Friday, February 24, 2017

Harshbarger line: Introducing Barbara Burkholder Long Buchtel Kemery

We found her!  We found Barbara Long, the most recent brick wall ancestor that I couldn't locate.  Dawna Morton, a distant cousin, found the clue that allowed us to begin to learn her story, and I can't thank her enough. There is still more to learn, but I wanted to share my excitement at "finding" her, and my admiration for what must have been a remarkable woman. 

Barbara was actually born a Burkholder, not a Long.  Her father was Joseph Burkholder (in some records showing as Barkholder) and her mother may have been Elizabeth Miller.  I haven't found the for sure documentation of that yet, but Barbara's youngest brother, Hiram's mother was Elizabeth Miller.  She was born in 1826 somewhere in Ohio, probably Portage County but it could have been elsewhere.

The first mention we can find of her is in an every youth census of Portage County taken in 1838.  This book lists all, or nearly all, of the youth in the county who were between the ages of 4 and 30, and it lists them by school district.  So in Suffield School District #4, there is Joseph Barkholder with the following children:  Joseph Barkholder Jr., Eliza Barkholder, Barbary Barkholder, and Eva Barkholder.  (Joseph Jr. later married Catherine Miller, who is listed on the same page as a daughter of Barbary Miller.  There is also a parent named Anthony Miller on the page, and he needs to be investigated further as he could possibly be related to Elizabeth Miller).

The next we know of Barbara is her marriage license, just two years later.  It can be found on FamilySearch, and clearly shows her to be fourteen years old at the time of the marriage license on Augut 13, 1840.  So the approximate birth date we have for her of 1826 is correct, although I still don't think the Georgetown, Brown County location showing on the internet is correct.  She was marrying a Thomas Long, who was 21 years old.  Elizabeth Burkholder, Barbara's mother, was there and gave consent to the marriage. 

We don't know why a fourteen year old girl was marrying a 21 year old man, nor why it was her mother who gave permission and not her father.  Speculation would be that it was the honorable thing to do, to get married, and that father did not approve, but that is only speculation.  At any rate, the two married.  They had a baby who died in 1842.  I'm unable to locate my notes that gave the name of the child and how old he was when he died, but there exists a slight possibility that Barbara was pregnant with this child when she married Thomas.

 Another piece of the puzzle that is missing at the moment is what happened to Thomas.  Either the marriage failed or Thomas died, but I can't say which at this point.   My guess is that Thomas died, because Barbara and her second husband were married March 24, 1844 and they named a son Thomas, presumably in remembrance of Thomas Long. Benjamin Buchtel was 38 years old when he married, and his bride was 18.  I've looked for an earlier marriage record for Ben, as he was known, but have not located one.  This may have been his first marriage. 

In 1850, the family, under the name indexed as Booken, is listed in Brimfield, Portage County, Ohio.  There were already three children in the family, Joseph Jr, Betsey, and Fannie.  Also living with them was Susan Long, aged 76.  I am thinking this may be Thomas's mother.  She would have had Thomas when she was 43 years old, which is well within the realm of possibility.  I need to trace her further to fill in that part of the puzzle.

Joseph Burkholder and family moved to Whitley County, Indiana sometime around April of 1854, when he purchased land.  Joseph Jr and his wife Catherine were there also, as was an as yet unplaced Michael Burkholder.  He was in Portage County in 1850 aged 28, so he may well be a son of Joseph Sr also.  Ben and Barbara Buchtel show up in Whitley County in February of 1860, when he purchased land, and were there for the 1860 showing 6 children.  One more would join the family in a few years.

It may have seemed from the outside that things were going well for Ben and Barbara, but in March of 1871 she filed for divorce.  Now, in those days, divorce was not as common as it is now and usually it was the man who filed.  Barbara still had children at home, and as far as I know now had no visible means of support.  She did, however, have about a dozen witnesses who testified on her behalf, showing that Ben had become an alcoholic, beat her often, the most recent time with a club, and had several times threatened to kill her.  One wonders whether she was injured or had bruises to show the court, because she apparently filed shortly after the club beating.  She was promptly granted a divorce, and also maintained custody of Solomon, aged 14, and Evie, who was 6 and blind. 

Somehow, Barbara provided for herself and the two children, perhaps assisted by some of her other children. Benjamin didn't change his will, and when he died on or before January 10,1872, she inherited land from him.  Roughly two years after the divorce, she married Daniel Kemery, who was not only a neighbor but the father in law of her daughters Margaret, who was married to Alexander Kemery, and Fannie, who was married to Adam Kemery.  Daniel was 15 years older than she was, but would have provided security for herself and the children.  We can hope it was a love match, also, because Barbara had had a hard life. 

Barbara was apparently loved by the Kemery children and grandchildren because in some of the Kemery obituaries, she is listed as the mother of the children, when she was clearly the stepmother.  It is possible that grandchildren of Daniel provided the information and they may not have known Daniel's first wife, Susan or Susanna Essig.  At any rate, Daniel died in 1877.  Barbara died within the next two years, because in a March 1879 deed Adam Kemery, her son in law, describes her as deceased, of Whitley County, and she had died intestate. 

That is what is known of Barbara Burkholder Long Buchtel Kemery.  She died in her early 50's, perhaps of hard work, stress, and the effort of giving birth to at least eight children.  She'd moved to a new state  As I sit back and look at her life, I just have to admire her.  When she gathered up her courage to get a divorce, and rounded up witnesses who told her story for her, she became more than a typical woman of her time.  I am not really a feminist, but I sure admire courage, and I would describe her as courageous. I'm so glad I got to know her this much, and would love to know more. 

(Besides the sources mentioned in this post, I've also referred to divorce papers, wills, and deeds found in the Whitley County File Management department and the recorder's office, and the census records of 1840, 1850, 1860, and 1870.  It's been fun putting most of this together, after Dawna gave me a push in the right direction!)

The line of descent is:

Benjamin Buchtel-Barbara Burkholder
Fannie Buchtel-Adam Kemery
Della Kemery-William Withers,
Goldie Withers-Grover Harshbarger
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendants