Don't you love it when you discover something online that leads you to an answer for that burning genealogical question you hadn't been able to solve?
Don't you hate it when that something needs additional explanation or verification—but the person who had provided that first teaser of an answer left contact information that is now out of date?!
In the last week, I've had two occasions to benefit from email contact with another researcher. One, of course, was the hoped-for reply from Cheryl Whistler Garrison, the researcher whose notes—evidently posted no later than 2006—have been helping me muddle through this Ijams-Jackson-Whistler marriage mystery. The other was a surprise email coming to me out of the blue, in response to a forum post I had made, back in 2007. Am I happy I've kept my email address up to date at that old online genealogy resources? What do you think?!
First, let's take a look at what can be added to our continuing research on Sarah Howard Ijams, her marriage to John Jay Jackson, and her mother's second marriage to Captain John Whistler. Cheryl confirmed her resources for the elder Ijams' marriage to the Captain, citing not only the "Yuas" entry digitized on FamilySearch.org, but an additional newspaper entry for the same.
This, as it turned out, was the same entry as had been mentioned in a comment added in 2014 to my old Ijams post from 2012. Elizabeth and John were married in Fairfield County, Ohio, according to an entry in the Eagle, a newspaper of the time, published in Lancaster, Ohio. The newspaper entries had been transcribed and published as part of a collection by the Ohio Genealogical Society, then culled and reprinted in the 1986 edition from Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., Ohio Source Records.
Always preferring to see the original source—well, in this case, since I won't be traveling to Ohio any time soon, at least the source which had gleaned those original newspaper entries—I Googled the title to see if I could access a copy. Fortunately, it is among the holdings at Ancestry.com—searchable, no less. There, I could see for myself the entry,
MARRIED, 1817...(*Feb. 27).... On Sunday, 2d inst....by Wm. Trimble, Esq., Major John Whisler of U.S.A., Commandant at Ft. Wayne, to Mrs. Elizabeth James, wid. of the late Wm. James, Esq., of Richland twp.
Once again, the newspaper editors—or their transcribers—got it wrong: that should be Captain John Whistler, of course. And the widow's name entered in the county's marriage records as Yuas now re-invents itself as James. That is not unusual, I understand: the surname Ijams has been rendered with a number of different spellings. While I can't vouch for Yuas, I do feel more certain about James.
In her reply to my email, Cheryl was gracious to share more of the content of that letter from the Ijams direct descendant. Among other details was one I had suspected from what I found while flipping through those wonderful War of 1812 pension files: John Whistler had known Elizabeth Ijams previously. But my guess as to a connection at Fort Wayne was not entirely correct: apparently, they knew each other back in Maryland. This tells me I need to examine the military documents for Elizabeth's son William, whose papers stated he was born in Washington County, Maryland. That is very possibly the same location as that of John Whistler, before his enlistment in the United States Army.
According to the scenario painted in Cheryl's email, John and Elizabeth married in 1817, and then when he headed to his new post at Fort Belle Fontaine, Elizabeth brought along her three youngest children. Presumably, one of them was Sarah Howard Ijams, the daughter who eventually married John Jay Jackson, who had also been stationed at Fort Belle Fontaine.
While that seems adequate to settle my mind over those non-stop questions, I do have a few more resources to examine before laying this research challenge to rest. I want to look over the material retrieved from D.A.R., as well as take a peek at the probate records for Elizabeth's first husband, William Ijams. Apparently, the date of death mentioned in William Ijams' Find A Grave entry was somewhat premature. That, however, will save for another day.
Of course, I was elated to have received that response from Cheryl. I was also quite relieved. After all, it's been nearly ten years since she posted her most recent update to her online notes. A lot of changes could have happened since then—including not one, but several email changes. Fortunately for me, that was not the case and we were able to make the connection.
Sometimes, the questions come from the opposite direction—someone has found a genealogical item I've posted online, and decided to email me. Since I've been interacting online in various genealogical venues since there were genealogy forums, I've always tried to keep my email address up to date at those resources.
I'm glad I did. The other day, I received an email from a researcher on another one of my mother-in-law's family lines: this time, it was the Gordons. Just as much as I was pleased that another researcher was able to answer my question sent to an address posted in 2006, I sure was glad I've kept my email addresses updated since that 2007 post I made! Now I'm able to connect with another serious researcher and share what notes we've found.
It hasn't been long since genealogy research has been enabled—supercharged—by handy Internet resources. But time really does fly. For those of us connecting online since the early 1990s, we need to push back from our computers long enough to take a deep breath and realize that's been over twenty years ago! A lot can change over the course of time—especially a stretch of time that long. And we all know how easy it is to change from one email address to another. Or from one service provider to another—along with the obligatory change in email address.
The moral of the story? If you've got any queries posted out there in the ether anywhere, and you hope your investment in posting them will someday pay off, remember to go back and update your email address everywhere you've left those little gems. Your Hansel-and-Gretel breadcrumbs won't be quite the cousin bait you'd hoped, if changing circumstances have gobbled up the email address leading readers from your well-placed posts back to you.