03 January 2015

It starts with just one clue...

About a year ago, I received another box of genealogy goodies from my family. Unfortunately, it sat for a while, as other part of my life took precedence. I finally got a chance to really dig into the material recently, and I found this photo... 

Jennie Yoe has been a great source of information for me in the past. I first learned of Jennie as I was examining the widow's pension file for Frances (Lawrence) Brown. As Oscar's widow, Frances submitted her paperwork almost immediately after his death, and her file is quite large (for which I am grateful!) Included in that material, is an affidavit, written by Jennie Yoe: 

"State of Kansas, Montgomery County.
I Jennie E Yoe being duly sworn... I am a niece of Oscar F Brown who died October 12th, 1906 at Central City, Nebraska, that I had known him since girlhood, that I knew him before the war, and he was guest at my father & mother's home in Shelbina, Mo, after the war, when not employed elsewhere. That I know he was never married until he was united with Miss Frances E Lawrence June 14th 1874. That he corresponded before and after his marriage, that in the summer of 1893 he visited me at my home in Independence. I had also visited him and his family in Nebraska.
 ~ Jennie E Yoe" 
The excitement when I first realized what this letter contained - Oscar's stated niece - was incredible. She is either the daughter of Oscar's sibling, or Frances' sibling, and this was a connection that was new-to-me at the time. I've had the Lawrence tree filled in for a while, and Jennie didn't seem to fit there anywhere, but I double checked it all for a connection to a Yoe family. I found none. Other sources have told me that Oscar had several siblings, so I started to look at Jennie Yoe to learn more. Who was she? 

Thankfully, she had a successful husband. 

Jennie was the daughter of Harriet Brown and Warren W. Weatherby, both of Shelby County, Missouri. I knew that Oscar had spent some time in Missouri before the start of the Civil War, and eventually put together that he lived with his married older sister and her family as a young man in that county. Jennie had married William Thomas Yoe, who had moved to Shelby County in 1866, after his own service in the war. 

In 1868, W.T. Yoe and his brother, Charles, began the Independence Tribune newspaper with two others, and in 1871, they moved it to Independence, Kansas. Thanks to A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans (and Google Books), I have a great 2 page summary of the Yoe family, and their newspaper history in the area. I was able to compile all of this research and connect these dots back in 2011 - 2012, so I've known all this for a while. 

Last year, I got a box.

I didn't have a lot of time to look through the box when I received it from my family. The pieces had mostly been taken from the household of my great uncle, who had recently passed away. A few days ago, I felt like I was ready to take another look, so I pulled it back out. And that's when I found it. 

A simple brown paper bag, with "Independence, Kansas" written on it. I'd seen similar wrapping and the careful handwriting before, and I believe it to be that of another of my distant Aunt's. My family truly is blessed in that we have a great deal of personal material that has been passed down. Seeing the label on the bag, I very carefully removed the contents. Of course, I immediately recognized that whatever was inside likely had to do with the Yoe's and therefore, may include another clue on Oscar or his family. 

Jennie Yoe
Inside, I was astonished to find a picture that was just about right... the woman was about the right age... had the family "look" about her... the clothing was the right era... and when I turned it over, I could barely make out the name, written in pencil, "Jennie." It took me a bit longer to find "Yoe," but it is indeed there. 

Included in the envelope with this amazing, now treasured, photograph are several others. Most have hand writing on the back, indicating the people in the image and a year. Some include mention of "Hattie," and the Yoe's did have a daughter named Harriet Elizabeth; I've seen her referenced as Hattie elsewhere. With a bit more research, I am fairly confident that I will be able to connect the photograph's with Hattie Yoe.

I also found a card stock envelope from the Ford Optical Company (a Kodak and Eyeglass store) in Denver, Colorado. It is addressed to Mrs. Ben Shearston of Brighton, Colo., who is a niece of Frances Lawrence. To my knowledge, the Shearston's never lived in Kansas, so it would appear that the collections got mixed, however it adds more understanding to some of the other photographs. Many refer to "Ben," and initial review indicates that is probably Ben Shearston, rather than a relation to Jennie Yoe, as I have not yet been able to find a Ben or Benjamin in Jennie's line. 

Another connection back to the Lawrence family is a photo of two headstone's, one of which clearly says "Lawrence," and the other, though more difficult to read, I believe says John H. Lawrence. On the back, "Taken May 29, 1918 Father lies at the left of the stone, Mother at the right. Little Ruth at Dear Mother's feet. Brother Jesse beside little Ruth." If I am right, then this is the grave site of John H. Lawrence, Jr., a veteran of the Civil War, his wife, Martha Augusta Ransom, and their children. Although the name Ruth is new to me, I do know that they had a son Jesse, who died at the age of 8 years old. 

Back side of the photo of Jennie Yoe. The handwriting with her
name is right about center, at the top of the image. It's there. I promise.
I'm quite excited to continue this line of research. The biography of the Yoe brothers in the Kansas and Kansans text lists several family members, including Jennie and W.T. Yoe's children. It would certainly be incredible to trace the family to current day and try to find a descendant of my 2nd great grand aunt, Harriet Brown! 

William E. Connelley. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, Volume IV. Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, New York, 1918. (http://books.google.com/books/about/A_Standard_History_of_Kansas_and_Kansans.html?id=s6IUAAAAYAAJ)