Monday, June 21, 2021

Lurking Behind Collateral Lines


The idea is simple: when details we seek on a far-removed ancestor don't neatly materialize, snoop around the rest of the family's records to see whether we can retrieve any intel. We may not be uncovering any proof that Mathias Ambrose was the right identity for the father of our two Ambrose sisters who married Flowers men, but getting to know the entire family better may serve our research purposes. We'll take a look this week at the Ambrose collateral lines in old Bedford County, Pennsylvania, to see what clues might be lurking in the paperwork.

Fortunately for our purposes, we noticed last week that one of Mathias' sons—Jacob—had his lineage documented through the Patriot records at the national Daughters of the American Revolution. While the data posted online for that second generation are sparse, it is worth taking a look. This rudimentary trailblazing guide may provide us enough of a clue to get us started.

Two D.A.R. members descended from Mathias' son Jacob, both of them from Jacob's daughter—another Elizabeth—who married Francis Spearman in 1821. From these two members' lineage reports at the D.A.R. website, we also learn that Jacob Ambrose was born approximately 1767 and married Esther Shock about 1790.

If Matthias had written out his will listing his three sons in birth order, we can assume that Jacob was his firstborn son, despite the fact that, of the three, he was the only son not named as executor of Mathias' will. Perhaps because of his own family affairs, his father judged him too distracted to attend to the financial needs of his mother after Mathias' passing—or, if Mathias had, as several men did in that era, married twice, perhaps Mathias' wife Barbara was not Jacob's mother. These, however, are all speculations to be explored, not facts yet to assert.

Just as Mathias' will had been labeled as being drawn up in Dublin Township in Bedford County, we can find signs of his son Jacob in the same vicinity. In the 1830 census, we can see Jacob "Ambross" and his brother Mathias listed, as well as a Jacob junior, presumably the elder Jacob's son. At the end of the Dublin Township listing for the 1820 census, Jacob shows up as an "Ambrosher"—though not his brothers. And in 1810, the first census after his father's passing, Jacob "Ambroser" has an entry just above that of his wife's likely relative, Jacob Shock.

In that earliest census, Jacob has a household of five children, with two under ten years of age, the other three under fifteen. Jacob and his wife Esther are both listed in that wide age category of twenty six through forty four. With the D.A.R. applicant's estimate that Jacob was born in 1767, that would put him at the upper side of that age range.

Moving to an earlier census—the 1800 enumeration taken before Jacob's father's death—not only could we find Jacob "Ambrosey" but on the same "Dublin and Airs" Township record, the names of the two Flowers brothers who married Jacob's sisters Elizabeth and Susannah: Joseph and John. Of course, the women would not have their names mentioned in that early census record, but it is encouraging to see their households listed, including one male and one female at about the age of twenty five. Moreover, the recap listing all Dublin Township households in alphabetical order includes not only these two Flowers men, but their other brother Thomas, as well as their father Henry.

While it is encouraging to see not only these records indicating the presence of Mathias' son Jacob, but that they are in some cases coupled with the evidence of Joseph and John Flowers' residence in the same vicinity strengthens the case that we are talking about the same family here.

However, there are some signs making me wonder whether pursuing any further information on Jacob would provide us more details on our Flowers kin. For one thing, seeing the eldest son Jacob not appointed as executor makes me wonder why. Then, too, the likelihood that Jacob would turn out to be a beneficent "rich uncle" mentioning Elizabeth's or Susannah's children in his own will is fairly slim, considering he had his own family to rivet his attention elsewhere. While it was fortunate to find even sparse records in the D.A.R. files concerning this Ambrose relative, we may find other tokens in support of the Ambrose-Flowers relationships elsewhere in the extended family. Let's see what can be found for the other sons.


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