Saturday, August 8, 2015

Where's William?

If following the assignments of John Jay Jackson's military officers couldn't enlighten me on his whereabouts when he made the decision to marry out-of-town visitor, Sarah Howard Ijams, perhaps following another line of reasoning could yield answers to how they connected.

At least, I can hope.

As the story went, concerning the marriage of John and Sarah, he was stationed at Fort Belle Fontaine near Saint Louis, and she had recently lost her father in Fairfield County, Ohio. Not exactly living in the same neighborhood. Something had to connect them.

Apparently, during the course of his military service, Jackson's captains could be found in Pennsylvania, upstate New York, Upper Canada, up the Mississippi, and even in Indiana—but not in Ohio. How could John have met Sarah?

Perhaps the answer lies more in the camp of Sarah's family and their whereabouts. Remember the post wherein I described my discovery of women—and even children—following the men enlisted in the army during that era? As the men were still building some of the outposts in those western territories, their families sometimes lived in the very quarters the soldiers did.

What if Sarah's dad was one of those enlisted men? Admittedly, I know very little about Sarah's father, William Ijams. About the only detail I've been able to find so far has been a photograph of a very sunken headstone, resting quite precariously in a small cemetery, back in Ohio. According to the records there, William was born in 1748 and died in 1815. He was buried at the Stevenson Ruffner Cemetery, once the site of the Stevenson Methodist Campground in Fairfield County, Ohio.

Admittedly, it was unlikely that women and children followed their men during the height of battle, but after the war was over, would the Ijams family have reunited somewhere near a fort where he might have been stationed?

Then, again, which war would we be discussing? After all, with William's date of birth being back in 1748, his era would more likely be that of the Revolution than the War of 1812. Would he still be in service, as late as 1812?

First step in checking out William's whereabouts would be to see if there was any paperwork on military service for him at all—regardless of which war. Then, to see whether we can ferret out indications of where he—and thus his family—might have been living. Hopefully, these might yield us some clues as to how the Ijams family might have crossed paths with John Jackson.

Above: "Landscape," 1915 oil on canvas by Canadian-born artist, Ernest Lawson; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. Hi, Jacqi, I'm afraid that there a couple of problems with this scenario.
    First, embalming didn't become common until the Civil War period and would not likely to be available at a frontier outpost.
    Second, the cost of transporting a body back to Ohio would have been prohibitive, especially for the family of a private soldier, before the coming of the railroads. We have to remember that in this time period women barely had the right to breathe, let alone pursue a trade! The death of the breadwinner was a financial catastrophe bar none.


    1. Mike, thanks for pointing out those details. These are aspects of that time period which need to be kept in mind.

      However, a tentative scenario in which William died while still in the service, with his wife and family living with him--and then being transported "home" to a different location--would be too straightforward a scenario, even if it were possible. It may be likely that there is a less direct route connecting Sarah Ijams to John Jay Jackson--and it may go through yet another intermediary.

      At least that's my theory at this point. Who knows what other twists will present themselves before I arrive at the answer--if I ever figure this one out at all, that is.

  2. Actually, transporting the body back in those days could get really macabre.

    Hint: Mad Anthony Wayne...

    1. Gruesome!

      Interesting, though, to note that the beginning of that journey was in Erie, Pennsylvania--the very place from which John Jackson left to sign up for service in the War of 1812.


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