|Joseph Conley was born in Virginia in 1797, the son of Irish immigrants. In 1828, at the age of 31, he married Harriett
Beatty in the city of Mineola, Missouri. Her father, William, was also an Irishman, born on April 8th, 1741 in Killeshandra,
County Cavan. The couple had seven children together, six of whom were born in Kirksville, Adair County, Missouri.
Their forth child, Richard Cornelius, was born in 1840. He married then 22 year old Sarah Haden, the granddaughter of
Anthony Haden (1694) and Margaret Douglas (1700-1746) of Norfolkshire, England, who settled in Virginia after coming to
America in the early 1700's. Margaret's father was William Douglas (1670) of Ayrshire, Scotland.
Richard and Sarah had three children, three years apart. Their only son, born in June of 1876, was christened Jasper
Nooten Conley. When he was a young man, he was sent to South Dakota to help his uncle, William Haden, who was
clearing land for his homestead in Butler Township, near Letcher. In 1897 he would have been 21 years old. The exact
date of his arrival on the farm is unknown, but certain events that occurred during his visit may connect him to our family
in a most important way.
Also farming land in Butler Township in 1897 was the 18 year old son of Martin Van Buren Wares, John, and two of his
sisters, Grace, 16 and Dora, 12. They lived on rented land adjoining the Haden farm. (Was Haden their landlord?)
In August of 1898, at the age of 17, unwed Grace P. Wares became pregnant by an unnamed suitor, and in May of 1899
gave birth to a girl she named Thelma Marie (Wares). In June of 1900, the unwed mother became pregnant once again.
One month later, Grace was forced to relinquish her first born for adoption, still refusing to name the father(s).
Fourteen month old Thelma Marie was surrendered by Grace to South Dakota Children’s Home Society at Letcher in
Sanborn County on the 27th day of July, 1900. One month later, she was placed with Alexander Joseph Chase at Britton
in Marshall County on the 29th of August; then was legally adopted by Joseph and his wife Nettie on October 30th, 1900.
Her name was changed to Etta May (Chase).
Margaret was born in March of 1901. Grace refused to give her up and was forced to leave her brother's farm. Calling
herself the widowed Mrs. Smith, she and the infant Margaret travelled south to Tyndall where she was unknown. There
she met and eventually married Henry Julius Cavier on May 24th, 1902. Her new husband adopted the one year old child
as his own. Together the Caviers would have another 6 children together.
Grace never again saw her first born, Thelma Marie, and she never spoke about her to her family. However, we were told
by one of her descendants that she had asked her son to name his baby Thelma if it was a girl. But it wasn't to be, and
the reason for her request was unrevealed. We know that her daughter Margaret lived out her life never knowing she
had an older sister.
So, who was the father of those two children born at the turn of the Century in Butler, South Dakota to Grace Wares?
My research involved locating and reading the farm by farm household records of Butler Twp, Sanborn, South Dakota for
the time period in question and then compiling a list of only those eligible unmarried males aged 17 to 30 years old within
a 6 to 10 mile radius of the Wares farm. Knowing the township's dimensions and terrain was also a factor.
Butler Township statistics - Land area: 36.1 square miles. Water area: 0.0 square miles. Location: the area within the
boundaries of 239th St and 408th Ave. Population in 1900: 275 (all rural). Farms were typically two per mile, located
within one mile square road grids, or 4 farms per section.
Those substantial distances between the farms, coupled with the inconvenience of horse and buggy travel in that time
period led me to consider a narrower list of men residing in the immediate proximity of the Wares farm.
Below is a complete list of every property in Butler Township in June, 1900, with household number, name, age and
marital status. (households in the list without single men are purposely left blank)
090 Smith, Jule 64 M* (see end of page)
091 Colbert, Berton 24 S, border
095 Horock, Angus, 26 S, living with father, no mother
096 Horton, Alexander 18 S, stepson, living with stepfather & mother
097 Taylor, Willard 21 S, living with father & mother
102 [Wares] Minnie 26 M, wife; Wares, Maggie 12, sister; Walton, Edward 32 M, husband
103 Fitak, Stephan 29 S & Fitak, George 23 S, both sons living with father & mother
111 DeWolf, John 29 S, border & Powsre, Gilbert 21 S, brother in law
112 Jacobue, Lewman 23 S; Jacobue, Roy, 22 S; Jacobue, Lyle 20 S; Jacobue, Paul 19 S; all living with father & mother
115 Chandler, George 20 S, living with father & mother
118 Vantassel, James 24 S, living with father & mother
119 Kane, Charles 21 S, living with father & mother
120 Wilds, Thurston 25 S, living with father & mother
121 Stehl, Benjamin 18 S, living with father & mother (married Kate 1901: 1st child Elsie, 1902)
125 Conley, Jasper N 23 S, farm laborer, nephew of William Haden
126 Wares, John D 21 S, head of household; Wares, Grace 18 S, sister; Wares, Dora 15, sister; Wares, Thelma 1, niece
131 Lindsey, Wilber 18 S, living with father & mother
135 Grimshaw, Walice 19 S, living with father & mother (married in 1902, stayed in Butler)
136 Wares, Martin 60 W, border
140 Jensen, James 18 S, living with uncle, mother and sister (immigrated from Denmark, June 1900)
143 Todd, John 22 S, living with father & mother
For me, one name stood out from the rest, John Ware's neighbor, Jasper N Conley, household 125. Adding to the
evidence was the physical location of the residences on each property: The houses were adjacent to each other.
Jasper's relatively brief presence in the community also fit the time line of Grace's two pregnancies.
The Census of June 25th, 1900 told much of the story: Jasper was from Missouri, a single, 23 year old man, living with his
uncle, William Albert "Hayden" as his farm hand in 1900, next door to the John Wares residence. He was listed as
"Conley, N Jasper, nephew, age 23 (June 1876)" along with others in the household: C Guy Haden, son, age 6 months, E
Hanna Haden, daughter, age 5, and B Florence Haden, wife, age 25. The census taker had misspelled the uncle's
surname, but not the others. Interestingly, Jasper's entry is on line 23; John Wares is on line 24; with Grace on line 25.
Young Thelma is listed on line 27 as a 'niece'; father's birthplace, 'unknown'.
See The 1900 Census [Click this link to the census excerpt, then left click on the picture to enlarge it. 'Back' to return]
From it, I was able to research the Haden name, which led to Sarah in Missouri, who turned out to be William Albert
Haden's sister. That led to her son's full name, Jasper Nooten Conley, born June 28th, 1876.
Margaret (Wares/Cavier) was born 27 March, 1901, so she would have been conceived between June & July of 1900. The
census places Jasper squarely next door to Grace at exactly that time.
Jasper left Butler at almost the same time, and I suspect a month or two before Grace. His marriage to Clara Kepthart in
Missouri in December shows us that. We can only imagine the turmoil in the Wares household that caused Grace to flee
her brother's home. And I can understand why she took the name Mrs. Smith to hide the fact that she was an unwed
mother. I found only two Smiths living in Butler in the year 1900, Jule and Cara, aged 64 and 53.
Jasper Nooten Conley married thrice after returning to Missouri, but had no other children by any of his wives. His parents
probably had no idea that he had fathered two lines with present day descendants: their grand and great grand children.
But I think his Uncle William knew what he did during his 2 year visit. What do you think?
|Minnie Wares family
|Our family history and records
03 Jan 2009