Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kansas: Rise Above the Noise and Confusion . . .

Back in cyber-Kansas today, I run into a couple of intriguing issues. To understand them, we need to go back a little bit.

Harriet Mitchell

Sometime ago, we were looking for the parents of Ezekiel Johnson. And we found a death certificate which listed his parents as Dan Carpenter and Harriet Mitchell. We subsequently discovered that Dan Carpenter was a prominent businessman and civic leader in northwest Missouri. He was married to Martha Pauline Gash. His biographers state unanimously that Dan Carpenter and Martha Gash had no children. Harriet Mitchell, we surmised by strong circumstantial evidence, was a slave born in Mason County, Kentucky. Our strong circumstantial evidence also points to Harriet Mitchell having been owned by Nathaniel Emmons Johnson, a native of Mason County, Kentucky, who migrated to Clay County, Missouri.

We know that Clay County was a center of pro-slavery sentiment in Missouri, and that a number of slaves escaped from Clay County to neighboring Wyandotte County, Kansas, by crossing the Missouri River. Wyandotte County was a battleground county in the struggle for the heart and soul of Kansas in the 1850's, and the Civil War. The towns of Wyandotte, Delaware City,and Kansas City were key areas in Wyandotte County. These are now all part of the Kansas City-Wyandotte County Unified Government.

Well, in 1895, Harriet Mitchell turns up in Delaware City, Wyandotte County, according to the Kansas State Census. This Harriet Mitchell is 71 years old, the age that Ezekiel Johnson's mother would be. In her household are Mary Long, 38; Thomas Long, 40; Henry Long, 5; Fredrick Long, 7; Lottie Long, 12; Birtie Long, 10; and Blanche Long, 2.

Then, in the 1900 federal census, Harriet Mitchell, now 75, is in the same place with Lottie Long, 16; Bertha Long, 15; Alfred Long, 12; Henry Long, 10; Ora Long, 7; and Janet Long, 4. What's interesting is that these children are dexcribed as her grandchildren.What makes this interesting is that we know Harriet Mitchell's granddaughter [daughter of Ezekiel Johnson] Mary Elizabeth Johnson, married James William Long. But we've never seen these children before and we can't seem to connect them to the Long family to which we are related.

In 1910 we find 85 year old Harriet Mitchell in Kansas City, Kansas, described as "grandmother" to Ora Long, Henry Long, and Mary Strother, who is married to John Strother.

Harriet Mitchell's birthplace is given as Kentucky on all of the census records.

So we may have opened a very interesting box of mysteries or it may be nothing relevant. Clearly, it means more work ahead!

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