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Weston Wagons West - Ep. J21 - The Joseph Kinnick Family and Others in Iowa

Updated on July 28, 2017

Family relationships are a fascinating study

Chart of family relationships
Chart of family relationships

Note on family history research…

This story, the next after J20, is intended to follow the story of Joseph and Rachel Kinnick from Illinois to Iowa and then to Montana in the 4th quarter of the 1800s. However, the inter-relationships of family and friends around this couple are too good a family research story to just pass by. Most of the actual research work was done 15 to 20 years ago and sat in my database. Earlier today, I was looking on the Internet to refresh my memory on the various locations they had visited, Then, I was looking at the Civil War Pension File of Joseph, and came across an affidavit of Alonzo P. Edick, in Park City, Montana, dated 1893, which stated he had known Joseph since age 14, including his war service (those dates would have been in Illinois), and through his life to Montana. How had that really happened, my mind asked? I knew him as father of William Edick who married a daughter of Joseph and Rachel. In the notes in my data base on Alonzo…by the way, “Alonzo P.” is the name of my Kinnick great-grandfather… in 1870, Alonzo, his wife, Rachel, and son Wm. H., were in Harrison Township, Adair County, Iowa, with a VanAken next door (a ‘married into the family’ surname) and Walter and Mary E. Kinnick in the next house. This latter was the house where my great-grandfather, Alonzo P. Kinnick, was born later in 1870. This township was among the locations I had just been reading about as near where Joseph and Rachel were destined to live in 1872. I think I just found the motivation I sought for why they chose this location.

Although Joseph and Walter’s father was long deceased, their mother, Susan Schwyhart Kinnick, still lived back in Illinois on the home farms. Susan’s younger bother, John Schwyhart, had a daughter, Rachel Ann, who was married to Alonzo P. Edick and was the mother of William H. Edick, John Schwyhart died in Adiar County. So, the Arbor Hill settlement area of Harrison Township in northeastern Adair County was the location of several family members a couple of years before Joseph and Rachel Kinnick set off for Iowa. Madison County is immediately to the east of Adair County. Now, on with the story…

The County Courthouse was in the county seat of Greenfield

Adair County Iowa County Courthouse
Adair County Iowa County Courthouse

Arbor Hill in Adair County, Iowa was their first destination

Des Moines, on the Des Moines River, in south-central Iowa had become the State Capital of Iowa in 1870, emblematic of the western part of the state having become well settled over the past couple of decades. It was about 45-50 miles west south west of Des Moines to the small Arbor Hill village just inside the east edge of the Adair County line with Madison County. The Joseph Kinnick family arrived in the late spring of 1872. They were greeted by the Edick and Van Aken families, but were surprised to learn that the brother of Joseph, Walter, and his wife, Mary, had recently been moved to northern Missouri by his work on the railroad. Railroad work moved a lot of folks in those days as the railroads were being built in short runs and long runs throughout the region. Earlham, about 20 northeast of Arbor Hill, had been incorporated in 1870 following the arrival of a train line from the east in 1869. It was said that Arbor Hill might not grow and survive, as it had not been chosen as a location where a railroad passed through (modern histories list Arbor Hill among the Iowa ghost towns). Each of the families in the wagon trail scattered to new homes within a few days of arrival. Joseph and Rachel found available farmland to the east, in western Madison County. They settled there with children: Maggie, 9, William Walter, 6, John Leach Cook, 4, and young daughter, Mate, 2.

Peter Weston with his wife, Matilda, and son, Lyman, now a 2-year-old, chose to settle on an acreage just south of Earlham, about 10 miles north of Joseph and Rachel Kinnick’s place. Peter felt he would find more clients quicker by locating nearer a more established community. The growth opportunities there appeared to be excellent for a farrier, blacksmith and horse breeder and trainer.

During the five years that Joseph and Rachel lived on that farm in Madison County, two additional children were born to them. Joseph Earnest was born in May 1874, named the same as his first cousin, first son of Walter and Mary. Jessie H. was born in April 1895. Sadly, each died at a very young age. When, in 1877, the family moved to a new farm, nearer to Arbor Hill in Adair County, the children were: Maggie, 14, Walter, 11, John, 9, and Mate, 7. Joseph and Rachel were 38 and 39, respectively. The last child born to Joseph and Rachel was born in August of 1878 at the farm in Adair County. They named him George Butler Kinnick (and he lived to be 94 years old!). Living in Adair County, near Arbor Hill, they were again close to the Edick family. On April 13, 1882, Margaret Susana (Maggie) married William H. Edick in the nearby county seat of Adair County, the town of Greenfield. The Kinnick family lived on and worked the farm in Adair County for a total of nine years, until changes occurring with Joseph’s health came to a head in 1886.

Horses were critical assets in these farm communities

Morgan Horses were a staple of the Weston family.
Morgan Horses were a staple of the Weston family.

Chronic rheumatism caught up with Joseph Kinnick

During the late war, in 1863, while driving an ambulance in Corinth, Mississippi, Joseph had become very sick and had been hospitalized for two months. Ever since, when exposed to wet or cold for long stretches, his body had reacted poorly. During the 1880s, in his mid-forties, the issues had gotten worse. On October 13, 1886, he went to the Federal Government office in Creston, Iowa to apply for a one-half disability pension from manual labor from the government. The paperwork required was prodigious, but a physical examination by a doctor confirmed that he was eligible, and could no longer work the farm. The family moved into Des Moines, Iowa, for the next two years where he found employment not requiring manual labor.

Two years later, having disposed of his farmland, and finding work where his body was not under great physical stress, Joseph and Rachel were able to gather several like-minded family members and friends and make the move to Yellowstone County, Montana. Among those was Lyman Weston, now 18 years-of-age, and an accomplished farrier and blacksmith with several horses of his own. The party was pleased to have him travel with them.

Historical notes by the author

All members of the Weston family are fictional, of course. All Kinnick, Edick and VanAken family members were historical figures, but were used here fictitiously. The relationships between the Kinnick and Weston families therefore were created fictionally for this story. Joseph Kinnick was a brother of Walter Watson Kinnick, a 2nd great-grandfather of the author, and Alonzo Palmer Kinnick, his great-grandfather. Each of the relationships within which these historical figures appear in these episodes is totally consistent with known historical facts for each such person in the official records of the State of Iowa and Illinois.

Also relied on was continuing family history research as this is a direct line ancestry of the author, of course.

Learn more about this Kinnick family at:

Video Book Trailer

Video Book Trailer


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