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You are really filling in some gaps for me, so maybe I can fill in some of the gaps that remain. It may take me a while, to fit them in. How is it best to get started? I have Mattias' military records and battles. That fits in with the letters.
The letter from John Rafferty must be from John Rafferty, Sr. (1817 to 1888). He was married to Mary Van Kirk, Jane's older sister. He is writing to Jane about either about her grandfather's estate or her brother Jemison. John Rafferty writes first Jamison Van Kirk, but later spells the name as Jemison and I believe it must be Jane's brother because of the date. Jane's brother spelled his name Jemison and he died without marrying. Jemison was a school teacher. He was also in the Civil War (Co. F, 68th Reg. Indiana. He was listed as a volunteer and had the rank of 2nd Lt. Jemison Van Kirk. The Margaret and Elizabeth John Rafferty refers to are Jane and Mary's sisters. Ester (Esther) is Jane's next older sister. She was born in 1841 and never married to my knowledge.
Jane came from a line of military men. The first Jamison Van Kirk, Jane's paternal grandfather and my 4th gr-grandfather was born in 1758, the son of Arthur Van Kirk and Mary Jamison. I have traced Jane's ancestry back to the Verkerk family in The Netherlands. Aert Aertsz Verkerck was born abt 1525 and lived in Maas, Waal en Rijn, a river area in The Netherlands. The name Verkerck became Verkerk while in The Netherlands. In North America it became VanKirk og later Van Kirk.
Skipping a bit forward in time, Jane's (and my) earliest known ancestor in North America was Jan Janse Verkerck and wife Marijke Gijsberts. There are a lot of details about children and family but to keep the email short(?), they arrived in New Amsterdam (now New York) on board the De Rooseboom (The Rosetree) March 15, 1663, from Gelderland in The Netherlands. Jan and wife Marijke died in New Utrecht, Kings County, New York. It was their grandson, Arthur Van Kirk who married Mary Jamison in 1757.
Mary Jamison was Arthur's second wife. His first wife Hannah Stout, had a daughter, Sarah Van Kirk, who married her cousin Henry Van Kirk. One of Henry's descendants, Phoebe Elizabeth Dickerson married George Tyron Harding and their son became the 29th President Warren Gamaliel Harding.
I wonder if Jane was counted twice in the 1860 census? I find Jane's brother, William Madison Van Kirk, Jr., age 33, living in the household of Mathias Davis, whose wife is Jane (age 16). William Madison Jr.'s son, William N., is in the household of Robert Van Kirk. William's daughter Margaret Ellen, age 9, is in the household of Louis Main and wife Elizabeth.
In the 1880 census, Magdalene, Jane's mother, was living in Johnson Township, Ripley County, Indiana with daughter Jane and Jane's 5 children.
I wish I could find the last letter James Herman Trisler (he spelled it Tressler and Tresler, but his children all spelled it Trisler). In a letter from my (1st) cousin, Virginia Louise Trisler Richard (30 Sept 1989), Louise wrote that her grandfather (James H. Trisler) was going to Kansas to stake a claim for ground. At that time, his youngest child, Monte, was about 8 years old so the year must have been 1878-1879. In any case, the date could not be 1876 or earlier. James left Neopolian, Indiana and headed west. His wife (Jane) and children were to come after he had staked the claim to land. He wrote to Jane at every stop and told her where he was and where he was headed next. The last letter Jane received stated he would try to make it to Bender's Inn.
I don't know if you are familar with Bender's Inn, but this is the place
in Cherryvale, Kansas, where the Benders made it a practice to kill their
guests while they were eating their dinner. The house stood about one
mile NW of a marker at a roadside park on U.S. 160, 10 miles west of Pasons.
In 1879, the police found 11 bodies with crushed skulls. One of these
Jane was left with children and no way to support them. She tried to get her pension back (the one she had from Matthias) but it was denied. The only choice that left her was to have a divorce from James Trisler. So that was done. But only because she needed the money, and the government required her to be unmarried, as well as the widow of Matthias. She couldn't prove James Herman's death so a divorce was the only course left open to her. That was very hard for her. She didn't believe in divorce but ended up accepting the only course open.
Jane's 4th grandchild (my aunt) was born in Pratt Co. Kansas, in 1908. Between 1908 and 1915, when my father was born, they moved to Oklahoma. The gap between my aunt and my father is because my grandfather was traveling back and forth to develope the homestead in Oklahoma and build their house. My grandfather, Daniel Huff m. Alice Trisler) also had a wagon building business in Kansas that he ran with his brother and two nephews.
Jane was with my grandmother and grandfather until sometime after 1930 and more than 87 years. I have a picture of Jane when she is very old and also a picture of her with her 3 daughters. Jane's youngest daughter (my grandmother) married my grandfather in Hutchinson, Reno Co., Kansas, 1 Oct. 1900. I see that the General Affidavit you have transcribed also was done in Reno Co., Kansas and appears to be done in 1903.
I know Jane and daughter Alice were in Silica, Rice County, Kansas in 1901 and 1902. They were in Pratt County, Kansas by 1907 and in 1913 Daniel Huff moved his family to the farm at Rosston, Oklahoma. After my father was born they moved to Laverne, Harper County, Oklahoma. That's another story.
I can't believe how long this has gotten. Hope you read this far :)
Received 5 October 2006
From a letter written by Virginia Louise Trisler Richard of Catawissa, Missouri, dated 30 September 1989:
"Now I shall go back to my grandfather James Herman Trisler. He was going to Kansas or Oklahoma to stake a claim for ground when my father Monte was about 8 years old. He being guardian of John Davis and his father had died in the Civil War, therefore he was entitled to land. James Trisler left Neopolian, Indiana and headed west -- his wife and children to come after he got ground. He wrote back to them -- the last one stated he was in Kansas and his next stop would be at the Bender's Inn. That is the last letter ever received. We also heard the Bender's Inn was a notorious gang that killed people for their money and buried them in their yard. We never did find out anything more about him."
CHERRYVALE, KANSAS - In 1871, old man Bender and his wife Kate opened a general store and inn here in their home on the main road between Cherryvale and Thayer. In 1879, when Dr. William York stayed overnight at the Bender's Inn, he was never heard from again. When York's brother Colonel York asked about Dr. York, the Bender's denied any knowledge of him, but a week later they skipped town.
Colonel York returned to the house and while searching the basement he noticed a vile odor and traces of blood. Out in the pasture he noticed eleven neat indentations that looked like graves. When the graves were opened, police found eleven bodies, one of which was Dr. York, The skull of each had been crushed with a sledge hammer. It was determined that Mr. Bender had sneaked behind each victim while they were eating dinner and hit them in the head with the sledgehammer.
(The house stood one mile northwest of a marker in a roadside park on U.S. 160, 10miles west of Pasons).
Montie was born 1871 - James Trisler supposedly went to Kansas when Montie was about 8 years old, or in 1877-79. James' youngest child was born in March 1877, so James did not leave earlier than the autumn of 1876.
We now know from one letter that he left somtime in 1877. Most likely in the spring or summer. He must have been carrying money. I don't know if Louise meant that James Herman was entitled to the land or that John was. I have always thought he was making the claim for John. Maybe the Benders took whatever papers he had with him? I have also wondered if Jane went to Kansas to try and find out what happened to her husband. If John stayed in Indiana, then he may have taken over his father's property there? That could explain why Jane waited until John was of legal age? Oh! The questions!!! :)
It certainly explains why I never found John in Kansas.