Sunday, August 26, 2007

Aug 26 - Milton Rogers

Milton Rogers (1834 - 1917) was born on this day in 1834. He was a civil War veteran and the father of my great=grandmother Martha Jane (Mattie) Best.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Aug 19 - Samuel Best

Her is a photo of Samuel Best, born Aug 19, 1856.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

125th Birthday

Joseph Wayne Shelton was born 125 years ago today on aug 18, 1882. He is shown here with Mr. and Mrs. Omer Enlow.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Aug 16 H.T. Bunnell

Aug 16th is the 147th anniversary of the birth of Harvey T. Bunnell. Harve is shown here about 1938 with wife May, daughter Gracie, grandson Harold and great-grand-daughter Jeannine.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rogers Sisters 1978

This picture was taken behind Grandma Shelton's garage in the summer of 1978. She and her sister Emma Jane are standing in front of Della, Clara and Edna. Clara was the oldest sister (78 at the time) while Grandma was the youngest (63 in the photo).

Edith Smith 1960

This picture is of my Grandma Edith Smith taken in 1960. Grandma is 90 years old now and still does quite well. I didn't get to see her this week - too hot to visit Camp David, but will try and get home next week.

Charles and Dwight

Here are Charles Conard and Dwight Bunnell in their military uniforms. Not sure of the year - the picture is from Aunt Janis' collection.

Find-a-grave Progress

I am making a lot of progress at I have submitted 3,985 online memorials - most of which are in Wayne County, I have also added nearly 2,000 pictures of monuments. I think I have worked in about 15 ccmeteries - Cisne, Stine, Brown, Scott, McKendree, Fitch, Yohe - can't remember the others offhand, but you can see them on my profile. Ruth Ann Kunce is also a big contributor at findagrave. I'd like to have reached 10,000 entries by this time next year - we'll see. is great site not only for genealogists but for anyone interested in history.

Cisne High School 1919

HEre is a group of unknown peolpe. The picture was taken at Cisne High School in late 1919 (Class of 1920). I found this picture on the Internet, but there were no names. Does anyone look familiar? The kids would have been born around 1902-04.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Hanging of an Innocent Man


Henry Voltz, An Innocent Man, Was Hung In Wayne In 1853

(One of the famous cases in Wayne county history was the arrest, conviction, and subsequent hanging of Henry Voltz on the "hill" at the west edge of Fairfield. Many Press readers today have never heard this story. After this death another man confessed to the murder. Here is the story as taken from the Press files of December 14, 1953 -- Editor)

This week we have a more complete story of the hanging of Henry Voltz. The following account was written by Mr. R. B. Clay, of Cisne, several years ago when the memory of the incident was fresher in the people's minds.
Henry Voltz was a man of unknown parentage and nationality. He drifted into Southern Illinois from New Orleans bartering merchandise with the earlier settlers for furs, skins, poultry and produce. His speech was thick and scarcely nderstandable. His accent seemed to be more German than anything else.
On one of his trips through Southern Illinois, Voltz was accompanied by a little Irishman by the name of Lawler. After Voltz returned to New Orleans by a flat boat, Lawler's body was found in a cornfield in White County, bearing all indications of a brutal murder.
Trial Changed To WayneVoltz was the suspect, he was arrested in New Orleans, and brought back to Carmi by the Sheriff of White County, and placed in jail. His trial was in progress in White County when it was found that an erasure had been made in the indictment. The proceedings was stopped at once and a new trial was ordered. Public feeling ran so high that Voltz's attorneys asked for a change of venue. The case was then changed to Wayne County.
In 1853, Fairfield was but a small village -- not much larger than Geff today. The population of the whole county did not exceed 5,000 people.
The principals of this famous trial came across the county on horseback and in wagons from White County to Fairfield. It was a pathetic procession. both dignified and forlorn. There were the county officials, members of the bar, the witnessess, the handcuffed prisoner, and the guards. Everyone had the feeling that Voltz, with his poor command of the English language ,didn't quite know what it was all about.
The April session of the court was called to order by Sheriff Clark, of Wayne County. Interest in all other cases fell into insignificance when the Voltz case was placed on the docket. Samuel S. Marshall was the presiding judge. Judge Marshall was a man of splendid acquirements and ability and had been elected to congress many times. He was an excellent speaker and a close friend of F. A. Kutz of Cisne, Illinois.
The prosecuting attorney was S. Robinson and as was the custom in those days, the prosecuting attorney traveled over the district with the judge. The defense was represented by men by the names of Whiting and Ashton. J.G. Barkley was the clerk of the court.
The court spent but one day selecting the 12 jurymen who were: Benjamin Meeks, Thomas Johnson, William McKnealy, W. M. Crews, Isaac Sailor, Calvain McCracken, Henry Hall, James N. Bland, Gideon N. Gifford, Alex Crews, J. Crews and John G. meeks. All the members of this court and all the jurors had been dead more than 50 years.
All Evidence CircumstantialAlthough the evidence against Henry Voltz was wholly circumstantial, --- one line missing ---. The pleading of the prosecuting attorney had more to do with the outcome of the trial than the evidence . James S. Robinson was an able speaker, and his speech on that occasion was a master effort. One whole day was spent in pleading. The old courthouse was filled to capacity; people had come from all parts of the country to hear the arguments.
The case was turned over to the jury late one afternoon and the jury spent two nights and a day striving at a verdict. One can only imagine the mental condition of the man who lay in the little old jail, which was a lean-to in the old 'fireproof' building awaiting the decision of which meant life or death to him.
When the jury filed back into the courtroom, Judge Marshall looked them over and said, "gentlemen of the jury, have you arrived at a verdict?". The foreman nswered, "we have." Clerk Barkley read the following verdict: We, the jury, find Henry Voltz guilty of murder in the first degree."
Thereupon the judge turned to Henry Voltz and said, " Voltz, have you anything to say as to why sentence should not be passed upon?"
The on-lookers in the crowded court room must have felt a pang of sympathy,if not pity, for the man. He was unable to speak; he only shook his head. If the crowd could not feel sympathy for the man, it was sympathy for the animal, for Voltz was big, and rough, and could hardly make himself understand. Nor could he readily understand.
Sentenced To DieThe the judge ordered him to stand and hear the verdict of the court. Judge Marshall read: "That the said defendant, Henry Voltz, be removed from the courthouse to the jail of Wayne County, there to be kept in confinement until the 24th day of May in the year of our Lord, one thousand, eight hundred and fifty-three, and on that day the said defendent, Henry Voltz, be taken from said jail by the sheriff of said county and be conveyed from thence to a gallows to be erected from the purpose, between the hours of ten o'clock in the forenoon and four o'clock in the afternoon, and then and there upon said gallows, hung by the neck until dead, dead, dead."
Dead-dead-dead -- those are words as written in one of oldest record books in our county courthouse today.
Voltz walked out of the courthouse into the bright sunlight of that April morning with the shadow of death upon him. He didn't quite understand. Somehow he could not, realize the imminence of death upon him. He had a child like faith that something would prevent his execution. He didn't quite understand. But when the death guard was set over him, realization of his plight over whelmed him and on one stormy night he managed to escape from his cell and reach the roof of the jail before he could be overpowered.
Sat On Own CoffinMeanwhile on the mound west of Fairfield, in sight of the old courthouse, an evil looking scaffold was being constructed of rough oaken lumber. The news of the hanging went forth amongst the dwellers of this county and the adjoining counties as well. Hundreds of morbid frontiers men came on horseback, on foot, and in ox wagons, and camped on the ground.
The day set for the execution, May 24th, 1853, dawned into a beautiful morning. The smiling sky of a perfect day. The spectacle on the mound held a Grecian touch. The multitude waiting for the execution. There were many women and children in the crowd. As the sun rose higher, the crowd became restless -- impatient for the ceremony to begin.
But finally, the watching throng caught sight of a wagon surrounded by horsemen, leaving the little village below the hill. They could see the full glint of sunshine on the long rifles of the twenty guardsmen. Now, the holiday spirit of the multitude was broken. As the procession approached the mound, the crowd parted in silence.The condenmed man rode in a wagon seated on his own coffin, made of rough oaken lumber -- his hands and feet tied.
When the wagon drew up to the foot of the scaffold, the prisoner was lifted out and led up the steps and placed beneath the gallows,. The crowd, thoroughly cowed by the preparations for death, began to fall back. Many, after their long vigil could not look back at the scene.
"I Am Innocent"A priest from Vincennes bestowed the final consolations of the church and as he moved away from the prisoner, sheriff Clark said, "Voltz, have you anything to say?" Voltz turned to the crowd below and cried in his broken English, "I am an innocent man. The man who killed Lawler is in this crowd today. You are hanging an innocent man." But Voltz's pleading went unheeded. The sheriff placed a black cap over his head and shut out the bright sun light forever.
"May God have mercy over Henry Voltz." cried Sheriff Clark -- and the trap was sprung. That was all. It was all over. And it was a mistake. All of the man's hope, all of the man's pleading, could not make people see that he was telling the truth. His body was cut down and he was buried beneath the scaffold with fifteen feet of rope about his neck and the gallows were burned.
That is the story of Henry Voltz. It happened one hundred years ago this last May the 24th and his unmarked grave is on the mound somewhere near Southwest 10th street. He was innocent of that crime for the real murderer confessed years later in New Orleans.
He Had No FriendsYes --- that is the story of Henry Voltz. A man far from home without family or friends --- not one person in all that multitude at the hanging or throughout the trial who really cared whether or not he was guilty. Not one man to come to his aid --- and with the one man in the crowd whom he knew to have actually committed the crime, there to watch him die; it must have been an ordeal that we with our full knoledge of the case now can not possibly fathom.
And the officials who have to perform that task. What of them? They must have had their misgivings. We know that Sheriff Clark went home shaken and sick. He had a hard chill. The thing was more than he could stand. It was not a spectacle any more. It was just a mistake.

Monday, August 13, 2007

MArvel Family Website

For those tracing the Shelton family tree, there is a lot of information on the Marvel family at this website - CLICK HERE Two Shelton boys, Preston and Harvey Henderson - brothers to our own William R. married Marvel girls. Orpha, Harvey's widow is seen here toward the end of her life with some unknown people.

40 Years ago

HArry and eone Shelton - taken from a snapshot in late Summer, 1967. Grandpa nad Grandma took lots of trips so this could have been anywhere. At the time they were both working for Airtex. Grandpa retired in 1971 and Grandma in 1977.


This picture I copied from Aunt Janis and was from the Callie Conard collection. It was taken in 1939 or 1939. Any ideas who the kids are? Reba, I'm hoping you can help here!

I Missed It!

A week ago Saturday I had a hallacious night at work. I won't go into details but the furthest thing from my mind was the onard reunion in Cisne the folloowing day. I finally remembered it - two days ago - haha! Well, after 40 that's what happens. Here is a great picture from about 1925 of the Conard reunion. Widower John Block is to the extreme left inthe picture, Ollie Conard is in the black dress (shoe wore a lot of those), Ferne (Bullard) and Grandma Edith Smith are standing next to Ollie Faye Block is holding Gerald in the front row... If you Conards and Blocks click on the picture it will enlarge and I',m sure you can pick out even more names and faces. I am assuming that these reunions were held at Charles and Ollie's house in those days.

Harve Bunnell Obit

Here is Harvey Bunnell's Obituary as it appeared in the Wayne County Press, May, 1943...

Wayne County Press 1943
Harvey Thomas Bunnell, son of Seneky and Amanda Bunnell, was bornin Murand, Indiana, August 18th, 1860. At the age of nine years he came to Illinois with his parents and his entire life was spent in and near his home in the Blue Point neighborhood, where he was a successful farmer and stock raiser and ever active in the community as long as his health would permit. He was a well respected citizen and was always ready to help his fellow man and to do whatever he could for the up building of his community. He was a charter member of the Blue Point church, helping the organization of it. He also served as Sunday school; Superintendent of this church for several years.
He was united in marriage to Mary E. Wilson, October 4th, 1886. Six children were born to this union. One daughter, Edith Estelle, died in infancy and one son, Merritt, died at the age of 13.
Mr. Bunnell has been in poor health for some time, he entered peacefully into rest at his home near Blue Point in Indian Prairie Twp., Saturday afternoon at 5:30 o'clock, May 8th, 1943; age 82 years, eight months and twenty days.
He is survived by his two sons, Elver of Fairfield and Justin of Rinard; two daughters Grace Smith of Rinard and Iva Faverty of Smithwich, South Dakota. Sixteen grandchildren, eleven great grandchildren, one grandson, Dwight Bunnell, is serving his country in the U.S. Army and another grandson Harvey Faverty is serving his country in the U.S.Navy. Also two sisters, May Travis of Flora and Katy Holmes of Ashland, Ill.; one brother Howard Bunnell of Geff, Ill., and a host of other relatives and friends who mourn his passing.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Harvey Thomas Bunnell Aug 10

Aug 10, 1860 is the birthday of Harve Bunnell - my great-great granddad. He was the son of Senneca and Amanda Chaney Bunnell. I'll dispense withthe usual bio info as I have repeated it more than oncve on this same site, but I will tell you that his wife May died on Apr20, 1939. My Grandma and Granddad Smith (Harve's Grandson) married exactly one month later. It was decided that they would move in with the 79 year old Harve. They slept in the summer kitchen (Iva kept a living space upstairs for her visits and Harve slept in the NW bedroom, for those familiar withthe house. They stayed there until Grandma became pregnant and then moved up the Rinard crossroads where Uncle Wayne and mom were born. I don't know if Grandma enjoyed the year inthe Bunnell house or not. She told me that when the preacher would come to Bluepoint (there was no parsonage then) Harve would invite the minister to Sunday dinner saying, "It's no trouble for Edith to cook." Grandma cooked by I don't think she enjoyed being volunteered like that!
The picture below is of Harve and May Bunnell and their four youngest children - Gracie, Justin, Elver and Iva (l-r) . Gracie was born in 1888 so I am guessing this picture was taken about 1901 or 02. Their oldest son Merritt (se Aug 3 entry) died in December, 1900 at the age of 13. This event may have caused the Bunnells to sit for their first (and only) professional family portrait.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

New pics of Best Family Stones!

When I got home last night I found an Email from a Find-a-Grave Volunteer who had fulfilled my reqauest for photographs of the gravestones for Conrad F. Best and Mary Henneberger Best. They were the parents of Augustus Best and are buried in the Grandview Cemeteryin Carroll County, OH. The stones are VERY worn and have fallen over, becoming imbedded in the ground. Here are the pics...Conrad's stone, which read's C. Frederick Best is shown first, then Mary's. To visit their onlinbe memorial , just click on their names - C. Frederick Best 1787 - 1862. Mary Best 1786 - 1847

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

20 years ago

Here is my father twenty years ago. Must have been winter as he has a beard.

40 years ago

This is my and my parents 40 years ago in Aug, 1967. We were at my grandparents house - 802 W. Delaware in Farifield.

45 years ago

Her is a good picture of Harry and Leone Shelton and three grandkids taken 45 years ago in the Summer of 1962.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

35 years ago today

This picture was taken 35 years ago today - Aug 5, 1972. L-R are Clara Mathes, Edna Walker, Della Schindler, Hubert Rogers, Emma Jane Wiebold and Leone Shelton - youngest children of Willard and Mattie Rogers. The occasion of Grandpa Shelton's funeral.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Aug 3 - Augustus Best

Aug, 3, 1829 was the birthday of Augustus Henneberger Best, son of Conrad and Mary "Polly" )Henneberger) Best. He is seen below with his wife, Eliza, daughter (probably Ara), and sons Bert and Ray. Augustus died in 1905 and is buried at the Brown Cemetery near Mt. Erie, IL.

Aug 3 - Merritt Bunnell

Merritt Bunnell was born to Harve and May Bunnell on Aug 3, 1887. He died at the age of 13, on Dec 1, 1900. HE is seen here with his younger sister Gracie (my great-grandma), probably about 1889. Merritt is buried at the Johnsonville Cemetery.

Aug 3 - Emma Jane Wiebold

Aug, 3, 1912 was the birthday of Aunt Emma Jane - daughter of Willard and Mattie Rogers. These pictures were all taken in the 1950s. Does anyone know who the baby is this photos?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Aug 1 - William Holmes

William Holmes was born to John and Sarah (Norris) Holmes on Aug 1, 1801 in Washington County, PA. William was married three times and fathered 26 children. He was one of the founders of the Cumberland Prebyterian Church near Mt. Erie IL and is buried at the Yohe Cemetery in Mt. Erie.