Friday, May 14, 2021

A Generous Gift


Item: I give and bequeath to my niece Caroline Elizabeth Ijams daughter of [J.] H. Ijams four hundred dollars.


Isaac Ijams may have seemed generous—not to mention, practical—when he drew up his will in 1845, in bestowing upon his nephew William a horse with bridle and saddle, until we realize what he had granted to William's younger sister.

For Caroline Ijams, born about 1834, her uncle Isaac may have been not much more than a dim memory, for at his passing, she would only have been eleven or twelve years of age. Furthermore, in order for the amount to be given to her, Isaac's possessions would first have to be liquidated, then managed by a trustee—Isaac named another brother, Frederick, for this purpose—until his niece attained legal age to receive the gift. That four hundred dollar gift, however, would be the equivalent of granting your own niece fourteen thousand dollars in today's economy.

Within four years after Isaac's death, Caroline's parents had moved their household from the Ohio county where the extended Ijams family had settled to nearby Morgan County. It is there that Caroline likely met the man she eventually married. Though I can find no marriage record—yet—for Caroline Ijams and Dana F. Stone, together they made up a household in Iowa City, Iowa, by the time of the 1860 census. That they married back in Ohio is almost certain, as Dana could previously be found living in the same Morgan County, Ohio, where Caroline's parents had settled by 1850.

Dana and Caroline did not move to Iowa alone. In that same 1860 census, both her older brother and his wife and their parents were residing in the same city, in a household along with several others. While in 1860, Caroline's husband was listed as a "land agent," by the time of the draft leading up to the Civil War, Dana Stone was listed as a teacher—possibly at the same school which had been co-founded by his brother-in-law William Ijams.

Between that date and the time of his death, I can find little on either Dana Stone or his wife, Isaac Ijams' niece Caroline. Even the listing, online, of their burials is only by transcription from other records. It is only after Dana's 1882 death that I find any record of Caroline—but not in Iowa.

To find the rest of what little there is available concerning Caroline, we need to move from Iowa to Tennessee, not exactly a simple move to a nearby neighborhood. There, in a death register for the city of Knoxville, we find the November 29, 1884, entry for Caroline E. Stone, widow, reported to be about fifty two years of age. As we already know, she was listed as having been born in Ohio, but as for the mention of any relatives, there was none provided. The only other snippet of information given was under the heading for "Place of Death." There, in a miserable scrawl was what looked like the word "Union."

Fortunately, has several city directories for Knoxville in their digitized collection, but in the 1884 directory, I could find no entry for a Caroline Stone, nor even for a Dana Stone with any remark that she was his widow. I did, however, check one other entry in that same directory on a hunch: that there might have been an Ijams family member listed in the same volume. Sure enough, there was one entry under that surname, pointing to the same Union address where Caroline spent her last days.

It was for the widow of Caroline's brother Joseph.

Above images of Isaac Ijams' will and the Knoxville city directory courtesy of

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