Little Boy Lost–in 1869

James Churchill was born May 8, 1863 and died Nov. 22, 1869.  He was 6 years old.  I do not know where he was born.  Presumably he died near Leavenworth, Ks., since he was buried there, by the Missouri River.

More than 125 years later, his tombstone was found, upside down, in an open field.  I have searched high and low but have found no record of his birth or his death.

I believe I have identified his parents.  The tombstone lists his parents as R.D. and S.C. Churchill.  I believe they were David R. Churchill and Sophia C. (Brown) Churchill.  I find no record David and Sophia had a son named James, but they had other children in this same time period.

James was born 2 years after the civil war began, and died 4 years after its end. Most residents of Leavenworth in 1863 were pro-union, since Camp Lincoln, in Fort Leavenworth, was a reception and training center for Kansas volunteers for union soldiers.  Since it seems unlikely confederate loyalists would live within the shadow of a Union stronghold, that suggests the family held anti-slavery beliefs and, more likely that they moved from the North or the East. Of course, nothing is certain.

I doubt the family was traveling west.  In 1862 David Churchill lived at 211 Delaware in Leavenworth.  Someone in the family is listed as a member of the Mayflower Society which may be helpful, because it suggests a family with an interest in its own heritage.

The person who found the tombstone wants very much to return it to the family.  He indicates he took the stone originally because after an extensive search he found no indication of a cemetery, no indication of houses or of any homestead near the land where the stone was found. He offered it to a historical society which was not interested.  (There probably are many other tombstones with similar stories.)

The stone itself evidences a certain level of affluence for Kansas in the 1860’s.  It is not illegible, like many stones from the late 19th century.  Even after so many years of being subject to the weather, it is a substantial stone, with the family information clearly carved and easily read.

Please, if you have any information about the Churchill family, or even about a 19th century cemetery along the river in Leavenworth,  just send me a comment.  Thanks

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Chasing the Mayflower

I am fascinated by what I call “my tribe.”  Meg and I are part of a great family and I have always wanted to know more about it: countries of origin, religious affiliations, and all the factors that influence a family through the generations.  When mom and dad moved out of our long time family home, I came upon family records and photographs about which I had no previous knowledge.  Among the records was a copy of my grandmother’s family tree tracing her Lewis family back to Westerly, Rhode Island in the late 1660’s.  I began researching the Lewis and Mesle families and was hooked.  My brother-in-law gave me a subscription to a genealogy research site for Christmas that fed my interest.

Grandmom considered joining the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), but disagreed with its refusal to allow Marion Anderson sing in Constitution Hall in 1939.  Knowing we had ancestors who served in the revolutionary army spurred my interest even further.  Many months of painstaking research established in my mind the accuracy of grandmom’s family tree and helped me locate proof that Elnathan Terry had served in the Revolution.  Researching his family led me to Sprague Project, a wonderful internet source, Sprague Project Database. Through the Sprague Project, I traced Elnathan Terry back to Thomas Rogers, John Rogers, Richard Warren and Francis Cooke.  The book, Revolutionary War Veterans, Chenango Co. NY, provided significant information, confirmed Elnathan’s service and  confirmed his relationship to my Lewis family.

With evidence in hand sufficient to establish for me the Mayflower connection, I decided to apply for membership in the Mayflower Society, one of the many historical organizations focused on the Mayflower and its passengers.  The proof necessary to join the society is far more rigorous than the proof necessary to satisfy me.  (Once I found my great-grandfather, Horatio Lewis was buried in the family plot with Elnathan Terry, my questions were answered).  But it required 6 months or more contacting libraries, genealogy societies and researching on-line records to find the proof that should satisfy the Mayflower Society.  Some members of the family were easy to trace, because of grandmom’s family tree, but others eluded proof.  One ancestor, Freeborn Lewis, who married Esther Terry, died very young, leaving his widow and their children.  She married again and moved to Iowa, where she died.  Records related to Freeborn and Esther and their son, Lorenzo Lewis, were the hardest to trace.  The last piece of the proof came from Myra Shattuck’s Bible, located in the Guernsey Memorial Library in Norwich, NY.

Six years after beginning my family research, I am ready to finally submit my Mayflower Society application.  Relying heavily on Mayflower histories, DAR records, family records, and the wonderful assistance of staff in genealogical libraries, I have found and copied my records, completed the Mayflower Society application and am ready to submit it.  Wish me luck.

For those interested in genealogy, my direct lineage, through Rogers’ Mayflower family to the present, in chronological order: Thomas Rogers, John Rogers, Hanna Rogers, Benjamin Terry, Benjamin Terry, Private Elnathan Terry, (who married Mary Kenyon, a Mayflower descendant from the Warren/Cooke families), Esther Terry, Lorenzo Lewis, Horatio Daniel Lewis, Mary Ocelia Lewis, Frank Carl Mesle, Catharine Ann Mesle, Meghan Ann (Meg) McCollister.