Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Down The Rabbit Hole: Discovering the Backstory of N.T. Beals death

My recent success in locating the death date and the obituary of my 3GGF, Nathan Thomas Beals has left me with more questions and sent me chasing some interesting rabbit trails in my family history search.

Starting with the obituary itself, I'm left with some avenues of research to explore.  For example, why exactly was Nathan T. Beals in Arkansas, where exactly was he at, and for how long?  

The why appears to be answered by the obituary: that he was engaged in the sawmill and lumber business with Ed and Luther Hinshaw.  Who are Ed and Luther Hinshaw?  They were Nathan T.'s nephews, and will be discussed at length later.

Where exactly was Nathan T. Beals at?  The obituary states that the telegram came from Leola, Arkansas.  When John T. Beals, Nathan T.'s father died two years later in 1917, Nathan T. was referred to as being 'late of Leola, Ark.'  Leola is in Grant County, Arkansas.

How long was he there?  The obituary states he went to Arkansas ten years before his death, the funeral notices states it was five years.  Since Nathan T. Beals died February 16, 1915, and I've located him in the 1910 census living in Jackson Township, Hamilton County, Indiana, the funeral notice seems more accurate.  Sometime between 1910 and 1915 he must have gone to Arkansas.

The obituary stated that "for many years he was a resident of Cicero.  At one time, he was interested in a hardware store there, but later spent most of his time traveling for a wholesale hardware firm."  Cicero is located in Jackson Township of Hamilton County, Indiana, where we find Nathan living most of his adult life.  In the 1900 census, his occupation was listed as "dealer in hardware", and in the 1910 census, his occupation was listed as "superintendent of lumber yard."  

I need to research city directories at the Hamilton East Public Library in Noblesville to see if I can locate more information and maybe even find out the name of the hardware store and lumber yard that he worked for.  I've contacted the Grant County, Arkansas Museum looking for any information they might have about him or the Hinshaws in Arkansas.  

I searched the Arkansas Death Index, 1914-1950 at Ancestry.com for a record of Nathan Thomas Beals without any success.  According to the database, compliance with statewide record keeping was not complete for about three decades.  

Who were Ed and Luther Hinshaw?  They were Nathan T. Beals' nephews, the sons of his older sister Elizabeth and her husband, Solomon Hinshaw, of Westfield, Indiana.

According to the Chronology of the Beals Family, written in 1912 by Nathan's father, John T. Beals, two sons were born to Solomon and Elizabeth (Beals) Hinshaw: Edwin M. Hinshaw and John Luther Hinshaw.  The book states that Edwin M. "is in the banking business.  He served as State Bank Examiner for six years or more.  He is interested in several other enterprises in this and other states."  

Digging around on the internet, I was able to find quite a bit of information on the Hinshaw brothers, as well as another nephew, Elmer Sturdevant, also mentioned in the obituary.  Apparently, these men were all prominent businessmen of Hamilton County, Indiana at one time, and their paths seem to have crossed a number of ways.  In future days, I hope to be able to piece together all of the puzzle.

In working on this puzzle, I've learned that there is so much more about Nathan Thomas Beals and the other members of his extended family that I need to discover.  For instance, after their marriage, Nathan and his wife, Elizabeth moved to Humboldt, Richardson County, Nebraska where two of their daughters were born.  Why were they living there, and why were they back by 1900?

The decades after Nathan's death will provide more fodder for research, as his widow was back in Indiana, yet she wasn't living with family members in the 1920 census, as I would have suspected.  

The public downfall of his nephews in a bank scandal shortly after his death is a story for another day.

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