Saturday, March 23, 2013

Family History Friday #8 - Isaac James Lee

   I spent some time this week working on the family of Isaac James Lee and Lulu Frances Stoner, my great grandparents. I was trying to review the information in Familysearch and see what new records were now available.  One significant problem for openers is I couldn't find my Lee family notebook. Its possible I farmed it out to someone else in the family. If you read this and realize you have it in your possession , please let me know.

    I started out looking at the census records and was able to find the family on the 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 census records, all in Mystic, Appanoose County, Iowa.  Lulu Stoner was a lot easier to track down than her father, Jacob Stoner. It seems that after she married she lived the remainder of her life in Mystic, Iowa, a stark contrast from her father. Jacob Stoner seldom seemed to hang around in the same state for two consecutive federal censuses.  Isaac James Lee died in about 1921.  His death at a relatively young age was mainly a consequence of working in the coal mines.  Lulu Stoner lived to a ripe old age as a widow. Their son, James Ray Lee, was shown living with his mother on both the 1930 and 1940 census records.

       I remember meeting James Ray Lee once at Great Grandma Lee's home in Mystic when I was about eleven years old. Unfortunately, I don't remember much about him besides the fact that I met him once.  I don't remember much more about my great grandmother, Lulu Frances Stoner. When I was eleven she was about 81 years old. That is about the same age as my mother is now, but  Great Grandma Lee wasn't nearly as active and healthy as our Grandma Cozy.  I'm not sure she even drove herself to the grocery store, let alone on solo road trips to visit relatives in distant states. I remember going to her house on several occasions but we didn't interact much. I suspect she may have been a little too fragile for very much close contact with active boys. The one thing I remember about Great Grandma Lee's home was that it had a cistern.  There was a pump in the yard and my mom told me that it wasn't for a well, but was the pump for the cistern. At the time I remember being puzzled as to what was the difference between a well and a cistern. I really need to get a little more information on Great Grandma Lee from my mother and Aunt Judy who would have known her a bit better.

     I already had a birth record for Sylvia Lee, but I easily found it on the internet as well. I also found two birth records that both seem to pertain to James Ray Lee.  One is for a James Roy Lee, born on December 4, 1908. The second is for James Ray Lee, born on December 4, 1909.  Both records are for a male birth in Mystic, Appanoose County, Iowa. Isaac Lee and Lulu Stoner are listed as the parents for both records. I'm suspicious that they pertain to the same birth record, but one might have been indexed incorrectly. It would  be an extreme coincidence to have two siblings born on the exact same birthday, one year apart, who are both males and their names are the same except for one letter in their middle name.

    I addition to that little puzzle, I found a third child, Jacob Lee, born prior to Sylvia Lee (my grandmother). However, I couldn't find a birth record to confirm his existence. A check on Familysearch revealed that I was the original source of that information.  It reminded me of my favorite Pogo quote, "We have met the enemy and he is us!"  Actually I am quite sure I didn't make up Jacob Lee, much less a specific date of birth. I suspect he comes from family information I got from my grandmother, Sylvia Lee, which is probably documented in the above mentioned Lee family notebook.

      I haven't run out of leads to do online on this one. I was very happy to learn that there is an Iowa State Census for both 1905 and 1915. The 1905 census may well show little Jacob Lee living with his parents in Mystic, Iowa.  However, the 1915 census was apparently just of heads of households. There were a few bits of information on the 1915 census that I found interesting.  First of all that the entire estimated value of the home and farm of Isaac James Lee was $700.00 and he only owed $50.00 on the property. A second item of interest was that Isaac James Lee only had two years of formal schooling, but he could read and write.  I think we often fail to recognize what a great blessing education is in our lives. Life was probably pretty hard to Isaac James Lee and many other men who lived in his time. He mainly worked as a coal miner, but may have done some farm labor as well, I suspect his days were usually filled with hard labor.

    I took advantage of all the indexed census records to follow Isaac James Lee's trail to living with his father, Johnathan Lee, on the 1900 census. Also living with the family was his younger brother, Johnathan E. Lee, and his younger sister, Jessie A. Lee. I next found the Johnathan Lee family on the 1895 Iowa State Census, still living in Mystic, Iowa.  The family composition was exactly the same as on the 1900 census. There was no mother in the home and Johnathan Lee was working as a coal miner. Under religious belief it listed the abbreviation M.E. which I'm thinking might have meant Methodist. It didn't seem like happy circumstances for an eight year old girl, living with her coal miner father, two older brothers and no mother in the home. On the 1885 Iowa State Census the Johnathan Lee family was still living near Mystic, Iowa in Bellair Township. The family consisted of Johnathan Lee, his wife Ida A. (Daniels), daughters Lillie M., Mable, and Phoebe A, ages 9,7, and 5, and the two little boys, Isaac J. and Jonathan E. ages 2 and 0. One item of interest was that the 1885 Iowa State Census listed the County of Birth for individuals born in Iowa.  Starting at the oldest and working down to the youngest of the children they were born in Ringold County, Illinois, Appanoose county, Ringold County, and Appanoose County. Even if they weren't moving very far, it seems they were moving every other year over the space of about ten years. I also found the family on the 1880 Federal Census living in Centerville in appaloosa county, Iowa. Johnathan Lee's mother appeared to be living next door.

   The big triumph of the day was after I had followed Johnathan Lee's trail on the census back to  the 1870 Census in Knox County, Illinois, I succeeded in finding his wife, Ida Daniels, on the same census in Knox county, Illinois as a 13 year old girl living with her parents, Samuel and Phebe Daniels.  It was a wonderful little "Eureka!" moment, late at nigth on the computer. It also clearly shows how family names travel down the family tree. Jonathan Lee and Ida Daniels named one of their daughters Phebe, apparently after Ida Daniels' mother, and another daughter Jessie, apparently after Ida Daniels' sister.


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