52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2018 #43 – Cause of Death

Birth and death certificates for ancestors who were born or died prior to certain dates are not easily available. Sometimes the state has excellent archives and will mail copies of the certificates for a small fee and sometimes the county has the records but you have to physically present yourself to get birth and death certificates which can involve a great deal of traveling. I have never been to Narka, Kansas which is in Republic County so I have not made the effort to see if birth and death certificates are available for the Hancock family ancestors. Checking in at the state archives in Topeka might work but that hasn’t been an option on my recent trips through Kansas.

In this case I rely on a family story as told by Margaret Hancock Shoemaker the sister of Nathan Brink Hancock, father to Bernard Hancock my grandfather.

HANCOCK, Alta b. 1870, photo

Alta Hancock born 1871, died in Narka, Kansas, in 1878

Margaret reports in her story of the family her parents and siblings were out raking leaves and burning  a pile when sparks landed on Alta’s bonnet and flames soon engulfed her. Alta died several days later. Margaret also reports her mother Theresa Frary Hancock never recovered from the emotional shock of her young daughters death.

Henry Clay and Theresa Frary Hancock.jpg

Henry Clay and Theresa Frary Hancock at their home in Narka, Kansas

HC and T Hancock headstone

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2018 #7 – Valentine

How many times did you get an unsigned valentine in your valentine box at elementary school? Did that just drive you nuts?

valentine box

In the “stuff” I have collected, I suppose artifact would be the correct word, but stuff is how I think of it, I found a very small valentine in a very small envelope. The envelope measures about 3 1/2 ” by 2 1/2″. The actual valentine is about 2 1/2″ by 2″. The paper that makes the envelope has aged to a light yellow as has the card stock that makes the valentine. I have no experience at guessing the age of paper.

Valentine and envelope

The envelope is addressed to Baby Hancock, City. No postage is visible.

What Baby Hancock, what city? Where can you mail something without a postage stamp?

Maybe from mother Lulu Hancock to her first child? No, doesn’t seem likely, a mother sending her first child a valentine. Well, maybe.

Is it possible that “Birdie” Brace (Mary Phoebe Totten Brace) the grandmother could have sent it to her first grandchild?

Or, was it Lois Emerette Goodell Totten who sent it to her new great grandson? She lived in Washington County, Kansas just a few miles from Narka, Kansas. But why would she call him Baby Hancock instead of his name?

Or, was it Grandpa Hancock’s other grandmother Theresa Frary Hancock who lived on a farm just outside of Narka, Kansas. Because Lulu’s marriage to her son brought separation she never knew this grandson and perhaps didn’t know his name.


Fortunately, I asked the question about who was the sender before Grandma Hancock died and she said the valentine was from Grandpa’s great grandmother Lois Emerette Goodell Totten.

This valentine was tucked inside a photo album that had pictures Grandpa Hancock cut out of magazines and pasted on the pages of the album. Most of the pictures are of Coca Cola advertising. Like Santa Claus drinking a Coca Cola. There are also other greeting cards.

Lesson to learn – ask the questions before it is too late.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – #8 Heirloom

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2018 #2 – Favorite Photo


Of the hundreds of photographs I have for our ancestors, both living and dead, this photograph is my favorite. It shows three of the strongest women pioneers in our family. Although many of our ancestors fought and struggled with the daily chores of living and the tragedies associated with pioneering life I believe this photograph captures the strength of our family.

The child in this picture is my grandfather Bernard Floyd Hancock 1903-1980. Interesting tidbit about this image – little boys wore “dresses”  or “gowns” because at this early age they were unable to cope with the difficulty of toilet training. Remember, zippers had not yet been invented. “Breeching” was that time between about two years old to six years old when the right of passage to breeches or britches (pants) was attained.

Seated at the center of the photo is Lois Emerette Goodell 1842 – 1924. Lois married William Franklin Totten in 1861 in Lockport, Niagara County, New York. Lois was born in Ohio in 1842 but her mother Elmina Brigham Goodell died in 1843 so Lois was raised by Goodell family members in Lockport, New York. William and Lois or as I think of her Emerette, had 11 children, 8 survived to adulthood. Mary Phoebe “Birdie” 1863-1938; Milton Goodell 1865-1930; Elmina Rosalie “Minnie” 1867-1948; Hattie Elvira 1871-1953; Edith Estella 1873-1945; Everett 1875-1876; alice Winifred “Winnie” 1877-1968; Celia 1879-1879; Clarence William 1881-1948; Edna Luella 1882-1883; Carl Albert 1883-1948.

The first two children were born in Iowa, the other 9 children were born in Kansas. Just imagine the thought of moving from New York to Iowa at 19 years old, having two children with no family nearby and within 4 years packing up and moving from Iowa to Kansas and over the next 16 years adding 9 more children, with 3 dying, while establishing a farm to support and sustain the family. Interestingly, the census for 1880 shows one of the laborers on this farm was a young man named John Champion Brace.

Standing to the right in this photo is Mary Phoebe “Birdie” Totten 1863-1938. Birdie as she was called married John Champion Brace in 1883 in Haddam, Washington County, Kansas. They had 9 children, Lulu Pearl 1884-1950; William Earl 1887-1962; Bessie 1889-1897; John Kessler 1891-1897; Hazel 1893-1897; Elwin 1896-1962; Lois Beatrice 1899-1983; Baby Boy 1902-1902; Althea Lois 1905-1948.

In 1897 while John worked in a nearby town typhoid strikes this family and Birdie was left to endure alone the tragedy of the death of three of their children. The fourth child died in 1902 and I do not know the cause of his death. In 1904 the family left Kansas and moved to Elbert, Colorado. Another tragedy for this family was the 1948 murder of Althea Lois Brace in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Standing to the left in this photo is Lulu Pearl Brace 1884-1950. In 1902 while living in Narka, Kansas, 18 year old Lulu Pearl Brace married 27 year old Nathan Brink Hancock and in 1903 Bernard Floyd Hancock was born in Narka, Kansas. Apparently someone’s parents were not too happy about this and “Brink” as he was called moved to Fairbury, Nebraska. He was living in Lincoln, Nebraska, had remarried and had two sons when he died in 1947.

In 1904 the Brace family including Lulu Pearl Hancock and baby Bernard move to Elbert, Colorado. In 1909 Lulu filed for divorce and in 1910 she married John Thomas Baber and they lived in Eastonville, Colorado and later in Peyton, Colorado. John Baber and Lulu had 8 children, Henry Kessler; Frank Hazard; Elizabeth “Bessie” Pearl; Lois Beatrice; Floyd Leo; Leon Calvin; Zona Edith and Cedric Keith.

Although Bernard never new his father he did try to find him but to my knowledge was not successful.  According to a Hancock cousin I talked with, Brink Hancock also tried to find Lulu but was unsuccessful. In life, Bernard was always very close to John Baber.

Next time in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – #3 Longevity

A Father’s Letter

Wedding picture of NB Hancock and Lulu Pearl Brace

Nathan Brink Hancock and Lulu Pearl Brace. Married December 31, 1902 in Narka, Kansas.

When I first started researching my family history in 1998 one mistake I made was not asking enough questions. Now, the people who have the answers to the questions I didn’t ask have passed away.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and on this day I wanted to share with my cousins the family story of a broken hearted father. In reality I don’t think many of my cousins even know this father, grandfather, great grandfather and great, great grandfather.

Below is the printed transcription of a three page letter dated June 21, 1904, from Nathan Brink Hancock to Lulu Brace Hancock. Brink, as he was called by his family, and Lulu were married December 31, 1902 in Narka, Kansas. When he wrote this letter on June 21, 1904, Brink Hancock was living in Fairbury, Nebraska and Lulu was living at her parents home in Narka, Kansas with baby Bernard Floyd Hancock who was born May 18, 1903. After Bernard’s birth Lulu was very ill and needed help to care for herself and her baby.


Fairbury June 21 – 04

Dear Lulu:

I thought as I was not busy today I would answer your letter of last week. I my self am not feeling the best in fact not well at all. I was sorry that you wanted me to come down Sat. night and that I couldn’t be with you. I am sure there is no one who wants to see any one worse than I have you for a long time.

I was looking at our picture when I opened my trunk. So if this letter isn’t wrote all right don’t think anything of it for it almost gets away with one when I look at such a nice picture and to think that our lives should be bloted as they have in the past.

I walked down to the docket this morning when the train came in and I was quite sure I saw Bobby Hall on board. I didn’t pay much attention. I think now that I will come to Narka next Sat. perhaps to stay a week. I don’t know just how long but not for good as I haven’t any home to stay at any more. If I come I will make it a point to see you while there but maybe not Sat. night. For if the folks are in town I can ride out with them and save walking. I will have to close for this time for lack of time if I get this off on the eve. mail.

I would be glad to hear from you before Sat. if convenient.

I am yours.


Written across the blank top of page 3 is the following message:

I hope this will find you in good health as its an awful thing to feel “bad”

Good Bye

I have seen a copy of a letter sent to the Republic County, Kansas court house by Bernard’s mother in 1935 asking for records on the father of Bernard Floyd Hancock. The clerk replied the records no longer existed because of a fire. I have been told that Bernard searched for years for his father but could not locate him.

In 1910 Lulu Hancock married John Baber. I have a copy of the marriage license for Lulu and John Baber which includes the date of divorce from Nathan Brink Hancock. My contact, Bev Porter, from the Hancock family tells me that when Brink was notified of the divorce he came to Colorado but could not locate Lulu and therefore never met his son Bernard Floyd Hancock.

Brink lived in Lincoln Nebraska and worked for the University there. Brink did re-marry and had a son named Leland Merle. Brink died in 1949, Merle died a few years ago but census records indicate he has two sons.

For me this is a sad story. What force kept Lulu and Brink apart? Bernard was lucky to have John Baber for a step-father, he loved him very much. But, he always knew his father was out there somewhere. All that time passing by and they never connected.


Nathan Brink Hancock

Bernard Floyd Hancock 136 copy

Bernard Floyd Hancock

Nathan Brink Hancock, Theresa Frary Hancock, James Rosser Hancock, Leland Merle Hancock 1925 Narka KS