52 Ancestors: THE START, JOHN DALLAS NEWTON
John Dallas Newton is my start on my 52 Ancestors Challenge. He is not an ancestor … he isn’t even a blood relative, being the husband of the sister of my great grandmother, although his descendants are my cousins. Why start with him? Maybe a better question is … why not? So, here we go!
The Early Years
John Dallas Newton, born 29 May 1848, was the son of John Wiley Newton and Lucy A. Frisbie. His parents were both born in Vermont, both with New England ancestors well into the 1600s. They were married on 9 Nov 1842 in Tinmouth, Rutland, Vermont. He seems to have been their oldest child, as he is the only child on the 1850 census, where he is listed as a two year old. Since they had been married for over five years at the time of his birth, they may well have had previous children who died young.
On 1 Mar 1848, three months before the birth of John Dallas, his father was issued a patent for the N/2 NW/4 Section 3, Township 2 North, Range 17 East, a total of 84.01 acres of land. This land was apparently sold or traded to his brother-in-law, Allen/Alvin Goodspeed, the husband of his sister, Lucy, as the 1873 plat map of Geneva Township shows his land as the S/2 NE/4 and the S/2 NW/4 NE/4 of Section 3 and the SW/4 NW/4 of Section 2, Township 2 North, Range 17 East, approximately 140 acres, per the map below:
1873 Map of Geneva Township, Walworth County, Wisconsin: John W. Newton land in Sections 2 and 3, Township 2 North, Range 17 East
At the time of his death, John Wiley owned 58 ½ acres of land, listed in the inventory of his estate as the SW/4 NE/4 and the S/2 NW/4 NE/4 Section 3, Township 2 North, Range 17 East. The 1873 map shows a house in the southeast corner of the SW/4 NE/4 of Section 3. This is the only house shown on any land that he owned, at least in 1873, so is probably the house that John Dallas and his siblings grew up in.
John Dallas Newton seems to have usually gone by J.D. or J. Dallas and most censuses list him as Dallas, so I am going to refer to him as Dallas. I was initially fascinated by him because of his name. How many couples, who were from Vermont, living in Wisconsin, in 1848, would name a child Dallas? My interest was further peaked when I was told that he was either murdered or died in a gunfight.
He was born in Wisconsin, probably in Geneva Township, Walworth County, as that is where his parents were living in 1850 and where his father had patented land shortly before his birth.
In 1850, his father was 30 years old, a farmer, with real estate valued at $2,000; his mother was 26. Also in the household were Stephen Wyman, age 56, and Lydia Wyman, age 53. I do not know their connection and they are beyond the scope of this. Enumerated next to John Wiley was Allen [sic] Goodspeed, John’s brother-in-law. In 1873, Alvin Goodspeed’s estate was the owner of John’s patented land. Also in the household of Alvin and Lucy in 1850 was Polly Newton, the mother of John Wiley and Lucy and the grandmother of Dallas.
1850 U.S. Federal Census: John W. Newton, Geneva Township, Walworth County, Wisconsin
By 1860, Dallas is 12 years old and has three brothers, Augustus, age 9, George, age 6, and Franklin, age 3. The family is still living in Geneva Township and appears to be prospering. His father is still farming, now with real estate valued at $6,000 and personal property of $2,000. Also in the household are two domestics … 20 year old females, one from England and one from Ireland. There are also four farm hands, one being George Wyman, the son of the couple from the 1850 census, so possibly they were a domestic and a farm hand, as well. Stephen and Lydia Wyman have moved on to Minnesota.
Alvin and Lucy Goodspeed are still in the neighborhood (household 689, family 40), probably still on the adjoining property … the gap being created by the route of the census taker. Grandmother Polly has moved to Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin and is living with her widowed daughter Sarah Pier.
1860 U.S. Federal Census: John W. Newton, Geneva Township, Walworth County, Wisconsin
Romance and Heartbreak
Dallas married on 30 Nov 1869, in Walworth County, to Angelia Francina Ross, the marriage being recorded in Volume 3, page 40. Angelia was born 23 Apr 1849, in Geneva, the daughter of George Ross and Clarinda Gray. In 1870, the young couple are living with his parents. Also in the household are his brothers, George, age 17, Frank, age 13, his sister, Mary, age 7, and two 16 year old boys, listed as farm hands. Both Dallas and George are listed as farmers, probably farming with their father. Brother, Harris Augustus, age 19, is not in the household. I have been unable to find him on an 1870 census; however, he does show up later.
Alvin and Lucy Goodspeed have moved into Geneva Village (household 34, family 31), although they still own the land next to John Wiley. Alvin will die on 31 Dec 1870. Grandmother Polly is still living with daughter, Sarah Pier. They are also now in Geneva Village (household 58, family 54).
1870 U.S. Federal census: John Newton, Geneva Township, Walworth County, Wisconson
A daughter, Blanche Angelia Newton, was born to Dallas and Angelia on 10 Oct 1870 in Elkhorn, Walworth County. Angelia died 29 Sep 1872 at Geneva and is buried in the North Geneva Cemetery in Como, Walworth County, Wisconsin. Since she died a scant two weeks short of two years after the birth of their daughter, Blanche, it seems a valid assumption that she died in childbirth and that the baby died, as well.
A New Beginning
The next record I have of Dallas is his marriage in Colorado in 1876 to Martha Baker, the sister of my great grandmother, Mary Nettie (Baker) Dean. I don’t know where he was during the three and a half years between the death of his wife in Wisconsin and this marriage. How or why did he go to Colorado? Did he go alone? Were there intermediate stops along the way? Possibly he was so bereft by the loss of his wife that he just wanted to start over in a new place. Or maybe it was the lure of “riches” or adventure in the West.
The driving of the golden spike in Utah on 10 May 1869 connected the existing eastern rail network to the new Transcontinental Railroad at Omaha/Council Bluffs, making it possible for Dallas to have traveled by rail from Chicago to Denver. It would have been a journey of several days. First class was “luxurious”; however, if he traveled third class, he would have been sitting on a hard wooden bench … still preferable to the several months of walking alongside a Conestoga wagon of less than a decade earlier. Or maybe he did walk alongside a wagon or rode a horse or had a buggy and a team of horses.
It seems certain that he did not take his daughter, Blanche, with him. She would have been five at the most and possibly only two at the time he left Wisconsin. In 1880, nine year old Blanche is living with her maternal grandparents in Walworth County. By 1900, she is married with children and living in a Chicago suburb. She appears to have spent the rest of her life in the Chicago area … a mere 90 miles from Walworth County. So, in all likelihood, she remained in Walworth County, probably with her maternal grandparents, from the time of her mother’s death, until her marriage.
Life in Colorado
Regardless of how he got there and with whom, Dallas was in Jefferson County, Colorado, on 16 Apr 1876, when he married Mattie A. Baker. A transcription of the record of the marriage reads, as follows:
J. D. Newton of Bijou Bason [sic], Filbert [sic] County to Mattie A. Baker of Creswell on 16 Apr 1876 at Creswell in presence of Ruben B. Hayward and Thompson Warren; by A. F. Post, Justice of the Peace.
I have done some research on the witnesses and will include that information when I write about Mattie.
According to the “Atlas of Colorado Ghost Towns”, by Leanne C. Boyd and H. Glenn Carson, Bijou Basin was in Elbert County, near the El Paso County line, had a rural post office from 1869 to 1907 and had a population of 63 in 1887.
1887 Map of Elbert County, Colorado
Creswell was in Jefferson County, close to Beaver Brook, north of Bergen Park, on 1887 maps.
1887 Map of Jefferson County, Colorado
One wonders how the two of them got together. It’s about ninety miles between the two places; according to Google maps an hour and forty-five minute drive today, some of it through fairly rugged country even now.
Current Google map: Bijou Basin to Bergen Park
Bijou Basin is to the east of I-25, pretty much straight east of Monument. It’s fairly flat country and more likely to have been cattle or sheep ranching than mining. Creswell is west of Denver, almost to Clear Creek County, between Highway 40 and Highway 6, west of, and not far from, Lookout Mountain, Buffalo Bill’s grave and the Buffalo Overlook, definitely mountainous and mining country. Neither town exists today, but there is a Bijou Basin Ranch that raises registered, full-blooded Tibetan yaks and harvests yak fiber that is made into yarn that they sell (www.bijoubasinranch.com). At one time, there was a Creswell mine, but it seems to have been several miles from the location of the town, based on the 1887 map.
The first child born to Dallas and Mattie was William Dallas Newton, born in 1877 in Colorado, followed by George Augusta Newton in 1880 in Nevada. Before the birth of baby number three, daughter, Avis Newton, in 1882, the family had relocated to Wallace County, Kansas, where Frank T. Newton and Fred Irvin Newton were born in 1884 and 1885 respectively. The family does not appear on the 1880 census. I will speculate on that when I write about Mattie.
The next mention of Dallas that I have found is in an article from the Castle Rock (CO) Journal of 27 Aug 1884, in a column entitled Elbert County Interest, which reads as follows:
Mining interests are receiving much attention in section 33, southeast of McCracken’s. The Ready claim has a shaft down sixteen feet, 4×6. Water has been struck, which is flowing strong. Messrs. G. M. Tapper, G. W. Kimberly, Fred Kimberly, J. M. Copeland, Mat Ritcher, J. D. Newton, W. W. Cousins and John M. Lappe are interested in this claim.
There is no proof that this is “our” Dallas Newton; however, while there are unrelated Newtons in Colorado Springs, I have found none with these initials and Dallas frequently did use his initials. The argument against this being him is that he was already in Kansas before this date. He may well have maintained relations or business interests in Colorado, though. There is no indication as to what they were looking for. There doesn’t appear to have ever been gold or silver found in Elbert County. There were at one time 114 coal leases there; all of them now closed.
The same article also relates:
The recent sale by Haskel Willard of some 50,000 pounds of wool and 1,000 fat mutton sheep attracts attention to his abilities as a business man.
So it appears there were many more sheep than ore deposits in Elbert County, a fact that may play into Mattie’s story.
On to Kansas
The establishment of Fort Wallace and the passing of the Union Pacific Railroad (originally the Kansas Pacific Railroad) through the area led, in 1868, to Wallace County, Kansas being the first county created along the Colorado border. It currently has the second lowest population of any county in Kansas. Greeley County, which borders it on the south has the lowest. Wallace County is home to Mount Sunflower, the highest point in Kansas (4,039 feet). It is one of only four Kansas counties to use Mountain Time, rather than Central. The population of the town of Wallace in 1880 was 173; in 2010 it was 57. Wallace County population in 1880 was 686; in 2010 it was 1485.
Fort Wallace (1865-1882), the site of which was just east of the town of Wallace, was a U.S. Cavalry fort built to help defend settlers against Cheyenne and Sioux raids. It was built as a four-company post and could accommodate at the most 500 men. The garrison was usually low because troops were kept constantly moving, acting as escorts for activities in the area. They provided protection for stage coaches, wagon trains, railroad surveyors and laborers, and settlers. It was the most western post in Kansas along the Smoky Hill trail and from 1865 to 1878 bore the brunt of the hostile Indian activity in the state. All that remains today is the cemetery, but for a period of over a decade Fort Wallace was one of the most important military outposts on the frontier.
Kansas Railroads in 1878
Wallace was a typical frontier town with its dance halls, gambling halls, cowboys and ruffians. In 1873, the Texas cattle trade began using Wallace as a shipping point. It was full of speculators and town lots sold and resold as quickly as the paperwork could be made out.
According to his obituary, Dallas was “an old resident of the frontier and had lived in this vicinity before the new settlement began.” Also, “he came among the first to Wallace and put in a livery barn”. The first post office in Wallace was established in August 1872, although the town began with the establishment of Fort Wallace, a decade earlier.
In a photograph of the City of Wallace before 1870, the livery stable is the second building on the left. If Dallas established the first livery stable in Wallace, which seems to be the case based on his obituary, this must be his business.
City of Wallace, Kansas before 1870
This seems to indicate that Dallas may have come to Kansas prior to the death of Angelia. Did he come before their marriage, possibly with brother, Harris, and establish the livery business? Harris is missing from the 1870 census. Did he stay in Kansas and mind the livery business, while Dallas returned to Wisconsin to marry Angelia? Did he intend to bring her to settle in Kansas?
In 1880, brother Harris is living in Ruby City, Gunnison County, Colorado and working as a butcher. He was back in Walworth County, Wisconsin on 14 Feb 1882, when he married Rosa Philinda Wales, daughter of Charles Wales and Eliza Abigail Crandall. Rosa gave birth to a daughter in Manning, Carroll County, Iowa, who was born and died on 6 May 1884. Rosa died four days later. She and the baby are buried in Manning, although there is a tombstone for her in North Geneva Cemetery, Como, Walworth County, Wisconsin.
On 7 Apr 1887, Harris was in Wallace to attend his brother’s funeral. The newspaper at that time called him, “of Kansas City”. He married his second wife, Susan, and their two children were born in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri in 1887 and 1891. In 1900, the family was in Denver and Harris was a money lender and broker. In 1910, they were still in Denver, where Harris (Henry on the census) was a pawn broker. In 1920, Susan is living with their son, Henry, in Denver. She is marked as married, but Harris is not in the household. Harris died 31 Dec 1926 in Portland, Multnomah, Oregon and is buried in North Geneva Cemetery, Como, Walworth County, Wisconsin.
Dallas’ obituary also says, “he had however gone to McCook, Neb., when that place started, and lived there for some time”. McCook was platted in 1882, when the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad was extended to that point. Mattie was having a baby in Wallace in 1882. Did she stay in Wallace, have a baby, while taking care of a toddler and a four year old … and tend to the livery business, while Dallas went to McCook?
Dallas was the proprietor of the Wallace Livery, Feed & Sale Stable, in the town of Wallace, as seen in his ad in the Wallace County Register.
He owned no land in Wallace County (or anywhere else that I have been able to find). Whether the family lived above or behind the stable, in a rented house in town or even on a rented farm is probably unknowable.
Dallas fell ill on Monday, 4 Apr 1887, after “being on the street on Sunday … in his usual state of robust health.” “He lingered until noon on Tuesday when he quietly passed away, surrounded by his family and friends.” He was 39 years old. His funeral “took place on Thursday, and the remains were followed to the old Fort cemetery by a long line of carriages.”
Wallace County Register, Saturday, April 9, 1887
Transcription: THE VICTORY OF DEATH. Died, on Tuesday, April 5th, at noon, John D. Newton, in the 39th year of his age. He was on the street on Sunday, and had been in his usual state of robust health. On Monday he was taken ill and rapidly grew worse until midnight when he was noticed to be sinking. He lingered until noon on Tuesday when he quietly passed away, surrounded by his family and friends. Mr. Newton was an old resident of the frontier and had lived in this vicinity before the new settlement began. He had however gone to McCook, Neb., when that place started, and lived there for some time. He came among the first to Wallace and put in a livery barn. Mr. Newton was a wideawake, active man, a good trader and well qualified to make a living on the frontier. He leaves a wife and five small children to mourn his untimely taking off. Mrs. Newton is an excellent, hard working woman, and if permitted, will make a good living for herself and children. She has born more than her share of the labor and hardship incident to frontier life and well knows what hard work and close living mean. The funeral of J. D. Newton took place on Thursday, and the remains were followed to the old Fort cemetery by a long line of carriages. The hearty sympathy of the whole community goes out to the widow and the fatherless ones.
There is no marker for Dallas in either the Fort Cemetery or the town cemetery, which adjoins it. The 80 soldiers who were buried at the Fort cemetery were removed to the Fort Leavenworth cemetery. The exhumation was completed by the end of May, 1886. The graves of the army scouts who were not officially a part of the military, together with the civilian graves, remain at the old post cemetery. Dallas was buried after the removal of the soldiers, but his obituary indicates that he was buried at the Fort cemetery, not at the adjacent town cemetery. His name and dates are engraved on a cenotaph in North Geneva Cemetery, Como, Walworth County, Wisconsin.
Entrance to Wallace Cemetery, Wallace County, Kansas; Fort Wallace Cemetery is on the left of the road; Wallace Town Cemetery is on the right; photo taken by Nancy Crane, 28 Sep 2017
Fort Wallace Cemetery, Wallace County, Kansas; photo taken by Nancy Crane, 28 Sep 2017
An Affidavit of Death was filed 23 Dec 1887, by Mattie Newton, wife of the deceased.
Affidavit of Death
An Application for Letters of Administration was filed the same day, by Mattie Newton. The estimated value of his personal estate was one thousand dollars. She offered bond in the sum of two thousand dollars, with S. L. Wilson and Charles Edwards as sureties.
Application for Letters of Administration
Letters of Administration were granted and she took the Oath of Administratrix. Samuel A. Chisum and Will McQuistion were appointed to appraise the inventory of the estate and S. A. Chisum signed the Oath of Appraisers.
The Notice of Appointment – Administratrix was published in the Wallace County Register for three weeks, beginning 7 Jan 1888, the last being published 21 Jan 1888.
Copy of Notice and Affidavit of Publication
The bond was taken and approved by W. L. Dawson, Probate Judge, on 23 Feb 1888.
There is an inventory form; however, nothing is listed on it.
John Wiley Newton, the father of Dallas, died intestate on 6 Oct 1889. In the Petition for Letters of Administration presented to the Walworth County, Wisconsin Probate Court on 15 Oct 1889, his wife, Lucy A., lists the following surviving heirs: Lucy A. Newton (his wife), Harris A. Newton, Geo F. Newton, Frank A. Newton, Mary L. Newton (his children all of age), Blanch A. Newton, Willie D. Newton, George Newton, Gelia Avis Newton, John Francis Newton, Fred Newton all minor children of John Dallas Newton deceased who was son of John Willie [sic] Newton.
Petition for Letters of Administration – John Wiley Newton
The Children of Dallas Newton
The child of John Dallas Newton and his first wife, Angelia Francina Ross was:
Blanche Angelia Newton, b. 10 Oct 1870, d. 31 May 1929
The children of John Dallas Newton and his second wife, Martha Baker, were:
William Dallas Newton, b. 17 Dec 1877, d. 9 Jan 1919
George Augusta Newton, b. 28 Jul 1880, d. 18 Sep 1954
Avis Newton, b. 27 Jul 1882, d. 8 Feb 1948
Frank T. Newton, b. 16 Feb 1884, d. 26 Aug 1961
Fred Irwin Newton, b. 14 Dec 1885, d. 21 May 1952
There are many unanswered questions … maybe more than have been answered. I still wonder about his name, but it seems certain that Dallas was not murdered, nor did he die in a gunfight.
I have a DNA match with a descendant of Dallas and Mattie and have been in touch with another descendant. I would love to hear from any of his descendants or relatives and maybe be able to fill in some of the missing years.
So, here is the START! Thank you Amy Johnson Crow and Roberta Estes for the inspiration and Devon Lee for the confidence to try.