Mining New Records for Research Opportunities and Gratitude for FamilySearch Indexers
When is the last time you discovered an important new genealogy record because of the FamilySearch indexing effort? Did you know that when you attach a record hint generated by the system you may also have the option to send a thank you to the indexer? Lest we ever forget that our ability to research quickly and effectively is due to the efforts of many who volunteer their time, during this season of Thanksgiving we can take a moment and give thanks.
Recently in reviewing the FamilySearch details for my third great grandfather, Hickman Monroe Shults, I saw a new record hint had appeared. The title “Arizona, Yavapai County, Pioneers’ Home Resident Ledger and Index, 1911-2000” intrigued me. Monroe Shults had died in 1899 in Texas, so what could this record have to do with him?
Clicking on the hint and the attached image, I was excited to see that this was a record for Monroe’s youngest son, William “Dick” Shults, always known in my family as Uncle Dick. (1) I attached the hint then clicked on the box that asked if I’d like to thank the indexer. A nice note automatically filled in and I simply clicked send. It took only seconds, but I’m very grateful for that indexer’s time. This record was on microfilm at the Family History Library, but without indexing, I might never have found it.
The indexed information included the parents of “Dick Schultz” as Monroe Schultz and Racheal Cox, Dick’s age of 82, birth date of 22 July 1865, and the date of his admittance as 31 October 1947. Viewing the actual image of the document revealed many more details.
Why was this an important find? With any record we look at every detail and use it for avenues of further research. Here are some of the important new facts I gleaned from the record and what I’m going to do with them.
New Localities for Research
Rachel Cox has been one of my brick walls for years. I’ve spent many hours researching all the Cox men in Navarro County, Texas, where she and Monroe married, trying to discover her father. In researching the couple, I could not locate them on the 1860 census. I have Monroe and Rachel Cox in Navarro County, Texas in 1850 and in Falls County, Texas in 1870, but where were they during the twenty year gap?
The record for Dick Shults gives a birth date of 22 July 1865 and a birthplace of Bosque County, Texas. I now have another research location to fill the gap from 1850-1870.
Uncle Dick was a true cowboy and character. The family story went like this: Uncle Dick got into a brawl over a girl, shot and killed a man and had to leave Indian Territory in a hurry. He ended up in Williams, Arizona, and married Selma, a German woman who supposedly worked for the Levi Strauss family in San Francisco. They didn’t get along well and separated after a few years.
I haven’t been able to locate Uncle Dick on the 1900 census, but with this new record, I have a date and place for his arrival in Arizona: 1898 in Tombstone. His occupation as a cow-puncher correlates with other records and family stories. Perhaps he was never enumerated on the 1900 census, but with a location and date, I can now search newspapers and other records. I also have a time frame for when he left Indian Territory and can search newspapers there prior to 1898. Maybe I can even find a story about that brawl.
Proof of Parentage
One of the conundrums with this family has been tying Uncle Dick to parents Hickman Monroe Shults and Rachel Cox.
The 1870 and 1880 census enumerations show a “William Shults” in the household born in 1865 which matches the birth year on later censuses and the death certificate for Uncle Dick. But Dick is certainly not a usual nickname for William. His birth in 1865 in Texas precludes a birth certificate and his death certificate only states “unknown” in the place for parents.
Also, the oldest child in this family was also named William – William Henderson Shults. This other William is my second great grandfather. Why name two sons William? It is not a family name and is still a mystery to me.
Family stories have it that Uncle Dick was the youngest brother of my second great grandfather, William Henderson Shults, and indirectly caused his death. In 1884, the two men were out riding and Uncle Dick flicked the horse of William Henderson, causing the horse to buck. William Henderson died from his injuries and his widow was left with five young children and another on the way.
My great grandfather, William Houston Shults, was one of those children and remained close to Uncle Dick throughout the years. The two men are pictured above, probably in Indian Territory before Uncle Dick’s quick move to Arizona Territory by 1898.
Using indirect evidence I had concluded that the William Shults born in 1865 in the census records of the family had to be Uncle Dick, but having this new record with parents named as Monroe Shults and Rachel Cox is a boon to my research. The record also states a birth place of Missouri for Rachel Cox. This conflicts with other records that give her birth place as Indiana, but perhaps the family lived for a time in Missouri. I can now explore this possibility.
New Records to Search
Discovering Uncle Dick’s residence in the Arizona Pioneer’s Home in 1947 opens up new avenues for research. I can request additional records from the home which is still functioning. To be admitted to the home, residents had to apply and show they had lived in Arizona for 35 years. Perhaps Uncle Dick’s application is still on file and will reveal more information about his actions in the wild west that was the Arizona Territory of the early 1900s.
In summary, this simple record made available through a volunteer indexer has opened many new doors of research on the Shults/Cox family. There couldn’t be a better time to be researching our families.
Best of luck in all your genealogical endeavors!
(1) Arizona Pioneers’ Home resident ledger and index, Prescott, Arizona, p. 12, entry for Dick Schultz, no. 1137, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSZL-MJFR? : accessed 24 November 2019); FHL microfilm 2,241,195; citing Arizona Dept. of Libraries, Archives, and Public Records.