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01 November 2016

30-Day Family History Writing Challenge



My love of genealogy is not something shocking to many people who know me.  I was the kid who always loved sitting with the older people in the family and listening to family stories. Couple that with my love of history and the fact that I rather enjoy researching things and well, it makes sense. Anyone who knows me well, also knows that I am rather nitpicky and somewhat exacting about details. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. When it comes to genealogy, it's a good thing.  So when I found that  Family Tree Magazine had a 30-Day Family History Writing Challenge, I decided it might be something to do. I may or may not complete it, my health issues and how I am feeling will determine that. But, I haven't been inspired to write anything for a long time so it's definitely going to be a challenge.

In case anyone is curious, the image above is one I found and then edited. The image originally had different pictures. Of random people. So I chose my own pictures.  The picture on the right is an artist's rendition of Jonathan Zane. The family picture on the left is of Charles and Sarah Merritt and their combined children. The information I have says it's Myrtle Pickett, Mabel Pickett, Hazel Merritt, Oscar Merritt, Charles Merritt holding Kathryn Merritt, Sarah Merritt (standing behind Charles) and Russell Pickett. But judging by the ages of the girls in the front, the baby CANNOT be Kathryn. Mabel Pickett was born 19 Feb. 1911. Hazel Merritt was born 14 Oct. 1911. Myrtle Pickett was born 9 Sept. 1912. Kathryn Merritt was born 15 Dec. 1913. The older three girls look a good bit more than one to two years older than the baby. Now an explanation. Charles Merritt first married Grace Runion. Then he married Sarah Ann (Runion) Pickett after Grace passed away.

Sarah and Grace's father was William Newton Runion (1836-1932). William married Sarah McCloud (1846-1873) on 23 May 1867. She died 27 Feb. 1873. Then William married Lydia Pickett 27 Jan. 1874. Lydia died 13 Mar. 1883. He then married Margaret Stevens. Margaret died in 1886.  Lastly, he married Eliza Catherine Wilcox on 12 Oct. 1887. Between his four wives, he had 18 children. I am skipping his children with his first and fourth wives to make this less confusing (it's confusing enough as it is without adding in all of the siblings). With Lydia, William Runion had four children: James, Sarah (b. 30 Jul. 1878), Minnie Bell and an unnamed daughter.  With Margaret, William had Grace (b. 30 June 1885), Ira Clay (1886-1975) and James Marion (who died at birth). Lydia's parents were Aquila and Mary Pickett. They had a number of children in addition to Lydia (b. 1845). One of their sons was Jason Pickett (b. 1840, d. 19 May1904). He married Sarah Craver (9 Oct. 1867) and had two daughters. According to census records, their daughters were: Cora (b. 1869) and Dora (b. 1872). After Sarah died, he married Martha Ann Joseph (known as Annie). They married on 28 Dec. 1875. They had Marshall (b. 1876), William Joseph (b. 13 Nov. 1878), Ora (b. 10 Sept. 1881), Otis (b. 10 Sept. 1881), and George H. (b. 1886).  After Jason Pickett died, Annie married James Michael Handley and they went to NE sometime between 1905 & 1910 (see below) for awhile. By the time James Michael Handley died in 1915, he and Annie were back in Vermilion Co., IL. In fact, Jason Pickett who died in 1904 and James Handley who died in 1915 are buried in Pleasant Grove Cem., Oakwood, Vermilion Co., IL. There is a marker for Annie there as well but it has no death date. She did remarry after James Handley died to a John W. Smith. He died in 1919 and is buried at Oakwood Cem., Oakwood, Vermilion Co., IL. I have no actual info on what happened to Annie after Smith died. She is NOT listed as being buried in Oakwood Cem. and as I said, the Pleasant Grove Cem. has a marker for her with no date of death. It's possible she remarried a fourth time after John W. Smith died. If so, I have no concrete record of it. Here are pics of her with Jason and James (none with John-she had a thing for those J names huh?) as well as pics of the headstone for Jason, James and Annie. You might notice the stone looks rather similar. That's because three of the four faces have names on them. Jason one on side, James on the opposite and Annie (as Annie Smith) on another side. The fourth is blank.
Martha Ann "Annie" Joseph Pickett & Jason Pickett
James Michael Handley & Martha Ann Handley
Jason Pickett

James Michael Handley

Martha Ann "Annie" Joseph Pickett Handley Smith


Confused yet??? I'll add a graphic that shows how people are connected.


William Joseph Pickett, William Russell Pickett, Sarah Ann Runion Pickett (before Feb. 1911).
William J. Pickett married Sarah Ann Runion 30 Jan. 1898 in Vermilion Co. Illinois. Yes, they were first cousins, his father and her mother were siblings. The Jason Pickett family moved to Vermilion Co. IL sometime after 1880 as the 1880 census shows them in Hendricks Co., IN still. I am unsure when Sarah went to Vermilion Co. IL. Sometime between their marriage and 1910, William and Sarah, along with his mother, Annie, who had remarried after Jason died. She married James Michael Handley in 1905. By 1910, William and Sarah Pickett, James and Annie Handley, George H. Pickett, Marshall Pickett, Ora Pickett and Otis Pickett were all in Nebraska. The Handleys, Marshall, Ora and Otis were all in Merrick Co., NE while George and William were in Platte Co., NE. George Pickett is in Platte Co., NE, Monroe Twp. Supervisor's District 3, Enumeration District 186, Sheet 2A, Line 9, House number 16, Dwelling 17.  William Pickett is in Platte Co., NE, Monroe Twp. Supervisor's District 3, Enumeration District 186, Sheet 2B, Line 5, House 24, Dwelling 25. Listed with William is his wife Sarah, and William R. (listed as their 6 yr old son). William R. Pickett is William Russell Pickett (b. 1904). He went by Russell, likely because having two Williams in the house was confusing. William Joseph went by Willie from what I can tell. Russell was the son of William Joseph Pickett's brother Ora. But he was raised as William and Sarah's son. William and Sarah had a daughter, Mabel (b. 19 Feb. 1911). Sarah was two months pregnant, when, on 22 Feb. 1912, William died after an illness of several weeks. His funeral was held at Monroe Congregational Church and he was buried at New Hope Cemetery (on the church grounds).

Here is a transcript of his obituary from The Columbus Telegram 1 Mar. 1912.
PICKETT--William Pickett died at his home at O'Kay at about 1 p.m. on Thursday of last week, after an illness of several weeks. He was a little past 33 years of age. He became converted in 1907, and lived a quiet, christian [sic] life, beloved and respected by all who knew him. Deceased leaves to mourn his demise a wife and infant daughter, an adopted son, a mother, a step-father and four brothers, besides a host of friends. Funeral services, conducted by Rev. G.H. Philips of Monroe, were held at the Congregational church Sunday afternoon, and the body was laid to rest in New Hope cemetery. Those from a distance who attended the funeral were two brothers and a number of old friends from Central City, and the father and a brother-in-law of Mrs. Pickett.
Area outlined in red shows location of unmarked grave of William J. Pickett

O'Kay  is an small rural area in Monroe Twp., Platte Co. The photo below shows where O'Kay, as well as Monroe. Cong. Church and New Hope Cem. are from the town of Monroe, NE. The yellow shaded area shows where William and Sarah lived. Exactly where, I am unsure. I've circled the church and cemetery in red. The town on Monroe is southeast of both of those along the Platte River.

OK, so we've got cousins William and Sarah married. And they're raising his nephew William Russell. So, Sarah is Russell's adopted mother/aunt by marriage/first cousin once removed. Yeah I know. But it gets more convoluted, just wait.  As I said, William and Sarah had a daughter, Mabel and then seven months after he passed away, Sarah had their second daughter, Myrtle (b. 9 Sept. 1912).  By virtue of being William's cousin, that makes Sarah the first cousin once removed of her own daughters. Yeah, told you it got more confusing didn't I?  Just wait....

As noted in William's obituary, Sarah's father and one of her brothers-in-law came to NE for his funeral. I am not sure if she returned to IN with them at that time or waited a bit. I do know she was definitely in NE until after 9 Sept. 1912 as her daughter was born in NE. I am not even 100% sure which of her brothers-in-law was at the funeral but I have a guess. Departing from Sarah for a bit...
Charles and Grace Merritt
Grace Runion (Sarah's younger half-sister) married Charles Alvin Merritt (b. 23 Dec. 1887). Grace was a few years older than Charles. They married 30 Jun. 1908 in Hendricks Co., IN.  Their son, Charles Oscar (known by family as Oscar) was born 5 Jul. 1909, their daughter Hazel Agnes was born 14 Oct. 1911 and their daughter Mary Kathryn (per Sarah's Bible, also spelled Catherine in places) was born 15 Dec. 1913.  Grace Merritt passed away 14 Feb. 1914.
Marriage License, Charles Merritt and Grace Runion

So, Sarah's husband William died in 1912, her sister Grace in 1914. At some point Sarah and the three children, Russell, Mabel and Myrtle, end up back in Indiana. Sarah's alone raising three children ages, 10, 3 and 2.  Charles is alone and raising three children, 5, 3, and 2 months. On 18 Nov. 1914, Charles Merritt and Sarah Ann (Runion) Pickett married in Hendricks Co., IN. She was 9 yrs older than he was. But the age difference didn't seem to matter. Between them they had her adopted son Russell Pickett (10), his son Oscar Merritt (5), her daughter Mabel Pickett (3), his daughter Hazel Merritt (3), her daughter Myrtle Pickett (2) and his daughter Mary Kathryn (11 months).

Marriage License, Charles Merritt and Sarah Pickett




Sarah & Charles Merritt, 50th Anniv. Nov. 1964 with daughters: Myrtle Eggers, Mabel Copenhaver, Hazel Weaver

Not surprisingly, they went on to have two sons together. Their sons were: Marshall Woodrow (b. 1 Nov. 1915) and Aaron Alvin (b. 18 Sept. 1919). (I do not have pictures of all of the kids as adults unfortunately.) When Charles died in 1971, they'd been married nearly 57 years.

Mary Kathryn lived with her maternal grandfather, William Newton Runion and his fourth wife, Eliza. She is in their home on the 1920 and 1930 census. Both are in Eel River Twp., Hendricks Co., IN.  The 1920 census has her name as Mary K. Merritt and the 1930 census has Mary C. Merritt. Sarah's Bible has her listed simply as Kathryn. Her marriage license uses Mary Catherine.  Charles and Sarah Merritt are listed in Middle Twp., Hendricks Co., IN in 1920 and Center Twp., Hendricks Co., IN in 1930. Yeah having synonyms for twp. names is odd in my opinion. This shows where the various twps. are located.
Hendricks Co. IN, 1920


Now to make it more interesting.... Charles Merritt was the son of John Wesley Merritt (1843-1921) and Lydia Louzina Lamb Merritt (1856-1895). Their other children were: Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" Merritt McCloud (1874-1959), Nora Belle Merritt Eggers Wilson (1876-1953), Anna Luettie "Annie" Merritt McCloud (1880-1965), Lillian Mae Merritt (1880-1883), John William "Bill" Merritt (1883-1960), Elizabeth Tessie Jane "Janie" Merritt Maden (1885-1966), an infant son (1888) and twins, Della Frances Merritt (1891-1960) and James Wesley Merritt (1891-1973).  You'll notice Lizzie and Annie both married men with the last name McCloud. If they're related to each other via the McCloud side, it's distantly enough I've yet to find it.  Also, the first wife of William Newton Runion, father of Grace Runion Merritt and Sarah Runion Pickett Merritt, was a McCloud. But if there's a connect between her family and those of Lizzie or Annie's husbands, I haven't found it.

Lydia Louzina Lamb Merritt & John Wesley Merritt

Nora Belle Merritt (her Find a Grave spells it "Bell" but the other records I've seen, including her obituary which is one of the pics on Find a Grave show it as "Belle") married George Granville Eggers. Nora Belle was born 18 Jul. 1876 and died 21 Feb. 1953. George Granville Eggers was born 26 May 1874 and died Nov. 1945. George Granville Eggers and Nora Belle Merritt married 27 Oct. 1895 in Hendricks Co., IN. Their children were: Opal Lorena Eggers (1896-1927), Elmer Harold Eggers (1906-1978), Ottie Adolph Eggers (1907-1985), Arley Wayne Eggers (1909-1984) and Vera Irene Eggers (1913-1997).  After George Granville Eggers died in 1945, Nora Belle married James Wilson (1867-1958) on 22 Jan. 1947. George Granville Eggers is buried at Hadley Friends Cem., Hadley, Hendricks Co., IN. Nora Belle Merritt Eggers Wilson is buried near her father, John Wesley Merritt at Knights of Pythias Cem., Lizton, Hendricks Co., IN (as are many of her siblings and their spouses, including Charles and Sarah Merritt).  The graves of both George Granville Eggers and Nora Belle Merritt Eggers Wilson are unmarked. 
Opal Lorena Eggers (in white), George Granville Eggers, Nora Belle Eggers (dark dress), Arley Wayne Eggers, Doc Eggers, Harold Eggers.Approx. 1910-12.

The middle son of George and Nora Eggers was Ottie Adolph (O.A or "Doc") Eggers. He was born 27 Nov. 1907. He married Myrna Turner and they had a daughter, Noretta Eggers. After they divorced, Doc married Myrtle Pickett. Yes, I've mentioned that name before. She was the daughter of William J & Sarah Pickett, and the step-daughter of Charles Merritt. As in the same Charles Merritt who is the brother of Nora Belle Merritt Eggers. They married 19 Dec. 1932 in Paris, Edgar Co., IL. Doc & Myrtle had two daughters, Norma Eggers and Virginia Eggers. Since Noretta, Norma and Virginia are living I am not listing additional information about them. 
Doc and Myrtle Eggers

Norma, Virginia, Doc and Noretta Eggers, mid-1940s.
Doc passed away 25 Aug. 1985 and Myrtle 10 Aug. 1989. Both are buried at Cloverdale Cem., Cloverdale, Putnam Co., IN. 

I owe being bitten by the genealogy bug ("What's that?" you ask. I'll explain.) to both Myrtle Eggers and her sister, Hazel. Technically, cousin/step-sister but they never made that distinction, and Charles Merritt was the only father Myrtle knew since William J. Pickett died before she was born. Grandma and Aunt Hazel both would often tell family stories when I was little. So, I grew up hearing those stories and being interested in them. For some odd reason as a kid, I seemed to easily pick up and memorize names, dates and relationships. I wish now I had written the stories down.  One thing that I recall hearing a bit about was my Grandma not knowing where William Joseph Pickett was buried. Somewhere in Platte Co., NE. It was a brick wall for me from my late teens when I began digging up clues to family history.  It frustrated me for over 20 years!  Finally in 2012, I got a few clues. I found the transcript of his obituary which led me to the community of O'Kay and the "Cong. Church". That led me to finding Monroe Congregational Church and I found it was on the National Register of Historic Places. That led me to a Wikipedia entry on it, which in turn led to pictures on Wikimedia Commons. The user who had photographed both the church and cemetery was gracious enough to double check his files to see if he by chance had a picture of Willie's grave. He didn't. But he was going to be in the area and offered to double check when he was. He arrived and there was a caretaker there mowing. The caretaker had the register so along with the information I was able to give him, they were able to find the grave in spite of it being unmarked. He still took pictures for me. I was thrilled to finally bust through that wall after more than 20 yrs of wondering. That's part of why I enjoy genealogy. Well combined with my love of history.

Now that I've rambled on....
The picture on the left, as I said was Jonathan Zane. He was my 4th great grandfather on my Dad's side. He lived in (and helped settle) Wheeling, WV along with his brothers. Col. Ebenezer Zane is considered the founder but brothers Silas and Jonathan were with him.  Col. Ebenezer Zane is an ancestor of the author Zane Grey, who when he found journals written by Ebenezer decided to write a fictional series based on the journals. That resulted in the Ohio Border Trilogy of Betty Zane, Spirit of the Border, & The Last Trail. The Zane family was interesting. I've mentioned them a few times though so I won't go into it here.

Now I am off to catch up hopefully. Only day 2 and my rambling introduction (possibly unnecessary) has me behind already. Oh well. It's my post, I'll ramble if I want to!

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