Site Navigation


BROKEN BRANCHES
THE FAMILY OF JAMES H. VAWTER

Sometimes while doing research I come across people that I seem to be compelled to check out more thoroughly. Often they turn out to be members of trees that have been researched, but from a line that seems to have vanished (no living descendants). This is one of those cases. I would love to see if the family really did live on to this generation. If anyone out there has knowledge of  what happened to Edgar Vawter or his 1/2 cousins Mary & Lucy Vawter please let me know. I am happy to report I had a major error in my first research on this family back in 2012! The child that Lillian (Vawter) Banta had and the birth record for it listed in Johnson County, Indiana was incorrect. It was a boy rather than a girl. So James & Eliza (Goodhue) Vawter did live on through their son Mark Banta.


The Family of James H. Vawter 1832 to 1867

  The Vawter family is one that here in Southeastern Indiana has been heavily researched. Their is a web site - The Vawter Family   http://www.vawterfamily.org/   which tells of the importance of this family to the settlement of Indiana and gives much information on the various members of the family. There is also a book on the family The Vawter Family in America

   A series of events brought my attention to James H. Vawter. A few weeks ago (Nov. 2010), I was at the Vernon Cemetery looking at some of the older headstones with Charles Cartwright the Sexton of the cemetery. He pointed one out to me because of the sentiment expressed in what was written on the stone. This stone has no dates, just the names of a mother Eliza Vawter and the first names of three children and this inscription - For Twelve years, five months and 19 days, Eliza made home happy, wife of J. H. Vawter.  There is a small headstone just below hers that states Vawter, J. H. Here is a link to Eliza's headstone on find a grave there is no picture of James Stone.(correction, I went back to the cemetery and found I was in error here, there is no small stone for James H. Vawter, just his name on the base of Eliza's stone.)
  http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Vawter&GScnty=831&GRid=14210483&

  I really thought no more of it until this last week (Dec. 16, 2010), when I went over to the Courthouse and took pictures of Wills in Will Book 2. I came home and began editing the pictures to be sure what I had was readable, on page 159 begins the Will of James H. Vawter. Of course when I saw the name Vawter I looked at the will a little more closely. It is long (pages 159 - 166) and detailed partially because James H. was a lawyer. The will and codicil show a man who is very concerned with the welfare of his two children from his first marriage. His will was written on the 13th day of May 1867 and the codicil on the 18th day of July. By the 26th of July 1867 his will is proven in court and he is deceased. I will put the transcription of the will on this page but when I was reading it I thought of the tombstone at the Vernon Cemetery and the inscription. So I did a little checking.

  Eliza E. (Goodhue) Vawter was born April 21, 1835 in Indiana to James Goodhue born Massachusetts and his first wife Rebecca.  In the 1850 census the Goodhue family is living in Vernon, Jennings County, the family at this time includes James, his second wife Ellen (Eleanor Payton) his daughters from his first marriage Henryetta age 16 and Eliza age 15. James Goodhue is listed as the County Auditor. Living in the dwelling which was visited in the census just before theirs (#87 & #88) is the family of Achilles Vawter and his wife Martha (Smith) Vawter. In their home are their children David G. age 26, James H. age 18 and Jane E. age 12. Three years later on April 10, 1853 James H. Vawter and Eliza E. Goodhue were married in Vernon. Although most books about the family state James H. & Eliza (Goodhue) Vawter had only two children, it is obvious from her tombstone there were at least three others Willie probably William, Eugene and Jamie probably named James after his father. The son who lived to be listed in the 1860 census and is mentioned in their fathers will was Edgar age 2, his sister Lillian (Lillie) was not born until 1861. Of course there is the common problem that in the 1860 census the transcribers have noted James as James U. instead of James H., and Eliza has the middle initial of A. but it is obviously the same family.

  Further research shows Eliza (Goodhue)Vawter died in Johnson County, Indiana on April 26, 1865, she was brought back and buried in the Vernon Cemetery at which time her grieving husband James must have had the headstone mentioned above put up. It is one of the larger ones in that section of the cemetery.

(In November 2012, I found the following obituary for Eliza Goodhue Vawter - It was in the May 1, 1865 Vernon Banner)
Eliza Ellen Vawter
    This esteemed lady - the wife of James H. Vawter of this place - is no longer among the living.
    Her disease that resulted so fatally, was varying and complicated - its duration short and her decease sudden and unexpected to all except herself.
    Mrs. Vawter was the youngest daughter of James and Rebecca Goodhue. She was born in Lexington, Scott County, Indiana, and raised principally in Jennings County. In the town of Paris and in this place. Her mother died when she was ten years old, and her father when she was not quite eighteen. Leaving her - the youngest daughter - to rely upon herself and the friendships of a selfish world.
    With the advantages of a common school education, a good intelect an amiable temper and a pure character, she assumed the responsibilities of life and with these advantages, she was successful in making for herself friends and in commending herself to the high esteem and fond affection of one possessed of liberal culture, to who she gave her heart and hand, just as he was entering with ardor and hope the arena of professional life. He is now left - still young in years - the principle mourner among a wide circle of friends and relatives. At the respective ages of 18 and 21 they were married. At the respective ages of 30 and 33 they are divorced by the inevitable decree of death.
    The interim of twelve years between their marriage and her death was one uninterupted period of domestic comfort and happiness; the chief credit of which her bereaved husband is free to ascribe to her far-seeing and delicate discretion and eminent domestic virtues.
    Of her seven children only two survice her-Eddy and Lillian- the former nine and the latter four years old.
    Her social character was enobled and enriched by many high and amiable qualities.
    Her chief characteristic during her married life was her wise and unweared devotion to her husband and children. She seemed to have an unsually keen and correct discernment of the sphere and duties of a wife and of the companion of a business man.
    She studiously and habitually consulted the plans and business arrangements of her husband, and endeavored always to make her own subserviant to his - thereby to promote his interests and comfort.
    With alike watchful devotion she cared for her children by night and by day. And while she was thus devoted to her family she was kind and courteous to all.
    As to her religious character. It may be said with assurance that she was a christian.
    About four years ago she experienced religion during a revival in the Baptist church, but for reasons then existing, she was not baptized into the fellowship of the chruch; and for reasons satisfactory to herself, she did not subsiquently attach herself. But she did not live unmindful of the claims of religion. She envinced this by her repeated conversations with her husband, in which she admonished him to a christian life. At such times she expressed to him her conviction of her own preparation for death. The closing scene of her life fully sustained this view of her state.
    At about 12 o'clock on Thursday, previous to her death on Friday, after having been for some time in an unconcious condition, she awoke to cousiousness. Addressing those who stood near her bedside she said: I am going to leave you, and calling in turn for her children, husband and others, converesed with them freely and calmly, imparting good and appropriate counsel to each. To one she said their was nothing of variance between her and her God-they were reconciled-God had pardoned her sins. To others she expressed herself as being at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ-that she had received the forgiveness of sin throu' Christ and that he-Christ-was her only reliance; that she was happy in prospect of eternity and perfectly willing to die.
    The last words she is said to have used, were addressed to her husband. She said to him the only regret she had in view of death was that she must leave him and her children. She hoped her children would get good homes and grow up to be good members of society and christians, and she urged her husband to put his trust in God and become a christian.
    Her funeral took place at 10 o'clock on the Sabbath following her death.
    A discourse was delivered on the occasion by Mr. James S. Read, founded upon the words; Hear counsel and receive instruction that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.
    There was a very large and sympathizing assembly present-attesting by their presence and deportment, their respect for the departed and their sympathy for the bereaved.


 In his will James H. Vawter wants his children to be kept together and taken into the home of his brother David G. Vawter which appears to have happened as both Edgar and Lillian are in the home of David G. &   Eliza (Todd) Vawter and they are all living in Franklin, Johnson County, Indiana. In the 1880 census Edgar is no longer in the home but Lillie is still living with her Aunt and Uncle. She marries George Riddle Banta May 3, 1881, on January 16, 1883 Lillian and George Banta have a daughter (update 5/4/2016) SON and Lillian (Vawter) Banta dies July 9, 1883.  I have not yet found if the infant daughter  survived, I am inclined to believe she did not (Update 5/4/2016 - the son (rather than daughter) Mark Banta did survive and died in 1941 in California!). I have also seen no record of Edgar Vawter since he was listed with his aunt and uncle in the 1870 census.  Another sad update, I found the following death notice in the Vernon Banner of June 19, 1878. It has his first name as Edward rather than Edgar but I am sure it is him. "Edward, son of the late James Vawter, of Vernon, died at the residence of Mr. David G. Vawter, at Franklin, on Tuesday evening last of consumption. The remains of the deceased were brought to Vernon on Thursday, and funeral services were conducted on that day at 2 o'clock p.m. in the Baptist church, by Rev. Tarrance, of Franklin, after which the remains were interred at the Vernon Cemetery. The deceased was in the 21st year of his age."
  
  James H. Vawter next married Nancy Johnson January 17, 1867 just eight months before his death. She was, as he stated in his will carrying his child. In Dec. 1867 two months after his fathers death George B. Vawter was born. In the 1870 census Nancy Vawter and Georgie (George Vawter age 2) are still living in Vernon. At this point I lose track of Nancy, I am guessing she remarried but am not sure.(Update-I found the second marriage of Nancy Johnson Vawter quite by accident while doing research on another family. On the 25th of April, 1872 in Boone County, Indiana Nancy Johnson Vawter married Dr. James Boyd Hudson. She and her son George B. show up in the 1880 census in Bartholomew county, with James B Hudson and his son from a previous marriage Leo Hudson but he was listed as George B Hudson rather than Vawter. Also in this census is the son of James B. Hudson and Nancy Johnson Vawter Hudson, Walter B. Hudson.) George B Vawter shows up in 1900 in Obelin, Decatur County, Kansas. He is married to a Charlotte Marks and they have two daughters Mary born 1890 and Lucy born 1893. Charlotte dies in 1907 and George in 1914 they are buried in Oberlin Cemetery. In 1910 the girls are living with their mothers sister Margaret and her husband William Stevenson. I lose track of them at that point.


 Below is the Will & Codicil to the will of James H. Vawter that started all this - I am transcribing from the Clerk of the Courts handwriting which can get tricky and all spelling & punctuation is as it was in the Will. If I can not figure out a word I will insert a ?. Sheila

                                                                                  James H. Vawters Will
                                       
Jennings County, Indiana, Will Book 2, pages - 159-166

Be it remembered that on the 26 day of July 1867 the last Will and testament, and codicil to the Same were duly admitted to probate by the Clerk of the Court of Common pleas of Jennings County. Which Will and the Codicil thereto, are recorded in the words and figures following to wit:
Death being certain, and the duration of life being uncertain, I make this Will that my property may be divided, as I would If I Should have lived until all the parties interested became of age.
1st.  As the law gives my wife Three Hundred Dollars I will that this amount be paid to her by my Executor as in manner and form provided by law, as speedily as possible, and believing that this is her proportionate Share of the personal property I will her only One dollar in addition thereto and no more of the personal property of any kind.
2nd.  As in all probability my wife will have an heir born after my death by me, I will that Said heir Shall have no part whatever of my personal or Real property, but I direct in leiu thereof my Executor, shall pay to his or her mother (my wife) Such sums of money for five years as will decently clothe and feed the Same, not exceeding five hundred dollars, - I make this provision because the mother of Edgar and Lillian my Children assisted in making and preserving all the property I now own, and I think it but Justice that her children Should enjoy the benefits of as much of the fruits of her labor as is possible by law for them to do.
3rd.  I will that Edgar A. Vawter and Lillian Vawter have all of my Real and personal property of whatever kind not given by law to my widow, and this is subject to the payment of any honest debts against me and the probable legacy mentioned above.
4th.  I hereby constitute and appoint Ezra F. Pabody Jr. my Executor of this Will and I authorize him to sell and convey without the formality of Petition Notice and other legal formalities, to sell and convey all the right Interest and title to any land or Lot owned by me at my death and to convey the same to the purchaser or purchasers by good and Sufficient deed or deeds in as full and ample a manner as though I were living and to deliver the same to the parties thereto --
5th.  I hereby release my Executor from making any report of any of his doings to any Court of record but I require that he submit annually the book containing the Condition of my Estate to the guardian or guardians of my Children Edgar and Lillian and upon failing to do So after reasonable notice from Said guardian, that his right to act as Executor shall immediately and the oldest guardian by appointment Shall assume his duties, and if he Shall refuse, I direct Said guardian by proper legal process to obtain possession of the property belonging to my estate in his possession or under his control.
6th.  While my mother is alive it will be better and cheaper to keep the children together, and therefore desire that their guardian Shall for that time make the best arrangements for that object.
7th.  I appoint Hiram T. Read in whom I have perfect confidence, guardian of my children Edgar and Lillian and in the event of the death of mother it is my earnest request that he take at least one of the children Lillian and that if possible that he induce David G. Vawter to take Edgar, if that cannot be done I desire that Edgar be provided a home as near his sister as possible, I request their guardian to allow and pay Such Sums as may be right and proper for their Support, and I further desire if my means will afford it that Edgar have a good sound Scientific Education at one of our best colleges. I prefer him sent to a Non-Sectarian college. I desire their guardian to look after their moral training, and to attend regularly the Church and Sabbath School of their father, but when they arrive at the age of Sixteen I want them unbiased to select when and where they will worship God but I entreat them as one knowing the true path and not having walked therein early to embrace true Religion and having done so turn neither to the right or left. - I desire that Edgar when he shall arrive at the age of 20 years if he Shall desire to Study law, if my friend Arthur D. Basnett is then practicing law in this place, I desire that he Shall enter his office as Student and that his guardian make arrangements therefore, and for this purpose I will him my entire law library and in the meantime I authorize Said Basnett to use Said Books, and I desire that her guardian Shall have Lillian taught under the same condition, all the things which grace and adorn, a good and true woman, and I release Said guardian from reporting to any Court whatever in the same manner as I released my Executors from the same.
8th. I authorize Arthur D. Basnett to use and occupy my present office free of rent while he and my Executor are setting up claims for fees due me. I hereby revoke any former will and declare this my last and only will.
                                                                     This 13th day of May 1867
                                                                    
James H. Vawter
Signed and subscribed by James H. Vawter to us known to be testator and who in our presence declared Said Will to be his last, and only Will and that we sign as the Said Will as witnesses at his request and in his presence and in the presence of each other.
                                                                     Hiram T. Read
                                                 Arthur D. Basnett
I signed the above on the 13th day of May 1867 fearing the same might ? on account of Hiram T. Read being guardian of my children, I sign this my last Will and testament again in the presence of Christian H. Wiles and Arthur D. Basnett this 14th day of May 1867.
                   James H. Vawter

The State of Indiana, Jennings County SS:
Be it remembered that on the 26th day of July 1867, Christian H. Wiles. One of the subscribing witnesses to the within and foregoing last Will and testament of James H. Vawter late of said County, deceased personally appeared before Johnson W Summerfield Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas of Jennings County in the State of Indiana, and being duly Sworn by the Clerk of Said Court upon his oath declares and testifies as follows, that is to Say!  That on the 14th day of May 1867 he saw the Said James H. Vawter sign his name to said instrument in writing as and for his last Will and testament, and that this deponent at the Same time heard the Said James H. Vawter declare the Said instrument in writing to be his last Will and testament and that the Said instrument in writing was the Same time at the request of the Said James H. Vawter and with his consent attested and subscribed by the Said Christian H. Wiles and Arthur D. Basnett, in the presence of the said testator and in the presence of each other as Subscribing witnesses thereto, and that the Said James H. Vawter was at the time of the signing and subscribing of the Said instrument in writing as aforesaid of full age (that is more than twenty one years of age) and of sound and disposing mind and memory, and not under any coertion or restraint as the Said deponent verily believes and further deponent Says not. 
                                                                                                                       Christian H. Wiles
Sworn and subscribed by the Said Christian H. Wiles before me Johnson W. Summerfield clerk of said Court at Vernon the 26th day of July 1867.
   In attestion thereof I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed the Seal
 of Said Court.
{Seal}                                                                     Johnson W. Summerfield
State of Indiana Jennings County SS:
I Johnson Summerfield Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas of Jennings County Ind. do hereby certify that the written annexed last will and testament of James H. Vawter has been duly admitted to probate and duly proven
 by the testimony of Christian H. Wiles one of the subscribing witnesses thereto, that a complete Record of Said Will and of the testimony of the Said Christian H. Wiles in proof thereof has been by me duly made and recorded in Book No. 2 at pages 159, 160, 161, 162, 163 of the records of the Wills of Said County.
In attestation on whereof I have hereunto subscribed my hand and affixed the seal of Said Court at Vernon this 26th day of July 1867.
{Seal}        J. W. Summerfield

Codicil to James H. Vawter's Will
  

I James H. Vawter make this Codicil to my Will heretofore made.

1st. I hereby appoint my brother David G. Vawter guardian of my children revoking the appointment made in my former will.
2nd. While the children remain together at home I request my Executor whenever he has money on hand to pay the person who has charge of my children Such Sums of money as may be necessary for their support.---
3rd. I grant to said guardian David G. Vawter, all the rights and priviledges Conferred in my Will upon the first guardian appointed therein by me, and authorize him to act as Said former guardian would and Should have acted. ---
4th. I grant him the custody of the children, but request that they be kept together, if possible and I leave it to his own discretion as to who shall have the custody of the Same reserving to Nan. J. Vawter the occupancy of my present residence during such time as she may desire.
                                                                     Signed this 18th day of July 1867
                                                                     James H. Vawter
Signed by us in the presence of the Testator as witnesses and in the presence of each other at the request of the Testator this 18th day of July 1867
                 Arthur D. Basnett
             James P. Westover
The State of Indiana Jennings County SS:
Be it remembered that on the 26th day of July 1867 James P. Westover one of the Subscribing Witnesses to the within and foregoing Codicil to the last Will and testament of James H. Vawter, late of Said County, deceased personally appeared before Johnson Summerfield Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas of Jennings County in the State of Indiana and being duly Sworn by the Clerk of Said Court upon his oath declared and testified as follows, that is to Say! that on the 18th day of July 1867 he saw the Said James H. Vawter sign his name to said instrument in writing as and for a Codicil to his last Will and testament, and that this deponent, at the same time, heard the Said James H. Vawter declare the Said instrument in writing Codicil to his last Will and testament, and that the Said instrument in writing was at the same time at the request of the Said James H. Vawter and with his consent attested and subscribed by the Said James P. Westover and Arthur D. Basnett in the presence of Said testator and in the presence of each other as subscribing witnesses thereto and that the Said James H. Vawter was at the time of the subscribing of the Said instrument in writing as aforesaid of full age (That is more than twenty one years of age and of sound an disposing mind and memory and not under any coercion or restraint as the Said deponent verily believes and further deponent Says not.
                           James P. Westover
Sworn to and subscribed before me Johnson W. Summerfield Clerk of Said Court at Vernon the 26th day of July 1867
 
In attestation whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed the seal of Said Court. {Seal}

State of Indiana Jennings County SS:
I Johnson W. Summerfield Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas of Jennings County Ind. do hereby Certify that the within ? to the last Will and testiment of James H. Vawter has been duly admitted to probate, and duly proven by the testimony of James P. Westover one of the subscribing witnesses thereto, that a complete record of the Said Codicil and of the testimony of the Said James P. Westover in proof thereof has been by me duly made and recorded in Book No. 2 at pages 159 to 165 inclusive, of the Records of Wills of Said County----
I attestation whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed the Seal of Said Court at Vernon this 26th day of July 1867.
              Johnson W. Summerfield, Clerk


You may use this material for your own personal research, however it may not be used for commercial publications without express written consent of the contributor, INGenWeb, and