Sunday, July 31, 2016

Richard Seth Worthing

         According to Richard Worthing’s obituary[1], he was born in Wales. His Christening record stated it as, Llananno, Radnorshire, Wales which is now the Powys, or eastern Wales along the English border. Llananno is described as   bucolic rolling hills covered with carpets of bluebells and grazing sheep. It is next to the  Offa Dyke, the River Ithon, and the ruins of the Castle Bank, sometimes known as Castle Llananno . It is no longer a castle but mainly just a rocky hill sitting on a summit, the remains an ancient Castle called “TY yn y Bwlch”. By 1840, Castle Bank was a manor where locals farmed and took care of the sheep for the owner. Offa’s Dyke is a 50 foot wide dirt well ditch, running along the English Welsh border, built in the 18th century by the Anglo Saxon King Offa of Mercia to keep out the Welsh. A path runs along side it nowadays making it a popular place to hike through the eastern countryside. Richard, his cousin or brother, Thomas Worthing[2] ( depending upon the research ) worked at Castle Bank as day laborers farming.  Richard’s future wife Sarah Ingram was a servant girl at the Castle Bank.
            At the ages of twenty-four and twenty-five, both young men were married. Richard had married Sarah Ingram and Thomas, Elisabeth George.[3]  I  envisioned Richard and Thomas sitting by the banks of the  River Ithon.  They were dusty, dirty and sweaty after a hard days labor in the field planting or harvesting crops for the manor lord, discussing their hopes, dreams, the politics of the day, reflecting on life, and what it would be like to live in America. Dreamers. I think most young men think of their future. America would be the place to be. They both being illegitimate children of Mary Worthin[4] had little chance of owning land or careers in Wales.
”I’ve been reading the ads for farmers to emigrate to America. Sarah’s uncle went  and his letters say you can own your own land, acres and acres of it, all yours. We wouldn’t be beholding to the Hamers, the Merredith’s and the Pugh’s”[5].
         Brushing his hair back, Richard with his chiseled jawline and deep set blazing blue eyes, wavy blond hair glittering in the sun, stared intently at Thomas. He took a long pause before he verbalized his feelings.
 “I’d like to give Sarah and Sarah Ann a better life. I’ve enough saved to pay our way to America. Besides I just need to talk to John about this. He may have a few sovereigns put aside for emergency and might give me some[6].
What about you, Thomas?
            The Rebecca Riots[7] were taking place in South and Mid Wales at this time. These were a series of protests undertaken by local farmers and agricultural workers in response to a perceived unfair taxation[8].  The firstappearance of Rebecca, as the members called themselves, occurred in 1839. Although this precedes the economic events of 1842, the early appearances of Rebecca were sporadic isolated outbursts, with the true body of rioting not beginning until the winter of 1842. Although these early 'uprisings' were few and uncommon, they were the first appearance of mobs dressed in the guise of Rebecca. These gangs became known as Merched Beca (Welsh for "Rebecca's Daughters") or merely the Rebeccas. The origin of their name is said to be a verse in the Bible, Genesis 24:60 - 'And they blessed Rebekah and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them'. This verse was shouted many a time from the religious urban dwellers. Richard and Thomas were not part of the Rebeccas.Prior to destroying the toll gates, 'Rebecca' would call to his followers who were also dressed as women and perform a scene which involved the following words:[9]
“Rebecca: "What is this my children? There is something in my way. I cannot go on...."
Rioters: "What is it, mother Rebecca? Nothing should stand in your way,"
Rebecca: "I do not know my children. I am old and cannot see well."
Rioters: "Shall we come and move it out of your way mother Rebecca?"
Rebecca: "Wait! It feels like a big gate put across the road to stop your old mother."
Rioters: "We will break it down, mother. Nothing stands in your way."
Rebecca: "Perhaps it will open...Oh my dear children, it is locked and bolted. What can be done?"
Rioters: "It must be taken down, mother. You and your children must be able to pass."
Rebecca: "Off with it then, my children."

This would then in turn lead to the destruction of the toll gates.
Although not all members of the mob would wear women's clothes, those that did, often in white gowns, would also blacken their faces or otherwise wear masks. The attacks were accompanied by much noise; and in the earliest attacks, a mock trial would also take place.[10]
         Wales was suffering a depression[11] and prices for grain harvests had collapsed and farming communities were in dire poverty. Families were forced to buy corn at famine prices and they could not afford the high prices of butter, cattle, and sheep.[12] By late 1843, the riots had stopped. Although Rebecca had failed to produce an immediate effect on the lives of the farmers she had sought to serve, the very nature of a leaderless uprising of the downtrodden peasantry in an attempt to obtain justice from an unfair system, was an important socio-political event within Wales. In the aftermath of the riots, some rent reductions were achieved, the toll rates were improved (although destroyed toll-houses were rebuilt) and the protests prompted several reforms, including a Royal Commission into the question of toll roads”.[13]
         According to Richard’s marriage certificate, it named Richard Hamer as his father,[14] the man his servant mother had an affair with.  It was common in
those days in Europe for land owners to father children with their maids and servants. In England and Wales, if the father was known he was sited by the Church and paid support for the child until the age of maturity.[15] We know that Richard’s mother, Mary Worthin, never married Richard Hamer.  In 1824 at the age of 36, Mary is married to Edward Crowthers and Richard, Mary, and Edward are all living in the same residence in Llananno.[16] This marriage ended with Mary’s death in 1842.  I imagine, having grown up with the stigma of being a bastard child and support supplemented by the bastardy bonds and parish chest, this influenced Richard’s dreams of immigrating to America His lot in life in Wales would have been an agricultural laborer who would never own land. 

Richard, Thomas, and Sarah Ingram all worked at the manor. Sarah was a day servant or maid and the daughter of  John Ingram the miller.  John was a miller by trade in Wales. We don’t know if John was the owner or lessee of the mill.  Many farmers had mill rights on their property. It is likely that he was the lessee because the Welsh records show he and his family lived at the  corn mill[17] from1841-1851.[18]  The Ingrams were Baptists in Wales according to the Maesyrhelem Chapel in Llananno, Radnorshire, Wales.  The Ingrams were Baptists in Wales belonging to the Maesyrhelem Chapel in Llananno, Radnorshire, Wales. John was a miller by trade in Wales. Many farmers had mill rights on their property. Some of the mills were agricultural, but theirs was a corn mill. By the 1851 census the Ingrams are gone, but he and his wife, daughter, Elisabeth and her husband Thomas Worthing, Sharlot and her husband George Thomas, Mary and her husband, David Jones, Anne and her husband, Thomas Black, and sons James and Evan with their wives are all farmers and land owners in Guernsey County Ohio.

Little is known about the Jones’, Blacks’ and Thomas’.  However, his son James Ingram was born, according to my records, in 1828 in Radnorshire and because of trouble "drinking wine with the maids" came to the US. He paid someone $600 to serve for him in the Civil War. He had four wives: Mary Miller (Wales 1851) Rose Ann Brown(1854 Ohio), whom he married three months after Mary's death, Eleanor Stewart (Miskimens, 1861, Ohio), and Sarah Clark (1861, Coschocton).[19]
            I envisioned Richard as a young man falling in love with Sarah while they worked at the manor. I picture Sarah as a girl looking like my Ingram cousins, with deep sky blue eyes, red hair, petite carrying baskets of vegetables and wild flowers through the blue bell fields, picked along the path home to the mill. There probably were not many eliglble,  single women in this area for Richard to chose from. We have no information on how Richard and Sarah met but probably while working at the manor. Richard, age 22 and Sarah, age 17 married in 1843. They started their family immediately with the birth of Sarah Ann, February 27, 1844, their first of 15 children of which 9 reached adulthood.[20]
            I pictured Richard as an industrious, goal oriented young man, mature beyond his years, falling in love and asking Sarah’s father for her hand in marriage as was the custom in that day. This evoked pictures in my mind of Richard taking Sarah’s hand in his and asking,
“Will you marry me? I love you so much. I promise to give you a better life in America. I’ll take you to America, buy land, and raise our family. After we get there I will send for your family and bring them all to live with us.” That promise was fulfilled when Richard struck it rich in the California gold rush.[21]
John Ingram approved and the banns were announced in the Maesyrhalen, Baptist

Chapel three times over six weeks. Richard belonged to the St. Anno, Church of
England, parish in Llananno but became Baptist when he married Sarah. He was a Baptist for the remainder of his life.[22] I remember as a ten year old girl visiting my Worthing ancestors in Iowa. My mom took us to the Worthing Cemetery in Truro, Madison, Iowa to see the Baptist church she attended as a child and put flowers on the graves of her mom and dad and grandparents. It was a small stone church located in the Worthing Cemetery. In 2001, I went back to that same cemetery to lay flowers on the graves of my grandparents and great grandparents but the little church was no longer there, having been torn down to make room for more family plots.[23]   ike many other early cemeteries in Wood County, Lee Cemetery began as a family burial place. David Lee was born in March of 1828 in North Carolina. He and two brothers were farmers near Webster, in Wood County, prior to 1860. David Lee married his wife Susan about 1861 and they had six children. The cemetery originally covered about one acre but has grown considerably over the years with several additions of land.
The most prosperous rural families in this county in the 1840s through the 1860s had family cemeteries located on their property, usually near their home. There were several reasons why early settlers buried their dead in family plots. Often we hear of the isolation caused by the difficulties of travel caused by primitive roads and a lack of bridges over streams. However, the primary reason was simply that when the first settlers arrived, there were no organized communities and cemeteries in existence. Only after communities and churches, along with cemeteries were established that the efficacy of burying people in a central location was realized by local residents. This pattern was not unique to Guernsey County – it was common over the whole of the nation. Most cemeteries in the United States are the final outgrowth of individual burial places on the farms or near the homes of the earliest settlers. Later, the burial places were connected with churches, a custom that is not entirely obsolete, especially in Wood County, where some church graveyards survive.

Emigration to America
Although the number of Welsh people who emigrated to America and Australia in the nineteenth century was far lower than from less industrialised countries, such as Ireland, a significant number did leave Wales in the hope of a better life. It is estimated that about 60,000 people emigrated from Wales to the USA during the period 1850-70.
A number of factors have been suggested for emigration from Wales during the middle years of the nineteenth century. Many of the Welsh tenant farmers and farm laborers were living in poverty. Also, the unstable market in coal and steel meant that employment for many steelworkers and miners was unreliable.
When radical figures, such as Samuel Roberts ('SR'; 1800-85) and Michael D. Jones (1822-98) spoke in favor of emigration, many were ready to listen. It was often seen as an opportunity to own land at a time when most land in Wales was owned by the gentry, while others headed for the mines and quarries of the industrial areas.
Many of these emigrants to America made their way to the existing Welsh communities, such as Cambria in Pennsylvania, Gallia in Ohio and Oneida in New York State. So many Welsh people migrated to Wisconsin that the state's constitution was translated into Welsh.
The most famous instance of Welsh migration was the attempt made by Michael D. Jones and others to establish a Welsh colony in Patagonia, Argentina. The first migrants landed in Porth Madryn in 1865 and a small Welsh-speaking population remains in the area to this day.
The Trip

There were no railways at that time.

If they did have furniture to take they would have used a wagon.
However most people at that time would have just taken hand luggage.
They might have used pack horses.

I am sure they would have walked to Newtown and possibly might have walked all the way.
They might have hitched a lift from Newtown on a travelling wagon.  Roads would have been bad to travel anyway.
They would then travel to Welshpool, Oswestry, Wrexham, Chester, Liverpool.[24]

Friday, January 8, 2016

Tragedy in Wisconsin: 1893

Tragedy on the Homestead
Lake Koshkonong (the-lake-we-live-on), Wisconsin, March 1893

I’ve visualized in my mind how this tragedy occurred. I picture ten-year old Nancy, hovering over her mother, Cornelia, sobbing uncontrollably.  Her hazel eyes were almost swollen shut as she cried out, “Ma Ma… Ma….”  With a flask in his left hand, her father, Ira pushed open the door of the homestead and stomped in, his unshaven beard growth of a week beaded with little drops of melting frost.  He dropped his gloves to the floor as he rushed over to Nelia’s (Cornelia) side, leaving tracks of white slush on the floor of the one-room shack they called home. Most of the year, he eked out a living fishing on Lake Koshkonong, but in winter he hunted for game.   The sobbing children looked fearfully at their father, saying in unison, “Paw, do something.”   Nelia Ames lay stiff and cold, breathing noisily, with barely a rise and fall in her small chest.  I imagined she had been lying on the bed in the corner of the room, listless and sick with fever and cough for the last two weeks after the delivery of her baby girl. My Great Grandmother, Cornelia Ames was probably hungry, cold, and suffering from post-partum depression.[i]
It was winter in Wisconsin. All of the garden vegetables were gone.  I pictured the one room cabin the following way. The last of the wild turkeys had been eaten one month earlier.  Only a lonely crust of bread remained on the table with a few scattered crumbs on the floor.   Little Caroline, born six weeks before, on January 21st, died two days earlier probably from prematurity, lack of nourishment, and proper care. In those days, when a child died, there were no boards to make a coffin. Relatives dug a pit and laid logs across the top. With a crosscut saw, one man in the pit and one on top, they ripped planks out of the logs for the coffin.[1]  Because of the family life, abject poverty, baby Caroline was laid to rest in a soap box in a shallow grave under the snow in Otter Creek Cemetery.   
    “Come children, we have to get some help here.  Hiram and George, you two get some coal and wood and get a fire goin’.” Irritated, Ira shouted, “Nancy, quit blubbering and gather up the little ones or I’m going to send you for the doctor.  I’ve got to get some help for your ma.  Be back in a few hours or so,” he said as he slammed the door shut, trudging out into the cold. 
    The Ira Ames family lived on a piece of land near Lake Koshkonong in south-central Wisconsin.  Perhaps, bringing the family to live on Lake Koshkonong was a good idea in the beginning.  Fishing for a living would provide support for the family.  Green ash, white oak, and silver maple groves dotted the horizon.  Hog pastures, wild turkeys, and lanes rutted out by cattle tramping through the area were common in this part of Wisconsin.  Bald eagles and osprey nesting in the trees, ruby throated hummingbirds and white sparrows were numerous.  Squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, coyotes, and white tailed deer abounded.   In the spring, wild strawberries and fresh flowers dotted the landscape:  lilac, mauve, yellow and white crocus with their white central stripe along the leaves, fragrant grayish-blue morningstars with pinkish-white eyes, and deep purple violets covered the landscape.  The marshlands abounded with wild rice which grew seven feet high above the water, and so thick all over that it was difficult to push a canoe through it.  Mallards The marshlands were sprinkled with wild ducks of all colors, mostly mallards.[ii]
For the family of Ira Daniel Ames, the first part of 1893 was undoubtedly the worst year of their lives.  Life was unbearable.[iii]
      1893 was not a good year. The winters on Lake Koshkonong were always severe; the year of 1893 was an especially bad winter.   The country was in a depression.  The depression of the 1890s was on a par with the Great Depression of the 1930s in its impact on employment. In some places it began before 1890.  An agricultural crisis hit Southern cotton-growing regions and the Great Plains in the late 1880s.  Twenty-five percent of the nation's railroads were bankrupt; in some cities, unemployment exceeded 20 or even 25 percent. People of different incomes experienced the depression in markedly different ways. In the bitter winter months, some poor families starved and others became wanderers.  Vagrants, out of work, crisscrossed the countryside, walking or hiding on freight trains. Many appeared at back doors pleading for work or food.   People accused those who were out of work of laziness.  Some of the unemployed blamed themselves.  The newspapers were full of reports of despair and suicides due to these circumstances. [iv]
           Ira Ames had fought in the War Between the States in Company D, 8th United States Infantry, and Regular Army for several years.  I feel he came home a broken and disturbed man.  His regiment had lost a total of 280 men:  6 officers and 53 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded, 2 officers, and 219 enlisted men died from disease. [v]  Ira had suffered from measles pneumonia and subsequent pain as mentioned in his National Archives file.[vi] He probably suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder before we ever diagnosed it years later. Ira was probably an alcoholic. One newspaper article referred to him as “trading his wife’s garden as boot.[vii]
     After returning home from the war, Ira met and fell in love with Cornelia Palon. I envisioned him feeling that with love he could overcome his depression. They married in Albion, Wisconsin on June 25, 1868. Work was hard to come by after the war.  The first years were particularly difficult. According to the census, their status in life deteriorated.  Ira worked as a farmer in 1870 in Albion. [viii] By 1880, he was listed in the census as a day laborer living in Milton, Wisconsin. [ix] In 1890, the Ames’ were living eight miles north at Gebo Point, on Lake Koshkonong.    During this time, I imagine the demons came back to haunt him and he began to take up the bottle.  The family suffered greatly from their father’s drinking habits. It was a hardscrabble existence. Things were not always been like this.   I imagined Ira had dreams, dreams of settling down, buying a farm, raising a family….  That was in the beginning.
         As the children came, their situation became more difficult. The first-born was Charles Henry in October 1870 and the last of the twelve children was Caroline who died with Cornelia in 1893. By 1890, the two oldest were no longer at home. Frankie, Chauncey, and Rosey Belle had passed.[x]
        The family could not survive without food and heat during this severe winter of 1893.  Without proper care, the twelve by eighteen feet, one-room house, became a shack of wide, rotting, gray boards running up and down with cracks in the walls allowing the brisk, cold air in and the heat to seep through the openings. [xi]  I pictured their meager furnishings consisting of a table sitting in the corner covered with a red cloth, two beds, the family Bible open to Psalms on the lone dresser, and a shiny black, polished cook stove in the center of the room. The family lived in a lonely place about 80 rods (half an acre or half a football field) away from the nearest neighbor.  Ira began to drink more and more and worked less frequently, and cared less and less about the family.  He attempted to work as a fisherman, but was not doing well during this winter. They were isolated. There were no close neighbors. Possibly, they were so poor and working so hard to survive that they did not have time to socialize or Cornelia was so ashamed of their poor existence she did not associate with the neighbors. I visualized them living a hardscrabble life.
In March of 1893 life became so difficult for this family that the mother, Cornelia, froze to death but likely compounded by pneumonia, starvation, and frostbite. The doctor came and pronounced her dead.  He found six children, starving and freezing in the “shack”.  He called the authorities.  If they hadn’t intervened these children would have been dead with their mother.   They found the children scantily clothed, one little girl having on only a calico dress with no underclothing, and a little boy having on only knee breeches all torn to strings. The neighbors came and took them into their homes.   The two oldest boys, ages twelve and fourteen, were sent out to make it on their own and the four youngest were sent to the orphanage in Sparta, Wisconsin.[xii]
Two years later, in March 1895, Ira died.[xiii] I conjured the following picture of him: a man in despair and depression from a broken heart.  Life had taken its toll. Nelia was dead, the children were gone, and fishing was poor.   The demons had returned and he had begun to take up the bottle again.  His spirit was broken, battered and bruised. All he had were memories.  My heart aches for my great-grandparents, Ira Daniel Ames and Cornelia Palon. For most people, life gets better as time goes on but for them it seems to have gotten worse. The depression came along with the sadness and deaths. They were unable to get out of the poverty existence.

[i] ___________.  “Didn’t Know Her Sister Starved Near Milton.” Janesville Gazette, 6 May 1893.
[ii] Swart, Hannah. Koshkonong Country - A History Of Jefferson County Wisconsin. W.D. Ward. 1975.
[iii] __________. “Mother Froze to Death, Babes Barely Saved.” Janesville Gazette, 7 March, 1893.
[v] National Park Service. U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: National Park Service, Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, online <>, acquired 2007.
[vi] "United States Civil War and Later Pension Index, 1861-1917," database, Family Search ( : accessed 31 December 2015), Ira D. Ames, 01 Jul 1882; from "Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900," database, ( : n.d.); company D, regiment 8, , NARA microfilm publication T289.
[vii] _________. “Ira Ames is a Dead Man Indeed, Traded his wife’s garden as boot for swapping horses.” Janesville Gazette,  9 March, 1893.

[viii]  "United States Census, 1870," database with images, Family Search ( : accessed 31 December 2015), Ira Ames, Wisconsin, United States; citing p. 4, family 30, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 553,207.
[ix]  "United States Census, 1880," database with images, Family Search ( : accessed 31 December 2015), Ira Ames, Milton, Rock, Wisconsin, United States; citing enumeration district ED 193, sheet 328C, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1444; FHL microfilm 1,255,444.
[x] Cornelia Ames Family Bible (1868-1968) The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (American Bible Association) (1875) now in possession of Nancy Fermazin Peralta, Buena Park, California.

[xi] __________. “Mother Froze to Death, Babes Barely Saved.” Janesville Gazette, 7 March, 1893.

[xii] __________. “Mother Froze to Death, Babes Barely Saved.” Janesville Gazette, 7 March, 1893.
[xiii] "United States Records of Headstones of Deceased Union Veterans, 1879-1903," database with images, Family Search ( : accessed 31 December 2015), Ira D Ames, 21 Sep 1895; citing Mitton Junction, Rock, Wisconsin, NARA microfilm publication M1845 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1; FHL microfilm 2,155,576.