Friday, March 31, 2023

So There's a Will


It can be quite frustrating, when finally locating an ancestor's obituary, to discover that, after paragraphs about the person's virtues and accomplishments, all that was said about the bereaved family members was that, yep, there were family members. No mention of names, frustratingly. If the researcher is lucky, the notice might at least include a count of members in the family.

That was the situation after the 1850 passing of Comfort Ijams Stevenson, the only other daughter of Elizabeth Howard and William Ijams of Fairfield County, Ohio. Since I already knew her husband—Edward Stevenson—had died before that point, my only hope in finding names for the couple's supposed four surviving daughters was to locate his will.

If, that is, he left one.

As it turned out, thanks to this era of increasing digitized resources, his was one of the wills included in a collection at But don't think it was that simple a matter to find it. Entering through the front portal of the website and searching the catalog for Fairfield County court records directly yielded me nothing. Even when I searched with the quite common alternate spelling—Stephenson—nothing came up in response to my query.

Winding my way through the FamilySearch wiki to the broader Ohio probate records category, I once again looked for Edward Stevenson. This time, I was in a collection which was not searchable, but thankfully had enough way-markers to point me in the right direction. The index provided the page number for an entry on Edward Stevenson—yes, spelled that same way—and it was just a hunt and peck matter of tiptoeing my way through the records.

Once at Edward Stevenson's own will, it didn't take long to assure me I had the right man. First mention was his wishes for his "beloved wife Comfort." And among the witnesses to his will was someone identified as F. R. Ijams, possibly Comfort's brother, Frederick R. Ijams.

To the matter at hand, finding the names of the four daughters supposedly alive by the time of Edward Stevenson's will, was my next goal. This was not as straightforward a process as I'd hoped. First named was a daughter identified as Elizabeth Walker (although later listed as Elizabeth Walters), to whom her father gave specific properties, including one at which the Walker family was already residing. Reading further in the will, it appears that her husband might be the man identified as Richard B. Walker, whom Edward Stevenson appointed as executor of his will.

The next daughter named was, by that point, already married and called Lucinda Greer. This is the daughter I already knew about—often listed as Lucinda Grier—and have researched her line of descent.

The third daughter mentioned in Edward's will was apparently not married by the time of the 1844 will, her name being listed as Mary Ann Stevenson. Like the first daughter in Edward's will, this was a name I had not found in any other records, presenting me with another task to complete in tandem with exploration of my mother-in-law's matriline through the results of my husband's mtDNA test.

But what about a fourth daughter? At the time of the 1830 census—the most recent one in which I had been able to find an entry for Edward "Stephenson" in Fairfield County, Ohio—it was apparent that there were four girls included in that household. As we continue to look for further information on the two daughters found today in Edward's will, perhaps we'll encounter clues as to what became of that fourth daughter.


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