It’s an important day in our family today: it’s my stepson’s 18th birthday. I decided to use this landmark date as inspiration in finding an ancestor to write about for the 52 Ancestors challenge. So I looked at the calendar in my Family Tree Maker program and discovered that my stepson shares a birthday with his 4th great grandfather, Levi Tennison. I really did not know very much about this ancestor, so I did some digging. As it turned out, I found some very interesting reading.
Levi was born 181 years ago on January 19, 1833 in Illinois, possibly somewhere in Shelby County. His parents were Rutherford and Rhody (nee Whitfield). At some point, Levi, his parents and 6 siblings left Illinois. In 1850 they were found living in Carroll County, Arkansas.
Around 1854-1856, Levi married Elizabeth Jane Seals in Arkansas. Eleven children were born to them over the years.
Levi and his family moved around quite a bit. The family was found living in Bourbon County, Kansas from 1860-1870. Levi’s occupation was listed as “farmer.” Then in 1880, they were found living in Lampasas County, Texas.
Life seemed to have taken a curve once they began living in Texas. His oldest son, Joseph “J.W.” was ambushed and shot to death on April 16, 1886 while walking home outside of Comanche, Texas. Four men were arrested for the murder. Another son, William Edward, was arrested for theft of a horse, and was incarcerated at the Texas Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas on August 10, 1880, at the age of 15. However, he was pardoned by the governor on March 8, 1881, because of his youth.
By 1910, Levi and his wife were living in Wheeler County, Texas, near their daughter, Samantha. Levi’s occupation was listed as “clergyman.”
Levi continued to live in Wheeler until his death on September 3, 1920. He is buried in the Wheeler Cemetery alongside his wife. Their tombstone, although broken from the heat of a wildfire, clearly reads, “Rev. Levi L. Tenison.”
Levi and his family had been just names to me, until I had decided to delve more into his life this weekend. I especially interested in learning more about the tragic end of his son, Joseph and why a group of men would murder someone in a small, rural community. And how and when did Levi decide to become a clergyman? So many questions to find answers to!