Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A History of "Pioneer Sarah" - Part Two

The article continues:

"Shortly after the end of the Civil War, Henry Fordyce and Rachel/Sarah, along with the Thomas J. Sampson family, joined a wagon train going west for about two years. It is thought they had relatives there. (Note: Thomas J. Sampson was Henry and Rachel/Sarah's son in law. He married their daughter, Mahala Fordyce. TJ was the one who sacrificed his own health and life for his team of horses).

In Iowa, another tragedy struck the hearts of the two families - and that of Rachel/Sarah in particular. Her little namesake Rachel, daughter of Thomas and Mahala Sampson, came too close to the fire where trash was burning. She burned to death.

The lure of free homestead land drew them to Kansas, and the families once more packed their belongings. Two sons had been born to the Sampsons while in Iowa, and when they arrived in Marion County in October of 1869, John Wesley Sampson was only a few weeks old.

The two families chose adjoining land on section 14-18-5 in Clear Creek township. Eight months after their arrival, a federal census was taken on June 21, 1870. It listed Henry Fordyce as age 69, white, a farmer born in New Jersey, a citizen, with property of $1,717.00 in value. His wife is listed as Rachel, 71, female, white, b. West Virginia. They lived in Clear Creek township about five miles east of Lincolnville. Living with the Fordyces was an 18 year old youth named Frank Vanmeter.

In the months that followed, the aging couple met yet another young adventure, building a home, setting up their farming operations, coping with weather and soil vastly different than the lush green land of Indiana. But they were survivors who could meet a challenge. Stone houses were built, orchards planted, fences built, three new grandchildren arrived to be cuddled, and older children needed to be told tales of adventures. Their twilight years could not have been lonely nor empty. In the year of 1878, Rachel/Sarah died. In the months that followed, neighbors by the name of Howell were making a trip to Indiana and offered to take Henry with them. In his luggage Henry packed the Fordyce family Bible and went to Indiana to see his son and relatives. The Howells did not bring him back. According to information in the Marion County (Kansas) Court House, (Book P.P. 176, Register of Deeds), the Howells induced Henry to sign on March 4, 1879, a paper agreeing to give John Howell and wife 80 acres of land in Marion County, Kansas, in exchange for "clothes and board and necessary medical treatment during his life, and, at his death, the said John Howell to furnish the said Henry Fordyce with a respectable burial outfit." Henry, according to the date of death on his tombstone died the same day the agreement was signed, March 4, 1879. The Howells waited seven weeks and filed their claim on April 21, 1879, then waited until February of 1892 to file in Marion County an affidavit or claim to the land, SW quarter-section of 14-18-5 "containing 160 acres, more or less."

Henry died the same month as his son-in-law, Thomas Sampson, husband of the Fordyce's daughter Mahala. Thomas died 29 March 1879 of dust pneumonia, leaving his wife with 10
children, one an infant. Thomas must have been something of a powerhouse of a man to have accomplished all that he had in his less than 10 years on the prairie; he had bought expensive machinery, including a threshing machine and well pump. There were notes on the machinery and livestock. He had not expected to die at age 47. Mahala simply could not go to Indiana to see about her father's affairs. So the Howells were able to "absorb" the Fordyce land Mahala and her children sorely needed.

As to the real name of Rachel/Sarah, we would like to suggest that both Biblical names eminently suited her. She was strong, patient, loving, fruitful, faithful, courageous, and though uneducated because of frontier conditions, she was a splendid teacher by precept and example. She was proud of her heritage and the heritage of her children. She taught her daughter that her ancestry went back to the Mayflower and also the ancestors who arrived with William Penn. Lee Sampson has suggested that Sarah was probably Rachel/Sarah's middle name and that she may have become known as Sarah because she preferred that name. There was both a Sarah and a Rachel among the Thomas Sampson family children. Thomas' mother was named Sarah Grear.

Though there are more records to be searched, and more to be written, it seemed appropriate to write as much of the story of this ancestress as is now available for the reunion of the Sampson family on June 12, 1983, so that it can be distributed and hopefully preserved by someone who may be able to someday find all the remaining story of a gallant lady."

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