Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Have You Seen This Man?

Generally if you read the words "Have you seen this man?", there is some type of 'Wanted' poster involved. At the time of the man I'm searching for, the wanted poster might have looked something like this. Photographs were rare, so a sketch was sometimes used.
Or, if a sketch or photo was not available, a general description was given. The above wanted poster is from circa 1870 which is about the time my great, great, grandfather disappeared. Perhaps my great, great grandmother could have used such a poster - if she'd had the money - and if she wanted to find him.

I know where almost all my great, great grandparents lie buried. If I haven't been to their grave sites, I at least know where they are located. The exception is great-great grandpa John Richardson. He is a mystery I would love to solve.
From family lore comes this much: My great-great grandmother, Agnes Georgina Hull married John Richardson February 25, 1870 in Austin, Mower County, Minnesota. Their daughter, Flora Viola Richardson was born in Austin, MN April 20, 1871. Agnes and her baby daughter came to Adams County, Iowa where her parents and brothers and sisters lived sometime in 1872. I do not know if the husband/father came with them.
This is the picture I have been told is John Richardson. I think the coat looks like it could be a Union Army uniform. But if it is, out of all the thousands of John Richardson's I've found listed, the one I believe could possibly be the one I'm searching for would have been fifteen at the beginning of the Civil War - nineteen at the end of it - so it is possible, even likely, this could be a tintype made before he went to war.
Here is the basis of my belief - an 1860 census record showing a John Richardson living in Mower County, Minnesota; birthplace, New York. Someday I am going to be tempted enough to pay for a membership to one of the ancestry search sites. Then perhaps I'll be able to verify my John Richardson and even trace him back further. But would I be able to trace him forward?
Again, from family lore, "He went south to look for work. His wife, Agnes, received three letters and then they stopped. She heard in the spring of 1872, news of his death, but did not know if it was true or not."
This is why I'm not sure he ever came to Iowa. In 1872 they may still have been in Minnesota. According to cousins of my grandmother Bessie, their Aunt Agnes would never talk about her husband, or if she did, it would be some off hand remark like: "He fell down a well."
I imagine his disappearance to be like so many others of that time - today's equivalent of divorce - just not traceable through court records. It would help if I had a date of birth and a middle initial - then I might be able to find a death record. I might finally know where he lies buried instead of imagining him lying in an unmarked grave somewhere south.   

Pictured above left, Flora V. Richardson Duncan, Ralph Duncan and Agnes G. Hull Richardson. Standing in back left, Lloyd (I think. Could be Lawrence) Duncan and Bessie Duncan (my grandmother) taken around 1909.

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