Saturday, August 22, 2015

Not Even a Vestige

When I first began this pursuit of untangling the records concerning my husband's fourth great grandfather and the whereabouts of his marriage, Ijams had not been a surname on my radar. In fact, it was commented that Ijams is not usually a name encountered by readers here at A Family Tapestry.

The twists and turns of trying to trace John Jay Jackson's bride—and not only when she became Mrs. Jackson, but where—have yielded a mezzo-mezzo outcome. We learned a few interesting details about the intricacies of the War of 1812, enjoyed browsing through the free collection of the War of 1812 Pension Papers, but never really found a sound explanation for just how Sarah Howard Ijams of Fairfield County, Ohio, met up with quartermaster Jackson at Fort Belle Fontaine, a matter of five hundred wilderness miles distant from her home.

However, now that the surname Ijams is on our radar, let's take a look at what general information can be found on the name. has a handy blurb on the history of various family names, among them, thankfully, being that of Ijams. If we look at their map of surname distribution in the United States for the census year 1840, Ancestry reports that density for that surname was highest in the state of Ohio.

Small wonder. According to the 1877 volume, A Complete History of Fairfield County, Ohio, author Hervey Scott noted that the 1806 list of county taxpayers included Richland Township residents William, Isaac and Thomas Ijams, along with William, junior. Later on in that volume, the author reveals that those first three Ijams men listed in the tax rolls were brothers.
Isaac, William and Thomas Ijams, brothers, came from Frederick County, Maryland, and settled immediately on the west of the present village of West Rushville, among the earliest settlers of Fairfield County, where they all three died at somewhat advanced ages.

The Ijams family was also mentioned as being "among the first settlers," being considered some of the "leading men in the tobacco trade."   

Being among the first has its advantages. The Scott History included a brief sketch of the Ijams genealogy in Fairfield County.
Isaac was the father of Isaac, John and William Ijams; William was the father of Richard and Howard; and Thomas was the father of John, Joseph and Frederick. All of these eight sons have been known as citizens and business men in and about Rushville; but they are all gone—most of them have deceased.

Of course, we have to take that list as a sketch, not the complete listing. For one thing, we've already discovered—both here and elsewhere—that there was a William, junior. Another complicating matter is that the elder William married a woman whose maiden name was Howard—and she wasn't afraid to use it. To say that William had a son named Howard begs the question: which son? At least three of her sons bore that maiden name as their middle name. Even upon her daughter Sarah, Elizabeth Howard Ijams bestowed the middle name Howard.

It was interesting to see how intertwined these early families were. Granted, according to reports, the Fairfield County head count in those early years—based on that 1806 list—was a mere fifteen hundred fifty one taxpayers. Multiply that by the average size of a family of that era, and you get a picture of how small that isolated population really was—the perfect scenario for repeated intermarriages among families of these early settlers.

Another scenario for that intermingling was in the realm of business. Names like William Wiseman and William Coulson, mentioned in the Scott History, seemed familiar because they were. Each of those men showed up, as we've already seen, in the last wills of the elder William Ijams and his son Isaac Howard Ijams. It's not surprising to find their names mentioned in the same breath as the Ijams names.

How helpful it was to glean details from this History about those pioneer years of settlers in Ohio like the Ijams family. One reminiscence included in the book, reported by a county resident by name of John Van Zant, gave the sense of the times and business associations of those Ijams men:
William Coulson, of Rushville, was an early citizen, and died there recently at the great age of about ninety. His career there as a merchant and dealer in tobacco, as also that of John, Joseph and William Ijams, in West Rushville, will long be remembered. They are all dead, and the immense production of tobacco on Rush Creek, of former years, has almost entirely ceased, and not even a vestige of the trade is to be seen.



  1. I'm amazed at and fascinated by the variety of sources you've found.

    1. ...and there are more to come! Just love those old books, brought back to new life, thanks to the digitizing process and online resources like Internet Archive.

  2. Jacqi,

    If you haven't already done a search on GenGopher for the Ijams surname - you should take a look.

    1. Thanks, Charlie! Looks like there are several more helpful resources via that site.

  3. That's a lot of William's to keep straight!

    I wonder who the original William was that was the source of all the namesakes. I'm sure it goes much further back than William the Conqueror... perhaps William of Gellone?

    1. Hmmm...I'd have to ask my resident expert on the meaning of given names to see if there was anything on the history of that name. I'm not sure, myself, although I now have some opinions about the William in the Ijams line. That name does seem to surface regularly, over the generations.

      I suppose it wouldn't come as a surprise to you to learn that, once I researched the inspiration for the street by that name in our city, the only family by that name here was headed by someone named...what else?...William!


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