Researching Elizabeth O Robinson Baxter, Ancestor #3/52

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Elizabeth Olive Robinson Baxter, early Colorado pioneer, 1850-1924

Here is the main post for Elizabeth O Robinson (1850-1924), Ancestor #3/52

Genealogists, I think, are always grateful for little “quirks” in people’s names. Elizabeth seems frequently to have used the “O” of her middle name, which is fortunate, since a name like Elizabeth Robinson would have been quite common in the records in the latter half of the 19th century. I have never seen an official record that spelled out the name that the “O” stood for. However, Elizabeth named one of her daughters “Olive.” Also, in her husband Alonzo’s obituary, there is this: “Mr. Baxter was married to Miss Elizabeth Olive Robinson in Jefferson county, Indiana, November 1, 1868.”

1850 | 29 Nov. Elizabeth O. Robinson was born to James Robinson and Mary Ann Barnum. Elizabeth was born after the 1860 census. Birth records have been kept in Indiana only since 1882, so how do I know her date of birth? This is from Elizabeth’s obituary:

Deceased’s maiden name was Elizabeth O. Robinson and she was born in Jefferson County, Ind., and had attained the age of 73 years, 8 mos., and 2 days at the time of her demise.

Elizabeth died on 1 Aug 1924 (again, information taken from her obituary and from her gravestone).  Using a date calculator and the information from her obituary, Elizabeth’s DOB would be 30 Nov 1850. The date on her gravestone is 29 Nov 1850.

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I’m fortunate to have this photo of Elizabeth’s gravestone, which, based on the young trees in the background, must have been taken shortly after Alonzo died in 1930. The gravestone in 2015 is all but unreadable (but the trees are beautiful). Note that her name on the gravestone is “Elizabeth O.”

1860 | Age 9. August. U.S. census for Monroe Twp., Jefferson Co., Indiana. Elizabeth’s first appearance in the records is the 1860 census, where her family name is “Roberts”: James Roberts, age 39, Farmer, b. Penn.; Mary, age 33, b. Ind.; John A., age 14, b. Ind.; Levi B., age 12, b. Ind.; Elizabeth, age 10, b. Ind.; George L., age 7, b. Ind.; James F., age 4, b. Ind.; Mary F., age 2/12, b. Ind.

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We know this is the right family because of the names and ages of everyone in the family. When I first started researching this family about 15 years ago, I didn’t have the cache of papers from Elizabeth’s son, George Baxter, that I have today. All I had was a hand-written letter that was in the files of the Jefferson Historical Society, written by Elizabeth’s daughter, Leona Baxter Glatzel, which said, “My mother’s name was Elizabeth Robinson — her father was James Robinson.” The rest of the letter was about Leona’s father, Alonzo Baxter.

1861 | Age 11. 28 Dec. Elizabeth’s father, James Robinson, died at the age of 40. He left a will (Book A-239) written 27 Aug 1861, Monroe Township.  The index: “Robinson, James. (Book A-239) Will Wr. 27 Aug. Rec. 11 Aug. 1862. Monroe Twp. My wife, Mary Robinson, children. David Jones, sole exec. Page 240, Mary Robinson, release of dower, 26 Aug. 1861.” For a 40-year-old man to have a will at this time, he must have known he was dying. What did he die of? He didn’t name his children by name in the will.

1868 | Age 17. 1 Nov. Marriage to Alonzo Hayden Hayes Baxter, Jefferson County, Indiana. The marriage is in the Indiana Index of Marriages, Book 12, Page 19. The date is confirmed in her obituary: “She was united in marriage to A.H.H. Baxter in her home in Indiana on November 1, 1868.” The marriage license says that the couple was united in marriage by “John Brock, Minister.”

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1870 | Age 19. Aug 10. 1870 U.S. Census for Monroe Twp., Jefferson Co., Indiana. Head of household: Alonzo Baxter (indexed at Ancestry as “Boxter”), age 24, Farmer, b. Indiana; Elizabeth, age 19, b. Ind.; Mary, age 1; b. Ind.; Margaret, age 52, b. Ind.; Hanna, age 18, b. Ind.; Leonidas, age 20, b. Ind.

The Margaret, Hanna[h], and Leonidas found in this family are Alonzo’s widowed stepmother (his mother’s sister) and two younger siblings.

I’m at a loss to explain “Mary, age 1” in this census, except for the fact that I was told by someone at the Indiana Historical Society that the 1870 census is full of errors. The man said it was as if the enumerator simply wrote down the family names from memory rather than visiting the residences. Instead of Mary, age 1, this census should enumerate my great-grandmother, Emma H. Baxter, born 17 Jul 1868. Therefore, the census ought to be “Emma, age 2.” There may have been a “Mary,” born 1869 who died before the 1880 census. If so, I’ve never found any trace of her. I think this was probably an error on the part of the enumerator–one of those things that gives genealogists fits.

1870 | Age 20. Elizabeth and Alonzo settled in southeastern Colorado on his 160-acre land grant. From Elizabeth’s obituary: “the couple came to Colorado and settled in Granada in the year 1870.” From Alonzo’s obituary: “The deceased came to Colorado first in 1869 subsequently going back to Indiana for his wife. He returned to this state with his wife and family in the fall of 1870. The trip was made by ox team and required six weeks and two days for its completion.” The family must have waited to start the trip until after the birth of their son George, 16 Jun 1872, b. Monroe Twp., Jefferson Co., Ind.

1872 | Age 22. Fall. The Baxter family, including the two small children, arrived in what would one day be Bent County (and later Prowers County), Colorado. It’s not possible to know exactly how long it took Alonzo to put up the frame house, but we know from an article written for the Colorado Magazine in 1947 by Elizabeth’s daughter, Daisy Baxter Jefferson, that at least for awhile the family lived in “a two-room sod house, with walls two feet thick.” (1) They probably lived there until the winter of 1874-75.

1873 | The railroad was extended to Old Granada. George Baxter’s Prowers County series, Part IV.

1874 | Bent County was created in Colorado. Alonzo’s land would have been part of Bent County at this time. It remained a part of Bent County until 1889, when Prowers County was created out of Bent.

It’s possible to track the moves the family made between 1874 and 1888 by noting where their children were born.

1874 | Age 24. 14 Oct. Elizabeth and Alonzo’s third child was born, first to be born in Colorado: Olive Florence Baxter, born Old Granada, Bent County, Colorado. Alonzo “commuted his homestead north of Carlton where we had been living since coming to Colorado in 1869, and moved five miles east of Old Granada where he entered a pre-emption and timber culture claim of 160 acres each. That was in 1874.” That comes from George Baxter’s newspaper series about Prowers County, Part III.

George explains how this system worked in Part 52 of his series: A one-quarter section homestead was all that was allowed unless a homesteader “commuted” to the government at $1.25 per acre, payment due in three years. By choosing that course, the settler could file a pre-emption and timber claim and obtain as much as one section of land by living on it three years.

1875 | Age 25. 8 Jan. Found in the newspaper, the Las Animas Leader, West Las Animas, Bent County, Colorado. “The following improvements are reported at Ella and vicinity: By A.H.H. Baxter, a house 16×18; cost $150.” The materials for the frame house would have come by rail.

1876 | Colorado was still a territory in 1870 and was made a state in 1876. The first U.S. census record for Colorado is 1880.

1876 | Age 26. 28 June. Elizabeth and Alonzo’s fourth child was born: Daisy Baxter, born in Prowers County, Colorado. The place is taken from Daisy’s death certificate. Technically, Prowers County had not yet been created in 1876, so the certificate should have read Bent County.

1876 | From George Baxter, Part XXV: “After Old Granada began declining in 1876 when the railroad was extended to Old Las Animas, many of the settlers and businessmen moved back to Coolidge [Kansas] where conditions were rising toward an all-time high. Many of Old Granada’s best citizens went to Coolidge at that time. [The Baxter family was in Coolidge at least by September of 1883, when their sixth child was born there.]

1878 | Age 28. 12 Oct. Elizabeth and Alonzo’s fifth child was born: Minnie May Baxter, born in Bent County, Colorado. The date for her birth is taken from Minnie’s obituary.

1880 | Age 30. 15 June. The 1880 U.S. census for Bent County, Colorado (township “Not Stated”). Head of household: Alonzo H.H. Baxter, age 34, Farmer, b. Indiana; Elizabeth, 29, wife, b. Ind.; Emma Lona, age 10, daughter, at school, b. Ind.; George A.H., age 8, son, at school, b. Ind.; Olive H., age 5, at school, b. Colo.; Daisy J, age 3, b. Colo., Minnie M, age 1, b. Colo.

One detail that’s notable from this 1880 census record is that all school-age children were attending school. They were probably attending the school that was located in Old Granada. In 1881, Bent County published a county history with biographies of its residents. Clearly, although he couldn’t have had a lot of extra time on his hands, education was something that was important to Alonzo Baxter:

Mr. Baxter was School Director of District No. 8, and Secretary of the Board for three years before the district was divided in 1879. Since then, he has been a Director and Secretary of the Board of District No. 9 (2).

1880 | Age 30. 16 Oct. Alonzo and Elizabeth’s sixth child was born: Lottie L. Baxter, born near Old Granada, Bent County, Colorado. Lottie is the only child not to live to adulthood.

1882 | Age 32. 4 Apr. Lottie, Elizabeth’s sixth child, died. There is probably no recorded birth or death record for her. Lottie is buried in a tiny cemetery (only three known interments), the Fort Holly Cemetery. Cemetery note from Find-a-grave.com: “South of Holly about 2 miles, West 3 miles, North about 1/4 mile.” (3) This cemetery must be located on what was once Alonzo Baxter’s land:

Two and one-half miles southwest of Holly, south side of the river [Arkansas River], now [1940s–George Baxter’s note] known as the Sisson Bros. Ranch. The Sisson Ditch, where Mr. Baxter raised his family, real pioneers, seven miles west of the old Kansas Colorado Trail, where 85 percent of trail herds crossed the Arkansas River, going north 1872 to 1895, from Texas.

There are 2 more flat stones with no names or dates.” Only one of the other stones is dated: Drusilla A. Quigley, b. 6 Mar 1881; d. 3 Mar 1882. I would bet money that the person who put up the fence around these graves was George Baxter, Lottie’s brother. After he retired from ranching, George worked as the cemetery sexton for Riverside Cemetery in Lamar. In fact, George died of a heart attack one morning while working in the cemetery–“George died while working,” something that anyone who knew him would have predicted.

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1883 | 33 years old. September. Alonzo and Elizabeth’s seventh child, Leona L. Baxter, was born in Coolidge, Hamilton County, Kansas. Leona was always very insistent in all of her records that she was born in Kansas, not Colorado. What caused the family to move away from Alonzo’s land claim?

1885 | The Alonzo Baxter family does not appear in the 1885 Colorado state census. According to Part XXVI of George’s column about Prowers County history, he makes the statement that his father sold his land “southeast of Granada” in 1885, and it became part of the Crutch L Ranch. Alonzo must have been one of Old Granada’s “best citizens” who moved to Coolidge, Kansas (Part XXV).

1885 | December. From George Baxter: “There will never be another winter as memorable to Prowers county cattlemen as that of 1885-1886.” The range was covered with two to three feet of snow for four long months, from December to March. He says in Part XXXV that the blizzard killed over 100,000 head of cattle.

1886 | May. The town of Lamar was created. The first building in Lamar was the depot. By the end of 1886, there were several hundred residents of the town. “Most of the church-minded settlers in Lamar being Methodists, the Methodist Church was the first to be built in about 1888 at the site of the present Birkby Lumber Company” (Part XXVII). The Catholics were the second group to get organized, holding their first service in the spring of 1887 in the city hall, and continuing there until the frame church was built. A priest rode down once a month by stage from Pueblo for services during that first year. (Part XXXI). Lamar would have been about 17 miles from New Granada; it was 28 miles from Holly; and it was 38 miles from Coolidge, Kansas.

1886 | 36 years old. Fall. From George Baxter: “In the fall of 1886, when we were living in that town [Coolidge, Kansas] . . . .” (Part XXV). Coolidge was just two miles over the Kansas state line. He refers to the site of Old Granada as “abandoned” by the fall of 1886 and sold to new owners. [The Baxter family seems to have lived in Coolidge, Kansas from about 1883 to 1886 or 1887. George doesn’t seem to mention anywhere how his father was making a living during that time.]

From 1882 to 1886, Coolidge was a “boom town.” It had some of the biggest and best business houses this side of Pueblo during that period. “Peck’s Opera House was begun early in the eighties, and the architect’s plans called for an expenditure of over $100,000. The building was destroyed by fire, however, before it was completed. It was to have been the finest in this entire region.”

1887 | From Part XXIV, George Baxter’s history of Prowers County: “My father moved the family into Granada (“New” Granada) in 1887 during the boom period which lasted from 1886 to 1889.

1888 | January 11. From Part XXXV of George Baxter’s history: The “Big Blizzard.” George reports hearing that dead cattle were so numerous that one could hop from carcass to carcass between Deadwood, South Dakota and Dodge City, Kansas.

1888 | Age 38. July 17. Elizabeth and Alonzo’s last child was born in Granada, Colorado–Edward. It’s interesting to note that Elizabeth was only 38 years old when her last child was born. She had had eight children in 20 years–almost one child every two years. Why did her childbearing stop at this point?

1889 | Prowers County, Colorado was created from Bent County. Alonzo’s land was now part of Prowers County (4). The county courthouse was built in Lamar. From George Baxter’s series, Part 52: During the boom years of 1886-1889, thousands of settlers poured into the country and filed their one-quarter section homesteads. “Though good crops were raised during that period, there was little or no market for them.” About 85% of the new settlers found it impossible to “prove up” their land within the required three years. “With 85% of the people gone, it was twenty years before this county regained the population of the book period of 1886-1889. The towns of Granada, Lamar, Carlton, and Las Animas survived but suffered a severe setback.

From Part XXIV: George says that in 1889 many of the townspeople [in Granada] left, and about 80% of the 160-acre homesteads were abandoned. Is this when Alonzo and his family left the homestead and moved to Trinidad, Colorado. For about the 10,000th time in 20 years of genealogy research, I’m wishing for an 1890 census.

1889 | Age 39. June 8. Alonzo filed a Civil War pension application.

1890 | From George Baxter, Part 52. The severe drought of 1890 impressed on the remaining settlers the fact that irrigation was a necessity, once the range business was ended and the dry-land boom ended. From Part 55. By 1890, Lamar had become the main town for Prowers, Baca, and Kiowa counties. There was little market for anything but wheat and corn. Livestock prices were low. The period from 1890-1896 was as dry as the 1934-1936 period, but there wasn’t nearly as much dust then because very little of the range had been scratched.

1890 | Age 40. Elizabeth and Alonzo’s oldest child, Emma, was married at the age of 22 to George Gustav Witzke, somewhere in Colorado, probably Trinidad. I don’t have a marriage record for Emma and George, so I don’t have a date or a place. I’ve never heard a story about how they met. George was a brick mason.

1891| Age 41. The date of this photo is approximate, based on the ages of the youngest children.

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This photo was possibly torn, cutting off some of the group. It’s impossible to say for sure. The woman seated at left is Elizabeth Baxter, age 40, holding her youngest child, Edward, age about two. Next to her is Alonzo, her husband. Next to him is the couple’s oldest daughter, and my great-grandmother, Emma Baxter Witzke, holding her oldest child. The little girl at her father’s knee is probably Leona, Elizabeth’s youngest daughter. Standing in the back at the left is Elizabeth’s oldest son (and later rancher and historian), George. Next to George is either Daisy or Minnie Mae. Next to her on the far right is Olive, one of Elizabeth’s older daughters. I don’t know for sure where the family was living in 1891, although it may have been Trinidad, Colorado.

I just pulled this photo out of the box to look at it again. George didn’t mark many of these photos, but on the back of this one, in pencil, is the date “1890.”

1892 | Age 42. The Alonzo Baxter family does not appear in the 1892 Trinidad City Directory.

1894 | Age 44. 20 Dec. Elizabeth and Alonzo’s oldest son, George, marries Etta Pearl Hodge in Granada, Prowers County, Colorado.

1895 | Age 45. 4 Sep. Elizabeth and Alonzo’s daughter Olive marries Welby Fertig in Trinidad, Colorado. I don’t have a record of their wedding. The date and place is mentioned in Welby’s obituary. Here’s an early Trinidad connection.

Also, apparently Elizabeth and Alonzo’s daughter, Minnie Mae, graduated from high school [?] in Trinidad, Colorado. This is based on a photo of Minnie for 1895. The photo is a cabinet card marked Miller Studios, Trinidad, Colorado. Olive’s marriage and Minnie’s formal photograph are two clues that link the family to Trinidad as early as 1895. I question whether it was Minnie–or if it was a high school graduate photo. Minnie worked as an “ironer” in a laundry before she was married; she also worked in the Minnequa Hospital laundry in Pueblo in her early married years. Wouldn’t someone with a high school diploma have been able to get a better job?

At some point in his story, George stops mentioning his father Alonzo. I don’t know where the family was living or what Alonzo was doing between about 1890 and 1900. This photo was taken sometime between 1890 and 1900.

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Alonzo Baxter is standing in the middle of the photograph. The 1900 census says the family was living in Trinidad, Colorado and Alonzo was working as a “day laborer.”

1898 | Age 48. 3 April. Elizabeth and Alonzo’s daughter Daisy marries Alexis Jordan in Colfax, New Mexico.

1898 | Winter. From George Baxter, Part 56. The winter of 1898-1899 was the coldest in the recorded history of Prowers county. By January, cattle were dying by the thousands. It reached 30 below zero the last week in January. The ice on the ponds and river had thickened to a foot. “It was a winter fitting for Montana or North Dakota, and naturally caught the stockmen totally unprepared.” That winter put an end to big-scale ranching in the area.

1900 | Age 50. 8 June. U.S. Census for 1900, Trinidad City, Las Animas County, Colorado. Head of household: Alonzo H. H. Baxter, age 54, married 31 years, b. Indiana, occupation–Laborer, day; Elizabeth, wife, age 54, married 31 years, b. Indiana, 8 children, 7 living; Lena, daughter, age 16, single, b. Kansas; Eddie, son, age 12, b. Colorado. Both of the children are attending school. The family lived at 629 Baca St. In 2015, Googlemaps show 2 Baca Streets–east and west. There’s no designation about east or west in the census record. I think it would have been what is now West Baca, because Kansas Ave. and Mississippi St. are nearby in the census–and also nearby West Baca.

1902 | Age 52. Trinidad City Directory: Baxter, Alonzo H. H., mason, res 629 Baca. It’s interesting that “mason” is the occupation of Alonzo’s daughter’s husband, George Witzke. No one else in the family is mentioned. It looks as though, in this directory, unless a woman is a widow or she has an occupation separate from her husbands, then her name isn’t mentioned in the directory. Curiously, there’s an entry for Baxter, Annie, bds 629 Baca. Who is Annie Baxter?? I wonder if this might be an error? There’s another family of Baxter’s in Trinidad, and maybe they got Annie’s address wrong? Unknown.

For the same year, 1902, George G. Witzke (Emma, the oldest daughter’s husband) resides in Trinidad at 1030 Alta; his occupation: mason.

1902 | 3 Sep. Minnie Mae Baxter marries Thomas Galno Sanborn. Their marriage takes place in Raton, Colfax County, New Mexico. Why are these Baxter girls marrying in New Mexico? Minnie was 23 years old in 1902, so it wasn’t like she was underage. Tom Sanborn was from Pueblo–as was his family.

1903 | Age 53. Pueblo City Directory. Mrs. Elizabeth O Baxter, seamstress Crews-Beggs Dry Goods Co., rms 217 S Main. DID ELIZABETH RUN AWAY FROM HOME?
Baxter, Minnie, ironer City Laundry, bds 217 S Main. Did Minnie forget to have her name taken out of the city directory? Is this an error, or was Minnie already having trouble with her marriage? I think Minnie and Tom had a very up and down marriage–and then they eventually divorced and he married another woman. Tom Sanborn doesn’t show up in the 1903 city directory for Pueblo. This couple has been so hard to track!
Baxter, Leona, student, Central High School, bds 1604 Claremont av. Looking at Googlemaps, 1604 Claremont is just a house. Who was Leona boarding with? Was she there because it was near the school? Yes, this address is within a mile of Central High School. Why was Leona still a high school student in 1903? She was 20 years old.

1904 | Age 54. Trinidad City Directory: Alonzo H. H. Baxter–“moved to Pueblo, Colo.” Also Witzke George G, “moved to Pueblo, Colo.” Alonzo not found in the 1904 Pueblo Directory; Witzke, George G, moved to Pitkin, Colo.

1905 | Age 55. No “Baxter” in the Pueblo, Colo. City Directory. Where did they go? They’re also not found in Trinidad. Did they move to Pitkin with the Witzke family? There is no Colorado state census for 1905.

1906 | Age 56. Pueblo City Directory: Leona Baxter, clerk, Grand Union Tea Co., rms 221 1/2 N Main. Leona is the youngest child, but she was surely old enough to be on her own–she was 22 years old. Interesting that this is the same place where Leona’s mother and sister were boarding in 1903.

1907 | Age 57. No one in this Baxter family in the Trinidad city directory. None of them are found in the 1907 Pueblo city directory. Where are Elizabeth and Alonzo?

1907 | Summer. Here’s a group family photo of Elizabeth and Alonzo Baxter, their children, children’s spouses, and grandchildren.

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Elizabeth Robinson Baxter and Alonzo Baxter and Family, c.1907

I’ve done a lot of work on identifying the people in this photo. It originally came to me in the papers of George Baxter, son of Elizabeth and Alonzo Baxter. It seems to me like something of a miracle that the photo has survived. There was nothing written on the back of the photo to indicate who was who. Fortunately, I received this photo after doing years of work on this family; plus, I have other photos of people in this family that helped with identification. One of the big challenges of identifying people in this family photo is that Elizabeth had five daughters, and all of them looked at least somewhat alike, depending on their age. The younger they were, the more alike they looked.

The Place

I won’t go through how I identified all of these people–that’s an entire post in itself. I’m guessing that the photo was taken at the George Baxter ranch. I think that’s why the photo appears in his papers. I’m not aware of this photo being in any of the other paper or photo collections found in the extended family. I’ve seen numerous collections, and many of them have duplicate photos. This photo isn’t in any of the other collections I’ve seen.

The Occasion

There is a couple in this photograph who are “visitors.” By comparing the woman and the man with her to other photographs, I’ve been able to identify them as Elizabeth’s sister, Mary Robinson Mowreader and her husband, Marcus Mowreader. Mary was 10 years younger than her sister. 1907 was about the time that Mary and Marcus moved from Indiana to Oregon. It looks as though they stopped to visit the Baxter family on their way west.

The People

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The top row is Alonzo and Elizabeth on the left; Mary (Elizabeth’s sister) and her spouse on the right.

The middle row are six of the seven children of Elizabeth and Alonzo. The missing one is Leona, the youngest daughter. The children who are pictured, from oldest to youngest, left to right: Emma (my great grandmother), married to George Witzke; George (our historian), married to Etta Hodge; Olive, married to Welby Fertig; Daisy, married (1st) to Alex Jordan (later divorced and she married Thomas Jefferson); Minnie Mae, married to Tom Sanborn (they would also divorce); and Edward, the youngest. He never married.

Such a large family, one would think, would generate scores of grandchildren, but that wasn’t the case. Emma had the most with 10 children, George had three, and Olive had two. Daisy, Minnie Mae, Leona, and Edward never had children.

1908 | Age 58.

1909 | Age 59. Pueblo City Directory: Baxter, Mrs. Elizabeth O., dressmaker, 221 1/2 N Main, res same. [The “res same” simply means that she lives and works at the same address.] Has she been here all along, since 1903, and just didn’t show up in the directory for the years in between? Elizabeth’s daughter, Mrs. Daisy M Jordan, is living at the same address, working as a clerk in a department store. She’s either separated or divorced from her husband, Alex Jordan.

1909 | February. The Enlarged Homestead Act increased the maximum permissible homestead to 320 acres of nonirrigable land in parts of Colorado and other western states. George Baxter, in Part 64 of his history of Prowers County, says that the Enlarged Homestead Act was responsible for the complete transformation of the county. There were few people who could make a living on 160 acres of dry land. At the time the law was passed, there were an estimated million acres of public domain in Prowers county–land that belonged to the government and that had not as yet been filed upon or homesteaded. Within five years, all the public domain had disappeared except a few thousand acres that was not worth having.

1910 | Age 60. 23 April. I was really hoping the 1910 U.S. census would clear things up and show Alonzo and Elizabeth living together in post-ranching bliss. What I found instead was pretty much what the 1900-1910 decade of the phone directory records had indicated: Alonzo and Elizabeth were living apart.

Here’s Alonzo in La Junta, Otero County, Colorado, living with his daughter’s family, Olive and Welby Fertig. Olive and Welby’s two sons were part of the family, and future grandson-in-law was rooming with the family–Francis Beecham who would soon marry the oldest daughter (another Emma) of Alonzo’s oldest daughter, Emma Baxter Witzke. Elizabeth O. Baxter is nowhere to be found.

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Where was Elizabeth? I imagine that Elizabeth was living with one of her children, a prime candidate being her daughter, Daisy Jordan, in Pueblo. Alternately, she may have been living with her oldest son, Edward Baxter, who was single and 22 years old in 1910. His obituary (“Eddie Baxter) states that he started working for the Santa Fe (railroad) in 1911. He “left La Junta” in 1914 and railroaded in Utah and Arizona for 25 years. Edward, Edd, or Eddie Baxter ought to be in the 1910 census for La Junta, Colorado. However, I haven’t found him there–or anywhere else, for that matter.

So if not with Daisy or Edward (although she might have been–we haven’t proven that one way or another) then where?

Of the seven children, all adults in 1910, I can’t find three of them in the 1910 census. I also can’t find Elizabeth. The others are living in Pueblo, Carlton, or La Junta, Colorado. The ones I can’t find are Daisy Jordan, Minnie Sanborn, and Ed Baxter. Elizabeth might be living with any of them. It’s also possible that the census enumerator left her off and she’s living with Alonzo at Olive’s house.

1910 | Mrs. Daisy M Jordan, Pueblo City Directory, clk Williams-Smith D G Co, r 24 Block S. Daisy has moved from the apartment she was sharing with her mother in 1909; Mrs. Elizabeth O. Robinson doesn’t appear in the Pueblo directory for 1910.

1910 | Age 60. 24 Dec. Daisy Baxter Jordan sent a post card to Mrs. George Baxter, postmarked Vancouver, British Columbia. Daisy says that she sent their Christmas cards to Emma’s, since she thought they would be going to the wedding. Clearly Daisy is referring to the wedding of Emma Witzke and Frank Beecham in Vineland. “Why didn’t you go? asks Daisy.

1910 | Age 60. 25 Dec. Elizabeth’s granddaughter, Emma Witzke, married Francis Beacham in Vineland, Colorado. Who was living in Vineland? Vineland is a part of Pueblo County. It’s right outside Pueblo on Santa Fe (Hwy. 50). Wendell Fertig, my grandmother’s cousin, published a book about his World War II experiences: They Fought Alone, by John Keats. He wrote this inscription on the flyleaf of my grandmother’s copy of the book: “Dear Margie–When we were all together on the ranch near Vineland, [emphasis mine] we had no idea that all these things would happen did we.” Wendell was Olive’s son; Margie was Emma’s daughter. They were both grandchildren of Elizabeth and Alonzo.

Here’s the photo of Wendell and Margie, together in 1907. Was this taken at the “Vineland Ranch” that Wendell referred to?

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Wendell Fertig and Margie Witzke, about 1907. Two first cousins who used to play together at the ranch in Vineland.

Carlton, Colorado is where George Baxter had his ranch. I thought maybe the family said “Vineland” for the Carlton ranch, thinking the two towns might be close together. However, that’s clearly not the case. So who had the ranch in Vineland?

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I’ve dated this next photo sometime between 1909 and 1914, based on Elizabeth’s outfit. She was visiting her sister Mary in Oregon. Had she also been living there for awhile?

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Mrs. Elizabeth O. Baxter, visiting her sister Mary Mowreader who was living in Oregon (note the tree). I wish I could date this photo more precisely. Based on Elizabeth’s outfit, it was sometime between 1909 and 1914. Elizabeth would have been very aware of the latest fashions, since she made a living as a seamstress. No doubt she also made the hat.

1911 | Age 61. May. I found a post card in George Baxter’s papers from his wife, Etta, addressed to George: “Mr. George Baxter, Granada, Colo.” The card was mailed from La Junta, Colo. The message is written in cursive with pencil, so some of the writing is smudged. It’s also very small, so difficult to read:

Dear Husband, I think I will be home on Saturday on the [Stibb]. Ollie [the family nickname for Olive, George’s sister] is still in bed. But some better. Grandma is about to go straight [on?–a small word, like “in” or “on”] about me going home. if Ollie don’t get worse I will be home late night. Good Bye, Etta, [some message about meeting her that’s illegible] meet me at Koen, and if Ollie is worse will send you a letter.

“Grandma” in the letter is clearly Elizabeth. What is unclear is whether Elizabeth wants Etta to stay to continue helping during Olive’s illness, or whether she would prefer that Etta go back home. This is Olive Fertig, Elizabeth’s daughter. Alonzo Baxter is living in Olive’s home in the 1910 census. Maybe Elizabeth was living with Alonzo and Ollie’s family in 1910, and the enumerator left her off for some reason. Or maybe Elizabeth was visiting somewhere else, and they just didn’t include her. Clearly, though, Elizabeth is engaged in some way at Olive’s home, helping with her daughter’s illness. Olive was 37 years old and had two young boys, Wendell, age 11 and Claude, age 6.

1911 | Age 61. Dec 11. George Baxter wrote a postcard from Pueblo to his daughter Lela, age 12, who was at home on the ranch near Granada, Colo.

Well, Boots, I got to La Junta and stayed all night [illeg.]. Wendell and Claude met me at the train. Aunt Daisy’s husband is sick. [George is on his way to Ogden, Utah.] Tell mama hello. Good by, Papa

Since “Aunt Daisy” appears to be living separately from Alex Jordan, it’s curious that George would make the comment about “Aunt Daisy’s husband.”

1918 | Age 68. 12 Sept. Edward Baxter’s WWI draft registration card shows him living at 617 Carson St., Salt Lake, Utah. He’s a locomotive engineer, working for the Garfield Smelter. His “Nearest Relative” is listed as “Elizabeth Baxter (mother),” also living at 617 Carson St., Salt Lake, Utah. Was this just an extended visit? How long was Elizabeth in Utah?

c.1919 | Age 69. I don’t know when this photograph was taken. However, although Elizabeth is using crutches in this photograph, which to me indicates the possibility of a broken hip, since she seems never to have left off using the crutches from this point on, still she has not lost as much weight as in subsequent photos. Thus my reason for dating it earlier than the photos below. This photo comes from George Baxter’s papers.

Granny Baxter187

Elizabeth Baxter, c.1919

1919 | Age 69. Summer. I can’t date this photo specifically, but it looks to me like it was taken before the group photograph taken in Winter, 1919-1920. This photograph shows Elizabeth standing with her daughter Minnie and son Edward. Elizabeth is wearing the same dress and hat that she’s wearing in the photograph below, 1919-1920. She looks frail and looks like she’s definitely lost weight compared to just a few years previously. She isn’t using her crutch or crutches, but that may be because she’s hanging onto Minnie. I don’t know where the photograph was taken, but it was probably taken in La Junta, because it’s doubtful that Elizabeth would have been traveling at this point.

Ed_Minnie_GrannyB

c. Summer 1919. Edward Baxter, Minnie Baxter Sanborn, Elizabeth Robinson Baxter

1920 | Age 70. 30 January. Actually, Elizabeth’s correct age would be 69, but I’ve been recording for each particular year the age she would be on her next birthday. This 1920 census record makes me nuts–or more accurately, the way it’s been used on family trees makes me nuts. Elizabeth was living with Alonzo Baxter, and the two of them were living in La Junta with their daughter and her family, Olive and Welby Fertig–the same household where Alonzo was found in 1910.

The problem with this census is that the enumerator records Elizabeth’s name as “Condido.” This is clearly just a mistake on his part, since all of the details for Elizabeth (age, birth place, birth place of parents) fit Elizabeth’s biography. Also, there is someone named “Condido” eight lines up from Elizabeth. Clearly, this is just a mistake. However, some people on Ancestry.com have decided that this census is evidence that Alonzo had a new wife. {{rolls eyes}}

Was Elizabeth living in La Junta, Colorado when the 1920 census was taken, or was she just reported as living there? Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find Edward Baxter in the 1920 census to see if perhaps Elizabeth shows up there. If Elizabeth had broken her hip, as I speculate about the crutches, then she would probably be living in La Junta rather than Salt Lake, since in La Junta there would have been more family members to care for her.

1920_Alonzo_Condido

Alonzo and his “new wife,” Condido Baxter. We not only have to find the records, we have to use some reasonable discernment when we do. “Condido” is clearly Elizabeth Baxter, a mistake made by the enumerator.

This would be the last census where Elizabeth appears. She died on 1 Aug 1924. Her obituary,  found in the La Junta Daily Democrat, indicates she was ill from about 1921 onward, and the pictures we have of her at the end of her life document her decline.

1919-1920 | Age 70. Winter. This photograph shows that Elizabeth has lost weight since the photo taken in Oregon at her sister’s about 5 years previously. She is still using the crutch or crutches. I don’t know the occasion for this photograph, although I would guess it was someone’s wedding. It shows three generations of Baxter women flanked on the left by my handsome grandfather, Cecil Denton, the husband of Elizabeth’s granddaughter, Margie Witzke Denton and on the far right by a dapper-looking Alonzo Baxter. Emma Baxter Witzke, my great grandmother, Margie Witzke Denton, my grandmother, and Elizabeth Robinson Baxter, my 2nd great grandmother, are pictured in the center. I’m able to date the picture pretty specifically because of the little girl with the bad haircut in front of Cecil, her eyes on the smaller girl. That little girl is Cecil and Margie’s oldest daughter, Gladys, who was born in February of 1918.

Cecil_andMargie_LaJunta_1919

Winter of 1919-1920, La Junta, Colo. The adults, from left to right: Cecil Denton, my grandfather; Emma Baxter Witzke, my great grandmother; Margie Witzke Denton, my grandmother; Elizabeth Robinson Baxter, my 2nd great grandmother, and Alonzo Baxter, my 2nd great grandfather.

1921-1924 | Age 71-74. According to her obituary, at some point during these years Elizabeth went to live with her daughter, Minnie Baxter Sanborn. I don’t know where Minnie was living in the 1920 census. Why people in this family are so hard to find in the census records, I honestly don’t know, but they are. Minnie was probably renting the house where she was living and taking care of her mother at 402 Smithland Ave. in La Junta. She wasn’t living there in 1920, because a family named Bledsoe is shown living there in the 1920 census. The house is very small. Minnie’s husband, Tom Sanborn, worked for the railroad. There were plenty of railroad jobs in La Junta, so if they moved to La Junta from somewhere else so that Minnie could take care of her mother, it wouldn’t have been a problem for Tom to find a job. Did Alonzo Baxter continue to live with his daughter Olive? He might have, since he would have been only blocks away from Minnie’s house. Pictures of Minnie at this time suggest she was a take-charge, no-nonsense sort of person; I imagine she would have been a good choice for Elizabeth’s last caretaker.

1924 | Age 73. 1 Aug. Elizabeth Robinson Baxter, dead at age 73.

Death Came to Another Pioneer

Mrs. A.H.H. Baxter, another pioneer of the Arkansas Valley and one who came to this section more than a half century ago, passed away at 11 this morning in the home of her daughter, Mrs. T.G. Sanborn [Millie], 402 Smithland avenue.

Mrs. Baxter was taken ill nearly four years ago [so presumably sometime in 1921] and while at times she was able to be about the house, she continued to grow weaker until called ‘to the other shore’  despite the fact that everything possible was done on her behalf.

Deceased’s maiden name was Elizabeth O. Robinson and she was born in Jefferson county, Ind., and had attained the age of 73 years, 8 mos., and 2 days at the time of her demise.

She was united in marriage to A.H.H. Baxter in her home in Indiana on November 1, 1868, and the couple came to Colorado and settled at Grenada in the year 1870.

They came to La Junta about 20 years ago.

To this union there were born nine children,, two of whom died in infancy. Those surviving, together with the aged husband, are Mrs. G.G. Witzke, of Raton, N.M.; George Baxter, Grenada; Mrs. T.B. Jefferson, Salt Lake City, Utah; Mrs. W.F. Fertig, La Junta; Mrs. T.G. Sanborn, La Junta; Mrs. L.A. Glatzel, Canon City; Edward Baxter, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Deceased is also survived by 15 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

The remains were removed to the King Undertaking Parlors and the funeral will be held Monday, the exact hour of the services to be announced later.

“Called to the other shore” and “everything done on her behalf” sounds like boilerplate newspaper language written by the newspaper’s obituary writer–not the language of the Baxter family.

A copy of the funeral notice was found in George Baxter’s papers. This also was printed in the La Junta newspaper. Interesting to note that the services were conducted by the Rev. J.B. Gilmore of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. This is the only mention I’ve found about a specific church or denomination associated with the Alonzo Baxter family.

Elizabeth Baxter obit006

Elizabeth was buried at Fairview Cemetery in La Junta, Otero County, Colorado. She shares a gravestone with her husband, Alonzo Baxter, who died in 1930.

Research Questions

1. From his will, it’s clear that James Robinson, Elizabeth’s father, must have been a church-goer. What church did the family attend in Indiana? Did Alonzo and Elizabeth attend a church in Colorado?

2. Land records need to be accessed for Alonzo Baxter. Had he sold all of his land by 1900, or did he just leave the land and go to Trinidad, CO to find work?

3. Where was Elizabeth O Baxter living in the 1910 census?

4. I need to get a death record for Elizabeth from La Junta, Otero County, Colorado.

5. Was someone in the family a member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in La Junta? Was Elizabeth?

Notes and References

(1) “Pioneer Conditions in the Arkansas Valley,” by Daisy Baxter Jefferson. Colorado Magazine, 1947, Vol. 24, no. 3 (114-118).

(2) The History of Bent County, by Charles W. Bowman, published 1881.

(3) The Fort Holly Cemetery is located next to the Sisson Ditch (googlemaps, 2015–“Sisson Canal”). In Chapter 26 of his newspaper history of Prowers County, George Baxter writes that the name of the Sisson ditch in the Granada district was first known as the Baxter-Stover ditch, one that Alonzo Baxter and Mr. Stover built in the 1870s. When the land was sold in 1885, the name was changed to Sisson.

Note: From George Baxter’s history, Part 65: The town of Holly wasn’t incorporated until 1902. The land on which the town now stands was first homesteaded in 1873 by H. Cunningham when this was the east end of old Bent County.

Fort_Holly_cemMap

The red marker is Fort Holly Cemetery, located on what today is called on the map the Sisson Canal. The town of Holly is in the upper right corner.

(4) Prowers County began keeping birth records in 1891-1907, marriage records in 1889, and death records in 1891-1907. It began keeping land records in 1889, probate records in 1889, and court records in 1889. The county seat is Lamar.

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One Response to Researching Elizabeth O Robinson Baxter, Ancestor #3/52

  1. Pingback: 52 Ancestors: #3 of 52 – Elizabeth O Robinson Baxter (1850-1924) | The Shoebox Under the Bed

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