In genteel Victorian-era society, making visits or “calls” was the fashionable thing to do on New Year’s Day.
Gentlemen would don their finest attire and make the rounds, visiting all of the ladies of their acquaintance.
Ladies were discouraged from sending invitations for them to do so, as that would seem “desperate.” Instead, the local papers would often print lists of homes that intended to receive callers that day.
Upon arriving at a home (preferably in a carriage), the gentleman would be invited to remove his hat and overcoat. His gloves were often left on his hands, as the visits, to be considered polite, must be kept fairly brief. – not exceeding then or fifteen minutes.
The gentleman would then send his calling card with a servant to the host, announcing his arrival, and would be ushered into the reception room.
Baskets or receiving trays would hold the cards of each day’s callers. This beautiful example is in the Bishop’s Palace in Galveston.
Ladies could receive guests at their own home, or come together in small groups to receive callers together. Young ladies visiting for the holidays partook in the visits of their hostesses’ homes.
They would have spent the previous day making the parlor as inviting as possible with a warm fire, and small table with refreshments such as fruit, cakes, tea and coffee. Alcohol was never served.
Common visiting hours were from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. which, although it was enjoyed, must have been quite exhausting. Because of the constant “change of faces” due to the coming-and going of guests, they were to receive each as politely and pleasantly as the first. Thankfully, callers knew to avoid lunch and dinner hours.
Calling cards were kept by the hostesses, and often reviewed later. In addition to reminding the hostess of the caller’s name, much could be discerned from the quality and style of the card.
The two or three days succeeding New Year’s were the ladies’ days for calling, “upon which occasion they pass the compliments of the season, comment of the festivities of the holiday, and the number of calls made.”
Although the ladies’ visits were considered to be less formal, they would also include refreshments, finery, and by today’s standards seem quite formal.
Whatever you are doing this New Year’s Day, I hope 2016 brings you laughter, adventure and fun glimpses into our fascinating history!
During the Thanksgiving holidays, we are surrounded by symbols of harvest and bounty. One of the most popular symbols of the season’s bounty is a sheaf of wheat, which is why it is often incorporated into decorations.
The image is so connected with bounty and prosperity that it was at one time used on United States currency.
Religiously, the image of wheat has a deeper meaning. Wheat is baked into the Eucharist, a motif of everlasting life through belief in Jesus. Therefore when wheat is used on gravestones or memento mori, it represents a divine harvest – being cut to resurrect the “harvest” into everlasting life or immortality.
Wheat has also been symbolic of love and charity in the bible, and was a popular emblem used by Masons.
The wheat sheaf can also signify a long and fruitful life, often more than 70 years.
So the net time you see an image of wheat on a grave, check the lifespan of the person who the stone memorializes.
Folklore and customs concerning death and cemeteries can run from humorous to gruesome, and are almost always entertaining. Most of us have heard it’s bad luck to walk across a grave or speak ill of the dead, but if you didn’t know that collecting epitaphs could cause you to lose your memory perhaps you should read on…just in case!
As soon as death occurs, the mirrors and pictures in the room should be covered or turned where they can’t be looked upon. It is bad luck to let the reflection of the corpse be seen in the mirror.
Cover mirrors with black crepe or veiling to prevent the deceased’s spirit from getting trapped in the looking glass
A European tradition says that if you look into the mirror before the body is removed, you can see the deceased looking over your shoulder.
Sweeping the home before the corpse is taken out will ensure that the person who does so will be the next to die.
Take care that you do not see your reflection in a hearse, or you will be the next to be carried in it.
Being the first to leave the cemetery after a funeral is bad luck and could bring you death.
The person who walks out in front of the coffin as it is being taken from the house will be the next to die.
If the body of the deceased is limp for some time after death, another member of the family will soon follow.
A corpse should leave any home or building feet-first, or else the corpse would be looking back at the building and calling for someone within to follow him in death.
Locking the door of your home after a funeral procession has left the house is bad luck.
It is also bad luck to meet a funeral procession head on. If you see one approaching, turn around or hold on to a button until the cortege passes.
If a funeral procession passes your home, draw the curtains or close the blinds to prevent the dead from entering your home.
Never count the number of cars in a funeral procession, as it is considered counting the days until the your own death
The corpse should not pass over any part of the same road twice or the spirit will lose its way.
If the funeral procession stops on its way to the cemetery, another death will soon follow.
It used to be believed that carrying a baby in a funeral procession would ensure that it would die before its first birthday.
A black cat crossing in front of a funeral procession means another death in that family.
It is a sign of bad luck, if a horse in a funeral procession becomes frisky.
Never look backward while in a funeral procession, or you will soon go to another funeral.
After a funeral, if two carriages from the same funeral meet at the intersection of two streets then go in opposite directions, expect another death.
If the deceased lived a good life flowers will bloom on his grave, but if he has been evil only weeds will grow.
Having only red and white flowers together in a vase (especially in a hospital) means death will soon follow.
Never take flowers from a grave or that spirit will haunt you.
A living flower taken from a gravesite will not grow.
If you smell roses when none are around, someone is going to die.
A single snowdrop growing in the garden foretells a death
Do not put the clothes of a living person on a corpse. That person will die once the clothes decay.
A witch must be buried face down to prevent the community further supernatural spells. If this doesn’t work, unbury them and turn their clothes inside out, then re-bury them face down.
Removing the bed sheets from the home before the corpse leaves ensures another member of the family will soon die.
The Irish believe in wearing black to appear to be a shadow, so that the dead person won’t enter your body.
It is bad luck to wear anything new to a funeral, especially shoes.
If you bury someone with a veil over their face and the veil gets in their mouth, they will call the family away.
Family photographs should be placed face down to prevent any of the close relatives and friends of the deceased from being possessed by the spirit of the dead.
If you hear three knocks and no one is there, it usually means someone close to you has died. The superstitious call this the three knocks of death.
A knife falling to the floor means a loved one has died.
If a picture suddenly falls off the wall, someone has died.
Stop the clocks at the time of death to show the departed that “time was over” for him or her.
On the night after November 1, a candle should be lit for each deceased relative and placed in a window.
If coffee grounds at the bottom of a cup form a straight line, you can expect a funeral
Dropping an umbrella on the floor or opening one in the house means that there will be a murder in the house.
A hat on the bed means death in the family.
If you spill salt, throw a pinch of the spilt salt over your shoulder to prevent death.
If an undertaker leaves anything of his trade at the house and it remains there after the funeral, someone in that family will soon die.
If a broom is rested against a bed, the person who sleeps there will die soon.
Taking ashes out of a stove after sundown will bring a death in the family.
It’s Black & White
A white moth inside the house or trying to get in means death.
If several deaths occur in the same family, tie a black ribbon to everything left alive that enters the house, even chickens and dogs. This will protect against deaths spreading further.
A diamond-shaped fold in clean linen foreshadows death.
If you bury a woman in all black with no color on her dress, she will always come back and haunt the family.
Meeting a white chicken on your way to a funeral is an omen of bad luck.
Fending Off Spirits
A corpse should be carried out feet first to prevent the spirit from looking back into the house and beckoning another member of the family to follow.
You should always cover your mouth while yawning so your spirit doesn’t leave you and the devil enter your body.
Hold your breath when passing a graveyard so evil or the spirit of someone who has recently died can’t enter.
As soon as the person is dead and in the clothes in which they are to be buried, a dish of salt should be put on their chest to keep evil spirits away.
Never cry on a dead person because if the tears fall on them, it makes it harder for the spirit to leave this world.
If for some reason you find yourself needing to bury a body, bury them at a crossroads and their spirit won’t be able to leave.
Make sure windows and doors are open after a person dies to ensure their spirit a speedy journey to the other side.
Turning over a shoe under the bed when the dogs howl at night to prevent death from possessing you.
Pallbearers must wear white gloves so the spirit can’t enter their bodies.
East or West
Graves should be oriented so that the bodies lie with their heads to the West and their feet to the East. This old custom appears to originate with the Pagan sun worshippers, but is primarily attributed to Christians who believe that the final summons to Judgment will come from the East.
The bed of a gravely ill person should never be placed north and south, and always east and west with the head toward the west. This will speed the process of dying and reduce suffering.
In the Cemetery
Tuck your thumbs into your fists when passing a cemetery to protect your parents.
The spirit of the last person buried in a cemetery must stand watch over all the others.
Never whistle inside the cemetery walls, or you will summon the devil.
A pregnant woman should not go to a cemetery or her infant may be possessed.
Visiting a cemetery after dark will bring you bad luck.
Go to a cemetery, get some black dirt off a grave and put that dirt under steps you have to walk over, and you will always have luck.
The person who takes something from a cemetery will return more than he took.
Graves & Burials
Being near an open grave will cure a toothache.
Being buried on the north side of the church is considered unlucky because of the lack of sun. That area is usually reserved for criminals and suicides.
The shovels and other tools used to dig a grave used to be left at the gravesite for a day or more after the burial, as moving them too soon would bring bad luck.
Graves should never be left open overnight. It will lead to another death.
If the casket slips while it is being lowered into the grave, another death will soon follow.
Leaving the grave before it is filled will welcome another death to follow.
It is bad luck to point at a grave, because the dead will see you.
Naturally, the post of guardian was to be avoided if possible, so, when two bodies arrive for interment at the same time, a rush was made by the friends of the deceased in order to prevent their friend from being “last man in.”
If the coffin does not go into the hole easily, it is because the devil does not want the deceased.
If you have an involuntary shiver, someone has just walked over your grave
Never bury anyone on Thursday or Saturday, as it will result in bad luck.
Never bury anything, such as toys with a child, or other family members will soon die.
If a firefly or lightening bug gets into a house someone will soon die.
If a bird pecks at or crashes into your window, there has been a death.
If a sparrow lands on a piano, someone in the home will die.
The cry of a curlew foretells a death.
If a red-breasted robin flies into a house, death will shortly follow.
When the head of the household dies, one must go out and whisper the news of the death to the bees, or all in the home will meet the same fate. Bees were believed in past to be the messengers of the gods, so when informed, bees would take the news to them.
If the deceased cared for an orchard or any fruit trees, the trees must be informed of the passing.
If a turtle dove flies upward after a death, the soul of the deceased will go to heaven.
A person cannot die on a mattress with feathers of wild fowl, so when someone is dying a slow death, the person must be carried to a different mattress to ease the suffering.
If a cow moos after midnight, it is an evil omen.
If you are going to a funeral and meet a mad dog, it will cause you bad luck.
The cry of an owl symbolizes death. Where it builds a nest, ghosts will haunt for as long as the bird stays.
The crowing of a rooster signals wandering ghosts that it is time for them to disappear until nightfall.
It’s in the Numbers
Death comes in threes.
If thirteen people sit down at a table to eat, one of them will die before the year is over.
If three people are photographed together, the one in the middle will die first.
If two people in the same house are sick and one dies, the other will improve in health.
The first person that leaves the graveyard after a funeral will bring a death to his family.
A person who walks over three graves will die before the year is out.
Perchance to Dream
One who sees themself die in a dream, will die in reality.
If a person dreams about a birth, someone they know will die.
To dream of a deceased person in an agitated state means that they are in hell. To dream of them in a pleasant state means they have gone to heaven.
Touching a corpse on the forehead assures you will not dream of the dead.
On the Money
Leave a coin at the gate of the deceased family’s home for good luck.
Coins placed over the eyes of the deceased kept them from coming open. If the eyes of the corpse remained open, he was said to be looking for a follower and another death would soon happen
Finding a four-leaf clover on a grave foretells a friend coming to visit to give you some money.
As long as the funeral bill remains unpaid, the corpse will not rest in its grave.
A final word to the wise: shaving with a dead man’s razor will turn a beard prematurely gray. Consider yourself warned.
Here is an interview I did with Al Roker about his new book, “The Storm of the Century.” It deals with the devastating 1900 hurricane in Galveston, which still stands as this nation’s worst national disaster.
Mr. Roker utilized the services of a professional researcher for this project.
As someone well-versed with Galveston history, there are some things in the book that grate on my nerves, such as mislabeling the Bishop’s Palace (one of the island’s most loved architectural treasures) as Ashton Villa (another historic home), and stating that Indianola (which was completely obliterated by a hurricane) was in Mississippi (it was in Texas). I would dearly have hoped that a professional researcher or publisher fact-checker would have caught things like this.
Aside from that, Roker and his team have gathered some heart-wrenching stories about those who did and didn’t survive the storm, and the book makes a quick and interesting read.
If you read “The Storm of the Century,” let me know what you think!
Today is the 115th Anniversary of the tragic 1900 hurricane in Galveston, that took thousands of lives. I thought it was only proper for today’s post to pay tribute to a veteran who lost his life in that storm.
Johann “John” Karl “Charles” Seidenstricker was an immigrant who proved his allegiance and dedication to his new country soon after his arrival.
Born on September 7, 1842 in Bad Duerkeim, Pfalz, Bayern, Germany, Johann immigrated to America by himself when he was only 18 years old. He arrived in New Orleans aboard the ship Kate Dyer on February 4, 1861, just two months before the Civil War began.
He served as a private in Company F of the 31st Massachusetts Infantry, while they were stationed in Donaldsonville, Louisiana south of Baton Rouge. In December, joined by companies from nearby Fort Pike, the unit was armed and equipped as cavalry and stationed at Carrollton.
From there, Johann took part in the Red River campaign and was engaged with loss at Sabine Cross Road on April 4, 1864. He re-enlisted during the winter and left on July 21 for furlough in Massachusetts, returning to Donaldsonville in November.
The regiment took part in the operations against Mobile, Alabama and occupied the city after the surrender. Johann remained on duty there until he mustered out on July 31, 1865.
Johann was naturalized in New Orleans on April 30, 1866, no doubt largely in thanks to his service to the country during the war.
While in New Orleans he met NOLA native Married Elenora Johanna Phillippi (1842-1906). They married on September 10, 1866 at St. Matthew’s Evangelical Church in Carrollton, Louisiana.
Johann, now known by his Anglicized name John, and his wife moved to Galveston, and raised a large family, which included Charles Louis “Carl Ludwig” (1868-1925), Elenora Johanna (1869-1962), Emma (1872-1958), Anna Elizabeth (1874-1945), Bertha (1876-1946), Frederick Godfred (1878-1946), Henry William (1881-1952), and Maude Louise (1883-1953).
He became an active member of the community, and was eventually elected a trustee of Knights of Honor’s Goethe Lodge No. 2976, one of two lodges of this fraternal beneficiary society in the city.
The building where he worked is now part of the historic Strand shopping district, on the second floor above Head to Footsies, The Admiralty and the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
In 1900, the couple and four of their children (Bertha, Frederick, Henry and Maude) lived together at 1209 Avenue N, very close to what is now Stewart’s Beach.
On September 8, 1900 a hurricane which is still the nation’s worst natural disaster struck the city, smashing buildings and killing thousands of people. John was one of those lost in the tragedy. It was the day after his birthday.
Because of the debris, bodies were found for months, and even years, after the storm. With John missing, I can only imagine his family checking the listings of identified bodies found each day in the local newspaper…praying for an answer.
John’s body was eventually discovered and identified by his son Charles. He was buried on Oct. 20, 1900 in Galveston’s Lakeview Cemetery.
Johanna died November 10, 1906 at her home at 1202 Church Street at the age of 54. She is buried at Lakeview as well.
Of the more than 90 angels to be found at Houston’s historic Glenwood cemetery, one stands apart in its pose and popularity. The “Weeping Angel” at the Hill family plot is one of the most visited statues on the grounds for good reason: she is stunningly beautiful. Her hair, unbound, is highly unusual for the portrayal of heavenly being during this time period as well.
Angels of Grief, or Weeping Angel statues can be found all over the world. They portray an angel dressed in classical Roman clothes, collapsed across a monument overcome by sorrow. Her drooping wings and face hidden in crossed arms depict a deep state of mourning.
The phrase “Weeping Angel” has a totally different connotation for fans of the BBC show “Dr. Who.” Interestingly enough, those characters were inspired by writer Steven Moffat’s visit to a family graveyard, where he saw similar statues.
Glenwood’s angel is one of five of these mournful creatures that can be found in Texas.
Locally known as “Grief,” the angel in Waco’s (McLennan County), Holy Cross Cemetery marks the resting place of merchant Emilio Davila (1864-1928) and his wife Juanita (1886-1928).
Dallas’ Grove Hill Memorial Parks angel guards the graves of Frank W. (1872-1921) and Myrtel Pickens Blakeney (1878-1962).
William Scott Youree (1872-1904) died while in Mexico. His parents and sister erected a Weeping Angel to mark his grave in the Scottsville Cemetery in Scottsville (Harrison County). His sister Susie Rose Youree (1881-1974) now rests there with him. She is missing her left hand – the most common damage found in these statues. (Houston’s version lost her hand to vandalism, but it has been repaired in recent years.)
In Denison’s (Grayson County) Calvary Cemetery, a grieving angel watches over the Lindsay family plot.
Famed sculptor Frank Teich created the angels in Houston and Scottsville. Scottsville cemetery has been said to have the largest collection of the famous stone artist’s work in one place. Glenwood has numerous, stunning examples of his work as well.
Frank Teich was a sculptor and stonecutter, born in Germany in 1856. He supervised the stonecutters and inspected the granite used in for the state capital building in Austin. He later opened Teich Monumental Works creating such pieces as the Confederate and Firemen’s monuments on the capitol grounds in Austin, the Sam Houston monument in Houston, and other famous stone and bronze works.
These five Texas angels, as well as others across the world, are based upon the “Angel of Grief,” a 1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story. It serves as the grave marker of the artist and his wife at the Protestant Cemetery in Rome, Italy.
When Story’s beloved wife Emelyn died at the age of 74, the sculptor fell into despair and ceased to work. His children encouraged him to return to sculpting, if only to create a monument for their mother, and he did. After completing the statue, he left his studio and never returned. He died the following year.
The story associated with these beautiful creations is just as poignant and beautiful as they are.
You have kept count of my tossings
put my tears in your bottle
Are they not in your record?
Although they are thought to pre-date Christ by 1,000 years lachrymatories, or tear jars, had become common in Roman times. Used to collect tears from mourners, they were placed in tombs as momentos of respect.
As with everything else related to mourning, they regained popularity during Victorian times. Tears were gathered in the bottles and saved by the mourners. Specially designed stoppers allowed the tears to slowly evaporate. When the moisture disappeared from the bottle, it could be taken as a sign that the mourning period had ended – a much more forgiving timeline than most mourning traditions of the day.
During elaborate funerals during that era, lachrymatories were distributed to men and women alike to aid in their grief.
During the American Civil War, soldiers sometimes gifted their wives and loved ones with tear bottles to fill while they were away. It was seen as a way to prove to a returning warrior that they had been dearly missed. Too often, though, the intended recipient never came home.
Often mistaken for antique perfume vials, lachrymatory can occasionally be found in shops and on eBay.
If you have one of these delicate treasures in your collection, please share a photo with us!
On our way to visit the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas, my husband agreed that since that outing was “his thing,” we should make a stop on the way that was something I would especially enjoy. And, yes…he knew that would entail sitting in the car as I roamed an old cemetery somewhere along the route, taking photos. He’s a good sport!
So, with a bit of quick Googling, I found Lavaca County’s Old Moulton Cemetery. It seemed to have a good number of older headstones and offer some exploring opportunities.
It was in this cemetery that I came across the marker of R.H. and E. J. McGinty – both born toward the first part of the 19th century.
The stone is in remarkably good shape, given that it has been exposed to Texas weather for over 100 years.
The engraving itself was obviously not done by a seasoned professional. But whoever did carve the marker took great care and engraved the names, information and epitaph to the best of their ability. The extra effort makes it all the more poignant.
So, who was this couple?
Robert Henry McGinty was born to Shadrach McGinty and Mary “Polly” Lamar McGinty on April 17, 1824 in Jones County, Georgia. Mary’s father James Lamar, according to family stories, was a first cousin to Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second president of the Republic of Texas.
Shortly after 1840, Robert’s family moved to Dallas County, Alabama where he would meet his future wife. Her name was Elizabeth “Eliza” Jane Lucas, who was born in Dallas County on November 14, 1828. They married on Feb. 6, 1844.
By the 1850 census, Robert, his new wife Jane (age 21) and their sons John Henry (age 3, born Dec. 1, 1846) and James Milton (age 1, born Jan. 10, 1849) lived on a farm next to Shadrack’s in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.
Another family story explains that both were farmers on the Dubois Plantation at the time. Although there is still a Dubois Plantation Road off of Highway 190 in Tammany, Louisiana near the famous River Road District, this is in St. Tammany Parish.
Catahoula Parish is far north of this location, closer to Natchez. But, of course, there is nothing to say that they did not live on plantation grounds, and that the family just misinterpreted the name through the years. Plantation names were not listed on the censuses, but Catahoula Parish had the highest number of slaves in the era, so it makes sense that the area was plantation/farm country.
The next handful of years were filled with joy and sorrow: the birth of daughter Mary Jane in 1851; the death of son John Henry in 1853; the birth of daughter Susan E. in 1854; the birth of son Obediah L. in 1857; the birth of son Robert in 1859, and the death of Susan the same year.
Evidently, during that time Robert’s parents Shadrack and Polly moved to El Dorado, Union County, Arkansas to farm. Shadrack disappears from the records soon after that, and is assumed to have passed away.
So to help his mother and leave the heartache of lost children behind, Robert and Jane moved their family to Arkansas, inheriting and farming his father’s land. His mother Polly lived with them and appears in their household on the 1860 census.
Robert left to serve in the Confederate Army, Company C, Second Battallion of the Arkansas Infantry on September 22, 1861. He was wounded by enemy artillery and sent home in December, probably in time to see the birth of daughter Nancie (Nannie) Aresenith on Dec. 20, 1861.
In the spring, he returned to the army and served until the end of the Civil War, joining Company I of the 6th Arkansas Regiment while it was stationed in Corinth, Mississippi.
After the war, as was the weight of large families of this era to bear, more children came into and passed from their lives.
The family welcomed another daughter, Sallie Micou, on Dec. 3, 1863, but mourned the death of their son Robert within a few months.
Their last son, Calhoun, arrived the 5th of November, 1866., and their last daughter Georgia was born in Lavaca County on May 5, 1871. (They had moved to Lacava County, Texas in 1870.)
And the losses continued, with Mary Jane (who had recently married) dying in March of 1869, Obe in Sept. of 1886 and little Calhoun just five days later.
Robert Henry joined the five of his ten children that passed before him on Dec. 19, 1896 in Moulton, Lavaca County, Texas. Imagine how sad the holiday season must have been for their family that year.
His epitaph reads, ”Eternity Called, He Answered Ready.”
In 1901 Jane filed for and received a Confederate widow’s pension. This document still exists and is a goldmine of information, confirming the above story.
Jane passed away on February 25, 1904 in Alvin, Texas. Her son James Milton lived there, and although she was not listed on the most recent census in the household, perhaps she was visiting him at the time.
She had left five of her children behind, buried in different states. I’m sure she thought of them often.
Her touching epitaph reads, “Mother, our best friend on earth.”
Ironically, James Milton is buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Alvin, where I took some photos in May. I did not seem to get a shot of his marker though, so I guess I’ll have to go back for another visit.
Always looking for an excuse to find more stories.
Robert Henry McGinty (1824-1896) age 72
Elizabeth Jane Lucas McGinty (1828-1904) age 76
John Henry McGinty (1846-1853) age 7
James Milton McGinty (1849-1926) age 77
Mary Jane McGinty Slaughter (1851-1869) age 18
Susan E. McGinty (1854-1859) age 5
Obediah Lamar McGinty (1857-1886) age 29
Robert McGinty (1859- ?)
Nancy Aresenith McGinty Harris (1861-1940) age 79
Sarah Micou McGinty Crouch (1863-1955) age 92
Calhoun McGinty (1866-1875) age 9
Georgia McGinty Murphy (1870-1954) age 84
Sometimes, when you delve into history to solve a mystery, you end up with several more. That’s just what happened when I came across the simple grave maker for “Mrs. Appleton.” (And yes, that’s part of a snakeskin…seven feet long…laying next to the marker.)
I found this marker in Rocky Community Church Cemetery, sometimes referred to as Rocky Creek Cemetery, in Johnson City, Blanco County, Texas. Unmarked graves make me incredibly sad, but those with only names are sad as well. When did this person live? Where is the family? Not even her first name was included.
That creates the challenge of filling in information with some research.
So who was Mrs. Appleton ?
Her name was Sarah
Sarah Jane Null was born On December 23, 1839 in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1859 she married James B. Appleton. James, whose middle initial is sometime listed as “R,” was born in Pennsylvania in 1830.
They had their first child James William the following year in Indiana. They then moved to Shelbyville, Shelby County, Indiana in 1865.
From February to October 1865, James served as a private in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War.
Soon after his return from service, the couple had two more sons: John Morris on September 29, 1866 and Wallace P. in 1871.
1870 Sarah and her husband James lived in Shelbyville with with son “Willie” (James William), who was 10, Morris, who was 3 and a house servant named Mary Wilcher who was 37 years old. Sarah was listed as a milliner, and James was a painter.
In the 1880 census, the family was living in Blanco, Johnson County, Texas and farming. They were still there in 1890 when James was listed on the veteran’s schedules.
But either farming wasn’t a good choice for them, or perhaps they were homesick for Indiana, because the were back living in Shelbyville by 1895 when James passed away (according to Sarah’s obituary).
Prior to his death, the couple operated a millinery and dry goods establishment in town. Their store was at the corner of West Washington and Public Square. (The site later became home of the First National Bank Building.) They lived in a home at the corner of Franklin and West streets.
We can assume that Morris took his father’s place in the business, since he was living in his mother’s home in 1900. That year’s census lists her occupation as a milliner and his as a salesman. The 1910 census information remained the same.
John Morris Married Lida G. on May 19, 1912. They eventually moved to San Antonio, Texas where he worked as a grocery store clerk until he retired. They lived at 1023 Alamo Street. Both are buried in Shelby County, Indiana, though.
In 1920, Sarah was living in Shelbyville with her son James, who was 59 and worked at a tobacco company.
Something quickly changed again, however, because Sarah was living in Morris’ Shelbyville home when she passed away on November 26, 1921, the following year. Even more mysteriously, James and Sarah’s other son Wallace were listed as “whereabouts unknown” in Sarah’s obituary.
Where could they have gone, and why wouldn’t their family know?
At age 81, Sarah died of apoplexy and was said to have been ill for some time. Apoplexy at the time was commonly used as a term for a store or brain hemorrhage.
Mrs. Appleton had been a member of the First Presbyterian church here for several years. She was also a member of the Woman’s relief Corps, the Rebekahs and Royal Neighbors. Her name appeared often in the local newspaper, for attending or hosting social affairs and being involved in community activities. She obviously led a full life and had many friends. (Obituary appeared in the Shelbyville Republican, Saturday, Nov. 26, 1921.)
She is buried in City Cemetery in Shelbyville, Indiana.
So a few questions remain.
If James died in 1895 after they returned to Shelbyville, why is he buried in Texas? Was he perhaps visiting one of their sons who had remained in the area?
Sarah’s obituary even mentions her burial arrangements to be interred in Indiana, where there is a marker for her. Why is there also a marker for her by her husband’s? Did someone assume she was buried nearby, or was it simply placed as a remembrance?
At least we now know her full name and a bit about her. Mrs. Appleton obviously led a full, active life and had many friends. Something not reflected by the simple marker in the Texas hill country.