Who was Anora Lee Horan Prettyman?

[NOTE: Do not read this post. Nearly all of the information in this post is incorrect. I realized only in 2021 that there were two Annie Lees born in Indiana around 1850, and I had chased down the wrong set of parents. I’ll leave this post here so that the comments can survive, but will strike out all inaccurate details. I recommend you read this revised post on Anora instead: https://blackenedroots.com/blog/anora-a-fresh-look/.]

In my previous post, I concluded that my 3rd-great-grandmother Anna/Annie Horan and Anora Lee Prettyman (the wife of my 3rd-great-uncle Francis M Prettyman) were the same person. In this post, I’d like to present what I know about who Anora Lee was and where she came from. I’ll focus here on her pre-marriage years, as I’ve already written a bit on what she did once she got married and had kids.

Anora (aka “Anna”, “Annie”, and “Anny”) Lee was born in Wayne Township, Randolph County, Indiana. Modern Wayne Township has a population of 4,611, and includes the western two-thirds of Union City, as well as the small towns of Harrisville and South Salem. Wayne township used to be the location of five towns: Bartonia, Harrisville, Randolph, Salem, and Union City. Randolph ceased being a town before 1850 according to the History of Randolph County, Indiana.

Wayne townshipAnora was the sixth-born child of nine children born to Jehu (pronounced “JAY-who”) M. (“John”) Lee (ca. 1815–1876) and his wife Rosanna McIntosh (ca. 1819–ca 1878):

  • Minerva Lee (b. 1838)
  • Levi Lee (b. ca 1840)
  • Nancy Jane Lee (b. 11 Jan 1844)
  • Jehu (“John”) M. Lee (b. 12 Oct 1848)
  • Edeline (“Edith,” “Edie”) E. Lee (b. Feb 1850)
  • Anora (“Anna,” “Annie”) J. Lee (b. ca 1853)
  • Rufus Acorn Lee (b. 16 Apr 1855)
  • Johanna (“Juliana,” “Joana”) Lee (b. Apr 1857)
  • Willis Jeptha Lee (b. 20 Mar 1861)

Quite a mouthful of names, these. And quite an assortment of name origins:

Minerva Minerva: “Wise”, “the mind” (Greek, Latin)
Levi Levi: “Associated with him”, “Connected” (biblical, Hebrew)
Nancy Jane Nancy: “Grace” (Hebrew, French, English)
Jane: “Gift from God” (Hebrew, English)
Jehu M./John Jehu: “He is God” (biblical, Hebrew)
John: “The mercy of the Lord” (biblical, Hebrew, English)
Edeline/Edith/Edie Edeline: “Noble kind” (German)
Edith: “Joyous” (Anglo-Saxon, English, Teutonic)
Edie: “struggle for wealth” (English)
Anora J. Anora: “Grace” (Hebrew)
J: ?
Rufus Acorn Rufus: “Red”, “Red-haired” (biblical, Latin, English)
Acorn: ?
Johanna/Juliana/Joana Johanna: “God’s grace” (Hebrew, German, Swedish)
Joana: “God’s grace” (English, Latin)
Juliana: name of a poem, “Jove’s descendant” (Anglo-Saxon, Latin, German, English, French, Norwegian, Swedish, and others)
Willis Jeptha Willis: “Resolute protector”, “Determined” (English, German)
Jeptha: “God opens” (Hebrew)

Jehu/John and Rosanna’s first six children were born in Wayne Township, with the exception of Levi, who was born in Ohio. The eastern boundary of Wayne Township also forms the state line between Indiana and Ohio, so Levi may have only been born a few miles to the east of his siblings. Wayne Township is highlighted in red on the map below:

Wayne twp Indiana Ohio

Around 1853, Anora was the last sibling to be born in Wayne Township, Randolph, Indiana. At some point between 1853 and 1855, Jehu/John and Rosanna took their six children and moved 500 miles west to Knox Township, in Clarke County, Iowa. It was in Knox that the last three Lee children were born.

Wayne to Knox

Traveling with John, Rosanna, and their six children were Rosanna’s parents, John McIntosh (ca. 1793–?) and Sarah Polley (ca. 1800–1882). John’s parents had long since passed away, but his older brother Henry and Henry’s family also travelled with them to Knox Township. John’s mother (Elizabeth Suddeth) died when he was just a boy, and his widowed father (Levi Lee) took his five children and moved 160 miles northwest from Hamilton County, Ohio, to Kosciusko County, Indiana. His father remarried twice more and died in 1839, just two years after John and Rosanna married.

John and his brother Henry were farmers, but for a period around the time they migrated to Iowa, they both became wagon makers (see the 1850 census below for John and his family):


As they were wagon makers, it’s a safe bet that they travelled from Indiana to Iowa via wagons. Time willing, I might try to determine the specific roads they most likely travelled between Indiana and Iowa.

Between 1850 and 1860, the population of Clarke County, Iowa, increased dramatically—from 79 in 1850 to 5,427 in 1860 (a 6,770% increase in population). I have yet to discover the reason for this sudden influx of people (and therefore, hopefully, some insight into why the Lee family may have decided to travel west). Iowa’s statehood came in 1846, so perhaps it was the allure of cheap land that brought them to Iowa? Hopefully a deeper look at land records will shed some light on this. I expect so, as a quick search just now turned up a record of him buying 40 acres in Clarke County, Iowa, on November 3, 1856:


In a future post, I’ll dig deep to see what other land records I can find, and I’ll map out the locations of the parcels to see if I can find any evidence of their original homestead. So far, that approach has been successful about half the time.

Anora’s father wrote his will in June, 1876, a month before he died.


Know all men by these presents that I John Lee of Knox Township Clarke County and State of Iowa being in ill health and of sound and disposing mind and memory do make and publish this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former wills by me at any time heretofore made

And as to my worldly estate and possessed or to which I shall be entitled at the time of my deceased I devise bequeath and dispose thereof in the manner following to-wit:

First: My will is that all my just debts and funeral expenses shall by my executor hereinafter named be paid out of my estate as soon after my decease as shall by them be found convenient.

Items I give devise and bequeath to my beloved wife, Rosanna Lee and Willis J. Lee my youngest son the following lands to-wit: The North West 1/4 of the North East 1/4 of Section 29. The South 5/8 of the South West 1/4 of the South East 1/4 of Section 20. The South 3/5 of the South East 1/4 of the South West 1/4 of Section 20 all in Township Seventy-one (71) North of Range Twenty-six (26) West.

Rosanna Lee my wife is to have and to hold the said premises as long as her natural life. Willis J. Lee my youngest son is to have and hold same at her death by paying to Manery Thomask heirs the sum of Twenty five dollars. To Nancy Jane Hugh and her heirs Forty dollars, Edie E. Kirkhart’s heirs Twenty-five dollars. To Anna Beemans’ heirs Twenty-five dollars To Emile Lytle Fifty dollars for bounty money.

The above heirs to receive no money until after Willis J. Lee become of age. And to Levi Lee I consider I have gave him Two Hundred Dollars in land. John Lee and Rufus Lee Two Hundred a piece in land Joana Lee is to have an equal share with Levi Lee, John Lee and Rufus Lee and to have her share set off as soon as all of the just debts is paid and any money left in hand to pay her. And lastly I do nominate and appoint my said son Levi Lee to be the executor of this my last will and testament.

In testimony whereof I the said John Lee have to this my last Will and Testament of June One thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy Six.

/s/John Lee

In Presence of

/s/ J. L. Chenowith

/s/  William Watkins

It appears that his wife and all of his living children are mentioned in his will, although the mention of Anora/Anna is a strange one:

Rosanna (wife) “Rosanna Lee”
Minerva (died circa 1875)
Levi “Levi Lee”
Nancy Jane “Nancy Jane Hugh and her heirs”
Jehu M./John “John Lee”
Edeline/Edith/Edie “Edie E. Kirkhart’s heirs”
Anora/Anna J. [“Anna Beemans’ heirs”]
Rufus Acorn “Rufus Lee”
Johanna/Juliana/Joana “Joana Lee”
Willis Jeptha “Willis J. Lee”

I’ve only seen a transcription of this will, so it’s possible that “Beemans” is a spelling error/irregularity in the original, or an error that was introduced when this document was transcribed. If this is the case, then “Beeman” is possibly a rendering of “Horan”. It seems more likely to be a rendering of “Prettyman”, but Anora didn’t marry Francis Prettyman until January 15, 1883, six or seven years after her father wrote his will. Anora married William Horan around 1866, and the 1875 Minnesota census (see below) shows Anora (“Anna”) and William Horan living together with their children Mary A (8 years old), Catherine (5 years old), and John B. (2 years old). It’s not impossible, but it seems pretty unlikely that she would have gotten divorced or become a widow after the disappearance of William Horan (a mystery I’m still looking into) and then married a man named “Beeman” before 1876, only to have him disappear from the historical record immediately thereafter.


If “Beeman” is a mis-rendering of “Prettyman”, however, then the story becomes rather salacious. Is the mysterious disappearance of William Horan possibly the result of an affair between his wife Anora and and Dr. Francis M. Prettyman? Given what Jerry Prettyman has reported hearing from Sue Prettyman Chezem, I think a salacious story may not be entirely unlikely:

I learned from Sue Chezem that A.W. [Alfred Wharton Prettyman—Francis/Frank Prettyman’s father] may have married Lucy [Lucy Caroline Hasbrouck], his second wife, after Lucy became pregnant with Frank’s child, but Frank wasn’t interested in her.

Lucy Caroline Hasbrouck is Sue’s 2nd-great-grandmother. I wrote to Sue for further details on this story and she had the following to say:

That is what my grandfather [Ray LeRoy Prettyman, who was the half-nephew of Francis Prettyman] told me happened. He knew Francis real well and cleaned out his office when he died. So I have to assume my grandfather was told this by Francis himself. I don’t know this for sure and my grandfather is gone now so can not find out how he knew this.

So there you go. As per usual, some old questions answered, but even more new questions found that need to be investigated. Hopefully finding the original (or a facsimile thereof) of Anora’s father’s will and testament will clear up some of the confusion.

One last tidbit to leave you with: Anora was born around 1852-1853. I originally thought that she was four years older than that, based on her self-reported age on censuses when she was an adult. However, the 1856 Iowa state census (below) clearly shows her as being 4 years old in 1856 and the 1860 federal census (a little further down) show her as being 7 in 1860 (plus, she’s not listed on the 1850 census):
1856IAcensusJohnLee1860censusJohnLeeSo why is this interesting? Well, Anora’s first child—Mary Ann, my 2nd-great-grandmother—was born on August 7, 1866. Given that Anora was born in 1852 or 1853, she would have been only 13–14 years old at the birth of her first child (and therefore likely only 13 years old when she got pregnant).

I’ll be interested to see just how unusual this was for the time period. I have a strong feeling that this would have been almost as unusual and unexpected 148 years ago as it would be today. In fact, it was probably in response to this that Anora then started reporting her age as 4–5 years older than it really was.

9 thoughts on “Who was Anora Lee Horan Prettyman?

  1. My dad had often told the story that we had a relative that “was his own grampa” like the song. I think this is tied into this story.

    By the way, did you email me a photo of CA from a cell phone? It wasn’t signed and the photo didn’t go through.

  2. I think you might be right. Frances Prettyman seems to attracted and/or caused a few familial oddities, especially if the story that Jerry Prettyman shared is correct:

    “I learned from Sue Chezem that A.W. may have married Lucy, his second wife, after Lucy became pregnant with Frank’s child, but Frank wasn’t interested in her.”
    (from http://www.jerryprettyman.com/prettyman/prettyman4.htm)

    The CA photo wasn’t from me. Perhaps Dan?

  3. I was looking for information regarding my x3 Great Grandma Rosanna McIntosh. Her daughter Juliana ‘Lania’ Lee is my great grandma x2. You seem to be a wealth of information and am hoping you know the answer to this question. Do you know who Rosanna’s parents were?

    • Goodness, sorry for the 6-month delay. I’m really behind with my family history work these days.

      Good news, though—I do know who Rosanna’s parents were:
      • John McIntosh (born ca. 1793 in Virginia; moved west to Indiana and then Iowa with Rosanna and Jehu)
      • Sarah Polley (born ca. 1800 in Barren County, Kentucky, and died on March 16, 1882 in Morona, Clayton County, Iowa)

      Sarah and John were married on May 7, 1818, in Darke County, Ohio.

      • Hold on—new evidence has just come in that indicates I might be wrong about Rosanna’s parents (specifically whether Rosanna was Anora’s mother). Once I sort through everything, I’ll report back here.

          • Hi Marie,

            I’ve just determined that I was in error about Jehu/John Lee and Rosanna McIntosh being Anora’s mother. It was yet another case of two people with nearly the same name, born on nearly the same date, in nearly the same place. While Jehu and Rosanna did have a daughter named Annie Lee who was born in Indiana in ca. 1852, she was not the same person as “my” Annie Lee, born in 1847 in Terre Haute, Indiana.
            I’ve written up notes about “my” Annie Lee here: http://blackenedroots.com/blog/anora-a-fresh-look/.
            The good news for you is that I still think I’m correct about who Rosanna’s parents were:
            • John McIntosh (born ca. 1793 in Virginia; moved west to Indiana and then Iowa with Rosanna and Jehu)
            • Sarah Polley (born ca. 1800 in Barren County, Kentucky, and died on March 16, 1882 in Morona, Clayton County, Iowa)

  4. Anora Lee Horan Prettyman was my great grandmother. My grandmother was (Annie) Laurie Prettyman Smith. My grandmother, who preferred to be called Laura, was three when she witnessed the death of Anora, who died giving birth to a 13th baby. FM Prettyman, (Frank) took a picture of the six younger kids before sending them away to live with various families. There is much more to this story, but in answer to your inquiry, William Horan went to prison for stealing a team of oxen and selling them. Anora “supported the 6 children by taking in washing and cleaning other peoples houses.” Anora couldn’t read or write, which explains the various spellings of her name on census reports. She was working in St. Paul, MN, at the MOFFETT CASTLE, where she met and married FM Prettyman. She was eventually re buried, by her Horan children in Parkers Prairie, Minn., in Otter Tail County. The headstone reads 1848-1892. My father, Laura’s son, received a 17 page written letter, from Frank, which revealed many details of FMs life. My father, (Richard T. Smith) was so angry with Frank’s criticism of Anora that he destroyed the 1st page. But I have this letter, pages 2-17, and more insights into Anora’s life. My grandmother despised Frank, because he disbanded the children, as well as refusing his wife a priest as she lay dying, because he was a protestant. In spite of being only three when she and her siblings were separated, Laura kept in touch, and eventually lived in the same town as Robert, her youngest brother, in Westport, WA. My father had an indelible memory and left me with rich records of this incredibly brave and industrious family. I’d be happy to share pictures and stories.

    • Hi Lorna,

      Thank you so much for filling in several mysteries in our family story. Yes!—I’d love to share photos and stories, and I’d love to see/read the letter from Frank to your dad. What a treasure! I’ll send you an email shortly so we can communicate that way.

      With gratitude,


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