Monday, June 26, 2017

From Rome to Cherokee, Part 2

Children of Joseph and Joanna Rankins, circa 1886 [17 years after the trip to Cherokee]
Back: Lydia 41 years, Adah [49] years
Front: Eleanor 64 years and Mary 59

Continuing the story of my great great grandparents' trip from Maine to Iowa in 1869.

In the last post, I tried to list the members of the traveling party going from Rome, Maine to Cherokee, Iowa in 1869. I kept having to go back and add to the post as I found more and more relatives making the move at the same time. Bear with me, I think I might have it now. Ages are approximate and in parentheses.

Joseph (68) and Joanna Rankins (70)

Their grown children who also traveled to Cherokee:
 Harriet (46), her husband William Bickford (52) and their two children: Melinda (25) and Edwin (15)

Mary Carroll (42), her husband Isaac Whitehouse (54) and their four sons: Julius (22), Samuel (20), Eldorous (17), and Joseph (10)

Eleanor Ruth, my great great grandmother (48), her husband, Robert Winslow Ellis (50); and their five youngest children Helen (15), Henry (12), Cora Bell (8), Ellsworth (6), and Robert (2)

Adah (32), her husband John Louis Burgess (41), and one child, Anna (9).  Adah was pregnant during the trip, giving birth to her son, Johnny, in December 1869.

Lydia Frances (25), who would marry Obed Wells (also from Maine) in Iowa in 1869.

At this point in my research, I would say that at least 23 members of the extended Rankins family made the trip in 1869.

Now, how do 23 people travel from Rome to Cherokee in 1869? Here is what I have found out about westbound travel in those days.

The routes of travel by which the pioneers gained access to the haunts of our beavers and to our fertile acres were mainly three:  First, via the Great Lakes to Green Bay, thence up the Fox river to Lake Winnebago, thence across to the Portage, and down the Wisconsin river; second, via the Ohio river, thence up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers; third, overland by wagon.  The degree of use of these routes before the advent of the railroad can only be surmised.  Prior to 1845 certainly the river routes were the highways chiefly used by the westward bound emigrants.  From 1845 overland travel by wagon became increasingly common until the railroad became a practicable mode of travel, round about 1860.  ~from The Nativity of the Pioneers of Iowa, by F.I Herriott, Iowa Official Registers, 1911-1912.

I searched and searched for an answer as to how my relatives traveled--by steamboat, canal boat, train, or covered wagon? Then I was lucky enough to have some correspondence with another family history researcher (known only to me as "Norma from Albuquerque"), who is descended from the Burgess family. She offered a clue: There was a family story that the granddaughters of Adah Rankins and John Burgess had written an account of their grandparents' journey to Iowa in a covered wagon.  We don't know if such an account was ever published, but it gives us something to go on. Thank you, Norma!

My next subject for research: What was it like to travel in a covered wagon in those days? Next time...

Note about the Rankins family: There were two more children of Joseph and Joanna Rankins who didn't make the trip and never did join the family in Iowa. Sarah (1835-1908) was married to Frederick Morton and settled down in Augusta, Maine raising her own large family.  

And then there was Thomas (1830-1892). At one point, I had imagined that he just stayed behind and farmed in Maine. Nothing could have been further from the truth! I'll tell his story another time.

1 comment:

  1. No wonder we were always playing covered wagon with the rollaway bed - it's in our collective-memory-genes!


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