of course, Altoona became a repressed city when the railroads failed. The Chapins moved around a great deal because they followed the railroad business.

After the birth of Elbert, Jr., Essie moved back to Bourbon Co., KS for a while - she was there for the 1895 Kansas State Census, and the 1900 Federal Census. By 1910, she had relocated with her children to Altoona, PA., where she lived out the remainder of her life.

Oddly, when she died on 14 Dec 1948, she was buried as Essie Lebolt Finn.

Essie is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Altoona, Blair Co., PA.


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Dee Burris Blakley

August 2017

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