As 2020 comes to a slow and sluggish end, so has my research reached a slow and sluggish turn. I just recently recieved a packet from the state archives that I had ordered so many months ago, I had completely forgot about them, and had long moved on from that topic. Sometimes when you get stuck in a rut, it's time to move on to something new, or return to a past lead and pick it up again. Very often something new comes about.
So here's to a better 2021! A healthier new year, a happier new year, a more successful research New Year to us all!
Sometimes, when coming upon a document, and searching for the people who are mentioned in the document, I discover things that descendants of these people have all wrong. So, sometimes I create a blog post, just to put my evidence out there, for anyone who would cede to find it. Sometimes folks are just happy with their illusion of the truth, and want nothing to change it. That, too, is there right. In this post, I just present the evidence, as I have found it. If anyone wants to use it, fine, if not, fine also, but their dna is not going to match up. This post is one of those cases.
Charity Creech was born in January of 1836 to Elijah Creech and his wife, Louisa Susan Jenkins. She was named for her Grandmother, Charity Pope Creech. Charity Pope's father was the Rev. Elijah Pope, of Edgecomb County, NC. He is mentioned in the will of his mother Olive. I mention this because the name Olive then travels down the line into the Ward family.
Rev. Pope begins a campaign west, and in Rowan County, North Carolina, he met and married Mary Davis, daughter of Jacob Davis, and they proceeded to Ashe County, NC, which borders both Virginia and Tennesee.
It was in Ashe County, NC, that Charity, the daughter of Rev. Elijah and wife Mary Davis Pope, met and married William S. Creech, Jr.
The Creech family were Virginians, from Lee and Montgomery Counties, Virginia, not far from the North Carolina line. By 1830, they were all in Clay County, Indiana. In Indiana, the Creech family encountered the Jenkins family, who hailed from Bourbon County, Kentucky. Elijah Creech, the oldest son and second child of William S. Creech, Jr. and Charity Pope Creech would marry in Owen County, Indiana, that bordered Clay County, to Louisa Susan Jenkins, daughter of Thomas and Talitha Elkins Jenkins, in 1827. Louisa was 19 when she married, and beginning the very next year after her marriage, she and Elijah would bring 13 children into the world, over the course of 23 years, culminating with her last, James Marion, at age 23.
Charity Creech was their 5th child, born in 1836. She was preceded by Malinda (1828), William T. (1830), Lucinda (1831) and Telitha (1833) and was followed by Louisa (1839) , John Eli (1840), Martha (1841), Dewitt Clinton (1842), Mary Jane (1844), Elijah Pope (1846), Levi D. (1848) and lastly, James Marion in 1851.
In 1860, the newlyweds were living in Owen County, Indiana, right next door to Thomas's parents, a place Charity would stay, no matter where they moved. The census was taken on the 4th day of June. Charity would have been heavily pregnant, as her first child, Louisa Jane, named for Charity's mother, was born that month.
The joy of her firstborn was short-lived for Charity, because that year she also became a widow.
New Union Carolina Church as photographed by Guenevere Beesley
Thomas Branson Ward died in 1860 at the age of 22 years, 6 months and 7 days. His tombstone declares that he died on April 13. However, the 1860 census for Morgan Township that he was enumerated in is dated June 4th of that year. One of them is obviously incorrect. As I don't believe he was enumerated as a ghost, I believe the mostly likely event is that the stone was erected later, perhaps by his daughter, or even his siblings, and they got the date wrong. Below is his stone , reassembled.
Photographed by John Maxwell
The New Union Carolina Baptist Church is an abandoned church located on the Atkinsonville Road in Morgan Township, Owen County, Indiana. It's location probably marks the general area the John Ward family settled when they first arrived there, around the time of Thomas's death. It's an historic church, an old white frame building with the double doors meant for the separation of men and women. Founded by settlers from North Carolina, common surnames found in the cemetery includes Arant, Barnes, Beaman, Cassida, Corns, Haltom, Jordan, Langdon, Lucas, Query, Randall, Williams and Trent. A history of Morgan Township lists several prominent settlers and families from North Carolina including the Curtis family from Randolph County, NC, Atlas Bray of Chatham County, NC, David Goss of Davidson County, NC and Elias Hubbard of Guilford County, NC. Also several Johnsons and Smiths from Chatham.
Front of Church photographed by April Thomas
The area and the church could not have been more plain, and thus far, Charity's life had been typical of an 18th century midwest farm girl, plain living, large families and early marriage. Now, she was a young widow with a small child. What was she to do?
So far, Charity had been born into a westward moving family of North Carolina, Viriginia and Kentucky natives. She grew up in Crawford County, Indiana, married in Vigo County, Indiana and buried her husband in Owen County, Indiana.
Just kind of wandering around the gates of the midwest. The 1870 census finds Charity Ward and her young daughter, Louisa, back in Vigo County, living in the tiny town of Riley. It was founded in 1836 as part of a canal building project. As of 2010, only 200 people lived in Riley.
Riley, Indiana from Wikipedia
Charity was still livng right next door to John and Jemima Ward, as she had been in the 1860 census with Thomas. She was in a separate household, so maybe in a tenant house on their property. I am sure they saw to her sustenance.
Below Charity and her 10 year old daughter is listed a Baker family, and below them is her brother-in-law, Eli W. Ward and his wife Jane, who are yet to have children themselves.
Up until now, things for Charity have been typical, rather boring, unconsequential. Nothing to blog about, but then, Charity must have met someone. A man, or men, I do not know, but Charity began having children, more children, and this is the reason for this post. In tree after tree, all of Charity's children are attributed to Thomas Branson Ward and true to form, they carry the surname Ward, because that was Charity's legal name. It was if these descendants of Charity found the marriage certificate and without wondering where Thomas may have been, just ran with that. But unless Charity was sleeping with his ghost, those children beyond Louisa could not have been the children of Thomas B Ward. He was not their father.
The 1880 census reveals the tale. Charity has followed the Wards to Edgar County, Illinois. Her daughter with Thomas, Louisa, is now 19. She has 7 year old twins, John and Marietta living with her and a two year old, Nettie M. Ward. Now, Nettie was young enough, she could have reasonably been the daughter of Louisa, who would have been 17 as opposed to Charity being 41 at the time of her birth. The 1880 census was the first to name the relationships of the persons in the household and name Louisa, Marietta and Nettie, all as daughters of Charity and John as her son.
She is still tied to the Ward family as Eli's family and her elderly inlaws are still nearby, despite having moved to a new state and county.
The Baptismal record of Charity's youngest daughter, Nettie, lists father as unknown.
14 Apr 1882
Edgar, Illinois, United States
Nettie May Ward
Birth Year (Estimated):
Edgar Co., Ill.
13 Apr 1882
Edgar Tp., Edgar Co., Illinois
Old Log Cem.
It wasn't long before another tragedy would strike. Charity's youngest, Nettie May, would died at age 4 of a "brain fever", or meningitis, on April 13, 1882. Oddly, if you remember, April 13 was the date and month carved on the stone of Thomas Branson Ward. This is why I believe this date, April 13, may have stuck in the memory of Louisa, Thomas's only child, and she had erected the stone for her father as an adult, years, possibly decades, after his death. Little Nettie May is said to have been buried at the Old Log Cemetery on her death records. It appears this cemetery was abandoned and long forgotten. So somewhere in Edgar Township, Edgar County, Illinois, rests Little Nettie May.
The huge jump ahead between the 1880 census and the 1900 census can see alot happen in a family. It did in many ways for Charity Ward, and in other ways it did not.
In 1900, Charity is still living in Edgar County, Illinois and with her only son, John. However, her closest neighbors are William H. Crum and wife Etta, who turns out to be her daugher, Etta, and William B Ashley and wife Louisa J., who turns out to be her daugther, Louisa. Just above Charity is her brother-in-law, Eli Ward and his family. So it appears that the family did not move in twenty years, just laid to rest John and Jemima, while Charity's daughters married and gathered around her.
That is the last we see of Charity. Whether or not she was buried in the "Old Log Cemetery" with her youngest daughter or in the Franklin Cemetery with most of the Wards is unknown. I find it unusual that Nettie May had a death record in 1882 and Charity doesn't after 1900. So for any other understanding of Charity, we have to move on to her children.
Louisa Jane Ward
Louisa Jane was the daughter of Thomas Branson Ward. She was born the year he died. As he appears on the 1860 census in June, and June seems to be the month Louisa was born, she was born either just before or just after his death. After appearing as a teenager in the 1880 census with her mother and the 3 younger children, Louisa marries the very next year, on March 3, 1881 to Willard B. Ashley, at the age of 20.
You might recall that her Aunt, Jane Ward, the youngest child of John and Jemima Humble Ward, had married John Christopher Ashley. Louisa Jane had married back into the same Ashley family. As a side note, I have looked into the "Schenck" given as Charity's surname in the above record and have decided its probably just an error. She was born a Creech, that is for certain. I looked into the possibility of her marrying a Mr. Schenck in her twilight years but have found no record of such.
The Ashley family hailed from Lincoln County, Kentucky. Led by patriarch James Francis Ashley and wife, Sussanah Server Ashley, they arrived in Illinois in the 1870's. Like the Ward family, most of the Ashleys are buried in Franklin cemetery.
John Francis Ashley
John F. and Susan Ashley had 10 children:
1847 John Christopher - who married Jane Ward
1848 Margaret Lydia
1851 Mary Jane
1853 John Henry Vardum Ashley
1855 Willard Brinton - who married Louisa Jane Ward, niece of Jane Ward.
1857 William Willis
1859 Kossuth H.
1861 Andrew Jackson
1864 Susan Harriett
1867 Frances Ellen aka "Ella"
So there is how the Ashley's are related. Their fathers were brothers, their mothers Aunt and Niece, not double- cousins per se, but still closely related to earch other.
In 1900, Louisa Jane and her family are shown living in Edgar Township, right next to her mother, Charity, her sister, Etta and her family and her Uncle, Eli Ward. She's now actually 40, not 37 as was shown in the census, and she was pregnant. The census was taken on June 21, 1900. Just days later, her last child, a son, Oscar, was born. The census declares Willard and Louisa parents of 8 children, with 7 living. In this way, the 1900 and 1910 censuses gave us a sad, but realistic look at infant mortality of that era. Her first pregnancy, by comparing dates, was twin boys, both William E. and Harvey C. Ashley being born on November 28, 1883. Harvey had survived to bring in the new century, William did not. This made Oscar her 9th child.
The Paris Daily Beacon, Edgar Co., IL, Friday, April 12, 1901, pg 4
VICTIMS OF MEASLES. Two Infants Passed Away on Thursday.
The nine-months-old child of W. B. and Lyda (sic) J. Ashley, died shortly before midnight on Thursday at the family residence, seven miles northeast of this city in Edgar township. The little one had been ill with the measles and the disease resulted in pneumonia, causing death as above stated.
The funeral will be conducted from the residence at 10 o'clock on Saturday morning .... Interment will be made in Franklin cemetery.
Similar Death. The Infant son of Mrs. and Mrs. B. F. Parrish .... similar to that noted above ....
Sadly little Oscar had a short life, and too, encountered one of the deadly diseases of that time that endangered the little ones.
The Paris Daily Beacon, Edgar Co., IL, Monday, October 28, 1901, pg 8
MRS. W. B. ASHLEY DEAD
Mrs. W. B. Ashley, 39, died on Sunday at the family residence, six miles southeast of this city, following a brief illness. The funeral was conducted today and interment was made in the Franklin cemetery near Nevins.
Just 6 months after the death of her infant son, Louisa succombed to an unknown fatal illiness.
Below is the list of the children of Willard B. Ashley and Louisa Jane Ward Ashley, the only biological grandchildren of Thomas B. Ward:
1883- William E. and Harvy C Ashley
1885- Bessie Deal Ashley Walls
1887- Frederick Cleveland Ashley
1889- Maude Ethel Ashley Walls
1891- Claude A. Ashley
1894- Louella Ashley Quinn
1897- Sadella or Sadie Dell Ashley Ward
1900- Oscar Ashley.
As you can see, youngest daughter Sadie married back in to the Ward family. Her husband, Vernie, was the son of John E Ward, son of David Ward.
Sisters Bessie and Maude also married Walls. Cousin marriages were very common in this timeframe. I wonder how much this fact contributed to the child mortality rates. d
I am going to continue along this family branch because I find several family trees confused by the fact that Louisa's widower had married a woman with a similar name to his first, and they have Louisa living on into the 1950's, and she did not. They seem to have missed her death and Willards subsequent remarriage.
The story beyond Laura Jane begins with the 1910 census. Willard, and a Jennie Ashley are living with his children Claude, Luella and Sadie. They've been joined by a two year old Laura Ashley. Also living in the home is an 8 year old named Keiffer Vest and 63 year old Elijah Creech.
Do you recall Elijah Creech? This is Elijah Pope Creech, younger brother of Charity Creech Ward, Laura Janes' Uncle. This may be one of the reasons multiple family trees have merged Laura Jane and Jenny into one person. Elijah Creech is listed as a boarder here. He will live only 2 more years.
And while it is true many 'Janes' in this day and time were nicknamed 'Jenny', there are other hints that this was a different person, even if you had not found a death record or gravesite for Laura Jane. First, look at the category of 'Years Married' in the above listing. It says "4". Willard and Laura Jane had married in 1881, 29 years prior. Second is the presence of Keiffer Vest, the 8 year old child, his relationship to Willard is given as stepson.
So who was Jenny?
In this record it tells us she was born in Illinois about 1870 and that both her parents were also born in Illinois. It also states she was the mother of 5 children with 4 living. Those 4 would include Keiffer Vest, obviously and also 2 year old Laura, perhaps named for Willards deceased wife, if he demanded such a thing. But where were the other two living children?
It would be natural to assume she was a widow, but that was not the case.
Jenny was born Jenny Scott and in 1888, at about 19 years old married a man named Eli Vest. This record gives her father's name as Isaac Scott and her mother as L. Whited, which with research, I discovered was Louisa Whitehead. Jenny was not a widow, as Eli Vest did not die before Jenny married W. B. Ashley, if she married him indeed. They had 4 children and Keiffer, the youngest, stayed with Jenny while the older three, Chester, Meda and Otis, remained with their father. Jenny had the one daughter with Willard Ashley, Laura Naomi, then they too separated, as she went west with her son, but Willard, like Eli Vest, was not dead either.
I was going to do a 'Story within a Sotry on Jenny and her family, but it became lengthy and very interesting. Perhaps she will gain her own. Suffice to say that Jane Scott was not Laura Jane Ashley. Any descendant wanting to understand the reasons for the Vest family separating and Keiffer staying with his mother while the others stayed with their father would probably benefit from looking into the old court records of Edgar County.
The Crum Connection
The Crum connection begins with the marriage of Samuel Crum, form Floyd County, Kentucky, to Rebecca Starkey, from Alabama, on December 19, 1869, in Edgar County, Illinois. They would become neighbors of the Ward and Ashley families.
The couple had 4 children: (1870) Mary Harriett "Hattie" Crum. (1875) William Henry Crum, (1877) Albert Hereford Crum, and (1881), John Samuel Crum.
Mary Harriett Crum would marry another one of the Ashley brothers, James Henry Vardium Ashley, a younger brother of John Christopehr and Willard. The youngest Crum, John Samuel, would never marry. But William Henry would marry Marietta "Etta" Ward, Charity's second daughter.
In 1900, the family is living in Edgar with their 3 daughters, Ada, Lena and Myrtle. If you recall, they were living in the exact same spot with Charity, their Uncle Eli Ward, and Charity's oldest daughter, Louisa Ward Ashley and her family with Willard B. Ashley. They were living on the property first purchased by John Ward from Montgomery County, North Carolina!
Henry died young, sometime before 1910. Why he died or where he was buried is unkonwn. Etta is found working as a Washerwoman in the town of Edgar. Although it says she is the mother of 3 children with 3 living, they are not living with her.
Age in 1910:
Home in 1910:
Edgar, Edgar, Illinois
Relation to Head of House:
Employer, Employee or Other:
Home Owned or Rented:
Home Free or Mortgaged:
Farm or House:
Able to read:
Able to Write:
Number of Children Born:
Number of Children Living:
The girls are not living with Henry's mother, Rebecca, who lived unitil 1924. She is widowed and living with her youngest son, John. It is possible that Charity was still living in 1910, as her death date is unknown, and that the girls were living with her, for neither can be found. It's altogether possible that they were just missed. The census was an imperfect function. Living nearby to Etta are Wards, Creeches and Ekins, who were, or had connections to, her own family.
The next 10 years are both tragic and eventful.
Etta would marry (or not) to Albert Hereford Crum, the third of the 4 Crum children. I've not found a marriage record. That does not mean one did not exit, but the names would not change. What is recorded is that on October 23, 1912, Lloyd F. Crum was born to Albert and Etta. Then, on March 11, 1916, another son Elmer Lee Crum, called "Bob"., Etta's last known child, was born.
Her seocnd daughter, Lena, would pass away on July 7, 1914, of unknown causes , at the age of 21.
Terre Haute Tribune, Wed., July 8, 1914, pg 2
MISS LENA CRUM By Special Correspondent
Paris, Ill, July 8. - Miss Lena Crum, 21 years old, died at her home .... at 1 o'clock Tuesday afternoon .... The funeral services were conducted Wednesday morning.
She was buried in the Edgar towwn cemetery, as was most of the fmaily, and probably Charity as well.
Earlier that year, oldest daughter Ada, had married to Claude Brown, on January 19, 1914. Ada would also die young, on August 1, 1919. Claude would remarry to Jessie I Gosnell. She had 4 daughters, though not all by Claude, and an extremely interesting story of her own. There is no indication that Ada Crum Brown and Claude Brown had any children.
The Paris Daily Beacon, Edgar Co., IL, Friday, August 1, 1919, pg 1
MRS. CLAUDE BROWN DIES
Mrs. Claud Brown, 22 years old, died late Firday (sic) afternoon. The surviving relatives are her mother, Mrs. Etta Crum and one sister, Miss Myrtle Crum.
That left Myrtle, the youngest daughter. Myrtle did enjoy a longer life than her sisters. She married first, in 1923, to Robert Edward Kelsheimer, a divorced man. He's shown in the 1920 census living without his first wife, Carrie Perisho. He's living with random working people and she is living with her parents and thier young son. They had a daughter, but she died at about t the age of 7. In 1930, Carrie Perisho Kelshiemer is still living with her parents.
Robert married Myrtle Crum in 1923, but the marriage did not last long. He died of TB in 1928. There were no children..
Terre Haute Tribune, Sunday, February 26, 1928, pg 2
ROBERT E. KELSHEIMER Special To The Tribune
Paris, Ill., Feb. 25 - Robert E. Kelsheimer, 39 years old, died this morning at 5 o'clock at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Elijah Richardson on the Cherry Point road, following an illness of tuberculosis. Mr. Kelsheimer had been in ill health for several months and returned last Saturday from Colorado, where he had been taking treatments in a sanitarium. He was born April 3, 1888, near Brocton, Ill., a son of Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Kelsheimer. He was united in marriage to Myrtle Crum, who survives him, together with his father, one son, Wilbur, one brother Clarence Kelsheimer, Brocton, and one sister, Mrs. Nelle Ferguson, of Chrisman. Fraternally he was a member of the Modern Woodmen of America and the Masonic order. He was a member of the Methodist church. The funeral will be held Monday afternoon at 3 o'clock from the First Methodist church .... burial at the Edgar cemetery.
Myrtle would marry again, this time at age 33, to Charles Heelen, on Macrh 3, 1930. This marriage lasted 9 years unitl Mytles' death in 1939, at the age of 42. She did not have any children with Mr. Heelen, either. Myrtle was buried at St Aloyius Cemetery in Paris, Edgar County, Illinois.
The mystery remains of what Etta did with her girls after she was widowed and also, where Myrtle, now an adult was in 1920. But those are not the only mysteries.
Etta is shown in the 1920 census with her husband / brother-in-law, Albert, their two sons, and a 7 year old Granddaughter, Thelma. Thelma is the same age as Etta's son Lloyd, but who are her parents? Both Ada and Lena would have been old enough to have been her mother, Myrtle on the long shot. Ada married, Lena didn't, but she would have been a Brown, not a Crum. Myrtle would have only been 16 when she was born, and Lena died right after she was born. If I had to vote, I would vote Lena as her mother, perhaps dying in childbirth, but Thelma remains a mystery.
The dynamics had not changed in 1930, ten years later, same place, same station, only the kids were older. Lloyd was now 2 years older than Thelma, instead of the same age, and since they were raising Thelms, she is now listed as a daughter, but none of the family trees list her as a daughter, the first one was right, she was a granddaughter.
Ten more years, Etta is once again a widow. Both sons still live with her and Elmer has married. Thelma is no where to be found, no death reocrds, so she most likely got married and changed her name, but no marriage records either.
Elmer and his wife, Julia Fern Richey had 2 children and along with the mysterious Thelma, those were the only known grandchildren of Etta.
Etta lived to be 82. No where is there any indication given on who her father actually was.
But the young couple did not leave immediately. Their daughter, Geneva, was born in Illinois. John is still working in Edgar in 1910 and his mother is not with him. This is why I believe she died before 1910.
Sometime during the 19-teens, John and family relocated to Arizona. In the 1919 City Directory for Phoenix, he is listed as working as a Machinist. In the 1920 census, the very next year, he states he is working as a laborer at at a cotton Gin.
By 1919, the family has moved to Phoenix, Arizonz and John is working as a machinist. He was off to make a better life for his family, and in the end result, he did relocate them to west coast culture from there on out.
John did not last long after that, he died of a cerebral emoblism, or stroke on August 21, 1921, at the age of 44. On his marriage certificate, where John had given the information himself, he listed only his mother, and no father. On his death certificate the informant, his wife, Nellie, had named his father as John Ward. Now, John was the father of John Z. Ward's mothers', first husband, who died 13 years before John Z. was born. Could Charity have had an affair with her father-in-law? I suppose it was possible, as John didn't die until 1898, however, I find that highly improbable. Having now seen hundreds of life documents from illegitimate children persons from the late 1800's and early 1900's, I find that many, to avoid embarrassment, named an imaginary father, most often the generic 'John', along with whatever surname the deceased carried.
One can imagine, the beleagured Mrs. Nellie Ott Ward, sitting in the coroners office in 1921, being asked to give information on her deceased husband, and the names of his parents being asked. Did the elder John Ward, grandfather of his oldest sister come to mind? Or perhaps in a 'John Doe' moment, she just uttered the overly common, generic John to avoid embarssment of her illeigitimate husband. And yes, I called him illegitimate. Any person born 13 years after the death of his mother's husband, and his mother not having remarried, is illegitimate.
John Z. and Nellie Ott Ward had 1 daughter, Geneva Angeline. Geneva married and had one daughter, in turn, Eva. Their family had moved, after John Z. died, to California. Then, after Geneva married, they moved from the West Coast, back to the East Coast. Geneva died just an hours drive from where family branch patriarch and source of the Ward name, John Ward, was born.
The Charlotte News Charlotte, North Carolina 10 Dec 1984, Mon • Page 30 In the end of my search, the father of Charity Creech Ward's younger children remain unknown. Perhaps DNA will one day help to solve this mystery.