|Mary (Morrison) Currier diary entry - January 11, 1883|
Her comment about "mother left us" refers to her mother, Olive (Liscomb) Morrison who passed away in 1882. On the 1880 Federal Census Olive was recorded as an 89 year old widow residing in the Langdon, NH home of her son-in-law, John Currier and her daughter Mary and grandson, John M Currier. So when Olive passed away it was exactly as Mary wrote..."left us." Mary's marriage to John Currier was her second marriage as noted in the "To The Top..." booklet. Her first marriage was to William Warner Wallace whom she married in Langdon on April 20, 1845. William Wallace and Mary had two children, Henry Halbert Wallace born in 1846 and Emma W Wallace born in 1850. Both children were born to the Wallaces in the town of Northfield, Summit County, Ohio. William was recorded on the 1850 Federal Census for Northfield with the occupation of "Merchant." There's another Wallace family listed adjacent to William's family on that census but I don't know if that was a Wallace family relative that might have encouraged William and his wife, both born in New Hampshire, to establish residence in Ohio. On every census record I've found listing Henry or Emma Wallace, their recorded state of birth has been Ohio. When the 1880 Federal Census reports started asking not only for place of birth but places of birth for father and mother, the two Wallace children born in Ohio with parents born in New Hampshire became a little easier to verify. Not conclusive proof but good leading source info. Unlike the death of William Wallace. The life of Mary's first husband, the father of Henry and Emma, appears to have ended around 1850 but date and place of death is unknown. There is another family tree on Ancestry.com that lists William's date of death as July 3, 1850 but that tree provides no source documentation. After 1850 the next chronological record of Mary and her two children is the 1860 Federal Census for Langdon, New Hampshire showing Mary residing in the home of her mother, Olive. No men are recorded as living in the household, pretty much endorsing the assumption that both women were widows. The "civil condition" categories of single, married, or widowed were not recorded on Federal Census records until 1880. There is documentation that Mary's father, David Morrison died in 1857 but, as mentioned earlier, only uncorroborated evidence her first husband died in 1850.
On May 7, 1863 Mary (Morrison) Wallace, widow of William Wallace married John Currier, widower of Emeline (Wallace) Currier. I hope I stated that correctly. When you get right down to understanding the situation it is brother and sister in law, by marriage, marrying each other after their spouses died. It's all documented. Believe me, I couldn't make up stuff like this if I tried . I might screw it up and make a mistake or an off the wall assumption or link but this scenario seems pretty clear to me.
|Federal Census, Langdon, NH - 1870|
|1870 Federal Census - Dover, KS|
Evidence of Henry Wallace living in Kansas is a little more credible in 1875 thanks to the Kansas State Census. Thank you, Kansas! The state collected their own census data every ten years in years ending in 5 from 1855 through 1925. Slightly different from the federal census format, Kansas State Census records are a gold mine of information! The 1875 state census for the town of Mission (same as Topeka) recorded a farmer, "H.H." Wallace, a 28 year old male with Ohio as state of birth. In and of itself this report would be no more conclusive than the Federal Census five years earlier. But recorded within the same residence in Mission is a 24 year old female by the name of Emma W. Wallace who was also born in Ohio! Now the Kansas connection is starting to look pretty solid! Maybe not a hard and fast lock on Henry and his sister but pretty darn close! And in my opinion a pretty convincing link between the Curriers and the Wallaces of New Hampshire and their ultimate migration to Kansas. Moreover, the Kansas State Census asked "where from to Kansas." Emma listed New Hampshire. Henry listed Massachusetts which I have no way to contradict having lost track of his movements between 1860 and 1870. But it could be so I'm fairly certain we're beaming in on the right Henry Wallace.
|Kansas State Census 1875 - Topeka|
H.H. Wallace shows up again in the 1880 Federal Census residing in the town of Mission again, same as the State census five years earlier. But this time there's no Emma Wallace residing with him. I managed to find an Emma Wallace residing in the city of Topeka recorded with the occupation of "servant." I believe it's one and the same Emma Wallace, sister of Henry Wallace. Lending support to that is the fact that the report does show her place of birth as Ohio. At the same time I have to confess that it also shows both of her parents being born in Ohio instead of New Hampshire. But there are so many possible reasons for errors on nineteenth century census reports that I wouldn't count anything out of the realm of possibilities, even a drastic change in occupations from "Teacher" in the 1875 Kansas Census to "Servant" in the 1880 Federal Census. But who knows? Anything could happen. In any case, by the year 1880 we have fairly well located and documented some of the family tree with Curriers in Langdon, New Hampshire and Wallaces in the vicinity of Topeka, Kansas. The family demography would soon be altered. Mary E. (Morrison) Wallace Currier would be a key player in the forthcoming demographic changes and, for me, an invaluable chronicler of events.
|Mary Currier's 1883 Diary|
Mary's husband, John Currier died in August of 1883. An amazingly strong and agile 75 year old farmer who still could cut and haul a cord of wood in a day but on this day, August 27th, while hauling a load of hay with a team of horses, suffered a fatal accident in a hayfield. The cold hard facts of his death were described on page 5 of the Currier's booklet, "To The Top Of The Tree" in one two sentence paragraph. To be sure, the booklet was a compilation of Currier family ancestry and not designed to embrace nor describe the sentiments associated with death. That's the nature of genealogy. And if you take the time to combine the narrative about John Currier from page 4 above with page 5 below he turns out to be a pretty interesting fellow.
Interesting or not, that would have been no consolation to Mary Currier to lose her second husband and the father of their teenage son to a farm accident. To my eyes, Mary's shock and sorrow as well as her resilience to carry on literally jump off her diary page entries from August 27 to August 30, 1883.
"Oh! What an h___? has brought to us. Our dear father & husband so suddenly called into Eternity this day nearly six o clock or half past five. Poor dear man left us so sudden."
Due to the layout of the diary pages Mary's day of shock and sorrow stands in contrast with the three days following describing her life going on through baking the first day, funeral services the next, and continuing on with needed farm responsibilities of threshing wheat and oats. "Life Goes On" is an epithet commonly expressed but it doesn't always hit you smack dab in the face like this picture does. Nevertheless, Mary faithfully continued writing her daily diary entries. An increase in the frequency and volume of friends and neighbors "calling" indicates Mary and Johnni (now identified as "John") were receiving moral support to ease their loss. Mary's appreciation is displayed by her meticulous accounting of each visitor, including what meals and chores were shared as well as some who "stayed over night." Austin Currier, John Currier's son from his first marriage (and my great grandfather) was mentioned on occasion as assisting with farm chores. Mary's son John who, prior to his father's death was mentioned as going to school in "S.R." now is obviously helping with farm work, harvesting corn and digging potatoes. ("S.R." was Saxtons River, Vt, about 13 miles from Langdon). But despite the care and concern of family and friends as well as devoting their efforts to chores and farm work, Mary wrote more than once, "Oh! how lonely John & I are left" and "But how sad we both feel."
On September 14th, two weeks following John Currier's death, Mary wrote, "Had letter from Emma. I can expect Henry tomorrow." But the next day, among other descriptions of her days activities she wrote, "Henry did not come as I have expected." The next mention of her son, Henry, was on the 21st with the comment, "Henry Wallace came about four o clock." This seemed to me a somewhat formal and unemotional comment to make about the arrival of her oldest son's arrival from Kansas. Then again, it's possible Henry had been there already and just not previously mentioned in Mary's diary. I never saw any entry to indicate that Emma Wallace, Mary's only daughter had returned from Kansas either or increased her weekly correspondence to her widowed mother. But I'm just working off what information Mary recorded so I have to remember not to read too much into comments and lack of comments. In any case, at the beginning of October Mary's entries describe preparations for auction of the farm! The auction was held on October 3rd and then on the 5th, "people came for the articles they bought at the auction...Dorty (sic) came for the hens and chickens." On October 18th, her entry reads, "trying to get things together to pack in trunks." And on Sunday the 21st, "Many called after church. Had to do more than I like to be all ready to leave early in the morning." Mary and John have decided to try and put their sorrow behind them and leave Langdon, New Hampshire. With the assistance of Henry their trunks are transported to the railroad depot and they travel by train in four days to Topeka, Kansas to establish residence in the same town as Mary's oldest children. The train ride offered Mary ample opportunity to observe the scenery and document the trip.
Mary seemed to me to be a bit critical about delays en route. Perhaps she had high expectations for the railroad's efficiency. Four days travel for roughly 1400 miles in 1883 sounds like pretty good transit time to me but elapsed travel time was probably not the real issue. Here was a New Hampshire farm wife who just lost her husband to an accident relocating half way across the country to live near all of her children, leaving farm chores and daily workaday routines behind her. She didn't have to churn butter or bake bread and pies while a passenger on the train. All she had to do was watch the scenery go by and record her impressions of what she saw. All the while anticipating what kind of life awaited her in Kansas. I guess she had a right to jot down a few complaints.
On Friday October 26, 1883, the first full day in Topeka following her journey, Mary wrote,"John went home with Henry after noon. I went through some of the streets with Mrs Huntoon then called at Emma & Miss __ (illegible)__." And commented the following day, Saturday, "Stayed with Emma last night. She & Miss (?) are doing their Saturday work." I wish I knew the name of Emma's companion recorded by Mary but have been unable to decipher. Knowing who she was might reveal some clues on the living arrangements established for Mary. For the remainder of the year Mary's diary entries made it clear that her son Henry maintained separate residence but visited frequently throughout the week, often with a team of horses drawing a load of sand and lime for making mortar. He apparently was constructing something but I don't know what. Her youngest son, John enrolled at Washburn College, of all places! Many comments described "selecting articles for John's room at college." The frequency of purchases for John's college residence makes me feel he might have been a little pampered. But that's just my impression. If he was here to defend himself he'd probably point out that this was 128 years ago so who's to care if he was pampered or not?! (Good point, John). As for Emma, Mary enjoyed and recorded doing many things with her daughter, attending church, lectures at the library, and visiting John at school. But I've failed to determine exactly where Mary lived and whether it was with Emma or not. She made numerous complimentary descriptions of the weather ("a very pleasant day with not a cloud all day") and how much she enjoyed walking ("Emma, John & I walked over to the cemetary (sic) some two miles. It being a delightful day we enjoyed the walk.") No more comments of loneliness or sadness which makes me think that Mary was indeed, moving on with her life. She maintained correspondence with the Curriers and friends back in New Hampshire, noting when she sent and received letters or cards. Christmas of 1883 was recorded, "We were all to Dr Huntoons to dinner and spent the Eve. John went home with Henry a very pleasant day." And the last dated entry for the year was on Thursday, December 27, 1883, "Baked bread finished mending. Sent receipt back to E.M. Smith."
If Mary wrote in any other diaries before or after 1883 I imagine they have long since disappeared. There are "memoranda" pages following the dated daily entry portion which were primarily used for accounting income and expenses. Interesting to me were the paid column entries for October, one titled "Coming to Kansas" and just below it "for Johnni" both itemized at $40.50 each. I'm assuming that was for train fare and baggage. I guess Henry must have paid his own way. There are other entries within the memoranda section that appear to be dated 1884 so rather than using the diary purely for chronological events it may have been relegated to general notes or accounting. Whatever the case, the very last Memoranda page is pictured below:
Page noted, "Picked in Kansas first of May by Mrs S_____?_____" with an actual clover and attached stem sewn into the last Memoranda page. Darkened by age and enclosure it is well preserved. Mrs S might have found the four leafed clover before Mary arrived or after. Probably after. Whenever it was it seems likely that Mary hoped it would bring good luck. I know it brought me good luck as it opened up a view of the entire year of 1883 that I never could have gotten from official documents and certificates. I will always be grateful to Mary and any of my ancestors who had a hand in preserving this precious window of 1883.
With no more diary to show me the way, I resumed my search the old fashioned way. Well, old fashioned in the sense of resorting to records instead of written dialogue. Since I'm using my computer to sort through genealogy websites it hardly seems fair to call my methods old fashioned. But computer or no, for the life of me I was unable and continue to be unable to find any record of Mary Currier or her son John Morrison Currier from any source between 1883 and 1895. As I mentioned earlier I had found Henry and Emma on separate Kansas State Census records for 1885 but nothing on Mary and John. Emma apparently was a servant and, it appeared to me, for the same Mr and Mrs Huntoon that Mary's diary had mentioned a few times. But so far sifting through the 1885 census records from the state of Kansas has not helped me to pin down the location for Mary or her youngest son. And 1890 is a wipe out for research since almost the entire Federal Census records were destroyed in a fire. The one thing I did manage to come across, I assume from about 1885 give or take a few years are photographs of Mary and John. Both of these portrait type photos were contained in a Currier family photo album I inherited. Kindly noted in pencil as to their identities and both photographed by the same studio, Leonard Photography of Topeka, Kansas.
|Mary E Currier|
|John M Currier|
These are the only photographs in the album imprinted with the logo of Leonard Studio of Topeka, Ks. Believe me, I looked for more Leonard Studio photographs in the hopes that Henry or Emma might have posed for photos as well. But no such luck.
Kansas State Census records for 1895 brought the Curriers and the Wallaces back into the light after a decade of residence darkness. Mary E Currier, John M Currier, and Ema (sic) W Wallace reside together in Ward 3 of Topeka, Kansas. These state census records don't list relationships between household members the way federal records do nor did they indicate home ownership. I can only guess that Mary owned or rented the property she shared with her daughter and youngest son. The occupations for each were "house keeper" for Mary, "bookkeeper" for John, and "Ema" I think was a "clerk" (hard to read). Henry was recorded by Kansas as still farming and still in the town of Mission living with what appears to be a married couple assisting him on his farm as laborers. The 1900 Federal Census records show Mary and her three children still residing in the Topeka area but with a reshuffled deck. In the first year of the Twentieth Century, John M Currier has been married for one year to Cora Grubbs and the newlyweds reside in a rented home on Clay Street in Topeka. Cora's mother, Mary Grubbs lives with them. John is still listed as a bookkeeper and the record specifies his employer is the Chicago Lumber Company. Henry still resides in Mission, Kansas but in this year his mother and sister are recorded as residing with him. Henry's occupation is farmer, Emma's is housekeeper, Mary's occupation line is blank. One additional male resides with them, recorded as a farm laborer.
So between the end of 1883 with no more diary entries to lead the way up to and including the 1900 Federal Census records, only the Kansas State Census records provide clues on the Wallaces and Curriers in 1885 and 1895. And as noted above, documentation in 1885 is incomplete as far as my research goes, missing any record of Mary or John. I attempted to find newspaper articles from the website, GenealogyBank.com, which revealed the possibility that both Henry Wallace and Emma Wallace may have been involved in politics. An August 1898 edition of the Topeka Weekly Capital newspaper cited the withdrawal of an H.H. Wallace from nomination for State Senator. A nominee of the "fusionists," a political term popular in that era for combinations of political parties and special interests, including farmers, would also be compatible with our Henry H Wallace but, as always, not a sure thing. Henry's sister could be one and the same as the Miss Emma Wallace endorsed in her candidacy for county treasurer by the State Ledger paper in July, 1897. According to the October, 1898 Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital newspaper she was defeated by a Will S Eberle. There's a bit more corroboration in Emma's case wherein her occupation listed on the 1885 state census listed her place of employment as "Department of Treasurer." The 1898 newspaper article supports this possibility citing, "who for fourteen years has held the position of deputy treasurer." Interesting to note that the description of her previous service includes working for many treasurers, the first of which was named Huntoon. So Mary might have worked for the Huntoons as a servant, resided in the Huntoon home, but also worked for Mr Huntoon in the Shawnee County Treasurers' Office! These newspaper pieces prove nothing, of course, but since my search is like trying to be a cold case detective, they should be considered if not suspects, then very much "persons of interest."
|1898 newspaper article - H H Wallace|
|Newspaper articles 1897 & 1898 - Emma Wallace|
In the center of a column of advertisements, John's Chicago Lumber Co advertisement seems a little understated in comparison to the Kaw Milling Company's dare to buy a sack "on our say so" or "OK" Lard "The Perfect Shortener" but all in all still a tasteful and conservative means of getting the lumber company image out there. Works great for me since it matches nicely with John's occupation records on census reports: in 1895 a "bookkeeper," in 1900 a "secy in "lum yard," employer Chicago Lumber Co, in 1905 "lumber dealer", and in 1910 a "clerk" in "lumber yard." All listings close enough to verify John's employment at the Chicago Lumber Company in my opinion. Whether the progression from bookkeeper, to secretary, to dealer, and ending with clerk is a true picture of going up and down the corporate ladder I'm not certain. Each of the four records were made by different enumerators, two state and two federal, and each would have their own interpretation of job titles. And regardless of their interpretation of job categories, name spellings, and all other categories of entries the census enumerators were required to record, they had to have been influenced by the citizens they were documenting. What other explanation could there be, for instance, in the example of Henry Halbert Wallace. In the 1850, 1860, and 1870 Federal Census records his name is recorded as "Henry Wallace." On all subsequent census records, federal and state, Henry is listed as "H.H. Wallace." All different enumerators who, on many records, listed others on the same reports with full names as well as just initials. Henry was always "H.H." from 1875 on and for the rest of his life. I have to believe that he preferred it that way and made it clear to the enumerators that he was to be listed on the record accordingly.
The residential alignments as they were configured in 1900 remained the same for the rest of Mary Currier's life as well as her children's lives. John resided with his wife Cora and her mother in 1905 (State Census) and 1910 (Federal Census). John was always listed as head of household (customary for the times) and while renting a home in 1900 he was recorded as owning the residence in 1910 ("freely" owned, no mortgage). Mary and Emma still resided with Henry who was listed as the "head of household" and owner of the residence. In 1900 the property was listed as owned vs rented and categorized as a "farm" vs a "house." In 1910's Federal Census Henry (or I should say H.H.) still owned it but the category reversed to being a house instead of a farm. But the most interesting thing that jumped out at me when I saw the 1910 federal record is that it was annotated with the address of the home...1515 College Avenue in Topeka. Sound familiar? Maybe not considering how long ago in this short story turned novel I mentioned it. This address is the same address as listed for my Aunt Alice in 1930! Now the fact that Aunt Alice said she lived with Uncle Henry was starting to make sense.
Going forward I found no more census records listing John M Currier. I found Mary, Emma, and Henry on the Kansas State Census in 1915, the three of them still together on College Avenue. That was the last record I found on Mary. I couldn't find anything on anybody in 1920. I even browsed through all of the 1920 Federal Census listings for College Avenue in Topeka but found no record of Mary, Emma, or Henry. The 1515 College Avenue address simply was not listed in 1920. Then, in the 1925 state census, Emma and Henry reappeared. Same address. Same defining information of ages and Ohio birth place. Some of the other categories are a little confusing but there are just too many matches to be anybody else. But clearly, no Mary and not surprising because she would have been 101 years old in 1925!
|Kansas State Census Record 1925 - Topeka, Shawnee County, Ks|
H H Wallace is listed on line 15 with his sister, Emma W below him on line 16. I'm not sure what the enumerator was trying to say for marital status. It almost looks like a precursor to McDonald's Golden Arches in black and white. Probably not but seeing as how he or she also recorded "yes" annotations for other residents in the column calling for "Single, Married, Widowed, or Divorced" I don't suppose interpretation is of much importance! In any case, the lines below the Wallace siblings has one more piece of the Kansas Connection puzzle. Two names are listed as belonging to the same household of 1515 College Avenue. A Rachel E Johnson and a Clara O'Landry? Clara's last name illegible. No ages, place of birth, or other descriptions noted. But Rachel Johnson sure rang a bell...the music teacher residing at the same address with Alice Currier five years later on the 1930 Federal Census! I still don't know who she was other than a resident in the same house as my ancestors but there is some continuity at least linking a few pieces of history together. The history is incomplete to be sure but there's still enough recorded data to provide a glimpse of the Curriers and the Wallaces from the Nineteenth and a good ways into the Twentieth Century. And if I ever get a chance to stop in Topeka I'm betting I might even be able to focus in on a clearer picture.
I was disappointed that Ancestry.com and GenealogyBank.com could not disclose when any of the two families in Topeka might have passed away. I had earlier reviewed a map of Topeka to see how close the Currier sisters were to each other in 1930 and saw that they were residing just a block or two away from each other. Moreover, both were a short walk from the Washburn College (University) campus. The same map also showed a few cemeteries nearby so I pulled up the website, Findagrave.com. Long story short (which is obviously not my forte') two Wallaces, three Curriers, and one Grubbs (no pun intended) are buried together in Mount Hope Cemetery. A couple of blocks West of the Washburn campus, an upright headstone in Northwest Plot IX marks the family grave site.
The individual burial sites for each member of the families are marked by engraved flush ground markers.