As I approach the 37th year of actively researching my ancestors, I recognize the need to reevaluate some of my old files. Often, I’ve learned new facts that can be used to fine-tune someone’s story. Frequently, new records are available. And, yes, sometimes what I’ve accepted as fact is just plain wrong, or in need of further study.
One such case is that of David Ives, oldest son of my ancestor Allen Ives and his wife Mary Deeter. Years ago, when a large proportion of my efforts were dependent upon the U.S. Postal Service, I exchanged information with another researcher, and was sent a voluminous binder. This consisted largely of printed, typewritten sketches about each individual. The Ives family was part of the project. David Ives’ biography stated, word for word, about his death: “He died November 22, 1899. (?) He died in a sandslide. (It’s possible he may have died in CA.)”
However it got there, this date has found its way onto many online trees; the few I glanced at don’t have a source for the information. Most state that David Ives died in Kansas, where he lived at the time of the 1880 census, working as a blacksmith in Jewell County. What may not be known to many, is that there was a footnote to the biography. It states that David Ives left Kansas in 1883 with his brother Levi (Lee) Ives, eventually settling in Washington Territory. The location would eventually be called Pateros. Records for the David Ives I’m related to show his birth to have occurred in Iowa, in 1853.
There begins the part of the story where we have to question the time and circumstances of David’s death. The Washington Territorial census of 1887 shows a David Ives, age 33, blacksmith, living in Walla Walla. No other family members are shown, although he had married, and was the father of two children. His birth is recorded as having taken place in Pennsylvania. After this point, this David doesn’t appear to be creating any more records in Washington.
Jumping ahead to 1888 and 1890, a David Ives, age 35 (in both entries), blacksmith, is living in Chico, Butte Co., California. Birthplace is shown as Iowa. This is from the Great Registers, which record voters, in all parts of the state. The last entry in 1892 shows a David Ives, age 39, blacksmith, living in Santa Rosa, Sonoma Co., CA. Birthplace is Pennsylvania.
The final piece of the puzzle was located in an online image of an article, which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper of 21 February 1893. It reports the death of a man presumed to be David Ives of Santa Rosa (located two counties away), because of the letter found on his person. It’s from a niece in Kansas named “Lena.” A snippet view of the same news from the San Francisco Call newspaper from February 22 states the victim was "David Ives, blacksmith, of Santa Rosa."
|San Francisco Chronicle, 21 February 1893. Accessed via GenealogyBank.com|
Via Archive.org, I was also able to access these details from a yearly report of the San Francisco coroner's office:
We don’t really know enough to state, without doubt, that all of these David Ives are the same person. The differing birthplaces don’t concern me terribly, given the number of other items that fit: the age, occupation, the physical description, the reference to Kansas. The voter registration describes him as “fair” with “gray hair.” Whether someone else would describe him as a round-faced German with a heavy blonde mustache, I have no idea. A quick search for potential, letter-writing nieces shows Irene Faidley, who would have been about 19 in 1893.
It would be of interest to hear what other descendants know of this story, and whether this is indeed the same person.
No matter how experienced we think we are as genealogists, our ancestors will always find a way of surprising us.