Friday, December 6, 2013

The Tuder Letters - Part Three

In order by date, the third letter we have from the Tuder's back to their homeland of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky was written September 10, 1885 by Nicholas Francis Marion (N.F.M.) Tuder to his dad's brother Hezekiah Tuder. NFM was J.W. Gailey's oldest Tuder uncle. He enlisted and served with J.W.'s father Asa Lomax Gailey in the Civil War. NFM was discharged early due to illness. He always lived near his family and no records indicate that he ever married. NFM was a skilled carpenter like his father. 
The following is my transcription of the letter complete with his exact spelling of words. I believe it helps to paint a picture of maybe how they might have sounded when speaking as some words are spelled more like they sounded to the writer than the actual spelling.
Things were a bit on the dire side considering the tone of his letter. A lot of deaths in the few years the family had lived in Eastland County. There was continuing talk in this letter about property that NFM's father had inherited from his father that was apparently sold off by another member of the family with no money sent to the Texas branch of the family. 
The letter below also mentions William, which was a common name for J.W. Gailey. You can tell that the family was close enough that they all knew each other's business. At this time J.W. likely lived within a quarter mile of N.F.M. at his mothers house on Rush Creek (eastern Eastland County, east of the Tudor Cemetery).  J.W. Would have been married five years at this point with two small children at home.
Eastland Co Strawn PO Palo Pinto Co Texas
Sept 10th A.D. 1885
Deare uncle in answer to yours of Sept 3rd to hand was glad to heare from you all to heare that you was well. This leaves us all well that is alive. Our sisters is both dead Jane has bin dead about 5 years. Rosey has been dead a little over 1 yeare. Both left heirs. Jimey's wife is dead. She died one month after Rosey died. Father died in Dec 31, 1877 his business heare has bin wound up and I do not know how to inquire in on that matter there. I do not know the law there. I do not know wother the estate is worth enough to justify one of us to come there or not. I wish you would write the poticlars. What right Abe Reno had to sell that land and what father was due him for and all about it. See him and find out. He had better be shore he is right in his proceedings. I do not think he had any law for that. I think limitation would settle a debt 30 years old is he had of course owed him when he left there.
You wrote you had wrote several times to us. This is the first letter we have got form any of you since before father died. We heard through J.S. Biard that Grandmother was dead. You wrote that the land fell to Daniel's heirs. Did you mean to Grandfathers or uncle Daniel's? Some things one way and some another.
So no more. But a little more. William has been running a thrusher this season. Wheat and oats is very good. Cotton is sorrow it will take about 6 acres to make a bale of cotton. Corn is tolerably good. It is worth 50 cents per bushel. Wheat is 60, oats 25 cents per bushel, bacon 10 cents a lb. No sale hardly for any thing.
It is getting late and I must close for this time. Write soon as you get this. So no more but remain your nephew until death.
N.F.M Tuder
NOTE: This letter was among several uncovered by Hezekiah Tuder's granddaughter Willa Dean Noffsinger, who still lives near the old Tuder land in Muhlenburg County, Kentucky. A special thank you goes to Mrs. Noffsinger and her generosity in sharing these letters.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Tuder Letters - Part Two

In continuing the series on the "Tuder Letters" we will look at another undated letter from  the Texas Tuders back home to Kentucky. This one, like the first one shared, is from  William Henry (W.H.) Tuder (son of William and brother to Permelia Jane (Tuder) Gailey Smith) to his uncle Hezekiah Tuder.
In an attempt to date this letter we know that it had to be prior to W.H. Tuder's death in 1910 and after 1880, the time period that Strawn was established. Mr. Tuder mentions a horrible drought in his letter, which gives us big clue. The Handbook of Texas website says this about the drought... "One of the worst droughts in Texas history occurred in 1884–86, causing most of the farmers to fail and to return to the East."  That statement coincides with statements made in the letter. There is also mention of a new Texas silver mining operation, which would match the 1884 opening of the big Shafter Silver Mine in Presidio County. With those clues in mind plus a few others, this letter was likely written in mid 1885.

The following is a transcript of the letter complete with spelling/grammar errors. The underlined spaces were illegible.
Palo Pinto Co
Mr. H. Tuder. Dear Uncle I take the present opportunity to write you a few lines to let you know the present circumstances of west Texas. We have had a terable drought in this country covering fifty-two counties which is now calling for help.

There are many families that is out of bread now and others nearly out and very few have enough to do until Christmas and all or nearly all in debt. I have 3 bushels of corn, 8 bushels of wheat, and about 70 lbs of bacon and the hogs are starving for something to eat. It has been 13 or 14 months and it is dry from here to Arizona and the southern and eastern portions of the state. Portions of the same are short consequently they will be bound to suffer if not assisted in some way.

I am $75.00 dollars in debt all due now and this fall and not a dollar to pay with and we can not sell anything for money does not pay debts with it for stock will all die thats if it dos not rain soon.

The people have crowded the eastern portion of this state and are begging for work for bread for their families. Two years ago stock cattle was _______  but now they can be baught for $3.00 cows and calves for $6.00. Men are offering their stock for this and cannot get it. I haven you the facts of the worst of it. I will give you the ruhmors of the other. The governor says he will help us and there is and excitement about mineral gold and silver bing found in Texas. I reckon there is no doubt about the silver being in paying quantities.

I will have to close my letter for my neighbor is waiting on me to take to town so write soon and tell me all about your country.

Your nephew until death.
W.H. Tuder

This letter was among several uncovered by Hezekiah Tuder's granddaughter Willa Dean Noffsinger, who still lives near the old Tuder land in Muhlenburg County, Kentucky. A special thank you goes to Mrs. Noffsinger and her generosity in sharing these letters.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Tuder Letters - Part One

The Tuder Letters - Part One : The First Letter

Last winter I visited one of our Gailey cousins, Eva Louise (Fry) Stork, and she was kind enough to let me look through her family folders for any information that I might not have in my records. After looking through countless articles I came across a folder labled "Tuder Letters". Could it really be? Could this folder contain letters from our Tuder ancestors back home, describing their hardships, what their life was like? Surely they are not the letters I had come to the realization that just didn't make it out of that era? To my surprise, what I found in that folder covered all of the above and then some. I found the folder to contain six letters ranging from the late 1870s to the early 1900's from each of the three Tuder brothers, N.F.M., W.H., and J.E.D., who were brothers of J.W. Gailey's mother Permelia Jane Tuder.
To set the stage the Tuder family migrated to Texas from Muhlenberg County, Kentucky in the mid to late 1850s. The patriarch of the family was William Tuder, the father of Permelia Jane, Nicholas Francis Marion (NFM), William Henry, James Edward Daniel, and Rosannah Millianna. Along with them was William's second wife Sarah (who was the mother to Rosannah), Sarah's son Etson Campbell from her late husband, and Permelia's new husband Asa Lomax Gailey (whom she met along the way). William's first wife was Jemima Brown and based on new findings in the letters, she may have actually died after the family left Kentucky. 
When the family left Kentucky, William's parents (William and Permelia) were still very much alive along with roughly 8 siblings. William was the oldest, and his closest in age brother was Hezekiah, who was four years younger. Hezekiah who stayed in Muhlenberg County was the recipient of the mentioned "Tuder Letters". 
A lady by the name of Willa Dean Noffsinger, a descendant of Hezekiah, discovered the letters from Texas when going through an old cabinet years ago. Sometime in the 1970s or 1980s one of the early Gailey historians (either Edna Smith Fry or Zina Gailey Betsill) made contact with Mrs. Noffsinger and she was gracious enough to share copies of the letters.  
I will share the oldest letter first and share the other letters in subsequent parts. From reading the letters we know there was prior communication between the Texas Tuders and their Kentucky relatives. While there is no date on this first letter, it can be derived that it was written around 1874-76 based on a couple of clues in the letter. This would have been within the first five years of the family living in Eastland County, Texas, after their ten year stay in Bell County. Below is my transcription of the letter complete with all of its misspellings. Being that the letter has a couple of illegible words I tried my best to fill in the blanks. The underlined words are left to be determined. The actual letter will appear below the transcription.
Address W.H. Tuder of
Erath County
I forgot to tell you what killed mother, it was the measels. She all ways said if she ever got them they would kill her. Rosannah has got them now Permealia Jayne's oldest daughter has them and I am losing every day when I will take them. There is three families of us, 14 in  all and three out of the 14 that has had them. We are looking for all to be down with them. I don't expect that Father will be there soon for he continues  ill nor gets well, as a _______ in some way. We have a late spring cold weather is lastin well, I will close again,
W.H. Tuder

We learn in a later letter that Hezekiah likely asked William to return to Kentucky to help settle his share of their father's estate.
More letters are coming soon. Check back for The Tuder Letters Part 2.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Asa Lomax Gailey Story - Part Two

Part Two - Life After The War

It was June of 1863 and Asa Lomax Gailey was a free man. He had endured the harshest of conditions of the Civil War and as a prisoner of war at Camp Douglas in Chicago. At the time of his release around two thousand prisoners had died while imprisoned. Asa was likely traumatized by the entire situation and was released at Chicago with nothing more than the clothes on his back. It is unclear if the released were given money to start with or possibly a direction to go in to find work.
To date there is no documentation on the whereabouts of Asa from his release to August 10, 1865, the date of his marriage to Mary Louise Murray in Kane County, Illinois. Several versions of a story that involved Asa returning to Texas have surfaced among the Texas Gailey descendants. The stories are consistent in that they state he did return to Bell County but hastily returned to Chicago after learning of his wife had legally declared him dead. It is believed that after the battle at Fort Hindman, Asa was reported dead to the family by his fellow surviving soldiers. Permelia would marry a sergeant from Asa's company almost exactly one month after Asa's marriage. 

Taking an educated guess, Asa did not attempt a return to Texas. The climate following the war was a hostile one, especially in the southern states in the direction of "deserters". Being that he took the oath over a painful death he was seen by many as a traitor to the CSA. He would have endangered himself and likely his family if he had returned to them. He may have felt that his wife Permelia was better off without him and that she was in a good location living next door to her parents and siblings. There is obviously a lot of room for speculation concerning Asa's decision.
Being that Asa married Mary Murray in Kane County, Illinois leads us to believe he must have settled west of Chicago during the two years he was unaccounted for. The couple made their first home together in the town of Elgin. It is unclear what line of work Asa did at this time but one could speculate that he may have started working for the Chicago and Northwestern Rail Road Company soon after marriage. 
Mary gave birth to the couple's first child together on April 13, 1868, a girl they named Lola Maude Gailey. She was likely born at the family's home in Elgin. Sometime after her birth the Gaileys moved to Ellsworth, Iowa for Asa's work with the railroad.
The couple produced their second and final child, a boy named Lester Ellsworth Gailey in April of 1871. Within the next four or five years the family would relocate back in Elgin, Illinois. They appear on the 1880 U.S. Census in Elgin with Asa listed as a bridge builder, his job with the railroad. Mary’s sister Harriet Murray lived with the family at this time.

Asa appears in an 1883 Chicago & Northwestern Railway Officers, Agents, and Stations book as being with the Northen Iowa Division. He is listed as the official in charge of buildings and bridges and shows working out of the Eagle Grove, Iowa depot. It is likely that the family lived in or near Eagle Grove during this time.

By 1885 the Gaileys had moved to Webster City, Iowa. It was another railroad position Asa took that improved his pay grade.  The family appears on the 1885 Iowa State Census in Webster City as follows: A.L. Gailey 45, Mary L. Gailey 36, Lola Gailey 18, and Lester E. Gailey 14. 
It was likely during their time in Iowa that Lola gained love for music. She developed as a musician and singer, and would soon become a very popular soprano. It is known that Asa had been detailed as a musician during the Civil War and it would not be hard to imagine that the Gaileys were a musical family as a whole.
At Webster City, Asa became a Knight Templar, joining the local Triune Commandery. The organization was rooted in an ancient Christian military order style and is considered to be a form of Masonry.
On August 11, 1887 it was announced that Asa was promoted to the Chicago and Galena Division of the railroad. This new position would move him and his family into Chicago. An article from the Hawarden Independent newspaper read as follows: A.L. Gailey, superintendent of buildings and bridges on the Northern Iowa division, has been promoted to the Chicago and Galena division to take the place of John Hickey, deceased. George Kosier, Mr. Hickey's assistant takes the Northern Iowa.
A November 20, 1887 Webster City, Iowa newspaper listed that the Gailey family attended an Alpha party back in Webster City noting they were previous residents of the community. By all accounts the family was a well liked and social one as several newspaper articles mention their social activities through the years.
The family moved to the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, IL in mid April of 1888. Their residence was on Park Avenue near the railroad tracks in a home formerly owned by a Mr. Watson. The family lived in Oak Park for around three or so years. With the promotion came more money and the Gailey Family lived well during these years. Lola became a local celebrity with her regular singing engagements all over town. Her activities were well documented in the Oak Park newspaper. During this time she took several trips, including one on the Mississippi River.
In 1891 the family had moved to Linden Park, another Chicago suburb. Their residence was located on the Northwest Corner of Lydiard and Chestnut, now known as Leamington and Ferdinand Streets. The two-story home still stands today and appears in the photo below courtesy of Sean Barlow.

Asa Lomax retired from his high position with the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad in early 1892. His first order of retirement was a trip back to the south and to the home of his boyhood. It is unknown where exactly Asa went on his trip but it likely included the area of Hall County, Georgia and Craighead County, Arkansas. His boyhood was spent in Georgia; however his mother and remaining siblings lived near Jonesboro, Arkansas, where they moved prior to Asa leaving home. One could speculate that he attempted to locate his children in Texas on this trip. A factor that would have made it a difficult task was that the family had since moved from Bell County to then sparsely populated Eastland County.
It has been shared that Asa had contact with some of his family in Arkansas prior to his trip south. One of his nephews, John Lomax Gailey, went to live with Asa and family around 1882 to get an education, possibly funded by Asa. An account of this was passed down on John Lomax's side of the family. Many years later John left behind a signature book from his time with the Asa Gailey family, which included signatures from Asa and Lola. 
When Asa Lomax returned from his trip the city of Chicago was engulfed in preparations for the World’s Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. The fair was a celebration of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World 400 years prior. It was an event of gargantuan proportions, one that changed the lives of Chicago’s residents, inspiring and enlightening them.

Through a very descriptive obituary for Asa Lomax, we learn that one of his reasons for his retirement was to perfect a patent he had invented. What was this idea or invention? Did it have to do with his line of work with the railroad or could it be related in some way to the Chicago World’s Fair? So far, we have yet to learn any details on his patent. The search will continue on.
Lola married George Brownell Chace at her parents’ home on October 19, 1892. Mr. Chace was a Wyoming native and had made his way to Chicago to seek a better life. The 1900 U.S. Census lists George as working for the Bridge Department of the Chicago & N.W., the same office that Asa had retired from. George either met the Gaileys through the railroad job or Asa hired him or helped him get work after the fact.
On the afternoon of Tuesday November 21, 1893 Asa Lomax Gailey was out clearing the sidewalks around his home of recently fallen snow. This was likely a chore he had done many times before living in the Illinois and Iowa area for the past 30 years. Snow was something that was highly uncommon for him in his youth and it may have still been something that he appreciated. On this day it would lead to his demise. After a clearing the sidewalks around his yard he walked to his garage in back of his home and suffered a massive heart attack. He was only 56 years old. 
He had only been able to enjoy his retirement for a little over a year. His patent work was left unfinished and likely unpublished. He left this earth with a loving widow and five of his offspring; however the three in Texas knew nothing of their half siblings in Illinois at the time.
Asa's obituary reads as follows:
A.L. Gailey, for a quarter of a century superintendent of bridge construction of the C. & N. W. Ry. Co., and for many years an honored citizen of Austin (IL) , dropped dead Tuesday afternoon at his home in Linden Park. A strong, stalwart specimen of manhood, in the prime of his life, his death was entirely unexpected. Only a year ago Mr. Gailey resigned his position with the company to devote his entire time to a patent which he was perfecting. At the time he left the railroad company, he was the recipient of gifts and testimonials from employees and officials all of whom loved and respected him. Tuesday he cleaned off the snow from his walks, went to the barn to replace his tools, when without a cry, he dropped dead.
The funeral will be held tomorrow from his late home and will be conducted by the Rev. Frank O. Ballard, formerly of the Presbyterian Church, now of Indianapolis. The remains will be borne to Turner, Mr. Gailey's former home for interment. A special car has been placed at the disposal of the family and friends by the Northwestern Company, for this last sad journey. At Turner the Masonic fraternity will conduct the services. Mr. Gailey leaves a widow, a son Lester, and a daughter, Mrs. George B. Chace.

The obituary, which is usually prepared by the immediate family, makes no mention of his Texas children, Jane, J.W., and Asa Nelson. Some events that followed Asa Lomax's death indicate that while he may not have shared his secret with his children, his wife likely knew.
An interesting bit of information was unearthed in the estate settlement paperwork concerning Asa’s ex-brother-in-law and fellow Civil War soldier Nicholas F.M. Tuder, who passed away on August 3, 1895.  Nicholas had migrated to Texas with his family and brother-in-law Asa in the 1850s, their first stop being in Bell County and later to Eastland County, where he remained until his death. In Nicholas’ possession at death was a newly published book called “Columbus and Columbia” which documented the Chicago’s World Fair and the history of America to that point. This clue may indicate that Nicholas may have had contact with Asa Gailey or may have at least known about him or his whereabouts. It could have been just a coincidence.
We do know that the Texas Gailey’s did learn about Asa’s “second life” in Illinois just a few years after his death. They may have believed up to that point that he had perished in the war. What a surprise it must have been.
Check back for Part III, where we will look into the lives of Asa Lomax Gailey’s Chicago family and their ties back to Texas.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Asa Lomax Gailey Story - Part One

Part One - From Georgia To Camp Douglas Chicago

I must begin this documentation journey with the central focus for many of my Gailey relatives, a man named Asa Lomax Gailey. Asa Lomax, as he is reffered to by several of us these days, was the father of John William "J.W." Gailey, making him my Third Great Grandfather. Asa's story became somewhat legendary among his Texas descendants, often times just a bit of known information here and there and pure speculation to fill in the blanks. I covered his story in some detail in my book "The J.W. Gailey Story: A Historical Perspective", but later found out several missing links in his story. I will try to paint a more complete account of his life here.
Asa Lomax Gailey was born on March 8, 1837 in Habersham County, Georgia to Ebenezer and Jane Dillard (Lomax) Gailey. A book on the Lomax family listed Asa's name as Asahel, however no other record of that spelling has been found. Asa's father Ebenezer worked as a blacksmith for a majority of the time after Asa's birth. There are believed to have been ten total children in the family, Asa being the second son and fourth born child.  
Around the year 1855 Ebenezer's brother Amzi and his large family moved to Big Creek in what would become Craighead County, Arkansas. The exact reason for the move is undetermined but it followed the popular westward progression that many families were making at that time. Amzi's move triggered Ebenezer to move his family to a neighboring farm within a year or so. In Arkansas the brothers and their oldest boys farmed the land that was previously uninhabited by white settlers.
It was not long after relocating to Arkansas when Asa met and fell in love with Permelia Jane Tuder. Permelia and her family were on a westward migration from Kentucky. Records indicate that the Tuder family lived a couple of years in the Craighead County area. William Tuder, Permelia's father, was primarily a carpenter but also had a good sense about obtaining land. He knew of the plentiful land grants being offered in newly formed Texas and had his sights set on migrating there. William had been widowed and remarried fathering five children along the way. Permelia was the oldest followed by Nicholas, William Henry, James, and Rosannah, who was a baby at the time.
By late 1857 the Tuder's drove their wagons to Texas. It is believed, although no records have been found, that Asa and Permelia were married prior to or on their journey to Texas. By February of 1858 the couple produced their first child together, a girl named Jane Jemima Gailey. She was the first Gailey born in Texas.
The Tuder and newly formed Gailey families settled in Bell County, Texas along the banks of the Leon River near the town of Aiken in 1860. This was after a brief stay in Cass County near the Arkansas border. Asa bought a house in town and William Tuder established a cabinet and furniture shop. All seemed to be going well for the settlers, that is until the Civil War broke out.
Asa and Permelia welcomed their second child John William into the world in January of 1861 just on the brink of the Civil War. Months later Permelia was pregnant again but Asa would not get to meet his thrid born as he was forced into enlistment. He, along with his brother-in-law Nicholas and other friends and neighbors enlisted in what would become Company K of the Texas 10th Infantry Regiment. It was known as Nelson's Regiment.

Asa was quickly detailed as a musician for the army which was at least a small distraction from the task at hand. Musicians also held a slightly higher rank than Privates. Confederate companies generally had two to four musicians which were typically drummers, fifers, or bugle players. Some also played banjos, fiddles, and guitars. Some of the music played was specific to the south while other music was nationally loved. 
Asa's stint in the Confederate army was fairly brief  as he was captured at Fort Hindman Post in Arkansas on January 11, 1863. He and many of his fellow men were shipped to the Fort Douglas prisoner of war camp in Chicago. His days at Camp Douglas were brutal. The soldiers were treated very unfavorably and were kept essentially like livestock in the extreme Chicago weather. Prisoners were eventually given the option to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States for freedom and Asa did just that.
Check out Part Two of the Asa Lomax Gailey Story for the second half of Asa's life.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Preserving Family History

I am establishing a this blog to document family stories and information. I have collected many stories over the years and I am always on the lookout for more. When time allows I will add stories related to various branches of my family. 
The families that I hope to cover include, but are not limited to, Hunt, Gilmore, Falls, Burger, Gailey, Bigham, Guest, George, Ellis, Hamil, Huckabee, Westfall, Court, Bailey, Hancock, and Bettis. Each of those surnames represends one of my sixteen Great-Great Grandparents. Six were native Texans, while the remaining ten became Texans early in life.
I will also dig into other branches of the family including the Tuder, Brown, Forrester, Smith, Lee, Carson, Richter, Wallace, Hibbitt, Ramsey, and Wilson families.
This blog will be in conjunction with several family websites and group pages I have put together. The groups include...