Monday, July 20, 2015

Extracting Clues About Nancy

The difficulty with identifying family connections in the early 1800s is that documents from that time period don't share, outright, the information we are seeking. Reconstructing our family history earlier than 1850 is an entirely different process than the post-1840 process of checking census records, or availing ourselves of post-1860 marriage records, or even the more detailed death records of the early 1900s. Sometimes, we have to infer the details we are seeking.

That's pretty much what I'm doing, in piecing together the life history for Nancy Ann Jackson Snider. I can tell from her death record in Perry County, Ohio, that she was born in nearby Fairfield County, because someone thought to record that detail in the November 23, 1905, record. Because the record gave the exact length of her life—down to the number of months and days—I can conclude that her birth was on or about February 5, 1823.

Furthermore, I know that Nancy Ann married Simon Snider in 1841 because that detail is included in the index to marriages in Perry County—and, as long as the surname discrepancy doesn't cause us to wince too badly, we can presume that it was their wedding that occurred on October 25.

We can track the names and approximate life spans of all fourteen of the Snider children by following the records of the 1850 census, the 1860 census, and—even though Nancy Ann became a widow on April 3, 1867—even in the 1870 census.

Though it took other means to determine Nancy Ann's parents' names, I can't help but notice that her father and step-mother lived next door to the Snider household, according to the 1860 census—and that they stayed close at hand through at least the 1870 census, as well.

"J. J." Jackson—John Jay—had been in the area of Perry County for years. Even though his daughter Nancy Ann had been born the next county over, there are reports of the Jackson family being in Perry County from an early point.

Actually, some of those stories seem to be conflicting reports—seeming to repeat the difficulty I had had in tracing John Jay Jackson's whereabouts, ever since he and Sarah Howard Ijams had been married, sometime after his service up river from Saint Louis during the War of 1812. This is a story that will do us well to revisit, tomorrow, as we retrace the soldier's steps as he returned to civilian life, raised a family, lost a wife, and moved from one county in Ohio to another—a task made all the more difficult because it occurred during an era not obsessed with leaving a paper trail.


  1. I've noticed that once I hit 1860 going back in time - research becomes more and more difficult as the decades go by.

    1. Moving backwards in time, changes in documentation requirements are game changers for research. Like you, Iggy, I'm quite happy, circulating amidst records back to 1850, but move beyond that--and into the realm of wills, deeds and military records--and I'm not as adept at fingering the exact record I wish.

      Oh, well, chalk it up as another opportunity to long as the search doesn't lead me to a courthouse that was burned to the ground, sometime in its history.


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