Saturday, August 15, 2015

Couldn't Have Found This
Without Some Help

The one clear line I have, delineating a dividing point before which Captain John Whistler couldn't have married the widow Elizabeth Howard Ijams, comes with a date concerning John Whistler's first wife. As we saw yesterday, some time during John's return trek northward from Newport Barracks to Fort Wayne, he received word that Anna Whistler had died, back at the Kentucky post, on April 25, 1814.

Where John Whistler was, when he emerged from mourning the loss of his wife to decide upon marrying Elizabeth Ijams, I still can't tell. Was it while he was still at Fort Wayne? Could he have returned to Newport Barracks to reclaim family property? Or had his wife died while in transit to her former home at Fort Wayne?

Complicating matters are the conflicting dates given for Whistler's various assignments while in the military. After his honorable discharge in 1815, one other note in Heitman's Register gives us some bearings as to Whistler's whereabouts: on March 5, 1817, he was again appointed to the position of military storekeeper, but this time not at Newport Barracks. This time, he was stationed at Fort Belle Fontaine, the post on the Mississippi River near Saint Louis—the very place where John Jackson was now stationed.

Try as I might, I had not been able to find any record of Elizabeth's second marriage to the Captain—not any more than I had been able to locate records for her daughter Sarah's marriage to John Jackson.

After reviewing my old notes from the first time I had tackled this problem—remember, I had started this project nearly three years ago, just before some major family upheavals—I rediscovered a few things. First, that the wonderful resource of Cheryl Whistler Garrison's online notes came to us, thanks to the research prowess of Intense Guy, who sent me the link back in December of 2012.

I've certainly used that online material several times—truth be told, coveting Cheryl's possession of that letter from a descendant of Nancy Jackson, the daughter of John and Sarah Howard Jackson, which Cheryl had mentioned in her notes. The other day I finally realized, despite the most recent update to Cheryl's notes being back in 2006, that she had included contact information.

I emailed her, hoping that address was still valid. And held my breath.

In the meantime, in reviewing all those old notes and posts, I also came across a comment sent in 2014 from someone identified only as "Sunderland-Ijams Researcher," providing a totally unexpected location for the Whistler-Ijams marriage. Whoever that kind soul is, I'd love to express my gratitude for the help. I would never have suspected that marriage had occurred back in Ohio, but according to that comment, two resources claimed that was so.

The only drawback: Elizabeth's surname was spelled "Yuas."

Think I should buy it?

According to records digitized at FamilySearch, John Whistler and Elizabeth Howard Ijams were married on March 12, 1817 in Fairfield County, Ohio. Elizabeth's name in the margin looks a little bit more like Ijams than it does in the official entry itself, but hers was a surname for which there were historically many name variations, anyhow.

The trip back from Saint Louis , as described in newspaper and book entries published long since the time of its occurrence in the early 1800s, had left me confused about the true date and location of each couple's marriage—both that of widow Elizabeth and Captain Whistler, and her daughter Sarah and John Jackson. Despite all the help I had received back in 2012, it had not yet painted the full picture for me. After all, those articles identified Jackson's bride as only "an Ijams, a sister of..." and not much more. How could I rely on information like that to lead me to the correct dates and places for each of the two marriages?

That's what made it so helpful to hear from another researcher. Someone like Cheryl—with that letter she received which I so wanted to read in its entirety—could perhaps fill in the blanks in my many questions about the various Ijams marriages.

Above: From the Fairfield County, Ohio, Marriage Records, the entry showing the union of John "Whisler" and Elizabeth "Yuas" on the 12th day of March, 1817; image courtesy


  1. Perhaps she was married to a Yuas too and then widowed.

    1. That's a good reminder to keep all possibilities in mind!

      In the case of a surname like Ijams, though, turns out it was one that routinely had spelling "variations." So I'm not too surprised.

  2. The only way to be sure is to look for people of that surname in Fairfield County at that time. Personally, I'd start with tax records and deeds. Probate might help too, but I've seen cases from this time period in Ohio where there should have been a probate record, but nothing could be found. I even ran into a case where probate was opened in the county where the administrator lived, four counties away from where the deceased owned his property and presumably died!

    1. It's interesting delving into those sorts of records, Michael--especially keeping in mind the aberrations you mentioned. I'm just now starting to make my way through the names mentioned in William's will. Not everything there that I had hoped for...

  3. I bet there were some records from the military post stored somewhere - whether or not they still exist the question!

    Y - capital I...I'm not sold that is Yuas... I think the Y is Ij and the as is an m.

    1. Actually, I was wondering if this was an example of dyslexia, 1800s style.


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