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John "Jack" Esler
John was born in 1842 in Canada. Both his parents were were from Canada, too. We do not know when he immigrated to the United States, but it must have been at least by 1862. It is not known whether he became naturalized as a US citizen. (He may not have wanted to because the War Between the States was going on at the time.)
The only record we have of John is found in the July 22, 1870 US Census of Oil Creek Township, Venango County, Pennsylvania. His occupation is "Oil Miner." His estate was valued at $200. He was 28 years old.
Family tradition holds that he carried all his cash on him. One day he was robbed and murdered.
The family tradition says this occurred in Pennsylvania, but a newspaper article about his son, Will, many years later, mentions that Will and his mother (Julia) moved to Denison, Texas from Petrolia, Kansas. So it is possible that John followed the oil boom from Pennsylvania to Kansas and was killed in that state.
Julia, sitting with newspaper, about 1898. Probably also pictured are Maude (Will's wife) and their oldest daughter, Ila. (The handwritten caption in the photo album says, "Will's mother with newspaper." However, this could also be Jane Taylor, Maude's mother, who is known to have lived with them.)
According to the 1870 US Census, Julia would have been born in 1842, and this agrees with the year on her grave marker. Her age given in the 1880 census would put her birth year as 1846, but this is undoubtedly an error made by the census taker.
She was born in New York as were her parents. We do not know Julia's maiden name.
We do not know how or where Julia and John met. They were probably married by 1862, judging from the age of their son Will in the 1870 census.We do not know whether they had other children, but we do not think so.
Julia lived in Petrolia, Kansas for a short spell. Later she moved to Denison, Texas to be with a relative, Jim Leslie. We do not know whether Jim was a brother or a brother-in-law.
According to census records, Julia married Thomas Caniford, an English immigrant who was working for the railroad. We find Julia listed in the 1880 US Census, Denison, Grayson County, Texas listed as Julia E. Caniford. Her son is given as William Esler, age 17. Her occupation is "Keeping House."
We find no other record of Thomas Caniford. He may have died, too. Julia may have married a third time because the burial records of the Fairview Cemetery in Denison, Texas give her name as "Julia E Morrison."
She died in 1900 at about 58 years of age.
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