Genealogical Notes About Thomas Benton Short (1847-1907)

My great-grandmother, Pearl Short, married Richard Hughes in Kansas, 1 April 1894, and their daughter, Margaret Hughes, is my grandmother. This page is about her father, Thomas Benton Short, and her mother, Elizabeth Johnson.

Pearl's father, Thomas B. Short, was born in Indiana in 1847, and moved to Kansas with his family. He and his first wife Elizabeth Johnson had Pearl, their first and only child, in 1873. Elizabeth died shortly after giving birth to Pearl, and Thomas later remarried, to Martha Paul. After Thomas died, his wife married twice more, living until 1946. [n. 1]

Pearl's grandfather Daniel (or William Daniel) Short was born in Delaware in 1808. He was an early (before 1838) settler of Cass County, Indiana, moving there with others of his family. In 1839, as William Daniel Short, he married Katherine (or Cathriana) Stephens in Cass Co. By 1860 he had moved to another, nearby county in Indiana, and by 1870 was living in Blue Rapids, Marshall County, Kansas.

I have not yet been able to trace Pearl's mother's family any earlier than her parents, William and Almira Johnson of Batavia, IL. William was born in Maine, and Almira (maiden name not known) was born in New York; they were married in New York, and had three children there before moving to Illinois. See the summary page for William Johnson for more information.

What We Know:

THOMAS BENTON SHORT, born 27 August 1847, in Lockport, Carroll Co, Indiana, died 4 March 1907 in Marshall, Logan Co., Oklahoma; married (first wife), ELIZABETH JOHNSON; she was born in 1847, in Batavia, Kane Co., Illinois, to WILLIAM JOHNSON and his wife ALMYRA, and died 12 April, 1873, in Blue Springs, Marshall Co., Kansas; married (second wife), on 8 July 1877, in Blue Rapids, Marshall Co., Kansas, MARTHA PAUL; she was born 31 May 1854, in Rock Island, Illinois, and died 16 January 1946 in Enid (although living in Marshall), Oklahoma; the daughter of WILLIAM PAUL (an Irish immigrant) and ELIZA ADELINE WALKER. All of Thomas's children were born in Kansas.

Thomas' obituary appeared in the local newspaper, in Logan Co., Oklahoma; it said that he had come to Marshall Co, Kansas with his parents in 1863, and resided there until moving to Oklahoma in 1899. His first wife was given as Elizabeth Johnston, of Batavia, Illinois. His second wife was Martha Paul, of Blue Rapids. Thomas joined the Methodist church as a young man and remained in it.

His first wife died shortly giving birth to her first child, probably of complications from the birth. He married Martha Paul four years later. After his death Martha (Mattie) remarried twice. She died in Enid, Oklahoma in 1946, aged 91; her obituary ran in the local papers under the name Martha Paul Rippy. We have further information on Martha Paul, from a letter she wrote in 1937, published in 1975. [n. 2]

Martha Paul was born 31 May 1854, in Rock Island, Illinois; her father was an immigrant from Ireland and her mother was of an American pioneer family. According to a letter written by her in 1937, and republished in the Blue Rapids newspaper in 1975, her grandfather was Samuel Allen Walker, born in Virginia in February of 1785, and her grandmother was Nancy Ann Thompson, born in Bolling Green, Kentucky, in February of 1805; they were married in Rock Island, Illinois.

Her father, William Paul, was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland, on 16 February 1830, and her mother, Eliza Adeline Walker, was born in Rock Island on 26 January 1836; they were married in Rock Island 30 June 1853.

When she was four years old, her parents moved to Irving, Kansas, and settled on raw, uncultivated land. As long as she lived (and she lived to the age of 91) she could tell stories of Kansas in the days of the pioneers and the grasshopper plagues.

She received a teachers' certificate at the age of seventeen, and taught in the rural schools for five years before marrying the young widower Tom Short in 1877. Besides her stepdaughter Pearl, Tom and Mattie had three children; they became Mrs. Lena Wilson of Marshall, Oklahoma, Roy Short of Katy, Texas, and Prof. William Short of the Baptist University at Shawnee, Oklahoma. In later years she married twice more.

See Stan Howland's excellent family tree project for more information about Mattie Paul and the Paul family.

Family Summary:

Child of Thomas and Elizabeth, surname Short:

i. PEARLANNA MAY, born 25 March 1873, died 11 April, 1953; married (1) 9/9/1889, in Irving, KS, WILLIAM FREDERICK PAUL [her step-uncle]; married (2) 4/1/1894, in Irving, KS, RICHARD HUGHES. No known children by William F. Paul; six children by Richard Hughes. Pearl's marriage certificate gives her name as Perlonia May Short Paul, indicating that she was still using the Paul surname even though their marriage must have ended. William F. Paul was still alive at this time, and married (2) circa 1893 Mary A. Dopp. How the first marriage was terminated is still unknown, and there is always the possibility that a child was born. [n. 3]

Children of Thomas and Martha, surname Short:

ii. LENA GERALDINE, born 25 May 1877 or 1878, died 20 April 1963; married GEORGE W. ("WILL") WILSON (32G144); he was born 19 June 187-, and died 19 October 1937

iii. ARTHUR LEROY, born 13 February 1881, in Irving, Marshall Co., KS; died 7 April 1961; married, 4 November 1908, VIOLA GRIER

iv. WILLIAM THOMAS, born 28 January 1884; died 19 February 1947; married, 10 August 1910, CLARISA MALINDA SHERIFF

Census Records:

The 1860 Census for Pulaski County, Indian Creek township, Indiana (#290, page 1084), has:

Daniel Short 53 Farmer 2000 600 born Delaware
Catherine Short 43 born Indiana
Sarah E. Short 17 born Indiana
Martha W. Short 15 born Indiana
Thomas B. Short 12 born Indiana
Susannah Short 9 born Indiana
Daniel W. Short 5 born Indiana
James Stephens 33 Farmhand born Indiana

The 1870 Census for Blue Rapids, Marshall Co., Kansas has:

Daniel Short 62 Farmer Delaware
Catherine 52 K. House Indiana
Thomas 22 Farmer Indiana
Susanah 18 At Home Indiana
Daniel W. 15 Indiana

Some Questions:

How did Thomas meet Elizabeth? They were living on opposite ends of the state of Missouri. There has to have been some connection, some reason why they would come into proximity to each other. Actually, members f these famlilies were moving around constantly. Elizabeth's older sister Emeline, who had married Elihu Wigton, gave birth to one daughter, Bertha R. Wigton, in Irving, KS (very near Blue Rapids), November 6, 1871. Elizabeth married Tom Short some time between 1870, when she was still living with her parents in Batavia, IL, and 1873, when she died after giving birth to her daughter Pearl. I'm not sure what Elihu and Emeline were doing in Irving, as other children were born in Chicago, Batavia, and Sandwich, IL. See Ken Wigton's Family Tree (reequires membership) for more on the Wigton family.

A somewhat more remote possibility is a connection back through Batavia, NY, and/or people or businesses there. Both towns, Batavia, Illinois, and Blue Rapids, Kansas, were founded and settled by people from Batavia, New York. Assume one visited relatives in the other's city, or they both visited New York; and they met. Or perhaps they were introduced to each other by friends and relatives.

Who was Thomas' grandmother, Almyra Johnson? So far, I haven't been able to find William and Almyra any earlier than the 1850 census, when they were long married and living in Blackberry (near Batavia), Illinois. At that time they had daughters Mary (age 15, born in New York about 1835), and a daughter Perlona, respectively ten and three years older than Elizabeth (age 3, born in Illinois about 1847). Perlonia's elder sisters Caroline, Mary, and Emeline had already left the family home by the 1860 census (but see above).

We know from the 1860 census that William was born in 1806 in that part of Massachusetts that later became Maine, and Almyra around 1806 in New York. When did he leave Maine for New York, and when did they leave New York for Illinois? yet to be determined.

Where did Thomas get his middle name? He was probably named after Thomas Hart Benton (1782-1858), American statesman and senator from Missouri 1821-51.


1. Genealogical history of the Short family, all the way back to early connection in Delaware, compiled by Stanley G. Short, of Katy, TX. Personal communication, 1992.

2. BLUE RAPIDS TIMES (Newspaper), Vol 104, No. 44 (6 February 1975); in collection at Blue Rapids public library

3. Personal communication from Stan Howland, 1 August 2011. See BLUE RAPIDS TIMES for Sept. 18, 1889 for marriage announcement.



Update history: This page created 22 March 2011; latest update 23 December 2011.

Compiled by Michael J. Ward, San Jose, CA. Contact: mjward at-sign