Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Where They Were Last Seen


The advice often given, when working with those brand new to the pursuit of family history, is to start with what you know. Step one for beginners, then, means starting with yourself.

In the case of our research project for this month of June—pursuing the sixth ancestor of my Twelve Most Wanted for 2021—means chasing after a man born in the 1700s, possibly in colonial Pennsylvania. While I have a hypothesis based on the suggestion of other researchers, I can't yet be sure of such a lead; I haven't proved it for myself. 

When we start from what we know in such a case, we have to double back to territory where we are more confident of our assertions. In our case, that means looking to the later years of two couples in the Flowers family: two Flowers brothers who married sisters from the Ambrose family.

The biggest help in this search is the fact that these four "suspects"—the two Flowers brothers and their Ambrose spouses—all left Pennsylvania and settled in the same location in Ohio, a place called Perry County. Apparently, both Flowers families purchased land there and stayed for the remainder of their lives, a helpful detail for our research purposes.

In fact, I can find entries at Find A Grave for both Joseph Flowers and his wife, the former Elizabeth Ambrose, as well as the practically illegible headstone for Elizabeth's sister Susannah. (Though Find A Grave volunteers have helpfully inserted notes affirming that Elizabeth and Susannah were born with the surname Ambrose, in my experience, not all notes affixed to Find A Grave memorials can be substantiated, so I choose to look for more details.)

That Joseph and Elizabeth were longtime residents of Perry County can be verified with a review of the census records for the later years of their life in 1850 and 1860, just a few years before their deaths. And yet, that Ambrose maiden name does not show in any later Perry County documents that I can find.

More conveniently, we can trace indications of that Ambrose maiden name in the middle name the couple gave their youngest son, George Ambrose Flowers—although by the time he died, at the home of his niece in Indiana, the fact was lost on those who knew him there, judging by the use of only a middle initial in his obituary and on his headstone, and the unfortunate entry on his death certificate giving his mother's maiden name as "Amber."

While it was from Joseph and Elizabeth's next-to-youngest son Simon that my mother-in-law's line descended, searching through details on collateral lines proves beneficial through one clue about another Flowers brother of George and Simon. Their elder brother Thomas, likely born about 1814, merited an entry in one of those old county history books which were the vogue about one hundred years ago. The A. A. Graham volume, History of Fairfield and Perry Counties, Ohio, included the details that Thomas was born in neighboring Muskingum County and came to Perry County by 1820. Better than that was the book's addition of his parents' names, including his mother's maiden name: Joseph and Elizabeth (Ambrose) Flowers.

Admittedly, there may be errors in those thousand-plus page local history books, as well. Counterbalancing that drawback is the proximity of the report's date to the time in which such events took place. The 1883 History of Fairfield and Perry Counties, Ohio is nearly 140 years closer to the time of Joseph and Elizabeth than we are. I'll take my chances that we're on to something here.  

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