Friday, November 17, 2017

Sins of the Father, Part II

Daniel Daugherty would run from his debts in Ohio in 1839 to end up here, nearly 500 miles to the west, to start a new life with a new wife.
Note to Readers: This is a narrative. To start at the beginning, click on the "Blog Archive" to the right and click on the earliest entry, which is the first written, on 18 February 2014. Or simply click here:  Hoosier Daddy?: Beginnings. For those who have read the blog up to this point have accompanied me on my journey of discovery, we will now explore the life of the man I discovered, the meeting of father and daughter, and the ramifications thereof.

"The fathers eat the sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge."  Ezekiel 18:2.

Daniel Daugherty

Daniel Daugherty (1803-1880) had spent a lifetime on the move. Born in Virginia, his father moved him to the wild, sparsely-populated plains of southwestern Ohio by the time he was nine years old. Daniel was the oldest child to accompany his family on their westward trek. He was old enough to recall his mother's death the year before and likely a weighty sadness at knowing he would never see her grave again. His father, Thomas, had quickly remarried in the fall of 1811, and by the spring of 1812, they were on their way westward. So many changes had befallen the family in such a short time, and young Daniel was coming of an age where it all made little sense to him. One thing of which he was blissfully unaware was his father Thomas's ongoing legal problems. Thomas Daugherty and his father-in-law had concocted a fraudulent land sale nearly a decade before, and clear title and restitution were still being argued in the courts. Thomas, the only living person left to bear the brunt of the crime, likely found it easier to leave the state with a new wife two decades his junior in tow.

This new bride barely in her twenties, pregnant with her first child, and struggling with home life on the frontier with two brand-new stepsons would soon face her struggle alone. Shortly after arriving in Ohio, and while Daniel was still a boy, he was forced to take on the role of the "man of the house" when his father enlisted and left home for active duty in the War of 1812.

Thomas returned the following year, and several more children filled the household over the next decade. Daniel Daugherty took his first wife in 1824 and started his own family at the same time his youngest half-sibling was born. His stepmother died the following summer, and he watched these much younger half-siblings farmed out by his father to be raised by neighboring families. This lack of familial cohesion would repeat itself in Daniel's own family two decades later, and in all the Daugherty lines to follow.

Daniel operated a small mercantile business and storehouse in Jeffersonville, Ohio, under the name of "D. Daugherty & Company". The Panic of 1837 left him with debtors who refused to pay on their accounts and creditors who repeatedly took him to court. The Circleville Bank and the Bank of Xenia were pressuring Daniel through the courts to pay on his outstanding notes. Daniel defaulted on his loans and skipped town. By 1839, all court cases stalled indefinitely because Daniel Daugherty's whereabouts were unknown. His business partners were left with his share of the debts.

Daniel Daugherty hid from his creditors, but he also disappeared from his family as well. Although his siblings scattered all over the Midwest, many surviving documents indicate a consistent attempt to remain in contact with each other... that is, with all of them but Daniel. Perhaps just not knowing where to find him, they gave up. And he hid well. Not only do I have no idea where he was during the 1840s, neither did his own children have a clear recollection as they reached adulthood. Those born during this decade never consistently knew their own place of birth. Ohio? Indiana? Illinois? Somewhere around there. Some reported later on census reports that their place of birth was just flat "unknown."

By 1846, Daniel begins showing up in places along the Mississippi River between New Boston and Rock Island, Illinois. Sometimes he is on the Iowa side, sometimes on the Illinois side. Never does he stay anywhere long. In the Spring of that year, his wife died, leaving him with children ranging from 21 years to six months old, strangely reminiscent of his father's predicament two decades before. His response was identical. The elder children were left to fend for themselves, while the younger children appear to have been taken in by strangers wherever he seemed to drop them on his travels up and down the river.

In 1849, Daniel made the acquaintance of a widow, Elizabeth (Lequat) Holstein. In her late-thirties with three young children, she had been widowed for almost five years. Her father, Shadrack Lequat, had come to Rock Island County, Illinois, in 1838, and was a prosperous merchant at Drury's Landing. This bustling, growing town boasted one of the first steamboat landings in the area. Boats stopped for wood to refuel, for passengers to disembark, for trade and commerce. Elizabeth was not in a hurry to remarry. She could rely on the financial support of her family as well as the proceeds generated by the 80 acres of land her late husband, Henry Holstein, had purchased in 1841.

Daniel Daugherty married the widow Holstein in the Spring of 1849. Perhaps her economic future was less certain, as Elizabeth's father had died two years previously, and nothing had been accomplished regarding the division of his estate. Elizabeth was no fool though. She protected the land she had acquired from her deceased first husband. The day before her marriage to Daugherty, she sold to 80 acres of land to her 18- and 12-year-old daughters and to her 9-year-old son.

The records are silent regarding the reception of Daniel Daugherty into the Lequat family. At the time of his death, the elder Shadrack Lequat was caring for his namesake grandson, whose guardianship was a matter of heated debate between his new stepfather, and his deceased father's family. Although the younger Shadrack died as a child just months after Daniel Daugherty entered the family, Daniel was the one appointed administrator of his estate, much to the dismay of both parties feuding over the child. Both the elder and younger Shadrack's estates became intimately intertwined, and it was Daniel Daugherty who took the lead filing accounts in no less than three different counties in Iowa and Illinois, selling land and goods in multiple locations and bringing the matter to a close. Was he an outsider new to the family whose business acumen was needed at just the right time? Or was Daniel's evident financial success achieved only after his fortuitous marriage looked upon with disdain by the in-laws who only saw him as an opportunist?

The two families were permanently united with the birth of John Henry Daugherty in 1852. Daniel had none of his children living with him, and Elizabeth had already married off her eldest daughter. Daniel Daugherty was presented with another chance at fatherhood. Maybe he was overcome with a newfound sense of responsibility, or maybe he was just a man turning fifty with a baby who decided he needed to stop racing up and down the Mississippi River. In 1855, he reclaimed into his household his youngest daughter by his first marriage. Nine-year-old Rachel was living with her recently widowed eldest sister in Rock Island County, Illinois, when she rejoined the paternal household. Elizabeth's youngest son by her first marriage, Silas, was 16 years old, and the last one of her children to remain at home. That year, Daniel, Elizabeth, Silas, Rachel, and baby John, journeyed nearly 250 miles northward into the newly settled Minnesota Territory. Daniel Daugherty likely heard the buzz the year before on the many Mississippi River docks he frequented. Promoters as far-flung as LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and St. Paul, Minnesota, had invested in a new town to be built on the Wabasha prairie on the west side of the Mississippi. Willard Bunnell, the developer of the town, had been on good terms with the Wabasha band of Sioux Indians for years, and he had already built a hotel and a number of buildings in his new river town. The town of Minneowah or "Snow Water" was born in 1853, and Daniel saw it as a perfect location to start a mercantile business with the rapid and endless flow of settlers into the Minnesota Territory by way of the Mississippi River.

The whole plan was a disaster.

Willard Bunnell was a successful Indian trader, but he was a lousy town builder. He had neglected to register the land upon which his fledgling town was growing much to the chagrin of his investors. Once the land office opened, it was open for any squatter to claim. The first one in line was Daniel Daugherty.

Daniel laid claim to not only the land upon which his store and warehouse were located but also to the hotel and other choice pieces of real estate. This so infuriated Bunnell that his confrontation with Daniel quickly became physical. Some sources say that Daniel Daugherty bit off Bunnell's thumb, or that he bent it back so far and mangled it, that it had to be amputated. Nonetheless, Daniel kept his land while Willard lost his digit.

Bunnell's investors quickly sold their shares in the failed venture, and Willard responded by platting a new town, Homer, immediately to the south of Minneowah, in 1855. Bunnell was still seeking riches and success as the new Minnesota boom town on the Mississippi River. Both men − Daugherty and Bunnell − failed to realize their dreams. Just five miles upstream on a location Bunnell had previously dismissed as a miserable sandbar prone to flooding, the little town of Winona became the success story that Bunnell yearned for. From the laying out of town lots in 1853 to the end of 1856, Winona's population grew to 3,000. Homer never surpassed a couple hundred inhabitants. Minneowah ceased to exist, being considered merely a northern extension of Homer. Daniel Daugherty was left with a store in a tiny failed town. Willard Bunnell would die shortly after in 1861.

On the Mississippi, Near Winona, Shower Clearing (1868) by Alfred Bricher
This scene depicts the downriver stretch below Winona as you approach Homer, Minnesota

Was Daniel Daugherty a man prone to violence who ran from responsibility? Was he more concerned with his own financial advancement to give much thought to raising a family? He was apparently trusted by the people of Homer during his stay in Minnesota. He was elected chairman of the township supervisors at the first election held in newly formed Homer Township in 1858. He submitted a bid to the Minnesota House of Representatives for a contract to carry mail from Winona to Burr Oak, but lost it in 1858. He was business savvy enough to be chosen as an administrator for the estates of fellow townspeople during the 1860s. But on the family front, Daniel still seemed to fail at maintaining a nuclear family. His daughter Rachel, not even a teen, left the home shortly after their arrival in Minnesota to live in the household of an unrelated local family. His stepson, Silas V. Holstein, also left in his teens to work on the railroad and to spend his youth exploring the Midwest and learning the trade of mechanic and millwright on the verge of the Civil War.

Shortly after arriving in Minnesota, Daniel and Elizabeth welcomed their last child. These two young children by Elizabeth gave Daniel a second chance at fatherhood. As a man approaching his mid-50s with some apparent community respect and a moderately successful commercial business, he could raise his two young sons with measured patience, discipline, and understanding − something he could not provide to his first bevy of children, now grown and scattered throughout Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas.

It is not known what paternal guidance and affection Daniel Daugherty bestowed upon his youngest sons. It is not known if the lessons Daniel Daugherty learned from his own father and gained from his own life experiences were imparted upon young John and Ira. Whatever life path upon which Daniel Daugherty tried to guide his sons, fate would continue to produce Daugherty men in the molds of their fathers.

This time, John Henry Daugherty, the toddler who may have watched in horror as his father tore the thumb from his adversary, would bring the meaning of familial responsibility to a new low.


  1. Michael, it’s good to read a new installment in your unfolding story of bequeathed traits of family relationship. I’ve seen similar patterns in other families. New studies of the social and genetic effects of childhood traumas are supported by life stories like this. Our interest in exploring our family heritage needs to be mindful of these challenges and attempts to overcome them. Thanks for picking up the threads of this story, which I understand you are struggling to tell with respect and compassion for the living.

  2. Wonderful storytelling. So excited to read another of your blog posts.

  3. Thanks Michael! First thing I read this morning. Your story combines so much: learning about DNA, human reactions, weaknesses and greatness... don't stop writing!

  4. Glad to see another post! Fascinating one also. I hope you keep posting and are doing better than you were when you last posted.

  5. Michael, I was excited to see you had posted to your blog again - and you did not disappoint! Another wonderful tale. Your research and storytelling are wonderful. This is not another "boring" genealogy that family members wouldn't care to read. Your stories are always exciting!

  6. Thank you, Michael, for another powerful account of your family history. You make it look effortless but I know your work is like a glacier with the bulk under the surface. I am always excited to see that there is a new post on your blog. Looking forward to more and grateful for your time and talent. Best wishes!!!

  7. So happy to have another post! Hopefully more will follow!!

  8. Glad to see you are back at it. I was so excited to see you had written a new post. Looking forward to the next installment.

  9. Dear Michael, Meant to let you know for years how enormously i continue to enjoy your most excellent, lucid, exciting writing, as well as your sharing yet another tough story/journey. (Check out Tank Man's Son) (If i'd known how tough life was i might have skipped the experience.) When you quoted Fr. Rohr i was practically ecstatic. Love Rohr. You are so right on; he is so right on about the importance of men healing/ generations. Perfect. As a central Illinosian i've loved wandering streets and censuses with you, how you've filled in the scenes, the lives. Fabulous. Thank you SO!!! PS. Please let me check out any potential roommates; i'm pretty good at that sort of thing. Jeannie

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  11. SO hoping we will get the rest of the story soon!!!!

    1. Me as well- is this really the last post so far?

  12. Come on Michael! I attended your blogging session in Fort Wayne.. and have been checking back here every day since :)

  13. Is everything ok with this blogger? I hope he's alright. He and his family.

  14. I don't know. I've wondered also. He hasn't posted in well over a year. I hope he's okay.

  15. Michael is ok, I have seen him speak at many genealogy conferences. (Excellent Speaker!) I know many people, including myself, who have been patiently waiting for the "rest of the story" which he says he will tell!

  16. Glad to hear that he is okay! Thank you! And I will keep waiting patiently for an update. :)