Friday, March 21, 2014

Bethel Cemetery: Rhea, Etheredge, Sargent (Part 2)

I didn't intend to let two days divide Parts 1 and 2 of this account of  Rhea-Etheredge-Sargent family members buried at Bethel Cemetery, but ran short of time. To make sense of this, you'll need to read Part 1, which is here. The photo shows a grouping of family graves in the oldest part of Bethel, on land once owned by the family. Elizabeth (Rhea) Rhea-Etheredge-Sargent is buried north of the stone in the middle distance, which also marks the graves of her third husband, Edward E. Sargent, and her mother, Mary (Rhea) Rhea-Hickman. The tombstone marking the grave of Elizabeth's daughter, Lucinda (Etheredge) Hixon, is at left and the stone of her son, Dempsy Etheredge, at right. Others buried on the lot are Thomas Etheredge, Elizabeth's second husband, and their son, Robert. Elizabeth was my great-great-great-grandmother via her first husband, Richard Rhea.

The narrative in the previous post about this family stopped in 1870. By that time, Elizabeth had buried two husbands, Richard Rhea during 1839 in Sangamon County, Illinois; and Thomas Etheredge, at Christmas 1862 in Cedar Township. Two of her sons had died during the Civil War, Robert Etheredge, during April of 1863; and James M. Rhea, during July of that year. Her surviving son, Dempsy, age 19, who had no particular interest in farming, was preparing to leave home.

At this point Edward Ebenezer Sargent (left) came into her life --- possibly as a hired hand to farm her land because she had no sons to do it for her. They would marry later that year despite a 20-year difference in their ages --- Elizabeth was 59 and Edward, 39. Tongues no doubt wagged about this (something that wouldn't have happened had a 59-year-old man married a 39-year-old woman), but it seems to have been a congenial relationship that endured until Elizabeth died.

Edward, born Sept. 14, 1831, in Berkshire, England, came to the United State in 1850, when he was 19, sailing from Liverpool to New Orleans, then traveling up the Mississippi to Davenport, Scott County, Iowa, where he settled.

On Aug. 6, 1853, he married Sarah Ann Wright of Rockingham Township, Scott County, and they had two children, Rowena, born Oct. 2, 1854, and John Joy, who died in infancy. Sarah Ann, the only child of Joy and Laura Ann (Story) Wright, died Oct. 15, 1861, in Scott County and Rowena, then 7, was taken to raise by her grandparents, the Wrights.

In the fall of 1862, Joy and Laura Ann moved to Cedar Township, Lucas County, Iowa, where Laura Ann's son, David S. Wright, had settled during 1857, taking Rowena with them. Two years later, in the winter of 1864, Edward followed in order to be near his daughter.

Edward, who came to be known as "Squire" by his friends and neighbors in Lucas County, seems never to have had enough money to purchase land and had worked both as teamster and farm hand. Nor does he seem to have had any driving ambitions, although he was congenial, intelligent and not unattractive. When the 1870 census of Cedar Township was taken, Edward and Rowena were living with Joy and Laura Ann. He owned personal property valued at $300, but no land.

Elizabeth was living nearby when the census was taken with her mother, Mary, and son, Dempsy. She was among the more affluent residents of the neighborhood with real estate valued at $4,000 and personal property valued at $1,000.

Elizabeth and Edward were married on Sept. 12, 1870, at her home by Joseph G. Wilson. Despite the difference in their ages, it seems to have been an amicable relationship. Squire Sargent began a long career as justice of the peace and farmed Elizabeth's land.

Elizabeth died at the age of 77 on Aug. 7, 1888, having outlived two husbands and five of her seven children. She was buried north of her mother at Bethel, near the woods, with sufficient room between them for Edward, who would live 20 more years.

Edward, married to Elizabeth for 18 years, inherited Elizabeth's home and a third of her land and other property. He apparently lived contentedly alone there just east of the cemetery and later Bethel Church until his own death, on Feb. 25, 1908, also at the age of 77. 

He was fondly remembered as "Grandpa Sargent" by my grandfather, William Ambrose Miller, who was 32 at the time. Granddad recalled that the funeral was on a day so icy that the coffin was transported from the house to Bethel Church and Cemetery on a sled. 

Edward was a Methodist, holding membership in the Russell Methodist Church, and a member of the Chariton Masonic lodge, widely valued for his good humor and stock of stories.


When Edward died, his survivors included his daughter, Rowena (Sargent) Haywood, and one stepdaughter, Elizabeth Rachel (Rhea) Clair, my great-great-grandmother. All of Elizabeth's other children were dead.

Daughter Lucinda Etheredge, born March 24, 1844, in Jefferson County, Iowa, had married at age 20 Amos Hixon on May 6, 1864, and they settled down to farm nearby in Cedar Township. Amos was a son of Matthew R. and Rebecca (Tedrick) Hixon.

Lucinda and Amos had a family of six children, including a daughter, Rocella (1875-1877), who died young. Lucinda struggled with diabetes at a time when there was no effective way to treat it. She had died of its complications at age 38 on June 11, 1882, six years before her mother.

Their son, Harry Schwimley (1878-1961), did not marry, but the four surviving daughters did --- and produced many descendents, quite a few of whom still live in Lucas County. Flora Rosetta Hixon (1865-1929) married John A. Long; Anna L. Hixon (1867-1940) married Alexander W. Cooper; Lenna Mabel Hixon (1870-1969) married James Newton Carson; and Mildred E. Hixon (1872-1956) married Albert A. Foster.

After Lucinda's death, Amos married Adaline Daugherty and they had three additional children, Chester Hixon, Glenn Hixon and Nora Hixon, who married Walter Dewey Sellers.


Dempsy Etheredge, born 19 June 1851 in Round Prarie Township, Jefferson County, went to work for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad soon after 1870, and was married to Sarah S. Larimer, a daughter of James Larimer, On July 18, 1872, in Lucas County. They lived first in Russell and then in Ottumwa, the major rail hub of southern Iowa at that time.

Dempsy was employed for all of his adult life by the C.B.&Q., working his way up from section hand to conductor.

On Wednesday night, Aug. 5, 1896, he was doing the work of his brakeman, U.G. Wright, along the line near Murray when he fell from a flatcar under the wheels of the next car. One leg was crushed; the other, "dislocated at the ankle." Taken to Creston, he died there at 6:05 a.m. Thursday, 6 August 1896.

Funeral services were held Saturday morning, Aug. 8, at the Methodist Church in Russell; and burial followed near his parents in Bethel Cemetery. Dempsy was only 45 at the time of his death. I have no information regarding Sarah's life after Dempsy's death. They had no children.


Elizabeth's daughter, Mary (Rhea) Dunn, most likely died between 1870 and 1880, perhaps in St. Joseph, Missouri, but the fact that she was estranged from her Iowa family complicates the situation. When her mother died in 1888, Mary had "not been heard from" in 20 years.

Her husband, Joseph Francis Dunn, turned up eventually in Olive Branch Cemetery at White Cloud in Doniphan County, Kansas. Born in 1831, he died Sept. 29, 1912, at the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Mary's children were tracked down with considerable effort after their grandmother's death so that they could receive small shares of her estate, but no contact was maintained. Mary's eldest daughter, Ethelinda (by an unknown father), was by 1888 known as Ethelinda Lambert, but efforts to find her failed and her share of the estate went unclaimed. Daughter Theressa E. Stowell/Oglesby was living in Socoro County, New Mexico Territory, when tracked down during 1892. The other children were William R. Dunn (died young), Anna E. (Dunn) Morris or Murray, James Francis Dunn and John J. Dunn.


With the death of Dempsy Etheredge during 1896, my great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Rachel (Rhea) Clair, was Elizabeth's only surviving child. Born Feb. 27, 1837, in Sangamon County, Illinois, she had married at age 15 James Wayne Clair, age 16, on Jan. 20, 1853, in Marion County.

They had 11 children while living first near Columbia in Marion County and then in Pleasant Township, Lucas County, but moved with all of those children --- save my great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth (Clair) Miller who married Joseph Cyrus Miller and remained in Lucas County --- to Kansas, arriving in Osborne County during February of 1878 and moving a year later to a claim near Codell in Rooks County. Elizabeth Rachel gave birth to her twelfth child a month after arriving in Kansas.

James Wayne died May 6, 1894, in Rooks County and some years later Elizabeth Rachel moved with two of her sons, Alvin and Charlie, to Alton in Osborne County, where she died on Jan. 1, 1922, age 81. She was buried beside her husband in Shilo Cemetery, near Codell.

The Clair children were: William Richard (1854-1874), Mary Elizabeth (Clair) Miller (1855-1933), Sarah Angeline (Clair) McCoy (1857-1932), Clarissa Jane (Clair) Mills (1859-1930), James Alonzo Clair (born 1861, disappeared as a young man), Thomas Kilby Clair (1864-1896), Robert Milton Clair (1866-1947), Walter Sanders Clair (1869-1937), Alvin Erastus Clair (1871-1942), Jasper Sylvester Clair (1874-1874), Hannah Zipporah "Zella" (Clair) Hockett (1875-1956) and Charles Edward Clair (1878-1951).

Mary Elizabeth (Clair) Miller's life in some ways would mirror those of her great-grandmother, Mary, and grandmother, Elizabeth. She married Joseph Cyrus Miller on Jan. 21, 1875, in Lucas County, and they settled down in English Township to farm, producing nine children. He died, however, at age 42 on Nov. 15, 1895, leaving her with children ranging in age from 3 to 20 (the youngest child had died three months before his father).

The surviving children, all of whom lived, married and died in Lucas County, were William Ambrose Miller (married Jessie Frances Brown; my grandparents), Elizabeth Mary Miller (married Albert Ray Mason), Dora Emma Miller (married Harvey M. Taylor), Adda Miller (married Orie Dell Dachenbach), Cynthia Miller (married Charles O. Abrahamson), James Clair Miller (married Vesta Myrle Brenaman), Easter Miller (married Frank Merlon Brenaman) and Jeremiah Miller (married Fern Alice Griffis).

1 comment:

Unknown said...

We appreciate all of the time and energy you have put into researching our family 's history!! I know it has been a labor of love but hard work non the less. Thank you Frank, love you, Linda Miller Coss