Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Where There's a Will . . .

The subtitle for this post should be "Uh-oh..."

One sure-fire way to check for descendants of an early 1800s ancestor would be to turn to those last wills and testaments. After all, a loving father would be sure to name each of his darling children as he turns his thoughts toward the eternal.

Wouldn't he?

That was my reasoning, as those thoughts tossed about in my mind over how to confirm the relationships between a dying William Ijams and his wife, Elizabeth Howard Ijams—soon to be Whistler—and their daughter Sarah.

By virtue of the record that William had taken the oath of allegiance in 1778, his documented direct-line descendants are eligible for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. It also means that, for a price, any other inquiring souls may download the original listing of resources used to document that genealogical connection between William Ijams and the D.A.R. member claiming him as her Patriot.

Of course, you know what I did.

Let's see what can be found about William and, at least, the D.A.R. material provided concerning his next generation, from which my husband's line immediately veers away. But hey, at least I have that one generation to go by. Any bit helps. Maybe.

Other than the fact that my eyes just went bleary, trying to read the copy of William Ijams' will included in the downloadable membership record, there were some other details causing me alarm.

First off, the abstract of the will—handily also transcribed by a devoted family history researcher at Rootsweb from Fairfield County Will and Estate Abstracts Cases 1-500—had some issues that concern me. See if you can spot the trouble.
Case #256 - estate of William IJAMS of Richland Township. Will written December 27, 1815, filed in March of 1816, and recorded in Will Book 2, page 62. Owned land in section 29, township 17, range 17. Executors were wife, Catherine, and William WISEMAN. Heirs: sons, William, John, Isaac, Joseph, and Frederick; daughters, Rachel, wife of Joseph TURNER, Sarah H., wife of John J. JACKSON, Mary, wife of Walter TEAL, Comfort, wife of Edward STEVENSON and Rebecka IJAMS WISEMAN....  Grandsons, Henry and Richard IJAMS (sons of William IJAMS) were heirs also.

Right away, if you remember the entry for William Ijams on Find A Grave, you realize the date given there for his death was earlier than the date at which he supposedly signed his last will and testament. Was this the right William Ijams? There was at least one other in Fairfield County, Ohio, at the time.

Yet, after all my pursuit of the exact date of marriage for William's widow to the War of 1812 captain, John Whistler, I've spent far too much time on the topic to wink at the fact that this transcription shows the name of William's wife to be Catherine, not Elizabeth. Like I said, "Uh-oh."

But this is a transcription. And transcriptions call for a trip back to the original document. So that's where we go next in this file of downloadable material from D.A.R.

And my eyes get even more bleary.

Thankfully, not only did my now-favorite Ijams researcher mention the link to a digitized version of the Ijams willmuch more decipherable than the copy sent with the D.A.R. material—but she transcribed it, as well. Bless her.

After the brief but obligatory statements about being "of sound mind, memory and understanding," the bequests began. So here goes:
...I give and bequeath to son William Ijams Fifty dollars and no more, I give and bequeath unto my grandsons Henry and Richard Ijams sons of William each of them twenty five dollars and no more. Item I give and bequeath unto my son John Ijams one hundred dollars and no more. Item I give and bequeath unto my son Isaac Ijams the S.W. quarter of section twenty nine Township 17, Range 17 by his paying three hundred dollars to my daughters. Item I give and bequeath unto my son Joseph Ijams the N.W. quarter of section Twenty nine S.P. 17 R 17. I give and bequeath to my son Frederick Ijams the N.E. quarter of said section on which I now live. I give and bequeath to my daughters the S.E. quarter to be sold and the money equally divided among my daughters. Lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my Dear wife and William Wiseman to be sole executors of this my last will and Testament.

Notice how sons William, John, Isaac, Joseph and Frederick—plus grandsons Henry and Richard—are specified by name, but though lavished with terms of endearment, his wife is left unnamed, as are his daughters. Since the sold land was intended to be converted to the cash the daughters were to receive, we can presume that some record of disbursements was included in the probate file. But though names were stated in the abstract of the will ("Case #256"), none were included in Ijams' actual last will and testament.

Which leaves me still firmly ensconced at square one: not yet possessing any documentation to connect either Elizabeth Howard Ijams with her first husband, nor Sarah Howard Ijams with her father.


  1. One step forward and two steps back. It's the Genealogy Do-Si-Do.

  2. Replies
    1. Makes me wish I could head to Ohio now and go through all the rest of those probate files. That abstract had to be referring to something.

  3. The ladies were 2nd class citizens back then...

    1. Nameless or not, at least they got something! But yes, life was definitely a lot different, back then. And yet, I can't help but think there was a hidden story behind all this...


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