For those of you who may have explored one or two of my prior articles concerning various lines in my family tree, you may be familiar with the fact that my interest in genealogy arose as a result of my Grandmother Carrie Bullard Joslin’s lifelong enthusiasm for “meeting our ancestors.” Grandmother Joslin was wont to recite family lineages and groups often, enhancing the recitation by one or two colorful stories relating to a family member. For a young girl, the lists of innumerable names became confusing as I made my first attempts at figuring out Who, exactly, was Who? How did those names fit into my life? As my childish inquiries were made, Grandmother Joslin would say, “Well, Melindy Ellen. You see, you come from a long line of folks with lots of names, like Bullard and Joslin, Davenport and Young, Hopper and Godwin. Then, to make things interesting, we must not forget the Russells and the Gambles, the Buzzards and the Brownings – Oh! And we must NOT forget the Moucks and the Muskrats!” So many times I heard those family names recited that – to this day – the names stick in my head.
Now, my father’s mom also knew her family lore. She was just not so involved in naming the names, making the lists, visiting the cemeteries, penning the pals. Her tidbits of family lines came more often as an outburst or a caution: “Do not forget, you descend from Baron von Hempleman of Germany! Young ladies of that line do not…(wear holes in their new dress, sully their fine white lace on their new apron, wear their Church gloves outside to ride the “horse” in Grandpa’s old salt cedar where his last jockey’s saddle hung).” Or, “That Carrie! She thinks she’s such a much! Prancin’ that bustle in the ole James movie! Why, I was COUSINS to the boys!” (It should be known that Grandmother Joslin was an extra in the Jesse James movie filmed in their hometown of Pineville, Missouri, and did indeed toss her bustle with the best of the ladies!)
Those two lines alone sent me on decades long searches to investigate and prove the alleged relationships, especially the Baron von Hempleman line. For Grandmother pronounced the surname as she had heard it pronounced, undoubtedly by her father Lew Wallace Alexander, and it bore little resemblance to the proper spelling given herein. It sounded more like Hoppelman or Hauptman or something similar but research into those names came to dead ends. It was not until I found a cache of records kept by Grandmother that included some birth, death and marriage certificates that I began to branch out and research the line of her father. As I searched further and further back beyond even the Revolutionary War, I came upon the Baron von Hempleman name finally along with a romantic story that one day I will attempt to relate here. For George and Adam Hempleman, brothers of the Baron, sailed to America before the Revolutionary War, along with Marguerite Duffy. Marguerite was a commoner and Baron von Hempleman apparently was indisposed to permit his son, George, to wed her. Thus, the brothers gave up their titles and lands and came as indentured servants to America. The three were separated upon arrival as each traveled to their place of service. The brothers would both fight for America’s Independence and not see one another again until late in life.
The Jesse James movie line from Grandmother Nora Alexander Carroll King gave me fits. Then, one late night of research in Phoenix bore fruit. I had located records documenting my great-grandmother Flutie Creek’s father and mother. Absolom Creek wed Martha Ann Wade in Liberty, Clay County, Missouri. As I did further searches for Absolom I came upon the name of his father, Jacob Haudenscheldt Creek, who had wed Virginia Lee Younger. As I sleepily continued my research, all of a sudden my tired brain began to fire off little peals of hints: Liberty…Clay County…Younger…what does that mean? Oh, my! Could it be? The Youngers of Clay County infamy? Well, yes it could be and was. Turns out my father’s side of the family had some fascinating tales to tell as well.
More recently, the Moucks and the Muskrats of Grandma Joslin’s litany came to mind. My wonderful uncle Dr. Edgar H. Burks, Jr. is a spry, alert, humorous, 94 year old who has led an exciting life. He and my aunt, Linnie Jane Joslin Burks were missionaries to Nigeria, Africa, for many years before retiring to Springfield, Missouri. A few years ago, Aunt Linnie Jane went to her Heavenly rewards. At her funeral were many family members and friends, including the Moucks and the Muskrats. Uncle Edgar’s mother was Mary Louisa Mouck and her younger sister, Elva May Mouck wed Jacob “Jake” Claude Muskrat of the Cherokee tribe. The Mouck sisters were raised in the Indian Territory before it was admitted to the Union as the State of Oklahoma November 16, 1907.
This year I finally decided to see exactly how the Muskrat Cherokees fit into our tree. In the course of documenting their family history I found one extremely wonderful Cherokee woman, Ruth Margaret Muskrat Bronson. Her life’s story is one worthy of an entire column devoted to her achievements, alone. Additionally, I found some of those coincidental occurrences that make genealogical research so intriguing. The threads of those stories weave a fine tale that stretches from the wilds of old Virginia in the early 1700’s to the fight for Independence in the State of Texas, from the shores of the Tennessee rivers to the land of the Red Man, Oklahoma. That will be a fine fabric to present in a later column, as well.
One discovers as the trek into the past proceeds, the paths of our ancestors are diverse and filled with exciting adventures, mundane records of everyday events, and some rare finds which are increasingly within reach as the Internet spurs a greater library of original documents available to the inquisitive genealogist. In the months to come, I hope to prepare columns featuring some of these colorful, romantic, infamous or courageous ancestors. Those whose stories warrant further exploration and may bring a smile to the face of the reader.