An Inheritance of Ghosts

James Clay Colley and Cora Shrite

Posted in Cora (Shrite) Colley, Cora Shrite, James Clay Colley by Gregg Mattocks on 27 August 2009

James Clay Colley [24]

Father: Elijah Walker Colley [48]

Mother: Emma C. Ligon [49]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry

Cora Shrite [25]

Father: John Preston Shrite [50]

Mother: America Clay Rule [51]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry


James Clay Colley [24] was born 12 June 1852 at Platte County, Missouri.

In June 1860, James, aged 7, was living with his parents at Carroll Township, Platte County.

In 1870, James, recorded as a domestic[?], aged 18, was living with his parents at Liberty, Platte Township, Clay County, Missouri.

When James’ father died in 1878, James was offered administration of the estate.  James declined and, on 13 November 1878, administration was granted to a public administrator.

James married, 9 September 1879 at Platte County, as her first husband, Cora Shrite [25] (sometimes Cora Srite).  Cora was born 18 February 1859 at Platte County, the daughter of John Preston and America Clay (Rule) Shrite.

In 1860, Cora, aged 2, was living with her parents at Carroll Township.

In July 1870, Cora, aged 12, was living with her widowed mother at Carroll Township.

In the first settlement of his father’s estate made in February 1880, “J. Colly” was recorded as having received $10.00 from the estate “for Alice”.  Apparently James was acting as guardian of his sister Alice, still under age at the time. 

In June 1880, James Colley, a farmer, aged 28, was living with his wife Cora, aged 21, at Carroll Township.  Also in the household were James’ brother and sister, Austin and Alice.  Nearby lived Cora’s mother.

Son Arthur Clay was born in July 1880 in Missouri.

At Clay County on 4 June 1881, James and Cora, along with Alice and J.S. Colley, sold, for $800, to Austin Colley, 60 acres of the estate of James’ father, Walker Colley, deceased.  It is believed that James’ father died intestate, and that the estate was to be equally divided between the children.  At the time of this deed, final settlement of the estate had not yet been made.  It would seem that the siblings were deeding their father’s property to Austin so that he could in turn sell it.

The Colleys were living at Platte Township when daughter Jessie Lee was born in June 1884.  The record of the birth at the Missouri Secretary of State’s website gives Cora’s maiden name as Smith, but I believe this was a misreading.  J.J. Rice was the attending physician at Jessie’s birth.  James was working as a farmer at the time of his daughter’s birth.

Son James Alvin was born in June 1888 at Clay County.

On 8 December 1888, James and Cora conveyed to Robert W. McClelland – as security for payment of a debt of Vanner Smith – property at Clay County.  This property was described as the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 10, Township 53, Range 32.

James Clay Colley, aged 37, died 8 December 1889 at Clay County.  He was buried at Paradise Cemetery in Clay County, Missouri.

In September of 1890, as a result of non-payment of Vanner Smith’s debt, Robert McClelland proceeded to sell at public auction the property James and Cora had put up as security.  Notices of the auction were published in the Liberty Tribune (of Liberty, Clay County) from 12 September 1890 to 10 October 1890.  At the auction – held on Tuesday, 14 October 1890, at the courthouse in Liberty – the Colley property was sold for $1068 to George Neth, the high bidder.

Cora married second, as his second wife, 18 November 1890, Thomas P. McDaniel.  Thomas was born 20 January 1838 in Missouri.  His parents had been born in Kentucky.

Thomas had married first[?], Jane M. —–.  Jane was born 5 September 1835.

Our Thomas may have been the Thomas McDaniel, farmer, aged 33, born in Missouri, who, in July 1870, was living at Kidder Township, Caldwell County, Missouri.  In this household was wife Jane, aged 33 and born in Kentucky, as well as daughter Alice, aged 3.  Also in the household were three Taylor children, Edmond, aged 10, Amelia, aged 8, and John, aged 6.  It seems these three Taylors may well have been Jane’s children from a previous marriage.  Also in the household in this year was Louis Blask, aged 18, a farm laborer.

Ten years later, we find a Thomas McDaniel, farmer, aged 42, born in Missouri, living at Kidder Township.  His wife is not living with him.  But there is a daughter Alice P., aged 12, who corresponds with the Alice from the census record of 1870.  Also in the home are two younger sons, Frank B., aged 8, and Benjamin, aged 3.  A farm laborer Amos (last name indecipherable), aged 20, also lived with the family.  But where was Thomas’s wife Jane? 

Also enumerated in the 1880 Census of Kidder Township was the household of Edmond H. Taylor, aged 20.  He was living with his sister Amelia Taylor, aged 18, and his mother Jane McDaniel, aged 44 and born in Kentucky.  This household, Edmond, Amelia, and Jane, must have been the same three who were living in Thomas McDaniel’s household ten years earlier.  But why was Jane not living with her husband?  Had they separated?

The central question for us is whether the Thomas McDaniel of Caldwell County was one and the same as the Thomas McDaniel who later married Cora (Shrite) Colley.  We know that our Thomas’s first wife Jane died 29 November 1882 and was buried at Paradise Cemetery.  Also buried at Paradise Cemetery were a Ben M. McDaniel, born in 1876 and died in 1931; and a Frank McDaniels, who died in August 1885, reportedly aged 12 years, 7 months, 6 days, who was the son of “T.P. and Jane”.  It would seem then that the McDaniels of Caldwell County and those of Clay County were one and the same.

In June 1900, Thomas P. McDaniel, a farmer, aged 62, was living with his wife Cora, aged 41, and her three children at Paradise, Platte Township.  The census of that year recorded that Thomas and Cora had been married nine years, and that Cora had given birth to three children, all of whom were living.

Both Thomas and Cora were early members of the Christian Church at Paradise.  They were recorded as being members of that church in 1903.

Cora McDaniel died 6 January 1905 near Paradise.  She was buried at Paradise Cemetery.

A non-subscriber search of the 1910 Census at revealed a Thomas McDaniel, born about 1838, living at Wyandotte County, Kansas.

Thomas P. McDaniel died 3 February 1917.  He was buried at Paradise Cemetery.

 Children of James Clay and Cora (Shrite) Colley:

  • 24.1.  Arthur Clay, born 21 July 1880.
  • 24.2.  Jessie Lee, born 4 or 5 June 1884.
  • 24.3.  James Alvin [12], born 19 June 1888.


  • 1860 United States Census, Platte County, Missouri, (M653-640-563).
  • 1860 United States Census, Platte County, Missouri, (M653-640-566).
  • 1860 United States Census, Platte County, Missouri, (M653-640-567).
  • 1870 United States Census, Caldwell County, Missouri, (M593-763-149A).
  • 1870 United States Census, Clay County, Missouri, (M593-770-784A).
  • 1870 United States Census, Clay County, Missouri, (M593-770-784B).
  • 1870 United States Census, Platte County, Missouri, (M593-799-305A). 
  • 1880 United States Census, Caldwell County, Missouri, (T9-677-318B).
  • 1880 United States Census, Caldwell County, Missouri, (T9-677-329A).
  • 1880 United States Census, Platte County, Missouri, (T9-710-97B).
  • 1900 United States Census, Platte County, Missouri, (T623-849-167B).
  • —, Clay County, Missouri, probate record (inventory, sale bill, account, and settlement) for Elijah W. Colley, recorded 14 February 1882, microfilm at Clay County Probate Clerk’s office, Liberty, Missouri, transcribed from a poor quality photocopy by Luster Earl Colley.  (Original papers are believed to have been given to the Clay County Historical Society).
  • —, Clay County, Missouri, unidentified deed, from the Luster Earl Colley genealogy collection [Reference 681].
  • —, Clay County, Missouri, Deed Book 52, page 175, transcribed by Luster Earl Colley.
  •, “Genealogy, Family Trees and Family History Records online –,” at, accessed 27 August 2009.
  • Sherry Fleischer, “Clay County MOGenWeb [Paradise Cemetery],” at, accessed 27 August 2009.
  • —, “Ben M McDaniel (1876 – 1931) – Find A Grave Memorial,” at, accessed 27 August 2009.
  • —, “Frank McDaniels ( – 1885) – Find A Grave Memorial,” at, accessed 27 August 2009.
  • —, “Jane M McDaniels (1835 – 1882) – Find A Grave Memorial,” at, accessed 27 August 2009.
  • —, “Thomas P McDaniels (1838 – 1917) – Find A Grave Memorial,” at, accessed 27 August 2009.
  • Mrs. John Hall, “Paradise Cemetery, Clay County, Missouri,” Kansas City Genealogist 12[January 1972]:32.
  • Vida Catherine Colley, The Birthday and Anniversary Book, memoranda book of Vida Catherine Colley, (selected items), transcribed by Luster Earl Colley.
  • Office of the Secretary of State, Missouri, “SOS, Missouri – State Archives: Birth and Death Records,” at, (Birth and Stillbirth Records Search, County = “Clay”, Name = “Colley”), accessed 13 August 2004.
  • W.M. Paxton, Annals of Platte County, Missouri (Kansas City, Missouri: Hudson-Kimberly Publishing Company, 1897), page 487.
  • Nita [Rueth], “The Colley Surname Message Board,” at, posted 3 August 2000.
  • Edith Sims, “Early Christian Church Members, Paradise, Mo.,” Kansas City Genealogist 23[1982-1983]:77-78, 179.