Saturday, May 8, 2010


Sadly, I have discovered at least three murders and two possible suicides while researching my ancestors. I am sorry to say that these sad events do occur and if you research your history long enough and go far enough into the past you are bound to discover one or more murders.

My Mother’s grand-aunt Mary (Wise) Davenport, sister to her grandmother Harriet (Wise) Bayless, married a young man in Cherokee Co., AL. This young man was John W. Davenport. John W. Davenport went on to become a physician. The Davenports moved west as many families did in the early part of the 19th century. They went from AL to possibly AR and, I believe, settled for a short time in TX. They eventually made their home in Oakman, Indian Territory (IT), in what is now the state of OK.

The Hon. James Sanford Davenport was the doctor’s brother. James S. Davenport was an attorney for the Cherokee Nation, 1901-1907. He lived in Vinita where he had served as Mayor 1903-1904. At the time of the crime he was serving as a Democratic Representative for the future state of OK. He was elected a U. S, Congressman the following September and served in that capacity from Statehood, Nov. 16, 1907, until March 3, 1909. The Hon. James S. Davenport later became a Judge of the Criminal Court of Appeals.

John and Mary Davenport settled in Oakman near Ada. They raised three children while John practiced medicine. In 1907, Dr. J.W. Davenport ran for County Coroner in Ada. The Ada newspaper had several ads promoting the doctor for this position in the Spring of 1907. We will never know if he would have been elected because he was murdered during the campaign.

On March 18, 1907, the shocking headlines of the Ada newspaper announced that Dr. Davenport had been “FOULLY ASSASSINATED”. The same paper that announced the murder continued to run the ads for Davenport’s campaign for Coroner, a rather macabre comment on the tragedy. The Hon. James S. Davenport rushed to Ada to assist in the investigation of the crime.

The information about the crime and investigation has been taken from “The Evening News”, Ada, OK, March and May, 1907.

On the evening of Saturday, March 16, according to Mrs. Davenport, the doctor left home to answer a medical call. The exact events that followed are unknown but I will relate what was determined by the evidence.

Dr. Davenport had attended a patient on the south side of Francis and was preparing to return home. This was surmised from the fact that one rein of his two-horse buggy was hanging down and the other had been put up apparently in preparation to drive away from the scene. At this point, someone approached the doctor from behind, placed a gun barrel against the back of his head and shot him. The Coroner found powder burns around the wound. A shot was heard by neighbors at about 1 AM Sunday morning.

The body was found at 8 AM, Sunday morning. A large crown of onlookers soon gathered making it difficult to investigate the scene. The Hon. James S. Davenport, of Vinita, rushed to the scene and provided investigation by a noted team of bloodhounds. Two sets of footprints were found leading to the scene of the crime. These appeared to be those of a man and a woman. The smaller set led away again. This indicated that the doctor and a woman had come to the buggy from a nearby house, the doctor was shot and the woman returned to the house. The woman’s footprints then proceeded to a neighbor’s house. In the woman’s house was found a Colt pistol. The 32 calibre ball in the recently fired pistol matched that taken from the doctor’s wound.

On Monday, March 18, U. S. Deputy Marshal Cummings arrested Mrs. Mary E. Brooks in whose house the Colt pistol was found. Mrs. Brooks, a patient of Dr. Davenport, was described as “a handsome, clear-eyed, young woman” who sat “composedly” in the courtroom on Monday. Mr. Brooks was in Bates, AR, at the time of the crime. Mrs. Brooks was 31 years old and the mother of two children. She denied any knowledge of the crime.

Three witnesses took the stand on Monday to give evidence. Otis W. Tittle, the keeper of Vinita’s famous bloodhounds, gave evidence about the trailing of the suspect from the crime scene to first her own home and then to her neighbor’s home. The Hon. James S. Davenport, brother to the deceased, testified as to his observations at the scene and to the work of the bloodhounds which he had hired. R. J. Skinner, City Marshal of Francis also testified. Mrs. Brooks was held over for trial and sent to Ardmore.

In May a Grand Jury convened in Ardmore to hear evidence against Mrs. Mary E. Brooks. They deliberated and failed to return an indictment in spite of the evidence. Mrs. Brooks was freed and the murder remains unsolved.

PHOTO: Dr. John W. Davenport and his wife Mary Wise.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Looking for Lincoln Part II: The Todd Connection

I found a second connection between the family of President Lincoln and the BAYLES family (Mother’s surname was BAYLES long ago). Actually, this connection is to Mary Ann Todd, his wife. There is a line of descendants of the immigrant BAYLES ancestors, John and wife Rebecca, that ends in a marriage connecting the BAYLES and TODD families.

I have found this an exciting line to trace and the BAYLESes of this line were very active in war and politics. They are not my ancestors. We do, however, share our nearest ancestors John Bayles, Jr. (b. 1642) and his wife Ruth Rusco.

Sources for this line of descent include The Bayles Families of Long Island and New Jersey, by Howard Green Bayles, Houston, 1944; Revolutionary War records; census records; newspaper articles; various state and county records; the letters of Gov. Ninian Edwards of Illinois; state and national legislature records, etc.

Among the descendants of John and Ruth is Platt Bayles who was an officer in the American Army during the Revolutionary War. His final rank is unproven but he reached the rank of Major and probably Colonel. He has also been reported to have been a General but I find no records of that. He died in 1778 at Valley Forge.

Phoebe Bayles, a daughter of Platt Bayles and his wife Phoebe Lewis, married Joseph Fairchild in 1791. The Fairchild’s had a daughter, Sarah Tennery Fairchild. Sarah married, Oct. 17, 1819, David Jewitt Baker, a Senator from Illinois who served in the United States Congress. David J. Baker filled a vacancy in the U.S. Senate in 1830 when John McLean died. Among the letters of Gov. Ninian Edwards of Illinois is one from Sarah T. (Fairchild) Baker suggesting that her husband could fill that seat in the Senate.

Sarah and David. J. Baker had several children including Edward Lewis Baker who served as U.S. Assessor until that position was abolished. He was then appointed by President Grant as the Counsel to Buenos Aires in 1873. In 1855, Edward Lewis Baker married Julia Cook Edwards, the daughter of Ninian W. Edwards, son of Gov. Ninian Edwards and his wife Elizabeth P. Todd, the sister of Mary Ann (Todd) Lincoln.

Thus, we have a long, eventful and winding path from John Bayles, British immigrant, to at last, a connection to President Lincoln by way of a marriage.

One last surprise. While working on this line I discovered that one of the descendants of Phoebe Bayles and Joseph Fairchild is comic actor Cornelius Crane “Chevy” Chase! That is another story.

I thank Harry Nelms for all of the additional research and help in tracing this line as together we searched for a Lincoln Connection.

Looking for Lincoln Part I: Anna Belle Lincoln

My Mother’s family (BAYLESS) has been in this country since the early 1600s. When you can trace your family history back even a few generations you are bound to find connections to well known personages. At the very least, you will find family traditions that connect your family to notables. Thus it was no surprise when I was asked by another BAYLES/BAYLESS researcher, “How are we connected to President Abraham Lincoln?” It is not surprising to hear the question. It was a puzzle though. I had already been researching the Bayless family for several years and had never come across a Lincoln connection.

The short answer is that descendants of Anna Belle Lincoln and Albert L. Bayless do seem to share some common ancestors with President Lincoln.

It took a little work for me to find out the connection. When I started I had not heard of Anna Belle Lincoln. Anna Belle’s family were from Rockingham Co., VA, as were the ancestors of the President. I found two newspaper articles concerning Anna Belle. One article was about her connection to President Lincoln and the other was an article about her 54th wedding anniversary that included reference to her Lincoln connection. Mrs. (Lincoln) Bayless claimed that Lincoln was her father’s cousin. I set out to see if I could prove it.

Anna Belle and Albert Bayless lived in Joplin, MO. Anna Belle’s family had long been settled in Rockingham Co., VA. Her parents were Mary Elizabeth Koontz (another old Rockingham family) and Albert Curtis Lincoln. The Parents of Albert Bayless came to MO from East TN where Albert was born at Telford, the son of Amanda Ann Haney and John Tabor Bayless. My Mother’s Bayless line connects with Albert’s ancestors in Washington Co., TN, where they settled at the end of the 18th century.

I found two interesting books about the ancestry of Abraham Lincoln: History of the Lincoln Family, An Account of the Descendants of Samuel Lincoln of Hingham Massachusetts 1637-1920; Compiled by Waldo Lincoln, A.B., Worcester, MA, 1923, and The Ancestry of Abraham Lincoln, by J. Henry Lea and H.R. Hutchinson, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston and New York, 1909. Of these two books, the first one by Waldo Lincoln includes Anna Belle (Lincoln) Bayless and her Lincoln ancestors. The book by Lea and Hutchinson traces the ancestry of the President. The first common ancestor of both the President and Anna Belle was John Lincoln, b. 1711. From John Lincoln back to the immigrant ancestor, Samuel Lincoln (who d, 1619). Both the President and Anna Belle’s ancestors are the same.

John Lincoln and his wife Rebecca had a son Jacob who was born 1751. Jacob Lincoln married Doris Robinson and had a son David. David’s son Preston Lincoln married Elizabeth Coffman and they were the parents of Albert Curtis Lincoln, the father of Anna Belle. I used Family Tree maker’s “Relationship Calculator” to determine how Anna Belle Lincoln Bayless was related to the President: second cousin, twice removed. If Mr. Walso Lincoln’s ancestry is correct, then Anna Belle was also correct about her father’s ancestry and through her, her Bayless descendants thus are “cousins” of the President.

Anna Belle also claimed a connection to the President through her mother Mary Elizabeth Koontz. I could not confirm that. The Koontz family (also Coonce, etc.) were early settlers of Rockingham Co., VA. It would not be surprising to find that they also have a second marital connection to the Lincolns but I have not yet found it.

The photo of Anna Belle Lincoln and her husband Albert L. Bayless was taken in 1952 on the occasion of their 54th wedding anniversary.