Finding the Land Where Henry Zumwalt and Other Ancestors Lived

Fall Park on the Reedy River

Falls Park, Reedy River, Greenville, NC

My husband Dave and I were on our way to visit his cousin who lives in South Carolina close to the North Carolina border. They had lived in the San Diego and Washington D. C. areas and recently moved to South Carolina to be close to their daughter. I understand why they moved there. The area is beautiful. 

After a few wonderful days, we continued on our journey to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. I was hopeful to add a little genealogy along the way. Many of my ancestors and those of Dave lived in Virginia and North Carolina eventually making their way to Missouri.

Our first stop was Caswell County, North Carolina where my Turner and Vaughn families lived for a period of time. The land was rolling, and we could see that it was perfect for the tobacco that the Turner and Vaughn families most likely grew. Fortunately, I have lots of information about the families, much provided by my second cousin Jean Vaughn Hendricks and supplemented by information found online. I didn’t have time for additional search in the courthouse but wanted to see if we could find the area in which my ancestors lived. From Yanceyville, the county seat, we traveled south on Highway 62 in search of the south fork of Country Line Creek where the Turner’s settled. Thanks to modern technology we were able to determine where the creek intersected the highway. After a few times riding up and down the highway and traveling over the area where Google map showed the creek was located, we realized that it probably ran alongside and through a culvert under the highway. Country Line Creek is a long creek running through the county. I know we weren’t on Turner’s land, but it was interesting to see what the area looked like. 

With our destination of the Blue Ridge Parkway still ahead, our trek took us through Gastonia County. It was here the Ferguson’s settled at the base of Crowder’s Mountain, close to King’s Mountain and endured the hardships of the Revolutionary War. It was good to rest our weary bones that night in Lynchburg, Virginia. 

Blue Ridge Parkway

View from the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

The next day we awoke to overcast skies and the threat of rain. Oh, no!!! This didn’t bode well for our drive through the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Shenandoah National Park. But like our intrepid ancestors, we pushed on in our comfortable mode of transportation covering many more miles in one day then they were ever able to do. Fortunately, the rain held off while we traveled on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The views were spectacular despite the overcast weather. By the time we entered the Shenandoah National Park, it started to rain steadily. And because National Parks are left in their natural state, it was hard to see the views from the designated parking areas and very disappointing. Midway we left the park and took Highway 11 to our next destination, Toms Brook, in Shenandoah County, Virginia, originally located in Frederick County.  

According to Wikipedia, “Valley Pike or Valley Turnpike is the traditional name given for the Indian trail and roadway which now approximates as U.S. Route 11 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.” [1] As we traveled through quaint towns with the Shenandoah Mountains to our right, we saw several historical markers. We learned later this road was used by Stonewall Jackson to march his Confederate troops up and down the valley in 1862 and 1864 during the Civil War. 

It is very hard to pinpoint the location of our ancestors in states that used the metes and bounds method of describing the location of their land. Natural landmarks, like trees and watercourses, were used to describe the boundaries of their land. The only deed I have found for my ancestors that pinpointed the location of their land was the one I found for Henry Zumwalt, my 5th great-grandfather. His land was located at the confluence of the Toms Brooks and the north fork of the Shenandoah River. 

Toms Brook

Toms Brook

Again, Google maps to the rescue. Arriving in the small town of Toms Brook on Highway 11, we saw there was a road that paralleled Toms Brook creek and terminated at the north fork of the Shenandoah River. As we traveled along the paved road, we had high hopes that we would step foot on the land owned by Henry. Very quickly the road changed to gravel and the further we traveled the narrower it became. In many instances, we hoped we wouldn’t meet another car on the road because there was nowhere to turn around. Finally, we came to a house at the end of the road.

Toms Brook Fireplace

Old Meets New 

Gathering courage, I approached the house and knocked on the door. I’m sure the man inside was wondering who would be knocking on his door at dinner time. “Hi, I’m from Missouri,” I foolishly said as he answered the door. I quickly introduced myself and explained that my great-grandfather had owned the land on which his house sat. This kind man invited Dave and me into his house and introduced himself and his wife. I was so excited at the prospect of learning about the land I, unfortunately, forgot their names. He explained a section of the house was certified as being built around 1800 give or take ten years. In this section were the original beams and fireplace. The craftsmanship of the fireplace was phenomenal. The gentleman steered me through the back door of the house and pointed to an area where Toms Brook flowed into the north fork of the Shenandoah. Because of the high brush and light rain, I didn’t walk to the confluence. However, I could see the Shenandoah Mountains in the background. He explained that the course of Toms Brook had never changed because it runs through rock. We thought that Henry may have possibly lived in the house, but there was another cabin on the other side of the creek that may have also been a likely candidate. Unfortunately, this cabin had been torn down. These kind people gave me an experience I will never forget. While we drove back to the main highway, we took our time and stopped at a few places along Toms Brook to savor the peace and quiet of the bubbling brook. We ended our trip with a visit to Harper’s Ferry and the Battle of Antietam the following day.

View Toms Brook from house

Behind the Tree Line and in the Middle of the Picture Lies the Confluence of Creek and River

Fast forward to today. After arriving home and looking at the deeds again, I discovered that the four hundred acres of land owned by Henry Zumwalt and his brother Andrew was on the west side of the creek and they purchased the land in 1767, far earlier than when the house we visited was built.

The moral of the story is many-fold. First, one can incorporate the region in which their ancestors lived into their vacation. Yes, it would be great if the documents in the courthouses could be searched, but if time is limited, visit the surrounding area. You will get an idea of its history and the lay of the land. You never know what you will find or how kind people can be. Secondly, the history of the area will help you understand how your ancestors moved from place to place. I deduced that my Palatine sixth great-grandfather, Johann Wilhelm Andres Zumwalt (Andrew), who arrived in Philadelphia in 1739, most likely traveled the Great Wagon road through York, Pennsylvania to the  Winchester, Virginia area where he spent his last days. Thirdly, details matter. Had I paid more attention to the deed I would have known his land was on the west side of the creek and my family was in the Shenandoah Valley a few decades prior to when the cabin was built. Fourthly, I have a greater appreciation for what my ancestors endured during their migration. It took us seven days to travel from St. Louis via South Carolina to Antietam and home through West Virginia, Kentucky, and Illinois with stops along the way. All I can say is we Americans come from hardy stock. 

And lastly, I have an incredibly patient husband. He stays home when I visit courthouses, but on a trip like this, he is a trooper. He even suggested we return to Crowder’s Mountain in Gastonia County, North Carolina to see if we can find where his ancestors lived.

Next…on to the daunting task of documenting the rest of Henry Zumwalt’s life.



[1] Wikipedia citing  “The Valley Turnpike Company”. U.S. National Park Service.

Thomas Morgan Parry

Parry, Thomas M.

Thomas Morgan Parry

Thomas Morgan Parry was a first-generation American born to Welsh parents in Palmyra, Portage County, Ohio. In the late 1800s, a large portion of the population of Palmyra was Welsh. Tom, born on 3 January 1876, was the middle child and only boy of Evan Parry and Margaret (Morgan) Parry. Jane was born in 1874, Tom in 1876, and Mary in 1877. Thomas is Dave’s grandfather.

In 1880, Evan and Margaret lived in Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio where they would remain for the rest of their lives. The Welsh were drawn to this area of Ohio starting in 1854 with the opening of coal mines and the erection of iron works. The Parry family arrived in the area in 1856.¹ And it was in the steel mills of Youngstown that Tom Parry would learn his trade as a roll turner.

Tom lived at home with his parents until the age of twenty-four when he married Sarah Elizabeth Mitchell on 18 July 1900. Tom and Sarah were married in a quiet wedding in the home of her parents. Only close family were in attendance as her father Richard had died the previous week. Following the wedding, Tom took his bride on a “trip up the lakes” accompanied by her brother Albert Mitchell. 

The Parry’s moved frequently changing residences every year or two. Their first child Margaret was born in November of 1903 in Detroit, Michigan where Tom was employed as a rod turner. Back to Youngstown they went in 1904 and continued their ways of moving frequently.


Tom, Sarah, and daughter Margaret (L). Far left Tom’s sister Mary Howard. Right, Tom’s father and mother Evan and Margaret and granddaughter Isabel Howard. Standing Ebeneezer Howard.

In 1908, they lived in Eldes, Oklahoma where Tom ran a trading post on an Indian Reservation. Dave recalls stories of him paying Native Americans with vanilla extract for work they performed in the post. This practice was illegal as vanilla extract is about 35% alcohol. At times, when the workers perspired heavily, the smell of vanilla permeated the post. 

Their second child, Howard Owen, was born in 1909 in Ohio. Mary Elizabeth (Betty) was born in 1911, and their last child, Jane, was born in 1913.

As World War I dragged on the U.S. government conducted the third draft registration in September of 1918 for men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five. Draft registration cards are a treasure of information. Tom’s card revealed that he was forty-two, worked for Brier Hill Steel Company, and lived in Girard, Trumbull County. He was tall, slender, had blue eyes, and gray hair. Two months later the war ended. Fortunately, Tom did not have to serve in that horrendous war.  

From the beginning of their marriage, Tom and Sarah rented and moved every year or two. This had to be difficult for the family. However, it was in Trumbull County that the Parry’s finally purchased a home and appeared to settle down, at least for several years.

Large steel manufacturing operations existed in the areas of St. Louis, Chicago, and Baltimore. Perhaps looking for a better job, Tom moved the family to St. Louis in the late 1920s where he took a job as foreman at Missouri Rolling Mills. Tom was a skilled craftsman, a roll turner. Here is a description of his occupation, “Working from blueprints, roll turners clamp steel blocks in giant lathes and cut the desired grooves into the steel blocks, using cutting tools. Roll turners constantly check the shape and size of the grooves on the roll against a template (pattern). In this way the rolls, to be used in rolling mills to shape other steel blocks, are manufactured.”²

In the late 1920s, the Parry family moved to St. Louis. By 1930, Margaret had gotten married and was no longer residing with the family. Howard was twenty-one and an apprentice pattern maker for a car foundry, Betty was working for Frisco Railroad, and Jane was in high school. And Tom had abandoned the family.

Sometime during the next several years Tom and Sarah divorced and Tom married a woman named Ethylyn (Thomas) Schroeder. Howard, Betty, and Jane supported and took care of their ailing mother until Sarah died of cancer in 1937.

Tom and Ethylyn remained in St. Louis until 1945 when they moved to San Bernardino, California. Tom’s last employer was Kaizer Steel Company where he continued to work as a steel turner until he retired. Eventually, Howard moved to California with his wife Ada.

Dave recalls his grandfather as a stern man during the few times when Tom came back to St. Louis for a visit. Through the years I never, ever heard my sweet mother-in-law say anything bad about anyone. And she didn’t say much about him but you knew from the tone of her voice and her demeanor that when she talked about him that she had a deep resentment toward him over how he had treated her mother.

Tom died on 26 July 1960, at the age of eighty-four, at Pleasant View Sanitarium located in Monrovia, Los Angeles County. He was suffering from a variety of ailments including ALS and cancer of the prostate. But it was congestive heart failure that did him in. He was buried at Green Acres Memorial Chapel in San Bernardino County, California.

Parry, Thomas Headstone

Tom Parry is buried at Green Acres Memorial Chapel in San Bernardino

Thomas Morgan Parry (1876-1960) m. Sarah Elizabeth Mitchell (1875-1937)

  • Margaret Parry (1903-1979)
  • Howard Owen Parry (1909-2002)
  • Mary Elizabeth Parry (1911-2011)
  • Jane Parry (1913-1998)

¹History of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley, Ohio, Jos. C. Butler, Jr., American Historical Society, Chicago and New York, 1921


Serendipity Strikes Again

The definition of serendipity is the occurrence of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. I’ve experienced serendipity three times since I embarked on my search for ancestors…lucky me.

Recently, my husband Dave and I took a Viking River Cruise to celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary. It started in Amsterdam and ended in Lucerne, Switzerland. I had always wanted to know from where my grandfather’s Schwegler family had come. The cruise down the Rhine  River was everything we thought it would be. Life aboard the longship was relaxing if we had stayed on board. Instead, every day we stopped at an interesting city. We visited windmills, cathedrals, castles, German pubs, the Black Forest, and more. Our sore feet were a testament to all of the historical sites we saw.

I would love to tell you about these wonderful sites and fantastic food we tasted but that is not part of this story. Rather, I will tell you about the beautiful city of Lucerne and the serendipity I experienced.

Chapel Bridge

Chapel Bridge in Lucerne

We arrived mid-morning to a lovely day and immediately went on a walking tour of Old Town Lucerne. There we saw the Chapel Bridge that straddles the Ruess River. Regrettably, much of the bridge was destroyed by fire in the 1990s. It was rebuilt in the original style with the water tower remaining from the initial construction. It’s a magnificent bridge and if viewed from the area of the train station, one can see Mount Pilatus behind it. As we strolled over the bridge, I wondered if my great-great-grandfather had ever walked over the original bridge. He was born in Wolhusen, not too far from Lucerne.

The following day we awoke to overcast skies with the threat of rain. That was disappointing as our trip included a cruise on Lake Lucerne, a ride on the steepest cogwheel railroad in the world to the top of Mount Pilatus and a ride down the mountain in a gondola. We gathered at the pier not too far from the train station and waited for our guide. As I looked around, I wondered again if my grandfather had stood at the edge of the lake or walked the streets of Lucerne. I wondered if he and his children had traveled down the Ruess River as they emigrated from Switzerland. Of course, the city has changed, but many of the old buildings were there in the mid-1800s when he lived in the area.


Sonja Schwegler on the Left

It was a raw day to be taking a tour. We headed inside the boat and settled in seats to watch the shoreline go by. Our tour guide sat next to me at our table. Occasionally we would venture outside to take a picture or two. The tremendous thing about all the tours we took with Viking was we had headsets, and our guides were able to explain the history of the place and point out items of interest. We didn’t have to huddle around them hoping to hear what they had to say. I was intent on what our tour guide was describing to us when I happened to look down at her name tag. No joke, my breath caught as I saw her name was SONJA SCHWEGLER. Oh my gosh! I had never encountered anyone, other than my cousins, who possessed the last name of Schwegler. I can’t tell you how excited I was as I informed Sonja that my mother’s maiden name was Schwegler.

Of course, Sonja had a job to do, but she was so kind to spend some time with me at the top of Mount Pilatus after lunch. We shared some of our family information.  I found out that Sonja was married to Martin. She was from Austria, and Martin’s family was from Willisau, the community next to Wolhusen where my Schwegler’s lived. Even though it was cloudy and snowy on top of Mount Pilatus, the clouds cleared enough for Sonja to point out the area where the Schwegler’s came from and where they live today. She related how poor the area was in the 1800s. The first-born sons inherited the land, there were few jobs, and many people were forced to leave Switzerland. I wondered if that was what happened to my great-great-grandfather Joseph.

As we descended the mountain in the gondola, we could hear the tinkle of the bells on the cows below. The bells, an iconic symbol of Switzerland, caused me to wonder if Joseph farmed and put bells on his cows.


You Can See the Alps in the Background

After we had left the mountain, we toured through the beautiful country-side of Switzerland. Rolling hills, with villages perched on their edge, were picturesque. At different points, we could view the tops of the Swiss Alps peaking over the hills and smaller mountains. We visited a dairy where the farmer explained the workings of his farm. Switzerland has done a great job of preserving their family dairy farms.

We ended the day with a tour of a company that produces cheese and we even helped make cheese. Afterward, we enjoyed a fondue dinner. It was a great, tiring day. The next morning, we left for home.

Sonja and I exchanged email addresses and promised to stay in touch. We have no idea how Martin and I are related but I know there is a connection. My serendipitous meeting with Sonja and what she shared with me, have inspired in me the confidence to begin my search for ancestors in Switzerland.

And there is a rest of the story. To read Joseph’s story click here and you will discover what I learned about the Schwegler’s in Switzerland.


Joseph and His Three Wives Named Anna

My great-great-grandfather, Josef Antonius Aloisius Schwegler was born in the little village of Wolhusen, Canton Lucerne, Switzerland on 11 February 1829 almost one hundred and ninety years ago. His father Petrus Josephus Antonius, a shoemaker, was married to Barbara Meyer. The little family consisted of three boys and four girls, Barbara Gertrude, Ana Maria Catharina Elisabetha, Petrus Paulus, Maria Josepha, Maria Josepha, Casparus, and Josephus Antonius Aloisius. Maria Josepha, born in 1822, most likely died in 1824, before her sister, also named Maria Josepha, was born in 1825. Of the seven, Josef was the youngest child.

A Swiss Cow with Bell

During the 19th-century poverty, hunger and the lack of job prospects drove many rural Swiss to the cities or to seek their fortunes in America.¹1 Being the youngest boy, Joseph would not inherit any land his father may have owned, so he left his hometown of Wolhusen for the big city of Lucerne. No longer would he hear the everyday tinkle of the bells on the cows as they moved in the meadows or the tapping of the hammer as his father made shoes.

It is in Lucerne that Josef most likely met his wife, Maria Aña Josepha Walburgis Bieri, my great-great-grandmother. Aña, as she was called, was born on 17 November and was baptized on 18 November 1831 in the beautiful Catholic Church of St. Leodegar in Lucerne. She was born to Josephus Bieri and Walburgis (Studer) Bieri of Entlebuch.

St. Leodegar Church
Church of St. Leodegar in Lucerne

Josef and Aña married on 13 September 1858 in the Church of St. Leodegar. Joseph was a porter for the railroad, and Aña was a seamstress. Lake Lucerne was a favorite destination for people who could afford to travel for pleasure. Joseph assisted passengers at the railway station and handled the loading, unloading, and distribution of luggage and packages.

What a joyful day it was when Aña gave birth to their son, Julius, on 31 January 1859. As one life began, the other ended when Aña died the next day on the 1st of February. Aña and Joseph had only been married four-and-a-half months. Aña was twenty-seven years old.

Widowers didn’t stay single for very long in those days. With a small infant to raise and a job to put food on the table, Josef needed a wife and soon married Anna Brun on 22 October 1860. Their first son Franz Anton was born on 17 January 1862. Josef must have been very anxious during his son’s birth because of the memories of losing his first wife three years earlier. Franz was baptized the same day at the Church of St. Leodegar.

Anna Maria Elisabetha Brun was born in Schachen to Nicolas Brun and Josepha (Schúrman) Brun on 20 September 1839. Schachen is a town located between Wolhusen and Lucerne. She was twenty-two when Franz was born.

SS Hansa
S. S. Hansa

Sometime in the spring of 1863, Joseph and Anna decided to leave Switzerland. They left with their two children Julius and Franz and Joseph’s older brother Petrus (Peter). One would think that they would have taken a boat down the Ruess River, that runs through Lucerne, to the Rhine and eventually landing in Rotterdam. However, because Joseph was a porter for the railroad, the family traveled by rail to Bremen. The family was one of the forty-one percent of German and East European emigrants who left via the port of Bremen between 1850 and 1891.3 Traveling in steerage, the family left Bremen for Southampton, England, where they boarded the S. S. Hansa to New York. Four-hundred and eighty passengers shared the steerage area with the Schweglers.

There was little privacy in steerage and less room. “The ceiling height of the between-decks was usually 6 to 8 feet. The bunks, made of rough boards, were set up along both sides of the ship. Each bunk was intended to hold from three to six persons, and these were often called family bunks. The bunks had straw mattresses or mattresses stuffed with straw. Emigrants had to bring their own pillows, blankets, and other necessary bedclothes. Lice and flees thrived in this environment.” The average length of time to travel was forty-four days.  The Schweglers arrived in New York on 20 July 1863.

So why did Joseph and Anna leave the country of Switzerland and emigrate to the country that was in the midst of a Civil War? Most likely because masses of people in Switzerland were reduced to pauperism between 1840 and 1860. A push for tourism in Switzerland began in 1863, but the economic impact of the increased tourism didn’t reach Lucerne soon enough to improve Joseph’s wages as a porter.

Joseph, Anna, Julius, Franz, and Petrus arrived in New York City on 20 July 1863. According to family lore, they went immediately to Centralia, Illinois. No deeds for land ownership have been found so it is possible that Joseph rented land to farm. While in Illinois, Anna gave birth to Joseph who was born on 17 May 1864. Anna died sometime thereafter. Once again, the family was without a mother.

In the fall of 1866, Joseph purchased land in Gasconade County, Missouri. It is here that he met his third wife, Anna (Fehner) Kalteweihr, a wealthy widow. They married 22 March 1867. Two sons, Hann and Benjamin were born to this union. Hann was born in 1867 and died in infancy. Benjamin was born in 1868.

Joseph died 28 February 1870. Julius did not get along with his step-mother Anna and moved out of her home as soon as he was able. It took until February of 1887 for Joseph’s estate to be finalized. Julius was twenty-seven years of age.

Sometimes there is truth in the stories that our elders tell. Julius always said that Joseph’s second wife Anna was not his mother. He was correct. What we didn’t know was that Joseph was married to three women, all named Anna.

Note: On the names…it’s amazing how names morph over time. Josef becomes Joseph, Aña becomes Anna, Petrus becomes Peter, and Franz becomes Francis and becomes Frank. Is it Schwagler or Schwegler? Is it Meyer, Mejer, or Meier? All of these names have appeared in records but are for the same people.

*Dave and I took a Viking River cruise down the Rhine River to celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary. We added a few days to Lucerne, Switzerland to the trip. Unfortunately, I didn’t know enough about researching genealogical records in Switzerland and really didn’t have the time to pursue family records while there. It wasn’t until we got home that I began to do some research. With the help of an archivist in the Lucerne Archives, who sent me the birth and marriage record for Joseph, I was able to piece together the family in Switzerland. Little did I know that the church that I took a picture of, from our boat trip on Lake Lucerne, was the church where Joseph married Anna Brun, and where Joseph and Francis were baptized. I wish I had known that before I went.

Petrus Josephus Antonius Schwegler (1796-?) m. Barbara Mejer (?)

Barbara Gertrude Schwegler (1816-?)
Ana M. Catherina Elisabetha Schwegler (1818-?)
Petrus Paulus Schwegler (1820-?)
Maria Josepha Schwegler (1822-1824)
Maria Josepha Schwegler (1825-?)
Casparus Schwegler (1827-?)
Josef Antonius Aloisius Schwegler (1829-1870)

¹1Switzerland in the 19th Century,

Joseph Burt

Joseph Hugh Burt was born on 19 November 1865, a few months after the Civil War ended. Many trees on Ancestry indicate that he was born in Barry County, Michigan and the 1870 census shows a Joel Burt born to H. J. and June Burt in Barry County. Most of the Burt’s in Barry County were born in New York. In the 1880 census, Hugh Burt was living with the Aaron Boone family as a servant in Bucklin, Linn County, Missouri, far from Michigan. The age and place of Joel’s birth are consistent with what we know about our great-grandfather’s birth. Some of the Boone children were born in Michigan and Aaron was born in New York. These facts most likely show a relationship between the Burt and Boone family and more in-depth research needs to be done.

On 3 December 1891, Joseph married Virginia Williams. He was twenty-six and she was twenty-two. Their first child Elmer Hugh was born nine months later on 5 September 1892. Five additional children, Nathaniel Edward, Estella May (my grandmother), Everett Elzie, Curtis Arthur, and Mayme were born during the next seven years. Between 1901 and 1915, Otis, Irene, Amy Rose, Ernest, Clara, and Ransom were born. Mayme and Otis died in infancy.

Burt, Joseph Directory Advertisement 1915

Ad Appearing in the 1915 Osage County Business Directory for Joseph’s Well Digging Company

During the late 1890s Joseph was a watchmaker and in 1905 he was appointed postmaster for a short period of time for Feursville in Osage County. Perhaps because of his large family that he had to support he changed occupations and started digging wells, most likely a more lucrative job. He would continue in this profession until he retired.

A cousin, who lived with our grandmother for a while, told me that Joseph worked at the construction of the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. This is an interesting fact that needs to be pursued.

Jennie died on 4 September 1915 of gastrectasia, a generally rare but fatal disease. Joseph was left to raise all twelve children by himself. No doubt, the burden of the everyday care of the children fell on Stella, his oldest daughter.

Joseph was postmaster of the Post Office in Feuersville, Missouri for a short period of time between 4 November 1905 to 22 January 1906. The Feuresville post office was in service from 21 August 1887 to 29 April 1916 when it was merged with the Byron post office. Even back then institutions didn’t last.

Burt, Joseph, Appointment U.S. Postmasters

Joseph’s Name Can Be Found on Line Nine

In the 1920s and 1930s, and living in Jefferson Township, Osage, County, Joseph continued to dig wells with the help of several of his boys. In 1940 he was retired from his business and living with his two sons, Elmer and Edward, who continued in the business. They were living in Herman, Gasconade County.

Joseph, who was living with our grandmother, passed away on 23 March 1945 at the age of seventy-nine. He died of bronchopneumonia after six days in St. Louis County Hospital in Clayton. His funeral was held at Bopp Funeral Home at Hanley and Forsyth in Clayton. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Kirkwood. Sadly, both Joseph and Jennie are buried in unmarked graves.

Burt, Joseph, Death Certificate

Joseph’s Death Certificate

Joseph Hugh Burt (1865-1945) m. Virginia Williams (1869-1915)

Elmer Hugh Burt (1892-1965)
Nathaniel Edward Burt (1892-1974)
Estella May Burt (1894-1987)
Everett Elzie Burt (1897-1972)
Curtis Arthur Burt (1898-1977)
Mayme Burt (1899-1901
Otis Burt (1901-1903)
Irene Burt (1902-1999)
Amy Rose Burt (1904-1997)
Ernest Burt (Abt. 1908-Aft. 1977)
Ransom Burt (1915-1955)

John Ridenhour and Christina Zumwalt

John Ridenhour’s death at the hands of the Osage Indians is well documented in the history of Franklin County, Missouri. John was my great-great-great-grandfather. His story began about 1757, in Robeson Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, and ended in Franklin County, Missouri with his death in 1803.

Burt, Charles, Birth Record

Map of Berks County, PA Showing Robeson Township¹

John was born to John Adam and Wilhelmina (Dotterer, Marolf) Reitenauer in Robeson Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. He was one of five children. His brothers and sisters were Bernhardt, Anna Maria Ursula, Adam, Jr., and Henry. The name Reitenauer was later Americanized to Ridenhour.

When John was five or six, the family moved to Frederick County, Maryland. “On 3 May 1776, the four brothers, Adam, John, Henry, and Bernhardt purchased two-hundred acres of land from John Haas for one-hundred and eighty pounds. The land was identified as “All that part of a tract of Land called, The Resurvey of the Den of Wolves.” However, evidence indicates that John Adam Reitenauer, Sr. purchased this land and placed it in his four son’s names as a means of ensuring their inheritance. His will provided that the land should be divided when the two youngest sons, Henry and Bernhardt, came of age.”²  The land was divided in 1782 when Bernhardt turned twenty-one.

The struggle for independence from Great Britain took place during John’s early-adult years. According to Wikipedia, “the Continental Congress was faced with defending a huge amount of territory from potential British Operations. Washington recommended forming a “flying camp”, which in the military terminology of the day referred to a mobile, strategic reserve of troops.”³  Most of the two companies raised in Frederick County were of German descent.

A John Redenour was enrolled in Captain Mantz’s Company. There is no direct evidence that the man listed is our ancestor. But there are clues or indirect evidence. The name directly above John’s is Rudolf Marolf. Rudolf is the son of John’s mother, Wilhelmina, by her first marriage. Also, on the list is John Dutterer (Dotterer), John’s cousin. Neighbors of the Ridenhours are listed as well.

On 17 July 1776, John was listed as a Private in Captain Henry Fister’s Company in the German Battalion commanded by Colonel Nicholas Haussegger. The battalion was present at New Brunswick, New Jersey on 1 December 1776 and at the Battle of Trenton on 26 December 1776. John’s brother, Bernhardt, served in this battalion as did his half-brother Rudolf Marolf.⁴

John married in Frederick County, Maryland about 1780 to Elizabeth (?). Two children were born to the couple. Mary was born about 1782 and her brother Henry was born about 1784. The land in Maryland was sold and John and Elizabeth had moved to Frederick County, Virginia. While there, Elizabeth died prior to 1 August 1786, when John Ridenhour signed a marriage bond in Rockingham County, Virginia prior to his marriage to Christina Zumwalt. The marriage bond was a license to marry, prepared in advance of the wedding, with a bond posted to ensure both parties were free to marry. It’s unclear when John and Christina married after the bond was issued.

Christina Zumwalt was born circa 1765 near Toms Brook, Frederick County, Virginia. She was the daughter of Henrich (Henry) and Catherine (?) Zumwalt. Her grandfather, Andreas Zumwalt, arrived in America in 1737. He lived in York County, Pennsylvania until about 1750, when he moved his family to Frederick County, Virginia. Christina was thought to be the oldest of the eight daughters of Henry Zumwalt. The others were: Rachel, Elizabeth, Catherine, Margaret, Barbara, Mary, and Susan.

Henry Zumwalt sold all of his property on Toms Brook in 1775. The next day he bought one-hundred-and-ninety-five acres across the Massanutten Mountain, in Powells Fort Valley, Dunmore County which later became later Shenandoah County, Virginia. This land was near George Adam, Henry, and Adam Ridenour. The closeness of the Zumwalts to the Ridenhours is most likely how John met Christina. Henry Zumwalt migrated to Kentucky, then on to Upper Louisiana Territory, which later became Missouri where he died in 1804.

It has not been determined where John, Christina, and their family lived during the period between their 1786 marriage in Rockingham County, Virginia and 1796, when John Ridenhour was listed on the tax books of Bourbon Co., Kentucky. The family may have been in Pennsylvania during some of this time as their son Barnett_Bernard was enumerated in the 1850 census as being born in Pennsylvania. The 1850 census also indicated that John and Christina’s daughter Elizabeth was born in Kentucky. Her age was listed as fifty-six years indicating the family may have been in Kentucky as early as 1784.

Since the family lived in western Pennsylvania or western Virginia, it is most likely they traveled to Kentucky via the Ohio River. Once pioneers made their way to the river, a flatboat was hired to float them and their belongings down the river to their destination. Flatboats were rectangular, flat-bottomed boats that were built in various sizes depending upon the length of their trip. Mid-range boats called Kentucky Boats were used by families moving west.

John and Christina’s son John was born in 1797 in Missouri, most likely in what is now Franklin County. The book, Reitenauer Immigrants, The Early Years states “Spain took formal possession of “Louisiana” west of the Mississippi (including all of the future State of Missouri, among others) in 1769. Since Spain was a Catholic nation, attempts were made to colonize Upper Louisiana (Missouri) with Catholic families. This policy kept villages like St Louis and St. Charles small and vulnerable to Indian raids. In 1787, Spanish authorities tried another tact by allowing American Protestant families to settle in the area, providing that they marry and have their children baptized by the Catholic Church. This change in policy opened up virgin farmland to settlers who, having depleted available land in Kentucky, were eager to move on.

During the next several years, extensive grants of land were made to settlers in Upper Louisiana. The procedure for obtaining a grant or “concession” was relatively simple. The applicant first sought permission from the commandant of the district where he wished to settle; stating his circumstances, the size of his family, and where he wished to obtain land. The commandant forwarded the application to the Lt. Governor, who granted the concession as described in the petition. A surveyor marked off the land and placed the petitioner in possession. The owner was required to take possession and put minimal improvements on the property within a certain period of time. This gave the owner an “incomplete title” to the land. A “complete title” could be obtained only if the title was registered in New Orleans.

However, the Spanish authorities were lax in this regard; and it was done in only a handful of cases. Daniel Boone, who had settled on the Missouri River, west of St. Charles, circa 1795, was said to have been granted several thousand arpents of land for using his influence to bring more than 150 families from Kentucky; only to lose it later because it was never recorded in New Orleans.

James Mackay, “an educated man from Scotland”, had established the village of “St Andre del Misuri” in May 1798 in St Louis District. It was on the south bank of the Missouri River, approximately twenty-five miles west of St Louis. He was named Commandant and served the area well for several years. His name appeared in many of the early Ridenhour documents. He had a wagon road built in 1798 connecting St Andre’ to St Louis. This provided a way for people of the area to get their products to St Louis markets. It was also a way for new settlers to reach their land grants by road. St. Andre’ was later washed into the Missouri River.”⁵

Ridenhour map

A Survey Map of John Ridenhour’s Land

Through Survey No. 53, dated December 1799, John applied for a land grant about fifteen to twenty miles north of the Missouri River, in the St. Charles District, where most of the Zumwalt’s settled. At the same time, John applied for 500 arpents of land near Point Labadie in the District of St. Louis on 7 December 1799. A square arpent is about 0.84 acres. The land, located in township 44 North Range 2 East, was on the south bank of the Missouri River. It is doubtful that the Ridenhours lived on Survey 149. This conclusion has been made based on records and testimonies that took place during of hearing after John’s death.⁶

Living in the era was difficult. Money was scarce and trade took place through barter. John most likely hunted and trapped animal pelts and fur to use as his main currency. Beaver, lynx, and otter were plentiful. His livestock, including horses, were allowed to roam freely. If he raised crops like corn, wheat, flax, or tobacco it would have been on a small scale for the consumption of his family.

In a history of Franklin County, an “old-timer” recalled in the early days his family came to the area of Point Labadie about 1800. He said, “The old settlers of the county, as I can recall, were the Ridenhours, Calvins, Reeds, Zumwalts, Crowes, ….. and many others. And here let me bear[sic] testimony to the truth that a more honest, hospitable people was not to be found anywhere. One would be ashamed to have a lock on his door among such people. They had neither lock nor bars. They had their hunting dogs and bear dogs – no bull and watch dogs to guard off the thief.”⁷

Daniel Ridenhour Baptisim Record

Daniel and Jacob’s Baptism Record

Daniel Ridenhour, the couple’s third child, was born about 1797. Daniel was baptized at St. Charles Borremeo Church with his seven-month-old brother Jacob.⁸ The children were baptized by a Catholic priest in compliance with orders of the Spanish authorities for those who petitioned for land. The baptismal records show that John and Christina were residents of Post St. Andre’. The godfather was James Mackay, Captain Commandant of the said post. Their last child, Jacques [Jacob], was born in 1799. Daniel died sometime between when he was baptized and 1803. On 31 October 1802, John our ancestor was born near Point Labadie.

Osage Sioux Indian Warriors

Osage Warriors by George Catlin

It was the act of letting their horses roam freely that caused John’s death. Several accounts of his death have been recorded but the version most often repeated is the one recorded by historian, Lyman Draper. Draper interviewed Uri Musick, a neighbor of the Ridenhour’s. The account verbatim with misspellings and poor punctuation says, “Ridenhower and his wife, both mounted were out horse-hunting – met Indians, who wanted them to give up their horses. Ridenhower desisting, they shot him, and he soon died. When the Indians came near Ridenhower, they cried out “Stop”, but Ridenhower rather hastened on – several shots were fired at him. He soon fell off, from his wounds. His wife did not try to get away, but dismounted, and took off the bridle, and scared her horse away; and all the horses, 8 or 10, scampered home together. Mrs. Ridenhower, after scaring off her horse, gave Ridenhower some water from the branch in her shoe. The Indians, as they came up, slapped her with their “whipping?” sticks for scaring off the horses, but let her go. Capt. Conway pursued the trail (of the Indians) several days, without avail.”⁹  After John’s death, several settlers in the area left their land grants.

Draper cited Point Labadie Creek, on the bluff just below the Point as the location of John’s death. However, topography in that area has changed so much it is impossible to identify the exact location. John is supposedly buried in a private cemetery in the south of Survey No. 161. He is buried in an unmarked grave where Ridenhours and Reeds were later buried. The creek on which the survey was located was named Ridenhour Creek but was later changed to Fiddle Creek.

Sometime between April and June 1803, Christina Ridenhour took the six children, and moved closer to St Andre’. On 15 June 1803, an inventory of John’s estate was conducted by James Mackay. Ephraim Richardson was named the executor for the children consisting of four boys and two girls. Survey No. 161 was appraised at three hundred dollars. A horse and foal were appraised at one-hundred and forty dollars. It’s understandable why John risked his life to protect his string of horses.

About a month later a sale of the items in John’s estate took place. As his widow, Christina received half of the estate valued at six hundred and sixty-eight dollars. The other half belonged to the children. Survey No. 161 was not sold and was kept as part of the children’s share of the estate.

Christiana [Christina] appeared before the Federal Land Commission Board, on 26 January 1806, to claim Survey No. 161 for herself and her children Henry, Mary, Betsy, John, Barnett, and Jacques. The purpose of the Land Board was to hold hearings to straighten out the titles of the Spanish Land grants caused by the sale of the land to the French and the subsequent takeover of the territory of Louisiana by the United States in 1803. She produced a certificate from the Lt. Governor, dated 7 December 1799, and a certificate of Survey dated 19 December 1799. The Land Board rejected the claim. A certificate confirming the title was finally issued to Christina and her children on 7 February 1809 after Congress loosened the requirements.

The document below reads: “Christiana widow of (John) Ridenhour claims 500 arpens situate in the District of St. Andrew granted to their deceased father John Ridinhour by a concession which they produced of a permission to (?) Dellasus the 7th Dec 1799 and claimed by the aforesaid persons as representatives of their Decd father who had cultivated & inhabited the same on the 20th October 1800. Wm. Belle agent for the aforesd.¹⁰

2 (2)

On 27 September 1806, Christina bought another one-hundred fifty arpents of land adjoining her other two-hundred arpents on Wild Horse Creek.

Christina married John Johnson sometime between 1809 and 1820 when a legal notice appeared in the Missouri Gazette Newspaper for a pending suit concerning some land in the estate of Andrew Zumwalt. Andrew was Christina’s grandfather. The notice listed Andrew’s heirs and Christina was identified as “Teney Johnson, nee Teney Zumwalt. Teney was a nickname for Christina. John Johnson died sometime before 14 October 1825 when Christina was appointed Executrix for his estate. Christina swore that John Johnson’s heirs were brothers and sisters living the County of St. Louis.

John Ridenhour and Christina (Zumwalt) Ridenhour are my fourth great-grandparents.

John Ridenhour (Abt. 1755-1803) m. Elizabeth (Abt. 1760-?)
Mary Ridenhour (1782-Aft. 1830)
Henry Ridenhour (1784-Bet 1840 and 1850)

John Ridenhour (Abt. 1755-1803) m. Christina Zumwalt (1765-?)
Bernard Ridenhour (1792-1856)
Elizabeth Ridenhour (1794-Bef. 1852)
Daniel Ridenhour (1797-Bet. 1800-1803
Jacob Ridenhour (1799-Aft. 1850)
John Ridenhour (1802-1852)


¹Fagan, L, H. F Bridgens, T. S Wagner, and Friend & Aub. Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania: from actual surveys. [Philadelphia: Published by H.F. Bridgens, . Phil’a Philadelphia: Printed by T.S. Wagner, 38 Hudson St, 1860] Map.
²Reitenauer Immigrants, The Early Years, Mona McCown and Nona Harwell
⁴Maryland State Archives database, Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution ( :accessed 31 Aug 2017), Listing for Ridinghour [Ridenhour], Volume 18, Page 261.
Reitenauer Immigrants, The Early Years, Mona McCown and Nona Harwell
⁶Land Record for John Ridenhour, Book C, Page 195, Dec 1799, Commissioner’s Certificates, U.S. Recorder of Land Titles, digital images, Missouri State Archives, “1st Board of Land Commissioners, U.S. Recorder of Land Titles,” Missouri Digital Heritage ( : accessed 30 Aug 2017).
⁷A History of Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Crawford, and Gasconade Counties, Missouri, Goodspeed
⁸St. Charles Borremeo Church (St. Charles, Missouri, United States), “St. Charles Borremeo Church Records,” Baptism Record for Daniel Ridenhour, s0138 I, P. 61, State Historical Society of Missouri, St. Louis
⁹Draper’s Notes, Lyman Draper (Microfilm) Jefferson Memorial Archive, St Louis, Mo
¹⁰Christiana Ridenhour filed claim dated 7 Dec 1799 with Board of Land Commissioners for 500 arpens granted to John Ridenhour, 20 Oct 1808; Original Claimants – 1st Board of Land Commissioners, U.S. Recorder of Land Titles; digital images, Missouri State Archives, “Land Records, 1777-1969,” Missouri Digital Heritage ( : accessed 23 Aug 2017).


A great deal of information can be found in the document Reitnauer Immigrants, The Early Years. The document can be found online. I have checked out the information I referenced in this document to concur with McCown and Nona Harwell. Some of the information is so well written that I have copied the information verbatim, or slightly paraphrased, into this story and have marked these passages with quotes. There is a great deal of sources that I need to find, however. Unfortunately, so many of the online documents, like maps, are in French and are very hard to read because of their age.


John Ridenhour

John Ridenhour was born 31 October 1802 in the Upper Louisiana territory. The land, which was part of a Spanish land grant, was under control of the French who sold the land as part of the Louisiana Purchase to the United States government on 30 April 1803. The land where he was born lay on Ridenhour Creek near Boles, Franklin County, Missouri.

John was the last of seven children born to John Ridenhour and Christina (Zumwalt) Ridenhour. They lived on land that was wild, uncultivated, and teeming with animals. This was also the land of the Osage Indians, the Indians that killed his father on 3 April 1803. His mother had to petition the U.S. government to honor the land grant that her husband John had purchased from the Spanish.

John married Elizabeth Reed about 1824. She was born 30 November 1800 near Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky to Edward Reed and Margaret (Close) Reed. The Reed’s moved to Missouri around 1810. During the next six years their three children, Reuben, Martin (our ancestor), and Amelia were born.

Ridenhour, John Deed

John Sold his Portion of Inherited Land to his Brother Bernard

On 5, March 1832, John sold his share of the land inherited from his mother to his brother Bernard. The land had the Missouri River as a boundary to the north, on the east and west were lands of the United States and the land to the south was owned by his brother Reuben. This was the land granted to his father by the Spanish government. He then moved the family to Gasconade County where they were enumerated in the 1840 Census. Living with them were their children Reuben, Martin, Amelia, Elizabeth, and Elvira. Adam, their son, was born after the 1840 Census was taken. Thomas Benton was born in 1842 and their last child, Christina, was born in 1846.

On 21 August 1841, John purchased 83.36 acres of land from John Hutten. The land, located in Osage County, was in the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section twenty and the southwest quarter of the northeast quarter of section twenty in township forty-one, range seven west.

1850 Ridenhour Census

1850 Census²

By 1850, the oldest of John and Elizabeth’s children were out of the home leaving Elvira, Adam, Thomas, and Margaret. Amelia, their daughter, most likely died before 1850. Living next to them was their son Reuben and daughter Elizabeth and her husband Samuel Hawkins.

At the time of his death, John owned two hundred acres of land. He sold the land purchased from John Hutten to his son Martin in February 1852 indicating that he was possibly ill and unable to use the land. John died six months later on 4 August 1852. He is buried in Backues Cemetery in Maries County, Missouri.

John died without a will. His son-in-law, Samuel Hawkins, was appointed the administrator of his estate. After his death, Reuben, Martin, and Alvira quit-claimed their undivided portion of land inherited from their father’s estate to Samuel. Reuben sold his land first for fifty dollars in 1853 followed by Martin and Alvira who received one hundred dollars each.

A year before the Civil War, Elizabeth was living with her daughter Margaret, aged fourteen. Margaret was listed as a farmer in the 1860 census. Three of her sons, Martin, Adam, and Thomas enlisted in the 34th Regiment of the Enrolled Missouri Militia. After their discharge in 1864, they enrolled in the 50th Regiment Infantry. Their discharge took place after a month of service on 27 April 1865, after the Civil War was over. The Civil War era must have been very stressful for Elizabeth, a widow, having to support a young daughter, and having three sons serving in the Missouri Militia.

My beautiful picture

John’s Headstone in Bachues Cemetery

Elizabeth was not found in the 1870 Census so little is known of her life between 1860 and 1870. She died 2 June 1872 in Belle. She is buried in Backues Cemetery in Maries County with her husband John.


Elizabeth’s Headstone in Bachues Cemetery










John Ridenhour (1802-1851) m. Elizabeth Reed (1800-1872)

Reuben Ridenhour (Abt. 1826-1877)
Martin Ridenhour (1827-1904)
Amelia Ridenhour (Abt 1830-Bef. 1850)
Elizabeth Ridenhour (Abt 1832-?)
Elvira Clara Ridenhour (1836-1914)
Adam Ridenhour (1840-1915)
Thomas Benton Ridenhour (1842-1927)
Margaret Christina Ridenhour (1846-1909)

¹Franklin, Missouri, Deed Records, B: 431-432, John Ridenhour to Bernard Ridenhour, 5 Mar 1832; Franklin County, Missouri Recorder of Deeds, Union.

²1850 U.S. census, Osage, Missouri, pop. sch., Jefferson, p. 422A, dwell. 123, fam. 123, Household of John Ridenhour.


Martin Ridenhour

When Martin Ridenhour was born his family had already been in Franklin County, Missouri for close to thirty years. He was born on 14 December 1827 to John S. Ridenhour and Elizabeth (Reed) Ridenhour. His grandfather, John Ridenhour, and his grandmother, Christina (Zumwalt) Ridenhour had arrived in the area as early as 1797. Martin never knew his grandfather as John was killed by the Osage Indians in 1803.
While Martin was a young boy the family settled for a while in Gasconade County and then moved to Osage County. That area eventually became Maries County. They resided their entire lives west of Belle, and close to the county line separating Maries from Osage County. The land was rich and well-watered.

Martin was one of eight children, four boys, and four girls. These children were born over a period of about twenty years. Martin was very close in age to his older brother Reuben. Three girls, Amelia, Elizabeth, and Elvira were born over the next nine years. Two boys, Adam and Thomas Benton followed and the baby of the family, Margaret Christina, was born in 1846.

Ridenhour, Martin, Marriage Record, (2)

Martin and Sarah’s Marriage Record

At the age of twenty, Martin left this large family and married Sarah Ann Mahon on 2 November 1848.¹ They lived not too far from Martin’s father and mother and his brother Reuben. Their first child John Shepherd was born on 14 December 1849. He was the first of twelve children who were born between 1849 and 1872. This family would know heart-ache. Four of their children died before they did. Their son William Alexander died in 1863 at the age of six. The next child to die was Martha Louise who died in 1882 at the age of twenty-seven. Thomas Huston died in 1899 at the age of thirty-one. The last child to die was David Jasper who died in 1901 at the age of thirty. All but William Alexander left spouses and children behind. It’s so sad that three of their grown children were struck down during the prime of their lives.

On 24 February 1852, Martin and Sarah purchase forty-one acres of land from his father John. It is possible John was sick at the time of the sale and was divesting his land for John died about a week later on 5 March 1852. John had amassed quite a bit of land during his lifetime. In March 1854, Martin quit-claimed his undivided portion of his father’s land to Samuel Hawkins, the husband of Martin’s sister Elizabeth.²

Ridenhour, Martin, Osage County, MO, Recorder of Deeds, Book E, P. 220 (2)

Martin Ridenhour Provided a Quit Claim Deed to Samuel Hawkins, his Brother-in-Law, for His Undivided Portion of Land in his Father’s Estate


During the summer of 1862, guerrilla forces were organizing and threatening the citizens and county governments through the state of Missouri. As a result on 22 July, the Missouri State Militia and United States military command began organizing a militia to put down robbery, plunder, and guerrilla warfare. Every able-bodied man was commanded to enroll in the nearest military post and report for duty. Each man was to bring his gun and horse if he had one.

Ridenhour, Martin, Civil War Records, Missouri Archives, Civil War-World War I Database (2)Thirty-four-year-old Martin enrolled in the 34th Enrolled Missouri Militia, Company F, on 22 August 1862 Shortly after their daughter Sarah was born.³ Martin’s younger brothers Adam and Thomas enlisted in the unit at the same time. Adam and Thomas were called into service on 28 September 1864 at Jake’s Prairie in Gasconade County. The purpose was to repel Price’s invasion of Missouri. Skirmishes took place on the Osage River on October 5-6, Jefferson City October 7, and on the Big Piney River on November 1, 1864. All three brothers were discharged on 10 November 1864. The record indicates that Martin served twenty-seven days of actual service. Adam and Thomas would enroll again, this time in the 50th Regiment Infantry Volunteers. They would serve from 20 February to 5 August 1865.

The Civil War was a time of disruption, not only to the every-day life of Missouri citizens but to their financial welfare. Many people lost loved ones and saw their wealth drain away; but not Martin. Between 1860 and 1870, according to the census records, the value of his estate increased considerably. Not only did he own six horses, a mule, and a pair of working oxen, but also four milk cows and twenty-five head of cattle, twenty-seven sheep, and thirty swine. Martin tilled the land which produced winter wheat, oats, Indian corn, Irish potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Sarah was responsible for the family garden, and butter and molasses production. All of this was accomplished with forty acres of land and forty acres of timber and the hard work of all family members.
This prosperity continued into the 1880s. Martin had increased his ownership of land to eighty tilled or fallow acres, eight acres of permanent pasture, one-hundred and twenty acres of forest, and thirty-one acres of old fields. With the part-time help of Andrew and Thomas, he continued to raise cows, sheep, and pigs. Education was important and all of the children attended school as soon as they were able.

Ridenhour, Martin, Headstone (2)

Martin Ridenhour’s Headstone

Records are sparse for the years between 1880 and 1900. By 1900 the children had left home. Martin was seventy-two and Sarah was sixty-six. They lived with their son Adam and his family. Four years later Martin left this earth on 6 December 1904 leaving a large family behind and a legacy of hard work. All of his children would prosper and have families of their own. Sarah lived another fourteen years with Adam and died at the age of eighty-four on 25 February 1918.

Martin and Sarah are buried in Pilot Knob Baptist Church Cemetery in Osage County along with ninety-six Ridenhour descendants. Today the Belle High School sits on the land where Martin and Sarah’s house once stood.

Martin Ridenhour (1827-1904) m. Sarah Ann Mahon (1833-1918)

John Shepherd Ridenhour (1849-1920)
Nancy Elizabeth Ridenhour (1851-1928)
Mary Jane Ridenhour (1852-1927)
Martha Louisa Ridenhour (1854-1882)
William Alexander Ridenhour (1857-1863)
Susan Margaret Christina Ridenhour (1859-1947)
Sarah Frances Ridenhour (1862-1924)
Andrew Jackson Ridenhour (1864-1945)
Virginia Harriett Ridenhour (1866-1945)
Thomas Huston Ridenhour (1868-1899)
David Jasper Ridenhour (1871-1901)
Adam Louis Ridenhour (1872-1937)

¹Osage, Missouri, marriage record, Marriage Book A, 1845-1861, Martin Ridenhour [Ridenhour]-Sarah Ann Mahon [Mahon], 1848; Osage County Recorder of Deeds, Lynn.

²Osage, Missouri, Deeds, E: 220-221 , Martin Ridenhour sold his undivided land portion from John S. Ridenhour estate, 16 March 1854; Osage County Recorder of Deeds, Linn.

³”Soldiers Records: War 1812-World War I,” database, Missouri Digital Heritage ( :accessed 24 Oct 2017) Record for Martin Ridenhour, Box 69, Roll s00783

Sarah Frances Ridenhour

Schwegler, Julius and Ridenhour, Sara

Julius and Sarah, Possibly Their Wedding Day

I know very little about my great-grandmother Sarah Frances Ridenhour other than information taken from her marriage and census records. She was born in Maries County, Missouri during the Civil War to Martin Ridenhour and Sarah Ann Rebecca (Mahon) Ridenhour on 12 September 1862, or possibly on 12 November 1861 as shown on her death certificate. She was the seventh of twelve children; six were boys and six were girls.

I am very fortunate to have a picture of Sarah and Julius Schwegler, the man she married on 28 November 1880 in Osage County, Missouri. A few observations from this picture tell me she is a pretty woman. She was as tall as Julius; the Schwegler men were short in stature. At best, she was 5’4 or 5’5 inches tall. Her dress most likely is traditional German or Swiss wedding attire.

Schwegler, Julius and Ridenhour, Francis - Missouri Marriage Records 1805-2002

Julius and Sarah Were Married by a Justice of the Peace

Sarah was the mother of six children born over the span of twenty-three years. Her first child, Oliver Martin, was born in 1881 when she was just eighteen years of age. This poor little boy died four years later in 1885. At that time her second child, Harley Defraney, was two years of age. Benjamin Franklin was born in 1886, followed by my grandfather Wright Harrison in 1892. Her only girl Ida, born in July 1901, only lived four months. Her last boy, Rainey Adam, was born in 1904.

Ridenhour, Sarah Frances, headstone

Rest in Peace Sarah

I’ve wondered what it would be like to live with six men and no daughters to help with the household chores. My mother once told me that her father and uncles were quiet men. They didn’t talk much and preferred to be alone. Hopefully, Sarah’s daughters-in-law provided some talk and interaction that women need.  

Unfortunately, my mother never knew her grandmother as Sarah died three years before my mother was born. Sarah suffered from chronic nephritis and valvular heart disease. She died at home on 17 August 1924 and was buried the next day in Bethel Cemetery in Paydown. Her headstone reads “Peaceful be thy Silent Slumber.” Sarah was sixty-two years of age.

Julius Schwegler (1859-1943) m. Sarah Frances Ridenhour (1862-1924)

Oliver Martin Schwegler (1881-1885)
Harley Defraney Schwegler (1883-1965)
Benjamin Franklin Schwegler (1886-1969)
Harrison Wright Schwegler (1892-1978)
Ida J. Schwegler (1901-1901)
Rainey Adam Schwegler (1904-1990)

William Jefferson Williams…Not Your Average Man

Williams, William J, and Stubblefield, Rebecca A.

William Jefferson Williams and Elizabeth (Stubblefield) Williams

People could say that William Jefferson Williams was a scalawag, litigious, and complex man. Yet he was hardworking and a family man. William Jefferson Williams left a large footprint on this earth and there are many, many records to prove this.

Jeff Williams, as he was sometimes called and the name used in this bio, was born 12 December 1818 in the area where Franklin County, Tennessee is today. He was born to Philip Williams and Catherine (Miller) Williams. Philip had volunteered for the first Seminole War and arrived home in time for the birth of his third son, Jeff. They lived in a time when settlers continued to move into Indian lands creating a constant threat to the settlers. The Seminole Wars were the result of the West Florida boundary dispute the United States had with Spain. The U.S. also accused Spain of harboring run-away-slaves and not restraining the Indians in West Florida from raiding the U.S. In the 1830s men still talked about the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The Second Seminole War (1835-42) resulted from efforts to move the Seminoles to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).¹

In 1837, U.S. leaders put out a call for volunteers to help with the cause. Jeff and his brothers were at an age when the idea of military action was exciting. In October of 1837, Jeff Williams, along with his brothers Hardy and Jacob Marion, enlisted to fight in Captain Snodgrass’s Company I, North Alabama Mounted Volunteers, from Jackson County, Alabama and commanded by Company Commander A. J. Jacobway. There was such a tremendous response to the call for action that more volunteers than needed signed up. Recruits guarded areas already under control because so many signed up for duty, including the volunteers from Captain Snodgrass’s mounted Alabama volunteers. Enlisted regular troops did the actual fighting as recruits were generally undisciplined. Most likely disappointed at their inaction, the brothers sought a discharge from the Mounted Volunteers at Fort Mitchell, Georgia after serving seven months of volunteer duty.²

Williams, William J, Land Patent, No. 6674, 9 Jan 1854_Page_1

Land Grant Given to Jeff Williams for his Service in the Second Seminole War

The Williams family land lay in the rolling foothills of the Sequatchie Mountains. To the east, in the distance, the grey silhouette of the mountains could be seen. It was in these rolling hills that Jeff asked Elizabeth Stubblefield to marry him.

Williams, William J, to Stubblefield, Elizabeth, Marriage Record, 2

Jeff and Elizabeth’s Marriage Record

They married on 1 June 1838.³ He was nineteen and she was fifteen. Shortly thereafter Elizabeth became pregnant with their first child Catherine.

Another life-altering event occurred that changed their lives forever. Jeff and Elizabeth decided to travel west to Missouri with friends and family members. Saying goodbye to loved ones, maybe never to see them again, was extremely hard as would the difficult trip traveling by wagon train five hundred and twenty-five miles to their destination. For Elizabeth, it would have been even harder as she was pregnant. Catherine was born on 23 June 1839 in Gasconade County, Missouri. The birth of her brother Henry followed a year later on 5 June 1840. The year 1842 brought good and bad news; the good news is their third son John was born. But sadly they received communication that Jeff’s father Philip had died.

Through the years Jeff Williams was in and out of court. Several times he was the plaintiff, meaning he was suing someone for a grievance. And many times he was on the receiving end of the complaint as the defendant. James Page sued him in 1843 for causes unknown. This case lasted for more than two years and ended when both sides agreed to dismiss the case and pay for their own court costs.

Who knows what was going on in Jeff’s mind when he assaulted John Owens in May of 1846? The grand jury of Osage County was impaneled on 5 May 1846 and found that there was sufficient cause to charge Jeff with felonious assault. In those days court proceedings took place every quarter which caused legal proceedings to last over a period of time. Jeff’s case went to trial on 13 Apr 1847 and over the course of several years, the truth about the assault was revealed. Jeff had assaulted John Owens with a stick three feet long, two inches in diameter, and weighing four pounds. He hit Owens on the head, back, arms, and shoulders leaving cuts and bruises. This trial ended in 1842 when Jeff was found guilty of the assault and ordered to pay a fine of one hundred dollars and spend three months in jail.

Two more children, Nathaniel and Cynthia were born to the couple in 1848 and 1849 respectively. The 1850 agricultural census showed that Jeff owned 20 acres of land. Many families the size of the Williams family had more land to sustain their needs. He owned two horses, one mule, seven cows, five sheep, and thirty hogs. And he raised Indian corn and Irish potatoes. The sheep provided six pounds of wool and the cows provided one hundred pounds of butter. The sale of products and livestock was probably enough to feed the family well and evidently there was enough of an excess over the years to allow Jeff to buy forty more acres of land in 1851.

Before his assault trial ended, Jeff Williams was also called into court by Hugh Wilson in 1851. Wilson testified that on or about 3 May 1850, Jeff Williams sold him his claim on the government of the United States that he received for his service as a volunteer in Captain Augustus Rainey’s company which was mustered in the services of the United States in 1846. The court record indicated that Jeff Williams had volunteered for Captain Rainey’s Company, Third Missouri Volunteers, enrolled in Van Buren, Missouri, and mustered in at Fort Leavenworth. Over the course of two years, testimony was taken and the case was dismissed on 25 April 1853. However, Jeff Williams was ordered to pay the court costs.

Williams, William J, Osage County Historical Society, Loose Files, File 156, Doc. 19 (3) - Copy

Indictment for Running His Horse Through Linn, MO

And while all of this was going on in his life, perhaps to let off steam, Jeff Williams ran his horse through the town of Linn, Missouri on 26 October 1852. The State of Missouri charged him for “wrongfully and unlawfully running his horse upon a public road and highway so as to interrupt traveling therein, and to put to fright the horses and other animals, by them rode or driven.” Jeff threw himself upon the mercy of the court and pleaded guilty. His court fine was $5.00 and he was remanded to the custody of the sheriff until the fine was paid.

Despite all the drama in his life, Jeff continued to farm. The year 1854 produced a flurry of buying and selling of land ending with Jeff owning about one hundred and sixty-two acres. That year Benjamin Franklin was born to the couple.

On 9 November 1855, Jeff Williams attended a get-together at the home belonging to James Owens for the purpose of moving rails. The rails were on land next to the Owens home. This land had been cleared by the Owens family but claimed by Runge [first name unknown] and Charles Kuhagen. Jeff’s simple act of charity would ensnare him in a burglary and assault trial that would last two years and provide hundreds of pages of testimony from people who were involved.

The day began when a group of men and women arrived in order to help move rails. The idea was abandoned and the group began drinking. Fred Crider produced a fiddle and dancing commenced. While everyone was dancing a fight took place that involved several men who were accused of assaulting Helmuth Gens, Charles Kuhagen, and Runge. Apparently, the Owens family had cleared a parcel of land and before they went to the courthouse to file a claim on the land Kuhagen and Runge made the claim on the land. This created a great deal of resentment toward these men, and Helmuth Gens, Kuhagen’s brother-in-law.

Williams, William J, Osage County Circuit Court, Book B, Page 234 - Copy_Page_1

The Jury Found Fred Crider and Jeff Williams Not Guilty

During the trial, Helmuth Gens testified that on the 9th of November Jesse Owens, Lansford Shockley, Jonathan Stubblefield, Nathaniel Stubblefield, Frederick Crider, Jeff Williams, James Owens, John Griffith, and others had broken into and entered his home. The group of men was armed with sticks, clubs, knives, guns, axes, and an iron wedge. Runge and Kuhagen were accosted and received cuts and bruises. One of the men had drawn up a note payable to James Owens for one hundred dollars and forced Gens to sign it. It was this action that caused Helmuth Gens to go to the authorities which resulted in all of the charges being issues. Finally, at the end of 1857, the case ended with Jeff Williams and others being acquitted of the charges against them. Nathaniel Stubblefield and Jesse Owens were found guilty of assault.

In the middle of the trial, in November 1856, Robert was born. Two years later in 1858, Martha their last child was born. Over nineteen years, Elizabeth would bear eleven children and lose two of them, Charles and Robert.

Two years later, Jeff was ensnared in another court case with William Haley. On 10 December 1859, the constable of Osage County was ordered to serve a writ to William Haley in a judgment obtained by William Campbell. The writ was executed on 6 January 1860 by then deputy constable, Jeff Williams. When the writ was presented to him, Haley stated he would pay Campbell but would not pay Jeff Williams a commission for his part in serving the writ. In those days much of the legal administrative costs were paid by fees assessed for carrying out legal activities. When Haley refused to pay Jeff, Jeff seized a dark brown horse belonging to Haley and sold the horse. That was when Haley took him to court. A jury found Jeff not guilty and assessed Haley $59.90 in court costs over and above what he owed Campbell and Jeff. In 1873 Jeff took William Haley to court. It appears that Haley had not paid what he owed Jeff. The prosecuting attorney refused to take up the case and referred Jeff to the State of Missouri legal system if he wanted to recoup his money. No further documents were found in the case.

The Civil War was well underway when the following decree was issued by Lt. Col. Williams of A Company, 28th Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia on 9 August 1862:
“All the Enrolled Militia (E.M.M.) within this Sub-District (composed of the counties of Cole, Osage, Miller north of the Osage River and Maries west of the Gasconade River) are hereby summoned and called into active service and will assemble without delay in Jefferson City. The militia duly enrolled and not yet organized into companies will immediately upon their arrival at this post be organized into companies of not less than sixty-seven nor more than one hundred men. Parts of companies will be consolidated. The militia when organized into companies will be subsisted, their horses foraged, and transportation taken when needed from Rebels of all shades and Union men when necessary giving the latter receipts for what is taken which will be claimed against the State of Missouri. All who do not now enroll and organize for the defense of the State will be regarded and treated as traitors and hereafter can claim no protection from the Federal Government.”⁴

Jeff enlisted as the captain of Company C. On 29 August the company was called into service. The primary responsibility of the E.M.M. during the Civil War was to guard railroad bridges and other strategic resources to aid the war effort. Jeff’s company was called to action several times including 30 September 1862 when he was ordered to “concentrate all your available force at St. Aubert Station P. R. R. immediately. Let each man take three days rations.”⁵

Next year, in 1863, Jeff was captain of Company A of the 9th Provisional Regiment. His son Henry was the bugler of the Company. They were enrolled and called into service on 17 March and discharged on 31 December. Both were allowed to return to their homes, continue farming, and take part in the lives of their spouse and children for the remainder of the war. In 1864, Jeff’s oldest daughter Catherine and her husband Fred Crider sold their land to Jeff and moved to Texas.

The Civil War did not diminish Jeff’s financial stability. In 1870 the agriculture census showed him owning 150 acres of improved land and 183 acres of unimproved land. He owned seven horses, twelve mules, seven cows, two oxen, thirty sheep, and four hogs. He was growing winter wheat, Indian corn, oats, peas, beans, and Irish potatoes. From the sheep, twenty-four pounds of wool were produced and the cows produced eighty pounds of butter. Fifty gallons of molasses were also produced. No doubt it took every member of the family who could help, along with hired help, to keep this farm going. Unfortunately, their son Charles was sickly and died at the age of twenty the next year on 30 June 1871. He is buried next to Jeff in Francis Cemetery.

In 1880 all of Jeff’s children had left home with the exception of his son William and William’s wife Sephronia. The 1880 agricultural census showed William as owning the land. The number of acres of land they owned had decreased by eighty-three. They still owned horses, mules, cows, and hogs added chickens and got rid of their oxen and sheep. They grew Indian corn, oats, wheat, Sorghum, and Irish potatoes. And some lands were set aside for an apple orchard. The family made extra money through the sale of cattle and wood they cut from their timber. Life appeared to be good.

Williams, William J, Headstone Picture 2

William Jefferson Williams’ Headstone

Jeff Williams committed suicide on 11 December 1885. What had changed between 1880, when it appeared that he was doing well financially, and 1885 when he took his life? Most likely the recession that occurred in the U.S. between 1882 and 1885 caused his financial well-being to decline. And the final settlement for his estate bears that out. At the time of the final settlement, after the sale of items in his estate and outstanding bills were accounted the estate was in the arrears of $73.66 leaving Elizabeth with no money.

Family lore says he took his life because he was upset that he couldn’t buy his grandsons the hats that they wanted. The truth is he was in desperate financial trouble.

Jeff Williams is buried in Francis Cemetery in Osage County. His sons Henry, Charles, and Robert are buried near-by. It is unknown where Elizabeth is buried.

Jeff Williams led an interesting life having volunteered for military service in the Seminole War, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. He traveled from Tennessee to Missouri and saw things many of his generation never saw. He used the court system to his advantage and sometimes that worked against him. He was a rabble-rouser yet appeared to be a man of principle and hard-work. It’s a shame he ended his life in a tragic way, at his own hands. No doubt he is one of our family’s most fascinating characters.


²Dan’s World, Williams ( : accessed 1 Sep 2014), Philip Williams Family History

³2013;, Tennessee, State Marriages, 1780-2002 ( : accessed 27 Oct 2013); William J. Williams to Elizabeth A. Stubblefield

⁴Records of Events 28th Enrolled Militia of Osage County, Missouri,