Saturday, June 17, 2006

Finding Ezekiel Johnson

Missouri State Archives aids in hunt . . . .

Ezekiel Johnson was my great-great-grandfather. I've mentioned him probably three times in this blog before. And New Year's I set as one of my goals finding Ezekiel Johnson's parents. And now with help from our friends at the Missouri State archives, it appears I may have achieve that goal.

Here's what I knew until the other day: according to the 2004 Gines family calendar published by my aunt Delorise Gines, Ezekiel Johnson was the father of Mary Elizabeth Liza Jane Johnson, who married James William Long. The ninth of their fourteen children, Annie Florida Corrine Long, was my grandmother. Over the last several years I've been searching for the origins of Ezekiel Johnson was only modest success. Using census records, I found that he was probably born around 1846. According to marriage records from Clay County Missouri, Ezekiel Johnson and Sarah Gilbert were married in Clay County on September 5, 1867. By analyzing census records and talking to family members I concluded that the Ezekiel Johnson died around 1940.

Here's where the Missouri Secretary of State's new death certificate database came in to the picture. In the database I found that a Zeke Johnson had died in Kansas City in 1933. Since the images in the database are complete only through 1924 as of this writing I had to request a copy of the certificate by mail. Because I was eager to have it soon, I made my request through the Friends of the Missouri State Archives, rather than directly to the archives itself. As I've noted before, both the archives and the friends group are very responsive. Requesting a copy through the friends group costs five dollars. Yesterday just about a week after I mailed my request, I was thrilled to find an envelope with a death certificate for Zeke Johnson.

The death certificate that I received indicated that Zeke Johnson was born on June 14, 1847 and died on August 8, 1933. I was able to authenticate the death certificate as the one that I sought by looking at the informant. The informant on the certificate was Mary E. Long. A death certificate indicated that Zeke Johnson was born in Clay County, Missouri. But as is usually the case in genealogy, the most significant information on the death certificate both answered my questions and raised more. Zeke Johnson's father was described as Dan Carpenter, place of birth unknown. His mother's maiden name was given as Harriett Mitchell, birthplace Kentucky. Never in my life had I ever heard either of those two names in connection with our family history. Of course I immediately set out to find more information about Dan Carpenter and Harriet Mitchell.

The first thing I did was check the Missouri death certificate database for Dan Carpenter. Indeed the database had a death certificate for Daniel Carpenter in Clay County, Missouri. Daniel Carpenter was described as a married white man born on March 7, 1825 in Ohio. According to the death certificate he was a retired farmer and merchant. His wife's name was Pauline Carpenter. His father's name was William Carpenter and his mother's name was Hannah Clark. He died on June 14, 1920 and was buried at a place called "Gashland." I found no record that Dan Carpenter had ever been married to Harriett Mitchell. But more about that later. Analyzing census records I determined that William Carpenter was born on July 27, 1790. It appears that he was actually born in Virginia and not Ohio. He died on June 4, 1873 in Weston Platte County, Missouri. His wife Hannah Clark, was born on February 14, 1798 also apparently in Virginia. She died on September 18, 1881 in Weston, Platte County Missouri. According to Clay County, Missouri cemetery records, Hannah Clark was the daughter of one Samuel Clark. Samuel Clark was born in New Jersey on March 11, 1768. He died in Gallitin, Clay County, Missouri. Next I sought a death certificate for Pauline Carpenter. The Missouri death certificates database had a death certificate for a Martha Pauline Carpenter who died on March 7, 1924. She was born on April 24, 1831 in North Carolina. Her father was Joseph D. Gash (hence, "Gashland"), and her mother was Eliza Killian. Census records place Joseph Gash in Morgan, Buncombe County, North Carolina, in the early 19th century. Census records for both Clay County, Missouri and Platte County, Missouri, show a number of individuals named Gash starting around 1840.

There is a family tree posted at that purportedly traces this Carpenter family back to the 11th century in England. Regrettably, no documentation is provided and most unfortunately the creator of the site has died. I am now in the process of attempting to verify the information on that site.

I found no records indicating that Dan Carpenter and Pauline Carpenter had any children.

What is also missing is record reference to Harriett Mitchell. As I noted above, Ezekiel Johnson had been born in 1847. Clay County marriage records show that Dan Carpenter and Pauline Gash were married on December 29, 1853. It is also apparent from the records that the Carpenter family and the Gash family were prominent landowners in Clay and Platte Counties, Missouri.

So who was Harriett Mitchell? And why does her son Ezekiel Johnson bear neither her surname nor the surname of his father Dan Carpenter? As I looked for Harriett Mitchell in Missouri Census records, I found a significant family named Mitchell. They were slave owners. But no evidence of a Harriett Mitchell. I also find a large number of individuals named Johnson in Clay County. One man, Emmons Johnson, is listed as owning about seven slaves in on the 1850s slave scheduled for Clay County. One of those slaves is a female aged 24 and another is a male age 3. These these could correspond with Harriett Mitchell and Ezekiel Johnson. So a theory could be that Dan Carpenter had a relationship with his neighbor's slave Harriett Mitchell which produced the Ezekiel Johnson. I'm looking . . . .


DeAnna B said...

Oh, what a tangled web we weave ... That's simply amazing. I await further developments with interest.

My own Missouri death certificates are already on order, but through the archives themselves rather than the Friends, as I've been splurging on NARA files lately. I have 5 on order, and another 5 queued up for when those come back. It's refreshing to have this transparency and availability when everyone else seems non-sensically focused on shutting things down as fast as possible.

Craig Manson said...

Thanks, DeAnna. You're right that these recent attempts in various places to restrict access are nonsense. I'm doing a project to assess which jurisdictions do the best job of access. It'll take awhile to complete, but I hope it will be useful to researchers.

Randy Seaver said...

Hi Craig,

Excellent work on tracking down these folks - it is real hard to find good data - I know, I've done a bit of work for four people on their post-War families and their slave ancestry.

Have you looked for probate records for Mr. Mitchell or Mr. Carpenter to see if they mention Harriet (and Zeke)?

Have you found Harriet and Zeke and perhaps Mr. Johnson in the 1870, 1880, 1900 and on census records? It sounds like you have, but your comment wasn't explicit.

Good luck -- Randy Seaver

Craig Manson said...

thanks for visiting! Actually I can't find Harriet Mitchell anywhere. I do find Z. Johnson and Dan Carpenter in the census records. And another reader has recently tracked down an article in the Missouri Historical Review about Dan Carpenter. I'll be getting that pretty soon.I think the next step will be tracking down estate and probate records.

Keith Clark Brimhall said...

I am a desendant of Samuel Clark, the father of Hannah Clark Carpenter, wife of Daniel. In the book "Clark of Elizabeth Town In New Jersey" by Elmer Sayre Clark there is a letter from Daniel Carpenter dated 1913 to the author and some history of the family. Daniel and Pauline had no children. We visited his grave at the Gash Cemetery in the north part of Kansas City on Sept. 18th.2006. Its a small family cemetery, very well kept. It is less that 100 feet from the entrance to the Red Lobster Resturant in the Metro North Mall. Samuel Clark is burried there along with three of his daughters. Keith Clark Brimhall

Craig Manson said...

Thanks for reading GeneaBlogie, Mr. Brimhall! And thank you for your information. It is clear now to me that Daniel Carpenter and Pauline Gash had no children. As to the theory that Daniel Carpenter had some other relationship that produced children, it remains an undocumented, though strongly circumstantial, theory.