Sunday, June 4, 2017

From Rome to Cherokee

This is the continuation of the story of how my great great Grandfather, Robert Winslow Ellis, traveled with his family from Rome, Maine to Cherokee, Iowa in the late 1860s. They were introduced in the last post

After finding that the Ellis family had moved from Maine to Iowa, I had a question: Who did they travel with? After all, this was a journey of at least 1400 miles, and that estimate is the direct mileage now via I-90 West. The journey was no doubt much, much longer in the 1860s, before the advent of paved roads and bridges, etc. 

So, we have the Robert W. Ellis family consisting of: 
Robert, the father, age 50; and Eleanor, the mother, age 48
Helen, age 15
Henry, age 12
Cora Bell, age 8
Ellsworth, age 6
Robert, age 2

Looking at the 1870 U.S. Federal Census again, we find that in Cherokee County they are living right next door to three families that were related to them, and who had all lived in Rome, Maine previously.

Living in Dwelling #26, we find Eleanor's brother, Joseph Rankins, Jr., together with his wife Abby and daughters Adella and Lula. Next door in Dwelling #27, are Eleanor's father and mother, Joseph and Joanna Rankins, who are living with Eleanor's sister, Lydia, her husband, Obed Wells, and their child, Zula.*

Note (added 6 May 2017): I just discovered that Eleanor had another older sister, Mary Carroll Rankins, who married Isaac Whitehouse and apparently also made the journey to Iowa with the rest of the family members. Mary and Isaac were accompanied by their sons, who were listed in their household in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census as Eldward (Eldorous), age 17; Joseph, age 11; and Samuel, age 22. Their oldest son, Julius, must have made the trip also. By the time of the census, he was married and in a household of his own. His marriage took place in Iowa on 12 Aug 1869, which may indicate that the family had traveled to Iowa sometime earlier than that date. 

Yet another Rankins sister, Adah, her husband, John Burgess, and their two children also made the trip. Neighbors Bickford and Whitehouse families, also intermarried with the Rankins, went to Cherokee at the same time. The group is growing!

We can assume that they all made the journey together. It gives me a real feeling of kinship to discover that Robert's family of seven wanted to travel with more family members. When heading off to a strange and possibly wild place, it seems like a very good idea to travel in larger numbers, and that's what they did.

Next post: How they traveled all those miles

*Off-topic note: Lydia and Obed's child, Zula, is shown as being three months old, the same age as Lula in the Joseph Rankins, Jr. household. Were they twins? I suppose it's possible, though Lula was later referred to as Emma L. Rankins, always giving her parents as Joseph and Abby, and Zula always gave her parents as Obed and Lydia.

1 comment:

  1. re: Lula and Zula - maybe Lydia and Abby were besties and chose their babies' names in that spirit.


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