Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

"Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Out in the yard with your wife and children
Working on some stage in LA
Did you stand there in shock at the site of
That black smoke rising against that blue sky
Did you shout out in anger
In fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry"
This is a verse in the song "Where were you?" by Alan Jackson. Just one of a few that have come out since the 9/11 attacks on the two towers in New York City. It's a question we ask quite a bit, especially around this time. Just a generation before us, they were asking, "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?". I am too young to answer this, but my mom still remembers it clear as a bell to this day. Same with me when it comes to 9/11. It is very important that we document this for future generations. Just like I am too young to be able to tell you where I was when Kennedy was shot, my daughter is too young to tell me where she was when the two towers went down. Document it. Journal it. Whatever you can do to pass down this information. History.com has a timeline set up documenting the events of the day. Click here to read about it.

Now that you know how the events happened, Here is my story...
It was a school day for me. I was attending Hickey College at West Port Plaza off Page Ave in St. Louis, Missouri. My normal morning routine involved listening to my cds while on my commute to school. So I had no ideas anything was going on at that moment. When I arrived at school and joined my group of friends, they were talking about something that happened to the two towers. One said, they heard a plane hit one of the two towers. Another said, no they heard it was the pentagon. The stories they were describing all seemed so unreal. I honestly thought it was rumors started by news stations or something. It was too bizarre to believe.

After our first class, we all went to the local restaurants to check out the news to find out what was going on. I ran to the local pizza place there in the plaza cause I knew they had a tv. I will never forget what I saw. It was still before the towers had fallen. The site was horrific. Smoke everywhere. Huge holes in the buildings. I kept telling myself this wasn't real. That this only happens in the movies. Not in real life. We only had a 10 minute break in between classes so I couldn't stay long. But that 10 minutes was enough to shock my world. I went back to class in a daze. A few of my friends did not come back right away. They were watching the news reports. I don't know how we got through the rest of the day, but we did. As the day went on, we learned more and more about what happened. We learned terrorists had hijacked the planes, using them to attack the two towers, the pentagon and even the White House. The plane meant to attack the White House was unsuccessful thanks to the brave passengers on board.

After school, I had to go to work. I was a clerk at One Way Bookshop on Manchester Rd in West County. When we got there, my co-worker had figured out how to put on the local news on one of our TVs. For hours we watched the aftermath. We heard stories about gas stations raising the prices of gasoline in anticipation of what was to come, but the government stepped in and stopped it. I could not process this. Could not. It was all too scary. Were we going to go to war? Is this the beginning of the end? What could we expect?

Since 9/11, many changes have occurred. Stricker safety precautions have been put in place when it come to flying. We used to be able to go with people up to gate to see them off, or even meet them at the gate when they arrived. Not anymore. All national monuments increased their security measures such as checking bags or only allowing certain items past their checkpoint. One change that I remember occurred down at Bull Shoals Lake, a place we used to vacation a lot. We used to be able to get right up close to Bull Shoals Dam in our boat, but they now have buoys up blocking the path and they will sound an alarm if you get too close. Even the tours have changed. You have to park at one location and be bussed in. Safety measures today that you may get frustrated at or complain about, but that are there because of this event.

It was amazing to see everyone come together from different backgrounds, beliefs, races, putting their differences aside to join as "One Nation" like we should, to help each other, support each other and love each other. We don't always agree, but we are still One Nation. I read somewhere that this year will be the first year where 9/11 will be taught in schools as history. It's amazing how far we have come and grown as a nation. But never forget how we got here. Never forget those who lost their lives and those who gave their lives. Never forget...

I'm going to close this blog post with a commercial that was aired during the Super Bowl in remembrance of 9/11. The commercial only aired one time during Super Bowl XXXVI on February 3, 2002, but many people have never forgotten it. Anheuser-Busch's creative team came up with the concept and moved heaven and earth to make the commercial. They had to get approval from members of Congress, the advertising community and from New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani. "We filmed in New York City," said Bob Lachky, former executive vice president of Anheuser-Busch Global Creative. "We had a helicopter going over the Brooklyn Bridge. Mayor Giuliani let us into the city -- the only film company of any sort right after 9-11. To actually come into air space with our helicopter to film the Clydesdale... the hitch coming into Battery Park and it was amazing...just amazing." It was amazing, especially considering how New York was a city still hurting. And yet a St. Louis-based company, touched by the pain of the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil, took a risk to help one of our favorite cities and our nation heal. (a) I have to admit, watching it again, even 17 years later, still causes me to tear up.


Sources:
Lyrics from MetroLyrics
(a)-Fox 2 News in St. Louis: (https://fox2now.com/2018/09/11/clydesdales-show-respect-in-9-11-budweiser-ad-that-aired-only-once/)
Video footage from YouTube
History.com (www.history.com)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The search for Maggie Molten continues... *huge shock*

"Dear Grandma Helfrich,
Why, oh why are you so hard to figure out? I thought this was going to be pretty simple since Honey kept a date book of important information about the family. Then I learned she lied about her wedding date and tried to hide the truth. I know you lived in a different time period than what I live in right now, but come on! You could have kept a diary explaining what happened and why, passed it down to all us women showing us everything you went though. From the research I've done already, I have to say I admire you for being strong through all these difficult times. No shame in that. I just want to know the truth. It's taken me six years to get to this point. It's getting frustrating! Are you trying to hide something? Well, guess what? I'm coming for you Grandma Helfrich. I will find the truth. You can't hide forever!
Love, your 3rd great grand daughter"

This is just one of many letter's I've written in my head to my 3rd great grandmother, Maggie Helfrich. Sometimes it's more loving, other times it's more frustrating and demanding. Don't you just wish sometimes you could just write a letter to your ancestor or even sit across from them and ask them questions. Some days I picture it being like tea with grandma, other times I picture it being like an interrogation. My family was doing their best keeping the truth hidden from people. Frustrating! And it makes searching for records difficult. But with a little patience (and stubbornness) on my part, I've found some necessary records. And that's what this post is all about. I am one step closer to learning more about my Grandma Helfrich.

Little background before we get started. Here is the page from the family date book mentioning Maggie and her information.



A few Sundays ago, I was looking over some newspaper clippings I'd come across back in January thanks to some wonderful members of the facebook group GAA. Thanks to them, I found her marriage record to her second husband. Click here to read about that find. So I was looking back over the newspaper clippings, specifically the one mentioning her divorce.
As you can see, it says, "In the Chancery Court..." I've checked the Jackson County Chancery Court and couldn't find anything. Then I realized, this was Davidson County. So I had a renewed sense of determination. "I'm coming for your Grandma Helfrich."

Doing a quick google search for Chancery Court records first led me to Family Search. They had quite a few listings for the Chancery Court records.... but (why is there always a but) those records are only available at a Family Research Center in Salt Lake City, UT. Oh man.... really?? OK, ok. So I made notes about it so I wouldn't forget. Maybe someday, in the next 100 years, they will be digitized or I can view them, something. Ok, so I continue searching. Just in case someone has them transcribed or something. Then I found another repository. Metro Archives at the Nashville Public Library. hmmm.... Let's see what they have. Oh what's this?? Chancery Court Records?? Maybe?? No online search. Crap! Ok, let's see if we can contact someone. Maybe they can lead me in the right direction. It's Sunday so I probably won't hear back until next week. No problem, I'm not going anywhere. Ok request sent off. No problem. Break time.

Did some chores, ate lunch, helped my husband, you know the Adult life. Later than afternoon, my hubby had to run to the store, so I jumped back on the computer. Decided to check my email. Holy cow do I already have a response from the archives? You bet I do! And on a Sunday!! Ok so what's the answer.

Thank you for your request. I was able to find the divorce decree for Mary M. Dennis and Logan Dennis in our Chancery Court minute books, which I have scanned and attached to this email for you. We also keep Chancery Court case files in our off-site storage facility, so let me stop by there sometime this week and see if I can find their file as well, which will hopefully give you some more information. If I can find it, I will either scan it and send it to you, or if the file is too large, I can photocopy the materials and mail them to you.

I looked for her marriage to Logan Dennis in our marriage records, but could not find it. I suspect that they were married outside of Nashville. Hopefully that information will be in the case file.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any more questions, and I will let you know if I can find their case file when I go over to storage this week (likely Tuesday or Wednesday).

Thanks! Kelley

WHAT?! Are you kidding me?? It was that easy?! Just, Oh here it is. I can't believe it. I was beyond excited! I guess 100 years came quickly haha! And there could be more? *gasp* "I'm coming for you Grandma Helfrich!!"


Ok after reading this decree, a few discrepancies have popped up that make me question some things. If anything, it makes me raise my eyebrow. This final divorce decree has their marriage occurring Oct 31, 1872. Well, wait a minute.... that would make Grandma Helfrich 9 years old. That doesn't work. So I have to call into question whether or not the birthdate I have for her is correct. The main sources I have regarding her birth are her death certificate (informant is her grand-daughter, Ruth Kelley), her headstone, and the family date book that has been passed down. The validity of the family date book has already been called into question above when I found out Grandma Honey and Grandpa Joe Ilg lied about their wedding date to hide the fact they got pregnant out of wedlock.  So is it possible Grandma Helfrich lied about her age at some point? Well, I did find the 1880 census for Logan and Maggie Dennis, living in Jackson County. Her age listed there is 24. So that would put her birth year being around 1858, not 1863. So is it possible she lied about her age when she got married to her second husband, Jacob? Yeah, it is possible. If that's the case, the correct year would put her around 14 years old for her first marriage. Now, that makes more sense. Anyway, let's wait to see what the final paperwork says from the archives when it arrives.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here we are a few weeks later, and Kelley at the Metro Archives has gotten back to me. She finally found the paperwork! Yes! There WAS more! How exciting! Ok let's look it over....

"Mary M. Dennis, citizen of Davidson County, Tennessee, brings this bill against Logan Dennis, also of said County & State, and respectfully shows to the court that she and the defendant were married in Jackson County, Tennessee, on October 31, 1872," (Ok so they were definitely married in Jackson County, so I need to look for their marriage record there) "and have been continuously residing in the city of Nashville during the past seven years...…… marriage was never pleasant or agreeable..... defendant began to abuse her..... threatened to do her bodily harm..... his abuse, threats and treatment have grown worse.... drew his knife and threatened to kill her....." (Oh my gosh, what a horrible person, I knew he was bad, but this is just horrible. Ok let's continue reading)…."Defendant has never provided a proper support for her.... she maintained both him and herself by making pants for clothing.... began to keep a boarding house, and in that way has been supporting herself and the adopted child...." (I'm sorry what?)…. "a girl now between the ages of six and seven years old.... "(That's Oma's age! Is that Oma Mae? Maggie's daughter?? Adopted? What?? What are you saying??) "She has no child of her own....."
Ok I have to stop here for a moment.  This is too huge to just ignore. So according to this divorce record, Oma Mae Dennis, my 2nd great grandma, is not blood related to Maggie Helfrich?? Maggie Helfrich is not my blood related grandma? She is Oma's adopted mom? No wonder I've had trouble tracing some things in Tennessee.... Holy Cow.... Seriously, this is huge. I don't believe anyone ever knew. Possibly not even Oma herself. "Grandma did you tell anyone? Did anyone know? Did Oma know? I can't even imagine what you were feeling going through all this." I've got to let this sink in.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

I did read through everything Kelley sent me. Maggie asked for full custody of Oma and asked that Logan not have any contact with both of them every again. She also stated she had no money to pursue this and asked it be put on Logan. She obviously did get the divorce granted. YES! Grandma was illiterate, meaning she could not read or write. So this was dictated to someone and she signed it only by making her mark. An X. I can't imagine the strength she must have had to do this. She may have been scared out of her mind. But she stood up against him, and kept her and her "adopted" daughter safe.

So..... it doesn't look like I am going to make it any further at this point. While I got answers and broke through some bricks in my wall, I feel like I just added another wall, now on Oma's side. I don't think I will be able to find her birth mother. And with Maggie, some other things I've found, she has been on her own since a young age so I may not find her family. Am I going to quit? By no means. I will keep looking. It took me six years to come across this information. So who knows? With new DNA testing going on, records being put online, you never know what could happen. But for today.... I've kicked up enough dust, turned over enough rocks and unearthed enough skeletons. So let's let everything settle and sink in. I will continue another day....

"Grandma Helfrich,
I'm still coming for you..... I will find your family.... just not today. And I have to say, I admire your strength. I wish I could have had the opportunity to sit down with you.
Love, your 3rd great grand-daughter"

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Epitaphs - what are they?

Epitaph (noun)
  1. an inscription on or at a tomb or a grave in memory of the one buried there
  2. a brief statement commemorating or epitomizing a deceased person or something past (1)
One thing I like to do when walking through cemeteries looking for family, is looking at different headstones and reading the epitaphs. Some are elaborate and poetic while some are very simple. You can learn a lot about the deceased person by what's on their headstone. They are very helpful for genealogy purposes, determining facts such as dates of birth and death, relationships to others and in some cases religion or cause of death. Where did this begin? Let's look at some history.

Headstones are also known as grave markers, gravestones, and tombstones. In earlier times when there were no cemeteries, people used to have burial plots near their family homes. There are still some left today on personal properties. When we were looking to buy a house recently, in the backyard were a few headstones that were maintained by the current owners.

Headstones were mostly marked with the deceased's name, age and year of death. Gradually, churchyard burials evolved involving large, square-shaped tombstones prepared from late (1650-1900) or sandstone (1650-1890). The inscriptions carved on slate used to be shallow yet readable. Other most popular materials for gravestones were marble (1780-1930), granite, iron, and wood.

As time went on, public cemeteries evolved and people started memorialzing the dead in more elaborate ways. They started engraving the headstones with a small epitaph or a few words about the deceased whether written by the individual himself or by someone else while still including the basic details of birth date and death date.

The Victorian era (1837-1901) greatly emphasized customs and practices associated with death. This period paved the way for elaborate tombstones and headstones. The cemeteries appeared more like parks as they had such lavish and decorated headstones. Today, not only are there words, but many different symbols that have special meanings. The symbols denoted religious beliefs, social class, occupation, organizations and several other aspects of the life of the deceased. (2)

Sadly, not everyone has a headstone placed where they are buried. Slaves, poor people and mass burials due to illinesses were just some that would not have headstones. I've visted cemeteries that had huge areas with not even one headstone. One specific cemetery was Elmwood Cemetery in Centralia, Illinois. I spoke with the caretaker and he explained that was the potter's field. Not only for the poor, but for those who died during a cholera epidemic. They were dying so fast, there was no rhyme or reason for burials. Just dig a hole and place the body. No headstones.

Knowing this fact, I try to take the time to read the headstones for those that have them. While visiting Fairview Cemetery in Liberty, Missouri, I had the privledge to find the headstone of my husband's 2x great grandfather, his first wife and their child. The epitaph's on his headstone is, “O for a touch of the vanished hand Or a sound of the voice that is still.” Beautiful. And his wife's headstone read, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.”

To close this up, here are a few headstones with some other Epitaphs. These were provided by members of the Genealogy Addicts Anonymous Stoners are Us group (GAASU). So the next time you are in a cemetery, take the time to read the Epitaphs on the headstones. They were put there just for that reason.

Photo A: Hillside Cemetery in Silverton, Colorado has very many headstones memorializing falling miners. This particular one gave me a chuckle how they worded it. “Blown to Atoms in a mine” Shared by Jen Rickards


Photo B: Sometimes just a simple homemade sign is the best way to share your feelings about your ancestor. As show in this photo. “In memory of Donald H Taylor who passed away on Aug. 3, 2008. Missed by his family and friends and people of the community that knew him as 'Junker Don'. His Legacy lives on with son sunning his recycling hobby. We miss you Don. From your Son Kevin” Shared by El Brown


Photo C: Absolutely beautiful headstone telling a wonderful story. Shared by Jasmin Cosgrove


Photo D: This is a headstone at New Haven Cemetery in Washington, Iowa. On the right side is a door that flips up and has the original obituary under glass from 1897. Shared by Sara Heng AboZena


Photo E: A headstone memorializing a falling soldier. Shared by Holly Moore


Sources:
(1) Merriam-Webster Dictionary - (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epitaph)

(2) International Southern Cemetery Gravestones Association (http://www.iscga.org/history-of-gravestones.html)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Our Wedding Day - July 19, 2002

Not many know the story of the day we got married, cause it was such a spontaneous thing, that we didn't have time to really tell anyone. Not even our parents. Here is a little information about it all happened. It is amazing what details you remember from certain days. Both Mark and I have different details that we have clung on to from that day. Here is what I remember.


On the day of the 18, we were traveling down to Tennessee to visit with Sarah & David for a little vacation. The first vacation we had ever taken without our parents. (Yeah I know and look what we did lol) It was also the first time I was meeting Sarah & David for the first time. So Mark and I are driving from Missouri to Winchester, Tennessee.
Driving through Nashville, Tennessee
Things were still sorta rocky between us because about a week or two before that Mark told me he didn't want to be in a relationship anymore. Truth was he was scared (as was I)about how serious we were getting, talking about marriage and such. About a week later, we talked things out and got back together. I was still a little scared and worried how our relationship was going to play out. I loved him so much, and he was the only one who knew me so deep and loved me for me. So we are driving, and talking about our relationship, and I made a statement to him that really set off this whole thing lol... I told him "I love you so much, I would marry you tomorrow." He asked if I was serious, and I said yes. Well he was quiet after that. I noticed he was texting and trying to make a phone call, with no luck. So we just kept driving.


We finally get to Winchester, which took longer than expected. So Sarah & David met us at the Walmart then we drove back to their house. Sarah had a delicious dinner waiting for us, her famous Candied Ham. That was all that Mark could talk about was Sarah's Candied Ham lol! So after dinner Mark said he needed to talk to
Sarah & David
Sarah. So they went to his room and talked for a long time. I went to my room, not knowing or having any clue what was being said. Finally, hours later, lol, She came out and said Mark wanted to talk to me. So I went in and sat by him. He asked me if I was really serious about what I said in the car. I thought about it, and said yes I was. So he said, what would you say if I asked you to marry me.... tomorrow? I was like what?! uh..... uh..... hmmm..... well..... so I thought about it. Yes I did love him. And I did want to marry him. And we both knew that we were who God has planned for us to be with. So at that point, we knew we didn't want to wait. So I told him, well as long as you don't say "hitched" then yes I will marry you tomorrow. So he proposed (without saying hitched) and I accepted. So we went to bed that night with knots in our stomach thinking about the next day. I realized that the reason Mark was talking so long with Sarah, was Sarah was trying to make sure this was what he really wanted, and show him the reality of what he was wanting to do. She is such a good friend.


Our Wedding Attire
Well I woke up somewhat early, not being able to sleep because of the excitement. And I wanted to call my parents to tell them, cause I knew they needed to know our plans. That's not something you can just blurt out to your parents when you return from vacation. So I called my mom and explained everything to her. She was sad that she couldn't be there and they couldn't plan a wedding for us. I really I asked to speak to dad and she said "Well he is getting his stress test done today..." I was like Oh Crap! I forgot! Well, his stress level is going to be off the charts when he hears this! Oh boy... Mark also called his parents, and they felt the same way my mom did. Both sets wanted us to wait, but we both felt this was what we were supposed to do. So we dressed for the day. Not exactly what you would get married in, but it was the nicest stuff we had lol! Then off we went.

Sarah was so awesome about the whole thing. She was the driver for the day, so we had to go and get the Jetta from David's work at Bridgestone/Firestone and leave him the truck. Then we went in search of Rings. I think we got our rings from KMart, but Mark thinks it was Walmart. LoL! It was one of the Marts. We chose beautiful gold rings with Crosses on them, symbolizing our union through Christ.
Then we drove to the court house to get things started. We talked to the clerk, who informed us that we needed to take 2 weeks worth of counceling before we could get married. We were like What?! We don't have two weeks?! We would be back in Missouri then, and we were really hoping to get married that day. So said well then if you want to skip the counseling, then we could pay like a couple hundred. Dude! We asked why it was so much. She said, "Well resident of Tennessee are required....." We said "No No we are not residents of Tennessee, we live in Missouri." She was like Oh well then it is only like around $80. LoL! Well that makes things easier! LoL! So if you drive in from out of state basically they don't care of your marriage fails, but by golly if you live in that state you either need to take counseling or pay a big fee. Yeah that makes sense lol, but we didn't argue at that point. The one thing I remember, we signing our name in their huge book of records. Listed on our Wedding Certificate is the page number and everything were we signed in that book. Wow!

So after a while of filling out forms and waiting for our turn, we finally were called into the judge who was going to marry us. Sarah was
Walking into the JP's office at 4:10pm
such a sweetheart, taking pictures for us so we would have memories of this day. We walked in at 4:10 pm. He introduced himself and before we knew it, he jumped right into performing the ceremony! Whoa! I barely remember anything. LoL I had to ask Mark last night, did we actually say vows that day? Cause it went so fast I couldn't remember. It was like a big blur! He said yes we did lol! All I remember was hearing him say I know pronounce you Man and Wife, you may kiss the bride, and I kissed Mark. (He was still recovering from a sinus infection, so it was just a quick kiss).
Married at 4:15pm
After that, the rest of the day was just a blur, cause I was just so shocked at what we had actually done. We just got married! My favorite picture was the one of us standing facing each other with our foreheads touching. I asked Mark, "seriously... what did we just do?" I couldn't believe it!

Honestly.... it was the best decision of my life. Though things have been rough, and we have had some battles... I can't imagine my life without Mark. We both have grown in some many ways just from being married to each other. I know I joke with Mark sometimes saying, "after seeing all we have gone through... if I would have known what was in store.... I prolly would have ran when you asked me to marry you"... LoL! But seriously, I would do it all over again. Cause there is no one else I would rather go through these things with.
What the heck did we just do?

Mark is my best friend. We started out as good friends, and we strive to keep that in our marriage. I know our decision caused a lot of strife and hurt when we first got married. But it was the right decision and what God wanted. I continually pray for God's guidance in this marriage and to keep Him center. People have asked us how we have survived so far through everything we have gone through, and all I can say is "through the grace of God, cause it was God's will for us to be married... and we will continue to honor Him in this marriage."


Monday, July 16, 2018

Relatives in Silverton, Colorado?!

So I decided to take some time today to fill in some blanks on my tree. I'm still somewhat laid up with my back, and limited on my abilities. I started on trying to find information of Mark's 2nd great grandfather, William Schulling. I know he is from Ireland, but I don't know much else about his past. I did find some info on Ancestry and Family Search, but couldn't get much before him coming to the U.S. Sometimes it's possible to find out info through other family members so I started looking at his children and his wife, Mary Francis "Fannie" Munday.

She was married once before to a John William Alexander and had one child, Ernest Alexander. I came across Fannie's will on Ancestry, but she died after William Schulling, so there was no mention of him. Although the mention of her first son caught my attention. It stated something along the lines of "If he can be found..." Now that is interesting. This is where I started chasing a rabbit. Ernest married Carrie Bell in 1902 in Texas, but then divorced in 1913 in San Juan, Colorado. Now, there is a town that rings a bell. You, see I lived in Colorado for a short time. Delta, Colorado to be exact. The areas is so beautiful. We traveled quite a bit to the different towns exploring the mountains ranges; one being the San Juan Mountains. So I abandoned my research on Ernest to find out more about Carrie Bell. She was born in Indiana to Daniel Preston Bell and Mary Patrick. Turns out between 1880 and 1885, they traveled to Colorado and settled in Durango. Eventually, they moved to Silverton, Colorado in the San Juan Mountains. Holy Cow! Talk about small world! It's about a 2 hour drive from Delta to Silverton going through the town of Ouray in the San Juan mountains, over the road known as Red Mountain Pass or Million Dollar Highway. A two lane road winding through the mountains with no guard rails. Not for the faint of heart. Once you get to Ouray it takes about 45 minutes to get to Silverton. The first map shows La Platt County and the San Juan Mountains. The second map shows the path through the mountains we took from Delta to get to Silverton.

  


A little history about Durango and Silverton
"The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Company formed Durango along the banks of the Animas River in September 1880 to serve the San Juan mining district. Lots of silver (and later, even more of gold) was being discovered in the mountains ever since gold fever struck in 1872 and resulted in the settlement of mining towns like Silverton, 50 miles north. Durango had a more tolerable climate and a good supply of water and coal for operating the smelters to pull precious metals out of the ore. Hundreds of gold miners had camped out in this area in 1860, but within a year of its founding in 1880, Durango had a population of 2,400 and really began to grow. People arrived from many countries to work in the smelters and mines and on the railroad. By the turn of the century, Durango had become a vacation destination, with the creation of the San Juan National Forest in 1905 and Mesa Verde National Park in 1906. The population of the city of Durango doubled to 4,686 by 1910." ~ Durango, CO - Official Website
"The Brunot Agreement between the Utes and the US government in 1873 opened the San Juan Mountains to mining by removing 3.7 million acres (about 5,780 square miles) from the Ute Reservation in western Colorado. Miners first made their way into the San Juan Mountains in 1860–61, but it was not until 1869 that valuable minerals were discovered and not until 1871–72 that mine development took place. With completion of the agreement, the San Juan Mountains saw a mining rush that resulted in many towns being established in 1874 and 1875, including Silverton." ~ Brunot Agreement - Colorado Encyclopedia

Tracing the Bell family
At this point in time, the earliest I found the Bell family was 1885 in the Colorado State Census. So they settled right about the time Durango was founded. The government heavily advertised the settling of the San Juan area, so the Bell's probably decided that's what they should do.

1885 State Census

In 1900, Daniel Preston was listed as living in Durango, San Juan, Colorado with some family running a boarding house and by 1910 he was listed in San Juan County, Colorado as being a Quartz Miner along with his son. Finally the proof he was a miner. There just might be more records available through the historical societies.


1900 US Fed Census

1910 US Fed Census

By 1940, both Daniel Preston and wife, Mary, had passed away. But what I found so fascinating is they are actually buried in Silverton. Mary passed away first in 1921 so she was the first buried there. After she passed, Daniel Preston went to live with his daughter Carrie in Denver. But when he died in 1937, he was buried right next to his wife in Silverton in Hillside Cemetery. There a few Bell's buried in the cemetery including their daughter Anna Leota.

Hillside Cemetery

 
Daniel Preston and wife, Mary, Headstones


There are no more active mines in Silverton anymore. It is now a tourist town in the warm months. During the winter, traveling to Silverton is not easy in the mountains because of the snow. We were fortunate to travel there while we lived there back in 2008. Little did I know, Mark had family buried there. Now the next time we visit Colorado, we will have to travel back to Silverton with a whole new appreciation. These are pictures from our visit. We stopped to put our feet in the nice cold water. This is either Animas River or Mineral Creek. I'm unsure where we stopped to put our feet in. One day though, we will return and we will put our feet in the water again. And hopefully do some research while there.

Me, my daughter, Sarah, David and Jeremiah

My daughter and I having a good time