Beginnings and endings

Passing on the stories?

Two members of the same family hit major milestones in their lives, both on the 30th of September 1885 and both in Clay County.

But the two could not have been more different.

Davenport,DorothyBakerSeptember 30, 1885, was a Wednesday.1

And in Clay County, Texas, Martin Gilbert Cottrell — called M.G. by his family — celebrated his 30th birthday.2 He’d been married for 11 years, to Martha “Mattie” Johnson,3 and they’d had four children by then, with a fifth well on the way.4

One thousand miles to the east, in Clay County, North Carolina, M.G.’s great aunt, Dorothy Baker Davenport, closed her eyes for the last time.5 She was 86 years old, had been a widow for eight years — she had been married to her cousin David Davenport for roughly 60 years when he died in 18776 — and was survived by only seven of her 14 children.7

And the great unanswered question The Legal Genealogist has today is this: did these two, great aunt and great nephew, know anything about each other? Did either of them know the stories of the other?

That question hit me as I reviewed the juxtaposition of these events in my family history. I had the great good fortune to know every one of my aunts and uncles, even though — in some cases — we lived many miles apart. But — though I heard about many of them — I didn’t know my great aunts and uncles — any of them. And I don’t know what they might have known about me.

Was it any different for M.G. and Dorothy, I wonder?

Dorothy was my third great grand-aunt, the younger sister of my third great grandfather (and M.G.’s grandfather) Martin Baker. Both were the children of David Baker (whose mother was a Davenport) and his second wife Dorothy Wiseman (another Davenport descendant). They weren’t even two years apart in age — Martin was born on 9 December 1797 and Dorothy on 11 August 1799.8

They would have played together, worked together, grown to adulthood together. They were both married around the same time, around 1817 or 1818, and each would have known the other’s spouse well. Martin married the girl next door, Elizabeth Buchanan;9 Dorothy married their cousin David Davenport.10

Both families moved away from their childhood homes in Burke County around the same time, to what was then Macon County, North Carolina — appearing one after the other on the same page in the 1840 census of the newly formed Cherokee County.11

But that’s where their paths together ended. Martin continued to be on the move, to Pulaski County, Kentucky, by 1850,12 to Louisa County, Iowa, by 1852,13 to Parker County, Texas, by 1854. That’s where his youngest daughter Louisa met George Washington Cottrell. They were married late in 1854,14 and M.G. was their first-born child, born there in Parker County on 30 September 1855.

Dorothy and her growing family stayed in North Carolina and set down roots, deep into the soil of the westernmost part of that state. They were there in 185015 and 186016 and 1870,17 after their area of Cherokee County became Clay County.18 Dorothy was still there as a widow in 188019 and that’s where she died in 1885.

So… with all those years when Martin and Dorothy traveled the same path… did they stay in touch after their roads diverged? Did Martin send a letter back east when his grandson was born, telling his sister of the child that bore his name? When Dorothy’s sons were lost, one after the other, in the Civil War, did she put pen to paper to tell her brother of her loss?

When Martin himself died in 1868, did anyone let Dorothy know? One of her sons, Phillip, did make the trip west himself; he was in Texas by 1880.20 Did he ever visit his cousins? Did he tell his mother about them? Was he the one to tell her that her brother had died?

Was Dorothy’s memory a presence in M.G.’s life? Did he ever hear any of the stories about this sister of his grandfather?

And did he love those stories the way I loved — and love — the stories of my own great aunts and great uncles?

I wish I knew…


SOURCES

  1. Infoplease Perpetual Calendar, September 1885 (http://www.infoplease.com/calendar.php : accessed 27 Sep 2013).
  2. For the birthdate, see Texas Department of Health, death certif. no. 13603 (1946), Martin Gilbert Cottrell, 26 Mar 1946; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin. The Cottrells were in Clay County in 1880. 1880 U.S. census, Clay County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 4, enumeration district (ED) 164, p. 492(B) (stamped), dwelling 17, family 17, M.G. Cottrell household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Sep 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 1296; imaged from FHL microfilm 1255296. No record places them in Wichita County until 1890. See Wichita County, Texas, Brands Book, entry for M.G. Cottrell, 10 Mar 1890; County Clerk’s Office, Wichita Falls.
  3. Parker County, Texas, marriage license and return, M G Cottrell and Mattie Johnson, 27 Aug 1874; County Clerk’s Office, Weatherford.
  4. See 1880 U.S. census, Clay Co., Tex., pop. sched., Pct. 4, ED 164, p. 492(B), dwell./fam. 17, M.G. Cottrell. See also 1900 U.S. census, Wichita County, Texas, population schedule, Iowa Park, enumeration district (ED) 127, p. 238(A) (stamped), sheet 5(A), dwelling 86, family 86, Martin G Catrell household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Sep 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 1679; imaged from FHL microfilm 1241679.
  5. Bethabara, Clay County, North Carolina, “Dorothay” Davenport marker; digital image, Find A Grave (http://findagrave.com : accessed 27 Sep 2013).
  6. For the marriage, see Vineyard and Wiseman, William Wiseman and the Davenports (Franklin, NC: Genealogy Publishing Service, 1997), 42. For David’s death, see John Scott Davenport, “Five Generations Identified from the Pamunkey Family Patriarch, Namely Davis Davenport of King William County,” in The Pamunkey Davenport Papers, CD-ROM (Charles Town, W.Va. : Pamunkey Davenport Family Association, 2009), 19.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Josiah and Julia (McGimsey) Baker Family Bible Records 1749-1912, The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (New York : American Bible Society, 1867), “Births”; privately held by Louise (Baker) Ferguson, Bakersville, NC; photographed for JG Russell, Feb 2003. Mrs. Ferguson, a great granddaughter of Josiah and Julia, inherited the Bible; the earliest entries are believed to be in the handwriting of Josiah or Julia Baker.
  9. See 1810 U.S. census, Burke County, North Carolina, p. 23 (penned), line 7, William Buchanan household, and line 9, David Baker household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 August 2011); citing National Archive microfilm publication M252, roll 39; imaged from FHL microfilm 337,912.
  10. They were both first cousins once removed and second cousins on the Davenport side.
  11. 1840 U.S. census, Cherokee County, North Carolina, population schedule, p. 239 (stamped), line 7, David Davenport household, and line 8, Martin Baker household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 December 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M704, roll 357.
  12. 1850 U.S. census, Pulaski County, Kentucky, population schedule, Division 2, p. 111 (stamped), dwelling/family 528, Martin Baker household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 Jul 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication M432, roll 217.
  13. 1852 Iowa State Census, Louisa County, Columbus City, p. 1, line 24, Martin Baker, State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines; FHL microfilm 1022204.
  14. Survivor’s Brief, George Washington Cotrell, 17 Feb 1890, pension application no. 7890 (Rejected), for service of George W. Cotrell of Texas; Mexican War Pension Files; Records of the Bureau of Pensions and its Predecessors 1805-1935; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Also, Declaration of Claimant, Louisa Cottrell, 21 Jan 1897, widow’s pension application no. 13773 (Rejected), for service of George W. Cottrell of Texas; Mexican War Pension Files; RG-15; NA-Washington, D.C.
  15. 1850 U.S. census, Cherokee County, North Carolina, population schedule, p. 25 (back) (stamped), dwelling/family 324, David Davenport household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 Mar 2007); citing National Archive microfilm publication M432, roll 625. Also 1840 U.S. census, Cherokee County, North Carolina, p. 239 (stamped), David Davenport household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 Dec 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M704, roll 357.
  16. 1860 U.S. census, Cherokee County, North Carolina, Shooting Creek, population schedule, p. 168 (penned), dwelling/family 1098, David “Debenport” household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 Apr 2007); citing National Archive microfilm publication M653, roll 892.
  17. 1870 U.S. census, Clay County, North Carolina, population schedule, Hayesville Post Office, p. 469(B)-470(A) (stamped), dwelling 40, family 40, David Devenport household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 Oct 2011); citing National Archive microfilm publication M593, roll 1130; imaged from FHL microfilm 552629.
  18. David Leroy Corbitt, The Formation of the North Carolina Counties 1663-1943 (Raleigh : Division of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1987), 67.
  19. 1880 U.S. census, Clay County, North Carolina, population schedule, Shooting Creek Twp., enumeration district (ED) 64, p. 457(D) (stamped), dwelling 29, family 29, Dorothy Davenport household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 Oct 2011); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 958; imaged from FHL microfilm 1254958.
  20. 1880 U.S. census, Franklin County, Texas, Precinct 3, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 33, p. 430(B) (stamped), dwelling/family 273, Philip P L Davenport household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 Sep 2013); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 1304; imaged from FHL microfilm 1255304.
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4 Responses to Beginnings and endings

  1. This is such a neat connection between Martin and his great aunt Dorothy. I also find myself wondering about families that diverged and settled in different states. Sometimes, there are the big clues that the family kept in contact – someone else moving to the same area, years later. Other times, it seems that people fell out of touch before even a generation went by. I’m sure this was more common in families where no one had learned to read or write, but what on earth happened to all of the letters that were surely sent between those family members who could? Oh, if only…

  2. I found these letters years ago between a father, mother and daughter who lived in different states. I saved them because it gives us the flavor of what their lives were like. The blog today made me think of them.

    http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=barthle&id=I2441

    Name: Abraham “Al” CARLSON
    Sex: M
    Birth: 25 OCT 1863
    Death: 05 DEC 1945
    Note:

    THE ABE CARLSON LETTER #1 Abe Carlson (letter dated unknow)
    a letter from Abe Carlson to daughter Agnes Barthle(dated unknow).

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