Monday, September 12, 2011


The more I look into this woman's life, the more questions I have.  Another mystery.  Rebecca is the sister of my descendant, John Harvey Moyer.  This should not be confused with John's daughter, Rebecca Ann Moyer Donnelly, who died and was buried in 1919.  I find it endearing that that John Harve named a daughter Rebecca and then his sister Rebecca actually names one of her sons John Harve.
Rebecca was born February 1851 or 1854 in Indiana.  Her birthday is listed as 1851 on the 1900 census and on the 1880 census, it states that she is 30.  When she was 6 years old her family is listed on the 1860 federal census in Hickory Grove, Wisconsin.  She married Franklin Lafayette Williamson on 17 November, 1870 in Saunders County, Nebraska.  She was 16 years old at the time and he had returned from serving in the Civil War for three years.  This leads me to believe that her birth year was 1854, but it will get even more confusing.
In 1880 the family is living in Benton, Iowa.  At this time there are five children in the family, Elizabeth, George, John Harve, Bert and Charles.  By 1885 they have moved across the border to Plattsmouth, Nebraska and we are lucky to have a state census that year.  Rebecca is 29 and has six children.  Her first child, Elizabeth is listed as Lizzie Cunningham and step-daughter to Frank Williamson.  Frank is listed as a farmer.
In 1900 the family is living in Nebraska City, Nebraska.  Rebecca lists 11 of 12 children living.  She has 7 children at home.  Frank's occupation is listed as a teamster.
Here's where it gets real interesting.  I was able to locate an Iowa marriage certificate for a Rebecca Williamson who's parents were George Myers and Sarah Beasly.  She states that she is WIDOWED!  Her new husband is an immigrant from Germany named John Rousch.  He was 38 at the time of the marriage and Rebecca lists her age as 47.  Anyone interested in viewing the information can find it by clicking on this link:
The next document I look to is the 1910 census.  First I find Rebecca and John Rousch living in Nebraska City and Rebecca's daughter Louise and her husband, John Petty is living with them.  The only weird thing on this census is that Rebecca's name is listed as Helen on the census.  But don't doubt this is our Rebecca because you will see that she lists 11 out 12 children living.  She is 50 years old and living next door to her other daughter, Hattie Biggs, and her family!
Where is Frank living in 1910?  Frank is also living in Nebraska City doing odd jobs.  He is also listed as being a widow.  Makes things a bit confusing, eh?  Maybe it was cheaper than a divorce......
I haven't been able to pin point Rebecca's death date or where she is buried but in 1925 and in 1930 Rebecca's second husband, John Rousch is found living with Louise and her husband still.  This happens to be Louise's second husband, Bert Musselman.

Here is a list of her children:

Elizabeth (Cunningham) is found on two censuses living with Rebecca.  The 1880 Federal and the 1885 Iowa state census.  She is listed as a step daughter with the last name of Cunningham on the 1885 state census.
George, born about 1872 in Nebraska, married Rosa Pool 1895 in Nebraska and they had one child, Bessie R Williamson who was born 1905 in Nebraska, in 1906 George married Louisa Hammond at Council Bluffs, Iowa.  No known death date.
John Harve, born December 22, 1873 in Nebraska. He married Cora or Clara Crow about 1899.
Bert, born March 22, 1875 in Nebraska.  He married Ella Howery September 3, 1907 in Nebraska.  He died December 1967 in Nebraska City, Nebraska.
Charles Edward was born about 1880
Bessie Mae was born February 7, 1883 in Nebraska
Hattie Belle, a twin born February 5, 1886.  She married Jonathan Biggs July 18, 1900 in Nebraska City.  She was only 14 years old at the time.  She died  August 19, 1933 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Mattie, a twin born February 5, 1886.  I have two marriage certificates for her.  On March 6, 1902, she married Guy Pearman in Nebraska City.  Then on April 10, 1911, she married Ezekial Dutton.
Roy was born 1890 in Nebraska.  He married Myrtle Anna Horner on November 14, 1914 in Nebraska City.  I do not have a death date for him.
Louise, born January 18, 1894, married John S. Petty on October 12, 1908 when she was 14 years old.  She later married Bert Allen Musselman on October 11, 1911. Both marriages were recorded in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  
Olive Pearl was born June 3, 1897 in Nebraska City.  She married Abraham Lewis on September 25, 1916 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  She went by Ollie and she is buried at the Hazel Dell Cemetery in California.  She died on May 12, 1983.
Here are the questions I have about Rebecca:  Did she have a daughter Elizabeth with another man before she married Franklin Layfette Williamson?  Why did she and Frank list themselves as widowed?  Where and when did Rebecca die?  What was she like?  Did she have contact with her brother, John Harve, and my great great great grandfather?  Maybe these questions will never get answered but my inquiring mind just can't help but wonder!


  1. I have some of the answers you are looking for. I am the gg granddaughter of Elizabeth Cunningham. She married William A Short in Cass County Ne. On the marriage certificate it says Elizabeth's parents were M. Cunningham and R. Moyer. So I did a search by the 1885 Nebraska census and found Elizabeth living with Rebecca. I was skeptical as this was her mother. I did some research around the areas and it didn't help. Elizabeth lived in south Omaha, Douglas, Nebraska by both the 1900 and 1910 census. By the 1920 census William was listed as divorced. I have not found Elizabeth since. Although my great aunt told me her grandmothers name was Elizabeth Cunningham and she remarried and had kids their age that they played with. I'm thinking she remarried and had more children or helped raise grandchildren. I found and ordered elizabeths marriage certificate here:

    I was agrivated with no luck on finding Elizabeth so I started looking up on familysearch William and Elizabeths children, they had a daughter Jessie who married earl allender in pottawamie Iowa. Jessie lists her parents as Elizabeth Williamson and William short. That confirmed to me that Rebecca was indeed Elizabeth's mother. I found this info here:

    I did a search of any Rebecca myers who married a Cunningham on familysearch in Iowa and I came up with Rebecca myers who married a James M. Cunningham in Montgomery Iowa, which is right outside fremont Iowa where this family seemed to frequent. The record is found here:

    I like you found Rebecca by the 1910 census as Helen also, I'm thinking that may be a middle or first name. I also found john living with Louise and bert so I went back to otoe Nebraska and looked to see what cemetery she could be buried at and low and behold I found her here buried with john in wyuka in otoe:

    Rebeccas mother is also buried her by the name of myers . Info found here:

    I am looking forward to hearing back from you, feel free to email me at

  2. When I made this comment I was not on my computer and would like to share a bit more information. Elizabeth Cunningham and William Short had 7 children. by the 1910 census only 3 were living, which lists she only had a total of 4? Roy (obviously family name) was killed by a dumb waiter while working with his father (recalled by my great aunt and confirmed by newspaper), buried in Forest Lawn. John Short (another family name) died before 1910 and was never found after 1900, I do not know where he is buried possibly in Plattsmouth as that was a recurring spot for this family even until recently). Alice Elizabeth (Lizzie) buried in Forest Lawn. All Forest Lawn burials can be found here, it is quite a large file and takes a minute to load:

    Her surviving children Thomas Lahey (my G Grandfather) was an engineer and was head of the engineers union. There was question that he was a loan shark but never confirmed. He was very mechancally inclined and it has been passed down that he made a remote for his tv when it first came out. He is also buried in Forest Lawn.

    Caroline Helen (nice name Helen, look familiar?) She went by Helen and was always referred to as Helen. She married Charles Edward Gregory Which was tod by me from my great aunt), I am unsure where she died and if these 2 divorced or if she was widowed. From what I was told she stayed single and never had children and I do not know where she is buried. On familysearch it also lists her mother as Elizabeth Cunningham and father as William Short. Info found here:

    Earl C Short is buried in Forest Lawn and I do not have much info on him either.

    Jessie who is mentioned in previous post.

    1. This is really fantastic information!! Thanks so much for sharing. When I pile up all these facts, the pieces of the puzzle come together and makes me see how tight this family was in helping each other out.