Robert Eugene McKenney




Photo courtesy of Allan McKenney. I played a bit with it.

Robert Eugene McKenney was born abt 1821 in Pennsylvania and died 1898 Sep 30 in Kimball, Stearns, Minnesota. He married, abt 1846 in (perhaps) Guernsey County, Ohio, Mary Bartow. Mary was born 1816 in Harrison County, Ohio and died 1879 Feb in Stearns County, Minnesota. Mary was the daughter of Eli Bartow and Charity. Eli was born Dec 31 1790 in Washington County, New York, and died Feb 9 1864 in Harrison County, Ohio.

Robert and Mary had 6 children:

1. Samuel Bartow McKenney b. June 3 1847 in Iowa, died April 1881 in Whitehall, Livingston, Louisiana, was married to Emily Lewis, Ella Fryer, Antoinette Lagroue and Harriet Lagroue. Information on him is found under the tags.

2. Rebecca Ella McKenney was born abt 1848 in Harrison County, Ohio and died Aug 16 1872 in Long Lake, Hennepin, Minnesota. She married Gilbert Faxon Hayford on Nov 9 1870 in Pope County, Minnesota. He was born June 29 1842 in Pennfield, Charlotte, New Brunswick and died in 1915. After Rebecca’s death, Gilbert next married Isola T. Eaton on Oct 24 1874 in St. Mary, Douglas, Minnesota. She was born abt 1852 in New York and died Jan 25 1914.

3. William McKenney b. c. 1849

4. John Eugene McKenney b. May 7 1853 at Council Bluffs, Iowa, died Dec 29 1929 in Stearns County, Minnesota, married on Nov 22 1884, at St. Cloud, Stearns, Minnesota, to Johanna Roth. Information on this family is found in the tags.

5. Charity Alice McKenney b. Oct 31 1856 in Lake Minnetonka, Hennepin, Minnesota, died Oct 6 1922 at Grants Pass, Josephine Oregon, married both Albert Reynolds and Calvin Barnes. Information on her is found in the tags.

6. Mary McKenney b. c. 1860 in Hennepin County, Minnesota.

Mention of Robert E. McKenney may find him first in Noble County, Ohio in 1844, according to L. H. Watkins, “History of Noble County, Ohio” written by L. H. Watkins.

History of Noble County, Ohio, L. H. Watkins 1887

Middleburg, a small but enterprising village, is situated on Middle Creek, in the northern park of Jefferson Township. It was laid out about 1844, by Church Tuttle. The southern part of the village was laid out by Joseph Moredick. Church Tuttle was a native of Vermont, and came to Middleburg from the vicinity of Carlisle, where his parents were early settlers.

Among the early settlers of the village were Jesse Reinard, who worked for Tuttle; Irvin McKinney, who erected one of the first houses, and worked at shoemaking; William Miller, also a shoemaker; Eli Pickering, a carpenter, and others.

Irvin McKenney, the shoemaker, appears to be Robert Eugene, also a shoemaker, who later in life appears again to be identified as Irvin.

Married about 1845, he and his wife traveled to Iowa with members of her family, and perhaps his, Bartows and McKenneys settling in Van Buren County, Iowa. Their first child was born there.

The 1850 census found them back in Monroe County, Ohio (which had been formed out of Noble):

Carlisle, Monroe, Ohio
113/113 John RAY 28 Carpenter b. VA
Mary A. RAY 30
John R. 6 b. OH
Nelson 1 b.
Robert E. MCKENNEY 29 or 39 shoemaker b. PA
113/113 Mary 34 b. OH
Samuel 4 b. IA
Rebecca 2 f. b. OH
William 1

Robert Eugene took land in Minnetonka, Hennepin, Minnesota on April 2 1857:

Minneapolis land office–Document #520 accession ser.# mn0020-018: “The s.w. quarter of section 19 in twp. # 117 north of range 22 in the district of lands subject to sale at Minneapolis, Minn. containing 158 acres and 60-100 of an acre meridian 5th pm April 2, 1857”.

The 1860 census finds them back east, this time in Mason, Lawrence, Ohio. They are living two doors from a William L. Miller who is likely the same William Miller mentioned in the above Noble County, Ohio history along with Irvin McKenney the shoemaker. This would indicate a strong connection between the two families.

July 31
William L. MILLER 54 b. OH and Katherine Hammond and family (William b. Harrison County OH, can’t find in 1850 census)
Katherine 53 PA
Nathan 18 OH
Katherine 16
Peter 14
Elizabeth 12
Anthony S. HALLER? 68 b. PA and Mary
b. 1806 jan 2 harrison ohio, died 1880 Mason Lawrence Ohio
1229/1219 John SHAFER 30 Farmer $800 $1125 born illegible
Martha 24 b. OH
Chuck? 6 attended school b. OH
Numan? 4 b. OH
John W. 2 b. OH
1230/1220 Robt E. McKINNEY 40 Shoemaker $250/$50 b. Ohio
Mary 42 b. OH
Samuel 15 Farm laborer in school b. OH
Rebecca 13 in school b. OH
Mary E. 11 in school b. OH
John 9 in school b. OH
Alice 7 b. OH
William JOSEPH 45 b. VA and Lucinda and family
William STEPHEN 70 b. PA and Phebe and family

Robert and his son Samuel were living in Excelsior, Hennepin, Minnesota when they enlisted in Co. B. 9th MN Infantry on August 20, 1862.

Robert enlisted for service on Aug.20,1862 at
Hutchinson, Minnesota. he resided at Excelsior, Hennepin Co. He
was 42 years old, states he was born in Clinton Co.
PA. He was 6ft. and 1 half inches tall, dark hair and
blue eyes. After his wound, he was transferred to Co. K.
23rd .reg. vet. reserve corps. that by trade he was a

Name: Robert E. McKenney
Side: Union
Regiment State/Origin: Minnesota
Regiment Name: 9 Minnesota Infantry
Regiment Name Expanded: 9th Regiment, Minnesota Infantry
Rank In: Private
Rank In Expanded: Private
Rank Out: Private
Rank Out Expanded: Private
Alternate Name: Reuben E./McKenney
Film Number: M546 roll 6

He was in Flandreau, Moody, South Dakota from Oct 22 1862 to July 8 1864. And discharged at Fort Snelling, Minnesota on Oct 19 1864.

The 1865 Minnetonka, Hennepin, Minnesota census shows:

1865 Minnesota Hennepin County, Minnetonka
Robert W.
Luther B.
Maryaceth A.
Mary C.
Saml M.
Rebecca E.
Charity A.
Samuel B.

He first applied for his disability pension while living in Minnetonka, age 46, on May 6 1867, but didn’t receive it at this time.

By 1870 he was in Ben Wade, Pope, Minnesota:

Source Citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: Ben Wade, Pope, Minnesota; Roll: M593_9; Page: 882; Image: 97.
74/75 MCKINNEY R E 49 farmer $600 PA
Mary 59 Ohio
John 17 IA
Alice 14 school MN

He sold his homestead at Pope on Sep 3 1872.

The next known land transaction was April 1 1873 in Alexandria, Pope, Minnesota.

Pope Co., Alexandria Minn. land office document #157 accession ser. # mn0950-128: “April 1,1873. west one halve of the n.e. one quarter and the west one halve of the s.e. one quarter of section #1 in twp. #126 no.of range 39 w. in the district of land subject for sale at Alexandria, Minn. obtaining 158 acers meridian 5th pm”. Allen McKenney also notes: “I have seen a different date on this last sale but will stay with the date on the document for now.”

Mary Bartow McKenney is given as having died Feb 1879 and is buried at Fairhaven Cemetery, Fairhaven, Stearns, Minnesota. However, Robert Eugene McKenney appears to have married, in Arkansaw, Pepin, Wisconsin, on Nov 21, 1877, to a Rosina Cecelia Hubbard.

“Marriage from Pepin County Marriage Register Vol 2 p. 48: Married Rosina Cecelia Hubbard to Robert Erving McKenny, shoemaker, living in Arkansaw, Pepin county . Born Chester Co. Pa. Married 11-21-1877 by a Justice of the peace, Miletus Knight. Witnesses Lydia Ann Hoyt and G .C. Hoyt. Parents of the couple are John and Rebecca McKenny and Chas. B. Hubbard and Lydia Ann Hubbard.”

Rosina Hubbard was but 16 years of age, born in Nov of 1861 in New York. The 1870 Frankfort, Pepin, Wisconsin census lists her as Celia, age 8, daughter of Charles B. Hubbell, 28, and Lydia, 25, both of New York. The marriage with Robert Eugene didn’t stick. By 1880 she is in the Frankfort, Pepin, Wisconsin census with her father, Charles B. Hubbard, 37, who is divorced. Celia is simply listed as Celia Hubbard, 18, single. However, there is a 3 month old child by the name of Francis Hubbard also in the household, born in March. Perhaps this was a child of Rosina Cecelia and Robert. In 1884, Rosina Cecelia Hubbard was married to Hiram Evans Claflin, born March 1865 in Minnesota.

Mary having died in 1879, Robert Eugene appears to return to Ohio, to Millwood, Guernsey, Ohio, where it is believed his mother, Rebecca, is the Rebecca McKenney recorded in the census there for several decades after the death of her husband, John. Rebecca likely died previous 1880, no longer appearing in the census there. Instead, R. E. McKenney, a shoemaker appears. I would imagine he returned to Ohio in connection with his mother’s death. He also appears to have married again.

1880 OH, Guernsey Co. Millwood census:
pg. 20 ancestry
96/101 HAY Daniel and Mary
97/102 CLARY Thomas and Eliza
98/103 MCKINNEY R. E. 68 Shoemaker b. PA father b. Ireland mother b. PA
Agnes J. 36 wife Keeping house

Agnes Jane Dillon, born 1844 in Ohio, was the daughter of Christopher Dillon and Nancy Mauler.

1850, Somerset, Belmont, Ohio
737/750 Jacob Bartlo 26 blacksmith b. OH
Mary 22
Julia A. 1
738/751 Christopher Dillon 44 farmer PA
Nancy 34
Sylvester 15 b. OH
James 11
Nathan 8
Mary E 5
Margarett 4
William 3
Agnes J. 2

1860 Wayne, Noble, Ohio
1554/1496 Taylor Hague 28 farmer 2000 600 b. Oh
Margaret 24
Mary A. 2
Aarah E. 1
Agness J. Dillen 12

She first married John Huntsman 1869 Jan 3 in Belmont County, Ohio. I can’t find them in the 1870 census, but they had a son, Thomas Mack Huntsman, 87 Feb 24, born in Batesville, Noble, Ohio.

“Ohio County Marriages, 1789-1994” gives Robert E. McKinney and Agnes Jane Huntsman as marrying 1880 March 11 in Guernsey County, Ohio. While Agnes is with Robert Eugene McKenney in Harrison County, her son, Thomas, is with his grandmother in Beaver, Noble, Ohio.

1880 Beaver, Noble, Ohio
10/10 Huntsman Mary 59 conducting farm b. OH parents b. MD
Maria 25 daughter boarding b. OH parents b. OH
Thomas 8 grandson
Mossburg Mary 4 grandsdaughter
Martha 8 granddaughter
NOTE: Mary is in the 1870 Beaver census with Sarah J, 18, Nancy 17, Maria 15 and George W. Waggoner 10
1850 Millwood, Guernsey, Ohio household
2915 Joseph Huntsman 33 shoemaker b. O
Mary 30
Joseph 7
Mary E. 6
John 5
William 4
James 2
Thomas 1

I don’t know what happened to Agnes after 1880. I’ve no information on whether the pair divorced or she died.

On Dec 13 1883, Robert again applied for his pension and was again denied.

On June 18 1884, Robert married again, in Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, this time to Elizabeth A. Curtis who was born abt. 1840 in Ohio and would die Dec 18 1915 in Kimball Prairie, Stearns, Minnesota, and be buried at Fairhaven Cemetery, Fairhaven, Stearns, Minnesota.

From June 1884 to April 1885 Robert was living in Flandreau, Moody, South Dakota.

Robert applied again for his pension in April of 1885.

Allan notes: “I’ll go ahead and tell the story about his wound. it seems that he was appointed as company hunter, after the co.s run in with the Indians in what has been called the great Sioux uprising’ this happened shortly after he and his son Samuel enlisted. anyhow, one day Robert was out hunting as ordered and while climbing over a split rail fence the hammer of his musket fell on the primer cap and discharged his gun which in turn blew off most of the 1st. finger on his right hand.”

The 1885 census in Independence, Hennepin, Minnesota shows:

1885 MN Hennepin Co. Independence
Elizabeth A. 42 OH
Census May 1 1885
Roll MNSC27

The 1895 census in Kimball Prairie, Stearns, Minnesota shows:

June 15 1895
John and Russie Bullard of WV and KY, 65 and 60
Amelia Patton 74 of N. Brunswick
Augustus and A. Munford, 39 and 28 of IL and MN

McKinney, R E 73, b. PA living in Mn. 41 years and 11 months. In enumeration district 7 years and 8 months but not previously enumerated. Was in Civil War. Shoemaker. Father born foreign and mother born in states.
McKinney E A 54 OH

William and Elsie Campbell household of WI and MN, 35 and 32
Bullinrand W J and Elizabeth from England, 55 and 51
Bisbee Albert and W L from Maine and NH, 55 and 49
BOGGS Homer 22 and LM 18 of OH and MN

Robert died Sep 30 1898 in Kimball, Stearns, Minnesota:

from Allan McKenney: “Stearns County Court House Minn. Film # 1379043 report of deaths vital records 1895-1900. Page 64. Robert E. McKenney-77 years old,village of Kimball. Place of birth,Ireland. Cause of death (———-) pulminary. Occupation, shoemaker. Under heading for name of parents, “Unable to find out anything about parents”. Sept. 30, 1898. Dr. A. Muceford Health Officer, P.O. Box, Kimball, Minn. Oct.4, 1898″.

He was buried in Fairhaven Cemetery, Fairhaven, Stearns, Minnesota.

Elizabeth A. Curtis McKenney applied again for Robert’s pension on Oct 5, 1898, then again on Dec 19 1898 when she finally received it, a sum of $12 a month.

Robert Eugene is known to be a relation of the George Washington McKenney Sr. who is the ancestor the the McKenney line with which this site is principally concerned. It isn’t known yet how he is a relation, but is perhaps a cousin or 2nd cousin.

More information on the line of Robert Eugene McKenney and associated families is here.


Robert McKenney 1857


Robert in Minnetonka


Robert and Mary, Pope Co., 1872


McKenney homestead Pope co.


Ben Wade 1873


Hayford land 1910

A Sketch of the Families and Life of Samuel Bartow McKenney, a Roamer with Literary Aspirations




Photo courtesy of Allan McKenney. I took the liberty of playing a bit with retouching and adding color.

Because the census is what we have, we tend to measure a person’s existence by where they were every ten years and what the census gives them as doing. If a family or individual happens to make a move, many imagine them going from Point A to Point B as if in a straight line. If a person is a farmer in 1870, it may be assumed they always farmed and that’s all there was to it. Whatever husband or wife is shown, it’s assumed that was the husband or wife for life. “Where did they go to church?” seems to be the next big question, and if that can be answered, into what denomination they were baptized, then from these few details a whole life is extrapolated that is a one note condensed soup.

It’s thanks to Samuel’s sister Charity, and her family’s rare inclination to preserve some of her writing and correspondence, that we begin to get at least a sketch of a life instead of a pinpoint on a map for Samuel Bartow. On January 5, 1908, from Bay View, Oregon, she wrote her niece Nellie McKenney Grasse the following:

We heard of you through your grandfather (Robert). He saw you. There was a long time we never heard from your father. Meanwhile, my mother died. That was 29 years ago the first of next month. When I heard from your father, he was living at White Hall, La. He had a wife and little boy he named after himself. (He married a French girl by the name of Antoinette Lagroue). This girl died at the birth of another child which also died, when little Bart (as we called him) was only a year and a half old. Then your father got into trouble with a southerner there by the name of Frank Williams. They had a dispute at a store in White Hall. Williams and his father in law was out in front of the store. Your father went out to talk the matter over with them. The store keeper tried to get him to take his revolver with him, but he never was afraid of anything and went out in his shirt sleeves and empty handed. He wanted Williams to settle the matter by fighting a duel, but Williams said no he would settle it by law and turned as if to go in the store, then when your father’s back was turned towards him he drew his revolver and shot him through the neck. Your father never spoke, but died in a few minutes.

Now to back up and look at the bare details gathered from assorted documents.

Samuel Bartow McKenney was born June 3, 1847, in Iowa, to Robert Eugene McKenney and Mary Bartow. Skipping the early back and forth movements of his family (which I’ll save for a post on Robert Eugene, should I get around to it), as he enters adulthood we find him in Minnetonka, Hennepin, Minnesota in 1862, enlisting with his father in Company B, the 9th Minnesota Infantry.


I find online:

Company “B” participated in Campaign against Sioux Indians in Minnesota August and September, 1862. March to Glencoe. Action at Glencoe September 3. Defense of Hutchinson September 3-4. Duty at Hutchinson until April, 1863. Moved to Hanska Lake and duty there until September, 1863.

Samuel is given as having entered as a private and ranked out as a musician.

We know from the diary of Samuel’s sister, Charity, that a prized possession of hers was an organ, that she gave her daughter lessons on it and was proud of the songs Nellie could play perfectly at the young age of six. She mentioned in her diary the procurement of a fiddle and that her husband, soon after their arrival in Oregon, had traveled to the State Capitol to see about the “school band”. So, we have here a family of musicians. Sam was a musician, as was Charity, and Charity had married a musician. It’s to be taken for granted that either their father or mother also was a musician and had passed along their knowledge of the art.

It’s difficult to tell anything about Sam’s appearance from his Civil War photo. Fortunately, we have a second, and it shows him to have been a handsome individual. Because of what is known about him, one may read in the photo a thoughtful and artistic aesthetic, but it’s likely presumptuous to find anything more than a young man with a faint line of mustache, a trace of beard on his chin, his eyes quiet and a bit distant. And though it presumes too much to read anything more into the photo, looking at it I think of youth caught up in utopian ideals that were popular for the time, less inclined to the practical than the poetic, whose spirit seeks more in the land upon which he walked than a hard currency of natural resources with which to be wrestled.

What Samuel did the following five years after the Civil War isn’t known–perhaps attending school?–but January 19 of 1868 found him in Clay County, Illinois marrying Emily O. Lewis. Circa 1869 they had a son, Ernest, in Illinois or Minnesota. They were living in Lake Mary, Douglas, Minnesota in 1870, where Samuel was a teacher.

Ernest died in 1871, in Illinois. A second son, Harold Lewis, was born September 8, 1872 in Wisconsin.

We have several samples of Sam’s writing preserved by family. The dates for two of those samples are uncertain, but the below sounds like it may have been composed while he was still in the Midwest.


Our land has been transformed as if by magic, during the last month from the desolate wastes of winter to all the verdancy of luxuriant spring.

We are no longer awakened in the morning by the merciless rains and cold shrieking wind of departing winter but are called back from the misty land of dreams by the music of singing birds and the mellow sunlight that fills our chamber with a flood of cheerfulness and surrounds all with its halo of glory. We peep from our window in the early morning and are enchanted by the dew laden flowers that shed their shower of jewels when stirred by gentle west wind. Farther on amid the green foliage we note the glitter of the river that a few days ago swept the land with tremendous and irresistible force carrying trees and houses and bridges on its turbid current; and now it goes murmuring by with a gentle ripple over the sparkling pebbles and goes dancing and laughing on its way like the happy school children that gather bluebells on its sodded banks.

Our mind is lost in the contemplation of the varied scenes of nature that spreads it beautiful panorama before us when we are called back to our home ties by the sweet voice of our loved one wooing us to the wood pile and informing us in a shrill pipe that the water pail is empty.

The beautiful scene looses all vestiges of enchantment and the sombre clouds of discontented come back, and threatening on the horizon .

Some time between 1872 and 1874, Emily and Samuel parted ways. Harold was about two years of age when Emily married John Davenport Brown on October 6, 1874 in Lena, Stephenson, Illinois. John Davenport Brown was 31 years her senior. The 1880 census in Rush, Jo Daviess, Illinois shows five children from a previous marriage living in the household, including John Davenport Brown Jr. who was 28, only four years younger than Emily. One imagines that either Emily was, at this point, eager for financial security and fed up with youthful husbands, or John Davenport Brown was an exceptional individual.

Samuel was back in Minnesota in 1875 where he married Ella Adelaide Fryer on June 20, in Genoa in Olmsted County. On March 10 in 1876 their daughter Nellie Leona was born at Genoa. Then, on April 22 in 1877, a son was born, George (Bob) Ellis. Though in Minnesota, Samuel was apparently already out of touch with his birth family, if his sister Charity had been unaware of Nellie’s birth. And probably George’s as well.

It’s probable that in 1877 Samuel was already separated from Addie, who never did remarry. He was by that year writing articles for the Bay St. Louis Herald which was published out of Mississippi.

Who knows, perhaps it was about this time–perhaps earlier–that Samuel penned the following, which looks like a sketch for a story or book. The formatting was all messed in the transcription I received but an inexact guess can be made in trying to separate the characters.

Dick and I

Dramatis Persona

The Narrator or the supposed writer is Dr. Constant Etheridge Science, a physician who attends Richard Rashboy in all his sicknesses and although his nostrums are sometimes bitter they are efficacious in giving him renewed strength and vigor. He is also the friend as well as the physician and is of great service to him in assisting him to obtain his lady love, Althea.

Richard Rashboy alias Peregrine–Liberalism. A stranger that seeks shelter of Rufus Sylvester Woolsey an inn keeper and is re(?) but is taken in by Constant Etheridge and instead (?). He falls in love with Althea. Is the friend of Bertie alias Lily and of Etheridge. Is the enemy of Adams and the Rector and is particularly disliked by Ursula Whipple.

Hope–Aleathea–Truth, a very retiring maiden and orphan and or waif.

The Ward ——– ( Reason ) The heroine of the book is beloved by Dick who after many mishaps succeeds in winning her.

Inez – Helen – Light – the sister of Aleathea, beloved by Etheridge Science.

Irene Hughes – Peaceful mind – a beautiful maiden who leaves her fathers home and disappears. The Rector, her father, prays for her to come back. She was the light of his home but she returns not. Dick and I seek her often and sometimes find her but often fail of finding her. She has taken up her residence with some simple kind-hearted people with whom Charity McDonald also resides. Left her father on account of his stern———

Reading this, I’m reminded of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, “The House of the Seven Gables”. There’s a fair amount of wit, and one may wonder if the book was to be a satire, but I instead think that what was intended was a work of romantic, philosophical introspection softened with satirical elements.

Or was it instead a brief cipher of his own life, never intended to be formed into a novel or story?

Dick and I seek her often and sometimes find her but often fail of finding her.

A story about a physician and his patient who seem one in the same person. Together they seek but fail to find peace of mind.

UPDATE: I’ve since this writing received the manuscript of “Dick and I”, it was a novel, and will be scanning and placing it online. Am looking forward to “publishing” it!

By the time of the 1880 census, Samuel was listed with physician as his profession. During the years in which we’ve little information on him, he had studied to be a doctor.

He was also in deep trouble. There had been charges of bigamy. I’ve no information on who made these charges or in what state. What we do know is there were more women in his life than Emily Lewis and Ella Fryer. After all, Emily Lewis had herself remarried before Samuel wed Ella. Somewhere, there was at least one other marriage, which was unlawful. Sam’s duplicity was discovered. He fled.

Sam’s family, and so many of the time, were going west, further west. For all we know, Samuel may have traveled extensively and been to the western and eastern boundaries of the continent, perhaps further, before deciding to travel down the Mississippi River to Louisiana.

On August 9 1878, in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, Samuel married Antoinette Lagroue, whose Lagroue grandparents had been wealthy plantation owners before the Civil War. A son, Samuel Barto McKenney Jr. was born June 10 1879 in Whitehall, Livingston, Louisiana.

Whitehall is in Bull Run Swamp which was as good as an entirely different country to Samuel, who had grown up in Ohio, Iowa and Minnesota.

View Larger Map

Sam is recorded as having written the following personal reflections on his birthday in 1877, but I think a transcription somewhere along the line was in error and instead it was written in 1879, when Sam was 32 years of age:

My 32nd. Birthday
The last year has rolled away
Into the dim and shadowy past
Just such a fool
Just such a fool
God deliver em from such a fool

Thirty second Birthday
Exiled from home by friends forgot
In all this world there is no spot
That I may call my home or where
I can find a refuge from that care
Who has fixed in lines naught can erase
His seal and signet on my face

The 1880 census shows:

1880 LA, Livingston
Samuel B. MCKENNY 34 OH Doctor PA OH
Antoinette 21 b. LA parents b. LA
Samuel B. son 1 b. LA parents b. OH and LA

The census also shows this on page 164A:

117 Frank WILLIAMS 29 LA father Prussia mother Baden peddler in skiff
Henry E. 16 brother swamper
Josephine 19 sister
Sophie 9 sister
118/118 Henriette LAGROUE self S Female 25 b. LA parents b. LA
Alice MCKENNY Dau S Female W 6M b. LA father b. OH mother b. LA

Sam had a son with Antoinette Lagroue in June of 1879. Only six months later, in December of 1879, he had a daughter by Antoinette’s sister, Henriette (also known as Harriet).

We see living beside Henriette the man who would later kill Samuel.

About December of 1880, Antoinette died with the birth of a second child, who also died. Perhaps, after this death, Samuel lived with Harriet. In November of 1881 they had another child, Alden Leo. But Samuel was long since dead. Shot by Frank Williams in April of 1881 when Harriet was perhaps a couple of months pregnant.

I first imagined that Frank Williams perhaps loved Harriet and was angry with Samuel over her plight. But Frank Williams was married by now. On June 23, 1880, in Livingston, he had wed Palmyne Cornet. In 1880, before her marriage, we find Palmyne living several households from Samuel McKenney. Her father owned a sawmill. Frank William’s sister, Emma, was a servant in a neighboring house.

Source Citation: Year: 1880; Census Place: , Livingston, Louisiana; Roll T9_456; Family History Film: 1254456; Page: 162.2000; Enumeration District: 138; .
82 Samuel B. McKenney

85 Opdenmeyer William C. dealer in something (illegible) Prussia parents b. Prussia
Mary W. 38 France parents b. France
John W. 16 LA
Louisa M. 13
Frank 11
William 8
Charles E 2
WILLIAMS Emma 18 LA father Prussia mother Baden
86 CORNET Pierre Louis 60 owner of sawmill b. France parents b. France
Palymyra 53 b. LA parents b. LA
Caliste 24
Palmyra 21
Algea 17
Camelite 16
Laura 12

The 1900 census shows that Palmyra had her first child with Frank in July of 1881–and they had 7 children after that.

Return to the Louisiana storefront before which Samuel McKenney and Frank Williams and his father-in-law are standing moments before Samuel is shot to death. Henriette is about two months pregnant and likely would have known she was pregnant. Frank Williams’ wife is about six months pregnant. There is a disagreement with enough at stake that Samuel has proposed a duel that may leave Frank Williams’ pregnant wife a widow, or Henriette no support for her daughter and the other child now on its way.

It’s said that Henriette and Samuel married in Livingston Parish, but I find that doubtful as Henriette, at least in the census, appears to have never gone by the name of McKenney.

What had happened? What was the strife? Frank is enraged. His father-in-law is present. Sam proposes a duel. Frank says he will go instead through lawful channels, then shoots Sam when he turns his back.

Dueling was made unlawful in Louisiana as early as 1722 but remained popular for many years.

There were very firm rules laid down for duelists. Only the planter class fought duels. No planter would lower himself to fighting a duel with a man of lower status. Until the Civil War there were very few men in public life who had not fought a duel.

“Life in Antebellum Louisiana” by Sue Eakin, Marie Culbertson

Why in the world would Sam propose a duel?

If Frank went to prison for the shooting of Samuel, he wasn’t incarcerated very long, as his children with Palmyra are spaced at even intervals through the ensuing years.

Continuing with the letter with which we opened this post, the one Charity wrote Nellie, Sam’s daughter by Addie Fryer:

There were 15 persons present when he was killed (Sam). One man was so mad he ran to the store for a gun and followed Williams to the river and would have killed him, but there was no load in the gun and before he could get it loaded Williams was gone. The man was arrested, but was let out on $1,500 bail. You know down there in the south there is not much law.

One witness was Levi Brown of Whitehall. Another was Robert Binifeld, a resident of Maurepas, La. They saw the body of S.B. McKenney after he had died and had served as witness in behalf of the state of Louisiana.

Samuel Bartow McKenney was dead. He left behind Harold “Harry” Lewis McKenney, about 13 years of age, son of Emily Lewis; Nellie Leona and George Ellis, about 5 and 4 years of age, children of Addie Fryer; Samuel Barto, about 3 years of age, son of Antoinette; Henriette’s children, Alice, about 2 years of age, and Alden yet to be born.

By 1900, in Grays Harbor, Chehalis, Washington, Samuel’s son Harry, by Emily, was a business partner with Bart McKenney, Samuel’s son by Antoinette.

1900 Washington, Chehalis County, Grays Harbor
38/38 HITCHINSON George head 1845 55 b. Canada (Eng) father b. Scotland mother b. Engliand
MCKENNEY Harry C. partner 1872 27 b. Wisconsin father b. OH mother b. NY
GALLON Andrew partner 1858 41 b. Canada (Eng) parents b. Canda (Eng)
FAIRCHILDS Geo partner 1869 31 b. MI parents b. PA
FLANAGAN Chas. partner 1880 19 b. MI father b. Unknown mother b. IN
MCKENNEY Bart partner 1879 20 b. LA father b. OH mother b. NY
CARR Geo T. partner 1864 36 b. CA father b. Ireland mother b. NJ

By 1920, Harry was living in Beaver, Lincoln, Oregon, the county were Samuel’s sister, Charity had moved in 1883, and where he had a large number of extended family. He later moved to Estacada in Clackamas then Southwest Condon in Gilliam County.

We have a photo of George Ellis McKenney, Samuel’s son by Addie Fryer.

Courtesy Allan McKenney. George Ellis McKenney with family.

Fryer and Phelps families. George Ellis McKenney and Addie Fryer McKenney are on the far right. Photo courtesy Allan McKenney.

George became a miner and stayed, for the most part, in Minnesota. His sister, Nellie Leona, married in Minnesota and also made her home there.

Samuel Bartow McKenney Jr., after his father’s death, went to Minnesota to live with his aunt Charity and her husband Al Reynolds.

The below photo is given as being Sam McKenney Jr. at the age of 3 and shows his French Louisiana origins. He’s impeccably dressed in clothing that would have been alien and strange in Minnesota, and though it’s noted the photo was made in Minnesota, I wonder if instead it was done at a studio in Louisiana.


Samuel Bartow McKenney Jr. age 3. Photo courtesy Allan McKenney.

Samuel Bartow McKenney Jr. traveled to Oregon in 1883 with his aunt’s family (she noted in her 1883 diary how he still sometimes spoke French) and remained in Oregon and Washington the remainder of his life, which wasn’t a long one, he dying at about the age of 32.

Original courtesy of Allan McKenney.

Samuel Bartow McKenney Jr. Photo courtesy of Allan McKenney.

And what of Henriette and her children, Alice and Alden? What kind of life would be allotted a woman who had two illegitimate children by her sister’s husband? They’d been the granddaughters of a plantation owner worth $50,000 at the start of the Civil War, a considerable amount, but I find nothing on her Lagroue grandparents and father and mother after the Civil War. I don’t know where they were in 1870. I don’t know if the family had lost everything that they’d built on the slavery plantation system, or if they retained some social standing and wealth that filtered down to their daughters. What would have been the psychological and social pressures, living with two illegitimate children in the Deep South? Were the children openly illegitimate or were they presented as legitimate, and on the surface accepted as legitimate? What were their social and financial hardships? Henrietta appears to have stayed in the Livingston and Tangipahoa areas (she had sisters in Tangipahoa) and it seems it would have been impossible for her to conceal her history, especially after Samuel McKenney was famously shot.

My guess is hers was a damn difficult life.

The 1880 census shows Henriette living familialy isolated, not in the proximity of any known relations other than her sister Antoinette who was in the same county. We know that she and her children were known by the McKenney family and that Charity Alice McKenney sent her shoes in the year 1883, which is perhaps indicative that Henriette was financially struggling.

Henriette never did marry. The 1900 census finds Henriette Lagroue, given as widowed, in Charity hospital. Her daughter, Alice, had just married, as Alice Lagroue, in Tangipahoa parish. Her son Alden was living, as Alden or Alvin McKenney, in the household of his aunt Charity Alice in Alsea, Lincoln, Oregon.

By 1910, Henriette was living in the household of her sister Arsene Booth, in Ward 6, Tangipahoa parish. Alden was back in Louisiana where he went by the name of Alden Lagroue. He was in prison.

Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Police Jury Ward 7, West Feliciana, Louisiana; Roll T624_535; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 154; Image: 354.
Louisiana State Penitentiary
Lagroue Alden m w 28 married twice 3 yrs. B. LOA father b. Minnesota mother b. LA laborer convict

Alden had already been married two times. I know nothing of those two marriages. By 1917 he was in Holbrook, Multnomah, Oregon for his WWI draft registration. I don’t locate him in 1920. He was back in Louisiana in 1924 where he married again–whether it was a third marriage or he had been married even more times before then, I don’t know. He was in Foley, Tillamook, Oregon in 1930 and died in Chathlamet, Wahkiakum, Washington.

By 1920, Henriette was living in Lake Charles, Calcasieu, Louisiana, in the household of her daughter Alice Reid, who gave herself as widowed but had actually been divorced from Henry Reid, a sheriff in Lake Charles, in 1919.

Henriette’s tombstone provides a clue as to how she may have presented herself to others. She is buried beside her daughter Alice. Alice is given as Alice Lagroue Mauldin and Henriette is Henriette LaBouef Lagroue. It’s my guess that though Lagroue was her birth name, she represented it as her married name and gave her maiden name as LaBouef, which was her mother’s maiden name. Though Alice McKenney is seen in the 1880 census as McKenney, later years, in Louisiana, she probably did as her brother Alden and went by the name Lagroue. Alden, when out west with the McKenney clan, went by the name McKenney, but in Louisiana, he appears to have gone by Lagroue.

What’s interesting to me is how these families of Samuel Bartow McKenney weren’t entirely alienated from each other. Indeed, as adults, Harry and Alden went to Oregon where their Aunt Charity and half-brother, Samuel, were living. Two were even involved in a business partnership. What held at least some of these siblings together as a family when Samuel counted himself as one exiled from family and friends? Was it Aunt Charity? Their grandfather, Robert? Had he taken an interest in these grandchildren that was conferred upon Aunt Charity?

Because we’ve no commentary from the children or wives, they fade into the shadows. They died much more recently than Samuel Bartow McKenney, but as a few paragraphs of his thoughts were preserved, though there is no way we can know him, he stands to the fore, musing upon the beauty of the land, of the dreariness of the mundane demands of life that siphon away a lyrical, spiritual appreciation of one’s surroundings, of his exile from friends and family, his counting himself a fool, and his search for an elusive peace of mind which it’s doubtful he ever found, at least not to his own taste. He only lived to the age of 33 and sometimes much can happen in one’s later years that alters and refines what one esteems as peace of mind, what one expects of it, but Sam didn’t have the opportunity to experience this stage of life. I partly wonder, when Samuel stepped out to talk with Frank Williams, if it was bravery or carelessness that caused him to leave his revolver behind though he was encouraged to take it with him. Did he think, leaving his revolver behind, that action might defuse the situation? Or was he gambling with fate? Was he weary of being without a refuge?

As one hundred percent confidence fails ever to be the property of any mind, a likely scenario would have both bravery and carelessness causing him to disregard his revolver when he stepped outside to address Frank Williams and Williams’ father-in-law.

Thanks to Allan McKenney who has provided Sam’s writings and Charity’s letter on Sam’s death.

1883 Diary of Charity Alice McKenney Reynolds Barnes

This wonderful diary was sent to me by Allan McKenney. Charity Alice McKenney was a daughter of Robert Eugene McKenney, and Allan is a descendant of a brother of hers. I transcribed it from a typewritten copy printed in a cursive font so it was digital age. The original diary was itself copied first by Nellie, Charity’s daughter, in 1952, and she offers occasional parenthetical notes that can be sometimes confused with Charity’s entries so I’ll try to sort these out in italics. I will also be supplying my own notations in blockquote.

Charity was born in 1856 in Minnesota and lived to 1922. At the time of the trip she was married to Albert Reynolds and had one living child, Nellie, sometimes called Nona, who was born in 1877 in Minnesota and eventually married first Oscar William Peterson Then Fred W. Strake. She died in 1963 in Coos Bay, Coos, Oregon.

The diary gives more than a strict and narrow account of miles traveled and places visited. We have Charity’s personal observations which provide a window on the pleasures and hardships of a trip that was relatively convenient compared to just a brief generation before, being both by rail and ship rather than wagon. She takes us from the first day of her journey to not only the time of their arrival in Oregon, but several weeks on when their possessions have finally come in from Minnesota and they’ve built a shingle shack in which to stay while they build their house, so it would seem that for Charity her “journey” didn’t end until this point. What is most curious is the pensive note on which Charity chooses to end the diary, which rises above the personal sphere to that of commentary on all “pioneers”, which I think is a rare find.

* * * * *

1883 May 21st: Started from home 5:00 a.m. Took the Long Lake train at 6:18. Spent the day in Minneapolis. Took the St. Paul train at 6:00 in the evening, crossed the Mississippi River twice. Well, we are on our way at last and all goodby’s are over. We left a white frost at home but plum trees in bloom. John (McKinney), Mose (White), Elmer (Briggs?) and Maud (?) down to the train.

John McKinney was an older brother of Charity’s. He remained in Minnesota though it is known he was living in Oregon in 1887.

Moses White is in the Medina census in 1880, given as born in Ohio abt. 1848, his wife being a 21 year old Amanda. What’s notable about Moses is that he is living a couple of doors from a large group of Stubbs families, the head of these families being Henry Stubbs b. 1806 in Georgia who is married to a Mary. These Stubbs families are from Ohio and are related to the same Stubbs families who, coming up from Georgia, had settled in Belmont County, Ohio. Mary Stubbs, a second cousin of this Henry Stubbs, married Bailey Hayes, who is observed in the 1830 Beaver, Guernsey, Ohio census living near the John (2) and Robert (b. circa 177) McKenney families who are immediately related to our own. Frederick Hayes, his brother, was living next to the elder Robert McKenney in 1840 in Enoch, Monroe, Ohio. Moses White was united with the Stubbs families by marriage. His daughter, Esther, had married Charles Stubbs, a son of Henry Stubbs, before 1870. It was Charity’s daughter who, in 1952, identified this individual as not just Moses but Moses White, which suggests there were strong ties with this family.

Elmer Briggs I don’t observe in the 1880 census, but he is likely the Elmer who is in the 1900 census in Beaverton, Washington, Oregon, living as a boarder in the household of James W. Barnes and Ella. James W. Barnes was a brother of Charity Alice McKenney’s second husband, Calvin Barnes. Elmer Briggs’ brother, Alden Sylvester, had married Olive Mary Barnes and they too moved to Oregon and settled in the same area as these other families. Elmer Briggs, seeing them off, must have ridden on the ship that carried their belongings as he is mentioned again toward the diary’s end when their household goods arrive, now being in Oregon.

May 22nd. (Iowa) Train got into Mason City just at sunrise. White frost on every side, cold as March. Things do not seem much more advanced than we left at home. Now we are on our way several miles from the station. Prairie on every side as far as the eye can carry with now and then a dot of green. Really a nice morning but, oh my, such a road! Got the headache a little, did not sleep much last night. Laughed at Joe (Reynolds, Albert’s youngest brother). Said he was homesick. Could not get his pillow fixed to suit him. Breakfast at Hampton, 30 minutes. Left old Minnesota about 3 o’clock this morning. I was asleep. Crossed the Iowa river at 25 after 7. I have been napping and have my headaches. We are stopped at Oskaloosa. A gentlemen said they had frost last night and the fruit is about all killed. I saw some peach blooms – the first I have seen in 22 years. How green everything looks. Arrived at Outumnway at 1:30 and ate our lunch. Have to wait until 11:00 P.m. It is now 4 o’clock. I suppose we will get on the Emmigrant train tomorrow. Oh, what a (?) place this is – wish we did not have to lay over here. Good, here comes our train. I was mistaken. Am so glad we start at 4:00. Arrived at Creston at 9 o’clock. I have been a great deal better since I got some tea at Outumnwa. Well, this is quite a nice looking place. We stay here until tomorrow morning at 5:15. I enjoy myself first rate now.

The Joe mentioned here would be Josiah Reynolds.

May 23rd. Left Creston at 5:15 and now we are moving again. Feel first rate this morning. Have just eaten our breakfast and the children (Nellie Lenore “Nona” age 6) and Bart (McKinney, age 4) look as bright as buttons.

(May 24th?) Arrived at Kansas City at 12:45 A.M. First depot I ever saw. Took the emigrant train at 8:00 P.M. Train did not start until 11:00 P.M. I was asleep when it started. It is a real nice car and nice people to travel with. (In reference to the “nice” car I recall that the seats were bare slats like park benches. The bunks were over the seats, bare also. Everyone supplied their own bedding and their own food.) I guess the people are mostly all Americans. Well, it is morning. I slept pretty good. It is grey dawn and raining. One-half past ten and Emporia, a lovely little town.Afternoon our water all ran out. The children suffered for water. We are not even half way across Kansas. We have alkali water to drink. New emigrant car is just chock full and Oh, My God! over to the right – such a looking object! I will try to draw her picture but I know I can’t do her justice. We go about half a mile and then stop. I do not think we will get there very quick at this rate. It rained all night. Went to bed and laughed until I cried. Went to sleep at 9:00 and slept like a log all night until 4 this morning.

Charity Alice McKenney's drawing from her 1883 diary

May 25, 1883. Cold this morning and my lungs hurt. Guess I have caught cold. We see great herds of cattle on smooth prairie. 8 o’clock and the Arkansas River. 10 o’clock and plenty of cactus (?) and prairie dogs. Colorado about 6 o’clock, sand and cactus. Got acquainted with some of our new neighbors. I loaned a young lady my book to read. (I, Nona, remember that although mother was only 28 years of age she was considered too old to wear light colored dresses.) Well, it is bedtime and I must go to sleep so I can see all I can while it is daylight.

May 26, Saturday. Morning and we did not go very far last night. A train was wrecked just ahead of us and we lost eight hours. Saw Pike’s Peak and some other mountains. A few were beautifully snow-capped. Then, brown hills with a few scraggy cedars scattered over them. Sandy plains on all sides. I am very sleepy and my lungs hurt this morning. Some of our neighbors are very sociable. Some are, or think they are, very “Tony”. Bart is asleep. Nellie is playing around. We are traveling very slow. I wish they would hurry a little more.

Young Bart was Samuel Bartow McKenney Jr., a nephew. His father, Samuel Bartow McKenney, had been murdered in 1881 in Louisiana, where Bart was born, and Bart went to live with Alice. It is later mentioned that he still sometimes speaks French.

10:00 A.M. A lone grave between the tracks. How lonely it looks lying here alone and covered with sand and coal.

1 o’clock and mountains on all sides. 2 o’clock, we have just gone thru a tunnel 3/4 of a mile long. Now we are in New Mexico. High mts., rocks and deep ravines. I cannot write any more today – there is just too much to look at.

May 27th Sunday: Past lots of nice scenery last night. Past Hot Springs and Las Vegas. This A.M. we stopped at Wallas 2 hours. Saw lots of Indians. Bot a little mug for Bart (native pottery). (Also purchased a pottery pitcher for me, decorated with native dyes, which I still have at this writing, 1952). A swarthy Indian had them for sale. We passed Indian Villages and an old fort on the Rio Grande. We traveled down the river for several miles. We are passing thru towns where they have the Small-pox. Guess we will all have it. We had lots of fun “Gassing” with the brakeman. It is very warm and dusty, night is upon us again.

May 28th, Monday. Deming, a very ruff place. Stopped 1 and 1/2 hours. Saw a man who had killed six men. He was just across the street. He killed a conductor the other night. 1 o’clock and now we are in Arizona. Nothing but hot sands and whirlwinds and cactus. We traveled thru sand hills and long stretches of desert. Saw a mirage on the sandy desert, looked just like a lake in the distance. Then came sand hills and cactus 6 and 8 feet high thick as a tree. Some were like tall waving reed with red tassels on top. (Yucca.) We have to watch out because there are some strangers in here tonight. This P.M. there was another wreck ahead of us. If we had not delayed it would have been our train.

View Larger Map

May 29th. Got up and raised my window to see the scenery. Got a good view of a line of box cars! Run about 2 hrs and then stopped 4 hrs. Saw a lot of Indians. Saw one squaw with pappoose. One old greeger lost his britch-clout while he was running along side of the train. That is about all most of these Mexican Indians wear, the men I mean. It is so hot I can’t blame them much but they do look shocking. About 10:30 we started on our (?) trip. Not is (?) and we are in nothing but white sand as far as I can see out each side. We are all well but most awfully warm and dirty. Commencement of the desert. Now we are flying along between red sand hills and blue mountains. Oh, how very warm it is. The sun seems to melt everything in its reach. I have seen one swift and a little gray animal about eight inches long, travel very fast thru the sand. 2:30 P.M. and we are at the Seven Palms. We have just crossed a fearful desert. This place is called “Waters”. Oh, hotter and hotter! I guess we are nearing the bottomless pit. Every car window is closed to keep out the sand. There are no blinds – the sun streams in upon us and I see no show except to roast in a pile! I have started to feel quite sick. I have a pain in the pit of my stomach. Worse and more of it, I pity anyone that travels this southern road. Dark, green trees again and mountains. We are crossing them winding round and round, up and down and every way. Lots of our passengers will get off tonight.

The terms “squaw” and “papoose” are derogatory terms that were common parlance for the time.

May 30th. Los Angeles, early A.M. Stopped 4 hours. Got out and saw an orchard of orange trees just loaded with oranges. Saw some very fine flowers. This is a very lovely place. We have started out again. Saw more very nice country and wild flowers. Went thru a lovely valley then came the mountains. There we had to make the loop 4000 feet above the level of the sea, then down grade, swift as lightning. Looked every minute for the train to jump the track but we were all jolly. I laughed myself half to death this afternoon at an old glass-eyed lady. No, she wasn’t a lady or she didn’t prove to be one. Tho when we went thru a tunnel she gave us some useful information for which we thanked her politely. Dick Younger, Sally and I (my name is Nancy on the train) have had lots of fun today. We were playing cards, Sally and Jim and Al and I. While we were playing a young man came in and seated himself on the opposite side of the isle. He was smoking a pipe and watching us play. Well, then arose our honorable glass-eyed lady and said she: “I would like to ask this gentleman, if he is a gentleman, if he thinks it is polite to smoke in a lady’s face?” The young fellow turned as red as a piece of red flannel, took his pipe out of his mouth hurriedly and jumping up very quickly struck his head against the upper bunk. That aroused our pity and I told the old lady that anyone so “tony” that they could not stand a little tobacco smoke should have ridden in a first-class car. The rest all made some remark to the same effect. The little Irishman (smoker) thanked us all with smiles. All things passed smoothly enough for an hour or so. Then, some of our men lit their cigars and smoked pretty freely. At that the old lady and her partner walked out on the stoop. The men quietly laid their cigars aside waiting her return. She stayed out about an hour before coming back inside. Out came Dick’s pipe and Earl’s cigar. Several others lit their cigars also. And there came Buck-skin Joe with a pipe in each corner of his mouth and marched up and down the isle. We all laughed as hard as we could and called it square. I should like to know her private opinion of us.

I don’t currently know who Dick Younger and Earl may have been.

Well, now it is dark and we have passed thru 17 tunnels, making the loop around the mountains. It is a very dangerous place and lots of cars have been wrecked here. I will be obliged to go to sleep wreck or no wreck.

May 31st. Morning. Have the headache and could not eat my breakfast. This is not a very good looking country. Passed over another sandy plain. Evening and we are passing thru some very nice country, green wheat fields and gardens. Tonight is our last night on the train. Our car is quite empty now.

June 1st. Got up at 4 o’clock and hustled things together. Got ready to change from the cars at Oakland to go on the Ferry Boat to San Francisco. Now it is about 5 o’clock in the evening. We saw our friends off on the steamer Dakota. They are going to Seattle, Washington. Sorry to part with them. We came back and went down to the sea shore, but could not find any beach – it was all wharfs. (Apparently she did not realize that they were on the bay shore). Came back on the street car and wrote two letters; one to brother John and one to the old folks (Grandma and Grandpa Reynolds). We are the Golden Gate Hotel. We went down to supper then the boys Al and Joe, went to see about our tickets on the boat to Portland, Oregon. I lay down with the children in my room until they went to sleep. Now I am in the sitting room. There is a lady and a gentleman in here too, but they are total strangers and I have not spoken to them. Now is the first time I have felt the least bit lonesome. I really do feel lonesome.

June 2nd. Morning. I feel very tired and lame. We have had our breakfast and Al has gone to get our tickets. They did not get them last night. Only a few hours and we will be on the wild ocean, tempest tossed. Well, we got on the vessel, “The Oregon” at 10 A.M. and started out at 10:30. Quite a nice looking ship both on the outside and in the cabin but Oh, the stearage is frightful. I went down there. What a close, dirty place with bunks 2 feet apart all over the ship. I went back up in disgust and said I would stay on deck. Al said he would get the tickets exchanged for cabin tickets. He finally did after working around for about an hour. We took the children and went to the cabin. Our paper called for room #3. We just got in and began to think how lucky we were and there came a man, about half negro, and ordered us out. He said we could sleep on the floor and get our dinners in the cabin. He changed our tickets back to stearage again. Stayed on deck all day. Went down to supper and nothing to eat but bread and strong butter with nearly raw beef. I took some bread and butter and got up on deck as soon as possible. At bed time was obliged to go below. In passing the cook room it made me sick and just as soon as I got to my bunk I vomited 3 times. I slept pretty well, considering my changes. I could see and hear them vomiting and groaning all around me. The boys are not a bit sick nor are the children either.

June 3 1883. Arose early and got up on deck as quickly as the good Lord would let me, to keep from getting sick again. One day and one night has passed in this horrible place. Al has just been down after some breakfast for us. I can never go down there to eat any more. He brought me some more rare beef – the plate half full of blood and a little bread. Had to pay 50 cents for it. Stayed up on deck all day. The ship rolled fearfully and nearly everyone except us was sick. We had a good dinner in the cabin. Now, for another horrid night below.

June 4th. Morning. Now we are up for the last time out of that smothery place. Breakfast is next. We will soon be at Astoria, Ore. I have done so long on hard-tack (old time sailor’s bread) that I will be glad to get anything. Evening: Well, this morning Al got some nice brad and butter and a can of peaches. They were very nice. It did for our dinner too. Now we are in sight of Portland – the long wished for Haven of Test. Ships on all sides and of all sizes. I am very glad we are so near our journey’s end.

June 5, 1883. Portland, Oregon. Early morning. I would have not got up so early had I not been obliged to. We had rather bad luck last night. We had to go to a restaurant for our supper which costs us $1.25. We got to bed about midnight. Had to sleep on sofas in the parlor, not much better than the shop. They charged us $1.00 apiece, children and all, at the Burton House. We would not pay it. We paid them only $2.50. Nine o’clock and we are on the train for Beaverton. Such a rough road, worse than we have passed all the way out here. Evening again. We arrived at the Barnses (Shepard and Olive – “Grandma” and “Grandpa” Barnes) at 1 o’clock. They sent down for Eleanor (Barnes) Johnson to come up and get dinner. Grandma Barnes is not so much better than she was back in Minnesota. They were very glad to see us. I saw some of the loveliest roses I ever saw in my life. Had an introduction to Mrs. Hill who lives in a part of the Barnes house.

Shepard and Olive Barnes are Shepard B. b. 1819 in Maine and Olive Hill Small b. also in Maine in 1818, parents of John Calvin Barnes who would later become Charity’s second husband.

Jun 6th. It is evening and I have not had time to write any today. We are going to move into Bill Tulloch’s house and I have been cleaning it up.

Bill Tulloch was a brother of Jenna Tulloch who was married to John Calvin Barnes at the time.

June 7th. Again it is evening. We have been to Portland today. Mr. Hill went down for $3 with his mules. Ellanor went with us. We got us a new stove for $20, a set of chairs $3, table $2.25, bedstead $3.50, dishes $1.80, pail and rolling pin 45 cents. We got home and set up our stove. When we put up our bed the slats were too short. We had to sleep on the floor. This is our first night at home.

June 8th. Today I am not very well. I papered the shelves and fussed around all day. Am very tired tonight. Here comes Bill and Lit Tulloch with a stranger and his wife.

June 9th. Bill was here before breakfast. I had intended to wash today but we had company. Mr.s Hill, Lit and Ellenor were here and we all went up to Barnes for dinner. They were all here in the evening until about 10 o’clock.

June 10th. This is Sunday and also Bart’s birthday. He is 4 years old. Bill, Lit, Ellenor and Charlie Johnson were here for dinner. Little Charlie, about Bart’s age, was with them.

June 11th. I washed today. Al and Joe went to Portland and got back about 6 o’clock. Our goods (furniture, organ etc. they had shipped from Minnesotta) will not come for two weeks. They spent $2.25.

June 12th. Got up very late. The boys got some wood for me and then went to see the man about the hay shed. They went from there to Beaverton. They got me some hops and a fine comb. I ironed some and baked for the boys to go away.

June 13th. Got up early and got the boys started about 8 o’clock. I washed some and then took a nap. Frank Barnes was here (no relation to the other Barnes family, Frank Barnes later became the owner of a string of salmon canneries on the Columbia River and up and down the coast. He had one on the Alsea Bay). After she left I ironed and put away my clothes. I feel quite lonesome tonight. It is getting dark and I am alone except for the children.

June 14th. Ellenor came and stayed with me last night after all. I did not sleep much, Bart was sick. The cat got into the cupboard and I don’t know what all happened. I went up to Barnes’s today and got some butter milk and one-half pound of butter. Later I went to Ellenor’s and heard a letter read from Ollie. (Ollie Barnes Briggs and family lived near the mouth of the Alsea River.)

June 15th. Did not do much all day. Wrote one letter to Gusta and one to Emma Kneif and one to Mila. (Her niece, Mila Hayford, daughter of Fax and Rebecca McKinney Hayford.) Ellenor took them to the Post Office that eve.

June 17th. Oh, dear, how very lonesome I am today. The children are out playing and the house is so still. The clock ticks so loud and plain. It is a very warm day. The sun pours down with re-doubled force. There is not a breath of air stirring. The birds have all flown to the thickest part of the woods while I sit here watching the heat dance on the meadow and listen to the buzz of the house flies.

June 18th. Spent a sleepless night. This was a very hot day. There was a young fellow here tonight by the name of John Hoover. Ellenor and I had a good laugh at Shepard Barnes about the bed-bugs.

June 19th. I cut out pieces for my charm quilt and pieced them all up.

June 20th. I am looking for the boys home today. They have been gone one week.

June 21st. I feel well today. Washed some and cut out more quilt pieces. Pieced 6 blocks. Made light bread and ironed what I washed. The boys did not get home today.

June 22nd. Well, today they came back. They said they have some claims picked out. I do hope they get them.

June 23rd. It was very warm today. After doing some wash I went up to Barnes. Got the fiddle and brought it home.

June 24th. Sunday and how very warm and close it is. Al and Joe are making a shingle machine. Had a wild blackberry shortcake for dinner.

June 25th. Got up at half passed 3 and got breakfast for the boys so they could start for Oregon City. (State Land Office as at that time located in Oregon City.) Did a large ironing and mended everything. Pieced some on my quilt too. Boys did not get home tonight.

June 26h. Went up to Barnes’s and helped get dinner for the ladies who were visiting there. The boys came home with bad news – the claims were already taken. One of our boxes did not come.

June 27th. Got up early and Joe went to work for Barnes. Al wrote to Salem, Oregon State Capitol, about the school band. Then he went over to John Hoover’s to see about work. He got a job after next Tuesday. We went to Beaverton with the team and came back with the organ. It is home again and Oh, how glad I am.

June 28th. Up early again so Joe could get to work. Al could not get any chance so we went wild blackberrying. Got about 2 quarts and now it is afternoon. Al went to help Mr. Hill hoe potatoes.

June 19th. Al was sick this morning but he went to work this afternoon. I went out back of the field and got some more berries. We talk of buying this place.

June 30th. After doing up my work I did the ironing and baking. Got dinner but Al did not come home to eat. He said the frsot killed all of the Barnes potatoe vines. How is that for Oregon?

July 1st. Today is Sunday and it is very warm. I had company, Mrs. Howell and children were over. Later I took a stroll down by the beaver dam. We went up to Barnes’ this evening.

July 2nd. Al has gone to Corvallis and will not be home until tomorrow. The smoke hangs thick around the tops of the trees. I can hear the distant tinkle of cow bells.

July 3rd. All is bustle in preparation for the 4th. Picked wild blackberries for pies and did my baking. In the evening, I went up to Barnes’ to pack the basket.

July 4th. Got up at half past 3, got ready and we went to Portland. It was so early there wasn’t much dust. It was a cool fresh morning and we all enjoyed the ride first-rate. We arrived at 7 o’clock and went to the Tulloch’s. At 10 we went down town to see the soldiers march. Came home about starved to a good dinner at Lit’s. At night we went to the fireworks.

July 5th. We stayed in town last night and came home on the evening train. Got a letter from John (McKinney). He said Harriet got the shoes I had sent to her. (Harriet Lagrou, Bart’s Aunt, in New Orleans).

July 6th. This is a warm, close, smokey day but I went blackberrying. The boys went to Hoover’s to work. Ellenor went to Portland and left little Charlie with us. He and Bart have so much fun playing together. Little Charlie had bad luck – he stupped his toe and fell down. He was bare-footed of course. He cried and cried and said, “Oh, I wish my mommie would ‘tum’ home!” Today the old Italian fish peddler came. He drives from Portland in his one horse cart. He always sings out his wares. He stopped in front of our house and started to sing, “Fresh feesh oh, feesh oh, feesh oh!” Little Charlie was sitting straddle of the warm fence. He called out to the peddlar, “Oh, doe soat yur neck.”

July 7th. Ellenor and I took the children and went about a mile up to the Walker farm to call upon them. They are Southerners but early Pioneers here. The Robert Walker Farm is one of the oldest in this part of the valley, the Willamette. It was established in 1852.

July 8th. This is Sunday. Al and I went to the blackberry patch. It was very warm again. We got three quarts. I wrote a letter to Mother Reynolds and also one to Lantie Barnes. Joe has been upstairs writing most of the day.

July 9th. Joe and Al have gone to work again. This is three days they have worked. They have earned $6.00 apiece, 12 hour days. I am very discouraged. We have no prospect of a home yet and our goods have not all arrived. Everything goes wrong.

July 10th. Went blackberrying again and got two quarts. They say there is a black bear over in Sander’s berry patch. We got a letter from Salem with good news.

July 11th. Al has gone to Corvallis to buy his School land. I do hope he will get it this time. Joe has gone to his work at Hoover’s.

Bart said a cute thing. He was playing on the floor and looked up and asked “Mamma has an elephant got hair or feathers?” He still mixes a little French in with his English when he talks sometimes.

July 12th. Al got back and no land again. Nellie has been practicing on the organ since it arrived. She plays several tunes by “ear” for our company. Two of them are, “Jesus Lover of My Soul” and “Old Aunt Rhodie”. She can play them thru without any mistakes.

July 13th. Al and Joe both worked at Hoover’s. This wonderful beaver dam land raises all vegitables without irrigation. Grandpa Barnes raises the biggest strawberries I have ever seen.

July 14th. The boys went to work again today. There are many wild roses here, many kinds and much larger than back home. They start blooming in April and grow everywhere.

July 15th. Sunday. The boys picked a lot of wild blackberries. I made one half gallon of jam and one half gallon of jelly.

July 16th. Al and Joe went back to work for the last day. There is so many kinds of fruit here. The cherries are ripe and big peaches are setting on.

July 17th. The boys cut oats today. We got a letter from Mr. Keal so I think we will start for the Alsea Bay next Monday.

July 18th. The boys are cutting wheat for Grandpa Barnes. The children are both well again. How I wish our box would come and we could get moved.

July 19th. Joe went to Portland. Al was home all day. He made three ax handles. I washed and ironed, getting ready for the trip to the (cut off).

July 20th. Al and Joe worked for Mr. McKenny. I picked more blackberries.

This McKenny is likely Elijah McKenney who is in the Corvallis census in 1880. He was born in New York in 1830 and is no known relation. He gives his parents as born in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I can find no information on his parentage and don’t observe him before the 1860 census in Washington County, Oregon, where his name is spelled McHennie. In the 1870 Washington County, Oregon census he is Elijah McKinney b. 1825 in Illinois. He is dead by 1900 and his daughters give him as born in New York. Melva Butts was the wife of Elijah McKenney and was born in Iowa. Her father was John Butts who seems to appear in the 1840 Van Buren census with 3 sons and 1 daughter, which matches the ages of his children from a Rootsweb page.

July 21st. Al worked for McKenny and Joe for Barnes. They both helped me pack. This evening they took the organ, stove, tool chest and trunk over to Beaverton to load on the train for Corvallis.

July 22nd. Sunday. We stayed at Barnes’ last night. The boys harvested for him and I did the housework. I also went over and finished packing up our things.

July 23rd. We got up early and after breakfast got ready for the train. We left Beaverton at 10 o’clock. We got to McMinnville for dinner. Elmer Briggs met us there. Got to Corvallis at 5:45 and stopped at the Ordintle Hotel. We had a good room.

July 24th. We left Corvallis at 9 o’clock on the regular stage with … load. Stopped at a nice little stream (Mary’s River) and had our dinner. We traveled over very rough road until nightfall. We stopped at the (…) of a hill at Mr. Underhill’s . We were treated very well. This is the usual stop. Mr. Underhill has accommodations for the horses too.

July 25th. Started out at 7 o’clock and went over the roughest road I ever saw. We ate our dinner in the woods by a nice spring. Tonight stay at a very “Tony” house in the mountains.

July 26th. This is a day to be remembered. We went about three miles and up Pioneer Mountain, one and one half miles long. Then down the side and up another mountain almost as high. We were getting pretty hungry by that time but could find no place to buy bread. We were trying so hard to get to Newport on the Yaquina Bay. More mountains had to be crossed and when we got about two miles East of Newport we came to a log six feet through that had fallen across the road. It was on fire is why it fell. Lots of trees were burning. Since we could ride no further, the children and I walked to Newport to find lodging for the night. It was dark by this time and we could find no place to lay our weary heads. We had to walk back to the stage. We bought some bread and butter before we started. The children were crying. They had walked so far and still had two more miles to go / Oh dear, what a time. We passed through dark, lonely forest–dark as pitch. Al carried burning torch for light. We passed a lonely graveyard and a lonely shack where no one lived. We could hear the coyotes howling around us. Al yelled to see how close we were getting to the camp. Something answered. Later the driver told us that what we heard and what answered Al were dangerous cougars. We at last reached camp and had our supper. It was a relief to get to the fire. The children were terrified in the dark forest. The children went to sleep rolled in a blanket next to that fallen log. The men all lay on the ground and slept but I stayed up and kept watch until morning.

July 27th. The boys worked hard and got the log sawed in two. We got to Newport about 10 o’clock. Not much but sand to pull thru and not much of town either. We crossed the Yaquina Bay on a ferry. Then more deep (…) and until we reached the ocean beach where the sand was hard. The wind blew hard and cold. We traveled on until we came to Seal Rocks, the loveliest place I have ever seen in all my travels. A few miles farther on we came to a lonely house where an old man lived all by himself, Geo. Collins. We were all tired, hungry and cold. I helped Mr. Collins cook dinner. Then, Joe and Elmer went on to Al Grigg’s across Alcea Bay.

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July 28th. We started out this morning on the beach and soon came to the Bay. Joe, Elmer and Al Briggs met us there with the ferry. The ferry was a scow large enough to hold our organ, boxes and so forth, yet pulled only by a rowboat Our teamster went back. We crossed the Bay and walked about one and one half miles to Brigg’s place. Ollie was so glad to see us and we all had a good time.

July 29th. We all went to the village of Waldport and our things were moved into a shake shanty where we will live until we get our house built, on our Claim. I fixed up everything I could, then got dinner. After dinner I gave Ollie a music lesson. They stayed until dark and we all had fun.

July 30th. We walked south about two miles on the ocean beach to our claim. (This was not a claim in the usual sense but school land that they had paid for outright.) We found a place by a spring where we will build the house. We came home through a fog. We got some clams out of the ocean beach and Joe shot two grouse. I cooked them all for supper. We were all tired. We also found some nice shells and stones on the beach. The boys will hunt up a long to make shakes to build our house.

July 31st. Al went to the store and got a wash board. Then he and Joe went to look for a cow to buy. I washed and went to hang out my clothes on some salmon-berry bushes. I looked down through the bushes and there on the ground was an old skull staring up at me. It was a human skull – an Indian’s. It must be very old because it has green moss growing on it in patches. Well, we are a long way from Minnesotta and things are different here in Oregon.

The End.

Charity Alice McKenney

As I’m going to be posting an 1883 diary of Charity Alice McKenney, I thought it might be a good idea to first do a post giving a bit of background on her.

Charity, the fifth of six known children, was born 1856 October 31 in Lake Minnetonka, Hennepin, Minnesota to Robert Eugene McKenney and Mary Bartow, and died 1922 October 5 at Grants Pass, Josephine, Oregon. This family is related to our McKenneys, probably cousins, and appear to have been close, at least until the Robert Eugene family moved from Iowa to Minnesota. I’ll post more on this elsewhere and for now will stick with what we know about Charity.

About 1876, at Wayzata in Hennepin, Charity married Albert Reynolds who had likely been born–though listed in 1880 as from Virginia–in Indiana about 1848. She was 20 and he was about 28. Their first child, Nellie, was born April 22, 1877. A second child, Edith, was born in February of 1880 but died in July of 1881. The 1910 census gives her as having had only these two children.

Below is the earliest photo we have of Charity, a young woman dressed in all her finery, heavy beads about her neck, her hair styled in what she would probably have described as “tony”, a word that she uses a number of times in her 1883 diary when describing what she counts as being elegant.

Charity Alice McKenney, touched up



Original image courtesy of Allan McKenney.

The first census we have of Charity and Al Reynolds show them living with her brother John. The birth information for Al, Alice and John is erroneous.

p. 103B
Al REYNOLDS 32 b. VA parents b. VA
Alice 24 b. IN parents b. IN
Nellie 3 b. MN parents b. VA and IN
Edith 4 months b. MN parents b. VA and IN
John MCKINNEY brother in law 27 b. IN laborer parents b. IN

Charity’s mother had died in 1879, the same year that a nephew, Samuel, was born in Louisiana to Charity’s brother, Samuel Bartow McKenney, and his wife, Antoinette Lagroue. Samuel Bartow McKenney was murdered in 1881 and that nephew was apparently sent from Louisiana to live in Minnesota with Charity and Al. He accompanied the family on the 1883 trip to Oregon.

It’s unknown when Charity’s marriage to Al ended. In 1898 August 19, in Lincoln Co. Oregon, she married Calvin John “Cal” Barnes, who had born in 1853 in Maine and had been previously married.

John Calvin Barnes was also from Minnesota. He was living in 1860 in Excelsior, Hennepin, Minnesota (Charity’s family was living there in 1862, or at least her father was), then in 1870 in Medina, Hennepin, Minnesota, where Charity was living in 1880. About 1876 he married his first wife, Jennie Tulloch (Tullochs are mentioned in Charity’s diary). I don’t know if they were in Oregon by 1883, but Shepard and Olive Barnes, parents of John Calvin, were in Oregon and, upon arrival in Oregon, Al and Charity McKenney Reynolds went to their place. As yet, I’ve been unable to locate the family of John Calvin Barnes in 1880 but I do find in 1900 in Beaverton, Washington, Oregon, that Edna, a daughter of John Calvin Barnes and Jennie, is living in the household of her uncle James W. Barnes and she is observed as having been born in Minnesota in 1882. In 1880, in Medina, the family of Allan Reynolds, father of Al Reynolds, living beside Mellen Barnes, a brother of John Calvin Barnes. Looking into it a little further, I find Martha Kirk Reynolds, a sibling of Al, had married Aldridge Barnes, a sibling of John Calvin and are living a little further down on this same 1880 Medina census page.

Many of the members of these Barnes and Reynolds families appear to have moved to Oregon and settled in the same area as Al, Charity and John Calvin.

Jennie Tulloch Barnes is given on a Rootsweb page as having died in 1925 and if this is correct then that first marriage for John had ended in divorce.

Cal Barnes and Charity Alice (McKenney Reynolds) Barnes
Calvin Barnes and Charity Alice McKenney Reynolds Barnes, circa 1905, Oregon. Image courtesy of Allan McKenney.



In 1900 Cal and Charity were in Alsea, Lincoln, Oregon. Her first husband, Al Reynolds, was also still there, boarding in the household of William Wakefield, about nine households from Charity and Al’s daughter who had just married to Oscar Peterson, whose heritage was Swedish. Nona (Nellie) and Oscar Peterson had a servant, Gertrude Epperson, so they must have been doing fairly well for themselves to afford such a luxury. Next door to the Wakefield household is a Josiah C. Reynolds, born in Indiana. That year Al Reynolds is also given as born in Indiana. I have seen a mention on a genealogy board that they were indeed brothers.

By 1910, Cal and Charity were in Beaver, Lincoln, Oregon, Al Reynolds remaining in Alsea, listed in a boarding house as a carpenter. Then in 1920 Cal and Charity were in Grants Pass, Josephine, Oregon. Al had died April 1918 in Toledo, Lincoln, Oregon.

1900, Alsea, Lincoln, Oregon
BARNES Eldridge S. March 1845 55 married 15 years b. Maine parents b. Maine
Martha K. wife April 1844 56 married 33 years 2 of 5 children surviving b. OH father b. PA mother b. NJ
BURGLAND Atlanta daughter July 1870 29 married 6 years b. Minnesota father b. Maine mother b. OH
WILIE ? Bessie niece Sept 1855 12 b. Minnesota father b. IL mother b. Minnesota
BARNES John C. April 1853 47 married twice b. Maine parents b. Maine
Alice C. wife 1856 43 married twice 1 of 1 children surviving b. Minnesota parents b. OH
MCKINNEY Alvin nephew Nov 1882 17 b. LA father b. OH mother b. LA
REYNOLDS Myrtle niece May 1889 11 b. OR father b. IN mother b. Maine

1910, Beaver, Lincoln, Oregon
16/16 BARNES Calvin J. 57 married 2x married 8 years b. Maine parents b. Maine farmer
Alice C. 54 married 2x married 8 years 1 of 2 children surviving b. MN parents b. OH
Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Beaver, Lincoln, Oregon; Roll T624_1281; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 166; Image: 371.

1920, Grants Pass, Josephine, Oregon
Source Citation: Year: 1920;Census Place: Grants Pass, Josephine, Oregon; Roll T625_1495; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 212; Image: 680.
507 BARNES J. C. 66 b. Maine parents b . Maine retail something illegible
Alice C. wife 64 b. Minnesota parents b. OH saleslady in own store
PETERSON Verna grandson 19 b. OR mother b. MN father b. Wisconsin govt fisherman

Charity Alice McKenney and John Calvin Barnes
Charity Alice McKenney and John Calvin Barnes (to the right). Image courtesy of Allan McKenney.



After Charity died in 1923, Calvin married a third time to a Julia A. who had been about 1867 in Washington.

That is all I know about Charity Alice and the families of her husbands at this point and I probably won’t delve too much further into these families. It’s interesting enough to find the prior association of them in Minnesota and that they had moved to to the same area in Oregon and remained closely associated.

Next, Charity’s diary.