Showing posts with label McCleskey Green Russell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label McCleskey Green Russell. Show all posts

Monday, August 24, 2015

Life Altered in an Instant

How often have you wished you could do something over again, vowing that this time you would do it better?  Sometimes the consequences of snap decisions are just annoying, but other times they are tragic.

As I shared in last weeks post, (found here) running across a McCleskey among Utah Death certificates came as a surprise, especially since it was a McCleskey with a connection to my family in Oklahoma. It would take some digging to find the story, but things eventually fell into place.

muskogge oklahoma, okmulgee oklahoma, genealogy,  family history

Lillian Howell was born in 1883 in Collin County, Texas to Henry Harrison Howell and Amelia Louisa Turner.  Lillian grew up in a household of 11 children, two were half siblings from her father's prior marriage. By 1900 the family moved to Creek Nation, Indian Territory.

Two years later, on 28 December 1902, nineteen year old Lillian Howell married thirty-one year old Benjamin Green McCleskey in Muskogee County, Oklahoma.

A year later their first child Floyd Elmer was born in 1903, followed by Williard Roscoe in 1904. Raymond was born in 1906 and Green Russell McCleskey was born on the 31 of March in 1909, likely in Okmulgee where his family was living in 1910. The brothers were close in age with all four born within six years. I can only imagine the challenges their mother faced as she raised four boys so close in age. 

Russell and his brothers all learned to read and write and helped their father on the farm. Life was hard and there was a lot to do for those families struggling to farm in the early days in Oklahoma. 

I wonder how many times over the years Russell's father, Benjamin, shared the story of losing his father, George Walter McCleskey, in a shootout with Native Americans in Weatherford, Texas, a story I shared here.

At the age of 20, Russell proposed to Virginia Canes and they tied the knot on March 2, 1929 in Okfuskee, Oklahoma.  While most couples feel a certain sense of optimism and hope for the future, few anticipate the challenges and difficulties that come with life. Sadly Russell and Virginia's life would include a very tragic event within their first year of marriage. 

When Russell and Virginia married, Oklahoma was already struggling economically, but the big stock market crash would occur later that year making life even more difficult. Jobs were hard to come by and people were willing to look beyond their immediate communities. I am not sure how Russell learned of the job, but he was hired to work for a loan company in Utah, so he and Virginia packed up and made the nearly 1,300 mile move to Utah.

In Salt Lake City, Russell worked as a manager for The Commercial Discount Company while Virginia worked as a telephone operator. They lived in a small three-year old brick house located at 1453 Westminster Avenue in Salt Lake City, Utah. They were some of the lucky ones. 



rumble seat, accident, salt lake city utah, genealogy, family history


Over Labor Day weekend in 1930, Russell and Virginia went on a little trip to Ogden with friends, Alma U. Daniels and wife Bernice. Bernice also worked for the phone company and it is likely the wives met there. In addition, the couples were close in age and lived within five minutes of each other. 


fall colors, Utah, Ogden, family history, genealogy
9/28/2012 Ogden, Utah 
The 2012 Federal Duck Stamp Contest 
photo by Garry Tucker, USFWS
On Monday evening, September 1, 1930, the couples returned from Ogden, driving along the Ogden-Salt Lake highway, a distance of about 40 miles. Riding along the base of the Wasatch Mountain range, they would have had a clear view of mountains, ablaze with the colors of fall. 

With an altitude of a little over 4,000 feet, evenings in Salt Lake City tend to cool down considerably as the sun drops and such was the case that day. Although the high on September 1, 1930 was 81, the low was 55. [1] While Alma, Bernice and Virginia rode in the front seat of the car, Russell rode in the rumble seat in the back, which soon became too cool. Several articles reported simply that G. Russell tried to move from the rumble seat to inside the car while it was still moving. Thankfully the following article gave a more complete picture of the events that occurred.[2]




Green Russell McCleskey, Alma U. Daniels, Salt Lake City, Utah. Benjamin Green McCleskey, William McCleskey, Raymond McCleskey, Floyd McCleskey, Oklmulgee, Genealogy,  Family History,

The newspaper reported that Russell died of a skull fracture, but the death certificate indicated that he probably died from a broken neck. [3]



Green Russell McCleskey, Virginia McCleskey, Salt Lake City, Utah, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, genealogy, family history, research, death certificate

I can't comprehend the shock folks must have felt as the news reached Russell's friends and family in Oklahoma. Russell was a young man in the prime of life with so much ahead of him. He was working, renting a nice home and was newly married. As friends and family gathered to comfort his devastated parents, Benjamin Green McCleskey and Lillian Howell, I imagine his aunt and uncle, Henry Edgar Howell and Ollie (Ganus), were among them. There would be many hard days to follow.

Life can be altered forever in an instant. A seemingly simple action can lead to a tragic end. How often I have replayed an incident over and over in my mind, wishing I could go back and do it again but different. If only.....

Married just over a year, Virginia had her husband's body shipped back to Oklmulgee and buried in the Okmulgee Cemetery. 


[1] "The Weather" column Salt Lake Telegram, September 1, 1930, image 7, Utah Digital Newspapers;  http://digitalnewspapers.org/, accessed 14 August, 2015. 

[2] Salt Lake Man Killed In Fall off Auto, Salt Lake Telegram, September 2, 1930; Utah Digital Newspapers, http://digitalnewspapers.org/; accessed 11 August, 2015. 

[3]  Utah Death Certificate Index, Utah Department of Administrative Services,http://www.archives.utah.gov/research/indexes/20842.htm, Green Russell McCleskey Death Certificate, accessed 14 August 2015. 


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Monday, August 17, 2015

Lost and Found

Sometimes you find people where you least expect to find them! 


Martha Olivia Ganus wife of  Henry Edgar Howell, daughter of William Franklin Ganus
Martha Olivia (Ganus) Howell
(Original photo in my possession) 
While helping a friend do some research, I spent some time searching the Utah Death Certificates. While I was at it, I couldn't resist putting in a few of my own family names into the search box just for fun. I really didn't expect to find anyone because the majority of my ancestors lived in the southern states. 

Imagine my surprise when I typed in McCleskey and up popped Green Russell McCleskey. Although not a direct ancestor, Green Russell McCleskey's family lived near my family in both Georgia and Oklahoma and with the name of McCleskey (my brick wall) I've kept my eye on this family for some time. 

Russell's mother, Lillian Howell, was a sister to Henry Edgar Howell, who married Martha Olivia Ganus, my grandpa's half sister. Martha Olivia, or "Ollie" was William Franklin Ganus's daughter with his first wife, Mary Matilda Roberts.

Just to make sure that this was the same Green Russell McCleskey, I double checked my database and confirmed that, yes, parents and his birth date were the same.  

Since my grandfather's half sister, Ollie (Ganus) Howell was Green Russell McCleskey's aunt and they lived in the same area of Oklahoma, I felt sure that the families interacted. Below are the Howell, McCleskey and Ganus families and the red helps to clarify the link. 

Henry Harrison Howell b. 1840 IL d. 1928 Ok
married Amelia Louisa Turner b. 1852 IL d. 1928 OK

Children of Henry and Louisa


   1. Katherine Anne Howell b. 1873
   2. Henry Edgar Howell b. 1875 Il d. 1951 Ok marr. Martha Olivia Ganus b. 1880 GA d. 1916 OK
   3. Elroy Howell b. 1878
   4. Lily Howell b. 1883 TX d. 1899 OK
   5. Lillian Howell b. 1883 TX d. 1974 Ok married Benjamin Green McCleskey b. 1871 Tx d. 1932 OK

       Children of Benjamin and Lillian
    
            * Floyd Elmer McCleskey b. 1903
            * Raymond C. McCleskey b. 1906
            * Green Russell McCleskey b. 1909
            * Willard McCleskey b. 1913

   6. Lela Howell b. 1886 Tx d 1905 Ok
   7. Pearl Howell b. 1889 Tx d. 1905 Ok
   8. Willis Jay Howell b. 1895 OK
   9. Minnie Mae Howell b. 1895 OK          
         

So what was Green Russell McCleskey, an Oklahoma boy, doing in Salt Lake City, Utah and what was his story?  Have your kleenex ready for next week's post when I share the story I uncovered. 


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Shoot Out at the Double Cabin

I love a good story. Sometimes I find myself chasing a story even after the trail leaves behind my own family, just because the story is interesting.  And truthfully,  I know I am not the only genealogist that does that.  Genealogist love stories, especially when there is a mystery involved.  The story I am about to share is complete with romance, action and of course some mystery, ending as many of my genealogy adventures seem to end, with more questions. This story actually begins with my half great aunt, Martha Olivia Ganus.

Martha Olivia or "Ollie" was the daughter of William Franklin Ganus, my great grandfather and his first wife Mary Matilda Roberts and I shared some of her story here.   Martha lost her mother, "Tilda," about 1886 and later that same year,  she and her father, along with her Ganus grandparents,  aunts and uncles all boarded a train bound for Colorado.   The Ganus family settled in Manassa, Colorado initially and remained there for a few years.   Sometime before 1900 the Ganus family moved to Oklahoma where Ollie met and married Henry Edgar Howell on 16 March 1896.

Henry and Ollie settled down in what was then Creek Nation, Indian Territory and began a family. According to Henry's obituary from October 1951, in about 1891, when Henry was approximately 16, his family moved from Illinois to Oklahoma.  Henry's family was then comprised of his parents, Henry Harrison Howell and Amelia Louisa [Turner], and his siblings  Katherine, Elroy, twins Lily and Lillian, Lela and Pearl.  Later Willis and Minnie would join the family.

As I learned a little about Henry's family, for some reason, it was his twin sisters that initially caught my attention.  Lillian and Lily Howell were born 13 June 1883.  Lily only lived to age 16, but Lillian lived to adulthood, married and reared a family in Oklahoma.  It was Lillian's marriage that intrigued me.

Because my 2nd great grandmother was a McCleskey (Elizabeth McCleskey) and because I have yet to determine who her parents were, I am ever on the lookout for any connection to McCleskeys.  So you can imagine that while admittedly the connection was somewhat distant, I nonetheless sat up and paid attention when I realized that Martha Olivia's sister-in-law, Lillian,  had married a McCleskey, a McCleskey with Georgia ties no less!

Lillian Howell married Benjamin Green McCleskey.  Benjamin was born 18 July 1871 in Parker County, Texas, the son of George Walter McCleskey and Eliza C. Bumgarner.  Ben's father,  George was born in Hall County, Georgia 1838 to Benjamin G. McCleskey and Martha Mahuldah Boyd. George eventually joined with others in the move to Texas and settled in Parker County, Texas where he married Eliz Bumgarner and they settled down and began their family. And herein lies a story.
From Wikimedia Commons

The story takes place in Weatherford, Texas in 1873.  George W, and Eliza[Bumgarner] McCleskey had two children at the time, six year old May and one year old Benjamin. Because there had been a great deal conflict between settlers and the local natives of the area, many preferred to live in town where there was safety in numbers.  But the McCleskeys and the Bumgarners lived out by Holland Lake.  In July of that year,  John Bumgarner and his son-in-law George planned to go out on the range and bring back some of their cattle (some versions say horses).  The men decided that in order to get an early start the next morning, George would spend the night at his father-in-law's cabin.  The following morning the men rose to drizzly rain, but opted to go anyway.  As they began saddling up their horses, some of local natives were waiting and opened up fire. A shoot out ensued and George was shot.  John drug his daughter's husband, George inside the cabin, where George died a short time later.  The cabin remains standing and it is said that you can still see the bullet holes in the walls of the cabin.  You can read more about the incident at the following links:


Thirty three year old Eliza was left a widow with two young children to raise alone on the frontier. Heat, relentless winds, tornados, copperheads and rattlesnakes were just a few of the challenges settlers of the area faced and it could not have been easy for a woman alone.  Sometime before 1880, Eliza died, leaving Benjamin and May orphaned.  Family stories say that their Uncle Hubbard Bumgarner took the children in and the 1880 Parker County Census does show 12 year old May and 9 year old "Green" (Ben's middle name) McCleskey living with their Uncle Hubbard.

As adults, both Ben and sister May ended up in Oklahoma.  On 28 December 1902 in Muskogee County, Oklahoma, Benjamin Green McCleskey and Lillian Howell married.  Four children would join that union, Floyd Elmer, Raymond C., Willard and Green Russell.   Ben and Lillian lived out their life in Okmulgee, Oklahoma and it is there in Okmulgee that both Ben and Lillian are buried.

Note location of Okmulgee
From Wikimedia Commons


So granted, it is a little removed, and yet I am intrigued by it all.  Is it just a fluke that several Ganus and McCleskey families ended up living and dying not just in Oklahoma, but a short distance from each other in Okmulgee, Oklahoma?  Is it just a simple coincidence that both the Ganus family and the McCleskey family had Hall County, Georgia roots?  Maybe.....but maybe not.  If I believe in the importance of the FAN club  as taught by Elizabeth Shown Mills, which emphasizes the importance of an individual's family, associates and neighbors, then such connections, however seemingly innocent and removed, warrant my attention.  And questions such as why and how did the Ganus and McCleskey families of Georgia both end up in Okmulgee, Oklahoma need an answer.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014