52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Family Legends

I recently decided to join the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks started by Amy Johnson Crow. Every week Amy posts a theme online to give us ideas on what to write about. This week the theme is Family Legends.

The only legend I am aware of in my family is the disappearance of my great-grandfather, Edgar Lane. He disappeared at the end of the nineteenth century around the age of nineteen. By that age, he had fathered my grandfather William Everett Lane. Edgar was a gambler and some in the family believe he came to a deadly end as the result of his vice. Living close to the Mississippi River, it would have been very easy to dump a body into that swirling body of water never to be found. At the end of the 1890s, Edgar could have also walked away from his family and responsibilities to begin a new life elsewhere. Without the tools that we have today, he could have lived his life in anonymity without any problems.

While not a legend, we knew that on my husband’s side of the family his grandmother and grandfather, Lola (Pope) Ferguson and Thomas Carrol Ferguson, left Kansas for Colorado shortly after their marriage where Tom took a job working on a ranch. Tom was twenty-one and Lola was eighteen. Once the couple arrived in Colorado, the story goes that the cook at the ranch passed away suddenly and Grandma Ferguson was pressed into service to cook for the ranch hands. This took place in the early 1900s, a time when cars were being introduced and not available to the average person. I had visions that they, like the pioneers, road their wagon into the sunset to begin their new life. Most likely they took the train.

Fast forward to now and I have learned through historical newspapers that the Fergusons left for Colorado five days after their marriage, on 15 Aug 1901. [1] The newspaper got Tom’s name wrong in the article. Even though Lola’s name wasn’t mentioned her father went by W. D. Pope so it can be determined that this is our couple. Why someone would take a job working on a ranch while not being in the best of health is another question with no answer.

Further research led me to a newspaper article published on 28 Dec 1902 that further filled in the story. [2]

It can be deduced from these two articles that Tom and Lola Ferguson probably moved to the Cripple Creek area of Colorado and his brother Samuel and his new bride Grace (once again an error in reporting) joined them a little more than a year later. We will probably never find out what happened to my great-grandfather Edgar. However, we now know a little more about Tom and Lola’s short-lived move to Colorado. We know by further research that Tom and Lola were back in Fort Scott by 1904 and Samuel and Grace were back by 1905.

Some legends are never confirmed nor debunked. We can only hope to continue to chip away a little at a time to learn more about the legends in our family.


[1] The Fort Scott Weekly Tribune, 15 Aug 1901, Page 4, Column 4, Newspapers.com

[2] The_Fort_Scott_Republican, 27 Dec 1902, Page 4, Column 1, Newspapers.com

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