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Article by Frank D. Myers Lucas County, Iowa, United States.

And that's Iowa, by the way. Local history, genealogy, opinions and more.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Prince among Gypsies or a chief of the Cherokees? (Part 1)

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Tip your hat next time to Chief John Rinehart here just inside the gate, dead since 1881 and buried alongside the open road in January of that year. I wonder if his family and friends planted him so close to life and traffic on purpose because they were people of the road. There surely were prettier, quieter and more secluded places deeper inside the Chariton Cemetery if privacy had been a concern. We’ll never know.

And give the old chief’s family and friends credit while you’re at it for launching at his death a legend that seems to incorporate some of the longest-running tricks ever played on Lucas Countyans, tricks that resurrect whenever Rinehart’s memory is invoked. Coyote is at work here in the heartland thanks to that merry band of tricksters, Gypsies spliced to Cherokee.

But be warned that I can’t prove much --- neither Romani nor Cherokee genealogy is an easy road --- so I could be old Coyote, too, just messing around with a treasured legend --- that one about the Indian chief buried among us, a vicarious link between pale skins and noble red.

Attempts to find out exactly who John Rinehart was result in more questions than answers. Chief is probably a stretch, although there’s really no proof that he ever claimed the title for himself. There’s no particular reason to doubt that he was indeed Cherokee. What we do know is that he was loved and honored by a family that returned to Chariton for more than 50 years to care for his grave and now and then brought along the remains of other family members to be buried near him.

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The legend begins with an article published in The Chariton Patriot of January 12, 1881.

“For two months past, five families of Cherokee Indians, some 30 persons in all, have been camped on the Chariton river, a couple miles from this city. On Monday, one of their number, Rinehart by name, a man of 40 years or more, succumbed to the fell destroyer and his spirit joined its kindred in the happy hunting grounds beyond the clouds. The party of which the deceased red man was a member left the Indian Territory two years ago and had traveled through Kansas, Nebraska, Dakota, Minnesota and thus far through Iowa on their way back home. They stopped here on account of the illness of Rinehart, whose poor health was the cause of the long trip undertaken by the company. Several days ago Rinehart realized the approach of death and sent for Rev. J. S. Reed who visited the camp and gave the dying man religious consolation. On yesterday afternoon the funeral took place from the Presbyterian Church, to the Chariton Cemetery where his companions had bought a lot and the red man was laid away to rest after this long wonderings. The party will remain in their present camp until warm weather.”
As the years passed, family and friends returned to Lucas County regularly to decorate John Rinehart’s grave. Occasionally, the body of a deceased family member was brought along and buried beside him. There may be as many as four additional graves on that lot, but only two can be accounted for.

On Oct. 29, 1897, The Patriot reported that, “Mrs. Rachel Rhinehart, wife of the Cherokee Indian chief who lies buried in the Chariton cemetery, died at Wheeling, Missouri, on August 30, 1896, at the age of 104 years. The remains were brought to this city the first of the week and on Tuesday afternoon at four o’clock were interred by the side of her husband. Rev. A. C. Ormond of the Presbyterian church conducted brief services at the grave.”
Many years later, on July 24, 1923, The Chariton Leader reported another burial under the headline, “Another Indian Grave: Body of Daughter of Chief Rhinehart Brought Here for Burial”:

“On Sunday afternoon, the body of Sahria Mason, an Indian lady, 98 years of age, and a daughter of Chief Rhinehart, was brought here and buried in the Chariton cemetery, where the remains of the old aborigine lie, together with other members of the tribe. You will see the new mound near the entrance. The services at the grave were conducted by the Rev. J.D. Pontins of the Christian church.

“The aged Indian lady had been living near the Minnesota line Her remains were accompanied here by a son and son-in-law. Local members of the Redmen Order acted as pall bearers. Her spirit is now with her ancestors beyond the flowing river.”
There were those who doubted the stories about Rinehart, of course, and some of that crept into the following report published during 1902 in The Chariton Herald. The headline reads, “Indians Visit Grave: Annual Visit of Red Men to the Grave of Their Chief in Chariton Cemetery.”

“A few of the Indians who have visited Chariton annually for the past fifteen years to hold services over the grave of their chief, Rhinehart, were camped near Chariton on their annual visit last Friday and Saturday, but omitted the customary grave ceremony, perhaps because they are growing too civilized to believe in it any longer. They departed on Saturday on their way to Miineapolis, where they will spend the summer in a cooler climate.

“It is generally believed that the principal one of the four Indian graves just south of the main gate in the Chariton cemetery is that of a noted Indian chief, but it is not so. The man was called a chief, and was named Rhinehart, but he was not an Indian. He was a Frenchman who married a full-blooded Indian squaw, probably the widow of a minor chief, and thereby became the chief of the little tribe. Fifteen years ago Rhinehart’s band was camped on the Chariton river, two or three miles from town, when he took sick and died. His family bought a lot in the Chariton cemetery and buried him here, and each year since then some of his Indians have come back to see that the grave is kept in proper condition. There are now three or four graves on the Indian lot, the newer ones being younger members of Rhinehart’s family or tribe, and it is saide that his widow is buried here. The other day when they were here, one of his daughters, a half breed who is almost white, was negotiating for a head stone for the grave of one of the children buried on the lot.

“The Indians who were here look fully as much like Gypsies as Indians, but they attend to their own respectable business which Gypsies do not. Rhinehart’s daughter is an intelligent woman, and is a member of the Rebekahs, while many of her tribe belong to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.”
For future reference it’s important to note this final paragraph, including a fair description of what Lucas Countyans thought they knew at the time about Gypsies.

And then take a look at the following report of what may have been the final pilgrimage to John Rinehart’s grave, published in The Herald-Patriot on May 3, 1934, 53 years after he died. The headline reads, “Granddaughter of Chief Rinehart in Lucas County to Decorate His Grave: Members of Cherokee Tribe Build Camp on River Near City.”

“Indians again are camping on the Chariton River.

“They are here to pay respect to the memory of a famed ancestor, Chief John Rinehart of the Cherokee tribe, and to other members of his family buried at Chariton cemetery.

“Members of the tribe have visited the cemetery here almost every year since Chief Rinehart died Jan. 2, 1881.

“Included in the group of 14 men, women and children living in tents southwest of Chariton is a granddaughter of the chief, Mrs. Dolly Friar.

“All members of the group are related. Their home is at the reservation in Tama, Ia. They have been in Missouri collecting herbs and will go back to Tama from here. They will stay here at least until after Memorial Day, when the graves of the chief and hisfamily will be decorated, and perhaps longer.

“One of the women at the camp is, according to Mrs. Friar, “expecting a little papoose.”

“We are certain to stay until after it arrives,” she said.

“It was Mrs. Friar who this afternoon told of the events which led to the burial of Chief Rinehart in Lucas county, far from his native Oklahoma.

“Mrs. Friar’s father was an Englishman who traveled through this section as horse buyer for the United States army. He married an Indian girl, daughter of Chief Rinehart. It was while accompanying his daughter and her husband on a trip through Iowa that the chief died and was buried here.

“His monument stands near the entrance to the cemetery, on the south side of the road. It was one of the finest monuments of its time. The inscription reads:

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“Behold the pilgrim as he lies
With glory in his view,
To heaven he lifts his longing eyes
And bids the world adieu.
“Four other graves are on the Rinehart burial ground, said to be those of his wife, Rachel, who died Aug. 30, 1896, and children brought for burial in later years.

“Mrs. Friar’s father, Ephraim Joles, was well known to Lucas county’s early settlers, she said. He was a Mason and an Odd Fellow. In a spring wagon he once took Chief Rinehart’s wife from Oklahoma to Minnesota.

“To make a trip like that in those days one needed to know and be liked by everyone,” Mrs. Friar declared.

“Ephraim Joles died three years ago at the age of 94. He and his wife are buried at St. Paul.

“In spite of her English ancestry Mrs. Friar has most of the Indian characteristics in appearance. She is stately, young looking, with sharp cut features and coal-black hair. Today she was wearing an all-black ankle length dress. Her only ornament was a unique brooch.

“She knows the name and the purpose of each of the 165 roots, barks, teas and berries which the group sells for medicinal purposes.

“They have a license, she said, to sell al types of medicines, but sell none which have any habit-forming drugs or impure ingredients.

“We wouldn’t know how to handle such things. The medicines of which we know are those made by nature,” she declared.

“It is a pleasure, she said, for Indians to follow the old trails of their ancestors.

“The paths which they set are clean and pure. They did not rob. They broke no laws. They lived honest, good lives and we are proud of them.”

“Life in the camp seemed to be flowing on an even tempo. The women and children were sitting in the shade, and the men were at work, principally on their automobiles.”
This is a fine report by a reporter who obviously knew what he was doing and actually had invested a little time in research, but you’ve got to wonder just how much trouble Dolly Friar (actually Frier) had keeping a straight face when she informed him that a member of her party was “expecting a little papoose.”
A good many difficulties impede efforts to explain John Rinehart and his family and friends. While there is no reason to doubt the old chief’s Cherokee blood, he and his family were entwined with Gypsies of English birth or descent, sometimes called Romanichals, most notably the Joles. That is a fascinating mix, but a research nightmare.

Relatively few early Native American and even fewer Roma resources are available. Roma research is further complicated because these families, often known as travelers, were on the road much of the time. Births, deaths and marriages could occur anywhere and census takers often missed them.

The traditions of both Native Americans and the Roma were oral --- they were story-tellers rather than story-writers, at the mercy of people who wrote about them, often with skewed vision and often with malice.

And there were those Roma families who identified themselves with intent to mislead as “Indians,” when they weren’t, because they felt with justification that “Indian” was more acceptable to the standard Euro-American than “Gypsy.” This sentence from a 1902 Chariton Herald article dealing with visitors to John Rinehart’s grave is a good example of why: “The Indians who were here look fully as much like Gypsies as Indians, but they attend to their own respectable business which Gypsies do not.” See what I mean?

While the threads of relationship that united the Rinehart family were evident to its members not that long ago, they mystify outsiders today. There are members of this interesting family out there and John Rinehart’s story may remain theirs to tell. Peculiar and destructive ideas created and repeated by majorities about minorities, ideas that have discouraged story-telling outside closed circles, are dissipating. Hopefully, we’ll all benefit from that --- before the last story-teller is gone.

I can tell you neither the full story of Lucas County’s fabled Cherokee chief nor that of his extended family, only report on a few of the signs they left behind as they traveled and make a few guesses.

+++
Consider “Sahria” Mason, 98, identified by The Chariton Leader of July 24, 1923, as a daughter of John Rinehart, whose body was brought to the Chariton Cemetery on Sunday, July 22, 1923, for burial. This probably was the “Salria” Mason who died in Douglas County in central Minnesota on July 19, 1923, according to the Minnesota Death Index, a Minnesota Historical Society online database.

If Sahria/Salria were indeed 98 she would have been born during 1825 and could not have been John Rinehart’s daughter unless he had been unusually precocious. A calculation based upon his tombstone inscription (died Jan. 2, 1881, age 66 years, 2 months and 17 days) produces a birth date of Oct. 16, 1814. John would have been 11 when she was born.

It is a human tendency to knock off a few years at first and then when extreme old age becomes a badge of honor to add a few. Still, it is likelier that Sahria/Salria was a daughter of Rinehart’s wife, Rachel, by an earlier marriage. Rachel seems to have been at least 14 years older than John and so would have been of an age to have children in 1825.

Efforts to clarify the situation by finding a Sahria/Salria Mason in 1920 and earlier census records produce enigmatic results in 1920 and nothing at all before. When the 1920 census was taken, an Ellen Mason, age 95, was living with her widowed son, Jess, 41, and grandchildren Earl, Lilly, “Plu” and Dow in Beltrami County, Minnesota. All were identified as “Indians.”

But Beltrami County (in far northern Minnesota) is the homeland of the Ojibwe people and of the Red Lake Reservation and according to the census Ellen and her parents all were born in Minnesota, as was Jess. Based on this, it would be logical to conclude that Ellen is not our Sahria/Salria, but a venerable Ojibwe. However, according to the census, her grandchildren were born in Missouri (Earl), Kansas (Lilly and Plu) and Minnesota (Dow) to a father born in Minnesota and a mother born in Missouri. This suggests that the Masons were travelers.

It is possible some of these questions might be answered by obtaining a copy of Sahria/Salria’s death certificate, then again perhaps not.

+++
A little insight into the band camped with John Rinehart near Chariton during the winter of 1880/81 can be achieved by backtracking to Minneapolis, where census-takers found them during June of 1880. The encounter seems to have distressed the principal census-taker, T.R. Newton, who scribbled several explanatory notes on the record.

“These families have been camping in the city for some weeks,” he wrote. Then, “Some of them claim to be Cherokee Indians. Others claim to be Gypsies. I think perhaps one man may be an Indian. The women are all darker than the men. They may be Gypsies and Indians mixed.” And finally, “Further information I was unable to obtain from these families with regard to birth places” Clearly, T. R. was having a confusing day June 15. The “may be an Indian” probably was John Rinehart.

The group included 41 men, women and children --- more than the “some 30 persons in all” attributed to the Rinehart party by The Patriot in January of 1881 when John died near Chariton, but not everyone camped together in the summer necessarily planned to travel south together in the fall.

It’s a popular misconception that travelers were homeless. In one sense, the road was their home. But in another, most had home bases where they spent at least part of the year, often owned property, joined lodges like the Masons and Odd Fellows and attended church. Trades practiced on the road were their livelihoods, however, and life on the road a part of their culture.

The Rinehart family as camped in Minneapolis consisted of four people, but they were enumerated as “Hunt” or “Hart” --- penmanship was not Newton’s strong point --- rather than as Rinehart. It’s impossible to say if they actually were using another name or if the census-taker, dealing with people he found disconcerting, just got it wrong.

The John Hunt/Hart family included John himself, age 66, identified as an Indian born in Indian Territory; his wife, Rachel, also an Indian born in Indian Territory, age 80; and two “daughters,” Isabel, age 24, and Roney, age 14, identified too as Indians born in Indian Territory. The census stated that John was ill with consumption and that tells us what claimed his life in Lucas County the following January. Neither Isabel nor Roney could have been Rachel’s daughters, providing her age is accurate here, but could have been John’s by a previous marriage --- or they could have been grandchildren.

Other than the John Hunt/Hart/Rinehart family, the most significant member of the party for Lucas County purposes was Ephraim Joles, age 40, born in England, whose household included his three children, Hannah, 17, Richard, 16, and Minnie, 12, all born in Ohio according to the census taker, and a black “servant,” George W. Flynn, age 14.

As sometimes happened with mobile people, Ephraim and his family were enumerated twice in the 1880 census. Another census taker, Bradley Phillips Jr., had found the family camped separately a few days earlier, on June 5, in St. Anthony Township, Hennepin County. This census entry, which spells Ephraim’s name “Ephrian Joels,” gives slightly differing information. “Hannah” is listed as “Anna,” age 18 rather than 17; Richard again as 16 and Minnie as 12. Ephraim’s age is given as 37 rather than 40. In both instances he is listed as a widower. Where the Minneapolis entry had listed the birthplaces of all the children as Ohio, here Anna’s birthplace was given as Ohio; Richard’s, as Canada; and Minnie’s, as Indiana. According to this record, both of their parents were born in England.

“Are what are generally called traveling gypsies living in tents,” Phillips wrote on the St. Anthony Township census page.

This Joles family is significant because, referring back to the May 1934 Chariton Herald report of what may have been the final visit by members of the extended Rinehart family to John’s grave, Dolly Frier, who identified herself as John Rinehart’s granddaughter, also said that her father was Ephraim Joles and that he had married one of Rinehart’s daughters.

Other members of the Minneapolis party, some of whom also almost certainly accompanied the family south in the fall, included Ephraim and Nellie Warton, ages 22 and 24 respectively. These were almost certainly the Ephram Worton and Merilla Joles, married 28 September 1878 in Sangamon County, Illinois, according to Illinois marriage records. Merilla actually was known as “Mellie” not “Nellie.” The Joles family seems have been headquartered in Springfield, Sangamon County, and Mellie in all likelihood was closely related to Ephraim Joles.

Other members of the party were Fred and Sarah Meyers and their six children; Andrew and Dorah Ward and their three children; George W. and Elizabeth Ward and their seven children; Fred and Susan Rinehart and their three children; and Walter and Hester Cooper and their son, Elias. Fred Rinehart’s age was given as 32 and his birthplace as Kansas. It is possible that he was a son of John Rinehart. Fred and his family were the only members of the Minneapolis party bearing the Rinehart surname --- at least according to the census taker.

+++
To understand a little more about the puzzles surrounding our Ephraim Joles, father of Dolly Frier and identified by her as a son-in-law of John Rinehart, it’s necessary to take a look at the Stanleys --- the “royal family” of the American Roma.

King and queen of the Gypsies are not terms I’m exactly comfortable with because I’m not sure those titles had any particular significance for the Roma themselves. One of the “kings,” Levi Stanley, reportedly said the title was purely honorary, based on respect and trust, and reflected no particular power. Although the Stanley kings and queens were without doubt revered in the Roma community, Coyote may be at work here and it’s useful to remember that in many instances the Roma were willing to allow outsiders to believe what they would. So kings and queens of the Gypsies may be as much Euro-American romantic fancy as Roma fact.

The first of these kings and queens, Owen and Harriet (Worden) Stanley, came to the United States from England with many other English Roma families in the 1850s. Like all other emigrants, they came in search of opportunity.

The Stanleys came first to Miami County, Ohio, then moved on to Dayton, which became their home and headquarters for the extended family. A farm was purchased for use when family members were not traveling. Upon Owen Stanley’s death in 1860, he was succeeded by his son, Levi. Levi’s wife was “Queen” Matilda Stanley, identified as a daughter of an Ephraim Joles, undoubtedly related in some manner to our Ephraim Joles.

Matilda, born 1821, conceivably could have been an elder sister of our Ephraim, born ca. 1837. Aunt and nephew and several other degrees of relationships are possible.

To get some idea of the prominence the Stanleys enjoyed, it’s useful to read newspaper accounts of the funeral of Matilda (Joles) Stanley, who died 15 January 1878 at Vicksburg, Miss., and was interred in the large family lot at Dayton’s Woodland Cemetery during September of that year. The funeral of this “queen of the Gypsies” drew a crowd estimated at 25,000, including hundreds of Roma mourners and thousands of curious non-Roma spectators.

Although the American Roma practiced many portable trades, the Stanleys and their kin were renowned horse traders, the principal source of their income.

I may not know exactly how our Ephraim Joles was related to the Stanley family, but I do think the relationship probably was present in more than one degree. It seems likely to me that Ephraim was married at least three times and that his first wife had died prior to May 19, 1872, when an Ephraim Joles married Jente Stanley, then apparently in her mid-30s, in Sangamon County, Illinois.

The three children enumerated with him in 1880, Hannah/Anna, Richard and Minnie, probably were products of his first marriage.

I do not understand Jente’s place in the larger Stanley family, but her relationship (or Ephraim’s) was close enough to ensure a burial place near Owen and Harriet Stanley on the Stanley Woodland Cemetery lot in Dayton, now something of a tourist attraction, after her death only three years after the marriage to Ephraim.

Because several months separated her death from burial, it seems likely that she died far from Dayton and that a good deal of effort was involved in arranging for her burial there. The same was true for all members of the Rinehart family buried in Chariton except John. Non-Roma families most likely would not have gone to the trouble.

According to Woodland Cemetery records, Jente, or Jeantie, born in England, died April 6, 1875, age 38, at an unspecified location, and was buried at Woodland on Nov. 13 of that year. The inscription on her tombstone reads, “Jeantie, wife of Ephram Joles, died April 6, 1875, aged 38 years.”


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http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_OXH6lnEbBnA/Skt22h4XPEI/AAAAAAAABb4/yiyJlEp5ofU/s1600-h/Joles+001.jpg

Also buried on Nov. 13 at Woodland, perhaps with Jeantie, was Henry Joles, age 1, who died April 9, 1875, according to Woodland records.

Three other Joles children are buried in a close grouping near Jeantie: Temperance, age 15, died Feb. 3, 1876; Jessie, age 2, died Feb. 11, 1876; and Walter, age 4, died Feb. 16, 1876. All were buried, according to Woodland records, on Feb. 18, 1876. A fifth Joles child, Louisa, died June 27, 1872, age 2, and was buried on July 3 of that year.

Henry, Temperance, Jessie and Walter probably all were children of Ephraim, although the only visible inscription, “son of E. & J. Joles,” is on Jessie’s tombstone.

It is my theory, for now at least, that the Ephraim Joles enumerated twice during 1880 in and near Minneapolis as a widower was the husband and father of Jeantie Joles and her children buried at Dayton a few years earlier. There is a reference I cannot track to its source of Jeantie’s husband mourning the loss of both his wife and “all” his children, although “all” in this instance probably meant all of his children by Jeantie.
+++
The fact that virtually all of the 1890 census records were destroyed in a fire produces a 20-year gap between 1880 and 1900 that makes it extremely difficult to track people. Many things could happen in 20 years. And finding a mobile people like the Roma in census records even when the records are intact is problematic.

However, when the 1900 census of St. Paul, Minn., was taken James D. Harris found on June 7 “Ephriam Joels,” age 63, and “Dollie Joels,” age 8, living with Leonard and Philla Wells and their two children, Robert and Ida M., in tents along a street called University.

The occupations of both Ephraim and Leonard were given as horse traders. Ephraim and Dolly are listed as boarders and their relationship to each other is not specified, but this surely must be our Ephraim Joles and his daughter, the Dolly (Joles) Frier, who paid what may have been a final visit to the Rinehart graves at Chariton in 1934.

Ephraim told the census taker that he had been born in England in January of 1837, that he was a widower and that he had emigrated to the United States in 1855 but had never been naturalized.

Dollie, according to the census, was attending school and had been born during January of 1892 in Minnesota to a father born in England and a mother born in Canada.

So it seems likely that our Ephraim had married again after 1880 and that the product of that marriage had been our Dolly (Joles) Frier, the striking woman who spoke with a local reporter near Chariton during 1934. Was his third marriage to one of John Rinehart’s daughters? Ephraim knew. Dolly knew. I don’t.

I have not found our Ephraim in subsequent records, although Dolly said during 1934 that he had died three years earlier in Minneapolis, age 94. If that is the case, his death was not recorded.

+++
Life changed dramatically during the next 30 years for the Roma people, as it did for everyone else. Horse-trading declined as an occupation as the road and fields were claimed by vehicles with internal combustion engines. The Joles and other families became more settled.

Several members of the extended Joles family settled down in Wisconsin and their descendants remain there today. But the tradition of Cherokee heritage remained.

In 1930, according to census records, Dick Joles, age 64 and born in Canada of parents born in England, was engaged in general farming on land that he owned near the village of Hallie in Chippewa County, Wisconsin. This probably was Ephraim Joles’ son, Richard, enumerated twice during June of 1880 in the Minneapolis area.

Dick’s wife, Libby, age 65, was born in Illinois. Living next door was Richard Joles, probably the son of Dick and Libby, age 44, born Wisconsin, and his wife, Elizabeth, age 33, born Minnesota, and their four children.

The 1930 census asked each person enumerated where his or her parents were born, and in the case of the Joles family the census-taker did an odd thing. After carefully writing in a state of birth for the parents of everyone, he crossed out the names of those states of birth in every instance except that of Dick Joles and wrote “mixed blood” for father’s place of birth and “Cherokee” for mother’s place of birth.

Also in that year, on April 8, 1930, census-taker Mrs. Myrtle Giese, found living in an “Indian Camp” in Honey Creek Township, Sauk County, Wisconsin, a family of 13 including it seems highly likely our Dolly Frier, daughter of Ephraim Joles and reportedly a granddaughter of John Rinehart. This almost without a doubt is the same family, no doubt with additions and deletions, who camped in 1934 near Chariton.

Dolly, who gave her age most likely inaccurately as 27, told the census taker that she had been born in Minneapolis to parents born in Oklahoma and was “full Cherokee.” Her husband, Joe Frier, age 30, had been born in Wisconsin to a father born in Germany and mother born in Oklahoma. He was a “mixed Cherokee.”

The Frier family was headed by Charles Frier, age 61, born in Germany of parents born in France, and his wife, Anna, age 70, born in Oklahoma of parents born in Oklahoma. She was described as “full Cherokee.” Children listed as members of their household included sons Rudolph, 25, Tom, 20, and George, 16, and daughters Daisy, 21, and Ada Hart, 26.

A separate household in the family was made up of Sam Frier, 31, born in Wisconsin to parents born in Germany and Oklahoma; his wife, Lilly, age 21, born in Wisconsin to parents born in Oklahoma, and described as “full Cherokee,” and their two children, Bennie and Delores.

The occupations of eight of the adults was listed as “herb collector” for a “private concern” owned by Sam and Charles Frier.

+++
Four years later, it seems likely, the Friers were camped near Chariton. Mary Ruth Pierschbacher is not old enough to remember the visit, but clearly recalls stories about it told by family members because the “Indian Camp” was on her Grandmother Holmes’ farm, in timber near a spring just over the hill west of Holmes/Waynick Cemetery on the downslope toward the Chariton River.

It would be interesting to know if this were a traditional camping place, perhaps even where John Rinehart died.

Mary Ruth recalls that the people who visited the camp thought highly of its occupants and of the cures they sold.

And this is where my part of the story ends. It would be possible to find out more, I think, and perhaps I’ll work on that, but not right now.

I’ve not answered the original question, prince among Gypsies or a chief of the Cherokees?, because I can’t, although I hope there are those who still can. It seems likely that John Rinehart was neither prince nor chief but undeniable that he was highly respected among people, be they Roma or Native American or both, who placed great value on family.

Flowers still appear sometimes 130 years after John died at the Rinehart graves there just inside the gate beside the open road on Chariton's south edge, perhaps placed by romantically-inclined Lucas Countyans caught up in the legend. Or perhaps not ….

Photographs of Jeantie Joles' tombstone at Woodland Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio, are taken from the "Find a Grave" online collection.




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