Great, Great Grandmother

For a few weeks now, on and off, I’ve been obsessing over my grandmother’s grandparents. All I knew was their names: John T. Shelton and Laura E. Wilkinson. I knew where they were born and where they lived from census records, but that didn’t tell a good story. What happened to them?

Nana’s dad “left home at a young age”. He was “quiet and reserved and didn’t talk much.” So Nana knew nothing of his life before her. I’d search and get clues, but nothing that drew a line or a picture. Just snippets to confuse me or piece them in a place where they shouldn’t be or with children they shouldn’t have.

But I learned that in 1860 they were in Allen County, Indiana. And then I found a huge history of the Wilkinson family listing Laura, going back generations. So there is part of Laura’s history, but she is listed with the last name of Morton in her mother’s obituary. So searching for a marriage between a Laura Shelton and anyone named Morton found me an 1872 marriage between a Laura Wilkinson and a Thomas Moron. From there, I found census records (with my great grandfather’s brother listed – with a name like Costa, it’s an easy conclusion…).

So I always wondered what happened to John Shelton. He must have died sometime between the 1870 census where he was in Quincy, IL and 1872 when his wife (under her maiden name) remarried. Quincy was the go-to point for the Civil War soldiers. Was he there for that? He’s listed as a carpenter in the census and in the city directory, though. Why were they in Quincy? What happened shortly after?

So for 2 weeks I’ve been looking through everything I can find listing deaths in IL or IN for John T. Shelton. Nothing.

But today I found their divorce notice in the Fort Wayne Sentinal. Laura E. Shelton vs. John T. Shelton. 21 Aug 1872. She married Mr. Morton just a few months later and they had 2 children together.

I also found this.

And these are her parents.

RIP Great, Great Grandma Laura E. Wilkinson Shelton Morton. I’m so glad I know you a little better now. I wish you could tell me about your first husband John, but I’m glad to have at least this.

So far...


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