Mid-Mo Ashbrook Clan

From Indiana to Missouri

Slim Ashbrook and sisters.

A Simple Sounding Request ....
Our search actually began with James B. Ashbrook - and a fairly simple sounding request from my Aunt "H" as to why he would have received a pension from the civil war - the "simple sounding request" turned into a full-blown genealogy search!

James B. was the father of  "Slim" Ashbrook, who is pictured to the right  with his two sisters.  The picture was taken in Sedalia, MO, early 1900 time period.  Slim's "real name" was  James Homer Ashbrook and he was the iceman in Sedalia for many years.  As you can gather by his nickname, he was a tall, slim man (handsome, too, I might add! - You'll see an "adult" picture of him later on).

Project of Love ...
What has followed that "simple sounding request" has turned into a "project of love" and a project that has included many members of both our "immediate" Ashbrook family and members of the "internet" group (too many to even begin mentioning here) who so graciously have steered me in various directions in the search for our family tree.

How Hard Can It Be? (duh!) ...
I have to admit that I figured putting the Ashbrook family history down on paper would be a matter of going to the various cemeteries, copying down names and dates, maybe looking up some obituaries on microfiche, typing the information into a database - and, Walla, here's the family tree.  Not so!  Not only were exact birth and death dates not known on many of our ancestors - but  huge pieces of our Ashbrook puzzle were - and still are - hard to uncover.  So far this quest of curiosity (have to admit it - I'm a curious bird!) have led me on numerous trips to various cemeteries, hours at the library squinting at microfiche, aching muscles lifting tomes (now I know why they call them that - because each book is as heavy as a tombstone!) from the deed office shelves,  and discussing  known Ashbrook facts (some times for hours - and what fun I've had!) with  "Aunt H," "dad",  and "M".  (Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You've shared so much with me - in this quest of "ours" - that I sometimes feel I'm right back there with you during your "growing up" years.  How fascinating!)

Where are the missing pieces? ...
I can almost say that for each  piece of the puzzle we've been able to put in its place - another missing piece has appeared (or should I say, "disappeared??:))!  I've discovered Ashbrooks in Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma - well, the list could probably include every state east of the Mississippi (I haven't bothered with the "old country as yet"!)  in our  great nation.  I've sent out so many "emails" via the internet that I've lost count (thank goodness for computers - they've saved my day many  times!).  I've attempted to keep as accurate a record as possible during all this (who told me what, what the date of the conversation was, saved emails, dates of visits to library and discovery dates) but I'm afraid I'm only human and there may be some errors in the following information.  Please point them out to me should you discover odd times, dates, etc.

So many questions have cropped up - the "new pieces to the puzzle" that I spoke about.  Why did James B Ashbrook move his family to Missouri?  Did he come through here sometime during the Civil War, like it, and decide to transplant his large family here (7 living children, 3 of which were boys - enough "man" help to keep a farm running properly)?  Did he own land in Indiana prior to his move - or work for someone else (perhaps on a "family" farm)?  Or did he, as I suspect, know an Ashbrook (Charles???) who was already here, discover how fertile the land was for farming, and thus make the decision to relocate his family?  Yet again did he receive land due to his service as a Union Civil War soldier?

And when exactly did he move his family here?  All his children were born in Indiana.  How did Nancy (Payne), James' wife, feel about this move?  Was she reluctant or glad about it?  (And where did she originate from? Kentucky, as we believe but can't make the connection?)  After all, they must have had friends and family they left behind in Indiana. Did James B just go home one day and say "we're moving to Missouri " and she  packed up the household goods, while he made the trip to Missouri to purchase land?

Neither Nancy nor James could write (as evidenced by their "marks" on various deeds) so how - or whom through - did James then communicate to Nancy that it was time to bring their family on the train to Missouri?

And what did the children think of such a move?  Were they happy to leave their Indiana home and start anew in a relatively young community?  My guess, at this point in time, is that at least James H ("PawPaw" to his grand kids, "Slim" to his friends) was happy about the move.

I've read, searched through, and scanned (my poor eyes!) more history on Missouri and Indiana (plus Kentucky in the "early days" of this project!) than I ever thought I'd do in my entire life!  History has - or I should say, was - never a strong interest of mine.  But I've discovered recently that history can be fascinating.  No longer does it seem dull and mundane to me.

"History" gives us an insight into how our ancestors lived day by day, how trusting they were in a world virtually unknown to them (how many people today would agree to put their "mark" on a piece of paper without being able to read that piece of paper themselves?),  how little time they had for leisure, and how tough a time they had during harsh times (diseases, wars, depression).  Pioneers had to be tough, that's for sure!

These were our ancestors.  People who managed to survive even during the various "tough times" of a growing nation.  Their time becomes our time.  Their strengths become our strengths for surely, even though they no longer remain on this earth, their blood runs in our veins.

The Search Continues ...
I'll continue to read, search through, and scan (anybody want to donate a magnifying glass to the cause? :)) microfiche, obituaries, newspaper articles, land deeds, talk to anyone who will talk to me (!) and thoroughly search any other documentation I can find in the quest of discovering the foundations of  our  Mid-Mo Ashbrook Clan.

P.S.  Yes, the "genealogy" bug has bitten me big time!  :)

Emma Alice Moncrief McElfresh

The lovely lady to the left is Emma Alice (Moncrief) McElfresh (my grandma!).  She was born on May 4, 1886, married James Homer Ashbrook on December 23, 1908, and died Jan 9, 1927.  (Do any of you Moncrief/McElfresh genealogists have her name out there but can't "tie her down"?  Well, here she is! Email me quick - we'll both put in some more missing puzzle pieces!)

Her father's name was Robert McElfresh and mother's name was Mary Jane Moncrief McElfresh.  Rumor has it that Mary Jane Moncrief McElfresh was either 1/4th or 1/2 Native American.  No proof to that, yet.  We're searching for information on these two families also.

"Slim" James Homer Ashbrook

This is picture of  "Slim"  at age 68! ... He was pretty good-looking fellow, huh?  He was born in Indianapolis, Marion County, IN, May, 1882.  He moved with his family to Sedalia, MO, approximately 1890's.

As stated earlier, "Slim" was the iceman here in Sedalia for many years.  He even had his own business for a short period of time.  I was very young when he passed away but I remember an extremely tall individual who thought nothing of stooping down to talk to his grand kids.  He used to walk us to the local corner grocery for a soda - then take us to a nearby fire station to show his card buddies how much his grand kids had grown.

Our beloved "Slim" (PawPaw to us grand kids) passed away in 1962.

Emma Alice and Joe McElfresh
To the right is pictured Emma Alice with one of her brothers, Joe McElfresh.  Joe was born in 1886.  He was a barber in Marshall, MO.  Joe - who had the prettiest blue eyes I'd ever seen! - passed away in 1968.    He was married to Katherine "Katie" Ludwig and they had one son, H. Gay McElfresh (b. 1912, d. 1999).

James B. Ashbrook
The bearded guy on the left is ancestor whose mysterious pension payments started this search!  I believe he is son of  Thomas Ashbrook and Cynthia Robenson.  Thomas and Cynthia were married April 13, 1836, in Marion County, IN.  The last census I found of James living in Indiana was 1860.  (It is known for a fact that he signed up as a private, Union Army, in 1861.  See below, James B. Ashbrook's Civil War Records , for more information on his military service.

The 1860 Indiana  census, Lawrence Township, P. O. Castleton,  - lists Cynthia A. Ashbrook, age 42, as head of household, housekeeper, birthplace unknown (obviously the census taker forgot to write it down since she knew where she was born in 1850! - Indiana being named as her birth state in the 1850 census).  Other members listed in this household were (all the following born in Indiana):  James B., 17, farm laborer, Thomas J., 12 (another error on part of census taker, Thomas was 2 years younger than James, therefore, he was actually 15!), Margaret A., 11, and Laura A., 6.

(Note:  Laura was not born at the time of the 1850 census plus she’s listed as an “Ashbrook”.  So did James go off to the west, come back, then leave or die?  Unknown at this time – more puzzle pieces!  Another scenario could be that “Laura” is actually an “Ashbrook” relative who lost her own parents and Cynthia is raising her.  Am currently checking on both possibilities.)

Genealogy from Thomas Ashbrook to James Ashbrook ...

Thomas Ashbrook  bd. Indiana
|         Caroline Ashbrook bd. 1838, Indiana
|         ? Jane Ashbrook  bd. 1841, Indiana
|         James B Ashbrook  bd. Feb 14, 1844, Marion Co, IN
|                 dd. Dec 10, 1916. Sedalia, Pettis Co, MO
|         Thomas J (Jeffery) Ashbrook  bd. 1846, Indiana
|                 dd. 1921, Sedalia, Pettis Co, MO
|         Margaret Ann Ashbrook  bd. 1849, Indiana
|         Laura Ann?? Ashbrook  bd. 1854
|Cynthia Robenson (Robinson?)
(“bd” = birth date; “dd” = death date)
James B. Ashbrook's Civil War Records ...
James Civil War records  give us the facts that he was in Company K, 52nd Indiana Infantry.  He joined up in Vertland, Marion County, Indiana, on February 27, 1861.  He was 18 years old at the time.  Lt. W. W. Werron(?)  stated that this volunteer had “grey eyes, dark hair, fair complexion, is 5 feet 11 inches high.”

James re-enlisted in 1864 in the State of Mississippi, Town of Canton.  He mustered out in Montgomery, Alabama on May 26, 1865.  The remarks section states he was a “Vet”.  It’s interesting to note that the February, 1862, Muster Roll lists James as having “deserted from Camp Morton, Indiana.”  The March and April Muster Roll, though, corrects this and states, “Reported on previous Roll as deserter, but had been detained by civil authority.”  Evidently the correction wasn’t enough because on February 15, 1886, 10 months after his honorable discharge, James’ records state “The charge of desertion on the muster roll for Feb 62 is removed.”  Let it be noted that James is counted as “present” during the rest of his Civil War duty.

Sedalia  During The Civil War ...
The 26th Indiana Volunteer Regiment, of which one solider named William Ashbrook (more about him later), was stationed in – of all places – Sedalia, Missouri - from November, 1861, through July, 1862.  Their duty was to protect the Pacific Railroad which ended at Sedalia during the war.  This situation had to be a difficult one for the current citizens of Sedalia since the town was split fairly equally between northern sympathies and southern sympathies.  Men folk were joining up in regiments for both sides.

According to local historian, Hazel Lange’s book, “Life In Pettis County – 1815 – 1973”, an Indiana regiment camped in the area which currently contains the City Hall square.  There was a large cattle yard which extended from the alley between Main and Second Streets, extending to Pearl River (more on that later!), and between Osage and Ohio Streets.

Even with the Union soldiers here to safeguard the railroad, Sedalia came close to being “taken” by the Confederate army.  Confederate Gen. Sterling Price and his battalion came into Sedalia on the night of October 13.  Small detachments managed to over power the Union soldiers at Seventh and Brown, Twentieth and Beacon, and one even managed to enter leading citizen, Absalom McVey’s, home.

At one point in the skirmishes, two separate processions  of Confederates were approaching Sedalia, one from the west, one from the east.  Confederate Jeff Thompson, serving under Shelby, set up guns on what is now Crown Hill Cemetery.  To the towns people of the day, it looked like Sedalia would certainly go under Confederate authority.  Squads of local citizen soldiers were taken under arrest and the Confederates had the town..  The Union soldiers left the town.

As so often happened during this war, looting and destruction started.  The Confederates took what they desired and smashed and burned what they had no desire for.  It must be stated here that General Thompson, when he arrived in the town later on the same day, ordered his men to stop the destruction.  He was said to be very angry at what he saw.  He even went so far as to shoot one of his own men in the leg when his soldier refused to obey his order!

James  B in Missouri ...
The earliest we’ve been able to track James’ existence in Sedalia is 1890.   The 11th Census of The United States, 1890, Schedule Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of The Civil War: Morgan and Pettis County, lists James B. as residing in Pettis County.  Unfortunately, no “personal” information is given on this particular recording.  (Note:  All 1890 state and county census records were destroyed due to fire.  This loss places a great burden on the genealogist trying to track families between 1880 and 1900.)

We do know that James B. upon arriving in Sedalia, proceeded to do what he’d evidently done most of  his life – farm the land.  The comment James Homer, one of James B.’s sons, made upon leaving the train at Sedalia for the first time,  “Where’s Paw’s orchard?” leads us to the belief that Homer’s “Paw” had purchased a piece of land that at least a young boy would be excited about.   It is believed that James B came to Missouri, bought the land, then sent for his family who later arrived by train.

We know that James B. and Nancy V. purchased at least two separate properties in the Sedalia area.  The deed records concerning these purchases have not yet surfaced.  The deed records for selling a portion of the land in 1902, though, have been found.  On January 21, 1902, James and wife Nancy  sold an unknown amount of acreage to  C. L. Turner.  Turner paid them $1 at the time of the sale.  The Deed of Trust  states that James B and Nancy Virginia “make and deliver their one principal note for $110”  and “three interest notes for $10 each” which was payable (one note each) on January 21 for the following three years with the payments to be made in Sedalia to Nettie C. Hansbrough.  They were to also pay her at a rate of 7 per cent interest per year. (Do these payments mean they still owed on the property?  Or was this, as was the practice during those early days, insurance payments to be continued on the property?  Answer unknown at this time.)

We also know that James and Nancy purchased a second piece of property south of Sedalia  (”lying North of the Sedalia and Warrensburg Road” ) which they ultimately sold to W. S. Monk for a total of $1,050 on February 19, 1907.   Part of this transaction included the agreement by W. S. Monk to pay a note of $200 which was still owed on the property.  Witnesses to this transaction were W. A. Fast and P. F. Buckley.  The transaction was filed in Sedalia, Pettis County, on Feb. 21, 1908.

Ancestors who moved to Missouri from Indiana ...

| James B Ashbrook
|       James Homer Ashbrook
|       Ed Ashbrook
|       Ross Ashbrook
|       Loula Mae Ashbrook
|       Maggie Ashbrook
|       Amanda Jane Ashbrook
|       Josie Ashbrook
|Nancy Virginia (Payne) Ashbrook
(Note: James' brother, Jeff, also moved to Missouri from Indiana.)

To see the entire Missouri-Indiana Family Tree - as is currently known - click on the link below:


Updated as of 1-11-00:
You can click on the link below, MO-IN Ashbrook Family Names,  to see the families which are currently included in this database.  Major lines actively being  researched at this point in time include:  Ashbrook, Moncrief, McElfresh, Payne.  Go ahead and click into the link, though, there are 350+ names (Comer, Eads, to name a couple of them) in the database - maybe one of them is your "lost" relative!  (Let me know if so, ok?  Maybe we can clear up some of those missing puzzle pieces on our end!)

See Individual Pages for more information on:

MO-IN Ashbrook Names
Emma Alice (McElfresh) Ashbrook
Hazel Virginia (AshBrook) Simmons
Homer Grant Dempsey Ashbrook
James B Ashbrook
James Homer "Slim" Ashbrook
Homer Grant "Dempsey" Ashbrook
Lily Belle "Billie" (Ashbrook) Rahe
Nancy Virginia (Payne) Ashbrook
Olive Lee Ashbrook 

Please check back frequently to see the updates.  Thanks for stopping in.

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Happy Genealogy Hunting and May God Bless All Your Endeavors.

If you have comments or suggestions, email me at mcomer@iland.net

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