John Blackburn LeBus was born December 7, 1850, in Columbiana County, Ohio, the third child of Andrew and Margaret Simmington LeBus. Even though information on the LeBus family is limited, we know from census records that his father was born in Largitzen, Alsace, France, and his mother was born in Ohio. Nevertheless, I think we can rightfully say that John and his siblings were among the first generation Americans.
Agriculture was a principal industry in Columbiana County in the years John’s family lived there, but there were other small varieties of business and manufacturing developing such as grist and flour mills, sawmills, and paper mills. We know from the 1860 U.S. Federal Census information that Andrew LeBus was a blacksmith by trade. (John would later follow in his footsteps.)
By 1860 the LeBus family is living in Wayne County, Illinois, and they have added to their fold. Listed on the 1860 United States Federal Census are Andrew and Margaret Labus (note misspelled name) and their seven children: Mary A. (14), Thomas (12), John (10), George (8), Jackson (6), Ida L. (4), and Nancy E. (1).
I have found no military record of John’s father, Andrew, enlisting in the Civil War, but like all people at that time, they must have been impacted by it. Here is an excerpt from an article in the USGenWeb Archives entitled, “Life in Wayne County during the Civil War, Wayne County, Illinois.”
When the call reached Wayne County there was great excitement. All the loyal men hurriedly met to make plans to go to Mt. Vernon to enlist. But first, they must decide how their families should be cared for and protected during their absence.
They agreed that those with some physical disability and the few physicians should remain to protect and defend the homes and families if it should be necessary. Also, the crops must be put in for food and it would require some who were able bodied to organize the young boys and girls and plant and care for each farm.
At this time, many of the community sympathized with the Southerners and they called a meeting and organized a society called ‘The Knights of the Golden Circle’ to act as spies against the Northern men, and hinder them in every way possible and to give assistance to the Southern Army…
To combat this marauding society, the Union League was organized. A meeting was called at the home of Syria J. Branson and by unanimous vote he was elected to be captain of the League.
This gives us a small glimpse of the chaotic atmosphere. The Civil War was being waged between states and within communities. We have heard about families and family members turning against each other, and that must have been the case in Wayne County, Illinois. It makes me wonder how John’s father reacted to this situation. Was he a supporter of the Union or the Confederacy?
Sometime before 1870 the LeBus family moved to Flora, Clay County, Illinois. According to the 1870 United States Federal Census, John was listed as 19 years old and his occupation was given as “Blacksmith.” Along with his parents, seven other siblings are listed. Three more LeBus children were born since the 1860 census – Lydia (7), Lincoln (5), and Joseph (1).
JOHN BLACKBURN MARRIES LUCY ANN LEYBURN
John met his bride-to-be in Flora, and her name was Lucy Ann “Annie” Leyburn. They married October 6, 1872. By 1874 they had started their family with the birth of a daughter, Maggie. During the next six years their family grew even more with the births of George Franklin, December 14, 1876; Archie, 1877; and Laura, 1878.
By 1880 John, Annie, and their family were living in Loudon, Tennessee. Perhaps they moved there to be near her siblings. From information on the 1880 United States Federal Census, John (listed as J.A. Lebus) is continuing his trade as a blacksmith. Along with Annie (24) the children are listed as Marie (should be Maggie), Archie,
George and Leif (should be Link).This fourth child, Lincoln, was given the nickname “Link.” For some reason, their daughter Laura is not shown on the census record.
The 1890 United States Federal Census is no longer in existence. Only a few fragments survived a fire at the Commerce Department in Washington, D.C. on January 10, 1921. Neither Indiana nor Illinois have records serving as a census substitute. Therefore, there is a large span of time where I have no recorded information for John and Annie LeBus.
There is no record of why the LeBus family returned to Illinois or where they resided, but from information on the 1900 United States Federal Census, we know that three more of their children were born in Illinois. John Ervin was born December 24, 1881 in Illinois; Ruby was born 1886 in Illinois; and Goldie was born 1888 in Illinois.
JOHN, ANNIE AND FAMILY MOVE TO PERRY, OKLAHOMA
By 1900 the LeBus family is living in Perry, Noble County, Oklahoma. The family name is shown on the 1900 United States Federal Census as Labus. Listed are John B. Labus (50), Anna Labus (45), Ruby Labus (13), Golle (11), Beatrice Labus (7), Irene Labus (4), and John Labus (19). Both Beatrice and Irene were born in Oklahoma.
I am sure John’s life was drastically altered when his wife, Annie, died July 16, 1905. However, John can be found on the 1910 United States Federal Census and he had remarried. Though the name is spelled “Leber,” there is a John Leber, age 59. He was born in Ohio, and his father was born in France. His wife is listed as Clarence Leber, age 52. It shows that they have been married two years. John Leber’s occupation is shown as “Blacksmith.” Census information shows his two youngest daughters, Beatrice and Irene, were living with their sister Laura and her husband, Edward Bullock, in Coal Creek, Pawnee, Oklahoma.
John Blackburn LeBus died December 29, 1915, in Perry, Noble, Oklahoma, and was buried in the Grace Hill Cemetery.
Note: George and Ethel “Pa and Ma” LeBus named their second son Jack Blackburn after his paternal grandfather. I have not seen his birth certificate, but it is possible his name was actually John since the name “Jack” is commonly used as a nickname.
I have no record of when John and Annie LeBus arrived in Oklahoma or what attracted them to that area. However, in reading about Noble County in the late 1800’s, I see they may have arrived at a very interesting time in that state’s history. Noble County is located in north-central Oklahoma and was the home of Native Americans for hundreds of years. In 1835 the region became part of the Cherokee Outlet, created by treaty with the Cherokee Nation. During the period of Cherokee ownership, white cattle ranchers of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association lease much of the Indian land for grazing.
It was on September 16, 1893, that the famous Oklahoma land run occurred. If the LeBus family was there at the time or participated in the event, it would have been amazing to witness. Here is how a Rev. Fred Belk describes the scene.
At one minute of 12 o’clock noon on September 16, 1893, a tense silence broken only by the occasional nervous whinny of a horse or braying of a mule fell along the line of the entry of the Cherokee Outlet (Strip). Then, a single shot rang out and one of the most exciting runs’ in the history of the United States began. The silence of the treeless plains were suddenly filled with screaming men, thundering wagons, cracking ships, plunging animals and yapping dogs, and the tidal wave of humanity, surrounded by a cloud of dust, swept towards Perry and its adjoining countryside. They were honest men and thieves, bankers and paupers, adventurers and homesteaders, all wanting some of the virgin land that made the “outlet” famous.
By nightfall, a city of canvas with well over 40,000 population had risen. Estimates are that over 100,000 men, women, and children took part all along the run. The “Strip” as it was later called was 57 miles wide, stretching from the Kansas border to Orlando, and 200 miles long extending to the Texas line and compromising 1/5 of the present state of Oklahoma. Osage, Pawnee, Kay, Noble, Grant, Alfalfa, Major, Woods, Woodward, Harper, and Ellis counties were involved in the “run” and “bread basket” Oklahoma was born.
Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.
Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2003.
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: 2005.
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006.
Belk, Rev. Fred R., “Early History of Perry, Oklahoma,” http://www.cityofperryok.com/History.htm
Branson, Mrs. H.L., “The Union League Flag,” Life in Wayne County during the Civil War, Wayne County, Illinois. http://files.usgwarchives.net/wayne/military/civilwar/civilwar.txt
Clay County, marriage record, Clay County Clerk’s Office, Louisville, Illinois.
“Columbiana County, Ohio,” http://www.columbianacounty.org/history.htm
Web: Oklahoma, Find A Grave Index, 1800-2012.
Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft 2010, Updated July 2014.