Newspapers Solve Family Mystery – Lewis M. Stufflebean, 1837-1937

The family of John Stufflebean and Matilda Peavler of Linn County, Missouri was fractured by the Civil War when John died in Nashville, Tennessee in 1864. Their children were enumerated in their own household with teenage sister Mary as the head of their household in 1870.

Lewis Michael Stufflebean was the fifth of the eight children born to John and Matilda. I had collected basic information about the family. Lewis was born on 22 August 1857 in North Salem, Linn County, Missouri. He died on 14 March 1937, also in North Salem and he is thought to be buried in North Salem Cemetery, although there is no gravestone for him there.

Lewis is likely the “L. Stufflebeam” in the household of Jno. G. Peavler in the 1880 census of Colusa County, California. Lewis’s mother was a Peavler and he apparently lived with an aunt and uncle for a while.

Lewis apparently returned to Linn County, Missouri to  marry Elizabeth J. Cornett there on 29 March 1883. She was the daughter of Jefferson Cornett and Nancy Ann Bennett. He may only have returned to Missouri to marry, as their first two children were born in California.

Lewis and Elizabeth had eight children, although only five of them survived to be listed in any census.

1. Allie Edith, born 17 December 1884, Colusa Co., CA; died 4 March 1936, Brookfield, Linn, MO. She married John Jimmerson.
2. Bertha May, born 21 June 1886, Colusa Co., CA; died 1954, Pueblo, CO. She married Marion Douglas Robison on 4 January 1905, Linn County, MO.

There may be a family Bible record around somewhere because several online trees include these three children. Census data does support the death of three children before 1900.

3. Lawrence Fredrick, born 30 April 1888; died 31 August 1890
4. Florence R., born and died on 6 April 1890
5. Truman Jefferson, born 8 February 1893; died 30 September 1899

Next, from census records:

6. Amy Belle, born 17 February 1896, Linn County, MO; died 19 July 1923, Visalia, Tulare, CA. She married George Dunkle, 21 June 1914, Laclede, Linn, MO.
7. Ethel Ada, born 22 September 1900, Linn County, MO; died 30 January 1990, Brookfield, Linn, MO. She married Frank Ambrose King, 10 April 1917, Laclede, Linn, MO.
8. Elsie Hope, born 19 October 1904, Linn Co., MO; died 30 October 1989. She married Wardie L. Wilson, on 4 June 1921, Chillicothe, Livingston, MO.

Okay, so where is the mystery here? I have Lewis with birth and death date, marriage record and quite complete information for his children. Well, the mystery was with Lewis’s wife, Elizabeth J. Cornett. Since Lewis isn’t my line, I never delved too deeply into this family and while I had a birth year of about 1861 for Elizabeth, I had no death date or burial place for her.

I last have the family in the 1910 census in Laclede. Elizabeth’s father, Jefferson Cornett, is living with them.

By 1920, L.M. Stufflebean was a gardener living in Noble, Cleveland, Oklahoma. He may have gone there because his brother, John Henry, lived there with his family. He is listed as a widower.

I mentioned a few days ago that I have been checking Chronicling America for newspaper tidbits for various family names. I was checking Missouri newspapers for “Stufflebean” and “Stufflebeam” and up came a 1909 article in The Laclede Blade for L.M. Stufflebean. This article was the push to make me look deeper for Elizabeth Cornett Stufflebean. Instead of looking for her death record, I looked in a totally new direction.

LewisMStufflebeanSeparation1909
L.M. Stufflebean Notice of Separation

With this new information, although the family was intact in the 1910 census, Lewis and Elizabeth were having marital difficulties. I have seen more than once where divorced couples report on the census that they are married or widowed, when they are neither.

Now, I was searching for a marriage record for Elizabeth Cornett Stufflebean between 1910-1920. (I didn’t look for a divorce record because those aren’t readily available online.)

Lewis and Elizabeth had divorced sometime after the 1910 census. On 3 September 1913, in Chillicothe, Livingston County, Missouri, Elizabeth Stufflebean and George Moran, both of Laclede, MO, were married.

A check in Missouri Digital Heritage brought up her death certificate:

ElizCornettStufflebeanMoranDeathCert_Page_1
Elizabeth J. Cornett Stufflebean Moran
Death Certificate, 1935

Elizabeth died in Blue Mound, Livingston County, Missouri. So, not only was the mystery of her death date and place solved, but the newspaper “Notice of Separation” painted a much more personal picture of the life of this family in the early 1900’s.

You never know what you might find in the newspaper.

2 thoughts on “Newspapers Solve Family Mystery – Lewis M. Stufflebean, 1837-1937”

  1. The Notice of Separation was a wonderful find.
    I’ve used the Missouri Digital Heritage often for collateral lines but it is hard to find females whose surnames have changed. WV has a similar database; it is indexed on FamilySearch which makes it easier use spouse and parents as search criteria.

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