Thursday, June 10, 2021

Exploring Possibilities


Tracing an American ancestor's pathway backwards, from west to east and from the 1820s back in time to the late 1700s, can be as challenging as the wilderness from which they extracted their rugged existence. In this month's research project, we already discovered a report that Joseph and Elizabeth Flowers were likely living in Ohio by 1814—at least, if we can depend on a hundred-year-old history book's comment about the birth of their son Thomas in Muskingum County.

It's already evident that we are on shaky ground when we rely on reports of birth years and locations for the Flowers children, for although Thomas' older brother Joseph was said to have been born in Pennsylvania in 1811, after Thomas'  birth in Ohio, his younger brother Simon was supposedly born back in Pennsylvania. I find it highly unlikely that Elizabeth would have made such a reverse trek from Ohio for that 1817 occasion. Nor does such an itinerary give me confidence in any of the other reported birth dates or locations.

However, if we choose rather to view the big picture, it is obvious that the Flowers family came to Ohio from Pennsylvania, and there are significant clues that many of the folks establishing what became Somerset in Perry County, Ohio, originated from a namesake village back in Pennsylvania. That village, Somerset in what is now Somerset County, Pennsylvania, was carved from an older and larger county known as Bedford County.

This is where the research leap of faith comes in—and why I'm so grateful for the computer-aided capabilities we have today for genealogical research. I tried my hand at locating any southwest Pennsylvania census records prior to 1820 which might have included Flowers heads of household, keeping in mind that Joseph had a brother who married Elizabeth's sister.

There were indeed two Flowers men in Bedford County—the parent county for Somerset County in Pennsylvania. One was named Joseph, the other John, showing in sequential entries in the handwritten record for the 1810 census in "Dublin and Air" Township. (If trying to follow the lines to determine the ages in each man's household makes your eyes cross, you can find a handy transcription here.)

What's even more encouraging—keeping in mind the maiden name of the two Flowers wives was Ambrose—was to find, on the same page, an entry for a Jacob Ambrosy. Looking further, there was also an entry for a Matthias Ambrosy on another page.

While Ambrose and Ambrosy are not exactly the same, other researchers of this surname have noted such spelling variations, so at this point, I'll take that as a tentative confirmation that perhaps we've found the previous home for our wandering Flowers family. Before we can say so for sure, though, we need to delve deeper into the details.

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