BORN: September 11, 1848, in Lobo, Ontario, Canada
DIED: May 3, 1931 in Dow City, Crawford County, Iowa
AGED: 82 years, 7 months, 21 days
BURIED: Dow City Cemetery, Dow City, Crawford County, Iowa
FATHER: John Edwards, born October 16, 1808, in Delaware Twp., Middlesex County, Ontario, Canada
MOTHER: Phoebe Graves, born November 21, 1810, in New York
MARRIAGE 1: to Sarah Provoast on September 8, 1867, in St. Clair County, Michigan.
CHILDREN: The obituary for John Edwards states that he had seven children, and that five of them had preceded him in death. One child was adopted.
1. Unknown Name born September 1868, probably in Michigan. Died before the 1870 census.
2. Wallace Edwards born April 27, 1871 in Sanilac County, Michigan.
3. Ida Mae Edwards born January 2, 1872, in Sanilac County, Michigan, and died in January 1878. Burial location is unknown.
4. Samuel Edwards born April 25, 1874, in Sanilac County, Michigan and died in March of 1876. Burial location is unknown.
5. John Edwards Jr. born June 2, 1877 in Paradise Twp., Crawford County, Iowa
6. Arnold Edwards Birth and death dates are unknown. One VA document lists Arnold chronologically in this position relative to the other brothers and sisters.
7. Olive Edwards born on April 29, 1886, in Lambton County, Ontario, Canada, and died on January 12, 1894, in Crawford County, Iowa.
8. Eldon Louis Edwards born February 13, 1895, in Iowa. Eldon was adopted by John and Sarah Edwards.
MARRIAGE 2: to Delia Isabelle Rudd on April 29, 1913, in Dow City, Crawford County, Iowa.
As far as I know, my great grandfather, John Edwards, was the first member of our branch of the Edwards family to move to Iowa. He was born in Ontario, Canada, on September 11, 1848. He was the tenth child born to John and Phoebe Edwards. The Canadian census for 1851 shows the family residing in Lobo Township, in Middlesex County. Although the first names aren't given on the census form, the first initials are listed for each member of the family, and they match up exactly with the names that I've found given on various Internet files. It also states that John lost an older brother, named Ben, do to the effects of measles. The date of the census was January 11, 1852. John and Phoebe Edwards moved their family to the U.S. sometime in the late 1850s and settled in the state of Michigan.
The next records that I've found for my great grandfather were in connection with his military service during the Civil War. The enlistment roster for Company G of the 9th Michigan Infantry lists John Edwards as joining the Union Army on March 15, 1865, at the age of 18. That age of 18 doesn’t match with his birth year, so it's possible that he may have only been 16 years old at the time of his enlistment. It wasn't unusual for young boys to lie about their age in order to get into the army. In any event, he joined the regiment on April 28, 1865. His total army service only amounted to about five and a half months. He was never in any battles because he joined his company two weeks after the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. My father always maintained that John Edwards said that he served as a guard at a prison camp for Confederate soldiers. A history of the 9th Michigan Infantry states that they were in provost duty in Nashville, Tennessee, while John was with the unit. This duty also included guarding prisoners. The 9th Michigan Infantry was mustered out of the Union Army on September 15, 1865, in Nashville, Tennessee, and discharged in Detroit, Michigan, on September 26, 1865. John's time in the army was noted as being “Distinguished Service.”
The next information that I have is of a romantic nature. On September 8, 1867, John Edwards married a woman named Sarah Provoast in St. Clair County, Michigan. According to his obituary, Sarah was a native of Michigan, having been born on April 3, 1850, in St. Clair County. The 1870 census, however, gives her birth location as New York. I don't really know anything about Sarah except that she gave birth to seven of John's children. She died one year after my father was born, so he never knew her. My dad's older brother and two older sisters never spoke of her either.
The next record that I have is the 1870 census, and it lists John Edwards, at age 22, living in Forestville, Marion Township, Sanilac County, Michigan. Sarah's name is given as Sally Ann, age 20. The ages both correspond correctly with the birth dates for my great grandparents. At the time of the census, John was "making hoops," and Sally was "keeping house." His parents, John and Phoebe Edwards, were also living in the same area. The elder John Edwards is listed as being a farmer, and his wife was also "keeping house." Great grandfather's younger sister, named Hulda, age 20, is simply listed as being "at home."
The 1870 census doesn't list any children for John and Sarah, but according to VA documents, John and Sarah's first child was born in September of 1868. The name is lost to history because it's eligible on the document. My grandfather, Wallace Edwards, was their second child. He was born in Sanilac County, Michigan, on April 27, 1871. Less than two years after that, a third child, named Ida Mae Edwards, was born on January 2, 1872. Next came Samuel Edwards, born on April 25, 1874. Fortunately for me, Wallace Edwards lived, but Ida Mae and Samuel died as young children. Ida Mae died in January of 1878 at the age of six years, and Samuel died in March of 1876 at less than two years of age. Burial locations for the two children are unknown to me, but they are most likely in Michigan or Iowa.
In any event, sometime after the birth of Samuel in 1874, John and Sarah moved to Iowa. Although there's no way to tell exactly when they moved, I do know that they were in Crawford County, Iowa, on June 8, 1877, because that's when their fifth child, a boy named John Edwards Jr. was born. Fortunately for anyone doing genealogy research, he was almost always recorded as John Edwards Jr. That made three generations in a row with a "John Edwards" as a member of the family.
According to the obituary for John Edwards Jr., the family moved to Michigan when John Jr. was about one year old. From there, they moved back into Canada, where they stayed for about ten years. They show up in the Canadian census for 1881. They were living in Enniskillen Township, Lambton County, Ontario, Canada. John was again listed as "making hoops." Wallace was nine years old and John Jr. was three. Both Ida Mae and Samuel had died by that time. However, while they were living in Canada, a girl was born. Her name was Olive Edwards, and she came into the world on April 29, 1886, in Lambton County, Ontario, Canada.
I know that John and Sarah made their second move to Iowa around 1887, because John’s obituary in 1931 states that he lived the last 44 years of his life in Crawford County, Iowa. I can find no record of them in the Iowa State Census of 1885, and thanks to an unfortunate conflagration in the government archives, all the census data for Iowa in 1890 were destroyed. However the state census for 1895 is available, but it doesn't include Olive Edwards. She died on January 12, 1894. She's buried in the Charter Oak Cemetery in Charter Oak, Crawford County, Iowa. Her headstone is very impressive. I imagine she was the "apple" of John's eye. He must have missed her dearly. Also on that monument are the birth dates and approximate death dates for Ida Mae and Samuel Edwards.
The Iowa census of 1895 does show that John and Sarah, John Jr., and Wallace with his bride, Rose, were all living in Charter Oak Township in Crawford County. It's interesting to note, however, that two of Wallace and Rose's children, Edna Myrtle Edwards and Cecil Francis Edwards, had been born by that time, but they aren't listed in the census. Also in 1895, a boy was born in Crawford County, who was later adopted by John and Sarah. His name was Eldon Louis Edwards. I have no information on the circumstances of the adoption, only that he was raised by John and Sarah.
By the time of the 1900 census, the entire family (John, Sarah, Wallace, and John Jr.) had made their next move. This time it was to Hurdland Township, in the southeast corner of Clay County, Iowa. They are all listed together on the same page of the census record, so they must have lived in close proximity to each other. All the Edwards men are listed as being day laborers.
The fourth move for John and Sarah was back to Crawford County, Iowa, sometime between 1900 and 1903, when John Edwards Jr.'s last child was born in Crawford County. The Iowa State Census for 1905 shows all of them living in Dow City. By that time, John Edwards Jr. had divorced his wife, Ella.
The U.S. Census for 1910 gives some addition information, and some of it conflicts with that given in other censuses. John is listed as immigrating to the United States in 1858, not 1855, as was given in the census of 1930. John is listed as being a naturalized citizen. Sarah is listed as having had eight children, the two biological sons, Wallace and John Jr., and Eldon Edwards, who was adopted. All the men, including Eldon, are listed as being farmers or farm workers. All three of the families were living on third street, so they were still in close proximity to each other.
The next major event in John Edwards's life was the death of Sarah, on September 24, 1912. The tombstone placed in her honor was one of the largest in the Dow City Cemetery at that time. It resembles very closely the one for Olive Edwards in Charter Oak Cemetery. Tragic though it may have been to lose Sarah, John wasn't one to let life get ahead of him. He remarried on April 29, 1913, to a woman named Delia Isabelle Rudd, who had previously been married to a man named William Bybee.
The Iowa State Census for 1915 gives some scattered information. It gives John's church affiliation as the LDS Church and lists the value of their house at $800. For naturalized citizens like John, it also states how long they've been in the U.S. and in Iowa. In John's case it says 36 years for both, which puts it at odds with the other census tables. If that were true, John would have come back to Iowa from Canada in 1879. But, they were living in Canada in 1881. So, I doubt the accuracy of the entry.
We find out a little more information on that point in the U.S. Census for 1920. It states that he immigrated to U.S. in 1857. That would have been the time when John and Phoebe Edwards first came to the U.S. from Canada. This is one year off from the 1858 date given in the 1910 census, and two years off from that given in the 1930 census, which was listed as 1855. But regardless of which year is correct, the family should have shown up somewhere in the U.S. Census for 1860, but they don't. I can't find them anywhere. Maybe the family just wasn't enumerated.
The Iowa State Census of 1925 showed John and Delia still in Dow City. They owned their own home, which was valued at $2000. It also lists John as having attended rural schools through the fourth grade.
By 1930, the last census for which I have any data, they were still in Dow City. They were living on Clark Street, and the value of their home was $1200. They also owned a radio.
One year later, on May 3, 1931, John Edwards passed away at his home in Dow City at the age of 82 years, 7 months and 21 days. He's buried in the Dow City Cemetery, which is located on a hill just west of town. Delia Edwards lived until February 28, 1942. She's also buried in the same cemetery as John and Sarah.
I don’t know what kind of a person John Edwards was, because he died long before I was born. I have very little recollection of anyone ever talking about him or describing him as a person. My father used to mention him on rare occasions, but I've forgotten most of what he said. In the two photographs that I have of John, he seems to be of a very stern disposition. But, he must have been a compassionate man, too, because he not only adopted a son, but he had different members of the Edwards family living in his home at various times. He seems to have been the true "head" of the family. I wish that I could have known him.