02 July 2012

Madness Monday - Two Sides to Every Story

I have been searching for seven years for the ancestors of my great great grandfather, William G "Billy" Woolsey. I wrote about William Grant Woolsey (I had been told by my Aunt his middle name was Grant. Till this day I don't know where so got that) in my Madness Monday post in April '09. Today I can finally, with a great deal of confidence, say he is much less of a brick wall then three years ago.

I was contacted about two months ago, while I was eyeballs deep into my Jenkins family research, about my William Woolsey. If you read my recent post about my Jenkins, you'll know that I finally set that project aside for a break and picked this one up. So I contact John Woolsey again and we began working together. He has since brought two other people into the research that are also likely cousins, Jeff and Marci.

Until a month ago the only thing I knew of Williams life before he married my gg grandmother, Lillie, was that he ran away from home to escape an abusive Irish step mother when he was a young lad. He had also mentioned that he named two of his daughters after his sister, supposedly Eva and Minnie. He said he was born in Iowa. This was all I had to go on in order to discover who his parents were. As you can imagine, there were too many William Woolsey's so my search was not going to be an easy one.

When John contacted me my search became a whole lot easier. You see for every story in a family that is told there is often someone who knows the story from the other side. Such was the case with John. He had known of a young William Woolsey in his family that was born in Iowa and had gone west to be a cowboy (which really sounds right, because that was my William). His story of an abusive Irish step mother may also have some credence to it as well, though facts paint a slightly different scenerio. More on that later.

John had first brought to my attention the work of Donald C Hart who was a grandson of Eugene Denton Woolsey who died in Modesto, CA. Wait back up.......Modesto, CA that's right this possible brother of my great great grandfather lived in Modesto, CA where I was born and raised! When I discovered this I about tripped over myself to get back to my email and write to John, who also still lives in Modesto, CA!!! He said as a young child he use to ask his dad about the other Woolsey's that lived in the area and his dad use to tell him they weren't related. Little did he know they were! John even mentioned some of my family when he listed some of the names he saw in the phone book. We were all living in the same town, could have solved this mystery even before I was born and they didn't even know it, but I digress.

John sent me the following items that have aided me in piecing together this family:
  1. Arkansas City Traveler, Cowley Co., KS, Thursday, Oct 22, 1908, page 5, Col 3. "Death of Richard W Woolsey Last evening at the home of his daughter, Mrs George O Allen.......aged eighty-six years....his daughter, Mrs Eva N Brown......burial in Riverview cemetery.......He was familliarly called by them Uncle Dick Woolsey. He came to this city in 1870 and remained until 1876. In that year he went to the Black Hills and remained there for several years......he was living with a family near Hillsboro, New Mexico.....Al Percival [grand son-in-law] was sent to Hillsboro to bring him to this city...... father of seven children, six of them still living as follows; Al W Woolsey of Kildare; Mrs George O Allen and Mrs Eva N Brown of this city; Eugene Woolsey of California; Mrs Gallatin of Des Moines, Iowa; and Wm Woolsey, whose post office address is not know by relatives in this city."
  2. Weekly X-Ray, Arkansas City, Cowley County, KS, issue Saturday, Oct 24, 1908. this article was nearly a repeat of the previous, but also added "In the early days Mr. Woolsey built and ran the Central Avenue hotel, then, of course the leading hostelry of the town and in fact about the most important hotel in Southern Kansas."
  3. LaGrange County, Indiana, Marriage record #3 Page 189 Richard Woolsey to Charlotte Ann Nolen, married 6 Sept 1863.
  4. LaGrange County, Indiana, Marriage record #2, Page 6, Richard Woolsey to Alice S. Buck married 9 Jan 1848. Transcribed to record by Clerk Earline Harrin 14 May 1974.

With that we all did some digging. We found:
  1. Wm Woolsey age 4 born in Iowa in the home of Charlette Woolsey age 32 born in Ohio. Living in Lincoln, Linn County, KS. Also in the home were three Nolan childre: Elizabeth (12), John W (11) and Bell (8).  Ancestry.com, 1870 United States Federal Census, Year 1870, Place: Lincoln, Linn, KS, roll: M593_438; Page 39A; Image 81; Family History Library film: 545937.
  2. Wm Woolsey age 10 in the home of Jas Kennedy age 43 born in NY. Listed below Jas is C.A Kennedy, Female,  age 37 born i Ohio. I believe this is Charolette Ann (prev Woolsey, prev Nolan). Also in the home of Nancy Nolan (17), C. B. Nolan (14) and John W Nolan (15). I believe these are Charolette three Nolan children previously listed. So sometime between 1870 and 1875 she remarried. Did she divorce Richard, as he was still living? Ancestry.com, Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925 [database online]. Provo, UT, USA; Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.Microfilm reels K1-K20. Kansas State Historical Society.
  3. George Woolsey age 14 born in Iowa living in the home of Eva and John Brown in Bolton, Cowley, KS. Eva's name was mentioned previously in Richard Woolsey's obituary. I believe that William's middle name was George and that this George Woolsey in Eva's home is none other that William G Woolsey her half brother. The odd thing is that George is listed as "Border" as relationship to head of house, instead of brother-in-law. Ancestry.com, database online, 1880 United States Federal Census, Year: 1880, Census Place: Bolton, Cowley, KS; Roll: 377; Family History film: 1254377; Page 458B; Enum Dist: 170; Image: 0470
  4. Richard Woolsey age 57 born in NY, marital status: widower [not sure if that was true] miner. All of this fits Richard except he may not of been a widower. We know that Richard left KS in 1876 to seek his fortune in the Black Hills of the Dakotas and supposedly traveled for some time before he ended up in Hillsboro, NM. Ancestry.com, 1880 United States Federal Census; Year: 1880; Census Place: Sauk City, Whatcom, WA; Roll: 1398; Family History Film: 1255398; Page 317B; Enum Dist: 004
  5. Rich Wolsey age 43 born in New York living in Crewell, Cowley, KS. In his home is Phoebia (17) [this is Eva Alfred's twin sister] Alfred (17) and Alice (15) and next door is his son Eugene (22). Ancestry.com; United Stated Federal Census; Year 1870; Census Place: Creswell, Cowley, KS; Roll: M593_431; Page 335B; Image: 192; Family History Library Film: 545930.
  6. Richard Wolsey age 35 born in New Yord living in Bloomfield, LaGrange, IN. In the home is [his first wife] Alice (32), Eugene (11), Caroline (10), Mary (8), Alfred (7), Evangeline (7) and Alice (5). Ancestry.com, 1860 United States Federal Census; Year 1860; Census Place: Bloomfield, LaGrange, Indiana; Roll: M653_274; Page: 693; Image: 247; Family History Library Film: 803274.
  7. Groom: John W Nolan and bride: Charolette A Beck married 17 Dec 1855 in LaGrange County, IN. Familysearch.org; Indiana Marriage Collection, 1811-1959; Film Number: 1871247; Digital Folder Number: 4839056; Image Number: 00495
  8. John W Nolen, Union Soldier, Civil War, 88th Infantry, Pvt.  Fold3.com: Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Indiana; Publication: M540; Content Source: NARA; Source Publication Year: 1965; Fold3 Publication Year: 2011; Record Group: 94.
  9. John W Nolen, Widow: Charlotte A Nolen, Minor: Richard Woolsey (Gdn), Service G 88 Ind Inf, Date of filing: 1863 June: Widow Application No 23169, Minor: 1866 Sept 15, App No: 133775, Certificate No: 142185. Fold3.com; Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861-1900. Publication No.: T289, Publisher: NARA; Civil War Pensions.
  10. Dr Woolsey built the first hotel, his and and partner purchased a livery stable and his daughter Eva was the first to be married in Cowley County to John Brown. All of this came from Interesting first Facts About Arkansas City, KS online at: http://www.ausbcomp.com/~bbott/wortman/ArkansasCityFacts.htm
I'm still looking for records, but from this I can began to piece together the family story. Their story begins in LaGrange County, IN. Richard's first wife Alice passed away 29 Jan 1862 [this according to other trees and not verified by me]. It is unclear when John W Nolen died, but likely before Jun 1863 when Charolette applied for her widow pension. Then Richard Woolsey and Charolette Nolen were married 6 Sept 1863. I still don't have exact proof of when my William was born. His headstone states December, but records range from 1863 to 1866. Judging from the census records closest to his birth I'd say it's very likely he was born Dec 1866.

At this point I don't doubt that Charolette is William's mother. There was a therory that Charolette was a step mother and that William was the last child of Alice, but the evidence says that is not the case. By 1870 Charolette and Richard are two hundered miles apart. I have yet to find a record of a divorce, but that will be one of my next searches, since it appears Charolette may have remarried a Kennedy. Richard only has three of his seven children at home. William is with his mother and it's likely that Richards two oldest daughter's, Caroline and Mary are already married. Eugene is living next door to Richard.

According to Arkansas City town history Richard Woolsey was building and running his hotel in the early 1870's. It was known as the Woolsey house back then, today it's known as the Osage Hotel. At this point no records have been found of Charolette beyond the 1875 Kansas State census. In 1875 she and her four children, including William, are living in the home of James Kennedy. It's unknown if she really married him or was just living in his home and was assumed married in 1875.

By 1880 William is then living with his half sister Eva Brown and her family. They are living in Bolton, just outside of Arkansas City where Richard had been living previously. This is nearly two hundred miles south of where William lived with his mother. He is also going by his middle name, George. At the same time Richard is seeking his fortune in Sauk City, Whatcom, WA.

It is yet unknown what happened to William's, Nolen, half siblings, but again that is another search I will conduct. Eva and Alice raised thier families around Arkansas City, KS. Eugene went first to MO and move out west to CA. Alfred went just over the border to Kildare, OK. None of the Woolsey children knew where William went.

Then I began another search back on Charolette's line, and in finding the following records was able to learn a bit more about her roots:
  1. Charolette Beck age 12 born in Ohio she is in the home of William Beck age 41 born in Ireland. Her mother is Elizabeth age 35 born in Ohio. Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), www.ancestry.com, Database online. Year: 1850; Census Place: Richland, De Kalb, Indiana; Roll: M432_142; Page: 242A;
  2. William Beck born 1809 in Ireland married Elizabeth Carney born 1816 in Ohio. Married in 1835 Yates Publishing, U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004), www.ancestry.com, Database online. Source number: 5131.020; Source type: Family group sheet, FGSE, listed as parents; Number of Pages: 1; Submitter Code:.
This now tells us that Charolette was of Irish descent even though she was born in Ohio. I think that's where the Irish connection comes from in William's story. Now whether he was actually referring to his mother as abusive, one may never know. Though it's apparent this family as a little mixed up.

Now I need to search for:
  1. Divorce record of Richard and Charolette
  2. Each of the Nolen children after 1875 (likely census records) to discover where they may have gone.
  3. Death record of Charolette Woolsey (Kennedy?)
I still have so much more I need to learn and holes to fill in, but I am so excited about all I have learned over the last couple weeks and thanks to the help of a few wonderful people and possible cousins, Jeff, John and Marci.

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