A Day in Appanoose County

2016 Trip to Iowa Day 3

I was going along pretty well here, writing about my recent trip to Iowa. Then came the maddening, frustrating realization that I experienced a major technical failure on this particular day of my trip. It was my own un-techy fault. Unprepared. Ill equipped. Lacking knowledge. So I stopped writing mid-trip. Really, I am so bummed out about it. Nevertheless, it was a lovely day! Here goes …

2016-iowa-mystic-water-tower-copyWhen I was in Iowa four years ago, my Uncle Roy wanted to take me to Mystic, the town where he and my mom and their siblings were born and spent their early years. I ran out of time during that visit, so I made sure to reserve a day for a trip to Mystic this time.

Mystic, and the rest of Appanoose County, experienced a boom during the late 1800s and early 1900s because of coal mining in the area. Later, the mines ran out and many of the towns are now a mere shadow of what they once were. For today, we’ll just focus on the trip and I’ll hope to write more about Mystic and the lives of my family there another day.

map-of-appanoose-travelsThankfully, I had swapped out the two-door hatchback for a four-door sedan so that Uncle Roy, Aunt Joan and I could travel in relative comfort. I picked them up at their RV in Ottumwa Park and we were on our way mid morning. I was so thankful to have Uncle Roy as my navigator and tour guide.

The first stop on our trip was Elgin Cemetery in Mystic, where members of my Hoskins side of the family are buried. My great-grandmother’s stone was easy to find.

Sarah Elizabeth Hoskins nee Bryan

Sarah Elizabeth Hoskins nee Bryan

JAN 27, 1864
JAN 7, 1939

Prepare to meet
me in Heaven

Sarah Elizabeth Hoskins, nee Bryan was my maternal grandfather’s mother.

Her daughters were buried nearby.

Edna Hoskins Martin and John

Edna Hoskins Martin and John

Ethel Hoskins Bland, Mark and Barbara

Ethel Hoskins Bland, Mark and Barbara



But where was her husband?

We looked and looked for Thomas Franklin Hoskins, but he was nowhere to be found. His death certificate confirms that he should be here, but we could not find even an indentation or tiny mark where an unmarked grave might be. Just to the left of Sarah Hoskins’ marker was a small metal marker. It is difficult to read, but I think the name is Morlan and other Morlans are nearby.

stickler-adaThere are a lot of Sticklers and Milburns buried in Elgin Cemetery – both family lines that married into my family tree, so I took pictures of their markers as well. There were a lot of old stones that were impossible, or nearly impossible, to read. Someone had taken black paint to preserve the names on the old Stickler markers. I know this is frowned upon, but I do understand the motivation. The names on those stones were not long for this world.


Taking pictures of grave markers always seems to be a challenge for me. Here is one of my photo fails. Like my big yellow bag?

I found this short video someone took at Elgin Cemetery. It doesn’t show the part of the cemetery where our family is buried, but gives a view of the landscape.

I’m just going to stop here and write about the rest of my day in Appanoose County in another post ’cause I’m still bummed about what happened next.

P.S. You can enlarge small photos by clicking on them.

To Do List:
Find the location of great-grandfather’s grave in Elgin Cemetery. Thomas Franklin Hoskins.

Related posts:
Flying Solo – Day 1 of this trip
Bonaparte Retreat – Day 2 of this trip
Puzzling Penmanship – includes pictures of Thomas F. Hoskins home and children
Sisters, But Not – Edna Hoskins

Sepia Saturday – Puzzling Penmanship

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs.

Today’s prompt suggests men and youths, sports, hats, men in shorts and socks or men in suits, and politics. The photo is of Irish Revolutionary Leader, Michael Collins, at the Senior Hurling Championship match against Dublin on September 12, 1921. He’s talking to the Kilkenny hurlers at Croke Park in Dublin.

I have selected a photograph with a man in a hat, youths, and a building in the background.

Thomas F. and Sarah Hoskins Home

The building is the home of the Thomas Franklin Hoskins family. The perspective makes the people seem small and what was surely a small house seem large. That’s Tom (in the hat) with three of his children. My grandfather, Thomas Hoskins, is on the right. On the far left is Ethel and the girl in the middle is Edna. They lived in Mystic, Iowa.

Sarah Stokes

You may remember Sarah Stokes from my post last week. That 11th child she gave birth to (Sarah Elizabeth Bryan), grew up and married Thomas Franklin Hoskins. Pictured here are three of Sarah Stokes’ grandchildren and son-in-law. 

Too bad the two Sarahs aren’t in the picture!


But it is the undecipherable handwriting on the side of the prompt picture that led me to choose my photograph today. This is what’s on the back of my photograph:

Believe me when I say it took me a while to decipher this. Here is my solution to this puzzle:

April 2 1913

Well I got hear all to Ottumwa I sayed with Rance last night I found him lots
better he looks bad the Ottumwa doctor said he had got passaned some how he give him medicine that helped him write away well i got home to day the rest of the folks wa all write with love sis Hoskins

Then the postcard was turned upside down and reads:
This is our house an tom an tommy an Edna an Ethel 

The postcard is addressed to
Frank Storms
IO  (Iowa)
route 3 

Thank goodness for the legible printing along the side to identify the people in the photograph!

Frank Storms was the nephew of Sarah E. and Thomas F. Hoskins. Frank’s mother, Joanna (Ann) Hoskins Storms, was living with him in Montrose. Lewis Storms, Ann’s husband, was deceased at the time. Although Sarah didn’t sign her name, she is the obvious author.

It seems that Sarah and Tom’s older son, Rance, had been sick and Sarah had gone to Ottumwa (Iowa) to stay with him. The doctor thought Rance had been poisoned. (Food poisoning?)  Although Rance did not look well, the medicine worked and Rance was feeling better.

Google maps estimates the trip from Mystic to Ottumwa takes an hour by car today. I don’t know Sarah’s mode of transportation or how long it took her to get to her destination. I wonder if she took a train?

Here’s a portion of Galbraith’s railway mail service map of Iowa from 1897 so that we can imagine Sarah’s route from Mystic, in Appanoose County, northeast to Ottumwa, in Wapello County.

I love this map! The illustrator had quite a sense of humor. For the full version, look here.

“One of eight large-scale pictorial maps of midwestern states showing routes and post offices of the Railway Mail Service. Designed by Chicago railway mail clerk Frank H. Galbraith to help employees of the Railway Mail Service quickly locate counties and post offices. The maps were rented for practicing or prospective workers who numbered over 6,000 and traveled over a million miles a year on the rails sorting mail. A printed title cartouche accompanied by a list of counties for each of the states by McEwen Map Company of Chicago is pasted on the maps.”

Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division; Reference: LC Railroad maps, 220

Now hurl yourself on over to the Sepia Saturday blog and see what others have puzzled together this week.


Sepia Saturday – Mystery Couple on a Bike

Sepia Saturday provides an opportunity for genealogy bloggers to share their family history through photographs.

I wonder how far these couples succeeded in riding arm-in-arm and in heels and a rather tight skirt?

This prompt provides me the perfect opportunity to share a couple of mystery pictures that were among my grandmother’s photographs. My “couple” are a girl and a dog.

Mystery Girl and Dog

Mystery Dog


I have no clue as to the identity of this little girl or the dog. My suspicion is that these pictures were sent to my grandmother by her English relatives. My grandmother, Eveline Coates Hoskins, corresponded with several of her cousins and her aunts who lived in Durham, England in the early to mid 1900s. They often included photographs and postcards with their letters to her. The surnames of those she corresponded with are Coates, Elgey, Hall, and Dawson.

I don’t know enough about postcards to know if the back of the postcard provides a clue as to its origin. Help, anyone?

Another possibility is that it is some family member in the U.S., or a neighbor. In either case, the location would likely be Mystic, Iowa or somewhere nearby. Our family names in Mystic, Iowa are Coates and Hoskins.

In any case, the dog looks like he has done this before.

You can find more lovely photos by following the link to the Sepia Saturday Blog.