Way Back Wednesday: John and Nancy McMullen Bales Reunion 1896 –
The following is a large family group photo taken at a Bales Reunion in 1896. The individuals pictured are the descendants of John and Nancy (McMullen) Bales. I suspect the photo was taken at Bloomingport in Randolph County, Indiana.
John Bales was born about 1807 in Jefferson County, Tennessee. Nancy was born about 1810 in Virginia. They were married in 1832. John’s parents Jacob and Sarah (Melvainey) came to Indiana and settled in Wayne County near Hagerstown (actually closer to Dalton). Jacob, Sarah, John, and Nancy are all buried at West River Friends which is near the intersection of state road 1 and highway 35. Their graves are unmarked because the plain-living Quakers did not believe in the vanity of tombstones at that time, but they are mentioned on the sign at the entrance of the burial ground.
John and Nancy were the parents of Sarah (born in 1834, married Moses Keever), William Dickey (born in 1843, married Rebecca Jackson), Martha Ellen (born in 1848, married Isaac Beeson), and John Henry (born in 1851, married Martha Bachelor).
Sarah and Martha and their husbands are also buried at West River Friends. William and Rebecca are buried at Old Union Cemetery (aka Union Chapel) near Carlos, and John Henry and Martha are buried at New Liberty northwest of Lynn, Indiana.
John and Nancy Bales apparently moved to a farm near Bloomingport at some point, and it seems their children lived mostly in the Bloomingport and Carlos areas of Randolph County.
At the time of this photo in 1896, John Bales had passed. Nancy passed the following year.
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Bales Reunion 1896 in Randolph County, Indiana
I suspect the photo was taken at the house of my great-great-great grandparents’ John Henry and Martha that stood in front of the Bloomingport Livery discussed in the last Way Back Wednesday post. My grandpa recognized the house as that of his great-grandparents. John Henry was still living when my grandpa was 7, so my grandpa was likely correct about the identity of the house.
Thankfully a copy of this photo is included in Miriam Halbert Bales’ book We Pass the Words Along, and she included some labels. My photo was completely without any labeling, though my grandpa and his sister did recognize many of the subjects. I’ve labeled the people I can identify. If anyone reading this can identify others, PLEASE feel free to comment with that information.
What I Know of the Bales Relatives Pictured
You met my great-great-grandfather Ozro Bales in Ozro Bales Driving a Buggy Fast and again in Bales and Others at Carlos. His wife Estella ‘Stell’ is just in front of him holding one of their first three children who died at an early age. Ozro’s sister Rosella ‘Zela’ is beside him. The blurry child in the front row is very likely Zela’s daughter Hazel Oberander. Ozro and Zela’s parents are seated just in front of them.
The very aged Nancy is sandwiched between her two daughters. Sarah’s husband Moses Keever had passed about 10 years prior to this photo. Sarah’s daughter Clara (Keever) Root and her husband William are seen near Ozro and Stell. Likely many of the unlabeled are Sarah’s descendants as well.
Isaac Beeson, the husband of Martha (Bales) owned the general store at Bloomingport. Their son Ray later had the store. Ray would have been about 12 at the time of this photo, and he is likely somewhere in the picture. Ray Beeson married Lora Bales who was a very distant cousin from one of the other Bales lines that ended up in Randolph County, Indiana. Ray and Lora’s house there next to the store did not have indoor plumbing clear up to 1971 when Ray passed. Ray kept a diary for over 40 years where he wrote very random bits of information. His one-sentence memoirs can also be found in We Pass the Words Along.
The Bert Isenbarger shown holding his son Russell was the husband of Olive (Beeson). Olive is likely somewhere in the photo too. I’m just not sure which young lady. Some of my cousins are also of this Bert and Olive Isenbarger line, so they descend from that line from Martha (Bales) Beeson as well as the John Henry Bales line. We like to joke with them about it, but it’s really not that close of cousins (around fourth cousins with a couple of removals). Much of Randolph County is a tangled web, so many people would find similar incidences in their ancestry if they cared to study it.
Wayne County, Indiana, and later Randolph County which was carved out of Wayne in 1818, was founded by Quakers who migrated here to escape the evils of slavery in the south. The Quakers were not allowed to marry “out of unity,” so when they were moving into areas that weren’t very populated anyway and couldn’t marry someone out of their own faith, it didn’t always leave a lot of options in the backwoods.
Alonzo and Charles shown on the far left are sons of William Dickey and Rebecca (Jackson). Alonzo’s first wife Martha (who became ill and died a few years later) is pictured holding baby William. Their oldest son Ralph Winter Bales in on the front row. Alonzo Bales was a judge in Randolph County for many years.
William Dickey and Rebecca’s daughter Mary Jane married Caswell Coggeshall. Remember Caswell’s brother Corlistus was the inspiration for the infamous naming of Carlos City. Mary Jane died at the age of 22, and William and Rebecca ended up raising the two Coggeshall boys — Taylor and Walter.
Mary Jane did not pass until 1899 though, so she may be in this photo. William and Rebecca had another daughter Sarah ‘Sadie’ who was still living at this time. I believe Sadie is the lady standing right beside Martha (Fouts) Bales. Mary Jane may be the young lady standing right behind her higher than everyone else which might make the man in front of her Caswell Coggeshall. I did not label them because this is speculation on my part based on one other photo I’ve seen of the two girls.
Many, many families still in Randolph County today descend from these lines. Feel free to share these photos with other interested parties, but please leave the link on the photo, so others can find their way here. Someone has this family tree entered at Rootsweb if you would like to explore this line further.
Do you have any ancestors in the photo?
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