Friday, July 29, 2011

Louisa County Roots

Throughout my genealogical research, it seems as if most of my ancestors landed in groups in a few areas of the state. A big cluster of them is up and around Black Hawk county in Northeast Iowa, another group around my area is Southeast Iowa, and another group in the very East part of Iowa. Of that latter group, there was one group up in Clinton county and one in Louisa county. Also each group lived in these area for multiple generations meaning in most of those areas and some still do which means I have many distant cousins whom I've never heard of and who don't know me. Recently I have been preparing a trip to Louisa county to do some digging and have been trying to gather information of places that interest me in seeing and noting their GPS cordinates.

One place of interest is the Oakland Cemetery which is about a mile as the crow flies to the northwest of this arial shot where the noted families are buried. Those are:

Joseph Trimble Cowles and wife Elizabeth C. Chapman (3rd great grandparents)
John Chapman and possibly his wife Jane Cather (4th great grandparents)
John Grim and wife Grace Margaret Mathers (3rd great grandparents)
William James Grim and wife Jane Elizabeth Cowles (2nd great grandparents)
Numerous children and grandchildren of those people above whom though related, aren't my direct ancestors.

As you can see, not only did they live and die together but they married among themselves. I subconsciously knew this but until I started searching for them on plat maps and overlaying those maps into google maps did I see just how close. Even better, it looks like all three farmsteads still exist though only one of them looks active in the aerial photo. By comparison, you can compare the current aerial photo on top with the earliest one available that was taken sometime in the 1930's posted below.

John Chapman was one of my earliest forebears to enter into Iowa sometime in the early 1840's in the extreme southeast corner of the state. Within ten years, he had moved north to this farm where he lived until his death in 1869 at age 69. His wife Jane Cather Chapman would live past the 1885 Iowa Census and then disappears, last place known in Fort Madison, again in the very southeast corner of the state. She would have been 75 in 1885 so it would be a good assumption that she died but I have been unable to locate a cemetery record for her. One of my goals in visiting Oakland cemetery where John Chapman is buried is to see if his wife Jane might be beside him.

John and Jane Cather Chapman's first born child Elizabeth C. Chapman would marry Joseph Trimble Cowles in 1851 when both the Chapman and Cowles family were living in Lee county Iowa. Both families evidently had pretty good ties beyond their kids marrying because they also settled on farms right next to each other. If the name seems familiar, it is because I have done a previous post on the Cowles family before.

Joseph and Elizabeth Chapman Cowles's third daughter Jane Elizabeth Cowles would marry William James Grim, son of John Grim whose farm you see a little to the south and east of the Cowles and Chapman farms. John actually just rented the Daniel Owens farm which I included in the notation. William and Jane would live on the Grim farm for a few years after marriage before striking out a few counties to the southwest of Louisa county. To this day, there are both Cowles and Grims living in both places.

The Chapman, Cowles and Grims all came from the same part of western Pennsylvania along with several other families in my family tree. They were evidently part of several groups of convenanters who were part of the Reformed Presbyterian church who migrated from western Pennsylvania to west of the Mississippi. Why they migrated has been a question that continues to allude me.

So sometime soon, I hope to visit this area for a day, first stopping at the cemetery to pay my respect to four pairs of my ancestors and then swing by to visit their homesteads to see if I can conjure up some of their pasts. I then plan to head on into town to the local Historical Society to read through some books to helpfully further my pursuits into the origins of these families. It will certainly be a packed day and I will have to move along at a faster pace than I would like to accomplish everything but still one that I look forward too. Though I have passed through this area many times, this will be the first time I have stopped to poke around my Louisa county roots.


R. Sherman said...

We have a landowner atlas for our county from 1883, which shows my family's original 640 acre place. I wish I still had it.


Vince said...

I'll bet that these families knew each other in the UK. Or at very least knew 'of' each other

Ed said...

R. Sherman - You can find many land atlases online with Google. It is amazing how many I've found scanned into digitized libraries that you can at least view though most cost money to obtain copies. One of the search terms that helps me the most is using "name of county" "state" and the word genealogy. Almost every county in the United States has a webpage or two on resources of where you can turn to get a copy of stuff like landowner atlases.

Vince - I'm guessing you may be right at least with the Cowles and Chapman families. I knew the Cowles family came from pre-revolutionary war Connecticut but only found out yesterday that the Chapman family came from the same area. The Grim family however came from Germany and my immigrant from Pennsylvania came directly to Iowa a nearly two decades after the Cowles and Chapmans left. More on that in future posts.