A Box Full Of Family
A shorter version of this was published in the April-June 2012 edition of the DGS Newsletter (page 15).
This is a little off topic for this list but you are the best researchers I am aware of (and we all love a good mystery)...
I live in Dallas, Texas. A few years ago I was cleaning out my attic and came across a small box that contained letters written in the 1940's, pictures, several pair of old eye glasses and a few other tidbits obviously left by a previous resident (the house was built in 1960). I don't have to tell any of you how much something like this would be appreciated by any living descendant, and I made a pledge to myself to do everything I could to find somebody in the family to send the box to.
There was just enough information in the letters to allow me to begin to assemble a family tree, so whenever I hit a brick wall on my own family I come back to this little puzzle. I have made a lot of progress, but have been unable to make the leap to somebody living.
The two main people of interest are: SARAH E MIILES (born Sarah Elizabeth Slutts on 11 Oct 1862 in Lee, Iowa, d. 01 Jan 1956 in Polk County, Iowa, married to Phineas Young Miles b. 15 Jan 1850 in Lee, Iowa, d. 24 Oct 1929, buried in the Corydon Cemetery, Wayne County, Iowa), and her sister MARY BELL HUNT (born Mary Bell Slutts abt. 1867 in Van Buren County, Iowa, d. Aft. 1943 in Keosauqua, Van Buren county, Iowa, married to John C Hunt b. Abt. 1861).
Everything I have discovered is viewable on my RootsWeb database... If anybody has any knowledge of this family please let me know. I would just love to get this little box of memories in the hands of somebody who would appreciate it.
Thanks in advance....
/John W N McClanahan b: 11 FEB 1881 d: 13 MAR 1939 | Elton A McClanahan b: ABT 1918 | | /Joseph Avris Miles b: 9 JUN 1820 d: 26 OCT 1889 | | | /Phineas Young Miles b: 15 JAN 1850 d: 24 OCT 1929 | | | | | | /Phineas Young b: ABT 1806 | | | | | | \Clarissa Young b: 13 OCT 1826 d: 12 JUL 1907 | | | | | \Clarissa Unknown | | \Maud Hester Miles b: 1 FEB 1884 | | /Noah C Slutts b: ABT 1816 d: 1900 | | | /Ephraim John Slutts b: 1 SEP 1834 d: 12 MAR 1923 | | | | | \Hanna Yant b: 8 MAR 1808 d: 8 OCT 1888 | | \Sarah Elizabeth Slutts b: 11 OCT 1862 d: 1 JAN 1956 | | /Arnold Barker b: 14 MAR 1780 d: 14 OCT 1859 | | | /Isach Matthew Barker b: 1 MAR 1803 d: 27 APR 1887 | | | | | \Elizabeth English b: 1779 d: OCT 1843 | | \Sarah Jane Barker b: 18 MAY 1837 d: 23 APR 1910 | \Rachel Springer Dowel b: 1803 d: 30 SEP 1891
The big problem is the house was built in 1960, which is 30 years past the last available census records. Using Ancestry.com or other genealogy records don't usually span that bridge from 1930 to current. Especially when you are looking at a family from Iowa and their box was found in Dallas.
Someone left the house and "forgot" to look in the attic. I would "guess" this person had been a long time owner, perhaps even back to 1960. You "could" check the city records, or the City Directories (Polks or equivalent) to find out who owned it. Or, you just get lucky.......
I started the search trying to go backwards in time via online records about your house. The Assessor records show you bought in February 1994, but the sales data was not shown, so I couldn't see the previous owner. But, the County Recorder showed the previous owner to you as Wayne and Shirley H.
Using the search engine for the Dallas County, Dallas Appraisal District, using those numbers, I found this property's records went back to February 1980 to a deed transfer from Allene McClanahan to Shirley H. and Wayne H.
>From your data and the family tree found (see below), a sister to Sarah and Mary was Maude, she married a McClanahan. They had a son Richard.
The Social Security Death Index shows H. Allene McClanahan was born 19 January 1914 and died 9 June 1997. Her "last Residence" was in Gainsville, Cooke County, Texas. One more connection: She obtained her SSN in _Iowa_ before 1951.
I STRONGLY believe Allene McClanahan was the wife of a son of Maude, probably Richard. It is "possible" that Shirley H. was related...but this is not always the case. Another record shows she had lived at xxx Kiowa Dr. W, in Gainsville, TX, phone: 940-668-xxxx. "If" she had lived with relatives at that time, and they still own the house...and phone number... this is a possible contact to Allene.
Texas Birth Records show Wayne H. and Shirley H. had a daughter M. in 1971 Kenneth H. is currently in Dallas, an attorney. I'd suggest contact with him to see what ancestors are in that family of Shirley. (They may or may not be divorced, but he should be able to get you in contact with her. But there is no proof or strong indications).
------Another Family Tree-------
I found a family tree that had these persons owned by a Lisa M. I sent a contact request to this person. I included the link to your posting on the Norway List. It also had your email address. She may or may not have any idea. She is married to McClanahan, Maude Slutts descendant. Her tree shows Maude had a son Richard Phineas McClanahan, born about 1921. --The SSDI shows a Richard P. McClanahan, born 26 Nov 1920, died 27 Feb 1997 in Crystal Lake, McHenry Co, IL. His SSN was issued by the Railroad Retirement Board, so there is no way of determining if this is the correct person. If he died in Illinois, and is the correct person, he and Allene may have divorced, but there is no indication or proof of either. --There is a R. McClanahan (No middle initial identified) living at xxxx Ridgewood, Dallas, TX. Personally, I doubt this is the correct person. "But" he could be, or could be a family member.
Thank you......This was fun.
First, in my previous posting: ... I mistakenly identified Maude. She was the DAUGHTER of Sarah Elizabeth Slutts and Phineas Young Miles. She was born 1 Feb 1884 in Iowa and died January 1981 in Cook Co, Minnesota. She married John Newton McClanahan. --I apologize for my hurried mistake.
Second, the document of Feb 1980 is now available for review. It identified Allene McClanahan as wife of E.A. McClanahan....
------Maude Hester McClanahan-------
Your data identifies: Children: John W.N. McClanahan, born about 1917 in Iowa Elton A. McClanahan, born about 1918 in Iowa Kathryn E, about 1919 Two other "Living" So, Allene was the wife of ELTON A. McClanahan
I find Elton A. McClanahan at xxx Kiowa Drive W, Gainsville, TX. --This is the SAME address as I had found in my previous posting. Phone 940-668-xxxx.
So, now the mistake is cleared. The owner of your property Allene's husband is still alive at the above address. He can probably identify who in his family may be interested in that wonderful box of belongings.
The Cooke County data shows this property was sold on 8/26/1998 to another party by Allene McClanahan.
I now find in the Social Security Death Index "E.A. McClanahan" born 19 Sept 1917, died 15 May 1992. His SSN was issued in Iowa. His last residence was in Gainesville, Cooke Co, TX. So, both Elton and his wife have passed. Your next quest are their obituaries in Gainesville.
The Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness has one person that does Cemetery lookups, "might" do obits? http://www.raogk.com/texas2.htm Set for Cooke County.
Cooke County has a genealogical site, I only present it as a possible source. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txcooke/
Cooke County Message Board:
This is all of the checks that I can do on this one.
Dear Jerry, Joan, Hank, Dennis but especially Ron:
I watch the postings on this list on a regular basis and so I should be used to the skill, talent and generosity that is demonstrated here every day, but still I am overwhelmed... thank you all so very much for all the suggestions and the help!
I will keep you all posted on what comes next....
Hi, I got an e-mail from a Ron B. about the box you found in your attic. I think it may have been left there by my husbands uncle Elton McClanahan, listed on your tree, and I would dearly like to have it. Elton was my father-in law Richards brother (both now deceased), and lived in Texas around the time you mention.
My husband is S. McClanahan, Richard's son. Elton was S's uncle. You have Elton, John and Kathryn listed on your tree, but there were also Richard and Robert born to John Newton McClanahan and Maude Miles (5 children total). Maude was Sarah Slutts and Phineas Miles daughter.
Richard, my father-in-law, now deceased, did a lot of genealogy and I am now working on it extensively. Elton was called Mick by the family.
We may have the Texas address where Elton lived, and I am going to look for it tomorrow. I don't think it would've been left by any other member of the family, as none of them ever lived in Texas. This includes everyone back to Sarah and Phineas, whose residences I have researched with census records and family history.
I believe that Maude got the letters and things from her mother Sarah, and then they were passed onto Elton. The family paid a lot of attention to family records and saved letters, photos, memento's....and these were split up and shared by Maude and John Newton's 5 children, including Elton and my father-in-law Richard. Richard received many photos, letters, etc... Thank you so much for posting about the box. My farther-in-law cared deeply about his family heritage and I am trying to finish what he so arduously began, before sites like ancestry.com were around.
Please let me know that you've received my e-mail if you would, and I will write again when I find Eltons Texas address.
-----Original Message----- From: Tony Hanson Sent: Saturday, January 10, 2009 7:17 AM To: 'Lisa M.' Subject: RE: Phineas Miles Sarah Slutts
I keep typing and deleting things... I am just so happy to have made a connection to your family and thrilled to be able to pass this box of history on to its rightful owners!
I can tell from your information that you are a relative and have no problems sending you the materials on that basis. I will also send you the information I documented while researching the family if it would be of interest to you... are you using a genealogy package that can read a GED file?
Feel free to call me if you would like to talk...
-----Original Message----- From: Lisa M. Sent: Saturday, January 10, 2009 9:49 AM To: Tony Hanson Subject: Re: Phineas Miles Sarah Slutts
Oh this is is so exciting! Thank you so much!
I can hardly wait to read the letters and see the 'tidbits', and to read what you have found out. I am really grateful to you for your efforts to get the box to our family. I am sharing what I find with all our family members.
I only started doing this about 4 months ago, and have so much information, stories and pictures to put online into the tree. I'm using ancestry.com tree builders, so I think a GED file will work. Oh, here's the link to the tree as I've started it. I hope to have (what I've accumulated) online withing 3-6 months. It's a lot!
My father-in-laws middle name was Phineas, after Phineas Miles. I was he (dad) were still around to see all this. He'd be so thrilled....somewhere he is smiling! Right now I am actually in Illinois looking after my mother in law and am returning home Tuesday for awhile before coming back.
I think it would be best to send it to my house, the weather here is AWFUL right now, we got another 5 inches of snow last night and it keeps on....then I'll bring it back with me in so she can see it too.
I'll give you a ring when it arrives so I can thank you and we can chat a bit.
Our family has so much rich history. A few years ago we found a hand written 'deposition' that was done by JN McClanahan I (born 1833). He became a lawyer in Corydon, Iowa after serving as a Lt. in the Civil War. I transcribed it and found that it was a deposition of CLEL MILLER, infamous member of the Jesse James gang!
Anyway, thanks you so much!
-----Original Message----- From: Lisa M Sent: Saturday, January 10, 2009 11:40 AM To: Tony Hanson Subject: Re: Phineas Miles Sarah Slutts
Uncle Elton's and Aunt Alene's address was xxx Kiowa Drive, West Kiowa, TX
He passed away before Alene, and we think she moved into another home afterwards, but Kiowa is very close to Dallas. They didn't have any children.
I feel pretty certain this little box made it's way to your attic somehow by way of Uncle Elton.
Thank you again for posting about it.
We can't wait to see it and read the letters!
-----Original Message----- From: Tony Hanson Sent: Monday, January 12, 2009 6:20 PM To: 'Lisa M.' Subject: RE: Phineas Miles Sarah Slutts
The package is on the way.... FedEx Estimates that it will arrive Thursday afternoon (Signature required).
-----Original Message----- From: Lisa M. Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 4:45 PM To: Tony Hanson Subject: Re: Phineas Miles Sarah Slutts
Thank you SO MUCH! The package arrived today and my husband and I are so excited, as are our sons. It is in fact photos, letters and items from my husbands family on his fathers mothers side.... and we are ECSTATIC. His grandfather was John Newton McClanahan, and his grandmother was Maud Miles, who is mentioned often in the letters. There are photos of the family, including my father-in-law as a baby with his dad and mother Maud, brothers and sisters. There are also other pictures of family I have identified, including a very old tintype of Ephraim Slutts, Sarah Elizaneth Miles (Slutt's) father.
Forgive my sloppiness or grammar I'm so excited. I am positive now that Elton, my husbands uncle, had these items and that's how they wound up in Texas. As I mentioned before, he was the only family member to move there. Elton was called Uncle Mick by family. He had a twin named Eldon who died shortly after his birth, and there are two pictures of the poor baby dressed in his christening gown before burial.
Nobody in the family has ever seen any of these pictures or knew about the items. I have just returned yesterday from the Chicago area where I stayed after Christmas to help care for my mother-in-law. I spent a lot of time while I was there organizing the family photos and documents and entering the information into my husbands tree on ancestry.com. Among some items I found were about 50 letters from my husbands father to his mother Maud, written while he was serving in the war.
My father-in-law Richard did a lot of genealogical research on his family, and I can hardly believe that his brother Eldon wouldn't have shared this treasure trove with him, and must've misplaced it or forgotten it. It contains a wealth of information and family names which will confirm so much I have found. Dick would have been so thrilled, and somewhere he is smiling that all his hard work is being carried on and built upon.... and so this little box which means SO MUCH to us found and cared for by you.
How can I ever thank you? Many others would not have taken the time and care you did to preserve it and look for the family it belonged to. You are a very special person and you have made us all very happy.
Thank you Tony. I will send you a link to the tree (which I think I did before?) as I add pictures and all this additional information. It will take me a little while, because there is so much of it, including what I found at home, but it will now surely be one of the most beautiful and complete family trees there ever was... thanks to you.
I will write more later, with the link. I have my own brother visiting from St. Paul tomorrow and I have much to do to get ready.
Thank you again Tony,
-----Original Message----- From: Tony Hanson Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 7:44 PM To: 'Lisa M.' Subject: RE: Phineas Miles Sarah Slutts
I cannot imagine a better outcome to this.... Even though I had no idea who the people involved were, I was excited when I discovered the box in my attic. I can only imagine what it means to you and your family.
Yet another little miracle brought about by the fabulous people on this list... thanks (especially Ron!) for all the help in making it happen.
Thank you so much for sharing the letter from Lisa M. dated January 14. I cannot express what I felt as she expressed the happiness over those individual pictures, letters, and family history from that forgotten box in your attic.
You have done a wonderful thing. You found lost family history and heirlooms; and, decided to return it to the proper family. AND, indeed it appears to have been returned to the PROPER family. And indeed, someone that is overjoyed to have those items back. Someone that was found to also be a dedicated genealogist, doing their own searches on this family. I can feel how you felt as you boxed those items, just wondering if you've done the right thing... AND, you did.
This story is such a wonder today in this information age. You find a box of FAMILY in your attic in Texas and bring it to the Norway List. The Internet connects this box in Texas to a family that had once owned this house by recorded ownership of that house available to someone researching from Washington State.
That Ownership record in Texas is matched with genealogy records from the US Census and family history... also via the Internet.
That Family history leads to a family that has posted their genealogy for the world to see. This family from Iowa, and Illinois, then onto California. Then, a connection is made and many searchers, you and the original family find happiness in the replacement of such family heirlooms back into the hands of those that strongly desire them.
Thank you Tony for this experience. It is one that I've printed out for my own memory.