Sunday, November 18, 2012

Black Sheep Sunday - William Shaw Duell

OK, so I have been collaborating with Marlene, who I have mentioned in regards with the Duel Family photo, on our research of the Duel family.  And while I have been preoccupied with Dexter S. Duel and his family, Marlene just mentioned one day that she is still working on William Shaw Duel (our BLACK SHEEP) and if I came across anything... So the other night, I got to thinking that the work on William was going to be time consuming, so I should start getting the ball rolling on his work, while I still work on Dexter or Deck as we now know is what he preferred.

Skeletons....yes, we all have them! But what to do with we quickly stuff them back in the proverbial closet?? do we hold them up as badges of honor?? OR do we tell their stories and count them as part of our history and how we ended up where we are today??

Why yes, everything they did had a role in where we are today.  Even the ones from long ago.  William Shaw Duell is my 3rd Great Grandfather.  He is the father of George Robinson Duel (this is where the second l gets dropped), father of Bertie (Duel) Pattee, mother of Wavel (Pattee) Adamson, mother of Robert B. Adamson, father of yours truly.  Yes, there it is all laid out in black and white, William is my direct line, my Grandfather.  Had I ever heard this name before my research?? No. Had any of my immediate family, including my Father?? No.  And I think with good reason.  I have talked before about how it used to be that people just didn't talk about their families...ok, well maybe not all people, but definitely mine.  Here is why we never heard of him before my research.

William Shaw Duel was born about 1805 in New York, USA.  The son of Abraham & Mary Duell.  On 26 Feb 1824, at the age of 19, he married Mary Almira Sisson in Rome, Oneida, New York, USA.  They had 4 sons: George R., William Warren, Alonzo F., Stephen and one daughter Mary Jane.

Imagine my shock when I go to the census records to find this family and run into the 1850 U.S. Federal Census listing William Duel as being in the Dodge County Jail in Wisconsin.  This was the first time I had run into a criminal on my family tree.  And I thought surely this can't be my Grandfather.  So, I took a closer look at the record and in the box next to his name it says "attempt to commit rape on daughter".  Good Gracious! This really can't be my family! Right???

WELL! There it was! Of course, I went looking for a way out of this family story.  And it took days for me to bring the story up to my Dad, to ask if he had ever heard of it.  Which, he hadn't...and was even a little disappointed I think to find this out.  But we have had time to process this sad event in our history.  I started looking at this family about 4 years ago.  Two things about back then: one, I didn't really know what I was doing or where to turn with this information.  How do you go about verifying something like this.  I mean, I could have gotten it wrong...right? And two, I really didn't have the stomach to research something that I felt was very heinous. To wrong a child is one of the worst crimes in my opinion.  So, I put it away and didn't think much about it.  I worked a little bit every now and then on George and Amy Duel.  But it was never any real intense research.

Until, a few months ago when I was contacted by a gentleman researching veterans buried in the Sheridan Masonic Cemetery in Sheridan, OR.  We talked for a bit about George and James Pattee, who is also buried in that cemetery.  And I got to thinking about George and Amy and how I really needed to just buck up and get started.  At the time though, I was working on my Timbrel line and all my picture projects.  Then I heard from Marlene one night who had a thought about George and Amy and wanted my take on it.  And I got the hint...finally.  It was time to get to work.  And now you know how I ended up here.  

I am glad though.  I may not enjoy researching something so sad and hurtful but I am learning a lot.  It also has brought my Dad and I a little closer as we talk about it all and how it has affected us.  And it has...every decision our ancestors have made have shaped us into who we are.  Because it has shaped our parents and their parents.  Just like how the decisions we make today will affect our descendants.  My children have a different life because of my choice to join my church and live where we live.  It even has to do with the little decisions we make I go to work or stay home? do we spend all our time watching tv or playing with our kids.  Every decision has ripples in the water.

So back to the research...I have looked at the newspaper databases that I have access to with no luck in finding an explanation in print.  But, I am lucky enough to belong to some great Yahoo! groups and Facebook groups.  I am a "member" of the Wisconsin Genealogy Network on Facebook, and took a chance that maybe someone there would have a better idea of where to start.  Sure enough, those people are great help.  One lady in particular was able to help with some newspaper articles that she had found, and gladly sent them on to me.  I already had a copy of William and Almira's divorce papers from Marlene.  I knew that they divorced in 1859, nine years after he was in jail.  Which Marlene and I both thought was strange that she would wait so long to file for divorce.  Armed with the divorce papers and now the three new newspaper articles, I have joined the Wisconsin Historical Society, to ask for help in finding any court records or anything pertaining to the Wisconsin State Prison.  I am anxiously waiting to hear from their research department.  In the meantime, I will keep working on George and his family.

Here is what we now know:

In April 1850, William was sentenced to 7 years in the state prison.  September 1850 he escapes from the county jail.  May 1850, he is captured and returned to the Dodge County Jail.  The next we hear about him is when Almira petitions for a divorce on the grounds of desertion, which she is granted, on 28 Dec 1859.  What we are trying to figure out is what happens to William after that....

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