Monday, January 30, 2017

Into the Circle

I am continuing with the story of how Felix Grundy Stidger became an unlikely spy in Kentucky and Indiana during the Civil War. In his autobiography, Stidger begins by writing how only seven people knew what he was doing while in the Secret Service. First, Josephine McGill, "a young lady whom I had known for eight years, and to whom I was engaged to be married, and although every one of her family were the bitterest enemies of the Government I fully advised her of every move I made, and everything I did, having full confidence in her - which confidence she proved herself worthy of - and at the end of my work for the Government she became my wife."

The next person who knew of Stidger's work was his brother, John Harmon Stidger, who acted as his confidential assistant in making reports in Louisville. Third was Captain Stephen E. Jones, Provost Marshall General of the Military District of Kentucky, who engaged Stidger in the assignment. Fourth was Colonel Thomas B. Fairleigh, 26th Kentucky Veteran Volunteer Infantry, who was in command of Louisville and who received Stidger's reports. Fifth was James Prentice, Sergeant in Company H, 25th Michigan Infantry, who had been assigned as a confidential assistant to Stidger. Sixth and seventh were Brigadier General Henry B. Carrington and Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton.

On 5 May 1864, Stidger met Captain Jones in Louisville, and provided him with a report of some information he had learned. Jones needed a reliable Kentuckian for a special, hazardous mission to infiltrate an organization called the Sons of Liberty. Stidger's old friend from Bloomfield, the Deputy Provost Marshal, had connected him with Captain Jones. On this day Jones told him General Carrington had learned that Doctor William A. Bowles, owner of French Lick Springs in Indiana, was one of the leaders of the Sons of Liberty and he would be coming to Kentucky soon to organize lodges of the Sons of Liberty in the state. Jones wanted a reliable Kentuckian to watch Bowles, observe his movements and report.

They gave Stidger a crash course in the rituals of the Sons of Liberty, a new name, J. J. Grundy, a cover story about him being a neophyte in the order, and sent him on with a new suit, glasses and an introduction letter to Bowles. Two days later he was riding a train from Louisville north into Indiana. Not knowing the way to French Lick Springs, he got off the train one stop too early, but this proved to be a good coincidence as he managed to meet a lawyer the town who was the Deputy Grand Commander of the Sons of Liberty who was expecting a messenger from Kentucky and assumed Stidger was the messenger. The lawyer, Horace Heffern, told him about plans to rally 1000-1500 armed men on behalf of the Sons of Liberty in Indiana.

Stidger arrived at French Lick Springs on 8 May and was introduced to Bowles, who told him of plans to arm 100,000 men to invade Missouri and use forces in Indiana and Ohio for a battleground in Kentucky. Stidger spent the next four days at French Lick Springs learning plans from Bowles, and then he returned to Louisville on 12 May 1864.
Richmond Palladium-Item, 29 Mar 1955

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Unlikely Spy

Felix Grundy Stidger, 1903
Like others in my family history, Felix Stidger's story is one that should be made into a tv series or movie. Stidger's autobiography, published in 1903, describes how he joined the Secret Service and spied on the Sons of Liberty in 1864. The book, Treason History of the Order of Sons of Liberty, 1864, can be viewed on the Internet Archive and Google Books.
He begins his story looking back at his childhood growing up in Spencer County, Kentucky, son of a carpenter and farmer's daughter. His father died when he was two years old, and his mother raised him and his brother John with the help of her siblings nearby. Stidger wrote that his mother "had no means of support for herself and babes except as she might earn with her needle." We know from the 1860 US Census that Narcissa's youngest brother Isaac Newton Holsclaw, a tailor, and his family lived in the house. They likely helped her make ends meet.

Given Narcissa's limited means, Stidger could only attend during winter months and sometimes not at all. After a total of three years of school in Taylorsville, Stidger started working in the County Clerk's office at the age of 15. A month before he turned 17 he started a three-year apprenticeship with a carpenter and builder, Martin Aud. During this time he managed the books for Aud, and later went to work in his general store. After working various jobs in Boyle County, Kentucky, Jacksonville, Illinois, St. Joseph, Missouri, he returned in the Summer of 1860 to Bloomfield, Kentucky (just south of Taylorsville) to work as a clerk at a general store. Stidger describes Bloomfield as "a very pretty little place, with an intelligent population, a well to do surrounding country" and an "infernally disloyal sentiment against the United States Government."

Bloomfield, Kentucky was a hotbed of Confederate feelings at the outbreak of the Civil War. Stidger was one of only four Union sympathizers in the town, and even "the notorious John Morgan came all the way from Lexington to organize the nucleus of his command at Bloomfield." As the negative feelings grew in Bloomfield, Stidger returned to Taylorsville in August 1862. The next month, Confederate troops invaded the town on the way to Louisville. The Union Army pushed back into Taylorsville, and when they did, Stidger joined the 15th Kentucky Infantry. He was assigned to be a clerk in the Assistant Adjutant General's Office at Division Headquarters. He saw battle on his very first night in General Rousseau's duty, at Perryville and later Stone River and Chickamauga.

The main field officers of the 15th Infantry were killed at the Battle of Perryville. Among the new field officers was Captain Henry Kalfus, a physician from Louisville who would later play a role in connecting Stidger with the Order of the Sons of Liberty in 1864. Stidger recalls how the newly elected Field Officers were without horses, "and I having a good fine horse of my own that I had bought from home and had not yet returned, Major Kalfus came to me when he received his appointment, knowing I had no use for a horse in camp, and asked the use of my horse until he could procure one of his own, which request I readily complied with."

Stidger became responsible for keeping the records of the Division, and came to know every discharge, leave of absence, resignation or furlough that came through the command. After a string of battlefield losses in 1862 & 1863, the 15th Kentucky Infantry had a wave of requests for discharge. Among them were Major Kalfus. Most of these were rejected, but after Kalfus' third tender of resignation, he was put under arrest and dishonorably discharged. Anger over his dismissal from the Army pushed Kalfus into the Sons of Liberty in 1864.

During the winter of 1863-1864, Stidger learned that his mother was deathly ill and confined to bed. He asked for a furlough to return home to attend to her. When that was not approved, Stidger asked for a medical discharge. He was approved for discharge on 14 February 1864.
Source: Fold3.
Source: Fold3. Service record of Felix Stidger.
Stidger's discharge papers give some additional context to his physical appearance. He was 5'8", with dark complexion, black hair and dark eyes.

Stidger arrived back in Taylorsville on 17 February 1864. The area was still full of Rebel sympathsizers and guerrilla bands. In his autobiography, Stidger recalls how he was followed home from the pharmacy after buying medicine for his mother, and the family was robbed at gunpoint.
Stidger. Page 28-29.
After his mother's death, Stidger went into hiding and eventually made his way to Louisville. A band of guerrillas returned to his home with the intention of killing him and his brother. Felix and John were determined to even up with score with the guerrillas, Confederate abettors. Once in Louisville, he sought out the Deputy Provost Marshall for the District, who happened to be the son of the owner of the general store where Stidger had worked in Bloomfield before the war.

The next post will dive into how Stidger went undercover against the Sons of Liberty.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Family House

Source: National Park Service. Felix G. Stidger House.
The dilapidated shack of a home pictured above recently received protection on the National Register of Historic Places. The home was purchased by my 4th-great-grandfather Enoch Holsclaw for the benefit of his sister Narcissa Holsclaw Stidger and her two sons, following the death of her husband Harmon Stidger in 1838.

The Spencer County Historical and Genealogical Society created a preservation trust to save the home, based on its historic significance related to Felix Grundy Stidger. Felix was a spy during the Civil War who uncovered a vast conspiracy aimed at overthrowing the government in several Union states during the last two years of the war. Stidger thwarted a plan that would have released and armed 75,000 Confederate prisoners in Indiana and Illinois, and resulted in the arrest of over a 100 prominent leaders in these states for treason against the US government. Based on the submission of the preservation trust, the home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in February 2016, enabling the trust to receive funds for rehabilitation of the property and plan a museum about Stidger in Taylorsville.
Source: National Park Service. Submission by Felix Stidger House Preservation Trust.
The document filed with the National Park Service is a fascinating read. According to the entry, Stidger is the only individual known from Spencer County involved in the Secret Service. During the war, Stidger's espionage activity took place in Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. This made him unique among known spies, as most Union spies went to the Deep South or Confederates came North.

The home's "lack of modernizing gives us a rather honest view into the life of a man who rose from humble beginnings to serve his country in a distinctive way. Felix Stidger's story fits a familiar trope: military service provides opportunities to each service man to draw upon his native strength to make similar contributions to the American war effort, regardless of how rugged his early years might have been. The Stidger House's simple design shows Stidger was a member of the common folk. The unassuming nature of the house surely paralleled Stidger's own demeanor."

According to Stidger's autobiography, his mother Narcissa died in the home on 2 April 1864 after battling sickness for several months. One week before her death, Rebel sympathizers robbed Stidger and his brother while they were in the home caring for their sick mother. Stidger believed the traumatic experience led to her death, and this was the incident that pushed him to join the Secret Service.
Source: National Park Service. Felix G. Stidger House.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Administrators of the estate

Source: Google Books, page 205.
Tuesday's post referenced the Enoch Holsclaw House in the National Register of Historic Places. Another search uncovered an act passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in February 1839 allowing Enoch Holsclaw and Charles Holsclaw to bring a sale of real estate and personal property to cover the debts of Harmon A. Stidger, who had died intestate in 1838. A bit more digging revealed that Harmon Stidger had married Narcissa Holsclaw, a sister of Enoch and Charles Holsclaw, on 15 May 1834 in Spencer County.

Stidger died on 1 November 1838, leaving his wife Narcissa to care for their two young children, Felix Grundy Stidger and John Harmon Stidger. Brothers Enoch and Charles stepped in to help the family. Enoch bought the home in a commissioner's sale, and it stayed in his possession until 1882. I will have a separate post on the home, as it exists today on the National Register of Historic Places. Felix Grundy Stidger's story also involves a separate, lengthy post. We are lucky to have his autobiography, recounting his story as a spy during the Civil War.

Back to the estate of Harmon Stidger, an inventory and appraisement of his estate appears in the Spencer County probate records from December 1838. It looks like he may have been a tailor, as his estate included various types of fabric (cotton, silk, flannel, jaconet, cambrick, among others). He also had 30 bottles of wine and brandy, along with kegs and corks, so perhaps he made his own wine.
FamilySearch, Image 409 of 652.
The sale of the estate contains some interesting names, including Benjamin Holsclaw Sr, father of Enoch, Charles and Narcissa. A representative section of entries from the estate sale is below.

Source: FamilySearch. Image 476 of 652.
Enoch and Charles completed administration of the estate in May 1840. My next post will cover the house acquired by Enoch for his sister Narcissa and family.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Estate of Enoch Holsclaw

When my 4th-great-grandfather Enoch Holsclaw passed in August 1889, his estate was administered in Spencer County, Kentucky by David Black and my 3rd-great-grandfather Guilford Dudley Read.
Source: Ancestry. Kentucky Wills & Probate Records.

FamilySearch has scans of the Spencer County probate files, and I was able to find more documents on Enoch Holsclaw's estate. Will Book K includes an inventory and sale of his personal property. This provides some insight into the property of a carpenter in 1880s Kentucky, and it also provides a reference to a conveyance from Enoch Holsclaw to his daughter Ellen in Deed Book J, page 291.
Source: FamilySearch. Kentucky Probate Records.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

In the National Register of Historic Places

Yesterday's post identified the marriage entry for my 3rd-great-grandparents, Guilford Dudley Read and Ellen Holsclaw from September 1863 in the Kentucky County Marriage records on Ancestry. The record states they were married at the home of Ellen's father, Enoch Holsclaw in Taylorsville, Spencer County. I have not spent much time researching the family of my 4th-great-grandparents, Enoch Holsclaw and Priscilla McKinley, but a Google search has uncovered some fascinating information in the National Register of Historic Places.
Source: National Park Service, viewed 24 Jan 2017.

Enoch and Priscilla were married on 19 August 1828 in Spencer County, Kentucky. They settled in Taylorsville and raised a large family. Enoch was a carpenter and built his home around 1830. The family can be seen in the 1850 and 1860 US Census below.
Source: 1850 US Census, Spencer County, Kentucky.
Source: 1860 US Census, Spencer County, Kentucky.
The family appears again in the 1870 and 1880 US Census. Priscilla McKinley Holsclaw died in 1872.
Source: 1870 US Census, Spencer County, Kentucky.
Source: 1880 US Census, Spencer County, Kentucky.
Enoch Holsclaw died in August 1889 in Spencer County. His home in Taylorsville was passed down, and shows up in files on the Taylorsville Historic District. In a submission with the National Register of Historic Places, shown above, the Enoch Holsclaw House is listed as one of the oldest homes in the city. On a map of the town, the Holsclaw house appears in a plot of land near a bend where the Salt River joins Brashears Creek.
Source: National Park Service. Taylorsville, Kentucky.

The description of Taylorsville and its historic significance is interesting, but Holsclaw also shows up in references to his more famous nephew, Civil War spy Felix Grundy Stidger. I will have much more on his story to follow.
Louisville Courier-Journal, 16 May 2016.

Monday, January 23, 2017

New finds from Kentucky Marriage Records

Ancestry. Kentucky, County Marriages. 107 of 443.

I am taking a brief break from the research on the Du Trieux family and their arrival from Amsterdam while waiting on research from the Association of Philippe Du Trieux Descendants. In the meantime, Ancestry has added images on Kentucky County Marriages from 1783-1965. I do not recall seeing these before, so I will take some time to look back at these for the Kentucky ancestors in my tree.

A quick look has already revealed a few marriage bonds that I have not previously viewed. The first image above shows a marriage bond between my 3rd-great-grandparents Robert Jackson Wheatley and Melissa Catherine Grinstead, dated 14 September 1860. This record misspells Robert's name as "Whitney". It also look like it includes his signature on the document. The next entry shows they were married on 15 September 1860 in Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky.
Source: Ancestry. Kentucky, County Marriages. Image 126 of 228.

After Melissa died sometime before 1864, Robert married Martha T. Hays. Their marriage bond from 11 March 1872 is very useful, and includes Robert's signature as "Robert J. Whitley". He would later go by the older family spelling Wheatley after moving to Texas.
Source: Ancestry. Kentucky, County Marriages. Image 119 of 653.
Another record new to me is a marriage entry for my 3rd-great-grandparents Guilford Dudley Read and Ellen Holtzclaw (or Holsclaw), dated 7 and 9 September 1863 in Spencer County, Kentucky. The record shows that Guilford and Ellen were married at the home of her father, Enoch Holsclaw, in Taylorsville, Spencer County.
Source: Ancestry. Kentucky, County Marriages. Image 327 of 601.
More to follow.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A march with history

Yesterday my wife, sister, daughter and many friends and neighbors joined over 1 million others in Washington DC for the Women's March. Other friends and colleagues marched in Los Angeles, London, Indianapolis, Denver, Boston and places far and wide, making their voices heard. For our daughter, this was her first protest. It will be a long four years. Those who marched and supported from afar are determined to challenge this administration, hold them to account, and vote them out at the next opportunity.

Photo by L. Jones. Washington DC, 21 Jan 2017.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Follow the sun

Image from Pano LA short by Joe Capra.

It has been a good few days here in LA, even with the rain. Today the clouds have cleared and it is a beautiful day on the Best Coast. The image above showing the Santa Monica Pier is from a wonderful time lapse video called Pano LA by Joe Capra.

As much as I would like to stay a little longer, it is time to return to DC. My thoughts are with family and friends at the Women's March in DC and around the country today.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Playa Vista, 21 Jan 2017.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Above the clouds

Photo by Patrick Jones. Above Otis, Colorado, 18 Jan 2017.

I am back in LA for meetings. Yesterday on my flight I captured a view of frosty fields above Otis, Colorado. Thanks to flight tracking, I can see the exact path of the plane as it delivered me West. I did not capture a picture as we passed over the Grand Canyon and snow-capped mountains outside LA, but it was a beautiful sight. I know I am lucky to see this view of the country, peaceful and scenic above the clouds.
Source: Flightaware. Route from 18 Jan 2017.

Monday, January 16, 2017

5th Anniversary

I started this blog five years ago this week, back in January 2012. At the time I had no idea where this would go, but nearly 1250 posts later, it has been quite a journey. This has been a creative outlet and a place to publish my research, photos from my travels, and nuggets of personal and family history. I have used this blog to breakdown brick walls and connect with distant cousins. It has been an interesting and enjoyable platform for sharing what I find.

My most-read post continues to be my recap on my 9th-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Grinstead Key, published in February 2012. She has such a fascinating story, and I hope to locate original documents relating to her case with the Virginia General Assembly at some point in 2017 from the Library of Virginia in Richmond.

The beauty of the blog is I can publish what I want, in the order I want. Sometimes I publish an article aimed at a wider audience or aimed at potential cousins who may stumble on the research. In other cases, I am publishing photos or bits for my kids to see later, as they start to learn more about the great history in the family.

I plan to keep writing and posting for the foreseeable future, and if the blog goes another five years that will be quite an achievement.


Source: Amsterdam Archives. 2 Apr 1616.
While looking through the indexes of the Amsterdam Archives, I located another link between the Du Trieux and Noiret families. Yesterday's post included screen shots for the marriage of Philippe Du Trieux and Jacquemyne Noirett in April 1615. A year later, Philippe's younger brother Jasper Du Trieux married Jacquemyne's sister Jeanne Noirett. The record shows Jasper was 26 at the time, putting his date of birth about 1590. Like Philippe, he was born in Roubaix. Jeanne Noirett was born in Lille, France and her father Arnoult Noirett appears on the record.

Jasper appears on another record, as a witness on the birth of Philippe Du Trieux (spelled Filip on the record), first son of Philippe and Jacquemyne. Arnoult Noirett was also listed, along with Jacquilaine Hiole. I do not know her connection with the Du Trieux and Noirett families, or if she was just a friend of the family.  Jacquilaine had married Jeromse Vittori in 1612, and she had a child one month after Philippe and Jacquemyne in February 1616.
Source: Amsterdam Archives. 3 Jan 1616.
The Windmill on the Onbekende Gracht, Amsterdam, Claude Monet. 1874.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Roots of the Family

The Dam and the Damrak, Jan van der Heyden. 1663.
I am only scratching the surface on volumes of research material on the Du Trieux (later Truax) family, from their time in Amsterdam in the early 1600s to their settlement in New Amsterdam and later years as this settlement became New York.

Philippe Du Trieux was born in 1585 in Roubaix, in present-day France, then part of Belgium. Philippe was a worsted dyer and he worked with velvet and other fabrics. Perhaps his father was also a dyer and he learned the trade from him. Philippe later moved to Amsterdam, plying his trade in the Walloon community.

In Amsterdam he married Jacquemyne Noirett in May 1615. Their engagement record from April 1615 is found in the Amsterdam Archives. He was 27 at the time, and had lived on the "Wale pad" or Walloon Avenue for three-quarters of a year. His bride Jacquemyne was 22, born in Lille, and had lived on the Wale pad for 12 years. Her parents were listed as Arnauld Noirett and Barbe Du Chesne.
Amsterdam Archives, April 1615.
Philippe and Jacquemyne had four children:
- Philippe Du Trieux, January 1616-1619 in Amsterdam
- Maria Du Trieux, April 1617-sometime before 1684 in Schenectady, New York
- Philippe Du Trieux, February 1619-about September 1653 in New Amsterdam
- Madeline Du Trieux, February 1620-sometime before 1624 in Netherlands

The family was received into the Walloon Church in Leiden, Netherlands in August 1617, but moved back to Amsterdam in December 1617.
Source: Google Maps.

Jacquemyne Noirett died about 1620, leaving Philippe with three young children to raise. Some researchers have noted Philippe's second wife, Susanna Duchesne, may have been a cousin or related to his first wife's mother. Susanna was 20 when she became engaged to Philippe in 1621. She was born in Sedan, France. At the time of her engagement she was an orphan. According to the document below, Philippe was living on the "Runstreat" in 1621. This appears to be Runstraat on the present day Amsterdam map, and not too far from the Walloon Church.
Amsterdam Archives, Jul 1621.
Google Maps view of Amsterdam.
Philippe and Susanna received an attestation from the Church in Leiden in March 1624 signaling their intent to transfer to a new church after their arrival in the West Indies.

I am descended from Philippe and Susanna through their last son Jacob. They had at least the following children:
- Jerome Du Trieux, October 1623-before March 1624.
- Sarah Du Trieux, born 1625 in New Amsterdam, died 9 November 1692
- Susanna Du Trieux, born 1626, died 1660
- Abraham Du Trieux, born 1632
- Rachel Du Trieux, born 1635
- Isaac Du Trieux, born 1642
- Rebecca Du Trieux, born 1643
- Jacob Du Trieux, born 1645, died 1709 in Delaware

In 1638, Philippe became the Court Messenger of the Governor of New Amsterdam. He died sometime between July 1649 and September 1653 (possibly as early as March 1651). His exploits as the Court Messenger will be covered in another post.