Little Agnes

gurneyagnes_5yrs

Five year old Agnes Ellen Gurney about 1872.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

Visit me on Facebook and Twitter.

Advertisements

Headstone of an Infant

 

gurneyhelene_headstone

Image Source: FindaGrave

 

Helen E. Gurney, born in 1852, was the youngest infant daughter of Ebenezer Bourne Keen Gurney and Almira Jane Josselyn who were members of the Hanson Massachusetts community.

According to Massachusetts death records, Helen died on 7 August 1853 of a severe case of whooping cough.

She was only eight months and fifteen days old. She is buried with her family in the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Pembroke Massachusetts.

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

Follow me on Twitter

Girl Gone Missing

 

Gurneyagnesellen_picture7y

Agnes Ellen Gurney, Age 7 years old

 

 

Agnes Ellen Gurney born 12 October 1867 in Pepperell, Middlesex County, Massachusetts to Mary Williams Orcutt and Henry Ebenezer Gurney, went missing in 1880 at the age of 12 years old.

The portrait above was taken about 1874 when Agnes was seven years old before she and her mother (Mary Williams Orcutt) left New England for Iowa.

Luckily, for generations that followed, she wrote down memories from her childhood. In her story, she gives an event by event account of the years leading up to 1880 and the years following with little factual details such as dates and full names.

Her narrative is like reading a trail of breadcrumbs. Feeling very much like Gretel, I follow.

The nagging question I must answer is where was 12 years old Agnes during the 1880 United States Federal Census?

I found her mother in the census living in Charles City, Iowa teaching. She was living alone and suffered from tuberculosis on and off again.

According to Agnes’s account:

“After teaching for several years in Osage, my mother taught in Charles City, Iowa, and I was sent to stay with my mother’s cousin Bina in Indianapolis where I attended school….The next year I went to Charles City to be with Mama.”

From the information above, this is a no-brainer. In Agnes’s story, she states living with Bina and her husband in Indianapolis for a year. Easy, right?

No.

Maybe my dating is off? Agnes mentions only a few dates.

I can place everyone in her family and the people from her narrative in the 1880 US Federal Census. However, Agnes appears to have gone missing.

Here is what I do know:

  • In the Fall of 1876 Agnes and her mother leave Massachusetts for Iowa.
    Her mother worked in Osage, Iowa until about 1879.
  • Agnes’s mother gets a teaching job in Charles City, Iowa and Agnes goes to live with her distant cousin Albina Jenkins Warne for about a year.
  • Agnes returns to her mother in the spring of 1881.
  • Her mother becomes very ill, and they stay in Osage on their way to Stacyville until Mary is strong enough to travel.
  • Mary’s doctor thought she did not have long to live, so Mary arranged for Agnes to be adopted by a local family the Douglasses. I have the adoption document. It is dated 9 May 1881.
  • Mary lives, and in the fall of 1881, they return to New England for a visit along with Mrs. Douglass.
  • Mary did not fare well in New England and quickly returned to Iowa with Agnes.
    They stayed with the Charles Penny family where Mary died 26 December 1881.
  • Sad story, I know.

You may ask, “Did you check all known relatives and friends households in the 1880 Census?”

I can answer “Yes.” I found everyone in Agnes’s life in the census for that year. She is not listed with anyone including her cousin Albina Jenkins Warne with whom she had gone to live. The census date at the residence of Albina was 2 June 1880.

My best guess at this moment is Agnes was in transit to or from Indiana at the time census takers knocked on doors.

Am I satisfied? No. Will I keep looking? You bet.

What kind of mysteries in your ancestral tree is baffling to you? I would love to hear from you.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

 

 

The Death of a Kitten

kitten-shoe-Vintage-Image-Graphics-Fairy

 

While reading a book of memories written by Agnes Ellen Gurney Pinkerton (my 2nd great grandmother) I came across a little poem written by her mother’s sister (Mary Williams Orcutt), Aunt Fanny (Francis Ellen Orcutt), as a child.

Fanny had a way with words; one always find her scribbling little sayings or poems.

Apparently, Fanny and her sister Mary (Agnes’s mother) had quite the little pet cemetery.

With each death of a pet or expired animal found, they went through great pomp and circumstance in an attempt at providing a “proper” burial.

cat-2684538_640

In the pet cemetery, there was an old roof shingle standing up on end marking the grave of a kitten who came to his demise early in life. Attached to the shingle was a piece of paper with a poem written in a child’s hand that acted as the eulogy to the deceased feline.

 

“Cassibianca, here he lies,
With stiffened legs and shut-up eyes.
Ma stepped on him and stopped his breath,
An that is the way he came to his death.”

 

After reading that little poem, I laughed so hard. It is horrible what happened to the little kitten. I could picture in my mind’s eye, two little girls in dressed in outfits typical to the era (abt 1850) standing over a fresh little grave, with serious expressions reading the poem out loud.

This find is a sweet little treasure!

Color divider

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

Follow me on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Echoes From The Past: A Civil War Letter

Civil-War-soldiers-reading-letter-from-home-631

Union soldiers reading letters from home.

Tomorrow we celebrate 241 years of American Independence. Through hard fighting and perseverance that is the hallmark of the American spirit, our forefathers separated from the British Empire. Eighty-five years later, our fledgling country faced an internal threat. The Civil War broke out with a fury. Devastating losses were felt by Union and Confederates alike. However, through the destruction, our country survived. Like many American’s today, my lineage has soldiers who fought for the Union and the Confederacy. In celebration of Independence, I would like to honor one such soldier.

Ebenezer Henry Gurney was my 3rd great grandfather. Born in Hanson Massachusetts, he was the son of Ebenezer Bourn Keene Gurney and Almira Jane Josselyn. In the records, I have found that Ebenezer Henry Gurney went by the name E. Henry Gurney or Henry Gurney. During the American Civil War, he fought as a private in the 3rd Massachusetts Infantry, Company A for the Union. Henry enlisted on 14 Apr 1861. He served for three years.

During his initial training at Fort Monroe, Henry wrote a letter to his brother Lieut. Thomas Gurney who was serving with the 58th Massachusetts Infantry at the time. In his letter, he describes the conditions of camp life and training. Fort Monroe is located in Hampton Virginia along the southern coastline of the state.

800px-Fort_Monroe_Aerial

Fort Monroe, Virginia

 

Fort Monroe
Saturday 11th, May, ’61

My dear Brother,
I received your letter of the 28th of April, last Thursday, so you see that it was a long time on the way. I would like to have you here this day just to see our style of living and how we work too, but I shouldn’t want you or anyone else to come here and live as we do, unless it was for the preservation of our country’s flag, as it is with us. I always thought I was not so hard and tough as the other boys from home, but I find, to my astonishment, that I go far beyond the endurance of the other boys. All of the other boys except Wallace (e.g. Wallace Hood, Pleasant Street) have been hauled up with something or other and I have been tough as a bear. Edwin Thayer has been in the hospital three or four days from a swelling in the neck. Willard is sick from boils. Otis (e.g. Otis Bonney, Washington Street) is not very well this day and the others have been complaining about something almost every day. All from our mode of living, which is pork and bread to eat, almost every day. I never felt better in my life than I have since I have been here, notwithstanding I never worked so hard before. I get up at quarter before five in the morning and shake my blanket; then I have to go out on company drill until breakfast, when we have pork and bread; never anything else. After breakfast we have our own time until eight o’clock when we have regimental drill for three hours. Afternoon we have our own time until four and then drill for two hours. We have to keep awake until 9 o’clock for roll call and do not get to sleep until 10 or after on account of the boys making so much noise. There are 150 of us in one room.
This is our parade duty. On guard and fatigue days we get up as usual and shake our beds but do not have to go out on line until 8.00 a.m. Our fatigue duty is the easiest and our guard duty the hardest. They are bound to put us through every day. As I have very often explained , our victuals are just right to create humors. I don’t eat anything except the bread, beans once in a week, meat once in ten days, rice once a week and what I buy from the officer’s wives or from the cooks. Nothing but pork and bread for breakfast and bread and coffee for supper. This is to serve one’s country.
Our place here is well fortified beside the fort. Yesterday the Pawnee, Cumberland, Harriet Lane and Monticello were all here as blockade; Pawnee, 10 guns, Cumberland, 3p., Harriet L, 6 or 8, and Monticello, 1 large 10-inch gun besides two small ones on deck (Howitzers). Today the Pawnee went out and the Quaker City came in. The Harbor is full of sail stopped by the blockade. We don’t know whether the rebels will be bold enough to attack us or not, but every place is being strengthened and guns put in order. Today they are covering the magazine with bags of sand to prevent all possible explosions. Last night was a busy night over in Hampton for the secessionists. Drums were going all night and this morning the scouts reported a sand battery in process of erection. If they get too fast, they may be used up before they expect. That big gun weighs 19.099-11 marked on it. Will throw a shot or shell from 4 to 7 miles and costs $100.00 everytime it is fired. It is a 15-inch Columbiad and is called the Floyd gun. It is four feet and over through the “britch”. I have stood on it and it was about 15 feet from the ground. I wish you to write as often as you can and tell me all the news. My love to all.

Your brother Henry

 

Fort_monroe_wounded_leslie

A drawing of Fort Monroe receiving wounded.

800px-15inRodmanFtMonroe

Canons at Fort Monroe.

In a note written by the hand of Josephine Gurney, Henry’s younger sister, she details that Henry ran off with three other boys, Horatio Sooter, George Hayward and Albert Josselyn, to enlist in Boston. Henry’s first enlistment lasted only three months but he relisted right away. He was a musician and during his second enlistment, he was Chief Bugler in the First Rhode Island Cavalry.

One of the stories remembered by his family was that Henry rode with General Sherman on that “scorching raid through Georgia.” In another one of his letters, Henry reported entering a beautiful Georgia mansion where the soldiers were destroying everything in sight. There was a fine piano in the house. Henry refused to let them touch it. He sat down and played until they left the room. In a flyleaf of a piano book, he found the name “Semple”. When his first daughter was born, he named her Amy Semple Gurney.

 

Thank you for reading. 

J. R. Lowe

Follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Rosebud Sioux Delegation

Rosebud_Sioux_delegates

My maternal GG grandparents are pictures on the right back row. Their names are William Brown Pinkerton (minister and son of David Pinkerton and Mary Ann Hitchcock) and his wife Agnes Ellen Gurney Pinkerton (daughter of E. Henry Gurney and Mary Williams Orcutt). They served as missionaries on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota from before World War I to the mid-1920’s.

This photo was found while searching through the G.E.E Lindquist photo collection. If you are interested in old native photos check out the collection. It is quite impressive and interesting.

 

Thank you for reading,

J. R. Findsen

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Image Source: http://lindquist.cul.columbia.edu/