“You have to be prepared for what you might find.”
It’s advice I’ve given lots of beginning researchers and I’ve recently encountered a situation that requires me to take my own advice.
Last year the Oklahoma Historical Society Research Division was fortunate enough to receive a grant to participate in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). You may know this program as “Chronicling America.” It is a wonderful, free site that provides digital images of newspapers published before 1923. Newspapers from several states have been made available, and only recently, the first newspaper from Oklahoma was included. These newspapers are keyword searchable, and I thought I should give it a spin.
My maternal grandmother’s family homesteaded in Beaver County. I grew up in adjacent Ochiltree County, Texas. So it is a part of the world I know fairly well. I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about searching the Beaver County newspaper for an obit for my great-grandmother and instead finding a news story about her suicide. My family did not “trade” in Beaver–they instead went across the state line to Perryton, Texas.
So while I didn’t think I’d find much, I thought I’d give it a whirl. This time I found information about my grandmother’s grandfather.
James Anderton and his wife Sarah Davis Anderton came to Oklahoma Territory, probably about 1904. There’s a record of a homestead filed 20 April 1905 in Beaver County and the subsequent “proving up” in 1910. James and Sarah were in their early 60s when they came to Oklahoma from Marshall County, Alabama. One of their sons homesteaded in Roger Mills County, but others, including my great-grandfather Robert, came on west to the panhandle. My grandmother told me that her grandmother Anderton used to want to go back to Alabama, but she died in Beaver County, Oklahoma, 11 April 1915. She is buried in Blue Mound Cemetery, a small country cemetery atop a slight rising in the western part of the county.
A few months later, in June, James applied for his Confederate Pension in Oklahoma. He had served in Ward’s Battery Light Artillery from Alabama. Oklahoma was the last state to offer pensions to Confederate vets, and James was awarded about $315 in September, 1915. He evidently took his pension money and returned to Alabama. He died in 1918 and is buried at Cochran Cemetery in Madison County, Alabama.
When I decided to try to search the Beaver Herald using the name “Anderton,” I expected to find several false hits on the name “Anderson.” Instead what I found in the 15 Jan 1915 edition was an account of a the County Commissioners’ reimbursement to James Hood, for “helping arrest Jas Anderton and guarding him.” In the same record, T. B. Jones is listed as being reimbursed for ”car hire for Jas Anderton to Beaver.” And then there’s the listing of B. W. Webber’s reimbursements: one entry for “board for Jas Anderton” and one for ”arrest of Jas Anderton, insane, guarding him and bringing him to Beaver.”
Despite hearing lots about her family from my grandmother, I heard nothing of this incident. Perhaps since she was 9, she wasn’t aware of it. But my main question has to do with the nature of what precipitated this arrest. The community where the Andertons lived was about 30 miles from Beaver, the county seat. How did word travel to Beaver that an arrest out in the southwestern part of the county was warranted? And what was great-great grandfather James doing to make this necessary? Was it a case of dementia? Was alcohol involved? Seems like the record would indicate drunkeness if this was the case.
So many questions. My next step for this incident is to look at court records in Beaver County courthouse.
Another example of being willing to take what is found and then needing to dig a little deeper. As Michael John Neill said at the workshop I attended yesterday, we genealogists act like 3 year olds because we constantly ask “why?”