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Frances Emeline Eliot Dwigans Folsom
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Birth: Oct. 8, 1845
Mount Vernon
Linn County
Iowa, USA
Death: May 25, 1943
Los Angeles County
California, USA

Father: John Clayton Elliott
Mother: Matilda Hutchison (Yet unlocated.)

As her father's tombstone shows, he and other relatives spelled the surname Elliott, She went by Eliot, as did her son Alonzo Dwigans- who chose this surname and is buried as such, as well as his two wives.


Of her children, only Elnora (Nora) has not been located, b. about 1868-?. She lastly appears in the 1930 census, in Long Beach, CA. She had married a polceman named Johnson who committed suicide with his own hand gun.


I found a Bible at a thrift store here in Mpls, MN, in April, 2011. Between the New and Old Testaments were bound in 2 double-sided photo album pages holding photos of the small carte-de-visite size popular about 1865, when the book was printed and- as it turned out- the year the original owner was married. All but one photo was named and there were a few labeled spaces from which the photos were missing. All of the photos were before about 1880, except for a few from the 1930s. Two were of Frances Folsom in Long Beach, CA in 1933, upon her 88th birthday; one was of Bernice Dwigans of Antelope, NE. Two were of the Springers from Long Beach, taken the same day and location as Frances' 88th birthday- same leaf on the sidewalk in the photos. Google search revealed they lived just around the corner from each other. All were from Iowa.

I thought the book likely belonged to Frances, as she was the right age to have owned it in her youth, and since the newest photos in the book were of her. So with and Findagrave. com and Google I began my research.

My goal was to figure out the relationships of all those pictured, post and link their memorials and photos on Findagrave, and hopefully locate a descendant who was interested in genealogy and who would want the Bible.

James F.(Friday) Dwigans proved to be her first husband, Robert and Margaret Coleman Dwigans her in-laws, Rev. Andrew Coleman (taken in 1863) was Margaret's brother (Quite the character- a fiery-looking man who had 6 wives over the course of his long life.), Howard Coleman his son, but photo missing. Fred B. Dwigans was one of her younger children; Alonzo R. Dwigans, also her son- labeled on the page margin but the slot was empty. Robert Hutchison- likely a relative of her mother, Matilda Hutchison.

There was much ephemera in the book: an application for the Women's Relief Corp, many Methodist tracts, a print of Frances Willard of the WCTU, a print of a Methodist orphanage, also a temperance card signed Frances Eliot Dwigans with Folsom added later- which proved the handwritten photo labels were in her script. Also a note to Fred asking for his family member's names and current ages, as she could not remember when people asked.

It took me 3 months, I also got into all the Dwiganses in Findagrave in Iowa and researched their relationships. I took a legal tablet page and labeled the top with each Dwigans name followed by census and family info and laid them out on my library floor trying to figure out who was who. Fully 1/3 of my 8 X 10 carpet was covered in Dwiganses!! Then I found Carol B. on Ancestry and she sent me a folder on this branch; which is her husband's family. She also got me in touch with Lea, whose grandfather was Fred B., I mailed the Bible to Lea in July. She was stunned that I had done so much research on a family that was not mine, but very happy to get the relic- she sent me a lovely note: "The box arrived today. Thank you very much again for your time and diligence. I shall send a check soon to reimburse for some of your expenses. I found this picture today—obviously I had seen it before (of Lea on her great grandmother's lap) —but Frances was not a person to me, just a name. Your work has changed my relationship to my great grandmother. I am very grateful."

She also related she had a vague memory of an old woman dressed in black at her 5th birthday but really didn't understand who she was until now. Lea was born in the late 1930s

I could have not have asked for a better ending!

The book appears to have descended to Frances' youngest son George who lived in Minneapolis. He and his wife had no children and George had no other family in the area. He died first and after her death I speculate it went to one of the nieces or nephews mentioned in her obituary; she grew up in Minneapolis and had family here. Now, almost 50 years since her death, I imagine the next generation is passing and as no one in her family was related to these people it ended up being donated to a thrift store.

Upon seeing the book, I was captured with the photos and that they were virtually all labeled. I imagined an antiques dealer getting the Bible, removing the photographs to sell and losing the historical context and identifications, as some- like the tintypes- were labeled on the page borders only.

There was a story to tell here and I had no idea of the time I would spent unearthing it. Or what I would learn.

I found the story of the young lady who was born in Iowa Territory- well before railroads extended that far west, was married to 2 Civil War veterans- the last marriage a work of her charity, according to family. A woman who married the year the Civil War ended and lived far enough into the 20th century to see the outbreak of WWII.

Frances Emeline Eliot Dwigans Folsom, your life story has been perpetuated by your archive, a lifetime of ephemera and photographs, that I was lucky enough to stumble upon


Family links: 
  John Clayton Elliott (1814 - 1893)
  James Finley Dwigans (1840 - 1880)
  Daniel N. Folsom (1833 - 1905)*
  Alonzo Robert Dwigans Eliot (1866 - 1943)*
  Margaret M. Dwigans (1870 - 1890)*
  Fred B. Dwigans (1874 - 1962)*
  George Clayton Dwigans (1877 - 1950)*
  Frances Emeline Eliot Dwigans Folsom (1845 - 1943)
  Ohio Hutchison Elliott (1847 - 1915)*
  Clayton F. Elliott (1848 - 1895)*
*Calculated relationship
Lincoln Center Cemetery
Cass County
Iowa, USA
Maintained by: Kent Gebhard
Originally Created by: Glenn Fleming
Record added: May 17, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 69969169
Frances Emeline <i>Eliot</i> Dwigans Folsom
Added by: Carolyn DeLay
Frances Emeline <i>Eliot</i> Dwigans Folsom
Added by: Kent Gebhard
Frances Emeline <i>Eliot</i> Dwigans Folsom
Added by: Kent Gebhard
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