Monday, February 17, 2014

Digitizing “Old School” - or - Where There’s a Will There’s a Way

I got a new laptop this last Christmas to replace my old dinosaur of a desktop, and the change has been marvelous. I love the increased speed and portability. There have been a few drawbacks as well, though. So many of the external devices that worked so well on my old computer just can’t be made to work on this one. First it was my scanner—a hardship for a genealogist, but one I rather expected because that scanner is close to twenty years old. It was a little more surprising that the printer wouldn’t work, but I’m still holding out hope for that one, having not yet tried everything.

Then this weekend came another big test. I located another cassette tape of an interview with Uncle Lowell. Somehow this one had been missed several years ago when I was digitizing all the family tapes. Would my analog converter work with my new computer? It was worth a try. After spending the day going back and forth between home and the library (because I currently am waiting for my new router to arrive in the mail, but in the meantime have no internet access at home), I was able to get the software working, and it said the device driver was properly installed, but I couldn’t get the program to recognize it in practicality.

And then I discovered there was yet another problem. My old trusty stereo system was turning on me. For some unfathomable reason, when I put it in “tape” mode—and only in “tape” mode—after about five minutes of perfect cooperation, it begins a loud, high-pitched humming. This goes on whether a tape is playing or not. So, even the idea of just putting my ipod next to the speakers and being really quiet while the tape was playing wouldn’t work.

But the idea wasn’t a bad one. After all, that’s how we recorded Grandpa’s records onto cassette tapes for me when I was a little kid. We had gone over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, picked out some records to play on their record player, set up Mom’s boom box to record them, and danced as quietly as we could around the living room while recording the likes of Perry Como singing “The Wang Dang Taffy Apple Tango” or the McGuire Sisters singing “Space in a Spaceship.” (I still know all the words to both of those songs.) But wait—I have that very boom box in my possession. It’s speakers aren’t as good as my stereo, but they might be good enough, or I might even be able to hook it up to the stereo. I decided to try it the simple way first. Now, this boom box is quite possibly older than I am, and was in its time known not as a boom box but as a ghetto blaster. The thing will play the radio, cassettes, or 8-tracks, which is really the main reason I still have it. You never know when you might suddenly need to play an 8-track. But when I put the cassette tape in, I observed that the machine was showing its age a little bit. There was a grinding noise at a certain point in each revolution of the heads, and no amount of head cleaning seemed to be able to put a stop to it. What was I to do now?

I had just one more chance: my truck. It has a tape deck. Sitting for a half-hour at a time in my truck in my driveway with the motor turned off wasn’t quite how I had envisioned my evening, but that was how I spent it (to the amusement of my neighbors, perhaps). I turned up the volume full-blast, perched my ipod (in voice memo record mode) on the dashboard equidistant between the two speakers, and proceeded to listen to and rerecord voices from the past.

The recordings turned out remarkably well considering how they were made. There is a little more background noise than if I had been able to feed it directly into the computer, but it will do quite nicely for the time being. Perhaps I should try a similar method with some of my favorite records!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Brosius family in Howard County, Kansas 1873ish-1875

(Continued from  Rodgers-Brosius family in Bourbon county, 1869-1873ish.”)

Look at a map of Kansas and you will not see Howard county. It has no population and no area. Howard county, Kansas is one among the numerous ghost counties of the United States. It enjoyed only five years of turbulent life. At one time it contained over 13,600 people and 1,290 square miles, which are now in the divided possession of Elk and Chautauqua counties. At Howard county’s organization, the city of Elk Falls was designated as the county seat, but that designation was to prove the impetus behind much of the turbulence of the county’s short existence. As early as the fall of 1870, the County Commissioners received a petition requesting an election to decide on the relocation of the county seat. The vote took place in September of 1872, but showed such unmistakable signs of fraud that the Commissioners declared no election.

Thus, the family which had been headed by John Rodgers moved from one tense area (the Fort Scott area, where they had lived only a very short time, was beset with tensions between the railroad, assisted by United States soldiers, and squatters) to another. However, the new tension, being entirely political and not involving the armed forces, may have seemed innocuous in comparison.

It is not known at this time precisely when the family arrived; only that they arrived sometime between 1870 and 1873. They moved into Belleville Township, near the town of Peru, which had itself been established in 1870. Perhaps they were not among the earliest settlers; John Rodgers’ 1899 obituary refers to him only as “one of the old and highly respected citizens of this county”; but by 1920, when his stepson John S. Brosius died, he could be called a “pioneer resident” (“John Rodgers Dead”, “John Brosius Dead”).

The youngest member of the family, Samuel Elbert Rodgers, was born 22 May 1873, but it is unknown whether his birth took place in the family’s earlier home in Bourbon county or their new one in Howard county. His mother, however, perhaps succumbing to an infection or disease related to the childbirth, died on 11 July 1873 and was buried in Peru Cemetery under the name “Margrett A. Rodgers.” The cemetery, like the town, had been established in 1870, and its occupants bespoke the area’s roughness. “Of the first nine people buried in the cemetery,” wrote one historian, “seven died ‘with their boots on’” (Blackmar 468). Perhaps it speaks even more eloquently of this frontier that only ten days after this death, not far to the east (though a few hundred miles north) the famed James-Younger gang led by Jesse James committed their first train robbery, derailing a train on the Chicago, Rock Island, & Pacific Railroad near Adair, Iowa.

Margrett may not have been the only casualty in the family that year. Back in Crawford county, Pennsylvania, Margrett had a married daughter named Mary Ann Christy. She died on 31 Jan in either the year 1873 or 1874, at the young age of 26.

A few months after Margrett’s death, on 11 Nov 1873, Howard county held another election for the relocation of the county seat. This election resulted in a majority of 232 votes opting to keep the county seat in Elk Falls. However, the residents of the losing town, Boston, had no intention of permitting it to be so. On 19 Jan 1874, a posse of 150 armed men began what became known as the “Boston war.” They, along with twenty-four wagons, entered Elk Falls and, “amid the consternation, threats and tears of the inhabitants of the town,” seized the county records and property (Cutler). Perhaps the soldiers of Fort Scott were recalled by former residents of Bourbon county as Howard county raised three companies of militia to retrieve the records and apprehend the guilty parties. The purpose of the militias remained unfulfilled as the county seat, now resting in the beds of wagons, traveled through the hills and even spent some time in neighboring Cowley county. The situation was not resolved until the Judge of the district, unable to convene the District Court at the appointed time without the required records, placed several of the conspirators under arrest for contempt of court, and essentially held them for ransom, the price being the “unconditional surrender of the records and other county property” (Cutler). After the surrender was made, the county seat was allowed to remain at Elk Falls without contest for the duration of the existence of the county.

Elk Falls, once again in its lawful position, was to be the site of the next major step in young John S. Brosius’ life. He was growing, as all young men do, and had already passed the age of majority. It was only natural that he should wish to begin a new life for himself, and on 10 Oct 1874 he did just that. On that day he stood before Justice of the Peace Henry Welty and was married to a Miss Frances E. McClane.

Although little is known about John’s marriage to Frances, it is easy to guess how they met. In the 1875 Kansas state census, the couple appear directly below the household of Frances’ father, “Jarrett McLain,” or Jared McClane. John Rodgers appears only two households before that, so clearly the families were near neighbors.

John Rodgers filed his land patent on 20 Nov 1874, but it is likely that he had resided there prior to his filing, and perhaps since his arrival in the county. In any case, his new land was a significant step up from the land he had purchased in Bourbon county, as far as sheer size was concerned. He now owned over 158 acres, more than tripling his previous acreage. But the value of his real estate as recorded in the census records declined from $9,000 to a mere $300. He also was now the widowed father of three young children, the eldest only nine years old. Neither of his living stepchildren remained in his house to help out. We have already described the situation of John S. Brosius; now it is time to relate the little that is known of his sister Rebecca.

The 1875 census finds Rebecca Brosius still residing in Belleville Township, but evidently not anywhere near her brother or stepfather. Instead, she appears three pages earlier, in the household of P. N. Williams. Her status within the family is not stated, but the line above hers belongs to a W. Henderson, whose occupation is listed as “Farming.” Since neither of them share the Williams family name, it seems a good guess that he is a farmhand of some sort and she perhaps a domestic servant. She does appear five years later, in the 1880 Federal census, as a domestic servant to another household, so perhaps she began her career in the Williams home. Possibly, though, she was only a guest, as she was only 15 years old and is reported to have attended two months of school within the year.

The Kansas state census was enumerated on 1 Mar, when the Rodgers, McClane, Brosius, and Williams families all resided in Howard county. Three months later, without any need to move, they all would find themselves suddenly in the newly-formed Chautauqua county. Howard county had been divided, and the southern half became Chautauqua, the northern: Elk. Howard county with its too many square miles and its hotly contested county seat was no more.

(Continues with  Brosius Family in Chautauqua County, 1875-1880.”)

Citations and Selected Sources:

1875 Kansas State Census, Howard, Kansas, population schedule, Belleville Twp, p. 10, dwelling 76, family 76, lines 3-9, Rebecca Brosius (in Household of P. N. Williams); digital images, Ancestry, Ancestry (

1875 Kansas State Census, Howard, Kansas, population schedule, Belleville Twp, p. 14, dwelling 114, family 114, line 20-23, Household of John Rodgers; digital images, Ancestry, Ancestry (

1875 Kansas State Census, Howard, Kansas, population schedule, Belleville Twp, p. 14, dwelling 116, family 116, line 25-29, Household of Jarrett McLain; digital images, Ancestry, Ancestry (

1875 Kansas State Census, Howard, Kansas, population schedule, Belleville, p. 14, dwelling 117, family 117, lines 30-31, Household of John Brosius; digital images, Ancestry, Ancestry (

1880 U.S. census, Chautauqua, Kansas, population schedule, Sedan, enumeration district (ED) 15, p. 31, dwelling 290, family 298; digital images, Ancestry (; citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 375.

Blackmar, Frank W., ed. Kansas:a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions,industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc., vol. II. Chicago: Standard Pub. Co., 1912. 468. Transcribed by Carolyn Ward in KSGenWeb. Blue Skyways, July 2002. Web. Accessed 25 Jan 2014.

Cutler, William G. “ElkCounty.” History of the State of Kansas. Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1883. Page numbers not indicated in transcription. Transcribed by Bruce L. Garner and Carol Anderson in Kansas Collection Books. Kansas Collection, Aug 1997. Web. Accessed 7 Feb 2014.

Bureau of Land Management. Accession Nr: KS1230__.411; “Land Patents,” database and images, GeneralLand Office Records ( : accessed 18 Dec 2013).

Bureau of Land Management. Accession Nr: KS1420__.033; “Land Patents,” database and images, GeneralLand Office Records ( : accessed 18 Dec 2013).

John Brosius Dead.” Sedan Times-Star 22 Apr 1920: 1. Xerox copy sent to the author by Gloria Brosius.

John Rodgers Dead.” Sedan Lance 19 Oct 1899: 5. America's GenealogyBank. NewsBank Inc. Web. Accessed 14 Feb 2012.

Kansas,County Marriages, 1855-1911,” images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 02 Feb 2014), Chautauqua > Marriage records, 1870-1875, v. A > image 129 of 147.

Mayfield, Judy. “Margrett A. Rodgers (Memorial #19172677).” _Find A Grave_. Find A Grave, Inc., 1 May 2007. Web. Accessed 22 Nov 2009.