(Continued from “Brosius family in Howard County, Kansas 1873ish-1875.”)
Howard county was gone. It had lately vanished into the mists of memory, and the twin counties of Elk and Chautauqua filled its vacancy. So without the trouble of actually moving, the Brosius family found their address had changed from Howard to Chautauqua county. How much of an effect the change in the civil government had upon John S. Brosius and his wife Frances is an open question. Little is known about this period in their lives. They apparently remained in their home in Belleville Township for some time, and were probably trying to start a family. Sadly, it would appear that their young marriage was beset by tragedy. John’s obituary mentions “[t]hree boys and one girl... born to this marriage,” and the known birth dates of two of these children suggest the period of 1875-1879 for the births of the first boy and the girl (“John Brosius Dead”). However, neither of those two children appear in the 1880 census. They must have died very young. Unfortunately, no documentation for the births and deaths of these children has yet been found.
Even less is known about John’s sister Rebecca during this period. During the 1875 Kansas census, she evidently was still dwelling in Belleville Township, but in the household of P. N. Williams. No explanation for this residence is offered within the census; it does not state her relationship to the head of the household, nor is an occupation ascribed to her. The clearest clue is entirely circumstantial: she is the last named member of the household, after a W. Henderson, whose occupation is given as “Farming.” In general, households on a census record are sorted with the family first and then any servants or employees. Although not directly stated, W. Henderson and Rebecca Brosius are probably the farmhand and the domestic servant, respectively.
John and Rebecca’s stepfather John Rodgers was also residing in Belleville Township. His wife, John and Rebecca’s mother, Margrette, had passed away in 1873, leaving him with three children in a relatively wild country. The operations of the James and Younger brothers, still famous for their outlawry, were sometimes uncomfortably nearby. Even closer to home, in Chautauqua county itself, something as simple as a quarrel concerning a water bucket could result in one brother murdering another (Cutler). Even without taking these dangers into consideration (and as a man, John Rodgers may have felt fully capable of protecting his children from such dangers), men at that time were seldom educated in child-rearing. John Rodgers may very well have wished for a companion to take over his duties in this area.
His choice fell upon a young woman named Ellen Edwards, fifteen years his junior, and possibly the daughter of his neighbor Isaac Edwards. Presumably after a suitable period of courtship, the wedding took place on 24 June 1877. So at the age of twenty years, Ellen found herself stepmother to three children, ages twelve, eight, and four.
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Through all the joys and sorrows of the lives of the Brosius and Rodgers families, they were no doubt aware of the decreasing importance of the nearby city of Peru. Not much farther away from their homes, but to the northwest instead of the east, another city’s star was rising. At the formation of Chautauqua county, the hitherto miniscule town of Sedan was named the county seat, probably on account of its position near the geographical center of the county. At the time of its appointment, it contained only “a store, blacksmith shop, a district school building and one or two residences,” but with its new-found importance, Sedan quickly became a center of building and commerce (Cutler). In 1878, John S. Brosius and his wife Frances took up residence there, perhaps because the town provided ample employment and experience for anyone who wished to start a career in carpentry. Hitherto a farmer, John was embarking on his vocation as a carpenter.
As young John began his new business, his stepfather began his own new family. On 23 Sept 1878, the former Ellen Edwards, now Ellen Rodgers, became mother to a daughter of her own. The baby, named Mary Ellen Rodgers, bore no blood relationship to John S. Brosius, of course, but she was certainly known to him. There is ample evidence that he kept up relations with his half-siblings, and it is more than likely that these relations extended to his step-siblings as well.
As for his full sister Rebecca, it is possible that she made a trip back to her birthplace in Crawford county, Pennsylvania. Whether she made an appearance in person or not, some business was conducted on her behalf there. She, alone of the three Brosius children, had retained ownership of her inherited land in South Shenango Township. Being still a minor, of about seventeen years of age at the time, it was requisite that her guardian, David McKinley, handle her legal affairs. On 23 Mar 1878 he petitioned the court for permission to sell her land. This permission was granted, and on 25 Apr 1878 the land became the possession of Henry Myers for a consideration of $400.
But by the time the census was taken in 1880, she had returned (if she had ever left) to Kansas, and was now working as a domestic servant in the household of Samuel D. Thomason. She would almost certainly have met the youngest arrivals in her extended family: her nephew Clarence, born to John and Frances Brosius in about 1879, and her stepsister Liddia Margaret, born to John and Ellen Rodgers on 11 Mar 1880.
Like her brother John, she now made her home in Sedan. She appears three pages away from his household in the population schedule, which in a bustling young city like Sedan may not have implied much distance. Of course, one would need to see a plot map in order to make an accurate judgment on that head.
John Brosius’ household contains, as expected, himself, Frances, and Clarence, but there is also an unexplained fourth person. His name is Wesley Ewing, age 17, and his occupation is described as “Works on Livery Stable.” Whether he is any sort of relation to either John or Frances, or whether he is a boarder or a guest, is not recorded.
The household of John Rodgers bears no such surprises. They still remained in Belleville Township, and appear exactly as would be predicted, with John, his wife, and five children.
Citations and Selected Sources
1875 Kansas State Census, Howard, Kansas, population schedule, Belleville Twp, p. 10, dwelling 76, family 76, line 9, Rebecca Brosius; digital images, Ancestry, Ancestry (ancestry.com : accessed 1 Feb 2014); citing Roll: ks1875_3, 1875 Kansas State Census, Microfilm reels K-1 – K-20, Kansas State Historical Society.
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 (ancestry.com : accessed 8 Dec 2013); citing Roll: ks1875_3, 1875 Kansas State Census, Microfilm reels K-1 – K-20, Kansas State Historical Society.
1875 Kansas State Census, Howard, Kansas, population schedule, Belleville, p. 14, dwelling 117, family 117, line 30-31, Household of John Brosius; digital images, Ancestry, Ancestry (ancestry.com : accessed 8 Dec 2013); citing Roll: ks1875_3, 1875 Kansas State Census, Microfilm reels K-1 – K-20, Kansas State Historical Society.
1880 U.S. census, Chautauqua, Kansas, population schedule, Belleville Township, enumeration district (ED) 66, p. 293 (stamped), dwelling 4, family 4, household of John Rodgers; digital images, Ancestry (ancestry.com : accessed 11 Nov 2006); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 375.
1880 U.S. census, Chautauqua, Kansas, population schedule, Sedan, enumeration district (ED) 15, p. 31, dwelling 290, family 298, Rebecca Brosius; digital images, Ancestry (ancestry.com : accessed 11 Nov 2006); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 375.
1880 U.S. census, Chautauqua, Kansas, population schedule, Sedan, enumeration district (ED) 75, p. 28, dwelling 260, family 267, household of John Brosius; digital images, Ancestry (ancestry.com : accessed 22 Oct 2006); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 375.
Chautauqua, Kansas, Marriage records, 1875-1883, v. B: 79, Rodgers-Edwards, 24 June 1877; digital image #59 of 238, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 21 Jan 2014).
Crawford, Pennsylvania, Orphans’ Court Record 753, No. 17: Petition of David McKinley Guardian of Rebecca Brosius for leave to sell real estate, April Term 1878; Crawford County Office of the Clerk of Courts, Meadville. Xerox copy sent to author by Gloria Brosius.
Cutler, William G. “Chautauqua County.” History of the State of Kansas. Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1883. Page numbers not indicated in transcription. Transcribed by Dwayne Crandall, Carol Crandall, and Bonnie Bunce in Kansas Collection Books. The Kansas Collection, April 1999. Web. Accessed 5 Nov 2006.
Find A Grave, “Find A Grave,” database and images, Find A Grave (www.findagrave.com : accessed 28 Aug 2014); Mary Ellen Cobb (Memorial #24270422); Record added 30 Jan 2008 by Del Huggins.
“John Brosius Dead,” (Sedan) Sedan Times-Star, 22 Apr 1920, p. 1, col. 2. Xerox copy sent to the author by Gloria Brosius.
State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics, “California, Death Index, 1940-1997,” database, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 Mar 2015), entry for Lydia Margaret Hall’s 1953 death.