©2009-2016 Becky Higgins

Friday, February 6, 2015

Where are Thomas and Elizabeth Stephens in 1870?

This is my writing for today for the February writing challenge. Frustration set in yesterday as I wrote about my husband’s 3rd great-grandparents, Thomas and Elizabeth (Letcher Nankivel) Stephens. My focus has been Elizabeth’s journey in America – her life as the wife of a lead miner.  Thomas came to the U.S. with his father and brother in 1840 and they brought the rest of the family over in 1842. Even though Elizabeth wasn’t accepted by Thomas’s family with open arms because she was a widow with three boys, she followed along with the large family group.

My frustration has set in because I can’t find the Thomas or Elizabeth in the 1870 US census. They are in Grant County, Wisconsin in 1850, Iowa County, Wisconsin in 1860 and Thomas is in Grant County again in 1880. Elizabeth died abt. 1874. Thomas was a lead miner and I know he went off to other regions to mine through the years – in 1865 he is in Michigan’s UP working the Lake Superior mines. There are a couple of extant letters from Elizabeth to him and from him to Elizabeth during that year. Elizabeth was living in Platteville, Grant, Wisconsin at that time.

I’ve tried every variation of the spelling of Stephens I can think of to no avail. I’ve now begun a page by page search of the 1870 census for both Iowa and Grant counties in hopes at least finding Elizabeth. It appears at least three of their children should still be with her – Jane, Agnes, and Thomas. Not luck with them either. She isn’t living with her daughter Elizabeth Ann Rose, Mary Louise Davey, Irene Persons, or her sons Timothy or Henry Nankivel.

I know missing this census shouldn’t inhibit my writing their story but, for some reason, it just ticked me off yesterday and today. I’ll keep looking for them but will also move ahead tomorrow.