52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 5: My Grandma Helen's other Grandmother: Nancy Cooper North Pausner


This is one that I have spent many hours (days) researching, only to come up short.  Nancy has a couple of family myths attached to her.  One is that we are descendants of the Cherokee Tribe, and the second is that we have Irish roots on this side of the family.

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I believe Nancy’s mom is Ann(a) Wilson.  Nancy says her mom was born in Missouri on 4 different US censuses. I found Ann and Nancy on the 1876 Missouri State Census in Benton, Missouri which is on the trail of tears traveled by the Cherokee in 1838. 

“So in the early 1800′s we have documented proof of a rather large group of Cherokees some 4000 did indeed reside in the area that would later become the States of Arkansas, Northeastern Oklahoma and Southern Missouri.”   Read more: http://www.powwows.com/2013/01/02/missouriarkansas-cherokee/#ixzz2rSbBVnVW

But that is about as close as I can get.  I can’t find any more information on Ann Wilson: no birth or death or marriage certificate, and only one census in 1865. 

However, I took the Ancestry.com DNA test, and I have no Native American DNA.  Someone else in the family could have it.  But it didn't filter down to me.

The other myth is that we have Irish heritage on this side of the family.   Nancy says her father was born in England on five US censuses.  So this doesn't seem to be Irish (although it is the right part of the world).  I can find no other information about James Cooper.  It is possible that he served in the Civil War.  He was probably born about 1831, and it seems every man born about then has a civil war service record.

So both her parents are genealogical dead ends.

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Nancy (Nannie) Cooper was born on November 15, 1860 in Illinois (3 US Censuses) or Missouri (2 US Censuses)

In 1876 Nancy is living with her mom in Benton, MO which is near the Illinois and Missouri borders.

In 1880, Nancy is 20 and she is living with the William McKinney family as a servant in Clinton, MO.  The census states that she cannot read or write.

In 1881, on Oct 31, Nancy and Marion B North (b. 1859) get a marriage license in Sedalia, MO.  It is 55 miles from Clinton to Sedalia, which is fairly close to each other, so I think this corroborates both facts. 

Speaking of Marion, his parents are William North and Harriet (Harrison?).  I found them in the 1860 census.  William is listed as born in Georgia in 1803, and Harriet in Illinois in 1829.  They are living in Osceola next to two other North Families…but can’t find the connection, could be brothers or cousins.

“The town of Osceola was inhabited by the Osage tribe of native Americans. Two treaties, in 1808 and 1825, signed by the Osage and the U.S. government gave up all the tribe's land in Missouri. With the way cleared for non-native settlers, more people began to arrive in the St. Clair County area in the mid-1830s. The first home was built in the future Osceola in the winter of 1835.

In the early months of the Civil War, the town was the site of the September 1861 Sacking of Osceola by Jayhawkers in which the town was burned and its courthouse looted. The event inspired the 1976 Clint Eastwood film The Outlaw Josey Wales. Prior to the attack the town had a population of around 2,500. However, fewer than 200 residents remained after the event.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osceola,_MO

This could explain why Marion has left Osceola and is in Sedalia in 1881.  And Sedalia has a rich history as well:  “Indigenous peoples lived along the Missouri River and its tributaries for thousands of years before European contact. Historians believe the entire area around Sedalia was first occupied by the Osage (among historical American Indian tribes). When the land was first settled by European Americans, bands of Shawnee who had migrated from the East lived in the vicinity of Sedalia.

During the American Civil War, the US Army had an installation in the area, adding to its boomtown atmosphere. With the coming of two railroads connecting it to other locations, in the post-Civil War period, Sedalia grew at a rapid pace, with a rough energy of its travelers and cowboys. From 1866–1874, it was a railhead terminus for cattle drives and stockyards occupied a large area

In the 19th century, Sedalia was well known as a center of vice, especially prostitution that accompanied its large floating class of railroad workers and commercial travelers. “   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedalia,_Missouri

Perhaps the family myths were really attached to Marion.  But no, I can’t find any Irish or Native American roots here either.  The genealogical trail goes cold, no more records before or after 1860 for father William. (It’s possible that he too served in the Civil War). Harriet can be found in the 1850 census but that’s it.

Nancy (age 27) (and Marion, I assume) have a son, Fredrick Harrison North, on 27 Dec 1887 in Marshall, MO which is 30 miles north of Sedalia.

Then there is a gap.  The 1890 US Census was destroyed in a fire, and I can’t find any other record between 1887 and 1900.

In 1900 (age 40), Nancy is living with the Samuel Davis (widower) family in Gage, NE, as a servant.  It is listed that she CAN read and write.  Her son Fred is with her (he is attending school and can read and write), and she is listed as a widow.  So what happened to Marion?  (Gage, NE is on the railroad line from Sedalia…was Marion a railroad worker, like his son Fred?)

In 1901, Nancy marries her second husband Charles Pausner who is an immigrant from Bohemia.  They are married for 20 years and have one child together; Florence May in August, 1901.

1907, Beatrice, NE:  Charlie is a janitor at German National Bank.

1910, Beatrice NE: Charlie is a laborer in a private home. They own their home at 910 Herbert St, and it is not mortgaged.

1920, same house: Charlie is a laborer in a nursery.

Nancy and Charlie divorce in about 1921.  He dies in 1922 in California.

In 1930 Nancy is living with her daughter and son-in-law and their 6 kids under age 10 who are renting a house at 5012 North 30th St.  It states that Nancy did not attend school, and neither did her daughter Florence.

Nancy dies in 19 May 1932 in Schuyler, NE.  BarbaraSpitler40 shared on Ancestry.com:  “She lived with my Dad (Nancy’s grandson) and his parents (Nancy’s daughter and son-in-law) from the late 1920's till she died. During the summers my grandparents (Nancy’s daughter and son-in law) camped along the river so my grandparents didn't have to pay rent on a house and she died when they were camping.”

1850, 1860, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930 US Federal Census
Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002
Missouri State Census Collection 1841-1881
US City Directories, 1921-1899
Nebraska, Find A Grave Index 1854-2012
Nebraska Certificate of Death
Wyoming Standard Certificate of Death
US World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918


  1. While it would be fun to establish evidence that proves a family myth, finding the real truth in the process is of more actual value. It adds accuracy to each piece of the puzzle that is the ancestral family. Well Done!


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