Thursday, January 22, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 2 Robert Milner Echols 1798 - 1847

Dear Grandparents,
I'm currently re-reading James Michner's Texas. I was living in San Pedro, California when I first read Texas and never dreamed that I would some day live in Texas. Michner was famous for his meticulously researched sweeping historical epics that focused on specific areas. His books make reading area histories more enjoyable. Reading the chapters about the war between the United States and Mexico reminded me of my grandchildren's ancestor Robert Milner Echols who took part in that war.

Though many of General Echols' descendants have ended up in Texas, he was a Georgian, born 18 March 1798, about 4 miles outside of the town of Washington, Wilkes County. His parents, Milner and Susan (Sansom) Echols, were Virginians who migrated to Wilkes County about 1782. The family moved on to Walton County shortly after Robert's birth.  He married Mary "Polly" Melton, daughter of Jonathan and Tabitha (Stroud) Melton of neighboring Clarke County 8 February 1816.
Walton County, Georgia is shown in red  on this map from

Robert's long career of service to the state of Georgia began with his election as 2nd sergeant in Captain Abner Bradley's Company of the Clarke County Militia. He went on to serve over 20 years in the General Assembly of Georgia, first in the House 1824 -1829 and then in the Senate 1830-1844 where he spent several terms as President. He sought to take his experience to Washington, D. C. but was defeated by General Howell Cobb by the slim margin of two votes.

Robert Milner Echols 1798 - 1847
This would not be his last opportunity to serve. When the United States went to war against Mexico in 1846, Echols, a Brigadier in the Georgia Militia was asked to recruit a regiment. He was appointed Colonel in the 13th United States Regiment. After participating in the Battle of Vera Cruz, Robert was thrown from his horse during the victory parade at the National Bridge. He died of his injuries the next day, December 5, 1847.
"Battle between the Mexican and the allied invaders, at the National Bridge, near Vera Cruz
from an illustration in Harper's Weekly 22 February 1863
in the Library of Congress Digital Collection

Robert's  association with Georgia does not end at National Bridge. Though, he is initially interred there, the Georgia State Legislature passed a bill to have his body exhumed and transported home for reburial in Walton County. They followed his reburial with the creation of a new county along the Georgia - Florida border, taking parts of Clinch and Lowndes counties and naming it Echols County.

Robert and wife Polly Melton Echols were the parents of 12 children, all but one of whom lived to adulthood. Robert is my son-in-law's maternal 4th great grandfather.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Charles Shepard Newton Principal of the Manual Labor School at the Sisseton Agency in 1877

Dear Grandparents,

I am a week behind in starting Amy Johnson Crow's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2015 Challenge" but determined to make it to the end. Last year, I made a good start but got bogged down in my desire to make everything perfect and to tell each ancestor's entire story (of course, moving did not help). This year, I have decided to tell interesting stories about ancestors whether I know the entire life story or not. Here goes... first up my second great grandfather, Charles Shepard Newton.

Cousin Mary Newton and I have been researching the family and she reports her grandfather Leslie Charles Newton was taught a Sioux prayer as a child. I imagine that his father John Reuben Newton and my great grandmother Helen Brown (Newton) Cone learned the prayer as children when their father Charles Shepard Newton was the Principal of the Manual Labor School at the Sisseton Agency in the Dakota Territory beginning in 1877.

Unsigned letter to J. C. Smith, Commissioner of Indian Affairs
from "U. S. Ind. Agt" dated 23 June 1877 reporting the employment
of Mr. C. S. Newton of Worthington, Minna as principal
Manual Labor School, Sisseton Agency
(Family Search microfilm #1661559)

                                                                                                        Sisseton Agency Dak,
                                                                                                        June 1st, 1877
Hon. J. C. Smith
       Com. Indian Affairs

     I have the honor to report that Mr. C. S. Newton of Worthington, Minna, has been employed as principal of the Manual Labor School, vice Mr. A. H. Kimball, suspended. I respectfully request that the employment of Mr. Newton as Temporary Service at $800 per annum be approved, until such time as Mr. Kimball's discharge is approved. I shall recommend the permanent appointment of Mr. Newton, and submit his testimonials as to fitness and ability.
     Henry A. Linn, Agency Storekeeper was temporarily detailed to take charge of the school but his services are indispensable at the Agency.
     I deemed it highly important to maintain the school without any break and am able to report it in good working condition with about 40 pupils.

Very respectfully,
your obt servant

U. S. I Agent

A second letter reveals that Charles Shepard Newton began his service at the reservation 16 May 1877.

Charles Shepard Newton circa 1902 Mapleton, Utah
Who was this 35 year old, married father of three young children who was willing to take a position on a Reservation in the Dakota territory less than a year and a couple of hundred miles removed from Custer's Last Stand? A story for another day.


Genealogy Goals for 2015

Dear Grandparents,
Here we are at the beginning of 2015 so I thought I should let you know about the genealogical puzzles I hope to solve and the projects I am determined to complete next year. Focusing on the lines of each of my grandparents, I am creating a "Top Ten List" a la David Letterman. Beginning with my paternal Cone and Allen lines then moving on to my maternal Werst and Colby lines.
Elizabeth Jane Jones Gibson 1821 -1895
(Photograph from family Bible in
 possession  of third great granddaughter)
  • Number 10: Identify the parents of the Lydia Hayes who is said to have been born 2 February 1771 in New London, Connecticut and married Ira Cone. She had two children who survived to adulthood: Lyman Cone born 18 April 1799 in Laurens, Otsego County, New York, and my 3rd great grandfather Naaman Cone who was born 11 September 1801 probably in the same community. Was Lydia's family Quaker? Ira became a leader of the Quakers in Otsego County.
  • Number 9: Complete application for the Mayflower Society for Stephen Hopkins. Naaman Cone's wife was Joanna Warner, her mother Rhoda Hopkins is a direct descendant.
  • Number 8: Find proof that Ira Cone is the son of Elijah and Elizabeth (Stuart) Cone. Family records have him born 22 May 1768 in East Haddam or Millington, Connecticut. Compare the Y-DNA results of my brother with those of proven descendants of Daniel Cone.
  • Number 7: 5th great grandfather Salmon Champion has a rejected Revolutionary War Pension application. Included in the papers are a detailed recounting of the when, where and with whom he served. Prove him as a DAR Patriot. 
  • Number 6: 3rd great grandfather William Freeman Allen is supposed to be the son of Elijah Marshall Allen born about 1780 in New Jersey according to a family pedigree chart created in the early 20th century. I need to find records in New Jersey pertaining to this family who settled in Hector, New York before 1830.
  • Number 5: Another 5th great grandfather, Richard Hunnewell, also served in the Revolutionary War. In fact, he was involved in the Sons of Liberty and part of the Boston Tea Party. For some reason, a Richard Hunnewell of Charleston, West Virginia is supposed to have been the participant in the tea party. I am working to prove that it was our Richard, who was living in the Charleston section of Boston. Prove him as a DAR Patriot
  • Number 4: My 2nd great grandfather Simpson Barnes married Angelina Burgoyne 15 November 1848 in Hillsdale, Michigan. He was born in New York 10 February 1825. Who were his parents?
  • Number 3: Angelina's parents were Wesley Burgoyne and Sarah Herron. Family lore would like to connect Wesley with General Burgoyne of Revolutionary fame. Family lore failed to remember that General Burgoyne was an English peer who returned to England after his loss in America. It is unlikely that Wesley is one of his descendants.
  • Number 2: Who are the parents of the William Henry Colby who married Fannie Hutchinson Hunnewell 11 May 1855 in Lake County, Illinois. These illusive 3rd great grandparents have frustrated family researchers for three generations.
  • Number 1: Who are the parents of the Elizabeth Jane Jones who was born 2 May 1821 in Tennessee and married Newsom Gibson 29 December 1840 in Davidson County, TN? Recent DNA results on my maternal line have revealed that Elizabeth's mother or grandmother was Native American. There have been no stories on this side of the family about a "Cherokee Princess" in the linage. 
This is an ambitious list of goals for me and I hope that in publishing them here, it will help me keep my research focused. Of course, these are just the goals for my family tree. Then, there are also the Kelly, Propes, Black, and Haas family lines that I am researching. There are also your interesting stories to share here. As always, any serendipitous hints you provide are most welcome.