Yesterday I came across an obituary for my grandmother’s half-sister’s husband. For those not engrossed in genealogy and the quest for information about their ancestors, that may seem like an obscure find not worth investigating.
I am going to use it as an example of how each piece of information is worth exploring for further hints. I have formatted the obituary in italics with my research notes interspersed throughout.
The Checotah Times Checotah, Oklahoma Friday May 1, 1925
The newspaper citation itself tells me that my some of my ancestors had connections to Checotah, Oklahoma.
W.B. Beck pioneer citizen of McIntosh County answers final summons Monday.
Following a long illness of only a few days duration, death claimed the life of W.B. Beck at his community home East of Checotah Monday afternoon.
The news of his death was a great shock, to the majority of our citizens as he appeared in good health the last time he was in the city about two weeks ago. Mr. Beck was one of the best known citizens of McIntosh and was indeed a pioneer in point of residence having located here in 1969. He was a lifelong Democrat and always took an active part in party affairs and held the honor of being McIntosh County’s first representative in Oklahoma legislature. He was a man who was a friend to his neighbors, never forgot a friend nor betrayed a trust.
I will be traveling from Fort Smith to Warner Oklahoma later this month. McIntosh County is just west of Warner. I now know that a stop in McIntosh County and a visit to the museum and court house there may provide some information and possibly photos about some of my ancestors.
William Billingsley Beck was born at Corinth Miss. January 26, 1847 and his early life was spent in that state. With his parents he moved to Texas in 1860 where he resided until the beginning of the Civil War. He enlisted in the cause of the Confederate Army and served until the close of the war.
Next is the first piece of information that mentions a blood relative, Malinda J. Crittenden, my grandmother’s half-sister. Malinda’s father is my great grandfather, Moses Crittenden.
On September 6, 1866, he was united in marriage to Miss Malinda J. Crittenden at Dallas, Ark. He was married under the Cherokee law prior to 1875 thereby sharing the full citizenship with the Cherokee by blood and was the first white male to serve in the Cherokee Council, beinq elected to the body in 1898.
I did not know that my great Aunt Malinda was married in Dallas, Arkansas. A search on the internet provides a map showing Dallas as just south of Mena, Arkansas. On my genealogy trip later this month I am spending two days in Mena, Arkansas. My great grandfather Moses was granted a land patent in that area in 1860. While there I plan to go to see that land. I also plan to spend some time at the Polk County Court House in Mena researching what happened to the land when Moses left for Oklahoma.
I am hoping the local museum will have photos from that time period and may provide me with some context for what life was like for the first Cherokee families to arrive in Arkansas. This information about the marriage of my great aunt in Dallas, Arkansas provides more facts on which to base my research.
In 1868 he located near the present site of Westville, where he resided for nearly a year, when he moved to this county, which has been home.
The first week of my trip will be spent in Tahlequah, the Cherokee Nation Capital. Westville is a short drive from Tahlequah. I will search the museum in Westvilee for photos of my great Aunt Matilda or other members of her family.
Besides the wife, deceased leaves one daughter, Mrs. Eliza Caughran, and two sons, Tom and Carol to mourn his loss. He is also survived by 15 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.
This is the most important piece of information for me. A search for Eliza Beck Caughran at Ancestry.com provided me with a photo of her family. I also now know that there are grandchildren and great grandchildren, and probably great great grandchildren, some of whom are most likely still living. Someone posted the photos of Eliza Beck and of her family.
I can now search for current records that might lead me to identifying those living relatives. My hope is that someone in the family has photos of my great grandfather Moses Crittenden and other relatives. They may also know family stories passed down about the family’s early days in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
During his early manhood, Mr. Beck united with the Methodist church. He was also a member of the Checotah Lodge, I.O.O.F., and several other organizations.
The Methodist Church and the Checotah Lodge are two more places where I might find some historical records related to my family.
Funeral services were held Tuesday afternoon at Twin Grove Cemetery, in charge was Rev. E.A. Davis, pastor f the Methodist church” assisted by Rev. E.A. Spiller pastor of the Baptist church. The beautiful Masonic service was held at the Grove in charge of the local lodge. Internment occurred at the Twin Grove Cemetery East of Checotah.
I have added Twin Grove Cemetery to my list of cemeteries to visit on my trip.
Every piece of information that you discover, no matter how minor it may appear, is like a mine waiting to be searched for those gems that will illuminate details about your ancestors just waiting to be discovered.
18 responses to “Finding Gems for Further Research”
my great great grandparents are William and Melinda Beck. I might have some old pictures of their son’s family. My number is 971 570 0756. Ask for Rob.
Rob, I somehow missed this comment. I hope this number is still good. I will call this week.
My maiden name was Misti Etchieson.My grandmother passed away I’m pretty sure in 1979. I think her married name was smith when she died. Her maiden name was Johnnie Faye Mangum. Her first married name was Etchieson. I am trying to locate her Cherokee history obituary etc. Her husband at the time of her deaths name was Charles smith. They I’ve done in checotah Oklahoma. Any help would be appreciated.
Misti, I am not familiar with this family. I will be in touch next month with some suggestions for you to research.
I am a Beck descendant. William was my great-grandfather’s James’ oldest surviving brother (from the Civil War). Wm’s daughter Eliza, pictured here, was named for William & James’s mother. I have the Beck family back to 1690.
I have been to Checotah and Twin Grove Cemetery where Wm & Malinda Beck and family are buried. The township they lived in is named Beck Twnship and there also is a Beck school. And the last I heard a number of current day descendants–the Coughran line I think–had moved to the Durant area of Oklahoma, but I talked to them many years ago.
I’d love to hear from you Kathy and Rob: firstname.lastname@example.org
I will.be in Oklahoma and Arkansas in September 2019 doing some more research.
Eliza, I will email you later today. Kathy
I stillhave not received an email,and I checked the spam folder.
I think you found the email as I received a response from you this morning. I am hoping to connect you with other people inquiring about the Becks.
I forgot to add, I have evidence (somewhere) that most of the Beck family moved to Mena/Dallas, Ark., in 1860 from Mississippi (a few stayed behind). Wm and another brother with their father went to Texas for the war but only Wm returned, and of course he later married Malinda. Wm and his brothers all moved to Indian Territory but their mother and some sisters stayed in Arkansas and I believe there are descendants there today.
I have been to Mena and looked up the land that Moses lived on with his first wife and children. I have maps showing the plots for most of the Cherokee families and non-Cherokee families with whom they intermarried. I have sent you an email from email@example.com.
Sorry Kathy but I didn’t get your email and google mail didn’t recognize the email you posted here. Would you mind terribly trying again?
Thank you for thinking of me.
Eliza, I sent another email. Did you receive it? If not, check your spam folder. Kathy
Two spelling mistakes in the obit: Wm’s second son was Carel (not Carol) and Coughran is spelled with an o. not an a.
Eliza, Please see email that I sent you from firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve been searching to find my GGrandmas family in Arkansas and her name is Mary Anne (Johnson) Bryant and they say she’s related to the Beck family so I’ve been trying to piece it together so if you know anything please let me know thanks.
I am in the middle of downloading and organizing a massive amount of newspaper articles related to my grandfather, James West. I will get back to you in a week or so.
Amy, I do not have a lot of info on the Becks, but one of the readers of this blog does. I have written to ask her if she is OK with my sharing her email address with you.