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House moves blew a hole in my writing time. Hence the two-year gap in posting. Thanks for your patience. I will post more in the weeks ahead.
Furthermore, I invite other writers of genealogy related articles to submit them for publication.
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Genealogy is Exciting!
Genealogy is a fascinating and exciting activity. I love being a detective and making the connections that build my family tree. The process fires up my brain and brings history alive for me. Consequently, it is my hope that this website, together with the True Miracles with Genealogy books, will encourage many people to get involved with research. As a result, we can all enjoy uniting families in heaven and on earth, one link at a time. ~ Anne Bradshaw
This is the fifth in a serial documentation of the journey Bev Scott traveled from reading yellowed documents in the National Archives to launching a historical fiction novel based on the lives of her grandparents. ~~ Anne Bradshaw
Move to Oklahoma–Claiming Veterans Benefits
My grandparents, H.D. and Ellen Scott were married in Thedford, Nebraska in 1892, purchased land from the Russell’s, Ellen’s family, and had three of their five children.
I continued to review the documents I copied from the National Archives and discovered that H.D. filed for Veterans Benefits due to disability in 1897. According to the documents they moved to Dewey County, Oklahoma in 1898. Thomas County, Nebraska land records show they sold their Nebraska farm land back to the Russell’s in the same year. The family is listed in Oklahoma in the 1900 Federal Census.
By 1909, H.D. was living in a “canvas home (a tent with board siding) and ‘baching’” in Arizona, according to the documents filed by Pension Bureau Examiner. “He is evidently in very straightened circumstances…as a great sufferer from asthma.” He reportedly went to Arizona “two or three times to get relief from his affliction.” But, he left his wife and four children in Oklahoma.
Why Oklahoma? Was H.D.’s health already deteriorating in 1898? Alas there are no clues in the Archive documents.
Oklahoma was one of the last territories to be open for homesteading. Dewey County was Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian land. In 1892 it was opened for settlement. A search of homestead records however, does not show H.D. or Ellen filing a land claim in Dewey County between 1898 and 1910.
During my road trip to Oklahoma, unfortunately, I did not get to the Dewey County Court House to review land records before they closed. But H.D. Scott and wife must have purchased land there, because later I discovered records in Thomas County, Nebraska that Ellen’s father and brother bought land in Dewey County, Oklahoma from Ellen and H.D. in 1901. Perhaps it is they who were investing in land in Oklahoma and H.D and Ellen purchased it and then resold it to them. I know from family lore that H.D. raised horses. Perhaps although his in-laws owned the land, H.D. raised his horses and settled his family there. Or more likely H.D. and Ellen needed the money.
As I mentioned, the family is listed in Oklahoma in the 1900 Federal Census. My father was born in Oklahoma in 1907. Recording of births did not begin in Oklahoma until October of 1908.
I have a notarized statement from the woman who attended my grandmother when my father was born documenting the date and location. I also have a picture of the house in which he was born taken many years later in the 1950’s. When I visited Dewey County in search of his birthplace recently, the small town they lived near, no longer exists.
During the time the family lived in Oklahoma, my grandfather was trying to obtain his Veterans Benefits. The documents in the National Archives include correspondence regarding his deteriorating health. In April,1909 as mentioned above, he was living in a tent in Scottsdale, Arizona, a community of sick people, and according to the Examiner, was “favorably known considering the short time he has been there” (since November, 1908). By this time, he had filed three claims for Veterans benefits. My grandmother wrote to the Examiner when she sent her only pictures of him, “I do hope he will get his pension before it is too late.”
The Pension Examiner wrote in April, 1909, “In view of his poverty and physical condition and the fact that he has a family of young children and that it is his desire to remove his family to some place in the Rocky Mountain region, a matter of large expense, I recommend that the claim be made special, especially since the examination may take considerable time. He is old and his condition is precarious.”
However, due to “discrepancies in the soldier’s statements,” the Pension Bureau ruled that more investigation was required. I wanted to know how they investigated the discrepancies and if my grandfather received his pension before he died in January, 1911.
Sarah’s Secret: A Western Tale of Betrayal and Forgiveness by Bev Scott, is a fiction novel based on these five true installments of Turning Genealogy into Historical Fiction.
This is the fourth in a serial documentation of the journey Bev Scott traveled from reading yellowed documents in the National Archives to launching a historical fiction novel based on the lives of her grandparents. ~~ Anne Bradshaw
John Howard becomes Harvey D.
John Howard Scott disappeared from his home in Weatherford in 1879; and I could not find him in the 1880 US Census. Ten years later I found Harvey D. Scott living in Wyoming in 1890.
The US Census records were destroyed by fire in 1890 but the National Archives had homestead records for Harvey D. Scott living in Glendo, Wyoming. In addition the 1890 Veterans Census showed a Harvey D. Scott in Laramie County, Wyoming. He had changed his name.
I theorized in my last Genealogy to Historical Fiction — Part Three DO LINK post that Harvey D. Scott had joined a cattle drive headed to Dodge City. Some of the cattle drives continued north to Wyoming so perhaps he stayed with the drive as a cook and left the crew in Wyoming. I wanted to know more about his stay in Wyoming. I wanted to see where he homesteaded. Unfortunately, when I arrived in Wheatland, the county seat of Platte Wyoming, I discovered Glendo and the surrounding land is now under water from the Glendo Reservoir.
Not to be deterred, I went to the Platte County courthouse to look for land records. There I discovered that Harvey D. Scott paid the required filing fee of $18.00 and received 160 acres under the Homestead Act in approximately 1886. Now I knew that he had not only changed his name but he also identified himself as an unmarried man within seven years after he abandoned his wife Harriet and their children in Weatherford, TX.
He “proved up” on this land, meeting the government requirements of living on the land, building a home and farming the land for five years. He received the land deed in 1892 and sold 40 of the 160 acres in 1893 for $450. From my earlier visit to Thedford, Nebraska, I knew that he had married my grandmother, Ellen in Thedford in 1892. Since she taught school in Wyoming, they must have met there.
From my earlier explorations in Thedford, I had also learned Ellen and Harvey bought land from her brother and her father in 1892 and 1893 so perhaps the sale of Harvey’s land in Wyoming helped to pay for the Nebraska farm land. Ellen sold the remaining 120 acres in Wyoming after Harvey’s death for only $40. Perhaps it was so much less because there was less demand for land due to livestock losses in recent severe winters or the ending of the open cattle range in Wyoming. It is easy to imagine that my grandmother needed money in 1913 and sold it at a loss in desperation.
I continued to be amazed by what I found in the court house records. In 1890, Harvey D. Scott purchased a mining claim of 1500 feet in length and 300 feet in width for $100. He sold it less than a year later in 1891 for $5000! That is a successful investment. Perhaps he was getting ready to propose to my grandmother.
I had found my grandfather with a new name as an unmarried man homesteading in Wyoming seven years after he abandoned his family. I knew Harvey and Ellen were married in Thedford, Nebraska in 1892 and purchased land from her family. Their three oldest children were born there. Now I wanted to know why and when they moved to Oklahoma where my father was born in 1907.
This is the third in a serial documentation of the journey Bev Scott traveled from reading yellowed documents in the National Archives to launching a historical fiction novel based on the lives of her grandparents. ~~ Anne Bradshaw
On the Trail of John Howard Scott
I knew from the depositions I found in the National Archives, that John’s first wife Harriet reported he had abandoned her in 1879 leaving her “destitute” with five children and a sixth on the way. She believed he was dead. But I knew he lived until 1911 under the name of Harvey Depew Scott. Looking for clues, I combed the depositions he gave to government agents when he was trying to prove his identity as a Civil War Veteran.
There he acknowledged that he was in Kansas and in 1880 went to work as a cook for an “overland” expedition from Fort Dodge to Laramie, Wyoming. Another time he reported that he worked cattle. It was the time of cattle drives from Texas up to Dodge City.
Thousands of longhorn cattle were driven by drovers up the Chisholm Trail and the Western Cattle trail. It is estimated that over five to six million cattle driven up the Western were packed into wooden rail cars and shipped to Kansas City, Omaha, St. Louis and Chicago. 1880 was one of the peak years for cattle drives. Some cattle were to be delivered farther north and were driven across western Kansas to Ogallala, Nebraska, Dakota Territory, Wyoming, Montana and as far north as Canada.
Life on the Cattle Drive
Going from Texas to Dodge City at ten to fourteen miles a day easily took two to three months. Life on the cattle drive was dusty, lonely and frequently dangerous. Any strange noise or unexpected event especially at night could precipitate a stampede of the thousand to fifteen hundred skittish animals. Heavy rains meant flooded rivers and the trail drivers had to get reluctant cattle into rushing water, make sure none of them were carried downstream with a fast-moving current or got stuck in the quick sand at the river’s edge.
Cattle towns provided distractions and entertainment for the drovers. Dodge City was infamous as a wild and lawless town. A typical frontier town, it acquired a reputation of glamour, excitement and opportunity. Buffalo hunters, cowboys, gamblers, gunslingers and railroad men were drawn to Dodge City for thrill of adventure and easy come, easy go money.
Although killings didn’t happen every day, they were not a rare occurrence either. In the saloons where drinking, gambling and female entertainment occurred, and arguments among the rough characters who frequented these establishments were usually settled by gun fights. The men shot dead were often buried in unmarked graves on famous Boot Hill. Wyatt Earp, his brother, Dave Mathers and other famous gun slingers and killers hung out in Dodge City.
Where was John Howard?
Did John Howard join a cattle drive from Texas to Dodge City and then go on to Wyoming? Did the lure of Dodge City entice him north from Texas? I believe there is a strong possibility he was in Dodge City or passing through during its rough and tumble days in the 1880s.
Next Installment in Genealogy to Historical Fiction Coming Soon
This is the second in a serial documentation of the journey Bev Scott traveled from reading yellowed documents in the National Archives to launching a historical fiction novel based on the lives of her grandparents.~~Anne Bradshaw
In my journey to uncover the family secrets about my grandfather, John Howard Scott, aka Harvey Depew Scott, I had discovered a trove of documents in the National Archives that confirmed the stories of another family. I had found information in Indiana searching in County records, libraries and cemeteries about John Howard’s parents, his birth, his Uncle Bill Swan and marriage to his first wife, Harriet. (see May 20 Blog) But, the National Archive documents indicated that the family had moved to Texas.
In fact, a deposition from a Civil War soldier confirmed that his sister, Harriet, had married John Howard and that she lived at the time in Fort Worth, Texas. I wondered if I could find more information and learn when and why John and Harriet and their children moved to Texas. That led me on another leg of this journey.
Census Records and Depositions
I began by exploring the census records. I discovered that in 1870 John and his family had moved to Illinois; but, in the 1880 census, John was not listed. Instead, Harriet is listed with six children living in Parker County, Texas. What happened to John and why was Harriet in Texas?
I turned back to the depositions. The government agents had tracked Harriet down in Fort Worth, thanks to her brother. In her deposition, she reported that the family moved to Weatherford, Texas, a small rural community in Parker County west of Fort Worth, but no hints as to why they moved to Texas.
In November, 1879, John Howard had gone into town for a load of corn and never returned. Harriet said she was left destitute with five children and a sixth on the way. She looked for John tracking him to Fort Worth but ultimately lost the trail and assumed that he was dead. Five years later she had re-married and was running a boarding house in Fort Worth.
Following the census records also revealed three more generations of John Scott’s in Fort Worth, Texas, but no John Howard Scott. I wanted to know what had happened to him when he left Weatherford in 1879. Since I had found interesting information in libraries and historical societies in my search in Indiana and Nebraska, I decided the next stop in my journey was a visit to Texas.
Still No Luck
I had no better luck than Harriet. I could find no trace of John Howard in Weatherford or in Fort Worth. He got out of town and left no trace. I did find in the Scott family plot in the Fort Worth cemetery and two of the three generations of John Paul Scotts.
In the library, I found the obituary for John Howard’s son, J.P. Scott Sr., a “Pioneer in Business” who died in 1959 at age 92. It is Interesting that the obituary reports he moved to Fort Worth from Weatherford after his father died. J.P. founded his company in 1892, just three years after his father left the family. Originally the company served as a wagon yard selling firewood and awnings and shoeing horses. When he retired in 1938, his sons took over the business which then consisted of the Scott Awning Company and the Scott Rug Cleaning Company.
Where Did John Howard Go?
Where did John Howard go when he left Weatherford? When did he change his name to Harvey Depew Scott? What did he do between 1879 and 1892 when he married my grandmother? My journey and my search weren’t over yet. I still had many questions.
Next Installment in Genealogy to Historical Fiction Coming Soon
Going from genealogy research to a full length historical fiction novel is an involved and lengthy process. This is the first installment in a serial documentation of the journey author Bev Scott traveled from reading yellowed documents in the National Archives to launching an historical fiction novel based on the lives of her grandparents. Her novel, Sarah’s Secret: A Western Tale of Betrayal and Forgiveness, will soon be published. More information coming later with further accounts of Bev’s writing journey. Thank you, Bev, for sharing your adventure. ~ Anne Bradshaw
“Very few Civil War veterans have thick files like this,” the staff person at the National Archives said as he handed me two thick folders in response to my request for information about my paternal grandfather.
Excitedly I began to read the forms and letters, yellow with age, which documented my grandfather’s lengthy pursuit of Veterans Benefits.
At first my only goal was to search for the truth of the whispered story, that he had another family. It was true! It was documented in these files. That was why my grandmother never received her widow’s benefits.
Reading these old documents, depositions and letters was intriguing. I learned details about Harvey Depew Scott, the man my grandmother married; but who was born John Howard Scott. He was born in 1840 and reported his father had died when he was four so he was raised by his uncle. He claimed his name was wrongly recorded when he enlisted a second time in the Civil War. He swore his only wife was my grandmother, Ellen; yet his first wife, Harriet, reported in her sworn deposition that he abandoned her in Texas with five children and a sixth on the way. I wanted to know more. Who were his parents? Were there other relatives that had similar names? When did he marry his first wife? When and why did they go to Texas? Could I find an explanation behind these details?
Like many other Americans, I began a journey of genealogical research to see what I could find out about this mysterious man that my grandmother never mentioned to her family after he died.
I had learned from the Archive files that he was born in Vermillion County, Indiana. I already knew that my grandmother’s family also came from Indiana so I made a trip to Indiana to visit cemeteries, libraries and county court house records. I learned the names of his parents, Paul and Rebecca Scott, when they married, stories about the uncle, Bill Swan who was a river boat captain, and when John and Harriet were married.
I found the cemetery with the grave of Captain Bill Swan and a record of John’s mother, Rebecca, who was also Bill’s sister, dying in the poor house. Her body was given to Captain Swan but there was no record of her grave. I found minimal information about John’s father, Paul. I wanted to know who his parents were, did he have other relatives, where he lived before he came to Indiana, when he died and where he was buried.
More Historical Records
I was more successful in tracking down information about my grandmother, Ellen’s family. I visited a cemetery, now an overgrown in a cow pasture, in Putnam County, Indiana with her ancestor’s graves. I found family marriage and birth records back three generations.
I later visited the small Nebraska town where her parents homesteaded and learned stories of her family and her siblings. I uncovered the marriage records listing my grandmother’s name as Eva Ellen Russell marrying Harvey Depew Scott in 1892. She was 22; he was 52. There were records of their homestead land claims made right after they married as well as land claims filed by Eva Ellen in the years after Harvey Depew died.
Later I found the newspaper report of Harvey Depew Scott’s death in 1911 in Hanley, New Mexico a small community outside of Tucumcari. Why were they in New Mexico? How long had they been there before Harvey Depew died? How long did my grandmother stay in New Mexico?
Next Installment in Genealogy to Historical Fiction Coming Soon
My next trip was to New Mexico to see what else I could uncover about Harvey Depew Scott.