Saturday, January 24, 2015

#52Ancestors: WK 4: GINGER, Dora Bell

** cross posted to Lass Chronicles **
Dora Bell Ginger
Dora Bell (Ginger) Cornstuble Langley Summerhill [1]

Family lore[2] says that Dora Bell GINGER (born 29 Dec 1860 in Illinois) was part of a wagon train with her parents John Ginger and Sarah (JOHNSON) Ginger. They came from Illinois through Missouri and intended to travel through Arkansas. The family stopped in a small town in Arkansas that had a sawmill. While there, they sought rest and work.

Dora Bell married John E. CORNSTUBLE (date unknown).  The newlyweds stayed in Arkansas while her parents went on. Her parents crossed a river (via ferry) never to be seen or heard from again. The wagon team that John and Sarah Ginger drove were spotted "going across a bridge" arousing the suspicion that John and Sarah were robbed and murdered for their wagon and team.

I haven't ever investigated this story. Where do I start? None of Dora Bell's children are still alive. All of this would have happened in the mid- to late-1870s.

Let's do a little digging...

I have a probable confirmation of Dora Bell Ginger and her family in Salem, Greene Co, AR in the 1870 census.

Detail John P. Ginger Family in 1870
Detail of John P. Ginger family in 1870 U.S. Census
In 1880, John P. Ginger et familia are in Clay, Dunklin Co, Missouri [3].

Detail John P. Ginger Family in 1880
Detail of John P. Ginger family in 1880 U.S. Census

In 1880, Dora and her husband John are also in Dunklin Co, Missouri -- specifically Buffalo.

Detail for John E. Cornstuble family in 1880
Detail of John E. Cornstable family in 1880 U.S. Census

In 1900 (I curse you fire of 1890!!), John P. Ginger, his wife, youngest son, and a boarder are enumerated in Lester, Craighead Co, Arkansas.

Detail John P. Ginger Family in 1900
Detail of John P. Ginger family in 1900 U.S. Census

In 1900, Dora and her new husband Bolivar SUMMERHILL, are enumerated in Bear Creek, Sevier Co, AR.

Detail for Bolivar Summerhill family in 1900
Detail of Bolivar Summerhill family in 1900 U.S. Census

Analyzing the data so far...

In comparing family lore to the census record, assuming I am looking at the right family, it's clear to me that John and Sarah were not robbed and murdered.  They also kept close to Dora Bell, at least for a short time. Or, perhaps, Dora Bell stayed close to them.

Also, tracing the movement of John and Sarah Ginger from Warren Co, IL (1850) to Greene Co, AR (1870) to Dunklin Co, MO (1880) to Craighead Co, AR (1900) then...

tracing the movement of Dora Bell and her three consecutive husbands (Cornstuble, Langley, and Summerhill) from IL (1860) to Greene Co, AR (1870) to Dunklin Co, MO to to Ouachita Co, AR (1894) to Sevier Co, AR (1900) to McCurtain Co, OK (1940)...

I notice that I really should hunt down Dora Bell's siblings.  I have a lot more research to do to confirm what I think.  Maybe in a few months, I can do a post on John P. Ginger.

The rest of Dora Bell's life...

Dora Bell and John Cornstuble have five children[3], including my second great grandmother: Mary Francis. John E. Cornstuble dies (date unknown). Dora Bell Ginger marries a man named LANGLEY and has another child, Curtis LANGLEY (born in Louisiana in Oct 1890). Sadly, the loss of the 1890 census has made finding this mysterious Langley nearly impossible.

Langley (the husband) dies. Dora Bell marries again to Henry Bolivar SUMMERHILL (in Nevada County, Arkansas on 11 Mar 1894).

Marriage License Summerhill-Cornstuble
Marriage License - H.B. Summerhill and D.B. Cornstuble

I find it interesting in the bond and license there was an effort made to change Dora Bell's name from Miss Dora B. Langley to Mrs. Dora B. Cornstuble. Why?

Detail of Summerhill-Cornstuble Marriage Bond
Detail of Bond of Marriage - Summerhill & Cornstuble

Henry and Dora Bell have five children[4]. I have been unable to find Henry and Dora Bell in the 1920 U.S. Census. Henry dies in 1929. In the 1930 U.S. Census, I find something odd.

Detail of Dora Summerall family in 1930
Detail of Dora Summerall family - 1930 U.S. Census

Is this my Dora? There is a Bessie (age 21) on the next page. If this is my Dora, who is Frank? I've searched repeatedly through every census, every letter, every scrap of information I have. There's no "Frank" in my records. No brother, son, nephew, son in law, etc. Is this really Ella Pahanie? Is this Curtis with the wrong age? Is this just a boy Dora "adopted" along the way and raised as her own? That's reaching, I know.

Dora Bell reappears in the 1940 census living with her son Harse, daughter Ella, and grandson Huston (maybe Houston) James. They are living in McCurtain Co, OK.  She dies 23 Aug 1957 in Glover, McCurtain Co, OK.

I still have questions. A lot of questions. Like all of my ancestors beyond my great grandparents, there's so much I don't know. I'm hoping to find that mysterious Langley. I'm hoping to find Dora Bell in the 1920 U.S. Census and confirm her in the 1930 U.S. Census.

[1] This photo is the only one I know of for Dora Bell Ginger. I found this via a defunct website once run by Aletha Summerhill Rogers.
[2] I have handwritten letters from Aletha McDonald to K. Brown and B. Summerhill. Also, I have an excerpt of a story from Aletha Summerhill Rogers' website that is now defunct.
[3] The Cornstuble children are:
Sarah Jane (25 Sep 1876  - 9 Jun 1922)
Henry Douglas (1879 - abt 1900)
Mary Francis (16 Mar 1881 - 5 Jun 1950)
Charles ( Aug 1883 - ? )
Sherman ( Oct 1887 - ? )
[4] The Summerhill children are:
Harse Lee ( 21 Oct 1895 -  )
Annie Pharilee ( 2 Sep 1898 - 6 Jan 1940 )
Ella Pahanie ( 18 Sep 1901 - 18 Apr 1982 )
Bessie ( 5 Nov 1904 - 18 Jun 1990 )
Willie Joanna ( 21 Nov 1907 - 21 Dec 1948 )

Optional Theme: Week 4, Closest to your birthday — Not too much to think about here. What ancestor has the birthday closest to yours? (I mean in terms of month and day, not the year)

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