Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tracking down William Etheredge

I got to wondering again, after writing about Bethel Cemetery last week, what ever happened to William Etheredge, son of Thomas Etheredge. Thomas, who was buried at Bethel after his death at age 60 on Christmas Eve, 1862, was the second husband of Elizabeth (Rhea) Rhea-Etheredge-Sargent, a  grandmother of mine. William was a child, perhaps the only one, of Thomas's first marriage --- to Jane Camel.

The blended Rhea-Etheredge family came west from Sangamon County, Illinois, to Jefferson County, Iowa, prior to 1850 and, William, age 17, was enumerated as a resident of the family home when the federal census of that year was taken.

The family came farther west to the Lucas-Marion county line just after 1850 and I had figured that William had traveled along. Marion County records show that a William "Etheridge" married Eliza Jane Harper on March 22, 1855, in Knoxville; and William and Eliza along with a newborn infant boy, "A.L.," and Susan Harper, apparently Eliza's sister, were enumerated as Knoxville residents when the 1856 state census was taken. William's occupation was given as "merchant." After that, nothing --- but this research was done several years ago and as years pass, huge amounts of new information become available online.

Just for the heck of it, I ran the surname "Etheredge" through the database and lo and behold, several references to an "A.L. Etheredge" turned up in Chariton newspapers at the turn of the 20th century. At that time, he was managing the Pleasantville branch of the Stewart lumber and grain business, headquartered in Chariton. One of the articles identified A.L. as a nephew of the late Dempsy Etheredge, an uncle of mine --- so I knew I was on track.

I discovered eventually that A.L., whose given name actually was Alvin, had been living in Nebraska before turning up in Iowa again, so went to Find a Grave to see who would turn up in a "Etheredge" search. Jackpot, sort of --- William, Eliza Jane and Alvin all buried in the cemetery at Greenwood, Nebraska --- in Cass County. Greenwood is located toward the western end of Cass County (Plattsmouth is the county seat), not far north of Interstate 80 as it angles southwest from Omaha to Lincoln.

As it turns out, William, Eliza and Alvin had moved from Marion County west into Nebraska soon after 1860 and settled near Greenwood. A second son, Frederick W., was born there and William was listed again as "merchant" in the 1877 Nebraska state census of Cass County, taken during March.

Not long after that, he died at age 44 and was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery. Eliza continued to live in Cass County for more than 40 years, until her death during 1919. And both sons apparently spent most of their years in Cass County, too.

Eventually, I tracked down another newspaper article about Alvin --- a brief item written after his death in 1957. At age 101, he had been Cass County's oldest resident. He was survived by his brother, Frederick, age about 95, and two daughters. So the sons made up in longevity for the relatively brief life of their father.

The lesson here is mostly for genealogists. Never give up --- chances are those stone walls will be knocked down eventually as more and more data is added online.

No comments: