Friday, May 28, 2021

Discoveries With Drawbacks


It's been an enjoyable month of research discoveries as we've pursued the genealogical Bright Shiny Objects associated with the William Ijams family after they left Maryland to settle in the fledgling state of Ohio. Despite that, we need to remember our research mission for the month of May: confirm the parents of my mother-in-law's third great-grandmother, Sarah Howard Ijams Jackson.

Sarah had, unfortunately, died within thirteen years of her marriage to John Jackson. Since she had given him four children, I had hoped that Sarah's early death in 1829 would not cause her life story to be obliterated, at least in part because of the human legacy she left behind to keep her memory alive. Thankfully, we did have one token to confirm her relationship to the Ijams family through her generous brother Isaac Ijams, who mentioned her heirs specifically in his will.

That, however, was not the strong documented link I was hoping for to connect Sarah with her father, William Ijams. While yes, William himself did leave a will, and while we can infer from that will that William had three daughters, he never named those specific children in the document. Some research challenges can border on messy.

However, as Wendy mentioned in her comment earlier this month, we are not left without recourse. It so happens that William Ijams, Sarah's father, was of an age to have lived through the Revolutionary War—better yet, was listed as a Patriot in the Genealogical Research System of the National Society of the Daughters of the Revolution. Sure enough, as Wendy had told us, William Ijams has an entry among the D.A.R. Patriots.

That, of course, seems a wonderful discovery—until, that is, we take a closer look. As you may have noticed, D.A.R. Ancestor Searches come with an additional benefit: Descendants Searches. For the entry for this particular William Ijams, there is a descendant line listed through William's daughter Comfort Ijams, wife of Edward Stevenson.

You can be sure I have passed this way before. Not only do I add all collateral lines—down to their descendants for DNA purposes—but I also have worked on Sarah's research problem from the direction of her widower husband's history. So right away, looking at the Descendants List for the line of William Ijams' other daughter Comfort Ijams Stevenson, I could spot two drawbacks.

One of those drawbacks was that William Ijams' date of death was given only as before the date when his will was presented in court. That, of course, is minor, as we've already discussed this month.

The second problem I could spot right away in the D.A.R. descendant's generations was the information given for William's wife, Elizabeth Howard. Her date of death was listed as "p 27 Dec 1815," which was the date when William signed his last will. Elizabeth's story is not only messy, but complicated by the fact that, even though I researched this in the past, some of the records are no longer accessible online.

Take, for instance, the Find A Grave memorial for William Ijams' widow, Elizabeth Howard Ijams, eventual wife of John Whistler. When I last researched that connection, I had saved the link to the memorial showing her burial, along with her second husband John Whistler, in Missouri. When I go to retrace my research steps now, all I get is: "This memorial has been removed."

Certainly a most unwelcome sight. Such disappearances make me want to rush to copy such obscure entries as the thorough notes of one researcher posted on the erstwhile site now overseen by, lest they vanish, as well.

In about 1816 or 1817, John Whistler married his second wife, Elizabeth (Howard) Ijams. She was the daughter of Joseph and Rachel (Ridgely) Howard of Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Elizabeth married first, William Iiams (Ijams) of Frederick County, Maryland and had ten children. Sometime before 1806, the family moved to Fairfield County, Ohio near the present-day town of West Rushville. William Ijams died probably in late 1815.

The only other indicator of Elizabeth's last days is a transcribed summary of a passing note in the Columbian Centinel regarding a Mrs. Whistler, "consort of Maj. John Whistler" in the May 10, 1826 edition, found in the collections at

Such few details clue me in on one thing, though: the estimate of death given in the D.A.R. record for Elizabeth presents yet another token that relying on old D.A.R. applications may not produce the full picture to guide me any further in my own research challenges.

Still, as I've always maintained, such resources become trailblazers for those of us who pick up the trail afterwards. It's up to us to verify what we can and improve the trail even further by adding our own discoveries in the hopes that such documentation—and proof arguments—will amplify the next few steps beyond what has already been found. 


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