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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Murder Trial of Emsley Jones, the person accused of killing Oliver Reed, Elizabeth Doyle Reed Lee's first husband. 

One of our distant cousins, Jan McKenzie, shared this item with me. She is a descendant of Elizabeth and Oliver Reed. If John D. Lee's mother's first husband had not been murdered, we would all be Reeds instead of Lees. Histories in Randolph County, Illinois have lost the reason why Oliver Reed was killed. There are many suppositions, some being that Jones was interested in his wife, his daughter, arguments over trapping lines, land, etc. We now have information from a newspaper of the time giving details of the court hearing.

Here is the transcript from the newspaper account done by Jan.

Emsley Jones murder trial

From a Frankfort, Kentucky newspaper:

Western World, Frankfort, Thursday, October 1, 1807, page 4



On the 17th day of August last came on the trial of Emerly Jones, for the murder of Oliver Reid, before the Hon. Henry Vanderburgh, one of the judges of the general court at Kaskaskia, in the Indiana Territory, under a special commission from the governor to hold a court of Oyer and Terminer for that purpose.

A very handsome and impressive charge was given to the grand jury by his honor the judge; when after a short retirement, the jury returned an indictment of murder, a true bill. the court then adjourned, and the next day the prisoner was brought up and pleaded to the indictment - - not guilty; and put himself on his country for trial.

Benjamin Parke, attorney-general of the territory, prosecuted; and Rufus Easton, esq. counsel for the prisoner.

The testimony was clear and positive, that Jones had taken the life of Reid by beating him on the head with a piece of wood belonging to a loom, on the morning of 25th July. The facts were these:

A girl of about 17 who had lived with Jones since 9 years of age, had left him without his consent, and was harboured in the house of Reid, who with his wife lived a neighbour to Jones, about 20 miles south of Kaskaskia. Their houses were about 6 miles apart, and their was but one house nearer to Reid's than Jones's, which belonged to a mr. Boone, 3-4ths of a mile distant. Jones went to Reid on the day before the fatal deed was perpetrated, carrying his gun along with him, and demanded the girl in an angry tone. The wife of Reid refused to let her go; and Ried told him if he would come the next day in a decent manner he might have her. Jones went away, saying in an angry manner, that he would have the girl; and passed over to the house of mr. Boone, and asked Boone to go with him to Reid's, to procure for him the girl. mr. Boone being unwell declined; and in the evening Jones went to sleep in the house of mr. Boone -- left there sometime before day. Ried was lying a sleep near to the open door of his log house upon the floor, and his wife and the girl were in bed, all asleep, when mrs. Ried discovered for the first, Jones in the act of beating her husband, with a stick of the loom then almost lifeless. Jones then seized mrs. Reid by the hair and the throat, choaking her, at the same time dragged her out of the house and beat her with a sugar trough until she lay still; then told the girl to put on her clothes and go with him; his gun standing all the time near to the door. He told the girl that she had been the cause of the death of Reid.

It was proven that he had no particular ill will toward Ried. Jones said he talked pretty clever; but his wife was a bitch. It was proven by the oath of Dr. Dunlap, that there appeared three wounds upon the head - - two gashes cut in upon the top and one upon the temple. There was  no fracture of the skull; and it was his opinion, that the stroke upon the temple gave the fatal wound.

There was  nothing on the part of Jones, who was under bad repute, to extenuate; nor any witness at the trial in his favour. None of his acquaintances appeared as his friend. The traverse jury returned a verdict of guilty: and on the day after the conviction, the prisoner was brought up to the bar of the court, when the judge asked him "if he had anything to say why sentence of death should not be given against him?" The following was the sentence:

Emerly Jones, you have been indicted for having murdered with malice aforethought, a certain Oliver Reid, to which indictment you have pleaded that you were not guilty, and for trial put yourself upon God and your country. An upright, impartial and unbiassed jury, upon a fair trial an clear evidence, have found you guilty. This horrible offence, so enormous in its nature, and so destructive in its consequences, has been thus legally ascertained and fixed upon you, nothing remains but to pronounce sentence of death, the most terrible and highest judgment known in the laws. This painful task so distressing to the feelings of the human heart, is imposed on me by the obligations of duty.

It is now made clear, and established beyond all dispute, that you are no longer fit to live upon this earth, but are to be exterminated as a monster and bane to society. The laws of your country mark you with infamy, and declare from henceforward you shall be out of their protection, and that they will take no further care of you than barely to see you executed. Your credit, your reputation, and the numberless blessings, which under a free and happy government you were in the full enjoyment of, are thus, in a moment, by the wickedness and depravity of your own mischievous heart, to be wrested from you; and by the avenging laws of your country, you are to be precipitated into the presence of the great judge of the universe, where the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, and every human being shall answer for his deeds done in this life. With what remorse must you accuse yourself of that fatal rashness and guilty conduct, by which you have provoked your present unhappy fate. Much as I deplore the miserable condition to which you have reduced yourself; sorrowful as I feel for a fellow creature, who has by the enormity of his crimes rendered himself unworthy of living upon earth; yet when I look back on the dreadful deed for which you are soon to suffer, I cannot withhold my assent from the justice which I believe has been exercised towards you. By the perpetration of this dark & attrocious crime, for which you now stand convicted, you have not only incurred the penalty of death, under the laws of society, but also under those of nature and God; for God has openly declared, in his divine laws, that whosoever shedeth the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; that the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shedeth it. Let me then earnestly recommend to your serious attention, the deplorable condition to which your guilty conduct has brought you; let me beseech of you, as I hope for your happiness in the world to come, to endeavour to secure to yourself the friendship and protection of that being, who disposes of events and governs futurity; let the awful interval between your sentence and execution, be employed in such acts of devotion and penitence, as shall tend to increase and strengthen your confidence in Almighty God, improve the little time you have in discharging faithfully your obligations to the Supreme Being, under a firm persuasion that he superintends and will finally compensate every action in a human life.

We all live in the comforting hope, that repentance, if sincere, can never come too late. We hope that by a short repentance, we may obtain pardon for a life of errors and sins. Our blessed religion permits us to believe that there is but one unpardonable sin, and that is hardness of heart and refusal to repent.

I now sentence you to be taken back to the jail from whence you came, and from thence to the place of execution; and there be hanged by the neck, until you are dead ! dead !! dead !!! And the Lord have mercy on your soul!

Jones was executed at Kaskaskia, on Monday the 25th August, between the hours of 12 and 3 o'clock.

Transcribed by J.L. McKenzie on August 12, 2015 from a scanned copy of the newspaper article. Spellings and punctuation were transcribed as they are in the article with no corrections. Most sources refer to these men as Emsley Jones and Oliver Reed

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

John D. Lee's Early Journals Published

The Early Journals of John D. Lee

 If you attended the John D. Lee reunion in 2011 in St. George, you heard Verne Lee talk about printing some of John D. Lee's previously unpublished journals.  His daughter helped him prepare the manuscript and they submitted it to lulu.  Originally, Verne had planned on photocopying the original journal and having the original on the left page, and a transcript of the journal on the right page, but apparently was unable to do that.

One of the important pieces of information found in this journal is a list of his deceased relatives that John D. Lee was baptized for.  It contradicts the information found in the original Nauvoo Temple records. Those records are where the information that Sarah Doyle was his mother was mistakenly entered.  The correct information is in this journal.

The name of the book is The Early Journals of John D. Lee. To purchase the book, go to, scroll down to Biographies/Memoirs, then put John D. Lee in the search box and it comes up. The following is the informational blurb on the site.  

"John D. Lee's early journals, deal primarily with his experience as a Mormon missionary. He fulfilled six distinct callings as such during this period, taking him into what then comprised the western states of the United States. This included Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas and Kentucky; though most of these efforts took place in Tennessee." 

The cost for the hardbound book is $32.00 plus $5. for shipping.   It ships in about one week.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

John D. Lee 200th Birthday Anniversary Trip

September 6th is the 200th anniversary of John D. Lee's birth. To celebrate this momentus event I am taking my family to see the sites of John D. Lee's early life before he moved west. I am inviting others to go along with us. My mom is 95 and I am excited for her to see the things I have discovered as I have made many trips back to the area. Two of my sisters and one of their husbands and my husband are all making the trip.

The schedule right now is to go to Nauvoo on June 19th. We will only be spending the day there. If you wish to see more, go on Monday and we will meet you there.

On Wednesday, June 20th, we will be looking at John D. Lee's property near Vandalia when he was married to Aggatha Ann, the property that belonged to his half sister and her husband in the area, and the state house that was built while he was there.

Thursday, June 21st will be the longest tour day, but the shortest drive. We will go to Kaskaskia and Randolph County. We will tour Kaskaskia, look at the new church, the bell that rang from the old church, the area that Ralph had his property, the property that John D. Lee inherited from his mother. The property that Elizabeth homesteaded with her first husband, and the property she inherited from her grandfather, Henry Smith. You will hear stories about all of them and their families.

Our home base will be St. Louis. If you want to know what hotel we are staying at and any other information, email me at ersdurfee at

You will be responsible for your own meals and own hotel rooms. For those who let me know they are coming I will give you contact information for me and print up a booklet of the sites we will be visiting. There will be a small charge for the booklet.

If you are on facebook, let me know who you are and I will invite you to our "event." I keep that posted with the latest information.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Information on the latest DNA testing

Previously we had done Y-DNA testing to discover John D. Lee's Lee lineage. We obtained some interesting results, the main one being that Ralph Lee was probably not a Lee. There is still a remote chance that he is if it is a VERY small line, like each man only had one son, as an example, Ralph and Elizabeth only had John. To see some of the results of this Y chromosome test see the blog "John D. Lee and DNA" posted on April 2008.

The latest thing we are trying is autosomal DNA testing. This can be done by men or women. It does not check the Y-DNA since women don't have it, but the DNA strings between the mitochondrial and Y-DNA. We all get half our DNA from our mother and half our DNA from our father. So John D. Lee had half Lee DNA and half Doyle DNA (which would consist of smatterings of Smith, Doyle, Cunningham, Burks, Davis and maybe even a little Native American DNA!) . Each of his children took half their DNA from their mother and him. Each time a different piece of John D. Lee's DNA could have been shared. Sometimes there could be more Doyle DNA and other times more Lee DNA. The more tests we have the more chance we have of picking up the Lee DNA.

A person who is very interested in John D. Lee's genealogy donated the money for five automal DNA tests. After a lot of study of each family and hours spent on the internet and telephone tracking people down we submitted the five tests. One of the tests was given to one of John D. Lee's grandsons. Yes there is at least one alive! The other four submitters were great-grandchildren of John D. Lee. All were from separate wives, and none were from sister wives (Youngs and Woolseys) so we wouldn't track Young and Woolsey DNA instead of our Lee DNA. In addition to the grandson we tested a great-grandson and three great-granddaughters. Their results are in. After the tests were submitted I found that the great-grandson and one of the great-granddaughters were about third cousins on another line! That messes it up a little bit! We are having to look at people who are third and fourth cousins of the submitters. It is amazing how different the DNA is in each of our test subjects! Each have taken a different part of their ancestor's DNA pattern. The more patterns we can track the more likely we will be able to figure out which DNA is Lee DNA, or at least OUR Lee DNA. I have not had time to pore through the information we have obtained and each week we find new matches as other people submit their DNA. I have tried to contact the matches that looked like they were Lees, you know, have a middle or last name of Lee to see if they would like to join our study.

We did our tests through Family Tree DNA in Texas. 23 and Me is another site that does the same type of test. If there is a great-grandchild that would like to submit their DNA to help us with the tests that would be greatly appreciated. Maybe they/you are the one who carries the most Lee DNA! The tests usually cost about $300, but they have specials for $100 off in November and December. Also they sometimes have discounts if you attend a genealogy conference and they have a vendor there.

Scott Norton, the webmaster of our John D. Lee family organization website is helping study the information and the DNA genealogist hired by a Lee family member keeps us up to date on the information she discovers.

Another bit of information we may discover is some of Ralph Lee's children from a previous marriage. Both he and Elizabeth were older when they got married. Ralph was probably at least 40 years old. He easily could have had another family before he moved to Illinois. They would have the Lee last name unless Ralph changed his name when he moved to Illinois.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

This week I am headed to Salt Lake City for various reasons, but one of my main objectives is to find the property that Elizabeth Doyle Reed Lee, Ralph Lee, Oliver Reed and John Doyle Lee owned in Randolph and Fayette counties. John D. Lee married Aggatha Ann in Fayette County and owned property there.

Sometime this summer we are planning on taking a Lee family trip and looking at the sites that John D. Lee would have seen as a child and young man, up until the time we headed west to Utah. Two thousand and twelve is the 200th anniversary of John D. Lee's birth. We thought this would be a fun way to commemorate it! Plans are to go to Kaskaskia and Randolph County, Nauvoo, and sites in Missouri on the way back. At this point in time we are planning on chartering a bus leaving Salt Lake, traveling to St. Louis and then to Kaskaskia. In the Randolph County area we will see sites that John D. Lee's great-grandfather owned. Then the next day on to Nauvoo where we will spend at least another day. Three of John D. Lee's properties have been located there, and of course the Seventy's Hall is there that he was responsible for building. Then see the Missouri sites on our way back to Salt Lake. If you are interested in going, please contact me. We will have room for about 42 people.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

John D. Lee's Birth and Ralph Lee

This is still a work in progress. John D. Lee gave information about himself and his family that was printed in Mormonism Unveiled. At first I had all the information in one blog, but it got WAY too long, so I have split it up into several (8) shorter blogs. John D. Lee's information will be printed in bold additional information will be in regular font.

In Mormonism Unveiled, John D. Lee states the following:

(p. 36) "I was born on the 6th day of September, A.D. 1812, in the town of Kaskaskia, Randolph County, Illinois.

John D. Lee's birth is verified by baptism records from the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Kaskaskia Island. The church is one of the few remaining buildings on Kaskaskia Island, although it is not the building he was baptized in. The new building has been moved from the old city of Kaskaskia which has been washed away by the Mississippi River to the new site since John D. Lee was there.

Copies of the baptism index are on microfiche and are available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. They are non-circulating and are not available at Family History Centers. The original handwritten index does not give his birth date, but states that he is 3 months old when he was baptized on December 20, 1812 with parents Raphael [Lee] and Elizabeth Doyle.
(Add scan)

Microfilm of the original records are available at the Belleville Library in Belleville, Illinois. The original records are available in the Archives of the Diocese in Belleville. Digital copies can also be seen at;c=1388122;w=403 this will take you to the 1759-1815 Births, Marriages and Deaths of the Church of the Immaculate Conception from Kaskaskia Island in Randolph County, Illlinois. Go to image 216 (p. 280) and John D. Lee's record is in the lower left corner.

The original record, written in French, stated that he was born on September 6, 1812.

Picture of Jean Lie/John Lee's baptism record from Book A, p. 280 of the
Church of the Immaculate Conception in Kaskaskia, Illinois.
Click on the picture to make it bigger.

Another verification of his birth date is probate records for Elizabeth or Eliza Doyle or Lee dated 3 March 1836, stating in the last three lines that John Lee "is twenty one years on the 6th day of September 1833.
Note: You can click on this image to enlarge it

Probate records found in Randolph County, Circuit Court.

My father, Ralph Lee, was born in the State of Virginia.

This has neither been verified nor disproved.

He was of the family of Lees of Revolutionary fame, and was a relative of General Robert E. Lee, of the late war;

Through DNA testing we have discovered that John D. Lee is not related to Robert E. Lee on the paternal side of his family.

In the limited sampling of Lee DNA housed at, there are currently no good matches between John D. Lee's descendants and any other Lees in the study. We have not given up finding matches with Ralph Lee's DNA. There are other possibilities, for instance Ralph's mother may have been a Lee and he took her name, or Ralph was raised by a Lee family and took their name.

he served his time as an apprentice and learned the carpenter's trade in the city of Baltimore.

Apprenticeship papers for Ralph Lee/Loe were found in December 1785 Orphan Court records in Baltimore, Maryland, stating that he was 17 years old and an orphan. (Click to enlarge)

The legal definition of "orphan" according to Black's Law Dictionary is: "Any person (but particularly a minor or infant) who has lost both (or one) of his or her parents. More particularly a fatherless child" (Black 1252)

Ralph's mother may have still been living, but his father or male guardian was probably dead.

Elizabeth Doyle and John Doyle

My mother was born in Nashville, Tennessee.

This has neither been verified nor disproved. Elizabeth was probably born in Randolph County, Illinois. Elizabeth needed to be old enough to marry Reed by 1805 and have Eliza Virginia in 1806. If Elizabeth were minimally 14 years old when she got married, she would have to be born before 1791. If she got married as early as 1799, as John D. Lee says, she would definitely be born in Randolph County, Illinois, where her parents lived from the time they were married until 1789.

John D. Lee probably got the information for his mother's birth from Charlotte. Charlotte probably was not born in Illinois, but was probably born where ever the Doyles were living after they left Illinois in 1789 and before they returned in 1796. It could have been Nashville, Tennessee, but no proof has been found of the Doyles living there.

She was the daughter of John Doyle,

Joseph Page's deposition states the relationship between John Doyle and his daughter, Eliza or Betsey. See below.

who for many years held the position of Indian Agent over the roving tribes of Indians in southeastern Illinois.

Records stating that John Doyle was an Indian agent have not been found. They are probably in Federal records.

He served in the war of the Revolution,

John Doyle was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. In Randolph County Probate Book A p. 47, is the following: "Joseph Page personally well knew John Doyle a private in the Illinois Regiment under the Command of Colonel George Rogers Clark during the revolutionary war - that his name is on the printed list of said Regiment - he died in this state about fifteen years ago leaving ifsue [issue], Charlotte wife of James Conner and Eliza or Betsey whose first husband was named (blank) Reed by whom she had one daughter Eliza, and whose second husband was Ralph Lee by whom she had one child John D. Lee who have survived her."

and was wounded in one of the many battles in which he took part with the Sons of Liberty against the English oppressors.

No record of John Doyle being wounded has been found. If it were a long-lasting, permanent injury, John D. Lee may have personally known and remembered that about his grandfather.

About (p. 37) the year 1796, he was appointed Indian Agent,

See above comment about Indian Agent.

and moved to Kaskaskia, Illinois.

In 1796 John Doyle and his family returned to Illinois, and moved to Kaskaskia. (See information in blog John Doyle married Chloe Smith.) John and Chloe may have settled on property left to Chloe by her father, Henry Smith, in his will.

Elizabeth Doyle and Oliver Reed

My mother was first married in 1799, to Oliver Reed,

No record of Elizabeth and Oliver Reed's marriage has been found. Their marriage was probably closer to 1805. According to the index record of the Immaculate Conception of our Lady Church, Eugenia Reed was baptized on August 10, 1806. Her parents were Henri Oliver [Reed] and Elizabeth Doyle. (add scan) I believe Eugenia was later called Eliza Virginia. In the 1850 Census of Fayette County, Illinois, Eliza Nichols is shown as being born about 1807.

and lived with him until he was assassinated by a man named Jones, who entered the house when the family were asleep, and striking Reed with a seat of a loom, knocked his brains out, at the same time severely wounding my half-sister, Eliza Virginia, then six months old. The blow and the screams of the child awakened my mother, who sprang from the bed, and recognizing the assassin, said, "For God's sake, Jones, spare my husband's life!" Jones said, "You know me, G-d--n you! you shall tell no tales." With this, he caught up a sugar trough and struck my mother on the head with it. The blow rendered her senseless. Jones, believing he had completed his work of death, then left the house. My mother soon revived, called upon the neighbors for assistance, and told who had committed the murder. Jones was arrested, convicted and afterwards hung for the crime.

I have not found "original" documents verifying this, but many of the early county histories report the murder of Oliver Reed by Emsley Jones. For this crime, Mr. Jones was the first white man hung in Randolph County. From court records it is apparent this was not the first time Mr. Jones was in trouble with the law.

The injuries received by my mother, from the blow struck by Jones, affected her all the rest of her life.

One possible result of head trauma is seizures. Could this be how Elizabeth was "affected" for the rest of her life?

Elizabeth Doyle's marriage to Ralph Lee and children

After the death of Reed, my mother went back to Kaskaskia and lived in her father's family until she married my father in the year 1808.

In the Indiana 1810 census, John Doyle is found in Kaskaskia. His wife is dead. With him are two women who fit the ages of Elizabeth and Charlotte. There are also two young children that fit the ages of Eliza and a male child between the ages of 0 and 5.

R. Lee (probably Ralph) is listed two lines below John Doyle in the same census, showing they were probably fairly close neighbors.
Eliza married Ralph on 26 February 1811, not 1808.

Marriage certificate of Ralph Lee and Elizabeth Reed
They were married by the Justice of the Peace, Philip Fouke. The County Clerk in Randolph County has a copy of the original record. When asked where the original records were she said they were in Springfield.

My mother had two children by my father -- that is William Oliver and myself.

Since Ralph and Elizabeth were married on 26 February 1811, it is highly unlikely that John D. Lee had an older brother whose father was Ralph Lee. The earliest William Oliver could be born legitimately would be in December 1811 and Elizabeth would have to get pregnant immediately to have John D. on the 12th of September, 1812. In addition, no child of Ralph and Elizabeth was baptized near this time.

John D. Lee gives three children for his mother, a girl and two boys. In Kaskaskia church records there are three baptisms for children of Elizabeth or Eliza Doyle, a girl and two boys.

In the archives of the Catholic church in Belleville, there was a baptism for a Benjamin Rode, on Jan 29, 1809, with parents Jean/John [Rode] and Elizabeth Daille/Doyle. The child was born the 27th of January.

Baptism record of Benjamin Rode
Digital image can be found at;c=1388122;w=403
Go to image 208 (p. 267) in the middle of the page.

This is after Oliver Reed is dead and before Elizabeth married Ralph. Of note, in the records of baptisms for her other children it states that she had a legitimate or legal marriage. In this record nothing is stated regarding a marriage. This child would be less than 5 in the 1810 census, which fits with the census information.

My brother, William Oliver, died when about two years old.

William Oliver (ne Benjamin Rode) could die at two years of age (1811) show up on the 1810 census and be dead even before Elizabeth and Ralph marry and definitely before John D. is born.

At the time of my birth my father was considered one of the leading men of that section of country;

Ralph associated with some of the prominent men in Kaskaskia. One of the people with whom he associated was the justice of the peace, Phillip Fouke. At a corner's inquest held June 1810, those listed as being at Phillip Fouke's house on the night of the 8th of June and giving depositions were: Francis Gardner (signed with a mark), Philip Rochblave, Ralph Lee, Isaac Postewaight, William Stringer, John Goings, Samuel Wells, Ju [Jr.], Samuel _____, John Young, Jonathan Sampson, Moses Wooden [Wooten] (signed with a mark), and Frederick Miller. Others attending were John Fleming and James Lee. Ralph Lee came to the Fouke home with Moses Wooden and Francis Gardner(Sapp 28-29).

he was a master workman, sober and attentive to business, prompt and punctual to his engagements.

He contracted largely and carried on a heavy business; he erected a magnificent mansion, for that age and country, on his land adjoining the town of Kaskaskia.

Ralph Lee did purchase property that was not Elizabeth's. This land was in Kaskaskia. It was land previously a part of John Edgar's orchard.

This tract of land was the property of my mother when she married my father.

John Doyle

My grandfather Doyle was a wealthy man.
John Doyle owned 1200 acres of land in the Randolph County area which he sold for $200 in August 1800. I believe the land they lived on was land previously claimed by Henry Smith. This land is now in the channel of the Mississippi River.

[John Doyle] died in 1809 at Kaskaskia, Illinois, and left his whole fortune to my mother and her sister Charlotte, by will.
John Doyle died in October 1819 intestate according to a deposition by James Conner, his son-in-law.

They being his only children, he divided the property equally between them.

Most of the property Elizabeth and Charlotte owned was land they received from their grandfather, Henry Smith. Elizabeth had received some land as a pre-emption right that was in the American Bottom. John D. Lee sold his mother's American Bottom land before he left Illinois.

Religion and Parents

My father and mother were both Catholics, were raised in that faith;

Interesting that Ralph and Elizabeth didn't get married in the Catholic church but instead, by a Justice of the Peace. Maybe it was because Eliza(beth) had been married before. I'm not sure what the rules about marriage are for Catholics. Apparently Elizabeth and Oliver Reed were not married in the Catholic church and neither were Elizabeth and John Rode. Elizabeth did have all three of her children baptized in the Catholic church within three months of their birth.

We do not know Ralph's religious upbringing.

On Elizabeth's side, her father's family, the Doyles, were Catholic, and her mother's side, the Smiths, were Baptists. In some records, John Doyle is listed as being a prominent Baptist in New Design. I believe that John Doyle was Baptist while his wife was alive, but after she died, went back to being Catholic. Also, the Catholic religion was more prominent in the area since it is an area that was originally settled by the French.

I was christened in that Church. William Morrison and Louise Phillips stood as my representative god-father and god-mother.

John Doyle was baptized in the Catholic church. His god-father was Alexis Buat and his god-mother was Marie-Louise Morrison.

His brother's god father was Benjamin Buat, and there are Buatte decendants still in the area. The pastor during that era was Rev. Donatien Olivier from 1803-1818.

It is from that Church record that I could alone obtain the facts and date that referred to my birth.

It is a good thing John D. Lee knew French. Those records are written in French.

When about one year old, my mother being sick,

Could this be from complications from the blow to her head?

I was sent
(p. 38) to a French nurse, a negro woman. At this time my sister Eliza was eleven years old, but young as she was she had to care for my mother and do all the work of the household.

This makes Eliza ten years older than John D., when in actuality, if she is Eugenie, she is only six years older.

To add to the misfortune, my father began to drink heavily and was soon very dissipated; drinking and gambling was his daily occupation.

Ralph may have begun his gambling and drinking before he married Elizabeth. There are two pieces of information that might confirm this. The first clue is from an inquest in 1810 and the second is the list of purchases Ralph Lee charged at Morrison's store in Kaskaskia.

The inquest held on the 8th of June 1810 was on a man who probably died of alcohol poisoning. Copied from the original. Bracketed information added by me for clarity.
Mrs. Fouke states: "This evening after the horse race was over, John Felming (sic) with James Lee and some others came in to her house and was drinking when some moments after[,] Lee Brought her Flemings hat and Sometime after he[,] Said Lee[,] had laid Fleming down along side the cupboard[,] he lifted Said Fleming up and took of[f] his Jacket and gave her the hat and Jacket to take care of and until he himself would call for it, Saying to Said Fleming it was a Shame for him to Drink so extravagantly and make such a Beast of himself and told this Deponent that was
[if] Fleming [were] to goe home to night not to let him have his hat for he would Surely Loose it, That this Deponent Verily Believes Said John Fleming came by his Death from hard Drinking and further says she went to see him now and then[,] when she said Fleming Drew his Breath hard and groaned hard[,] to which [she] has subscribed her name.

Deposition of Ralph Lee: The Depositions of Moses Wooden, Ralph Lee and Francis Gardner who on Oath say that this evening, a little after Sun Set almost Dusk, in Coming into the House of Philip Fouke Esquire in Kaskaskia they found the Dead Body of John Fleming (now before them lying) near the cupboard in the entry of Said house and then found he was motionless called for a candle and upon examination found he was Dead -- Say they do not know how he came by Death but Suppose twas Liquor was the Cause of it which they subscribed their names. Ralph Lee signed his name. Moses Wooden and Francis Gardner made marks
(Sapp 28-29).

So there is at least a possibility that Ralph Lee attended the horse race with the other participants, and apparently members of the party were imbibing.

Morrison's ledger was kept from 1805 to 1831.
Ralph began his credit at Morrison's store on September 19, 1809 and his last charge was on Sept 22, 1820. There are periods where he purchases more alcohol than others. To see his purchases go to, click on "Search Ledger" on the right side of the page, and enter Ralph's name in the proper boxes. Others of interest are James Conner-- Charlotte Doyle's husband, and John Doyle.

The interest and care of his family was no longer a duty with him; his presence was seldom seen to cheer and comfort his lonely, afflicted wife. The house was one mile from town, and we had no neighbors nearer than that.

The neglect and indifference on the part of my father towards my afflicted mother, served to increase her anguish and sorrow, until death came to her relief.

Records in the Circuit Court in Randolph County state that Eliza(beth) died November 1815. John D. Lee would have been 3 1/2 years old.

My mother's death left us miserable indeed; we were (my sister and I) thrown upon the wide world, helpless, and I might say, without father or mother. My father when free from the effects of intoxicating drink, was a kind-hearted, generous, noble man, but from that time forward he was a slave to drink--seldom sober.