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Laura Riddle’s New Mystery

Our recent research trip to Nebraska revealed an unexpected mystery to solve. Although I thought I had a pretty good timeline for my great-grandmother Laura Riddle’s life, a review of the documents we retrieved exposed an unexplained gap.

I had assumed that Laura farmed on her land near McCook from the time she paid for a cash entry in 1885 until she filed on a homestead in Hayes County in 1892. I was very surprised to learn that she sold the land near McCook to her brother-in-law John Evert the same year she bought it. He, in turn, resold it in 1887.

If she had no farm, where was Laura living during the years from 1885-1892? Did she remain in the McCook area? Her oldest son, Francis, lived with a nearby farmer in 1886 and 1887 while he went to school, but where were Laura and the other two boys? And what happened to them after 1887 when John Evert resold her farm and Francis no longer appears in the school records?

Perhaps she stayed with her sister and brother-in-law, at least until the Everts sold out and moved north to Hyannis, Nebraska in Grant County during the late 1880’s. Did she go with them?

If only we could consult the 1890 U.S. census. Alas, it is long gone. For Grant County, Nebraska, we have a couple of substitutes, but Laura’s does not appear on them. She is not listed on the county directory for 1890 although both her brother Seymour Riddle and her brother-in-law John Evert are on the list. The other existing record for 1890, that of Civil War veterans, does not include women.

I believe I need to take another research trip, this time to examine the records in the Hyannis area. Perhaps newspaper or land records there hold some clues for Laura’s whereabouts before she claimed a homestead.

 

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