20 April 2009

Madness Monday- William "Billy" Grant WOOLSEY

This has been one of my most serious brick walls. I often understand when a wife is a brick wall because it generally means that I don't know her maiden name, but the men are usually a different matter. In this case I think it may be a case where I don't really know the name he was given at birth. If the story that has been told in the family is true then William ran away from home. Here is how it was told to me by my Aunt who told me this is how William would often tell the story.
"I was born in Iowa. I ran away from home as a young lad because of my abusive Irish stepmother. I stowed away on a wagon train headed west. By the time they discovered me it was too late to turn back . And that's all I'm going to say about that."
He never went into detail about his family or where he was from. The only other detail that was discovered through his life is that he says he named one or two of his daughters after his sisters. So we know he had sisters, but we don't know how many or which names were in honor of his sisters. He had four daughter, Minnie, May, Eva and Bulah. So this doesn't tell me a lot.

Here is what I do know.
  • 15 Dec 1865 William Grant WOOLSEY was born in Iowa (from family bible owned by granddaughter Lillie Mae and now in possession of her great niece Debbie as well as 1900 and 1910 census)
  • 8 Dec 1889 Marriage to Lillie Ann GRAHAM in Montague Co., TX the daughter of James GRAHAM and Sarah THOMPSON. (From their marriage certificate)
  • 6 Sep 1890 birth of first child Ewing Richard WOOLSEY in Garvin Co., OK (a different family bible then list above, and same for rest of list and 1900 & 1910 census)
  • 11 Jan 1893 birth of Minnie A WOOLSEY (family bible and 1900 & 1910 census)
  • 1 Jan 1895 birth of Eva Pamerila WOOLSEY (family bible and 1900 & 1910 census)
  • 1900 W.G with wife and children in Chickasaw Nation, Indian Teritory, Badly damaged record. Though visible he states birth month as Dec and birth year as possibly 1867? He and Lillie have been married 10 years. Born in Iowa, father & mother both born in TN (there had been talk in the family that they were from TN, but unproven). The rest of the families birth month and all is unreadable. ( 1900 Census, Indian Teritory, Chicasaw Nation, Township no-3, no -R, no-6, Enumeration Dist Co., 119?, Sheet no 10, Enumerate on 18 June 1900 by Henry H Gattelemy.)
  • Mar 1901 birth of May WOOLSEY (family bible and 1910 census)
  • 15 Apr 1904 birth of James Buford WOOLSEY (family bible and 1910 census)
  • 7 Oct 1906 birth of Bulah Leah WOOLSEY (family bible and 1910 census)
  • 10 Jan 1910 birth John Wesley WOOLSEY (family bible and 1910 census)
  • 1910 William and family in Bradley, Grady Co., OK. Apparently in the same place as ten years previous, only now OK was a state and counties were formed. He states his age as 45 again putting him born in 1867, though from family records and headstone we know he was born in 1865. Married 21 years with seven children. Born in IA and parents both born in IN (this conflict earlier census, but his place stays the same) (1910 Census, Oklahoma, Grady Co., Bradley, Supervisor Dist. No 5, Enumeration Dist No 91, Sheet no. 3, Enumerated by Chas Callinon on 21 & 22 of ??? 1910.)
  • 26 June 1913 William died in Garvin Co., OK and is buried at the Erin Springs cemetery in Garvin Co., Oklahoma. His wife was later buried beside him.
So I know it sounds like I know quit a bit, but in reality we know nothing before his marriage to Lillie. I'm not really even sure that his birth date is correct. The only reason I have that is because it was recorded in two different family bibles. So then why can't I find any record to back it up. The census records put him younger than the family bibles do, why is that? I also know nothing about his family. I have researched almost every WOOLSEY family in the Iowa census from 1860 through 1900. I've also spent a lot of time tracing the many lines that descent from Richard Woolsey of NY (original Immigrant) and many of those lines are in TN around the time of Williams birth which according to the census may be a possibility but no one matched at all.

I know and before you send me a copy of the 1870 Census of a William Woolsey, son of William and Armile WOOLSEY living in Humbolt, Allen, KS......I've already traced this family. At one time I made the mistake and got so excited thinking I had finally found him. I later found him as a border in Spring Creek and Bell Fourche, Lawrence, Dakota Territory in the 1880 probably as a ranch hand. Then ironically I found him in 1920 and 1930 living right here in Spokane, WA about 30 minutes from my home. When I know that my William G WOOLSEY was definitely in Oklahoma married to Lillie, not here married to Kate. Then later I had the great great grandson of that William Woolsey contact me and he is buried here as well. We compared notes and came to a definite conclusion that our William's were two different men though born near the same time and in the same place moved in two different directions. We also believe that the William and Armile as parents of William in KS in the 1870 Census are in fact his family, not mine.

There are a few other possible matches, but so far they have not yielded anything. But my fear is that maybe William Grant WOOLSEY was not his name when he was a child. If the story is true and he was very young when he left Iowa he may have been adopted and taken on another name. Why would he never talk about it? Maybe he wasn't that young. There has also been a rumor shared with me that he ran with a gang robbing stage coaches. I didn't believe it, so I didn't write down where I got that information, but now after all this time looking I sometimes wonder if there was an element of a criminal past and he changed his name. These are all just speculations, but they keep me looking. Wondering why, who, where when and how? What was his life like before he married Lillie?

1 comment:

Judith Richards Shubert said...

Good morning, Amy. Sounds like your William Grant Woolsey is a pretty hard fellow to pin down. I enjoyed your account of the information that you have on him. Hope you are able to break down that wall eventually and have some more questions answered.

I'm glad you enjoyed my Monday Madness contribution, Poor Mr. Plemons - Poisoned by His Wife, Amy! I have the follow-up at The Rest of the Story at "Monday Madness" and so I hope you'll have a moment to read it. I know exactly what you mean by not having enough time. Wow ~ where does it all go?