“It is a
Revered thing
To see an ancient
Castle not in decay.
But how much more it is
To behold an ancient family
Which has stood against the waves
And weathers of time.”
               Sir Francis Bacon

    Jeremiah R. Larkins was the first born of William E. Larkins and Rachel Reed Larkins.  He was always called Jerry per a statement by one of his grandchildren (know as Aunt Ett) in the Larkins Family Book by Shirley Walta.  While the writer is unaware of what the initial R stood for as his middle name, she speculates it was possibly Reed as he was named for Jeremiah Reed, father of Rachel.  Born 1815 in Pennsylvania, Jeremiah and his parents then moved to Perry County, Ohio around 1816--18.  We are aware that Jeremiah moved with his family to Marshall County, Illinois sometime around 1834 as William E. began purchasing property there in November of that year and Jeremiah purchased property there as well in February of 1835 and December of 1836.  While we know very little of his childhood, we do know that he married Sarah Ann Davis from Pennsylvania on July 4, 1837.

    The parentage of Sarah Ann Davis still remains unconfirmed however much documentation exists indicating her parents were Elizabeth Eaton and Thomas Davis.  Elizabeth Eaton is buried in the Chenoweth Cemetery as is Sarah Ann Davis Larkins.  However another researcher says her parents were Reverend Samuel Davis, who was born 1789 and who was killed by Indians, and his wife Anna Boyd of Virginia.  Anna Boyd had a sister named Sarah who married Elizah Larkins in Rockingham, Virginia.

    We do know that Sarah’s father died when she was young.  Her mother remarried Edward Chenoweth, a minister known as Elder Chenoweth, although the date of this marriage is unknown as well.  This was listed in THE LARKINS FAMILY BOOK.  However, another researcher states James B. Chenoweth married Sarah’s mother and indicates there is some evidence to support this finding.  Therefore, as the LARKINS FAMILY BOOK has not been updated since 1977, the writer feels the information, if substantiated with good evidence, stating James B. Chenoweth was the second husband to Sarah’s mother, is accurate.  It is said that many of the Chenoweth family and Davis family were members of the ministry/clergy.  Baptists, Christian and Methodists were the churches identified in family history.

    There was definitely a connection early on with the Davis family and the Larkins, Reed and Chenoweth families.  John Davis Jr. signed William E.’s warrant for release from service in the War of 1812.  When Jeremiah married Sarah Ann Davis in Illinois in 1837, James B. Chenoweth signed the marriage certificate.  The Reeds are in Turkey Foot Township in Pennsylvania at the same time as the Larkins on the 1810 census and moved on to Ohio around the same time as the Larkins family moved there.  One wonders if they all chose to travel west together first to Ohio and then to Illinois and then even further west.  We know that many of these families moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio and helped establish a church in the area together.  We know that Jeremiah’s father had served as a circuit rider for the Methodist at one time.

    Jeremiah and Sarah had three children.  One was William whose date of birth is said to be April 11, 1837.  He is said to have been born three months before the marriage of his parents if this information is accurate.  Sarah’s family appeared to be devote in their faith.  Therefore, the writer feels, something is amiss between the marriage certificate, license and date of William’s birth.  Even though marriages were not often recorded or made formal until the traveling minister or circuit rider came into the area and this could take several months, this appears to be a major discrepancy.

    A second child named in the family bible was Elizabeth who was born 1840 and who married John Riley.  A third child, Nora, is listed in the bible.  The writer believes Nora, possibly born 1842, was the child with which Sarah died in childbirth if she did in fact die in childbirth.  One statement by an early family member (Aunt Ett) who received information from her father, William, regarding her death relates Sarah died in childbirth while another statement by the same person says she died of consumption, the same way Elizabeth is alleged to have died.  At any rate, William could not have been more than four or five years of age when his mother died and Elizabeth no more than two.  William remembered her dying in the bedroom at the Chenoweth home.  Sarah’s grave is the first grave in Chenoweth Cemetery which is four miles South of Princetown, Illinois.

    It must have been a difficult time for Jeremiah having just lost his wife of five years and struggling to raise two small children.  Sarah’s mother took the children in and raised them with her own children from the Chenoweth marriage.  They remained with the Chenoweths at least until Jeremiah remarried.

    In the Spring of 1842, Jeremiah began farming near Lone Tree Settlement.  Elder Chenoweth and several others settled that area in 1835 and 1836.  Jeremiah also helped his father, William E., run the dray line business in Henry, Illinois.

    It was about the time when William E. and Rachel packed up to move to Oregon that Jeremiah married Keturah Hailey who was born 1825 in Pennsylvania per L. D. S. Family Center records.  L. D. S. records spell her name Katurah while the family spells it Keturah.  Family records state she was born 1828 and died 1904.  She married Jeremiah on March 2, 1846.

    Of her family, we have found little information thus far.  She was of Welsh descent and an orphan raised by an Irish family.  She described her family as a “baker’s dozen”.  It was said her ancestors came from Tennessee, Kentucky or Virginia and that they held to the opinion of Southerners on the matter of slavery.  Jeremiah, it is said, did not believe in such practices.  The slaves she was said to have inherited were given up when she married Jeremiah.

    The writer speculates the Haileys, like the Reed family, Chenoweths, Larkins, Salisbury and Sturm families to mention a few, all continually pressed westward in a quest for new land and opportunities.  We do know a Benjamin Hailey used his military land grant privileges in 1818 (for the services he gave in the American Revolution or the War of 1812) in Illinois, near where the William E. Larkins family settled.  Other Hailey family members who purchased federal land in Illinois (through squatter’s rights much like the Larkins family) were: James M., James, Thomas and Benjamin F. Hailey.  These purchases occurred from 1831 through 1849.  The writer feels Keturah was possibly related to these Hailey men with one of them possibly being her father and the others her brothers or cousins, etc.  As Jeremiah purchased land under Jeremiah and then under Jeremiah R., it is possible also that the James M. and James were the same individual as well purchasing property as were Benjamin and Benjamin F, although the timeframe was significantly different between the purchases of Benjamin and Benjamin F.  If Keturah was an orphan raised by others and came from a large family as she described, most of these Hailey men could have been brothers around her age who were fending for themselves.  However, details and connections, if any, are not known at this time.

    When William E. left for Oregon, Jeremiah ran the dray line business with his son William.  It is said Jeremiah took over part of the William E. farm to run as well.  We do know that William E. sold off a lot of the property to purchase staples for the trip and to set aside money for purchase of property in Oregon.  We know that most of the staples were stolen by Indians outside of Fort Laramie and the William E. family was without food for three days until William E. went for food.  We know also that an Indian followed along with the wagon train for a brief time and it has been speculated that he had been captive of another tribe, escaped and was returning home to his people in Black Foot Territory when he hooked up with the Larkins family and their wagon train.  As quickly as he appeared, he disappeared after traveling with them briefly.  He was helpful in alerting them to horse thieves who could have stolen their livestock and stranded them out on the trail.  While this was occurring to Jeremiah’s siblings and parents, he was raising his family, managing the dray line business with his son William and farming in Illinois.

    Jeremiah and Keturah had many children.  They were: Rachel Pauline Riley (1847--1919), Mary Francilies Salisbury (1849--1917), James E. (1851--1854), Charles F. (1851--1866), Thomas Benton (1854--1934), Salome (1860--1864), Juliette Beckley (1852--1948), Daniel Wood (1866--1945), Oliver Montgomery (1869--1939 and David Henry (1874--1928).  Mary Francilies Salisbury is a further connection with the Herbert Clarence Larkins family through her daughter Rachel Salisbury Larkins.  Herbert Clarence was the son of William Larkins from Jeremiah’s first family.  Three of Jeremiah’s daughters were named for his sisters.

    Jeremiah is said to have gotten into a bad business deal in the 1860’s, although the details of this transaction are unknown.  He apparently lost his farm in Illinois and moved to Nebraska as a result.

    “In 1871, the family moved to a home near Byron, Nebraska on the Kansas side of the State Line.  They lived there a short time and then sold their homestead rights to Mr. McCarty, a neighbor, and moved to Orleans, Nebraska where they bought homestead rights.

    According to the Thayer County history, a prairie fire spread all across Thayer County, Nebraska in 1871.  Both Thayer County History and Republic County, Kansas History tell of the spring blizzard of 1873 and the grasshopper year of 1874.  Spring started early in 1873.  Farmers had worked their ground and planted the spring crops.  Fields had greened up and everyone was certain that the winter was over.  The April blizzard caused much suffering and damage to all the early settlers and their livestock.  In 1874, the grasshoppers swarmed across the whole area devouring everything as they went.  No mention (was) made of these incidences in any of the Larkins (early) histories, although our pioneer ancestors surely suffered all of them and survived.” These quotes from THE LARKINS FAMILY compiled by Shirley Walta in 1971 say a lot about what trials and tribulations Jeremiah and his family faced.It has been said that Jeremiah worried about his sons being hurt with the horses and thus he went to the fields with them.  He died suddenly while in the fields with them on June 12, 1880.  He is buried on that farm near Orleans, Nebraska.

    Keturah sold the farm near Orleans after making the farmer’s wife promise to care for Jeremiah’s grave as long as she lived on the place.  She and her children moved back to Kansas to live on a farm not far from where William lived.  “The family lived in a little house on the Zack Carpenter farm.  The children worked whenever and wherever they could.  They herded cattle, helped neighbors with harvest and planted trees.  Later it is said that Dan got a sheller and shelled corn for farmers for miles around.”

    Also from THE LARKINS FAMILY BOOK we learn: “The family endured many hardships and, according to old records, were willing to extend a helping hand to one another.  It is evident that the hardships suffered, wove the family closer together.  Responsibility fell early on Daniel’s shoulders as he took his father’s place at keeping the family together and the wolf from the door.”

     Keturah was said to be small in statue and was known as the “little grandma”.  She, like Jeremiah, had to be strong and mentally tough to settle in a land that was hard to tame.  Prairie fires, grasshopper infestations, tough turf and loss of cattle along with drought and floods as well as other hostile factors made life pretty rough. 

    “May 8, 1885, Keturah married Ezekiel Carpenter.  They lived three miles north and two miles west of Munden, Kansas.  Ezekiel Carpenter died at the age of 64 years.  In 1902, Keturah sold property to H. C. Swartz.  She started to write her name on the deed but it was not legible.  Someone else then wrote her name and she made her mark next to that signature.” While she may have had little formal schooling , she was over seventy years of age when she was making this transaction.  Despite lack of education, she was a skilled pioneer woman setting the example of keeping a family together through many trying times. 

     Keturah suffered several strokes and therefore lived the next nine years after Ezekial’s death with one or the other of her children.  Becky had married in 1883, Daniel in 1888 and Ann married in 1889.  Mont (Oliver Montgomery) married in 1891 and David married 1894.  She died December 12, 1904.  She and Ezekiel are buried in the middle section of the east side of Washington Cemetery, Republic County, Kansas.

    Jeremiah Larkins and his families stood up against the odds and were true survivors.  They helped settle a land and made the prairie a productive place to live, even though the task was not an easy one.  We are fortunate to have a print from a tin type image of Jeremiah We also are fortunate to have a print of Keturah as well.  Their faces show their strength and determination! As Sir Francis Bacon stated, “How much more it is to behold an ancient family which has stood against the waves and weathers of time.”


    The writer has borrowed extensively from THE LARKINS FAMILY compiled by Shirley Larkins Walta in 1971 and the update compiled by the same individual in 1977.  Shirley Walta was the writer’s aunt.




NOTE: Information submitted to L. D. S. records regarding Katurah Hailey was sent in by a Mrs. Crisp of Oregon.  This same individual submitted the information regarding Sarah Ann Davis parents being Elizabeth Eaton and Thomas Davis.  Another source, Roberta McLoughlin has found further records of this parentage.  S. K. Lawson (another family member) indicated in one communication that she feels the parents of Sarah Ann Davis were John Davis and Anna Boyd.  This writer has reviewed the evidence, although limited, and feels that Elizabeth Eaton was Sarah’s mother.  Nothing, however, is definitive at this time. 


© Oldtime Nebraska -- Jeremiah Larkins   submitted by Rosalee Pleis, February, 2000