Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My MERTENA Conundrum: Part II - The Sources: Carolina Cristina ORTH (1859-1923)

In my previous post about my MERTENA research, I promised to do my next post on the sources that I have found for my great-great-great grandmother, Carolina Cristina "Carrie" ORTH. She married my great-great-great-grandfather, John Henry MERTENA/MERTEENY, who is the center of our mystery. I know that sometimes examining sources on the in-laws helps when you can 't find info on the subject at hand.

The most recent source I have for Carrie is her obituary. My grandmother inherited it from her father, who inherited it from his father, who was the son of Carrie. It probably came from The Guthrie (Oklahoma) Daily Leader.

Carolina Cristina Orth was born January 20, 1859, in Williamson County, Illinois, and passed away October 10, 1923, at her home near Crescent, Oklahoma, aged 64 years, 8 months, and 20 days.

Deceased was united in marriage to John Mertinia in the year of 1876, and to this union was born one son, J.H. Mertinia of Mulhall, Oklahoma. Her companion died in 1884.

On Sept 9, 1887, she was married to James L. Cothern who is left to mourn the loss of his companion. To their union was born three daughters and three sons. Two daughters and one son preceded her in death.

Mr. and Mrs. Cothern came to Oklahoma in 1889, and took the claim on which they resided 84 years, or until the present time.

The following children were left to mourn the loss of a devoted Mother. J.H. Mertinia of Mulhall, Oklahoma; Mrs. Edgar Norris of Lovell, Oklahoma; Mrs. R.H. Tate of Lookeba, Oklahoma; and W.H. Cothern of Mulhall, Oklahoma.

She is also survived by ten grandchildren, and three sisters: Mrs. Bettie Favors and Mrs. J.B. Shercliffe of Crescent, Oklahoma; and Mrs. Harper of East St. Louis, Illinois. Also one brother: William Brown of Johnson City, Illinois; and a number of other relatives.

Deceased united with the Methodist Church at Mt. Carmel about 20 years ago, and died trusting in the Lord who has promised to reward the faithful.

Her sudden death came as a shock to her family and friends, but as the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away we realize there comes a time in all of our lives, when we must yield to the inevitable, and look to God, who is our refuge in time of trouble.

Funeral services were held Friday, October 12, 1923, at Mt. Carmel church, near Mulhall, Oklahoma. Internment took place in Mt. Carmel cemetery.

This obituary is full of useful information, which is somewhat rare for a woman in 1923. It almost sounds like it was written by a genealogist. Not only does it list survivors, but it lists birth date and birthplace, death date and death place, all marriage dates and places, the date of entrance into Oklahoma, church membership, etc. It gives her husband's name as John MERTINIA, which is in agreement with her son's death record, which states his father's name is J.H. MERTENA. This is the first inkling I had as to when she and John married: 1876. The obituary is consistent with the family stories that John the father died in 1884, the same year that John the son was born. Perhaps if Carrie was born in Williamson County, then maybe her husband was born there too.

I then found Carrie in the 1920 census in Rosehill Township, Logan, Oklahoma. She was living with her second husband, James Leonard COTHERN and her son, William H. COTHERN.

James COTHERN, head, owns home, lives on farm, male, white, age 58, married, able to read and write, b. Tennessee, f.b. Tennessee, m.b. Tennessee, able to speak English, farmer on a general farm, employer

Carrie COTHERN, wife, female, white, age 59, married, able to read and write, b. Illinois, f.b. Indiana, m.b. Indiana, able to speak English

William H. COTHERN, son, male, white, age 27, single, able to read and write, b. Oklahoma, f.b. Tennessee, m.b. Illinois, able to speak English, farm laborer, wage earner

This source does not really provide any insight into her first husband, John Henry MERTENA.

In 1910, Carrie was again in Rosehill Township and living with her second husband and son. She was also living next door to her sister, Barbara ORTH SHERCLIFFE. Again, this does not give too much info on her first husband.

James L. COTHERN, head, male, white, age 49, married once, age 23 at first marriage, b. Tennessee, f.b. Tennessee, m.b. Tennessee, speaks English, farmer, general farm, employer, able to read and write, owns home free of mortgage, lives on farm

Carrie COTHERN, wife, female, white, age 50, married twice, age 23 at first marriage, mother of 10 children, 4 children still living, b. Illinois, f.b. Germany, m.b. Pennsylvania, speaks English, able to read and write

Willie COTHERN, son, male, white, age 16, single, b. Oklahoma, f.b. Tennessee, m.b. Illinois, speaks English, farmer on home farm, wage earner, able to read and write, attends school

Carrie's age at first marriage does not seem to match with the date in the obituary. The obituary says she married John MERTENA in 1876. The census seems to indirectly state that she married her first husband in 1883. The 1900 census stated that she had 9 children with 4 living (John Henry, Myrtle, Rolena, and Willie). She may have had one more child since the 1900 census who died in childhood, since this census says she had 10 children. It's hard to determine from this how many of the six deceased children were with her first husband and how many were with her second husband.

I will not discuss the 1900 census here, since I did discuss it in my sources post for Carrie's son, John Henry MERTENA (1884-1956).

My next source finally covers the period when John Henry the father was still living. It's the 1880 census. It took me awhile to find this entry because it is transcribed at as John MERTENCE, but I was sooo excited when I found it. It was the first source I had found that actually showed the man alive....he was REAL after all!! John and Carrie were living in Frankfort, Franklin, Illinois. Hmm....isn't this mentioned as the birthplace for their son, John Henry MERTENA, on 11 Mar 1884?

John MERTENA, white, male, age 30, head, married, farmer, b. Illinois, f.b. Tennessee, m.b. Tennessee

Carrie MERTENA, white, female, age 26, wife, married, keeping house, b. Illinois, f.b. Illinois, m.b. Illinois

Nesbeth MERTENA, white, male, age 4, son, single, b. Illinois, f.b. Illinois, m.b. Illinois

Minnie MERTENA, whtie, female, age 9/12, b. Oct, daughter, single, b. Illinois, f.b. Illinois, m.b. Illinois

Franklin County is just north of Williamson County, where Carrie's obit says she was born. This gives an estimated birth date for John of 1849-1850 and a birthplace of Illinois. It gives his parents' birthplaces at Tennessee. Carrie's second husband was born in Tennessee, as were both his parents, so it makes me wonder if both husbands' families were from the same area of Tennessee. This discovery, if proven, could defeat the family story that John was born at sea. The two children are in line with the family story that John Henry the son had several older siblings who died before or shortly after he was born, and the census records which suggest that Carrie had at least 5 children who died before reaching adulthood.

My next source for this post is also an excellent one. It is the marriage record of John and Carrie. I found it by searching the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index at the Illinois State Archives website. John's name was indexed as MUTUNEY.

Marriage may be celebrated between Mr. John Merteeney of Jackson County, Illinois, at the age of 22 years, and Miss Carolina Orth of Williamson County, Illinois, at the age of 18 years. Witness: W.H. Eubanks, County Clerk, and the seal of said County, at his office in Marion, this 12th day of August, 1876.
State of Illinois, Williamson County
I, W.W. Young, a Justice of the Peace, hereby certify that Mr. John Merteeny and Miss Carolina Orth were united in Marriage by me at Mr. John Brown's in the County of Williamson and State of Illinois, on the 13th day of August, 1876.

Two more great clues about John. He was living in Jackson County at the time of his marriage in 1876, and he was 22 years old, meaning he was probably born about 1853-1854. This is slightly off from the age in the 1880 census. Jackson County is just east of Williamson County and southeast of Franklin County on the Missouri border. Here his name is spelled MERTEENEY. Mr. John BROWN was Carrie's stepfather. This marriage record, and Carrie's obituary, were the first clues I had that perhaps John BROWN was not John Henry the father's stepfather, as family legend stated, but Carrie's stepfather. If you noticed, Carrie's brother is listed as Willie BROWN in the obituary. Typically, though not always, a couple marries at the bride's church or family home.

The only other record that I have for Carrie is the 1860 U.S. Census. She was one year old and living with her parents in Williamson County, which agrees with her obituary. I can't seem to find Carrie in the 1870 census.

Jacob ORTH, age 30, male, farmer, real estate value is $2,000, personal estate value is $350, b. Germany

Catherine ORTH, age 28, female, b. Germany

Elizabeth ORTH, age 8, female, b. Ill., attends school

Mary ORTH, age 6, female, b. Ill., attends school

Benj. F. ORTH, age 4, male, b. Ill.

C.C. ORTH, age 1, male, b. Ill.

B.A. BROWN, age 20, female, domestic, b. Ill.

I think they incorrectly labeled Carrie as a boy. While this provides further insight into Carrie's family, it doesn't really tell us much about the MERTENA family. There weren't even any MERTENA family members living in the same area. It is interesting that there was a BROWN living with the ORTH family, since Catherine later married a BROWN.

To summarize the new facts learned about John Henry (the father) MERTENA:
  • He was born about 1849-1854, possibly in Illinois.
  • He was living in Jackson County, Illinois at the time of his marriage to Carrie in 1876.
  • He was living in Franklin County, Illinois at the time of the 1880 census.
  • He and Carrie had at least two children, Nesbeth around 1876 (more likely 1877, since they didn't marry until Aug 1876) and Minnie in Oct. 1879, before John Henry (the son) MERTENA was born in 1884.
  • He was a farmer in 1880.
  • His parents were listed as born in Tennessee.
Looks like I do need to go ahead and order those Franklin County birth records for 1876 to 1884 to find more info on Nesbeth, Minnie, and any other siblings born between 1880 and 1884. By the way, I can't remember if I mentioned it or not, but the IRAD at Southern Illinois University did not have any luck locating a birth record for John Henry MERTENA in 1884 in Franklin County. I have since been in touch with a distant cousin on the WELDEN side of the family who had John Henry the son's birthplace listed as Centralia, Illinois, though she couldn't remember her source. Centralia actually lies in four counties!! This should be fun.

I also need to check land records in Jackson and Franklin Counties between 1870 and 1884. I should probably try Williamson County as well for land records.

Then I need to continue checking census records for 1850-1870 to see if I have any close hits. I've tried, but so far no luck.

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