Friday, February 7, 2020

2020 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 5: "So Far Away" - George Schofield and Mary Dotson

In last week's #52Ancestors post, I told you about the grandparents and great-grandparents that I had close to home; in one case, they were right next door! Most of my ancestors stayed within a 200-mile radius of my hometown of Charleston, West Virginia after immigrating to the US, but the subjects of this week's "So Far Away" themed post ended up living 2,245 miles (yes, you read that right: two thousand, two hundred forty-five miles) from Charleston: Baker City, Oregon.

George and Mary Schofield, C. 1893.
Taken in Stanberry, MO.
George Elliot Schofield and Mary Frances Dotson Schofield, my third-great-grandparents, were pioneers who traveled the famous Oregon Trail in search of owning their own land and building a new life. George and Mary are what I like to call "recently acquired ancestors," meaning that I only recently found out that I am descended from them. The story of how I found that their son, Joseph Elliot Schofield, was my Grandma Quinn's father was the topic of my very first blog post, and my inspiration for founding the Rooted Heritage Genealogy blog.

George was born on 10 October 1837 in Green County, Tennessee, to Daniel and Elizabeth Olinger Schofield. Not many details or records survive from George's childhood and young adult years, but we pick up the trail again in Laclede County, Missouri on 14 September 1871, when George married Mary Frances Dotson, daughter of James Monroe Dotson and Mary Polly Sims. Mary was born on 20 July 1853 in Tennessee, but her family was living in Laclede Co., MO before her 7th birthday.

When we next hear of the Schofield family in the 1880 census, they are living in Wise County, Texas. This means that they would have made a trip of about 525 miles southwest, through the entire length of Oklahoma and into northern Texas, taking approximately 2-3 weeks. They now have 4 children: James and Martha, who were born in Missouri, and Eugenia and George Jr., who were born in Texas.

Traditional route of the Oregon Trail.
It is impossible to know exactly where they were in 1890 due to the lack of 1890 census records, but when we see them again in the 1900 census they are living on their homestead in the Macham district of Malheur County, Oregon. We cannot know exactly when they made the move to Oregon or how long it took them to get there, but the birthplaces of their children provide us with some clues. In 1900 the children living with George and Mary were George Jr., 20, born in Texas; Ruth, 15, and Joseph, 14, born in Arkansas; Oliver, 10, and Florence, 7, born in Colorado, and finally Gilbert, 2, born in Oregon. This would mean that they had to be in Arkansas by 1885, in Colorado by 1890, and in Oregon by 1898. The most difficult part of the journey would undoubtedly have been the part between Colorado and Oregon, since this is where they would have had to cross the rough terrain of the Rocky Mountains. The good news is that the Schofield family would have been one of the last to use the original trail, so by the time they made the trip there were well-built roads and frequent stopping points for most of the journey.

Homestead house of George and Mary Schofield in Oregon,
with several of their descendants in the yard.
On 25 November 1902, the track of land in Malheur County, Oregon was officially patented to George Schofield by the United States Government. It would appear that they did not stay there long, however. In 1910 the Schofields were living in Wallowa County, Oregon, and in 1920 they had finally settled in Baker City, Oregon. George passed away on 16 January 1920, and Mary followed nearly five years later on Christmas Eve of 1924.

I've only known that George and Mary are my ancestors for about two and a half years, so unfortunately I never got to hear stories from older relatives about the many adventures of Grandpa George and Grandma Mary, and why they always seemed to have a bit of wanderlust in their blood. Why did they move so frequently? Were they trying to acquire land that was less expensive, or more fertile? Did they like the excitement of picking up and starting over again? Could they just never find a place that felt like home? We may never know for sure. However, I think it's safe to say for them, the journey was always more exciting than the destination.

~ ~ ~

My descent from George and Mary Dotson Schofield is as follows:

George E. Schofield 1837-1920
3rd great-grandfather

Joseph Elliot Schofield 1887-1951
Son of George E. Schofield

Clara May Schofield 1906-1989
Daughter of Joseph Elliot Schofield

Arthur Ray "Jack" Quinn 1939-1986
Son of Clara May Schofield

Lora M. Quinn 1961-
Daughter of Arthur Ray "Jack" Quinn

Allison Quinn Kessinger
You are the daughter of Lora M. Quinn

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