Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Case of Being Neighborly?

Sometimes, wandering through old newspapers can give a researcher more than she bargained for. I was simply looking for an obituary for Alta Barnes' maternal grandfather, in hopes of finding a listing of possible relatives of this Kansas family. This I needed to explain why Clara Tousley, Alta's mom, had been included in a photograph with the unnamed family of her cousins.

Nothing is ever simple. From one step, I slid into another step, then another step, each one luring me farther away from my original goal to determine the names of those family members and locate a possible relative who brought the photograph from Kansas to California, where I found it.

So now, I've stumbled upon a newspaper report that Clara Tousley's father had died suddenly. Apparently, the family didn't take that report so well, despite the fact that Isaac Tousley was, by then, at least sixty three years of age. According to the local paper, the Arkansas City Daily Traveler, on November 15, 1900, Isaac had been
on the road near his home and stopped at one of the neighbors where he complained of being cold and they gave him something warm to drink. He laid down on the bed and apparently fell asleep. A little later it was discovered that he was dead.

I realize that, back then, it could be possible, if someone needed to go somewhere, that walking to his destination would be considered an acceptable mode of transportation. However, to just drop by a neighbor's home to ask for something warm to drink, and then just make one's self at home and take a nap on said neighbor's bed, well...that's just a tad bit too neighborly, I'd think.

The Tousley family evidently thought so, as well. Perhaps it was no surprise to learn, in the next day's paper, the report headlined, "Relatives of Isaac Tousley Will Have Inquest Held."

Of course, the same story was repeated in that newspaper on November 16, adding the name of the unfortunate neighbora Mr. Humbertto the details of the preceding day. The warm drink, it turned out, was simply hot tea. The nap, supposedly, lasted about an hour or soalthough when you do the math, it seems Isaac Tousley slipped away almost immediately after drinking his tea.

But there were a few other details added in that second report. Among other considerations,
[Isaac] has lived here for many years and is well known. He has accumulated considerable wealth and has not been troubled by sickness. He has not complained of feeling sick until just a short time before his death.

These were a few of the considerations causing Isaac Tousley's relatives to call for an inquest. This turn of events led me to believe I'd find much more on the incident in the following days' reports, but scouring the newspaper led to nothing further. Whether it was foul play against a local government official or an unfortunate case of sudden heart problems, I'll never knowat least, without sending for a copy of his death certificate and perhaps even the inquest paperwork.

That, however, I'll leave for avid genealogists among Isaac Tousley's descendants. For me, it's back to my original purpose: to track down who the cousins were in that photograph so I can see if they were the ones bringing the photograph of Isaac's daughter Clara out west to California.


  1. Jacqi,

    I've been following your blog since December 2016 when you started the series about reuniting the Irish photo album with a surviving relative of the originator. I was fascinated by your ingenuity with that difficult challenge, and I continue to be amazed by the methods you use to match photo to family. Suffice to say, I have learned a lot from you over these last 14 or so months.

    So, I finally took myself to a local antique shop and managed to locate several photos with enough information to at least initiate a search. I've completed my first search and am confident I've traced the family of the person in the photo though, like you, the most likely close relative (also an Ancestry.com member) has not yet responded to my contact.

    Nevertheless, I am ready to write up this photo in a short series of blog posts (my mostly dormant blog is tidbitsandtreasures2011.wordpress.com), though I doubt I will be able to craft its story as artfully as you do with your finds.

    My question: may I mention you as the inspiration for this series?

    1. Wanda, I'd be delighted if you referred back to this blog in your post! And please keep us apprised of your progress.

      Never underestimate the dynamite combo of cousin bait and the searchable Internet. Someone will eventually find you and claim that photograph, if you don't find a way to the family, yourself.

      Also, please feel free to include the link to that article here at A Family Tapestry. If you recall, I'd like to form a network of readers who are joining in on the project to rescue orphaned family photographs. We need to stick together and encourage each other!

      Thanks for stopping by today, and thanks for your comment regarding how long you've been a follower here. It is always so encouraging for a blogger to learn this, as I'm sure you've discovered, yourself.

  2. Interesting information, neighbors were more neighborly back then :)

    1. Makes me wonder how many other such neighbors encountered such an experience following their neighborly gestures. What an unexpected outcome!


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