Sunday, 25 January 2015

Jane Murdie 1801-1857 (52 Ancestors #4) Theme: "Closest to My Birthday"

Like those little Russian dolls that nest inside each other, a womb within a womb within a womb, my third great-grandmother Jane Murdie is my outermost doll. There would, of course, be other dolls beyond Jane, but to date I have been frustrated in my attempts to find them. Coincidentally with the timing of this week's theme for "closest birthday", Jane and I both have birthdays this last week of January, just two days apart.

Having had DNA testing done on my mitochondrial DNA, I feel even closer to Jane. Since this is passed down the female line, she supplies the H2A1 haplogroup DNA that I contain.  This haplogroup is found in northern Europe and has not told me anything surprising about Jane's background. As someone who has always enjoyed fabric and sewing and whose mother, grandmother and great-grandmother had a similar interest, I often wonder if that passion extends back another couple of generations to include Jane.

Jane has been said to have been born in Scotland, although some of her descendants also believe she was born in New York State of Scottish parents, so the nesting Russian dolls in my mind's eye should perhaps be little Scots dressed in tartan.

All we really know about her parents is from the "Source Book for the Bullen Family" (also known as the "Nelson/Dunlop Papers"), an unpublished collection of transcribed letters assembled by two descendants in the 1930's.  The following is from a letter in that collection dated 19 October 1935 to Eva Bullen Wescott from her cousin Americus Vespucius Brown (a grandson of Jane's whose parents were very considerate to future genealogists): "Mother was born in Hannibal, New York.  Her mother was Jane Murdy.  Her grandmother and she who was her mother came west from NY and settled in northern Illinois with their people.  Her grandfather came later as he was a breeder of fine horses - bringing some blooded stock. When he got where they were he wanted to see farther west so he hitched up a team and started out. It was the last seen or heard of him. It was always supposed he was killed by the Indians for his team."

After her father's disappearance and presumed death, Jane's mother married a Mr. Chambers who was the father of Kate and Mary Chambers (1818-1855).  Mary married Horace Weaver (1810-1867) and had three children: Kate (Mrs. Ben Miller), Jennie (Mrs. Lucien Thompson) and Fred.  All attempts to locate more information about Jane's mother by using this family from her second marriage have led nowhere.

Jane married widower David Bullen in 1823 in Hannibal, Oswego County, New York.  He was 35 and she was said to have been 16 (which would make her birth year about 1807 or 1808, rather than 1801 as most frequently cited.).  The couple took up residence in Hannibal and started their family. Jane gave birth to children every two years, as predictable as clockwork: James 1824, Winslow 1826, Jane 1828, Mortimer 1830, David 1832, Mary 1834, William 1836 and Sarah Catherine (my great great grandmother) 1838.

Much of the extended Bullen family made the move from New York to Wisconsin in the mid 1830's. Jane's brother-in-law John Bullen was instrumental in settling and founding Kenosha, Wisconsin (north of Chicago on Lake Michigan). In December of 1834, he had invited a number of prominent citizens of Hannibal to dinner in an attempt to interest them in his profit-sharing venture, the Western Immigration Association. One group reached Kenosha on 21 June 1835 and settled on land that had been staked there. Travel for the settlers was made overland by wagons (drawn by horses and oxen) and by water via canal boat and steam boats, often encountering gales and ice jams that forced them to await better conditions or divert to Chicago. May Philips Train commented that on one canal boat trip in 1837, John Bullen's family had as a fellow passenger Brigham Young who was on his way to join Joe Smith and the Mormons who were gathering in Kirkland, Ohio and "several of the older members of the family engaged in animated discussions with him".

It wasn't long before David and Jane moved their family from New York State to Wisconsin to join the others. They went by sailing vessel, a journey that took them 6 weeks.  They went inland from Kenosha to Boltonville (now within the town of Farmington, Wisconsin) where David took up and cleared land which he farmed, along with their sons.

The 1850 US census is one of the few documents in which Jane is named. She is 40, living with her husband David, 62 and growing family, the youngest of whom is my 2nd great grandmother Sarah, age 13.

Jane died in 1857 or 1858. After her death, David moved to Arlington, Columbia County, Wisconsin to be near his children.  He survived Jane by about 20 years and is buried at the cemetery at Arlington. Attempts to locate Jane's grave have been unsuccessful thus far. No birth or death records have been found for her. One descendant says she died 7/11/1858 in West Bend, Wisconsin, but no evidence for that has been located.

In January of 2008, Diane Rice Young (another descendant of Jane's) took a birthday cake in honour of Jane's 207th birthday to the meeting of her Genealogical Society of South Brevard in Melbourne, Florida. This week in celebration of our birthdays, I plan to toast my elusive Jane with a wee dram of Scotland's finest.


  • Sawyer, Alvah L., "A History of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan and its People", Vol 3, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1207 accessed online 15 January 2015 from several sources including Google Books and
  • Young, Diane Rice, Genealogical Society of South Benton website from The Bulletin January 2008, vol 34, issue 3
  • Anderson, Idella, handwritten memoir circa 1965
  • Nelson, Myrtle Bullen and Dunlop, Ruth, "Source Book for the Bullen Family" collected and compiled in the 1930's
  • Train, May Philips, "Samuel Bullen and Some of His Descendants", Privately printed 1941

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Barbara Hoover 1834-1890 (52 Ancestors Week 3) Theme: "Tough Woman"

Barbara Hoover, my 2nd great grandmother on my mother's maternal line, was a tough woman to track down. Once found, her life story was a tough one but showed her to be a strong and resilient woman. "Tough" could have been her middle name. And since she went by so many different names during her 56 years, why not add yet another name to the mix?
Unfortunately, I have no photo of Barbara. This is the wedding photo of Barbara's son Charles Francis Edwards and Mary Jane Wescott

Barbara was the mother of my great grandfather Charles Francis Edwards who was born in Keokuk, Iowa on 22 February 1869.  The stories that Charles passed down about his family of origin led us on many a wild goose chase. What we thought we knew about this woman when I first started looking for her 15 years ago:
  • name: Rachel Hoover
  • marriages: 3, first to another Hoover who was a cousin, secondly to an Edwards and thirdly to a Payton
  • religion: devout Quakers
  • children: Sam Hoover from first marriage, twin sisters Minnie and Grace Edwards and Charles Edwards from the Edwards marriage
  • family connections: said to be a cousin of President Herbert Hoover and said to be "Pennsylvania Dutch"
  • death: when she was quite young (Charles indicated that he was orphaned at a young age and essentially raised by older sister Grace in Coffeyville, Kansas)

Wild goose chases led me to spend hour after fruitless hour poring over reels of microfilmed Iowa and Kansas census records at Family History Centers.  I learned about Hinshaw Quaker records and spent hour after fruitless hour trying to find the family in any of the monthly meeting records on microfiche.  Letters were sent off in many directions; responses were always polite but contained no answers. I researched the family of President Hoover and spent many happy but fruitless hours galloping down wrong paths in my attempt to find Charles, his siblings or his mother in this family. Members of the US special interest group at the Victoria Genealogical Society heard my tales of this frustrating brick wall and offered suggestions for additional things to try; one of them even conducted some research on my behalf during a visit to Washington state where Charles had been living when he died, but she also came up empty-handed. I searched and re-searched on the internet, never finding anything pertaining to Charles or his family prior to his marriage to my great grandmother Mary-Jane Wescott in Montana in 1896.   When I obtained their marriage license, I was so excited to see that it finally pointed to some names for his parents, namely Martha Hoover and Louis Edwards. However, my hopes were dashed yet again after months of trying in vain to find any records of Martha and Louis.
An exciting find: Marriage License showing Charles as son of Louis Edwards and Martha Hoover

One problem was that we didn't know if Charles was born in Keokuk County, Iowa or in Keokuk, Lee County, Iowa. I dropped messages onto message boards all over cyberspace. Finally, in desperation, I joined the Iowa Genealogical Society as a way to post queries and try to benefit from local knowledge. Best move I could have made! By virtue of my membership there, I was contacted in 2009 by its webmaster, Alice Hoyt Veen, who indicated that she required one additional case study to complete her professional genealogist accreditation and asked if she could try to break down my brick wall. At no cost to me. Could she? I couldn't type "yes" and hit the "send" button fast enough!

Over the months, Alice provided me with tantalizing bits of information based on her painstaking research, slowly building up a case for having at last found a mother for Charles.  The following is a brief summary of what Alice was able to piece together:
  • Her name was Barbara Hoover, not Rachel Hoover nor Martha Hoover.
  • Barbara was born to Christian Hoover and his wife Mary (Green) Hoover in Plum Creek Township, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania about 1834.
  • About 1854, Christian Hoover moved his family west to Henry County, Illinois as part of a large group of Pennsylvania folks making this westward migration.
  • Barbara married William Hoover in Illinois on 15 March 1855 and had a son Samuel Hoover on 5 December 1855
  • Much of the family moved to Decatur County, Iowa between 1855 and 1858.
  • William died in Decatur County on 18 April 1858, leaving Barbara a 24 year-old widow with a 3 year-old son. 
  • Barbara was part of the extended Hoover family and probably moved with them to Kansas in 1858 after William's death. (This move may have been prompted by Hoover abolitionist sentiments. Alice found an 1891 Kansas news article about Christian Hoover in which he recalled with much pride the fact that he had camped out two nights with old John Brown.)
  • At the outbreak of the Civil War, Barbara and her family were back in Henry County, Illinois. (Her father Christian Hoover enlisted in Company C of the 11th Illinois Cavalry.  He gave his age as 42 but he was actually 52.)
  • Barbara married second husband Lewis Edwards on 24 October 1861. (Lewis enlisted less than a year later; it appears that his war effort resulted in his developing serious lung problems, being hospitalized and finally sent home to Orion, Henry County, Illinois in February of 1865.  He received a disability discharge and remained confined to his bed until his death from "consumption" on 18 February 1866.)
  • Barbara gave birth to twin daughters Mary and Martha Edwards on 28 November 1865 (or 1866) at the home of her sister Susannah Hoover Pierce Bleakney in Jasper County, Iowa. The year of their birth is inconsistent in various records, sometimes erased and re-written, and may have been slanted to the earlier year in order to establish Lewis as their father for purposes of Civil War minors' pensions. They were also often referred to as Minnie and Grace rather than Mary and Martha. If they were born in November of 1865, it begs the question of why Barbara would have been giving birth in Iowa some 130 miles from her dying husband in Illinois.  If they were born in November of 1866, Lewis Edwards could not have been there father.
  • Widowed Barbara gave birth in Iowa to son Charles Francis Edwards 29 February 1869 (no proof of date and no evidence that she was married at the time). Lewis Edwards is clearly not his father.
  • At the time of the 1870 census, she is found with her parents in Keokuk, Iowa. She is listed as B.E. Edwards, age 36, born PA. Children are listed as Saml L Edwards age 14, born Iowa, MM Edwards age 4 b. IA and Rbt F age 1, born IA.  I had actually located this record on National Archives microfilm 593 on 18 January 2000, but had noted and then dismissed it because there were too many discrepancies. It wasn't until Alice made other discoveries about Barbara (not Rachel) and her extended family that it became apparent that this was indeed the right family for Charles.
  • Barbara married third husband George Payton 18 August 1873 in What Cheer, Keokuk County, Iowa. For some unknown reason, the marriage record is in the name of Margaret Alice Edwards. (Surprisingly, given the thorough documentation required for a Civil War widow's pension, this name discrepancy did not get questioned when she applied for a pension as the widow of Lewis Edwards.) George was twenty years older than Barbara and knew her father.  He had also taken part in the Civil War and had contracted smallpox which left him blind.  It may well be, as Alice postulates, that this marriage was one of convenience, giving George a care-giver and Barbara the much-needed respectability of a husband.  Still, marriage to an older blind man could not have been an easy situation for her. There would also have been at least six children between the ages of 3 and 7 to care for.
  • At the time of the 1880 census, the combined Edwards/Payton family is in Elk County, Kansas.  She is listed now as "Barbary Payton", wife age 45 born PA.  Living with them are Martha and Mary Edwards (age 14, born Iowa) and Charles Edwards (age 11, born Iowa), along with George's children Robert (14), Jacob (12) and Mary (10).
  • Barbara died 22 November 1890 in Independence, Montgomery County, Kansas at the age of 56.
The afternoon of Barbara's death, Charles sent the following abrupt telegram to Barbara's parents, Christian and Mary Hoover: "Dr. C. Hoover: Mother died at 12:50 this afternoon. - Chas. Edwards."

The following day, Sunday 23 November 1890, her death notice appeared in "The Morning Reporter" in Independence, Kansas: "Mrs. Peyton, wife of George Peyton, who resides on North Eleventh Street near the Quaker Church, died at noon yesterday from a tumor, from which she has been suffering a long time. Mrs Peyton was fifty-six years of age. She was the mother of Charlie Edwards, clerk of the Caldwell House. The funeral will probably take place tomorrow forenoon from the family residence, but the time had not been definitely settled last evening, as friends and relatives at a distance were to be heard from."

A few days later on 27 November, another death notice appeared in the "Osage County Reporter" in Burlingame, Kansas with a few more details: "Mrs. Peyton, daughter of Doctor C. Hoover, and sister of Mrs. Morris Kelleher, died last week at her home in Independence, Kas. Mrs. Peyton was at one time a resident of Burlingame, her husband having kept the Bratton house several years ago."

One final notice about "Mrs. Barbara Peyton" was printed in the Osage County Times on 28 November 1890 and provides more interesting details: "Died. At Independence, Kansas, November 22nd, 1890, Mrs. Barbara Peyton, aged 59 years.  The deceased was the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. C. Hoover and sister to Mrs. M. Kelleher.  While she had been complaining for some time she was not considered dangerous by her relatives, and the blow was a hard one on the aged parents when they received last Saturday afternoon, about three o'clock this message: "Independence, Kansas, November 22nd - Dr. C. Hoover: Mother died at 12:50 this afternoon. Chas Edwards."  Mrs. Peyton will be remembered by a great many people of Burlingame, having lived here a short time eight or nine years ago in the capacity of landlady of the Commercial Hotel - the Bratton House.  She was a good hearted, and very ambitious woman. The parents and all relatives of the deceased have the sympathies of all who knew them in their sad affliction.  Notice was received of the interment at Independence before any of the relatives here could arrange to be present."

Charles appears rather cold and callous in his dealings with his grandparents and extended family at the time of his mother's death. Even for a telegram, the message was very perfunctory.  Was he in shock? Was this indicative of his nature? He would have been 21 years old at the time of her death and perhaps lacking in mature judgement and compassion. Did he not love his mother? Was she difficult to love, notwithstanding the description of her as "good hearted"? Perhaps the description of her as "a very ambitious woman" is indicative of someone who was pragmatic, business-like and hard-nosed rather than warm and caring.

Also notable by its absence is any discussion of the role of her husband George Peyton in any of these announcements. George survived her by three years and is buried in Burlingame, not in Independence where she rests. Did he take any part in the funeral arrangements? Were they still living together at the time of her death or was she living alone with her son Charles? Was George one of the "relatives" from Burlingame who didn't have time to arrange to be present for her funeral? 

Charles spent a lifetime hiding the truth about his mother. Stories about being orphaned and raised as a Quaker were clearly not true (although it is possible that his birth father could have died and thus been unable to marry his mother).  Nor is it true that he was a cousin of President Hoover's, unless it was quite distant, but his Hoover family was indeed Pennsylvania Dutch (early German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania). The three marriages were as he said.  He no doubt used this mixture of truth and fabrication to cover up his illegitimacy. If he ever knew who his father was, he certainly didn't leave that information for his descendants. His cover-up stories made his mother very tough to find.

In addition to the names Rachel and Martha that Charles had provided, records for Barbara are in the names of Barbary and Margaret Alice and sometimes the initials B.E.  Her age is also inconsistent and we still don't know her exact birth date. Attempts to find her burial location have been unsuccessful but based on the behaviour of Charles at the time of her death, if left up to him, there would quite possibly be no grave marker to find.

I have a great deal of compassion both for Charles who obviously suffered from the circumstances of his birth as well as for his mother Barbara who was widowed twice in ten years and left with four children to raise during the tumultuous period of the Civil War and frequent westward migrations of her family. Her final years married to an older blind man, caring for him and his children and then suffering and dying from cancer at a relatively young age are a tough ending to a tough life.

Update September 2016

Thanks to recent correspondence with Richard Lemon, another descendant of Barbara's, I can now include the following photograph of Barbara that he so generously provided.

Barbara Hoover Edwards Payton
Probably 1880's


  • Cascade County, Montana, Marriage License 1141, Charles Edwards and Mary Wescott
  • Various sources, including census records, marriage records, newspaper records, Civil War entlistment records, widow's and minors' Civil War Pension applications including numerous affidavits, copies of which were provided to me by Alice Hoyt Veen, CGSM, Prairie Roots Research of Bouton, Iowa, whose website can be found at 

Sunday, 11 January 2015

William Longespee c.1176-1226 (52 Ancestors #2) Theme: "King"

William Longespee, 3rd Earl of Salisbury

I must confess to wearing my skeptic's hat when I claim William Longespee as my 22nd great grandfather on my mother's maternal line. He lived so long ago during the times of chivalry that his story seems to belong more in the realm of romantic fairy tales than in a collection of real family stories.  There is one link in the ancestral chain that has not been proven, namely that my 9th great grandfather John Prescott, who emigrated to Massachusetts in 1637, was the son of William's 12th great grandson Ralph Prescott of Standish, Lancaster, England. Circumstantial evidence is strongly in favour of such a relationship but this is one area that requires additional research.  For purposes of this week's challenge on the "King" theme, I cannot resist using William's story because it has so much going for it - illegitimate royal birth, battles and honours, illustrious marriage, intrigue and quite possibly murder.

As a child, I revelled in the tales of Robin Hood. I despised the villainous Prince John while admiring King Richard I the Lionheart (later learning that their characters were not so black and white as portrayed on television and in storybooks). Remembering childhood visions of knights in shining armour, castles and kings and princes, the possibility of having an ancestor living in a castle as John's and Richard's half-brother seems very unlikely.

William grew up in court as the acknowledged son of King Henry II, but for the longest time it was not clear which of Henry's mistresses was William's mother. It is, of course, unusual for the mystery parent to be the mother rather than the father. For some time she was thought to be "The Fair Rosamond", Rosamond Clifford.  However, meticulous research conducted by historical fiction writer Elizabeth Chadwick led to the discovery of a document of William's that identifies his mother as Ida de Tosny.  Ida was a royal ward of King Henry II and also his mistress. By today's standards, this would be considered outrageous conduct and a clear breach of Henry's duty to protect the young woman. Nevertheless, Henry thereafter arranged a good marriage for her to Roger Bigod, 2nd Earl of Norfolk, and returned to Roger the manors that had previously been taken from him. But Henry kept young William at court.

King Henry acknowledged William as his son and gave him many honours. William was said to have been a very prudent man and tended to stay out of trouble while being supportive of his father and his half-brothers. No wonder he was considered one of Henry's favourites! In 1196, his half-brother King Richard the Lionheart married him to a great heiress, the nine year-old Ela of Salisbury, 3rd Countess of Salisbury in her own right, thereby making William the 3rd Earl of Salisbury.

He was still in favour when his other half-brother ascended the throne to become King John.  William was often at court and participated in many significant events of the day.  Among many other appointments, he was Sheriff of Wiltshire, Warden of the Welsh Marches and Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire.

William was considered to be one of the most experienced and capable military leaders in England at the time. During King John's disputes with Philip of France in 1212, William commanded a fleet of 500 ships and a force of 700 knights and horse soldiers that attacked and destroyed the unsuspecting French fleet. Two years later things did not go so well. In another battle with the French, he was beaten from his horse and taken prisoner. King John entered into negotiations and arranged his release.

When William returned to England, it was a time of revolt among the barons leading to King John's signing of Magna Carta at Runnymeade in 1215. William's name appears in the preamble to Magna Carta in the list of illustrious men who had provided advice to the King. He was one of the few who remained loyal to King John throughout this difficult time.

After King John's death, William and other barons worked to have John's young son crowned as Henry III. He held an influential position during young Henry's minority.

In 1220, William and wife Ela were principal patrons in the building of Salisbury Cathedral. In addition to their busy public life, the couple had a large family of four sons and six daughters.

The final chapter of his life reads like a mystery. His ship was nearly lost at sea while returning to England from Gascony in a storm in 1225. William survived for several months by taking refuge in a monastery on a French island. While he was gone, many assumed he was dead and Ela (with her lands and title) was considered a great catch.  William did return home but died very shortly thereafter. It was suspected that he might have been poisoned by one of Ela's suitors, Hubert de Burgh. Credence was given to this centuries later when William's tomb was opened to reveal the well-preserved corpse of a rat in his skull, possibly indicative of arsenic poisoning.

William was the first person to be buried in Salisbury Cathedral.  His splendid tomb and effigy are prominently displayed in the south aisle of the nave. 


  • Stroud, Daphne I., M.A., "Magna Carta", Paul Cave Publications Ltd., Southampton in association with the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury 1980 
  • Dennys, Rodney, "Heraldry and the Heralds", London: Cape c.1982
  • Wikipedia entries for William Longespee, 3rd Earl of Salisbury, Royal Descent, Ela of Salisbury and for Ida de Tosny
  • Oral history told to author and her family by tour guide at Salisbury Cathedral on June 3, 1998
  • Appleby, John T., "John, King of England", New York: Alfred A. Knopf 1959
  • Weiss, Frederick Lewis Th. D and Arthur Adams, Ph.D., "Magna Carta Sureties, 1215", Baltimore, 1985, page 142
  • Chadwick, Elizabeth, "The Time of Singing", Sphere, 2008

Final Notes:

  • In case you were wondering: the widow Ela did not remarry.  She was the Sheriff of Wiltshire for two years following her husband's death and then in 1129 founded Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire.  She entered the Abbey as a nun in 1138 and became its Abbess. She is attributed with many good works for both the Abbey and the village during her tenure.  Ela died in 1261 and is buried at Lacock Abbey.
  • Respected genealogist Gary Boyd Roberts is attributed with saying that most Americans who have significant New England ancestry (as does my mother's maternal line) are descended from medieval European kings. Often, such descent is from illegitimate children who would have married into non-royal families and thereby contributed to the gene pool of us common folk. Also remember that the number of ancestors doubles each generation so that a person would have over 8 million 22nd great grandfathers. Perhaps the odds of finding one illegitimate royal in that number is not so unlikely after all. 

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Fresh Start: Israel Anderson 1829-1910 (52 Ancestors #1)

Israel Anderson 

My second great-grandfather Israel, son of Anders Svenson and Anna-Marie Andersdotter, was born 26 April 1829 in Korsbyn, Laxarby, Alvsborg, Sweden.  He died on 7 March 1910 in Bawlf, Alberta, Canada (near Daysland and Camrose).  His life spanned the time of the Crimean War, the California Gold Rush, the American Civil War, the Klondike Gold Rush and the introduction of the automobile by Henry Ford.  We don't know what Israel made of these pivotal events, but we do know that he was an ambitious family man who never hesitated to make a fresh start.

His frequent moves began innocently enough at age one when he moved with his family the short distance from Korsbyn to Galthogen, Sweden.  

At the age of 21 he moved to Norway, but soon moved back across the border into Sweden. It isn't clear whether he had already met his  future wife Johanna Gundersdatter who lived with her family in the Lier area of Norway, but something drew him back to Norway in 1854. The couple married and shortly had a son Anders.  The Lier Lutheran church records lists their move to "Amerika" in 1856 where the family is described as "Israel Anderson Opsahl age 27, Johanne Gundersdatter age 22 1/2 and Anders Israelson age 1/2". (Swedes and Norwegians used the patronymic naming system at the time with children taking as their surnames the first name of their father with either "son" or "datter" added at the end. Women retained their names for life, even after marriage.)

Israel homesteaded with his family in Wisconsin and farmed there until 1867.  When the US census for Decatur, Green County, Wisconsin was taken in 1860, Israel was 31 and had real estate valued at $200 and personal estate valued at $150.  By now, the family included two daughters.  His occupation is given as "mason".

In 1867, just after the American Civil War ended, the family uprooted and moved to a homestead in Northwood County, Iowa which was opening for settlement at the time. 

(We were very surprised to find Swedish records indicating that Israel's parents also left Sweden for America.  Anders Svenson and Ann Andersdatter appear in the manifest for the ship called "The City of London" which arrived in New York City on 25 May 1868.  From there, they disappear.  There is no record of them returning to Sweden nor any indication that they  joined Israel or any other family members in the United States.  Their story remains an unsolved mystery.)  

Then in January of 1879 Israel took his family to a homestead 7 miles west and about 3/4 mile north of Grafton, North Dakota, travelling by train and horse-drawn covered wagon. Daughter Olava recalled a celebration on 4 July 1880 for which she and other young people made an American flag from flour sacks, using berries and bluing to give it colour. The US census taken that year has Israel at 51 and farming with wife Johanna age 47, sons Gunelius, John and Carl Gustave and daughters Olava, Sophia and Ida Johanna. (Eldest son Andrew had by then married and set up his own household nearby).

Israel managed to stay in one place for over two decades, but by 1903, he was widowed and on the move again.  Well into his 70's, he decided to head north to homestead yet again, this time in Canada along with some of his sons and grandsons.  In the 1906 Canada census of Alberta (newly formed as a province the previous year), Israel is living with his son John's family.  In addition to farming his homestead land (NW 36-44-17 W4M), he also had 30 cattle.

He died just shy of his 81st birthday before proving up this final homestead at Bawlf, Alberta. A postcard written 7 March 1910 from son Gunelius to sister Sophia Anderson Sinkler in Argyle, Minnesota says "Father died this morning at 8:30.  Funeral Services will be held at home at 10 A.M. and at Bawlf Lutheran Church at 2 P.M Friday March 11.  Father was sick in bed the last 8 weeks and suffered awful but the end came quietly." Israel had finally come to rest. He is buried at the Lutheran Cemetery located in the prairie countryside a couple of  miles northeast of Bawlf, Alberta, Canada near some of his sons and their families.  


  • 1880 US census for Israel Anderson household in Drayton, Pembina, Dakota Territory page 780
  • 1906 Canada census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta for Israel Anderson, Place 14, Strathcona, Alberta, Page 37, family no. 446
  • 1860 US census for Israil Anderson, in Decatur, Green County, Wisconsin, page 244, family number 96
  • Norwegian Lutheran Church kirkeboker records on FHC microfilm 0278200
  • Swedish Archives Arkiv Digital AD AB for Laxarby C:4 (1782-1855) Image 92, page 177 for birth of Israel
  • Swedish Archives Arkiv Digital AD AB for Household Examination Records: Laxarby AI: 16 (1826-1831) Bild 139/sid 132, AI:17 (1831-1835) Bild 127/sid 122, AI:18 (1836-1840) Bild 132/sid 126, Laxarby AI:19 (1841-1845) Bild 134/sid 126; Laxarby AI:20 (1846-1850) Bild 140/sid 132 and Laxarby AI:21 (1851-1855) Bild 248/sid 241.