Well, first of all let me say that I don’t know if it’s 2 r’s and 2 t’s, or one of each, or one of one and two of the other ! The spelling on his name is extremely uncertain and so I go with my gut and give it 2 0f each. Merritt Walton is my great grandfather on my mother’s side. He was born in Indiana in 1841, served in the Civil War on the Union side, moved to northern Missouri, married Zenah Ann Strait in 1874 and moved to Clay County, NE by 1880. He lived in Clay County pretty much the rest of his life except at the very end when he went on an interesting journey. It’s that journey that is causing me to crawl the walls!!
In 1900, according to the census, he and Zenah lived in Marshall Township, Clay County, NE. They formed a nice family unit with unmarried daughters Winnie Pearl (my grandmother Pearl), Elsie Venner and son Cecil Cullen. In addition, in the household resided son in law Henry Shipley and wife Mabel Catherine (daughter to Merritt and Zenah). Merritt’s profession was listed as “farmer”.
By 1910 Merritt and Zenah are no longer in NE but are in Bethany Township, Harrison County, MO and are listed as members of the household of Bennett Strait (Zenah’s father) and his wife Louisa. I’m not sure how long Merritt and Zenah stayed with Bennett but I think this was sort of a last trip for them. His service in the Civil War had resulted in a disability involving respiratory problems and they may have realized that he was soon to be dead. From Harrison County, MO they embarked on what to me is a somewhat strange journey.
The first part of the journey isn’t hard to understand. In 1911 they lived in Muskogee, OK at 1501 Dorchester which was the same address as one Elsie V. Walton (their daughter!) and in 1912 they lived at 1625 Cincinnati but no mention in the city directory is made of Elsie! Apparently Elsie had gone to MO at some point because in 1918 she married William Arthur Wildt in MO.
The second part of the journey is definitely harder to understand. I can’t find anything about the two of them until 1913 when Merritt died in Kendall County, TX. Zenah was with him and he may have been in a sanatorium since he supposedly suffered from respiratory problems and died from pharyngeal tuberculosis according to his death certificate. In adjacent Kerr County, there was a tuberculosis sanitorium. I wonder if he was a patient in that facility? Although many Waltons and some Straits lived in TX at that time, I can’t find any in Kendall or nearby counties. And, I can’t find any evidence that any of their relatives moved to Texas.
The problem is that no one exists anymore who can provide information on these issues. My granmother, who might have known something, died in 1982 before I really became interested in these issues. My mother, who is still living thankfully, really doesn’t know anything about these stories and so is no real help. So, I’m stuck with somewhat of a brick wall – not so much a factual problem but more of a contextual problem. I don’t know how but some day I’d really like to solve this problem!