Mitchell spent at least two decades here
By Gene Kemmeter
Continued from previous week
Mathias Mitchell spent at least two decades in the Stevens Point area.
He lived in the downtown area of Stevens Point on Main Street when the 1850 U.S. Census was taken Sept. 14, 1850, and moved to the town of Plover before the 1860 Census was taken July 27, 1860.
The 1850 Census said “Matthias” Mitchell was a 37-year-old resident of the town of Stevens Point (it didn’t become a city until 1858) who was a lumberman owning real estate valued at $4,000 and was born in Pennsylvania.
He was living with his wife, Catharine, 35, who was also born in Pennsylvania; a daughter, Hester, 13, who was born in Indiana; a son, “Eli,” 9, who was born in Illinois; and a daughter, Emeline, 6, who was born in Illinois.
The 1860 Census said “Matthias” was a 48-year-old resident of the town of Plover (even though the Census was taken two months earlier than in 1850 when he was 37).
He was still a lumberman engaged in lumbering and had real estate valued at $4,000.
Living with him are his wife, Catharine, 46, (she also gained a year in age), who was born in Pennsylvania; and his son “Eli,” 19, who was born in Illinois.
Missing from the listing are his daughters, Hester, who was 13 in 1850; and Emeline, who was 6 then.
Have the two daughters gotten married, or died, or have they moved?
There are no personal records in the Portage County Register of Deeds office on either of the daughters through their maiden names in the marriage or death records.
The marriage records are only alphabetized with the male surnames, so all the records would have to be searched to find the female surname.
Death records usually list the female surname, but are also indexed by the spouse’s name if married.
Searching for the Mitchell’s son, Ela C. Mitchell (who had been listed on the Census records as “Eli”) would prove to be more fruitful in the chronological order of this story.
Ancestry listed a record that identified Ela as a Civil War veteran. Wisconsin Civil War records show“Ely” (instead of Ela) enlisted June 25, 1861, as a private in Company E, FifthWisconsin Infantry Regiment, in Plover.
He was discharged Nov. 11, 1861, with a disability. The type of disability isn’t listed.
However, the disability must have been of some serious nature, at least temporarily, because Mathias was appointed power of attorney Sept. 6, 1862, in an action filed with the Portage County Register of Deeds Office.
The power of attorney is a legal authorization for a designated person to make decisions about another person’s property, finances, or medical care.
Because the next Census was in 1870, and Ela was still alive in 1891 according to the Journal story, a search for Ela Mitchell found Ela, 29, born in Illinois, was living in the town of Bishop Creek in Inyo County, Calif., and working as a farmer, with real estate worth $250 and a personal estate of $900.
Living with him was his mother, Catherine Mitchell, 56, born in Pennsylvania, and she was keeping house.
Did that mean that Mathias had died between 1860 and 1870, or was he someplace else when the Census was taken?
A record of land transactions in the Portage County Register of Deed Office show that on April 13, 1866, Mathias and Catharine Mitchell of Union County, territory of Dekotah, in southwestern Iowa, granted a warranty deed to Emeline Bennett of Portage County for $400 for property in the town of Plover.
The property was described as running from the village of Plover to Springville Mills and was adjacent to the Methodist Episcopal parsonage lot in Plover.
That property was apparently the property Mathias and Catharine lived on in the 1860 Census, because a neighbor to them, according to the Census, was George W. Slater, 50, a Methodist “priest,” born in New York; his wife Isabel, 46; and their two children, daughter Harriett, 18, and son Abbott, 9.
Ela was listed in the 1880 Census records as 39 years old, born in Illinois, living in Enumeration District No. 84 in Santa Barbara, Calif., and working in farming.
With him was his wife, Ida A. Mitchell, 29, and their three children, son Clarence A.,7; son Fred F., 5; and daughter, Irene M., 11 months.
That means Ela got married in the decade of the 1870s, and a further check found a record of California marriage license with Ela Mitchell marrying Ida A. Young on Aug. 29, 1871, in Alameda, Calif.
But what about Ela’s mother. Again, checking for Catherine Mitchell, only one 1880 Census record showed a “Katherine Mitchele,” age 65 (within Catherine’s range), born in Pennsylvania (as other records indicated).
Ancestry searches use first name, last name, year of birth and location (city or town, county and state) as parameters, with “Suggested Records” to check to possibly track or verify the individual as the one being sought.
Because Ancestry compiles records used in genealogy, family members will link the records to that family as “Suggested Records” to assist other family members in their searches, just as the website “Find A Grave” will do links for family members.
“Katherine” is listed as a housekeeper in the same Enumeration District No. 84 in Santa Barbara as Ela, living in the household of Andrew Hugick, 57, a farmer and his seven children, four males ages 15-20, and three girls, ages 9-13.
The penmanship of the Census enumerator is hard to read in the entry for the head of household, but was deciphered as Hugick, the only entry for Hugick on Ancestry.
The Hugick household is No. 111, and the Ela Mitchell household is No. 153, so the two households are relatively close, four pages apart.
Again searching for Ela Mitchell, there was a notice of an Ela C. Mitchell listed on a private family tree posted on Ancestry. The owner of that posting reported, however, “I don’t know any information on this individual. There is an Ela C. Mitchell in my family file as the father-in-law of a distant cousin.”
The search for Ela C. Mitchell living in Stevens Point also turned up a Stevens Point Daily Journal story on May 23, 1891, that reported Ela was in Stevens Point, reportedly to check the deed to the Public Square to see whether the land would be returned to the Mitchell heirs if it was no longer being used as a public park.
The reporter was unable to talk to Ela to verify whether the story “being circulated to the above effect may be just idle conjecture.”
A story in the Aug. 1, 1891, Journal stated a reporter spoke with Ela during another visit to Stevens Point and learned Ela was about to begin an action on behalf of Mathias’ heirs for possession of the Public Square.
Ela claimed the land belonged to the heirs. No such claim was ever filed.
A further search of records in the Portage County Register of Deeds office, however, revealed another “Power of Attorney” filing for the Mitchell family, and that provided the clues about what happened to family members.
More about Mitchell and his family in Part IV