Family genealogy quest leads to Kansas cousins

The search for Vincent (Vince) Brown in family records began with genealogical information given to him by his grandmother Loree Brown shortly before her death in 1977.

Vince found it “exotic” that he included news that some of his grandmother’s ancestors had moved to Kansas. He wrote to a newspaper in Waverly, Kansas, where they settled from 1870 to 1900, asking for information.

Although he received four letters back, he didn’t act on the information until 2016-17, when he connected with relatives in Kansas on social media.

book published

This initial information from his grandmother led to a 350-page book he wrote and self-published with the help of his brother Steven Brown. The book details the family’s ancestry both in Morrow County and for the branch that migrated to Illinois and Kansas.

About half of the book contains census, birth, marriage and death records. The rest of the book contains personal data, including old letters, trial, divorce, and foreclosure records, as well as some photos and some of the authors’ theories about the lives of their ancestors.

At the center of the story is a farmer, the Browns’ third great-grandfather, Hethcote Chilcote. He fathered 12 children and buried two wives in Morrow County. He moved to Kansas in his early 60s with six of his adult children and their families. Chilcote took about $15,000 with him. Much of this came from the sale of his property in Morrow County to his eldest son, Denton.

Steven was intrigued by the mystery of the apparent disappearance of Hethcote’s first wife, Mary. She was the mother of Denton Chilcote, their great-great-grandfather.

There is no record of Mary after the 1850 census and they cannot find any record of her life or death after that. He wonders if Denton didn’t talk about it because of trauma or embarrassment.

“A serious difficulty for me is trying to imagine what their lives, their values ​​and their personalities were really like 150 years ago,” Steven said. “We see dry facts, when someone died or got married. It becomes difficult to extract from this data what was really going on at the time.

Having lost two wives in Ohio, Hethcote married a divorced Kansas mother with her own farm and six children.

Research in Kansas

Vince, whose career was at Battelle in Columbus, traveled with his brother Steven, a United Methodist minister, to Illinois where an ancestor Nicodemus Chilcote had settled. The two also made trips to Kansas to search for the family of their ancestor Hethcote.

“I was surprised to learn that our ancestor (Hethcote) had loaned his wife money at least four times,” Vince said. “And twice she signed mortgages with her prenuptial farm as collateral.”

He also found it surprising that Hethcote makes so many personal and business loans that it operates almost like a private bank. He wondered what kind of person was his ancestor who had done so many various business transactions.

In Kansas, they met relatives who were descendants of Hethcote and searched Waverly, Kansas records for property transfers and other information about the life of Hethcote and his children who left Morrow County.

Browns searched for evidence of why some family members migrated to Kansas and Illinois, while other family members, like their great-grandfather Denton, remained in County. Morrow.

Vince said the short answer is that they could buy land in Kansas for $20 an acre in 1870 and 1895 when they moved from Ohio. There were also many people living in Kansas who had emigrated from Ohio and told stories of golden opportunities out west.

Vince noted that Waverly has celebrated the “Ohio Days festival every year for about 125 years because so many Ohioans have gone to live there.

Search details

Vince said he started his family history research with land records. It puts a person in a place on a certain date. Online census records were also an important resource as they listed everyone living in a residence.

Mount Gilead Public Library genealogy volunteer Stan Sipe said Vince spent many hours in the library’s genealogy department. This is a good place to start researching families in Morrow County.

The library is a member of and patrons can use it at the main library and genealogy department. Patrons can also access Morrow County birth and death records in the Library’s Genealogy Department as well as the Morrow County Sentinel Records.

There’s a lot of stuff online now on and other records,” Sipe said.

The Mount Gilead Library Genealogy Department is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. .

Vince Brown can be contacted for copies or more information at [email protected]

Brothers Vincent left and Steven Brown at the grave of their ancestor Hethcote Chilcote, Jr. in Waverly Cemetery, Coffey County, Kansas.

Lynda Kelly Kistner with Vincent Brown at her home in Waverly, Kansas in 2021, where they reviewed a collection of letters and family artifacts with Vincent’s brother, Steven. They are direct descendants of Hethcote Chilcote.

This photo is believed to be a wedding portrait of Hethcote Chilcote Jr. and his wife from Kansas, Maria Jane Bethel Dodd. They married in 1887.

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