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Joseph Prentice, Iowa

Joseph Prentice and Mary Lee of Iowa
By Linus Joseph Dewald Jr., Editor
Winter 1999 and Revised 21 Nov 2005

We are helping Michelle Setlik in her quest to trace her Prentice roots. Here is what we have so far:

1. Joseph Prentice may have been b. c. 1855-1860, give or take a couple years. The 1900 census records of his daughters, Nellie and Clara, show Joseph as b. in Scotland. Joseph died in an accident sometime between 1890 and 1900.

The 1880 census records do not show any Joseph Prentice b. in Scotland and the 1890 census records were destroyed by fire. The 1930 census records of his sons, Fred and Joseph, say only that Joseph was b. in the "United States", entries which may indicate only a lack of knowledge of any birth place by the person providing the information to the Census worker.

    Note: According to an E-mail from Michelle Setlik of 16 Sep 1999, it was Fred's last daughter, her great-aunt (who died Sep 1999), who provided the names of Fred's parents, brothers and sisters. In addition, the marriage license of his son, Fred, shows the names of Joseph Prentice and Mary Lee as Fred's parents.

Joseph m. Mary who may have been born in 1864 (see Fn. 1). She d. about a year after her husband, Joseph. Children of Joseph and Mary, not necessarily in chronological order:

  1. Nellie Prentice, b. Jul 1881, DE (per 1900 Omaha, Douglas Co., NE census). Note: There is a Delaware County in Iowa. It might be that the reference to "Delaware," as the places of birth of Nellie and Clara, refers to Delaware County, IA, but a county reference in the census would be highly unusual and improbable.

    In the 1900 Omaha census, Nellie and her sister, Clara, below, are living with Royce Williams(?) and his wife, Ann, and the girls are called their "niece." Ann was b. in Delaware, so they may daughters of Ann's sister.

  2. Clara Prentice, b. Apr 1884, DE (per 1900 Omaha, Douglas Co., NE census). See information about her sister, Nellie, above.

  3. Joseph Prentice. He may be the same person shown in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) as b. 23 Jul 1884 and d. Feb 1967 in Council Bluffs, IA. He is probably the same person as the Joseph Prentice, shown in the 1920 Council B Bluffs, Pottawattamie Co, IA census as a roomer, unmarried.

  4. Fred Henry Prentice, b. 23 Mar 1888, IA. . . . . . . . . . [2]

  5. Charles Prentice. (For another Charles Prentice born in IA in that same general time frame, see the Article about Lawton Prentice.)

2. Fred Henry Prentice, b. 23 Mar 1888, IA. He d. 22 Nov 1969 at Grand Island, Hall, NE and is bur. at Wolbach, Greely, NE. He is probably the same person shown in the Social Security Death Index as b. 23 Mar 1888 and d. Feb 1969, Walbach, NE. He appears only in the 1930 census Elmwood, Cass Co., NE.

After his parents' death, Michelle Setlik relates that Fred was placed in an orphanage in Omaha, NE, possibly with his two sisters, but Fred was later placed with a family from Nebraska. A check of Iowa census records shows in the 1900 Council Bluffs, Pottowatomie Co., IA census, two boys living in the Christian Home (probably an Orphanage):

  • Fred Prentis, b. Nov 1887, IA. His father was born in Nebraska and his mother was born in Kansas.

  • Joseph Prentis, b. Jul 1886, IA. His father was born in Ohio and his mother was born in Michigan. Unless this census birth date is wrong, or the SSDI 1884 birth date of Joseph's son, Joseph (above) is wrong, they cannot be the same person.

It seems pretty clear that the two boys in the Orphanage, Joseph and Fred, are not brothers and there is some question whether either is related to Charles, #1v above.

However, by email of 22 Nov 2005, Michelle Setlik, she indicates that Fred and his siblings were there the Christian Home in the State census of 1895. A portion of her email reads as follows:

    "I do know know that Fred was living in the Christian Home in Iowa in 1895. There are four other children in the home with the same last name, Nellie age 13, Clara age 10, Joseph age 8, and Frank age 6. There is a note on the census page that the recorder included all the information that he could ascertain from the home but most of the children came from across the United States.

    "The Christian Children's Society is still in existence and I spoke to someone there about a year ago, she told me to send a letter with information about my relationship with Fred and to specifically request what kind of information I was looking for. I did so, but still have not heard back from them." I will try again and see if I have any more luck.

    "Which brings me to the reason for my e-mail. I think I mentioned to you that an old bit of family lore states that my great-grandfather (Fred) was on the orphan train. I have dismissed that idea because I understood from my great-aunt that he was born in Iowa. His marriage licence states that he was born in Iowa, my aunt thought he was born in Des Moines, and his WWI draft registration card states that he was born in Council Bluffs."

Fred m. Ella Mae Reeder on 9 Apr 1913, Plattsmouth, Cass, NE. She was b. 2 Feb 1893 in Ringgold Co., IA and d. 10 Sep 1973, St. Paul, Howard, NE and is also bur. at Wolbach, Greeley, NE. Ella Mae was the dau. of George T. Reeder and Minnie Myrtle Hopkins. Children:

  1. Wilma Alberta Prentice, b. 30 May 1914, Elmwood, Cass, NE. She d. 9 Sep 1999, Central City, Merrick, NE and is bur. at Wolbach. She m. 22 Feb 1933, Cyrus Marian Greek at Fullerton, Nance, NE.
  2. Margaret Mae Prentice, b. 8 Seo 1917, Elmwood and d. 3 Aug 1973, Schuyler, Colfax, NE and is bur. at Schuyler. She m. Harold Hureska 21 Aug 1952.
  3. Nellie Myrtle Prentice, b. 10 Oct 1922, Elmwood and d. 16 Aug 1963, Bennet, NE. She m. Steve Stephenson.
  4. Opal Gertrude Prentice, b. 28 Seo 1925, Elmwood, d. 3 Aug 1983 in Grand Junction, CO and is bur. in Wolbach. She m. Carl William Nielsen.
  5. Charles Leon Prentice, b. 24 Feb 1930, Elmwood. He m. Darleen on 7 May 1953.
  6. Kenneth Dale Prentice, b. 9 Apr 1932, Wolbach, d. 4 Aug 1999, Wolbach, and is bur. in Wolbach. He m. Marilyn Bandt.

Who are Joseph Prentice's Parents?

Since Joseph was likely born around 1860, we reviewed the 1860 Iowa census and found Alexander Prentice (Summer 1999 Issue) living in Crescent, Pottowattomie Co., IA. The 1860 census shows Alexander then had 4 children, the youngest only 1 year of age, but does not identify a son named "Joseph." However, Alexander was then only 33 and quite likely had additional children. It might be that Joseph is a son of Alexander.

On the other hand, the indicated birth locations of Clara and Nellie in Delaware in 1881 and 1884 (if it refers to the State of Delaware rather than Delaware Co., IA) if correct, would indicate that Alexander is probably not Joseph's father because Alexander was living in Iowa by 1856 when a daughter, Mary, was born.

If Joseph Prentice was living in Delaware in 1881, and if he were born about 1860, he would seem too old to be the son of James P. Prentice and his wife, Lide M., who appear in the 1880 Wilmington, DE census. James was born c. 1845 or 1846 in England. Joseph and James might, however, be brothers.

There two other possibility as to the identity of the parents of Joseph Prentice. He might be Frederick Prentice who is discussed in the Winter 1999 issue. Or, his father might be Charles Prentice, discussed in the article about John and Charles Edgar Prentice in the Winter 1999 article.

Finally, we found one person who might be a brother to Joseph, although it is a long shot. The 1900 census for Wilmington Ward 5, New Castle Co., Delaware, shows a James P. Prentice, b. Oct 1847 in England, and his wife, Liza M., b. Jul 1850 in Delaware. No children are shown at home. James is shown emigrating in 1851. Since James is probably younger than Joseph, he would be Joseph's brother only if that family later moved to Scotland where Joseph was born. The possibility of kinship is interesting because Joseph's daughters, Nellie and Clara, are shown in census records as b. in Delaware.

Fn. 1. By E-mail of 16 Sep 1999, Michelle Setlik relates that she had contacted a number of Prentice and Lee families, and one of the Lee families returned a group sheet on a Lee family who lived in Wayne Co., IA. One of the daughters on the sheet was named Mary, born in 1864. It is unknown if that Mary is the same person.

Correspondence:   If you have any information about the folks mentioned in this article, please send your information to us at the Prentice Newsletter. Be sure to give the full title and date of this article in the Subject line of the email.

Caution: If you don't use the above email link, your email to us may be deleted as spam by our email filter.

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