Thursday, September 3, 2020


The last blog showed a photo of Samuel with his son and three daughters sent me by cousin Cheryl. The photograph is a little blurred with age making it difficult to estimate children’s ages, and thus the photo date. I decided to try to “improve” the photo by, in turn, enhancing, sharpening, colorizing it. The first and last were done using features available on the My Heritage website. I sharpened it using Microsoft editing. And then I combined all of these variations.

From the photo “improved” with everything, my wife and I think that the boy, presumably Austin, was aged 9 or 10 and the youngest girl, Stella, at the far right, 12 or 13. This means that the photo was taken around 1890 or 1891. The photo also shows that the seated girl has a somewhat rounded face, in contrast to the taller girl standing behind her. Other photos show Viola to have a rounded face, indicating that the seated girl is Viola. And Viola would be expected to be seated owing to the injury to leg caused by Samuel. What do you think?




Friday, August 28, 2020

Sam and Susie’s Kids

 The preceding blog stated that unknowns surround Susie Ball (Tingley) Tapscott Sturdevant, but more mysteries may surround her children.

First, we don’t know with certainty how many children Susie and Samuel had. The 1880 census shows three, “Lully,” “Maria,” and “Susan,” All born in the 1870s. But no Samuel Tapscott family unit appears in a census after that date.

 “Lully’ it turns out was Viola Jane, “Lully” apparently being a nickname (or a mistake by the census enumerator). She was also known as “Lola.” We are quite familiar with Viola’s life. She was born 23 Aug 1875 (apparently out of wedlock), married 1 May 1898, and died 19 Apr 1973.

“Maria” was Julia Maria, who was born in 1876 or 1877 and was probably the “infant child, as yet unborn” that resulted in Susie’s marriage to Samuel on 8 Jul 1876. Julia committed suicide in 1898 by jumping in front of a train. All about that in my book.

The third child in the census is Susan, age 1 (born between 2 Jun 1878 and 1 Jun 1879). An 1879 issue of the Clark County Herald announced “BORN. TAPSCOTT-In Marshall, May 31, to Samuel and Susie Tapscott-a daughter” and a birth record at the Clark County Courthouse records the birth of a girl named only “Tapscott” to Samuel and Susan Tingley Tapscott. We have always assumed those records were for Susan who appears in the 1880 census. And they are. But then we have a problem. According to her death certificate, Estella Tapscott, who went almost solely by “Stella,” was born to Sam and Susie on 23 May 1879, a date that appears on Stella’s grave marker and fits the age on her  marriage record. But we cannot have two children born eight days apart. Moreover if Stella had been born 23 May 1879 she should appear in the 1880 census with her family. Even if her date of birth was May 1880, as appears in the 1900 census, she should still show up in the 1880 census, which has an official date of Jun 1. And, as we will see, the birth record for her brother Austin states that he is child number 4, not number 5 which would be the case if he had both a sister Susan and a sister Stella. The evidence allows one to conclude that Stella does appear in the 1880 census, but as “Susan.” It is likely that the daughter we know as “Stella’ was really “Susan Estella” or “Estella Susan” and was really born 31 May 1878 as given in the more reliable birth record, not 23 May 1879, a date probably promulgated by human error. (Birth dates on death certificates and grave markers are often questionable.)

Finally, there is Austin T. Tapscott, found in only a single record, a reliable birth record at the Clark Co, Illinois courthouse. The record gives the date of birth as 23 Sep 1881 and states that he is fourth child born to “Sarah Tabscot nee Tingley” and “Samuel Tapscot.” No other record of Austin has been found and it is likely that he died young.

An 1884 article in a Terre Haute newspaper states that during a dispute between Samuel and his wife, she had absconded with two children leaving Sam with two others. Four total. And a photograph, from cousin Cheryl, taken around 1890 or 1891 (my estimation) shows Samuel with four children, three girls and a boy. It all seems to fit together. Samuel and Susie Bell had four children: Viola Jane, Julia Maria, Estella Susan (“Stella”), and Austin T. But, as you will soon see,

We May Be Wrong!

Samuel, Julia, Viola, Austin, Stella, c1890-1891, thanks to Cheryl Naegel.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Mysteries of Susie

I hate to give up when it comes to tracing Susie Bell Tingley and her children  (see blog 22 Jan 2018). But I may have to. Susan (“Susie”) Bell (likely “Corabelle” or “Corabell”) married the last-born of Henry and Susan (Bass) Tapscott’s children—the scoundrel Samuel. Once I finish with Samuel Tapscott and his descendants, the book “Henry’s Children, the Tapscotts of the Wabash Valley” will be complete. (Except for a month or two of editing and indexing.) But, I’m afraid I may have to write Samuel and Susie’s section with some rather large gaps. Let’s start with Susie.

Susie Bell (thanks to Cheryl Naegel)

The biggest problem with Susan (Tingley) Tapscott is that she disappears for over thirty years. Except for a postcard that my distant cousin Cheryl Naegel (a cornucopia of information) sent me, no document is found with her name between 1894, when “Bell Fingley” (transcription error) gave permission for her daughter Estella Tapscott to marry, and Susie's death on 3 Dec 1930 at her daughter’s home in Burnett, Vigo Co, Indiana. She cannot be found in the 1900, 1910, 1920, or 1930 censuses, or anywhere else for that matter.

We do know, from the postcard and death certificate, that she married someone by the name of “Sturdevant” (presumably following Samuel’s death on 15 Jun 1903). But, unfortunately, we don’t know her spouse’s first name. All attempts to find the correct Susan (or Susie) Sturdevant in other records have failed.

We also know, from the postcard, that she was living in Decatur, Illinois in 1927. What is interesting is that in 1920, living in Danville, was a Susan Sturdevant born in 1855 (our Susie’s birth year) married to an Andrew Sturdevant. Wrong Susan as it turns out.


Can anybody tell me anything about Susie's missing years?

The next blog will look at Susie’s children, some even more mysterious than their mother.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Draft Book Section - George Wilbert Tapscott

Paul V. Tapscott's life was not all that interesting. That was certainly not true of his brother George. Let me know of suggested changes, corrections, additions.

Born 25 Oct 1884 in Hendricks Co, Indiana, George Wilber Tapscott was a life-long Indiana farmer. As a teenager he worked as a farmhand, as his father did at the time, and went on to operating rented farms in Hendricks, Boone, and Marion counties. On the way he got married and raised four kids. And it was the marriage that makes George’s story interesting, for the woman he married had a fascinating history.

On 6 Jul 1915 in Hendricks Co, George W. Tapscott  married Ellen J. Head. But Ellen was not a native of Hendricks Co or even of the United States. She had been born Ellen Jane Booker on 9 Mar 1885 in Chichester, England to William M. and Augusta Emma (Peskett) Booker.

On 21 Apr 1908, the S.S. Minnehaha steamed into New York harbors, arriving from London, England. On board, with Los Angeles her ultimate destination, was Nellie Campbell. Nellie, it turns out, was Ellen Jane Booker. “Nellie” was the name Ellen would use most of the rest of her life and Daugald Archibald Campbell was the father of her unborn child. Nellie had arrived in the U.S. three months or so pregnant. She would later claim that she had been married to a person of high standing in the Royal Navy, who had died at sea and been buried there.

In Los Angeles, on 30 Oct 1908, Violet Campbell was born to Ellen Jean [sic] Booker and Daugald Archibald Campbell. Though the birth was recorded as legitimate, it had occurred at Door of Hope, 3500 S. Main Street, a women's shelter.

In 1909 Nellie was apparently taken ill and placed in a California hospital. It was there that she met William T. Head, a well-to-do Boone Co, Indiana, farmer. As a result of that meeting, it was said that “the spark of love was kindled which time fanned into a flame, resulting in their marriage.” The two were united in Danville, Illinois, on 5 Apr 1910.

Born 20 Jun 1852 in Bullitt Co, Kentucky, William Thomas Head had outlived two previous wives, the second of whom died 29 Aug 1909, around the time that he met Ellen (“Nellie”) Booker Campbell. William was thirty-three years older than Nellie, and he had children by both of his previous marriages.

The “spark of love” was soon extinguished between William and Nellie. On 1 Sep 1910, less than five months after the marriage, William filed for a divorce. In an article titled “Nellie was very Naughty” a local newspaper reported William’s claims:

. . .during his courtship Nellie represented that she was a pious, religious, and virtuous woman, a church member of long standing and had sang in the choir of one of the churches near her home; that she had previously been married to a man of high standing in the English navy, but that he had died on a voyage and been buried at sea; that as a result of her former marriage she had one child, but he declares that all of said statements were false and made for the purpose of deceiving him and inveigleing him into a marriage with her.
He says that he explained to her that he was a farmer and would give her a good home; that he needed some one to look after his grand daughter, and that she would be expected to do the work usually performed by farmers' wives. At her request, he brought her child to his home where it has since remained.
Soon after their marriage she began to complain and find fault with the furniture and other things about the farm; circulated the report that she did not love him; but married him for his money; called him a d-d old fool, and used vile and indecent language in the presence of his grand daughter, and when he remonstrated with her, she would tell him to "go to hell," she would do as she pleased.
He says that he explained to her hoods regarding him to his children, and caused them to cease visiting him; that she would use vile, suggestive and indecent language in the presence of strangers; that while professing to love him, she was planning to leave him, and was planning to visit lawyers with a view to compelling him to divide his property with her. Hat she averred she had been with other men, and they had taken liberties with her. He declares that he does not believe her child is the legitimate offspring of her former marriage. He says there no children and no hope of a reconciliation.

Was there any truth to this? Possibly. But much seems to be unsubstantiated. Then, just two weeks later, the suit for divorce was dismissed. The couple stayed married until William's death, but how good the marriage was is difficult to say. The couple did, however, have a child, Thomas George Head, born posthumously 30 Mar 1914 in Union Twp, Hendricks Co.

William Thomas Head Sr. died 27 Feb 1914 and was laid to rest in Riverside Cemetery, Attica, Fountain Co, Indiana, with a marker listing his first two wives. And Nellie was free to marry again, which she did, the following year, when she married George Tapscott.

During the years that George traveled from county to county to rent and run farms, he and Nellie had four children, Esther, George, Marion, and John. Nellie’s first two offspring, Violet and William Thomas Jr., were also part of the family.

George died young, on 11 Jan 1936 in Indianapolis, of heart failure following removal of a cancerous kidney. Nellie continued living in Marion Co, in rural Indianapolis, raising four children (the two girls were  married by the time George died). Then, on 18 Jul 1960, Ellen J. (“Nellie”) Tapscott was found dead on a bed in the rural Indianapolis home of her daughter Violet with a plastic bag tied over head. She had committed suicide.

George and Ellen (Booker) Tapscott markers (Find A Grave)

Ellen and George rest side by side in the Knights of Pythias Cemetery, Lizton, Indiana. His cemetery marker is clearly inscribed with an obviously incorrect death of 1938. The year 1936 in his death certificate is confirmed by a newspaper death notice.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Draft Book Section - Paul V. Tapscott

Major and Sarah (Dinsmore) Tapscott had three sons, no daughters. The oldest son was Paul. Here is what I have written. Comments, suggestions, changes, additions?

Major and Sarah’s first born, Paul V., arrived 18 Sep 1880 in Hendricks Co, Indiana. About Jul 1909, when he was approaching age 29 (Major’s male descendants tended to marry late), Paul married Pearl D. Johnson, daughter of a Lebanon, Indiana, brick masonPearl was born to Willis D. and Emaline (Lee) Johnson on 10 Jan 1879, presumably in Lebanon. Pearl may have lacked documentation of her birth since in 1942 she asked the Morgan Co, Indiana, Circuit Court “to have the time and place of her birth determined.”

Paul and Pearl, a truly alliterative couple, started out married life in Montgomery Co, Indiana, northeast of Indianapolis, living there for a while in the 1920s with Paul’s widowed mother in the town of Crawfordsville. By 1930 Paul and Pearl were residing in the village of Brooklyn, Indiana, just a forty-minute drive to downtown Indianapolis. There, they lived out their married lives.

Brooklyn, Morgan Co, Indiana
When he retired in 1949, Paul had worked forty-seven years for Bell Telephone Company, where Pearl had also worked, as an operator. It may have been due to Paul’s and Pearl’s jobs that two Tapscott nephews, George William and Marion John, ended up working for Indiana Bell.

Paul died suddenly, passing away at his Brooklyn home 20 Jul 1950. Widowed, Pearl moved to Lebanon, Indiana, where she had spent her childhood. She died there on 14 Jan 1963, while living with a niece. She and Paul were laid to rest in the Knights of Pythias Cemetery, Lizton, Indiana. The couple had no children.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Draft Book Section - Major Josiah Tapscott

I'm now working on Major Tapscott, next to last of the 12 children of Henry the Traveler and Susan Bass. Here is what I have written about Major. Major's descendants come next. Complaints, contributions, interesting stories, etc. appreciated. See previous post.

Where his first name originated is anybody’s guess, but, Major’s middle name may have come from his presumed grandfather, Josiah Bass. Major’s death certificate gives his date of birth as 23 Mar 1848, in agreement with the date of Mar 1848 given in the 1900 census. Most other census data, however, indicate a birth year of around 1845 or 1846. Might he have knocked a year or two off his age as he grew older?

Sarah (Dinsmore) Tapscott. (Contribution
of LeAnna and Meredith McGuire)

In his younger years, he was always called “Major,” but later on he used the name “Josiah.” Major was born in Illinois, presumably in Clark Co, likely in Darwin Twp where he was living with his parents in 1850 but he and his progeny spent most of their lives in Indiana. Major had moved to Indiana by 1870, when he was working as a farmhand in White River Twp, Johnson Co, just south of Indianapolis, for John Presser, a rather well-to-do farmer. It was in that county that, on 6 Oct 1874, Major “Tabscott” married Fanny Dinsmore.

Sarah Fanny Dinsmore was born 6 Aug 1858 in Boone Co, Indiana, to John and Jane (Holder) Dinsmore, an Iowa and Indiana farm family with at least six children. Sarah and Major lived most or all of their married life in Hendricks Co, Indiana, where they raised three boys, Paul, George, and Allen, while Major worked in assorted jobs—farmhand, laborer, school janitor. Some claim that a fourth child, a daughter, Maude, was born and died on 19 Nov 1875, but no reliable evidence has been provided. It is certainly possible, however, since the first documented child, Paul, was born almost six years after Major and Sarah were married.

Major passed away 29 Feb 1916 at the Protestant Deaconess Hospital in Indianapolis. Sarah died 8 Mar 1928 at the home of her son Allen in Indianapolis. The couple were laid to rest in the Knights of Pythias Cemetery, Lizton, Indiana, though no markers are found.