Thursday, February 04, 2021

An 1856 receipt for the Throckmortons' journey west

I'm willing to bet that Lucas County's Throckmortons are the only local family that, if its members knew where to look, could view the receipt for the stage coach ride that delivered their ancestors to Chariton Point for the first time. That was 165 years ago, just after they had alighted from a steamboat at Keokuk, fresh from Pennsylvania, back in the spring of 1856. 

I'm also willing to bet that none of the Throckmortons know where that receipt's at, so here it is --- in the Lucas County Historical Society collection.

It reads, "Keokuk, Aprile the 15th 1856. Mr. Throckmorton has paid for 5 seat in the Stage to Chariton with the privilege of laying over and resuming his seat the next Stage, if room, but in no case will we send an extra for passengers who have laid over. $40.00. Wm. B. Potter, Agent."

The Rev. John Simpson Throckmorton, at 2 years of age the youngest family member along for the ride, left a note dated April 9, 1929, also in the collection, that puts the receipt in context. It reads in part as follows: "John Throckmorton, my father, paid $40.00 for our passage from Keokuk to Chariton --- five seats (5). Father, Mother, M the Colored girl. And we three children in arms. Uncle Michael (Michael Crow Lazier) told me we were in Chariton. Father walked out from Chariton in p.m. and he, Michael, took team and went to Chariton and got us and brot us out to Morford Throckmorton's. There we landed on the 17th of April 1856."

The family party actually consisted of six people, as the note reports: John Throckmorton (1826-1907) and his wife, Nancy Elizabeth Lazier Throckmorton (1828-1906); three sons, John Robinson Throckmorton (1850-1931), Thomas Morford Throckmorton (1852-1940) and John Simpson Throckmorton (1854-1943); and a girl identified as Emy Miller, age 14, born in Missouri, when the 1856 state census of Warren Township, Lucas County, was taken soon after the family had settled there. 

Emy, the earliest confirmed black resident of Lucas County, remains something of a mystery. It's my theory that she was a nursemaid who had been hired to help Nancy Throckmorton manage her small children, the eldest of whom was 6 and the youngest 2, during the journey and perhaps beyond. Nancy may not have been especially well at the time --- she had given birth to a fourth child, Mary Frances, born Nov. 17, 1855, who had died Dec. 31, 1855. Buried in Pennsylvania just weeks before the family moved west, the infant has a memorial stone in the Derby Cemetery. The fact that Emy was born in Missouri, if the census record is accurate, suggests that she might have been hired by the Throckmortons in Keokuk rather than accompanying them from Pennsylvania. Whatever the case, there is no further record of Emy Miller.


There seems to have been a slight disagreement between John S. Throckmorton and his brother, Thomas M., regarding the details of the family's arrival in Lucas County as noted on the second page of John's 1929 note: "Dr. T.M., my brother, thinks we came some other way, but Uncle told me how it was when he was here at Derby the last time, and I think Uncle Mike knew best as he was staying in the log house and wintered there while Father was in the East before we moved to our new home."

Here's Dr. Tom's version of the story, as recorded in a 1907 address that he prepared for delivery to the Lucas County Old Settlers Association (you'll find all of that address here in a post entitled "Dr. Tom Throckmorton remembers Derby in 1856").


After several days steaming down the Ohio to its mouth, then up the mighty Mississippi, they came to a very small town known as Keokuk. There, these emigrants landed. The wife and three children took the stage for Chariton, while the father loaded in his wagon as many household goods as his team could well haul, leaving the rest in storage, and followed his family. By the way, he never got half of his goods on returning to Keokuk for they had been appropriated by other needy emigrants.

The stage coach arrived in Chariton about noon, April 16th, 1856, when I, a small lad, was introduced to this town --- or rather the town to me. My father, John Throckmorton, first came to Chariton in the fall of 1854, when this town was a land office, and entered several sections of land for himself and friends in Warren and Union townships. He returned in the spring of 1855 in company with his brother, Morford, and my mother's brother, Michael C. Lazear, and built what was known as a hewed, double log house. It was a monster affair for this country. There were two rooms downstairs each 14 by 16 feet, the same size upstairs only the ceiling was not so high; the roof was rived oak shaved shingles. He broke out and planted 60 cres of sod corn, returning to Pennsylvania in the fall after his family; the trip I have already described. This winter of 1855-56 is said to be by the old settlers as one of the severest known in Iowa history.

My mother was met in Chariton by her brother, whom she had not seen for over a year, who took us in a stiff tongue wagon with a scoop bed, ironed all over. You old fellows from Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia know all about a linch pin, stiff tongue, tar bucket, trace chain, sole leather back bands, belly bands, breeching, hamestring, rope lines and hickory withs --- don't you? (Will digress a minute and say that the breeching was soon discarded as a necessity in this level country, but was very useful in after years in weighing hogs with the steel-yard.)

Well, that's the kind of a rig that met my mother and her children at this place, that balmy sunny spring day, and took us to my uncle Morford Throckmorton's, the place now adjoining the town of Derby. We arrived there long before dark. He lived in a round log house, 14 by 14, puncheon door and puncheon floor, that is boards split out and hewed with a broad axe. the clapboard roof was held on by logs. You old fellows know what I am talking about! (Note: the cabin was not round; the logs of which it had been constructed were.)


Whatever the precise details of their arrival were (and actually Dr. Tom, who was 4 when the trip was made, would have been more likely to remember a little about it), John and Nancy Throckmorton lived out the remainder of their lives in Lucas County,  producing seven more children in the process: Dr. Charles M. Throckmorton, born 1857; Lucy Florence, born 1859; Sadie Fannie, born 1861 (married Benjamin Morris), Nancy Elizabeth, born 1863 (married Newton M. Bremer), Jesse William T. Sherman, born 1865; James Reed, born 1867; and Robert Frederick, born 1869.

Here's an image of John and Nancy (Lazear) Throckmorton as they looked soon after their marriage during September of 1849. This image is not in the Lucas County Historical Society collection, but rather from a collection assembled by their granddaughter, Dr. Jeannette Throckmorton, that has been digitalized and shared widely online.

Although the provenance of the Throckmorton papers in the historical society collection is not exactly clear, we believe they were among the belongings of Miss Sarah Throckmorton (1892-1976), one of four children of the Rev. John Simpson Throckmorton and the last of her immediate family to live in Lucas County.

You can read about a Throckmorton photo album that arrived more recently at the museum by following this link to a post entitled, "The Throckmortons and their Photograph Album."


carol morrison said...

Thank you so much Frank. I have learned more about my great grandfather John Robinson Throckmorton than I had every known. I have more of a family tree I can now follow. Thank you
Carol Morrison

Tom Atha said...

Good story. Gives insight into what it was like in Chariton in those days.