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In Search of Sam

Samuel H. Reed (1845-1928) was known for having a wanderlust and being less than industrious. Despite years of research by several descendants, we still do not know all the details of his life. I hope to learn more soon.

I am planning a trip to Grant County, Nebraska. Sam appears on the 1910 census there. He was working as hired help on a rural place. I will visit the county courthouse to learn whether he ever owned land there himself.

Sam had been born in Illinois, but he was known to prefer the west. Although he was the oldest son, he did not take over the Reed family farm. He was given money instead.

He used those funds to travel around the west and trade in land. He always lost money, and eventually his inheritance was gone.

Here is what we know about his adult years:

  • The family has said he served in the Civil War, but no proof has been found. The 1885 Kansas census says he was a veteran who had enlisted in Illinois and served on pontoons. The 1890 Missouri Veterans Schedule claims he served from Kansas. Neither claim has been verified, and Sam never filed for a military pension. The family story is that he was on a boat that capsized. Although he was saved, his paperwork was lost.
  • Sam married both his wives in Illinois: Nancy Jane Dudley in 1869 and Anna Petronellia Sherman in 1883. He took both wives west, living in Kansas with Nancy and both Kansas and Missouri with Anna.
  • Sam and his family have not been found on the 1900 U. S. census.
  • Sam and Anna divorced in Missouri 1904, and his whereabouts after that become murky.
  • Sam was in Grant County, Nebraska in 1910. Two of his children joined him there, and both married into the family that had hired Sam. Two other sons took homesteads in the next county north of Grant County.
  • The family tells a story of Sam moving next to Oklahoma and being involved with a woman there. He thought his land might have oil potential and did not want this woman to get her hands on it. He summoned yet another son to assist in protecting it from her. We have not been able to locate where this land might have been.
  • Sam returned to Missouri for a time after World War I. By then, he was in his 70’s, and it is unknown how he was supporting himself.
  • In the 1920’s, Sam went back to Illinois to live with his eldest daughter, Annie. He developed dementia, and she finally placed him in the Jacksonville State Hospital where he died in 1928. He left $61.09 to each of his nine surviving children. This would work out to a $9750 estate today. Two of the heirs gave their shares to their half-sister Annie to compensate her for taking care of Sam.

My trip to Nebraska will not tell me a lot about Sam’s travels. If he acquired land there, it will help me fill in the timeline of when he arrived there and when he left. It will be another tidbit of information to fills in the story of his life.

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