Friday, March 15, 2013

Missing in Action But Present in His Descendants: William B. Parks (1814-1862) of Waushara County, Wisconsin

Newly published in the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society Newsletter is my article documenting the children and grandchildren of William B. Parks (~1814-1862). Parks was born in New York state, a grandson of Revolutionary War veteran William Berry and Ruth (____) Berry, son of Isaac Parks and Elizabeth (Berry) Parks, husband of Mary (Mead) Parks, father of seven children, and grandfather of 30 grandchildren born between 1867 and 1895.

I foolishly expected that this article would be a quick brief followup to my article on grandfather William Berry, but it was not to be. Even though William B. Parks and his second wife Mary both died relatively young, their children were survivors, and prolific ones at that. Chasing them all down required two trips to Wisconsin. In itself that's never a problem -- it's a great state to research in, and you should so instruct your ancestors.

And then it turned out that there was a Civil War pension file, and that three of William B.'s sons-in-law had pension files as well. Best of all from a genealogical point of view, there was a dispute over whether one son-in-law had officially divorced his first wife, creating lots of trouble for his widow but also creating fascinating affidavits reflecting the way people talked and did things in post-Civil-War rural Wisconsin.

These documents also turned up three not yet fully plumbed mysteries, all involving relatives not lineally descended from William B. -- a potential stepdaughter, a stepgrandchild with an unknown father, and a much-married daughter-in-law who was also part of the larger clan who made the move from western New York to central Wisconsin. Throughout the generations, these folks were more or less "fellow travelers" of the Seventh Day Baptists, so I am way overdue to pay another visit to that denomination's historical society research room in Janesville. It is truly said that research is never done.

Readers of the reference notes will observe that I did my best to follow the advice of Tom Jones to get your people's surnames in the titles of your articles, so that they will be indexed in the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center's Periodical Source Index. William Berry was my wife's 5G grandfather, and William B. Parks was the first cousin of her 3G grandmother Jerusha (Berry) (Humphrey) Coleman.

The Wisconsin quarterly newsletter is on line but is a member benefit. If you have the right sort of ancestors, I think you'll find it well worth while to join the Wisconsin state society. The current issue also has an article I'm looking forward to reading on the much-neglected agriculture schedules of the US census.

Harold Henderson, "Missing in Action but Present in His Descendants: Civil War Soldier William B. Parks of Waushara County, Wisconsin, and Allied Families Berry, Mead, Bliven, Monroe, Gethers, Haskins, Pells, Dubois, and Morgan," Wisconsin State Genealogical Society Newsletter vol. 59, no. 2 (April 2013):31-44.

Harold Henderson, “William Berry (1753-1839) and His Children and Grandchildren in Massachusetts and New York,” parts 1 and 2, American Ancestors Journal, third and fourth annual supplements to The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 165 (October 2011): 368-78 and 166 (October 2012): 365-74.

Harold Henderson, "Missing in Action But Present in His Descendants...," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 15 March 2013 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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