Friday, December 14, 2012

The New Mrs. Jackson

While the new wife of John Jay Jackson may not be in our family’s direct line, the data on her wedding day help sort out a few family history details. I may not know much about this woman, but at least I have this starting point.

First, I have the gift of her name. Bit by bit, each fact found chips away at the mystery of the unknown in this family—as in all others we research. From that one piece of information, I can begin searching further.

We’ve found that John’s second wife—in some ways a rush order for a desperate widowed husband and father of several children—was named Mary Grate. From her own headstone—she was buried with John at Holy Trinity Cemetery in Somerset, Ohio—we can expand upon that name: Mary Cecelia Grate Jackson.

Adding the date of death from her gravestone—assuming, of course, that it is correct—we can now proceed to locate any death record for the woman. The headstone itself only gives the year of her passing—1871—although whoever entered the information in Find A Grave added the detail of a month and day of death. The Find A Grave entry shows that Mary died on March 19, 1871.

Entering Mary’s name and the year of death in the search engine at, I do get one result. This, happily, provides names of Mary’s parents—provides them, however, only upon the resolution of one glitch: Mary’s date of death here is entered as May 19, 1871.

If we take that entry at Find A Grave as a typo—after all, it was actually abbreviated as “Mar.” meaning a matter of just one letter off—then we can assume that Mary’s parents were Joseph Grate and Harriet Owens.

All would be just fine—despite that simple matter of the one letter off between “Mar.” and “May”—except for one other problem: the Find A Grave entry also enters her birth year as 1803, in agreement with the FamilySearch record, but the gravestone itself clearly indicates the year as 1811.

Of course, since this is not my direct line, I could just pawn the whole thing off as “not my line” and forget about it.

But, holiday rush or not, I just can’t bring myself to do that. I have to take just one more look. Maybe Tim Fisher’s Perry County website will fish me out here.

And the answer is yes! The Fisher website comes through for me again! Twice! There it is, the eighth line from the top, under the listings for the Js, for Mary C. Jackson. Her date of death turns out to be May, not March. And though her age is given only as a year (not including months and days of age), minusing her sixty eight years of life from 1871 certainly yields a year of birth as 1803.

Chalk that up as yet another gravestone in error.

And count one more added bonus: the Perry County Record of Deaths shows her place of birth as Morgantown.

Now, if only I knew which Morgantown….

Photo, above right: Mary Cecelia Grate Jackson's gravestone at Holy Trinity Cemetery, Somerset, Ohio; courtesy Find A Grave contributor Jonathan Davis, Senior Vice Commander, Department of Ohio Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War; used by permission.


  1. That stone has some whopping errors. I've not seen one where I noticed something that much a'kilter. It's interesting to note that there are 329 Mary Jackson's in Find-A-Grave buried in Ohio alone.|0|1652393|0|2|3247|38|0|2331|0|0|&msbdy=1803&uidh=6l5&mssng0=john&pcat=ROOT_CATEGORY&h=38528934&db=1870usfedcen&indiv=1 would seem to indicate she was born in Virginia -- and Morgantown, WV was in Virginia before 1862, when WV became a state.

    1. That looks like a likely find, Iggy. And that would be the last census she showed on, too. The only trouble is, I've seen her in other records with a birthplace listed as in Maryland. Confusing...or mis-reported...or just plain as mistaken as her gravestone!

  2. I always considered Gravestones to be much for my assumptions:(

    1. I have certainly learned to be leery of information on gravestones :)


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