52 Ancestors #30: Rebecca A. Baldridge

This week’s entry veers a bit from the line of ancestors I’ve been focusing on, but my discovery about this ancestor is important nonetheless.
I have been trying to put together enough facts and sources about James C. “Jonah” Clymer and his life to complete a Missouri First Families application with the state genealogical society. (There’s a workshop next week during the annual meeting so I’m hoping to have most things together so I can get some advice about what’s missing or necessary in order to make my application.)
Anyway, earlier this week I had to spend some time filling in the gaps of Jonah Clymer’s life. And, one of those big gaps happened to be the death of his first wife, Rebecca.
I knew from family lore that he had been married twice and that his second wife and their children were my direct line of ancestors. However, I needed to prove (somehow) that Rebecca died; I’ve seen her grave marker but don’t have a rubbing or any idea of whether it still exists since it’s a small family plot on the edge of someone’s farm.
And, to make things even more challenging, I knew that the state of Missouri didn’t start recording deaths until after 1883 and my recollection is that Rebecca Clymer died in 1882.
So, I set off to the research library at the State Historical Society to see what I could find.
I looked through a transcript of birth and death records for Scott County, just in case, she might be listed. Nothing.
I then checked a series of newsletters for the Scott County Genealogical Society to see what might be listed there. Again, nothing.
But, then I found a book of cemetery records that listed burials in the Clymer cemetery, complete with driving directions to the cemetery site.
Rebecca Clymer is listed as being buried there, along with two of her infant children. Her gravestone notes her birth as Nov. 16, 1845.
She was born as Rebecca Baldridge, according to Tennessee marriage records I’ve also found. She and J.C. Clymer (alternate spelling of Climer) were married in 1869 in Weakley County, Tenn.
They were living in Commerce, Mo., for the 1870 census and have a four-month-old son, Henderson. (He died in 1872.) The couple had another child, Mollie E., born July 26, 1872, who died Nov. 28, 1872. Their third child, Lizzie was born in 1874, followed by Lizzie in 1877 and Caladona “Callie” in 1879.
She and James C. Clymer are still living in Commerce, Mo., as of the 1880 census. It appears that two of her nieces, Allice, 14, and Selina, 10, Finley also are living with them, along with her father, William Baldridge, age 64, and James Baldridge, 28, who is likely her brother.
Rebecca died June 25, 1882.


52 Ancestors #15: Aaron Lloyd Simpson

Aaron Lloyd Simpson 1896Aaron Lloyd Simpson was born on a farm in Grand Tower, Ill., the oldest son of Joseph Joel Simpson and Emma Chandler Simpson.

He lived on the family’s farm until the early 1900s, when the family moved across the river to Illmo in Scott County, Missouri. The family lived for years near Grays Point, Mo.

He registered for the draft on June 5, 1917, in Illmo, Mo., at age 21. This would have been about three months after the U.S. entered the war.

He was enlisted on April 26, 1918, at Benton, Mo., and served in France and Europe during the “Great War,” as it was known then. It appears that he served as a corporal-quartermaster corps in the Army in June 1919, according to copies of his military records.

I do know that he was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded in the war, likely suffering the after-effects of mustard gas somewhere in France. Copies of his enlistment record indicate that he was gassed on Aug. 8, 1918, but no location is listed. (Because I don’t know what unit or company he served with, I can’t be sure of the location or his mission and role.)

AL Simpson,France 1919

Aaron Lloyd Simpson, taken in France 1919.

The story goes that a lovely young French woman nursed him back to health and that he wanted to marry her but didn’t. I can’t be certain about how much of that story is factual, but I do know that he saved a photograph of a French woman because I found it recently among some old family photos and his Purple Heart tucked into a box. Perhaps she was his nurse.

Also in the box was a postcard he wrote on March 19, 1919, to Ruth Duckworth, who would later be his wife.

“Hello Ruth,

Best wishes from Sunny France. Why have I not heard from you in last six months?

Yours ever,


He was honorably discharged on July 17, 1919, at Camp Zachary Taylor, a military training camp in Louisville, Ky.

After the war, Lloyd returned home and attended Kansas State Agricultural College. (I’m hoping to find out soon if he graduated and get a copy of his transcript.) He saved a copy of his book rental receipt showing what amounts to pennies as the cost for an English workbook and text for the semester.

He and Ruth Duckworth were married Jan. 21, 1922, in Manhattan, Kansas. He was 26 at the time; she would have been 20 in the year of their marriage. I have a faint copy of their marriage certificate but I don’t believe it lists any witnesses. Since the wedding was in Kansas, I can only assume it was because he was finishing up a degree before they moved back to Missouri.

Lloyd, as he was known by most people, spent most of his life farming like his father before him. Even after he and Ruth moved into town, he still leased land down by the Mississippi River bottoms. Some of his farm ledgers survived, showing the price for the popcorn he sold to the movie theater in town and the loss of a mare or cow.

Ruth Simpson at ALS grave 1978

Amy Ruth Simpson at her husband’s grave marker, 1978.

He continued to farm until his last days. My memories of him include playing on the front porch at his house in Illmo, and waking him from naps on the daybed in the living room so he could join the family for Sunday lunch. I couldn’t have been more than 3 years old since he died in 1976.

He later moved to the Veterans Hospital in Poplar Bluff and died there Nov. 25, 1976. He is buried next to Ruth, who died a more than a decade later, in Lightner Cemetery in Scott City, Mo.


  • U.S. Census records, 1900-1940
  • U.S. World War I draft registration cards, Honorable Discharge papers, U.S. Army record, form No. 152-A.G.O., Edition, Aug. 16-17.
  • Marriage certificate, issued by State of Kansas.
  • Grave marker,  funeral cards
  • Personal papers, Aaron Lloyd Simpson

52 Ancestors #3: Emma Chandler Simpson

For at least part of her life, Emma Chandler lived by the land.

She could easily have been born into farm life in southern Illinois — I have no idea. But I do know she lived as a wife and mother on a farm at Grays Point, Mo., near the banks of the Mississippi River.

I imagine she worried, as most people would have who lived in the vicinity, about rising floodwaters in the spring. She was aware of the change of seasons, how much rain was needed to make the crops grow and how much would soak them too heavily. She likely canned her own food and put up enough to feed the family during the winter.

She and her husband, Joseph Joel Simpson, farmed in both Illinois and Missouri. He raised crops, notably popcorn, that was sold to the movie theater in Illmo. Some old family records show his logs for the farm, where he marked expenses and receipts.

I have no idea how much Emma was involved in the farm operations, but I imagine she knew a little about hard work. She married at age 23, and raised six children  — three boys and three girls.

She was born Oct. 3, 1872, at Grand Tower, Illinois, a small community situated on the banks of the Mississippi River. Census records show she lived there until at least 1900, moving to Missouri by 1910 to be counted there in the census.

My records search has found only census documents, which help fill out a bit of her story.

Emma Chandler Simpson

Emma Chandler Simpson, year unknown

She and Joseph Joel Simpson were married in 1894; their first child, Aaron Lloyd (my great-grandfather) was born a year later.  (His obituary states that the couple married in January 1895 and they moved to Missouri in 1910.)

Her last child, Robert, was born in 1908, making him just 12 years old when his mother died.

Emma died Wednesday, Dec. 29, 1920, at her home. Her obituary stated that she was age 48 years, 2 months and 25 days. Her obituary notice published the following day in the Jimplicute newspaper. In part it reads:

“The deceased was a most excellent woman, kind hearted charitable and loved by all who knew her, and her death caused sadness to many hearts.

The Jimplicute extends sincere sympathy.”

I’ve been unable to find an actual death certificate for Emma Chandler Simpson with the Missouri Archive. I might renew that search again because I’m curious about the cause of death since she was so young.

I’d like to share the story of her life one day with my daughter, Emma, who is named after this relative. And it would be nice to have a bit of back story to go with the photograph that’s been passed down for generations.

52 Ancestors Challenge #2: Flu pandemic of 1918

I’ve been preoccupied with getting my daughter a flu shot this week after seeing media reports of young people dying from the H1N1 strain.

This reminded me of a family story about a female relative who died young, leaving behind a young child and husband. For a long time, all I knew about Mary Elizabeth Chandler Schlifckin was that she was buried in Lightner Cemetery in Scott County, Mo., near her sister, Emma Chandler Simpson.

When we went to the cemeteries to visit graves, my grandfather would often share the stories of the deceased’s life. Of course, when telling the story of Mary Chandler Schlifckin, my grandfather mostly emphasized that she married a man of Russian and Jewish descent. He left out the part about how she likely died during the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Mary Chandler SchlifckinIt took me a long time to figure out that her death at age 27  is most likely linked to the pandemic. And a lot of that help came from those shaky leaves and hints on Ancestry.com. It turns out that those hints helped me find a cousin who knew much more about Mary Chandler’s story than I’d ever been told.

According to this cousin, who was the grandson of Mary’s other sister, Minnie Mae Barber, Mary died in 1918 during the influenza epidemic. She had an infant daughter, possibly born near the time of her death. The child’s father was Russian (my grandfather did have that detail right) and wanted to take the baby back to Russia.

Apparently, Mary’s family “hid” the infant from him. The baby girl, known as Mary, was later adopted by an aunt, whom I believe is May Manning Chandler, and raised in California.

One part of Mary Elizabeth Chandler’s life that I haven’t figured out is whether she also had a son, Boris Schlifckin, Jr. The last census records that I can find for her indicate she was still unmarried and living with her parents at age 19. She died a short eight years later.

This story reminds me of the powerful ties families have — I’m sure that one of the reasons I even know about Mary Chandler is because her sister, Emma, wanted to keep her memory alive. Emma was the oldest child and first daughter in the family and Mary was the last, so I can only guess there was a strong connection between them. Emma Chandler Simpson, my great-grandfather’s mother, had her first son about four years after Mary was born.

I don’t know how much truth there is to the part of this story about the family hiding the baby but I recognize how sensitive the Chandler family might have been to losing connection to this child. Mary’s death came during the height of the influenza pandemic and at the close of the Great War as it was often called then. Grief abounded.

My great-grandfather —  Emma’s son and Mary Chandler’s nephew — fought in France during World War I and was gassed. His family received an initial telegram telling them he had died. I can empathize with their fear and loss at Mary’s death and the thought of losing their only connection to her — an infant daughter — so shortly after what they had believed to be another casualty.

I know little about the baby’s life or what happened to

Getting started — a bit later than I expected

I meant to begin posting on this blog on Feb. 1 as part of the Family History Writing Challenge, but I’m a bit behind.I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to catch up, so I’m just going to move on and begin. I don’t have a clear outline in mind, but hope to be able to organize my thoughts and begin making sense of what geneaology research I’ve already completed.

JC Clymer family, 1900

JC Clymer family, circa 1900, in Commerce, Mo.

I don’t remember exactly when I got interested in learning more about my family history. Maybe it was sometime in fifth grade or so when I had to complete a family tree as part of a class project. Maybe it was sparked by the presence of the photograph at the left. This picture of J.C.  and Maggie Jane Clymer and their family used to hang in the hallway of my childhood home. It was accompanied by a few other family photos of relatives from years gone by.

J.C. “Jonah” and Maggie Jane Clymer, or Mam and Pap as my grandfather called them, are my great-great-great-grandparents. Although my grandfather, Harold Simpson, considered them more as grandparents than great-grandparents, they actually are the grandparents of his mother, Amy Ruth Duckworth Simpson, who is my great-grandmother.

Pictured here is the family: J.C. and Maggie (seated). I believe that my great-grandmother, Amy Ruth Duckworth, is the child on Maggie’s lap. Her mother, Bessie, is in the center. The toddler on J.C. lap would likely be Margaret or Mag, as she was known in the family. The boys are James, Herman and John Logan. Edna would be born about three years later.

I remember lots of times my grandfather would tell stories about going to see Mam and Pap on the farm. Yet, there are lots of facts about their life that I don’t know. I’ve done enough research to know that J.C. was married twice; Maggie is his second wife. His first wife and several of his children died earlier and are buried in a family plot on a farm between Kelso, Mo., and Commerce, Mo.

I’m sure to be posting more photos and stories about individual people whose lineage I have researched as this project continues.

And I’ll likely be posting more questions and research puzzles I’ve yet to solve so stay tuned.