Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Oh, Henry

It didn’t take much time, examining that 1820 census record yesterday, to realize that it didn’t look promising for First Families of Ohio designation. The likelihood that it represented Henry the direct ancestor in my husband’s Flowers line, rather than John Henry the brother of a direct ancestor, was looking quite slim.

Gone would be all the hopes clinging to that transcription of 1819 tax records—perfectly timed to align with that First Families date limit—found on a Perry County genealogy site, showing one Henry Flowers as among the “Present Proprietors” on the state auditor’s records. And, most likely, the same would be the case for the Bureau of Land Management file also sporting that stripped-down Henry Flowers moniker.

Thank you, German naming patterns.

Not that I’ve never met a learning opportunity I couldn’t benefit from. I just wish the opportunity would have saved itself for a less time-strapped moment. There are just some genealogical dreams a girl has set her heart on.

It’s still worth it to take a look at what’s been found. After all, who knows…maybe some distant cousin and direct descendant of that other Henry Flowers may someday benefit. (Whoever you are, you owe me. Big time.)

From the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, the General Land Office Records are easily searchable. I played it safe after selecting my state (Ohio), and just entered the surname I was seeking (Flowers). I figured it would be better to trawl through all the possibilities instead of having potential hits get eliminated for lack of knowledge about when counties were formed. A lot was happening in Ohio in that historic early period. Not to mention, I needed some protection from those wild 1800s-style spelling liberties.

Right away, the search results brought me a document bearing the name Henry Flowers. Of course, now that I’ve thoroughly checked out the census record occurring within the decade of this purchase, I’m sure I now know who is represented by that “Henry.” But let’s take a look at what the document looks like, anyhow.

Dated April 1, 1813, the pre-printed form explained the details of the transaction:

James Madison, President of the United States of America,

KNOW YE, That Henry Flowers, of Muskingum County, Ohio
having deposited in the General Land-Office a certificate of the Register of the Land-Office at Zanesville, whereby it appears that full payment has been made for the South West Quarter of Section twenty-eight, of Township seventeen, in Range fifteen,

of the lands directed to be sold at Zanesville, by the act of Congress, entitled “An act providing for the sale of the lands of the United States in the territory north-west of the Ohio, and above the mouth of Kentucky river,” and of the acts amendatory of the same, There is granted, by the United States, unto the said Henry Flowers, the quarter lot or section of land above described: To have and to hold the said Quarter lot or section of land, with the appurtenances, unto the said Henry Flowers, his heirs and assigns forever.

In testimony whereof, I have caused these letters to be made Patent, and the seal of the General Land-Office to be hereunto affixed.

Given under my hand at the city of Washington, the twenty-seventh day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the thirty-seventh.


E. T. Commissioner of the General Land-Office.

Although I’m disappointed that this has turned out not to be the right ancestor named, I would never have known unless I put the effort into doing the search. For some direct descendant of Henry Flowers the son, it will be a wonderful find.

In the meantime, I’m encouraged to note that this brother of my line’s Joseph S. Flowers was listed as “Henry Flowers of Muskingum County.” If you’ll remember, part of what started me on this search was a hundred-year-old history book that indicated that another of Joseph’s brothers was born in Muskingum County, Ohio—before that First Families date of 1821. Though I’ve searched in vain for any corroborating records for this family in Muskingum County before 1821, it’s still helpful to find this second mention of the family’s whereabouts in Ohio during that time.

Somewhere, out there in the online ether of future digitized historic documents, I believe there is going to be another confirmation of this fact that will someday provide me with the documentation necessary to stake my genealogical claim. It may not be by the end of this year, but someday, I’ll find it!


  1. Muskingum County has a deed index covering the period 1803-1838. You might try there for Flowers.

    1. Patrick, thanks for the tip. I went on the county's website, but for whatever reason, I wasn't successful in pulling anything up. Not that there weren't Flowers grantees mentioned. It just looked like the display froze up when I put it through its paces. Maybe 1803 is too incomprehensible for the database retrieval system to fathom...

  2. Thank you for you article on this. I have found my ancestor, Stephen Sherwood, on the BLM Records in two states, Illinois and California.

    1. Grant, the BLM online database is such a handy research tool. I know you've had success with it. Hopefully, I'll be finding more of my family in their records at some point.

  3. I know exactly what you mean about setting your heart upon a "find" with an identical (or almost identical) name. Even as an amateur, I've had this happen to me more than once. Sometimes I think half the people in my maternal line have the first name of "Thomas." But you are right, every document you find will be helpful to someone, eventually, and then back to you.

    1. Amateur or professional, a researcher always has to proceed with caution! I feel for you with that collection of Thomases in your family line. Puts "Doubting Thomas" in a whole new light...

  4. I am sorry that your search is not going well:(


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