I was researching one of Mary Mendenhall Lemon’s brothers. She came from a very large family and she was a Quaker, two things that are very helpful when researching family. Her parents were Abner Mendenhall and Lydia Carleton, was born in Pennsylvania and died in Canada. One of her brothers was a man named James Mendenhall who had a wandering spirit that led him to Rock County, Wisconsin. I found an ebook online with a wonderful biography about James and his family.
Some of the information is incorrect, but a lot of it is right and it was an interesting read.
On the 8th day of April, 1835, he shouldered his knapsack, and alone and on foot, started for Chicago, a distance of many hundred miles.
The biography goes on to mention his taking of a wife, Margaret C Rice, of New York, and starting a family, with a 15 month absence to look for gold in California in 1849. Life continued as life does, they had 3 children, two sons and a daughter, who all married and had families of their own. The couple’s oldest son, Willoughby, died in 1883, leaving a wife and twin daughters, one of whom died before 1910, the other marrying in Michigan and moving with her husband, children and mother to California. Margaret Rice Mendenhall died next in 1887. In 1900, James Mendenhall was quite advanced in years and is found living in the household of Thompson Anderson, Thompson’s wife, Mary, and two females: Flora Lemon and her daughter, Lula. I took notice of those last two names as James’ sister, Mary, married my 3rd great-grandfather, Baltis Lemon, and with him and their two small children, both born in Pennsylvania, moved up to Canada with Baltis’ brother George and their uncle, Jacob, to start a new life in less populated land. Other Lemon family members moved West from Pennsylvania into Illinois and beyond, so James Mendenhall was not the only one to have a wandering soul.
After I finished documenting as much as I could about the lives of the children of James and Margaret Mendenhall, I turned my attention to Flora and Lula Lemon. Who were they? How did they come to live in Wisconsin with James Mendenhall?
Flora was born Flora Frantz in Ohio to Jonas and Sarah Jane Frantz in about 1864. I discovered Flora’s maiden name when I found Lula’s death record in California during the time when California gave the mother’s maiden name of the deceased. I will admit to not knowing for sure if the Lula Bell Bryden I found who had died in California in 1959 was the Lula Lemon I’d found in 1900 living with James Mendenhall, but sometimes in genealogy one must trust their gut instinct and mine was telling me I had the right Lula. Lula was born in Indiana in 1883. Why was her mother, who had been born in Ohio, in Indiana, and who was Lula’s father? The 1900 census listed Flora as a widow, the mother of two children, only 1 living in 1900. Had the other child been born before Lula or after? It took most of the day, but I found almost all the records I needed to put the story together. Lula married Robert D. Bryden in 1902 in Elkhart County, Indiana. Why there? I found a Franz family living in Elkhart County in 1880. Were they related? Going backward, I found that Flora was living with this Franz (whose name is also spelled Frantz in census records) in 1870 and 1880. So Flora married Mr. Lemon after 1880, which would make it harder to find them as there is no 1890 census. But working on a hunch, I searched on Family Search and found that Flora Franz had married Robert A Lemon in Elkhart County on the 25th of April in 1882. Ah ha! I did my “Woot! Woot!” geni-dance when I found that. But who was Robert A Lemon? I started searching again.
Never be afraid to just put in a surname and a place when searching Ancestry and Family Search. That’s how I found William W Lemon, his wife Catherine, and their 3 children: Rebecca, b. 1842 in Canada, Albert, b. 1850 in Canada, and Melvin, b. 1852 in Indiana, living in Elkhart County, Indiana in 1860, 1870, and 1880. Canadian Lemons in Indiana! Is Albert Lemon really Robert A Lemon who married Flora Frantz in that county in 1882? That will take more research. And I haven’t yet been able to connect these Canadian Lemons to my Canadian Lemons and thus to the Mendenhalls, but it’s all pretty good circumstantial evidence. Also interesting is the fact that in 1880, William Lemon stated that both his parents had been born in Pennsylvania.
There’s more work to be done, but I think I’m on the right path.
UPDATE: Thursday, 12 March 2015
I received an email from an Ancestry.com member who told me that Mark Carleton, the 2nd great-grandfather of Lydia Carleton Mendenhall, the mother of James Mendenhall, had a daughter, Elizabeth, who married William Whitaker. I got the email yesterday afternoon before I wrote this blog post and mentally filed it under, “Hmm, that’s interesting,” and then continued my research on the life of James Mendenhall. This morning I woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep so went back to trying to figure out who Flora Frantz was and why she was living with James and the Andersons in 1880. That part is still unclear though I’ve managed to document her parents and siblings almost from cradle to grave. I created a new tree for her and daughter Lula, and then started a new tree for Thompson Anderson and his wife, Mary. Just now, while searching through census records, I was able to discover that Thompson’s parents were Robert Anderson and Sarah Whitaker. Sarah was born in Pennsylvania in about 1832. She’s probably the daughter of one of Elizabeth Carleton Whitaker’s sons, which would make her kin to James Mendenhall.