Friday, June 20, 2008

Just one more

Joseph and Mary (Young) McMulin (my great-great-great-grandparents) were another of Monroe County, Iowa's, first families, fording the Des Moines River as soon as it was legal to do so and claiming land in Pleasant Township in May of 1843 (when Sac and Fox title to the territory expired). They had come directly to Van Buren County from Ohio with most of their 10 children (the three youngest at least were born in Iowa) during the mid-1830s, probably living in the vicinity of Iowaville.

Those other ancestors of mine, William and Miriam (Trescott) Miller, arrived at the same time and were their neighbors in Monroe County, so it was probably inevitable that some of their children would marry each other. Richard McMulin married Aurilla Miller on 26 February 1846 in Monroe County and Richard's sister, Elizabeth, married Aurilla's brother, Jeremiah Miller, on 6 September 1849.

The pasture always was greener just the other side of the fence, so most of the Millers and McMulins moved one county west to Lucas County during the 1850s and 1860s, although only Jeremiah and Elizabeth (my great-great-grandparents) made Lucas County their permanent home. Some went back to Monroe County, but most of the McMulin children just kept heading west.

In 1870, Richard and Aurilla and their eight children loaded up their wagons and headed for Sumner County, Kansas, landing near what became Anson, south of Wichita. The McMulin kids and my Miller aunts and uncles were double first cousins and my granddad always stayed in touch with them.

Most of the children of Richard and Aurilla stuck fairly close to Anson (and quite a few of their descendants still are in that area), but Joseph William (or William Joseph, according to his Kansas kin) was the exception.

Some time later in the 1870s, J.W. and his older brother, Albert, headed for Texas to find work as cowboys. They landed deep in Texas, in La Salle County, midway between San Antonio and Laredo.

Albert preferred Kansas and drove cattle up the Chisholm Trail to return home. But J.W. met and married about 1879 a Texas girl, Theresa Yecker, and settled down. He continued to work as a cowboy, served as sheriff of La Salle County from November 1890 until March of 1892 (his predecessor was killed in office, so this may not have been the safest of professions), then alighted in Encinal, where he and Theresa operated a hotel/boarding house for many years.

There was some sort of a disconnect here between the Texas and Kansas McMulins, but I don't know what it was. The Kansas family did develop some misconceptions about Theresa, so it seems unlikely any of them ever met her. A cousin wrote to my granddad that she was Hispanic (actually, she was full-blooded German); and that she had seven children before she married J.W. (she and J.W. had seven children --- but it was a joint undertaking).

Everybody in Kansas agreed that J.W. just never came home to Kansas after he married. Some said it was 50 years, but actually it was somewhere between 30 and 40 years. I have a letter from a McMulin cousin in Kansas to Granddad describing the reunion, shortly before Richard McMulin died in March of 1914. J.W. came up into Oklahoma to visit some siblings who lived there and other Kansas McMulins headed south to Oklahoma to join the reunion. Finally, J.W. made the trip from Oklahoma up to Anson to visit his dad --- at last.

So that's what I know about Joseph William and Theresa McMulin, whose joint tombstone in the Encinal Cemetery was thoughtfully placed on the Find A Grave Web site by a volunteer who, most likely, didn't know them from Adam.

Those of use who work in the far aisle at the office are starting to talk about waterboarding as appropriate therapy for annoying colleagues. This means it's time to take a break and readjust my attitude, so I plan to do just that --- heading south to the land of no Internet connection for a few days on Sunday. See ya!

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