Friday, December 17, 2010

Follow Friday: Iowa Old Press for Iowa genealogy

While researching my Travis family for a post earlier this month, I came across a treasure trove of transcriptions of historic newspapers at the wonderful Iowa Old Press. On their site they state, "This IAGenWeb Special Project is dedicated to the scores of newspapers that are printed chronicles of the lives and times of Iowa and Iowans. Join us as we step back in time and learn how the Press reported the news & influenced our Iowa ancestors in the 1800's and early 1900's..."

If you are researching ancestors in Iowa, by all means, be sure to visit this site. There are myriads of genealogical gems. Even the entries that don't mention my family have my rapt attention. The details that these articles give on family structure (including adoptions), migration, deaths, local businesses and social events is amazing. I am constantly struck by how much this information could mean to many family researchers. I would like to publicly thank the volunteers who spent many hours transcribing for this excellent site.

When I entered "Travis" into the search engine, I got 52 hits. Most of those (if not all) are "my" Travises. There were many exciting tidbits on my Travises and even some promising hints to help solve the mystery of Asa Travis' origins.

After at least thirty-five years of research, none of the Travis family researchers have been able to successfully tie our branch into other Travis families. The recent DNA results of my third cousin have shown that we are indeed related to the New York branch of this family and, most likely, connect all the way back to the Colonial Travis family. However, we still do not know how. Perhaps the newspaper clips below will help to sort the connection out.

1. THE FREMONT SUN. September 3, 1896. "William Travis of Ottumwa [Wapello County, Iowa] is a cousin of the Travis brothers" 

I believe that "Travis brothers" refers to my great grandfather Abraham, a frequently mentioned pioneer of Fremont, and his brother Nicodemus who came together to Iowa in 1852. Ottumwa is right by Fairfield where they lived upon arrival. William was previously unknown to us as a family member. I found a William Travis in the right area at about the right time who was born in New York, Dec 1835/7.  He married Mary Taylor and lived in Carthage, NY in 1880. Both of his parents are listed as born in New York in the federal censuses. One Ancestry Tree lists his father as Joseph. 

THE FREMONT COUNTY HERALD. September 5, l929. "OUR OLDEST SETTLER TELLS OF EARLY DAYS. Came to Fremont County When Sidney Was But Two Years Old. SEVENTY-SEVEN YEARS AGO".--(Joseph Hiatt, Jr., the oldest settler of Fremont county now living, relates the following historic facts of the county in early days...)
In the fall of 1852 I came with my parents from Peoria county, Illinois, to Fremont county, then spoken of as the wild and woolly west. It sure was all this and more. It was a land of deprivation and hardship unknown in our nation today... we lived in a double log house together with Abe [my 2nd great grandfather] and Nick Travis and families. This house was located on the south side of the road across from the old Dr. McCracken place in west Sidney. It was here the late Sadie Travis Gordon was born...The claims were filed at the land office in Council Bluffs, known then as Kanesville."

If William is a cousin to Abe and Nick, then William's dad should be Asa's brother.

2. THE FREMONT HERALD. April 2, 1896. "Grandpa Travis died, aged 85 years, 6 months- son is M.A Travis of Sidney."

I found an Amos and Sarah Travis (b. born about 1807 in NY)  living with Martin A Travis of Sidney in 1885. Martin was born 1846 in Ohio. Amos was called "Grandpa Travis" and my Abraham was called "Uncle Abe". Amos was born in 1810 in Greene County, NY and his parents were probably Gilbert Travis of New York and Phoebe Fish.  Gilbert was one of the early settlers of Linn County, Iowa. He was born about 1775 and may have been Asa's brother. Maybe it is a coincidence, but Amos' wife was Sarah Emeline Armstrong Travis and Abraham's firstborn was Sarah Eveline Travis. Abe also had sons named Amos, William and Joseph.

I don't know how this all ties together yet, but it is very important new information.

I also found these articles about my family along with many other mentions:

1. THE FREMONT COUNTY HERALD. May 18, 1906. "STORIES OF OLD TIMERS". -- A. Travis came to Fremont county in 1853 and located two miles southeast of where Sidney now stands. He has mowed grass within what is now the city limits and stated that a most excellent spring was once where the town well now is...

2. SIDNEY ARGUS HERALD. Jan 1934. "TWENTY YEARS AGO". -- Abraham Travis, pioneer of Fremont county, passed away Monday at the age of 86 years. Deceased was born in Ohio December 1, 1827, came to Iowa in 1852, was married in Jefferson county and settled in Fremont county the following year. The father of twelve children, he was a continuous resident of this county until his death.

3. THE FREMONT COUNTY HERALD. September 2, 1897. "FAMILY REUNION". -- One of the most remarkable family gathering in the history of Fremont county occurred at the home of Uncle Abe Travis last Sunday. It was the first time in twenty years that all of this family were together, and it will, in all probability be the last. Within the last 45 years death has entered this family but three times and then taking grandchildren. The immediate family circle, consisting of father, mother,and twelve children remains unbroken. It was indeed a happy meeting and one long to be remembered.

Promptly at high noon father, mother, eight sons and four daughters were seated around the family board and thorougly discussed a bountiful dinner served on the highest art of the old fashioned school of cookery, where eatables take the place of dishes and style. In this gathering were 12 members of this branch of the Travis family, father, mother, 12 children, 20 grandchildren and 8 children-in-law. Mr. Travis has lived here 42 years.

The HERALD extends congratulations to Uncle Abe and wife and wish them many more such joyful occasions.

4. THE HAMBURG REPORTER, Hamburg, Iowa. Friday, January 9, 1914. Abe Travis, 86, died at the home of his son, A.L. in Sidney. Uncle Abe as he was generally called has been a resident of this county for many years and has seen the prairie when there were few houses on it and when there were few towns in this part of the state. In company with H.F. Brumback he laid out the town of Hamburg and Mr Travis owned one or two lots in Hamburg at the time of his death...The funeral services were conducted at Sidney Wednesday. He leaves several children among them Mrs H. Hayes of this city...
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  1. That Iowa Old Press site is fascinating - I got happily lost in it for ages.

  2. Thanks for keeping up with my posts this week. I am making a real effort to post every day, which is unusual for me. Tough with all of the holiday goings on.
    Glad to hear that you have used IOP too!

  3. Thanks for posting about this newspaper online. Sadly I went to check out Decatuer county and not much has been posted yet. Hope that changes in the future.