When my Aunt Jane wrote her Family History book in 1979, she uncovered a story about Christian and Johanna Pearson (my great-great-grandparents):
As Jane mentioned, we have not been able to find any records or tombstones that corroborate this story (other than census records showing 2 children not living).
Well, something just turned up!
Several months ago I wrote about the 1905 letter that Christian sent to his son Will, who was living and working in Laramie at the time. Christian was begging Will to come back home and take care of the family’s homestead farm in Chapman Precinct. Eventually, Will and Clara agreed to move back home. Christian mentioned in his letter (actually, I surmise that it was Lydia writing the letter, taking dictation from her father) that the next oldest son Oscar didn’t want to farm the home place because “he rented Charles Hadsall’s place by the corner.” Charles Hadsall – for some reason, that name stuck in my mind.
Not too long after writing about the letter, I was looking through the Nebraska Historical Society’s archive collections for Saunders County. One of their most significant holdings is a lifetime’s worth of diaries written by none other than Charles Hadsall! You can read about the collection here. The collection is so significant, in fact, that it has been microfilmed for easier access.
Charles’ homestead was about two miles straight north of the Pearson’s. Here’s the 1907 Saunders County atlas:
So I figured that if Mr. Hadsall was noting significant events in his diary, surely the death of two children in a house fire would be newsworthy.
Thanks to Interlibrary Loan, I am able to look at NHS microfilms at my local library. So I finally decided to look into it!
Christian claimed his homestead in May, 1875 and Will was born in June, 1877 . So I ordered the two microfilms that covered that time period. I figured 1876 would be the best place to start – the year before Will was born.
I went through the diary page by page. Most of the entrees were about the weather, crop prices, his health of his wife and son, travel plans and the like. Usually there were just three or four sentences per day. Then I came across this entry for May 19, 1876:
Here is the transcription:
In the forenoon we went up and harrowed over the corn up on Pruyn’s (?). In the afternoon we plowed the orchard and fixed for Planting corn and potatoes. It was a pretty warm day. Carrie went over to Byron’s with our folks in the afternoon. Pierson’s house burned last Monday and his 2 children.
CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS!
So the Monday before May 19 was May 12, 1876 – the date I now know to be when the two children died.
I have now ordered the microfilm for the Wahoo newspaper for that period to see if I can learn any additional details.