Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Last Sign of Lyman

 

There are many times in family history pursuits when we can spot a resource affirming a specific detail about our ancestor, but there are not as many opportunities for us to find documents verifying such claims. This is apparently where I am stuck at the end of this month's research on my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandfather, Lyman Jackson.

Let's take a look at what we've found so far on Lyman. Thanks mostly to his grandsons and one great-granddaughter, there have been written reports concerning Lyman's roots, but those are in the form of accounts printed in local history books from over a century ago. Granted, a book printed in 1907 or 1916 would be far closer to Lyman's time than what our current perspective might give us, but I still would like to see some verification.

The census records for Lyman Jackson in Erie County, Pennsylvania, certainly confirmed there was a man by that name living there. But what about the other locations where he was said to have lived? I did find an 1800 census record for someone by that name in Otsego County, New York, just as some narratives had asserted. With a household containing two adults and nine children under the age of sixteen, it is plausible that this would be our Lyman.

And yet, that is not the only place where Lyman was reported to have lived. Looking at his Patriot listing on the D.A.R. website, I see another residence listed as Berkshire County, Massachusetts, and the place of his birth attributed to Hartford County, Connecticut. In addition, information on one of his older sons shows that he might have been born in Vermont, yet another stopping place I'll need to confirm.

At least the Jackson family history manuscript discovered at FamilySearch.org contains some transcriptions of letters written by Lyman and Deidama Jackson in their later years, providing helpful information on the names and dates regarding their thirteen children. Consider those my working papers for the next time I tackle this research topic. After all, though the relationship is a stretch, there are a few DNA matches which link my mother-in-law's family with descendants of the other Lyman Jackson children. At some point, I'll want to dive into those collateral lines to document those relatives, too.

For now, with the close of the month, we'll close the chapter on Lyman and Deidama Jackson and their thirteen children. There is still much work to be done, but that will be added to the plans for another year's research. Tomorrow, we'll start fresh with another research project, and revisit a research project from two years ago: Matthias Ambrose, an early resident of Pennsylvania.


Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Lyman's Two Grandsons Cornelius

 

Why is it that sometimes, looking at the place where you'd most expect to receive the help you needed, you come away empty handed? Here I am, finally locating a Jackson family member's own typewritten manuscript about his family history, but what do I find when I turn to the entry on Cornelius, son of Michael Jackson? Nothing.

That's the Reader's Digest version of my search this month to determine whether Lyman Jackson actually had two grandsons by that name, Cornelius, or only one. For the more inquisitive, here are the resources that did fish me out of my research mess.

First stop was to the unpublished manuscript concerning the Lyman Jackson family and associated lines, composed by a judge in Atchison County, Kansas, and handily digitized and freely accessible through FamilySearch.org. While I did glean many details on the extended family, when I came to the entry for Lyman's son Michael—father of one of two Jackson grandsons named Cornelius—for that Cornelius, I found nothing besides his name.

This was especially disappointing, considering that out of the six children born to Michael Jackson and his wife, Ruth Hendryx, his was the only line without further information. Granted, three of his siblings received nothing more than a line of information, mostly providing the name of a spouse and, in one case, where that couple currently lived. But one sister's entry contained enough information to stretch for eight lines of text. Why did Cornelius rate so little? Was the author as confused as I am about the identities of those two grandsons with the same name?

Fortunately, there was a way around this dilemma, and that points us back to D.A.R., where I first found the entry on Lyman Jackson's own participation in the American Revolutionary War. From the lineage books of the charter members of D.A.R., it just so happened that one member, a great-granddaughter of Lyman Jackson, was daughter of none other than this same Cornelius Jackson.

With that discovery, we now have a report of this Cornelius' dates of birth and death (1822-1893) and confirmation that he was son of Michael, not Abner (the other Cornelius' father). The D.A.R. entry also confirms the name of this Cornelius' wife—Mary H. Munger.

Having that confirmation, I can now proceed with greater confidence through the many hints which popped up on my Ancestry account for this Cornelius. Some of them apparently had confused the two cousins with the same name, and I can now redirect those hints to the other cousin with the same name. 

For those records which apply to the right guy, I can safely add them to his profile page. And, of course, the D.A.R. entry also provides the name of at least one child of this Cornelius and Mary, allowing me to move forward through the right line of descendants. Not to mention, the other Cornelius, son of Abner and Mary (Stokes) Jackson, will also have his linked records cleared specifically to him without further question.

What a relief to find this. Now, with only another day to wrap up this research project, I'll see what I can add about Lyman Jackson himself, our starting off point this month. I haven't been able to locate him in any other place than his last residence in Erie County, Pennsylvania. I'd like to see whether I can find any earlier records before we clear out this month and move on to another research project.


 

Monday, May 29, 2023

Initial Impressions

 

I've decided I'm not impressed with that annoying habit people had of listing their given names by initials only. For one thing, though the custom might have seemed so proper during a given era in our country's history, it makes finding ancestors more complicated on listings like census records. How was I to know, for example, that David Bardsley Jackson would list his name on the 1850 census—my first chance to discover a listing of all his children's names—as D. B. Jackson? Of course I wouldn't find him. I was having a hard enough time grasping that he no longer lived in Erie County, Pennsylvania, like the rest of his family. I wouldn't have thought to look at all the Jacksons in the country listed by their initials only.

Once again, to the rescue came those much-appreciated grandchildren of Lyman Jackson, my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandfather and father of the elusive David Bardsley Jackson. In this case, the particular grandchild was the Jackson family historian, Horace Mortimer Jackson—whom we first met when discovering his biographical sketch in an Atchison, Kansas, local history book—who led me to the right census entry. 

It wasn't even thanks to Judge Horace Jackson's manuscript that I found his father's 1850 census entry. It was simply thanks to searching for Horace in the 1850 census. That led me back to his childhood home in Illinois, where the head of the household was listed as D. B. Jackson. I took the liberty of rashly leaping to the conclusion that D. B. and David Bardsley were one and the same.

Speaking of Horace Mortimer Jackson and his manuscript reminds me that I am hoping his written account of the Jackson family history will clear up yet another run in with initials: that of Lyman Jackson's two other grandsons who were both named Cornelius Jackson. Though the Jackson manuscript only runs for forty four pages, it does pack a bunch of family history information. I've been working my way through the accounts and gleaning the particulars on names, dates, and locations. My next step will be to verify those details for myself with documentation.

While I'm working over that process in a more general way, though, I couldn't help take a peek to see whether Judge Jackson could provide any help with the two men known as C. H. Jackson. It's time to get the particulars on each one of those men. We'll take a closer look, tomorrow, to see whether this family history volume can be of any assistance on this one initial detail.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Remembering

 

With this weekend's holiday designation, our nation turns their attention to remembering. Officially, the focus is on those military personnel who sacrificed their life in service to their country. In addition, though, I can't help but remember many ancestors, whether in military service or not. I've turned this into a family history weekend, remembering several of the ancestors I've researched over the years. Judging from several genealogy-related sales this holiday weekend, I am not alone in such thoughts.

This happens to again be the day for my biweekly count to check my research progress—especially for purposes of connecting my family's many DNA cousins to their place on my tree. As always, the branch of my tree where my research goal focuses my attention is the one which gains the most. It's no surprise, then, to see that my mother-in-law's tree jumped by 291 individuals to a total of 32,311 people in the past two weeks of research. Granted, absolutely nothing was added to the other side of my family tree, but that is not my research focus for this month.

However, with the recent contact from an Ancestry.com subscriber researching another of my family's lines, the last few days had me reviewing the stories of people I hadn't thought of for years. The memories evoked in this review made me realize I've been on a memorial journey of my own.

As I look back through the names, dates, and stories discovered on this tree, the process prompts memories of what I've learned through years of research. Though not everyone I've researched was military personnel, several were—from colonial wars through Revolutionary service, to War of 1812, to Civil War and more recent conflicts. Knowing that inspires gratitude for what those previous generations of relatives had done. Perhaps it's helpful to take time for such memories. Does it draw us closer to our ancestors?

Saturday, May 27, 2023

On Procrastination and Serendipity

 

I have a hard time struggling with procrastination. Couple that with my tendency to trip and fall down rabbit holes, and it's a wonder I get any genealogy research completed. Sometimes, even serendipity can't rescue me from such downfalls. Still, I have faith that even those downfalls can be redeemable.

Last week, I accompanied my husband on a business trip to the far side of southern California. Though I'm not a fan of the desert locations where he would be working, I just needed a change of scenery, and the trip fit nicely into my schedule—mostly. As it turned out, besides my usual online meetings for our local genealogy society, I ended up attending two rather stressful business meetings of my own. Once done with that, I decided to take a breather from emails and other interruptions. This was, after all, supposed to be my time for rest and recuperation.

One of the emails that flashed by me, in a lapse of weakness when I relented and scrolled through my phone, was a note from Ancestry telling me that someone had messaged me on their system. I'm not a big fan of using my phone to access my Ancestry account, but I resisted taking a closer look on my laptop and decided to let procrastination do its therapeutic work. I would take care of this when I got back home.

When the long drive home was over, all the bags unpacked and everything put back in its place at home, I opened up my email to catch up after the trip. Since curiosity got the best of me, one of the first messages I opened was the one I had received from Ancestry while away. 

The message was one of those introductory notes from another subscriber, the kind that says, "Hello, I think we're related, but I can't figure out just how." When I looked at the details in the message, I saw right away where this person could fit into my family tree, so I knew it would be easy to provide an answer—and that I would love to talk about it face to face, if I could.

There was, however, one detail at the very beginning of the message which made me suddenly regret my decision to procrastinate on this reply: the subscriber mentioned where she lived. The minute I saw the name of the town, it prompted an audible response. Not quite a scream, not quite a groan, it was one of those "oh, no" hollers that just can't be held inside. Of all the places where this unknown but fairly close relative could be writing me from, it just happened to be the very place where I had just spent the past week. And now I was over four hundred miles away from any face to face opportunities.

I can't say that such opportunities present themselves on a regular basis. Take that back: I can't think of any time I've been traveling and have simultaneously received a note from a relative living in that same place, who just happened to be researching the same family tree. Call last week an instance of anti-serendipity, perhaps, but right now, I'm learning to hope for opportunities for lightning to strike twice.

In the meantime, I sent a response to that newfound relative—and opened up that portion of my family tree to see just how this person fits in. I discovered collateral lines which needed updating, like additions from the 1950 census and more recent newspaper entries. With an updated view of that branch of the tree, hopefully that will prepare me for a more lively—if not face-to-face—conversation. And, who knows? Perhaps I'll have a chance to travel back down south again, after starting up a conversation via email in the meantime. There are always ways to redeem ourselves after those cues we've missed over time.

 

Friday, May 26, 2023

One Person or Two?

 

There comes a time when a genealogist may run into an identity crisis—not the kind when we become plagued with doubts about who we are, but a question of whether we are researching one person or two. I've been grappling with such a question all week.

It all started when I began identifying the grandsons of Lyman Jackson, my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandfather. Because I was having trouble tracing his life story through documents, I had taken the approach of working on the collateral lines of Lyman's son, my mother-in-law's third great-grandfather John Jay Jackson.

The problem was, apparently John Jackson had at least nine other brothers. And I knew absolutely nothing about these men, other than that they were likely born before 1800, either somewhere in New England, or possibly New York, before the family settled in Pennsylvania. I didn't even know their names.

The beauty of researching collateral lines is that while our direct ancestor might be a "brick wall" puzzle, researching one of the siblings could lead us to a treasure chest full of family information. I've been adding the names of Lyman's sons, one by one as I learn of them. But what's been key in this process is discovering that not only the collateral lines are leading to additional family information, but the grandchildren are, as well.

Thus, while researching the "Uncle Abner" whom we found from one grandchild's biographical sketch published during his lifetime, I discovered that in his old age, Abner actually lived with one of his sons in Ohio. The only problem was, I couldn't figure out the son's name. His census entry for that year of 1880 gave his name only by his initials: C. H. Jackson.

Well, that wasn't helpful. I had to do a lot more digging to discover what those initials actually stood for: Cornelius H. Jackson.

But wait! I already had found Lyman's grandson Cornelius in a different census record in Ohio. Had I found the same man listed in two different locations? Though it's rare, I have seen that happen before. And this second entry showed Cornelius and his wife Mary in the household of a son-in-law. Perhaps they were visiting their daughter after being enumerated at their own home earlier that month.

It didn't help that each entry included a wife named Mary. Or that each entry was for an Ohio resident born in Pennsylvania. I had to do a lot of searching to locate further information which would help confirm whether I had uncovered duplicate entries or two different men with the same name.

As it turned out, I found enough details to determine that these were indeed two separate men. One man had the middle name Hendryx. I still haven't discovered what the middle initial for the other man represents.

Though each man was about the same age, and was married to a woman named Mary, one Cornelius had two daughters named Anna and Lucy, while the other had three daughters—Mary, Rebecca, and Kate—plus a son named William. One was the son of Michael, who was son of Lyman. The other was the son of Abner, again a son of Lyman.

And that middle initial H? While I still can't figure out what the H might represent for Michael's son Cornelius, I did notice one curious detail: Michael's wife's maiden name was Hendryx. 

Here's the kicker: the other Cornelius also had a mother whose maiden name was Hendryx. Abner married a woman whose name was Tryphosa Jane Hendryx—Phosa for short.

This, of course, got me wondering about those two moms, especially noting such an unusual spelling for the surname. What are the chances that the two moms were related?

For that question, let's take a look tomorrow at the book we found at the FamilySearch.org online book collection. After all, we do have a family history manuscript drawn up on the Jackson family. It might be helpful to take a look at what the Jacksons themselves might have passed down about their ancestral stories—especially about those two cousins named Cornelius H. Jackson.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Uncle Abner's Granddaughter

 

We help each other grow when we learn to share where we've already grown.

We may have been talking about how the grandsons of Lyman Jackson led me to discover more about this man who was my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandfather, but today, we'll change that up. Today, we'll take a look at how the granddaughter of one of Lyman's sons managed to pass along—and thus preserve—more information on the Jackson family.

Granted, sometimes descriptions of family relationships can seem convoluted, so before we start, let's take some time to review the people we're talking about, and just how they connect with each other. Lyman Jackson, of course, is the focus of my research project for this month. Born in 1756 in Connecticut, Lyman was somewhat hard to trace, although he could be found in his later years in Erie County, Pennsylvania.

Lyman and his wife Deidama (or various other spellings) had several children. And that's the problem. I didn't know the names or particulars on any of them when I began this project, other than that of my mother-in-law's third great-grandfather, John Jay Jackson. But this month, through discoveries ranging from Pennsylvania through Ohio and as far west as Kansas, we've pieced together this man's family tree through the stories shared by Lyman's grandchildren.

While those stories came mostly through grandsons, this one comes thanks to a connection to a woman who would have called Lyman her great-grandfather. I found her primarily through research on the descendants of yet another of Lyman's sons, one whom I had recently discovered, called Abner.

Abner was first introduced to us when he was mentioned in reference to another Lyman grandson, Lysander P. Jackson. From Lysander's point of view, this son of Lyman was known as Uncle Abner.

Once I learned about Abner, I began building his family tree—specifically, the listing of all his descendants. In that process, I again came across one of those little notes shared by other Ancestry.com subscribers. For this one, you know I had to take a closer look.

One of Abner's older sons—with whom he spent his last few years, in fact—was named Cornelius Hendryx Jackson. While I was searching for clearer details on Cornelius—he may have had a cousin by the same name, as we will check out later this month—an Ancestry hint popped up, courtesy of this subscriber who wanted to share a discovery.

The hint, labeled "Rebecca Elizabeth Jackson's father," was supposed to provide a biographical sketch on Cornelius, Rebecca's father. However, when the hint popped up on Ancestry.com, it was labeled as a "story" and the subheading was a string of code, similar to what you might get when cutting and pasting text from a Word document: messy, and not germane to what I was seeking.

Thankfully, I took a peek, anyway.

In the note, the subscriber had transcribed a portion of a biographical sketch which focused on the family history of Cornelius Hendryx Jackson's father—yes, that same Uncle Abner—and his origins. But here's the kicker: when I searched for the original book from which it was drawn, the heading for the biographical sketch was actually an entry in History of Cambria County, Pennsylvania for someone named Charles H. Suppes.

I don't suppose the point would be lost on you that, had I searched directly for such a sketch for Abner Jackson on my own, I might not have been led to that book, and especially not to that entry for Charles Suppes. Though he was buried in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Abner Jackson spent a good amount of his later years living in Ohio, not Pennsylvania. Why would I have bothered to look in Cambria County?

And Abner's granddaughter? Perhaps you are wondering if she might be the connection to the unknown man with the biographical sketch featured in a book about Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Yes, Charles H. Suppes claimed Abner's granddaughter, Rebecca Elizabeth Jackson, as his wife. Thanks to that one detail—plus his inclusion in a local history book published in 1907—I get to glean a few more details about not only Rebecca's husband Charles Suppes, but his father-in-law, Cornelius H. Jackson, that man's father Abner Jackson, and all the way up to the story of Lyman Jackson.

And I would never otherwise have known to look.



Wednesday, May 24, 2023

But First, a Detour . . .

 

Family history research progress is never as straightforward as we would hope. While settling on a strategy of learning more about Lyman Jackson, my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandfather, by searching for biographical sketches of his many grandsons, I hit an unexpected jag which bumped me onto a detour. Well, make that two detours. At any rate, let's take a few days to review some additional resources I found  for this extended Jackson family.

Remember the judge we found in Atchison County, Kansas? The one whose biographical sketch contained some gems tucked alongside a few disputable genealogical legends? Apparently, Judge Horace Mortimer Jackson not only ensured that details of his family history were preserved in his biographical sketch in History of Atchison County, Kansas, but that a fuller account be preserved through his own efforts.

Apparently, the judge wrote his own Jackson family history, a forty-four page typewritten manuscript which he called The Family History of Michael Jackson. And you know I wanted to get my hands on a copy.

Though I didn't know the date when it was written—I was looking for public domain material with hopes to see posted copies freely available online—I tried my hand at searching for the book on Internet Archive.

No luck there.

I did, however, discover that there was a copy housed at FamilySearch.org. You know how that goes: the collection is so large that sometimes, looking for a specific, puny, single item means it can get lost in the shuffle. A very big shuffle.

There was a delightful interlude, thankfully, which presented itself in the form of yet another research detour. Apparently, a very generous—and thorough—blogger named Peter J. Clarke set up a website which he dubbed Irish-American Family Histories. I noted with glee his subtitle: "Free Irish Genealogy eBooks."

A Google search led me to the section in his extensive directory which contained clickable links to all family history entries for surnames beginning with the letter I through M. Quickly scrolling to the section for J, I found exactly what I was looking for: the judge's manuscript.

Yes, it was at FamilySearch, as I had already suspected, but by utilizing Peter Clarke's guide, I was led directly to the right online spot in the enormous holdings at FamilySearch. Thus, I now have the chance to read the entirety of Horace Jackson's manuscript for myself, and explore what he discovered about all the other sons and daughters of Lyman Jackson.

With that tool now in hand, perhaps tomorrow, I'll be better equipped when I revisit the other detour I encountered yesterday: searching for the Uncle Abner mentioned in Lyman's grandson Lysander Jackson's biographical entry we found the other day. Apparently, once I discovered his name, Abner was not that difficult to find—and was someone else who led me to more information on Lyman Jackson's extended family.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Thanks to a Grandson,
We Learn More About a Son

 

Piecing together a family's story can be challenging, especially when we are missing essential documents to provide the barest of details, like the names of the family's sons. In searching for details on the family of my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandfather, Lyman Jackson, I had come up far short when researching the only son I knew, John Jay Jackson. I've been on a quest this month to flesh out the family constellation with the names of John's siblings.

Bit by bit, the names are falling into place, but the research trail has led far and wide. One son we discovered, thanks to a grandson's biographical sketch in a nineteenth century local history book from Kansas, far from Lyman Jackson's last residence in Pennsylvania. Today, we'll learn a bit more about Lyman, thanks to discovery of another grandson.

This grandson I discovered quite by accident yesterday, when my failed attempt to locate a will for Lyman led to the discovery of another nineteenth century local history book. This time, rather than being as far-flung as the publication reporting on Judge Horace Mortimer Jackson in Atchison County, Kansas, the story comes to us from back home in the Jackson family's last settlement in Erie County, Pennsylvania.

In a modest entry in History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, the 1884 report on the Jackson descendant focused on a man named Lysander P. Jackson. Following his brief biographical entry there was challenging, as Lysander's grandfather wasn't exactly referred to by name. To complicate matters, Lysander's father was apparently also named Lyman, same as the presumed grandfather.

However, here are the facts which can be gleaned from the history book's entry. The first detail we've already learned: that the Jackson family came to Erie County in 1805. According to this version, the family first settled in a town called Albion—the same place where Lyman Jackson is now buried. Apparently, when the Jackson family first settled at that location, they called it Jacksonville, according to this book (although I've also seen the settlement called Jackson Crossing).

Just as we learned from the Kansas history book, the Erie County history repeated the detail of Lyman Jackson's thirteen children—ten boys and three girls—though with one exception, the text once again failed to name any but the one son who was father of the report's subject, Lysander. But we do learn that, at the time the book was published in 1884, the only son remaining from Lyman's thirteen children who was still living was a man named Abner, who had moved to Wellsville, Ohio. We also learn that Lysander's own father, also named Lyman, had been a local preacher of the Methodist church for fifty years, and had died in Wisconsin on January 11, 1879.

One by one, we are picking up the details on Lyman Jackson's thirteen children. Perhaps the pace of discovery is painstakingly slow, but at least it is progress. Thankfully, I found another such local history book which turned out to afford us a glimpse of yet another child of Lyman Jackson. We'll take a look at that report tomorrow, and see what this third resource can add to the list of Lyman's thirteen children.


Monday, May 22, 2023

Without a Will

 

Genealogists have, with a moderate hint of glee, glommed on to the saying, "Where there's a will, there's a way." Granted, I've found key details in some wills which provided answers to otherwise difficult research questions. So, if I'm stuck researching the collateral lines of my mother-in-law's third great-grandfather John Jay Jackson, why not look for his father's will?

That would be an excellent idea to try, and that I did. If only I could actually find the will of Lyman Jackson, perhaps I'd be a bit more enthusiastic about the concept. 

Lyman Jackson, John's father, died in 1835, something we can easily detect by his headstone at the Albion Cemetery in Erie County, Pennsylvania. Thus, one would expect to find his will in the records of Erie County. After all, his name showed up in census records for Erie County in both 1820 and 1830

In the browse-only collection of courthouse documents for Erie County, preserved online by FamilySearch.org, I took a look at the index for wills. Unfortunately, though the man surely owned property, his name did not appear in the index. Nor, when I searched page by page through the actual records, could I spot his name within the right time frame.

That's when I began wondering about courthouse fires. Checking the FamilySearch wiki for Erie County, it did turn out that there was a fire which destroyed the building plus all books, papers, and records. That, however, occurred on March 23, 1823—long before Lyman Jackson's death in 1835.

That particular entry in the wiki was footnoted, and I always look to see what source was credited for such items. That's how I discovered not only the source for the statement, but a potential resource from which to draw further information on Lyman Jackson and his family: an 1884 volume published in Chicago by Warner, Beers and Company, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania

There was only one problem with that discovery. Clicking through the link where I found it in the FamilySearch wiki, it showed the entry which provided the basis for the wiki's information, but for some reason, though I could view the book on Internet Archive, it wasn't searchable.

Remember, though, that Internet Archive often has more than one copy of a book posted on their website. I headed to Google to search for alternate copies of the book on Internet Archive, and found one which was searchable. However, that one had a different problem: the scan was so dim, I had trouble reading the text on the pages, no matter how much I enlarged the page. So I struck a compromise: I'd search on the dim-but-searchable page, find the page numbers I wanted for Jackson family entries, then jump back to the unsearchable-but-readable volume of the same book, and flip to the page I wanted to see.

With that back-and-forth compromise, I discovered a few details on the family of Lyman Jackson. First was the note that Lyman Jackson settled there in Conneaut Township in 1806, arriving from Otsego County, New York. Then, in 1810, Lyman's son Michael followed him to the same location. However, Michael Jackson did not remain long, returning to New York—but eventually joining his dad in Erie County in 1815. Thus, I gleaned not only this snippet of Lyman Jackson's timeline, but the name of another of his sons to add alongside son John Jay Jackson.

Knowing that some of Lyman Jackson's children did not remain in Erie County, I was fortunate to discover, among the biographical sketches in that 1884 book, the entry for a Jackson grandson. That, like the report we discovered last week for another descendant of Lyman in Kansas, included some notes on the Jackson family history. We'll see what we can gather from that entry, tomorrow. Apparently, even without a will, there still might be a way.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Genealogy: It's a Journey

 

The other day, I ran across another genealogy blogger's comment regarding how long she had been researching her family history. It was an impressively long time.

Not that others haven't been pursuing their roots as long. It's just that, when you do something day in and day out—especially when you are the type of researcher who really should set a timer to remind you to turn out the lights (and the computer) at a reasonable hour—the time seems to slip by unnoticed. So do the days. And years.

The first year I began blogging, I had plenty of stories to share—stories stored up over years of listening to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. The first task was to verify and preserve all that I had been told was so, as far as family history was concerned.

Once that initial pathway was laid out for all to follow, the research journey stretched beyond to family history frontiers. As the familiar stories faded into the background, so did the usual document trail. Census records enumerating every name in the family retracted the spread of information to mere head counts and generalities. Identities became harder to find. Perhaps it was a prevalence of privacy, or a place where it was permissible for anyone to change a name and become a stranger just passing through—but to where? From where?

Documenting that research progress has changed, too. Not that families from hundreds of years ago didn't have stories to tell; it's just that finding those stories becomes more of a challenge. But when I do discover them, the journey's path becomes like stumbling upon an unexpected gold mine.

And yet, for all the searching, for all the seeking of the truth behind the question—who are we, really?—the deepest dive in this genealogy journey starts when we look into ourselves, look into the historical record entrapped in our very cells, our DNA. Once again, we can find treasures of our family's stories, if only we know how to look.

From the first step—placing our name on square one of a pedigree chart—to the nth degree of great-greats, researching our family's genealogy is a journey with twists and turns, uphill, downhill, full of roadblocks and unexpected outcomes. Somehow, though, there is something bidding us to keep on going, one more generation, one more family story.

Perhaps that makes genealogy a quest without a destination, a journey for the journey's sake alone—a choice to let ourselves be satisfied with the process of continual discovery in all its shifting shapes and forms. The journey doesn't simply demand that we learn to repeat the same processes unchanged, year after year; the journey brings surprise and change, keeping us on our toes in preparation for the next unexpected discovery. As we uncover each generation of our family's story, the process moves us forward in our ability to meet the challenge of learning additional research skills, of discovering the nuances which shaped the day-to-day life of ancestors removed even farther from our own lifetime, from our own familiar home.

Whether one year, ten years, twenty years, or fifty, as long as there is more to discover, those who love the journey discover it's not simply a pursuit of a destination. Perhaps, despite the pileup of all those years, that's why they stay on the path.


 

Saturday, May 20, 2023

A Last Will Becomes
a Family Tree Roadmap

 

Though I don't write about it much, behind the scenes each week, I'm still working on the unfinished business of previous months' research goals. Lately, my task has been to add the collateral lines to the Ijams branch of my mother-in-law's tree. Since my explorations in colonial Maryland documentation had enabled me to push back another generation in that family's history, I was building the tree of her direct ancestor William Ijams' brother Isaac.

Because I use that fuller tree to help identify distant DNA cousins, in that process, I then drop down the line of all descendants of that collateral line.

Thus, I soon arrived at the generation of Caroline Elizabeth Ijams. Isaac Ijams was Caroline's maternal grandfather, but Caroline was also connected to my mother-in-law's line because Caroline's mother, Isaac's daughter, had married her cousin, William Ijams' son Joseph.

Caroline had married land agent (and later, broker) Dana F. Stone who, like Caroline, had been born in Ohio but lived in Iowa. The couple apparently lived quite comfortably, but at Dana's death in 1882, though he left his wife well off, he left her childless.

Thus, two years later, when Caroline was drawing up her own will, in the absence of any children of her own, she left a lengthy document which, once I discovered it, became my roadmap to fill in the blanks on a large number of relatives in the Ijams family tree.

Caroline was not only quite generous with her bequests, but also was explicit about how each legatee was related to her—thus, the value of this unexpected family tree guidance.

While pondering over just how I was going to use the document to design a more complete branch of the Ijams tree, I discovered two other genealogy bloggers who were, at the same time, on the same wavelength. Last Wednesday, Teresa at Writing My Past wrote her thoughts on "Building a Tree from a Will." She had stumbled upon the same sort of gift, hidden within a last will and testament of an ancestor.

On the same day—and also writing from Canada—Jackie Corrigan of As Canadian as Can Be delved further into this topic I had stumbled upon, with her post, "Using Probate Records to Untangle a Family." With the discovery of Caroline Ijams Stone's will, that was indeed what I was doing, and I liked Jackie's specific tip to "let this story be a reminder to be patient and thorough: don't rely on just one source." That particularly resonated with me when I saw Caroline's will stretch to six pages of carefully laid out instructions on gifts to line after line of specific relatives. I need to go through each entry to determine just how that person fits into the Ijams family tree.

I've already found some documents through this process which helped explain what became of Ijams relatives whose family lines had simply disappeared. In one example, the will led me to Caroline's maternal aunt Elizabeth, Elizabeth's husband Thomas Beall and their son Josiah, who I now know died in Cass County, Indiana. On Josiah's death certificate, his mother's maiden name wasn't even noted, but I now have the key to see that she was Caroline's aunt.

Having found so much useful information through this one woman's will, it reminds me that, with this current month's research project, I can put that technique to good use once again. The first step to doing so with the Jackson line I am now working on is to find the will for Lyman Jackson. As we'll see next week, though, sometimes those wills are a gift to us, but sometimes we're kept from such a handy outcome.

Be glad when we find the useful documents, I guess, for there are some instances when those last words are kept hidden from us, no matter how hard we try to find them. 

Friday, May 19, 2023

The Stuff of Genealogical Legend

 

We've all learned to spot them, those telltale signs that a family history might not be exactly, well, history. That's the stuff of genealogical legend, those stories that begin more like fairy tale than fact: "There were three brothers...."

Perhaps we have become over-sensitized to such signs. I know I have, any time I read an account in an over-poetic biographical sketch from a century past, seeking to put the best spin on the tale of a local celebrity's roots. Perhaps, as I work my way through the family of my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandfather, Lyman Jackson, it comes as no surprise to find in the biographical sketch of one of his descendants—a judge in Atchison County, Kansas—such a "three brothers" story encased in the summary of his life and ancestry.

The story started out innocently enough:

Judge Horace M. Jackson was born near Albion, Penn., July 11, 1839, a son of Lyman Jackson, who was the son of Michael Jackson, whose father was also named Michael, and was a native of Ireland.

Granted, since we've learned that Lyman Jackson died in 1835, the story has already taken on a mythical air. But with one flip of the page where the judge's story was printed in Sheffield Ingalls' History of Atchison County, Kansas, we run headfirst into that story of those magical three brothers:

Michael Jackson, the founder of the family in America, came from Ireland and settled near Hartford, Conn.... He had three sons, one of whom...died in service as a soldier.... Another son went south, and the third was Michael Jackson, the direct ancestor of Horace M. Jackson.

While those three sons might have added a nice touch to the judge's family legend, my concern was with examining that family line to see whether the remainder of the entry contained enough truth to serve as trailblazer for my own Jackson family history questions. After all, the text provided names of spouses and dates of birth for members of that family line. Yet, I didn't feel confident in using those details after seeing the introductory error in the very first paragraph.

After all, if Lyman Jackson were this man's father, either Horace had to have been born years earlier, or Lyman's date of death was inscribed incorrectly on his headstone.

Thankfully, reading further, I did discover that Judge Horace Jackson's father was actually David Bardsley Jackson, and it was his grandfather who was Lyman Jackson—perhaps a slight oversight on the part of the book's editor.

In addition, the entry detailed the various places where the family migrated after leaving Pennsylvania—helpful information that might not otherwise have been traceable, depending on when the family moved. The entry also provided occupational details, described what home life was like for the newlyweds in the family, and gave the names of the judge's siblings, including married names for his sisters.

Of course, I might have been more easily persuaded to initially believe those useful details if we hadn't started off on the wrong foot with a glaring mis-match of son's birth and father's date of death—not to mention inclusion of the "three sons" trope that has become a glaring warning sign to genealogists. Looking at it all philosophically, though, I suppose we can chalk this up to a great learning experience in the warning signs advising researchers to proceed slowly and with caution whenever we find a resource other than confirmed documentation we've learned to trust.   

 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Searching Far and Wide

 

When we devise a plan to tackle a research question, the expectation is to hone that strategy to target specific resources. Yet in my current search for information on Lyman Jackson, my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandfather from the Revolutionary War era, a surprise entry by a subscriber on Ancestry.com reminded me that perhaps our searches should not only dig deeply, but also reach far and wide.

Here's the reasoning. I'm currently pursuing all the information I can find on this Patriot. Granted, the D.A.R. website provides me with basic details of Lyman Jackson's life, as well as the name of his wife and some of his children. But I want to find far more than those basic details. I'd like to connect him to his parents, then their parents, and hopefully push back through the generations until I find the founding immigrant ancestors for Lyman's family.

The problem, of course, is that Lyman Jackson was born 1756, still within the colonial era and certainly back during an era for which we often find it difficult to locate records of birth, marriage, or death—let alone details on those ancestral lines. Since Lyman and his wife Deidama were said to have been parents of several children besides John Jay Jackson, my mother-in-law's third great-grandfather, I already know that any one of those other children could have passed down the details on the Jacksons' roots—but which child would have been the one to inherit those genealogical treasures? I don't yet know the names of any of them, so how could I follow their tracks to see what they might have passed down through the generations?

The subscriber-shared note I found provided an answer to this dilemma. Posted on Ancestry.com, the note itself was a transcription of a biographical entry for someone who shared the surname I've been seeking: Jackson. Since Jackson is such a common surname, I checked the transcription carefully and recognized the story contained familiar elements.

However, transcriptions being prone to errors, I wanted to see the original version, if possible. Thankfully, the subscriber provided a website address as the transcription's source—but something about that address didn't look quite right. It seemed like the original resource might have come from a library, but when I looked closer at the URL, I noticed a subdirectory contained a familiar name: "genweb."

That was a resource I've known for years. Perhaps not as often frequented as in those years past, GenWeb is still very much accessible online, so I did a Google search for the GenWeb of the county mentioned: Atchison County in Kansas.

Now, I realize that Lyman Jackson's last home was in Erie County, Pennsylvania, nearly one thousand miles from this county in Kansas. What could be the connection? Pulling up the GenWeb for Atchison County, Kansas, I noticed there was indeed a section devoted to biographical entries on several local people. 

By now, I was not surprised to see the name of the same Jackson man whose biographical sketch had been transcribed by the Ancestry.com subscriber. But even this was not the original source. Scrolling to the bottom of that GenWeb page for Horace Mortimer Jackson's biographical sketch, I noticed the original transcriber had provided the source for that entry. 

The source was a book published in 1916. Right away, I recognized this was a date which fell well within the current bounds of material considered to be in the public domain. You know what that means: if a volunteer wishes to upload the digitized book onto a website, it is fair game for such accession.

My main go-to resource for public domain books is the Internet Archive, so that was my next step. The transcriber had provided the title of the book—History of Atchison County, Kansas—as well as giving the author's name as Sheffield Ingalls, so I googled those two details, searching specifically for hits at Internet Archive. And there it was, just as the transcriber had said.

It took a little searching, once I found the book on Internet Archive, since no page number had been given for the transcription entry. That was no problem, as once a book is located on that website, the internal search capabilities quickly locate the terms I'm seeking. There was another problem that popped up, though: the page upon which the transcription appeared turned out to have been a very dim scan.

Once again, no problem. I know that, depending on the book sources as well as the individuals or organizations uploading the digitized version, there may be more than one copy of a given book posted. I was hoping that might be the case for this book, as it was quite hard to read the material I wanted—and I wanted something I could save digitally, as well. So I repeated my initial search and looked for other Google results for the same title, either on Internet Archive or on another online repository.

Fortunately, there was more than one edition of the book uploaded to Internet Archive, and the second one I found had a clear scan for the page I wanted.

The reason I put so much effort into pursuing this biographical sketch of an as-yet unknown descendant of Lyman Jackson is that the book included a brief family history stretching several generations before the man featured in the sketch. While I still need to do my own check to verify any information mentioned, as I've done with any other trailblazing source like this, I'll use this book's entry to point me in the right research direction.

Still, on first glance, I could spot a statement in error in this biographical sketch—a good reminder that we all need to verify any family history information for ourselves, rather than accepting anything we find in print (not to mention, online). We'll take a look at this discovery tomorrow, but for now, this experience reminds me that sometimes, the information we seek on our family can come at us from the most unexpected places—like from Kansas for a Pennsylvania man who likely never stepped foot anywhere as far west as that place. We never know where a person's descendants may take his story—maybe even nine hundred fifty miles away to Kansas. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Learning About Lyman

 

Reaching back into records of colonial America may seem like a daunting task when we are searching for distant ancestors. Luckily for me, learning about my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandfather, Lyman Jackson, is a process helped by many research assistants. Some of those assistants are hoped for, even expected, like the records compiled for Patriots who served in the Revolutionary War. But others can come at us from totally unexpected locations. This week will be our opportunity to peruse one such unforeseen resource.

First, though, let's start our journey backwards through the life timeline of Lyman Jackson from the point of his passing in 1835. Thankfully, Lyman's headstone is still quite legible at his burial location at Albion Cemetery in Erie County, Pennsylvania. Likewise for Lyman's wife Deidama, whose unusual given name has been the source of many spelling variations—for instance, what looks like Deideamia in the close-up of a photo provided by a Find A Grave volunteer for the memorial of her 1841 death.

According to the 1830 census, the last one taken before Lyman's passing, the couple was living in Conneaut Township, where they also had lived ten years prior, as we can see in the 1820 census. While the 1830 census showed the Jackson household being a small one comprised of just the elderly couple, themselves, the household ten years prior included nine people—possibly five sons and two daughters. In addition, perusing the enumeration where Lyman's Pennsylvania household appeared in 1820, it was easy to spot three other Jackson households listed on that same page.

While I don't yet know the names of any Jackson descendants—other than my mother-in-law's third great-grandfather, John Jay Jackson—because of my work on collateral lines, that step will come soon enough. In fact, it may already have come sooner than I thought, thanks to an interesting discovery about this Pennsylvania family which came at me from an unexpected place: Atchison County, Kansas. Sometimes, we find family history narratives in the least expected places. We'll discuss that discovery tomorrow. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

When Ancestors Simply Vanish

 

The trouble with researching the women in our distant ancestry is that they simply seemed to vanish. There were rarely more than three specific moments in a woman's life when her name might be mentioned. One, if she was born to a church-going family, might be the recording of her name in baptism. The second would be if she became someone's wife. The third—and only if she were fortunate to be closely related to a male relative who had enjoyed a measure of success in life—would be if she were bequeathed a legacy in the recorded will of a significant close male relative.

Not every woman could claim those three opportunities for public recognition, of course. And that becomes the beginning of this researcher's troubles. Last month, for instance, while I found a woman on my mother-in-law's matriline who bore her husband eleven daughters, the hoped-for research bounty has been agonizingly slow in its discovery. I'm still working on that matriline gold mine, but don't hold your breath for any breakthroughs just yet.

Likewise, this month, despite discovering the names of two more sisters—same matriline, more recent generation—they likewise have vanished. Even after finding the name of each one's husband, they still have disappeared without a trace.

That leaves me examining all the possible reasons why someone who settled in one location might no longer be there. Yes, they could have died and been buried without any grave marker. They also could have moved west. The husband could have died, leaving a destitute widow to remarry—and then move elsewhere. Or, as luck might have it, these women and their identified husbands could have slipped through the cracks, still in town but somehow omitted from the records we genealogists tend to frequent.

Getting back to the main research goal I set for myself this month—finding more information on Lyman Jackson, my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandfather—he, too, could have been an ancestor who simply vanished. If it weren't for information shared with me by other family researchers and the collaboration of other subscribers at Ancestry.com in particular, that would indeed have been the case.

Lyman Jackson was apparently a man who didn't stay settled in one place for long. When you have an ancestor like that—moving, perhaps, just in time to evade the decennial enumeration—it can be hard to trace his trail. Fortunately, paying attention to the tip that Lyman Jackson might have been a D.A.R. Patriot, I was able to follow that otherwise invisible route taken by a man born in Connecticut, who served in the armed forces in both Massachusetts and New York, yet settled in Pennsylvania and claimed a son who died in Ohio—and apparently had another son who settled even farther west.

To trace the unfolding travels of Lyman Jackson, we'll begin as most genealogists would: at the end of the story. Thus, our first stop tomorrow, in reviewing Lyman Jackson's history, will be in a tiny township of Erie County, Pennsylvania, known as Conneaut. There in 1830, we find a man by that same name who was well into his seventies, living with an unnamed woman who was most likely his wife, Deidama.

Perhaps they hadn't vanished, after all. It's just that, had it not been for services like Ancestry.com, organizations like D.A.R., or even the helpful collaboration of fellow genealogists, Lyman and his wife Deidama could just as well have been yet another example of many other such vanishing ancestors. 

Monday, May 15, 2023

Getting Back on Track

 

Research goals can help keep us on track when we grapple with those all-too-frequent detours from the anticipated pedigree chart. Despite how helpful an unplanned-for rabbit trail may turn out to be, though, we occasionally need reminders when we get off that planned research path. For this month's project, today is one of those days.

While I've set up an annual cycle of family history projects to tackle on a month to month basis—what I call my Twelve Most Wanted—the process contains one caveat: when I don't complete one month's project, I sometimes roll it over to subsequent months. For instance, when I researched my mother-in-law's matriline last month, back to her fourth great-grandmother Elizabeth Howard in colonial Maryland, I needed to find the ancestral nexus with the three exact mtDNA matches I've discovered for that matriline. Sometimes, answers to questions like that don't come easy.

Again, this month, my original goal was to locate the paperwork to connect my mother-in-law to her Revolutionary War ancestor, John Jay Jackson's father Lyman. While D.A.R. does already have members who descend from that line of Lyman Jackson, it particularly irks me that I can find no actual marriage record for Lyman's son John and his first wife, Elizabeth Howard Ijams' daughter Sarah.

This month's wandering through the court records of Elizabeth's husband's will and probate, however, was not a waste of time. What I noticed, in paging through all the documents acknowledging the named daughters' receipts of the moneys owed them following sale of their father's property, was that one receipt was from Sarah Ijams—the unmarried daughter—while a subsequent one was from Sarah, at that later date the wife of John Jay Jackson. Thus, while there is still no direct evidence in the form of a marriage license, I can produce indirect evidence through this series of dated and signed receipts. Sometimes, these small victories are worth the research detours.

Moving forward through the remainder of this month's research goal, I'll be assembling a supplemental application for my daughter's D.A.R. membership record, and then offering the same research and verification to my sisters-in-law, who will now also be eligible for D.A.R. membership.

I'll still be continuing the quest to complete all these new matrilineal lines of descent from Elizabeth—and thus, Sarah's newfound sisters. This will be challenging due to the invisibility of women during that time frame of the early 1800s in what was then frontier territory in Ohio. But the main part of getting back on track with my research goals for the rest of this month will be to attend to discovery of the details in the life of Lyman Jackson, my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandfather.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Collecting Our (Collateral) Wits

 

Call me a genealogy mercenary, but the one thought I can't help but think when Mother's Day approaches is: who will spring for the Mother's Day sale on mitochondrial DNA tests and turn out to be my exact match?

Especially with last month's Twelve Most Wanted research goal, working on my mother-in-law's matriline, I've been stumped with the three exact mtDNA matches whose matrilines lead to Elizabeth Howard's maternal line—and likely even farther back. Let's just say I've been spending a lot of time collecting details on all those female collateral lines—the family lines of the siblings of direct ancestors.

In fact, the last two weeks have garnered me so many new additions to my mother-in-law's tree that I can hardly believe the count, myself. But I double checked it and, yep, I've managed to add 472 new individuals to my mother-in-law's lines. Of course, not all of them are strictly on the matriline; I prefer to complete these collateral lines in an orderly fashion so I don't inadvertently omit anyone. 

So now, I have a tree which contains a total of 32,020 individuals, and yet, I still don't have the answer to just how this family line connects my husband—my mother-in-law's descendant who has completed the mtDNA test on her behalf—and these distant relatives who are exact matches on the matriline.

Considering I haven't done a stitch of work on my own tree—it stands stock still at 33,500, same as two weeks ago—I was hoping for more encouraging results. But you know how it goes. Sometimes, you work like crazy toward a research goal, and don't have much to show for progress.

Yet.

While I certainly didn't find my answer in time for Mother's Day, I will still enjoy to day—likely with some non-genealogical festivities. I hope you will be able to do the same. Sometimes, we just need to spend time with the people who relate to us the most closely and set aside that never-ending quest to find those distant ancestors.  

Saturday, May 13, 2023

While Hot on the Trail

 

It took me a few days to realize that, while hot on the trail of the unnamed daughters of William Ijams, I forgot one significant detail. 

Sure, I've found some indicators to answer my question about the unnamed daughters in William Ijams' 1816 will. For that, I am thankful. It always irks me when I can't complete a research task. And now, I have material to help push me along into another generation of his descendants—most especially that matriline for which I have no clue how to connect with some exact mtDNA matches.

But after twelve years of (mostly) daily posts to A Family Tapestry—with stories of ancestors, in-laws, and even "outlaws"—somehow I forgot that last Monday marked my blogiversary. See how desperate I was to find the answer to my research question?

From that first post on May 8, 2011, when I began sharing stories, we've covered a lot of family history. There have been 4,326 posts. Over a million page views. And 15,460 comments. There have been wonderful collaborations with some readers who have sent helpful information my way, or mentioned that they were working on the same family lines. It's all been a wonderful and worthwhile endeavor.

While things have changed, over the years, both for the world of genealogical research and for me personally, there is still much to be discovered on all the wonderful people who have gone before us—the people we call our ancestors. While still in hot pursuit of their stories, may they help teach us and give us a wider perspective on our own life and times, as well.  

 

Friday, May 12, 2023

Collaboration is not Cheating

 

When researching the ancestors in your family lines, you know the drill: start with yourself, then move step by step through the generations, not only entering the pertinent dates and places for each person's birth, marriage, and death, but attaching verification of each statement of fact. A process like that can easily translate into solitary work. After all, each researcher must prove the worth of his or her own work.

Though the responsibility may be our own, the way through that process doesn't necessarily need to be solo work. We can go much farther when we collaborate with other researchers. It's just that we need to prove the work for ourselves, no matter who provides those helpful tips. Collaboration doesn't amount to cheating, but our research will be in a sorry state if we don't do our own due diligence to assure that each statement of fact is verified by documentation.

Thus, when I found some way-pointing entries in various books and in online resources, I did not just jump on the opportunity to "copy" someone else's tree. I had to see for myself whether the assertions were backed up by documentation.

There was, for instance, a statement concerning the very William Ijams we've been tracing this month. I had found it quite a while ago in the Harry Wright Newman book, Anne Arundel Gentry. At the time, it seemed the perfect answer. According to Newman, William Ijams' children were named Richard, William, Rebecca, Rachel, Mary, Comfort, Sarah, John, Joseph, and Frederick. But notice what the entry in the Newman book states: "The following children...were supplied by a descendant."

Which descendant? The author doesn't provide a name. Since the Newman book was published in 1933, the unnamed descendant would likely have been alive at the time Newman was writing the book. It would be impossible that that one Ijams descendant would have been an eye-witness reporter about the entire family, since those children's father William himself died before March of 1816. If no one else did, I certainly wanted to wait until I found reliable documentation.

Of course, eventually I found that William Ijams' will provided the names of his sons. It was his daughters who had slipped away unnamed in that document. It would have been very tempting to just give up the chase and rely on someone else's reporting. After all, collaboration is not necessarily cheating on research—but we still need to let that collaboration lead us to the documentation.

Once again, that Newman book passage popped up in someone else's attempt at collaboration. In one of those subscriber-provided notes on Ancestry.com, a hint popped up referring to the Newman book's list of William's children. At first, I was just going to bypass the note, until I realized there was more to be had by scrolling down the long page of information. This collaborator had more to contribute.

The subscriber continued by referencing the very Newman book I've been discussing, by examining the various dates of death given for William, then adding one more resource. This addition was a copy of an entry posted originally in October, 2000, likely to the old RootsWeb forum for Fairfield County, Ohio.

It was in that entry to the now-dismantled genealogy forum where that researcher had posted a resource, found at the Fairfield County Public Library in Lancaster, Ohio. The reference was a collection of Fairfield County will and estate abstracts, from which the writer extracted the pertinent case number for William Ijams' probate files: case number 256.

Equipped with that number—remember, collaboration is great, but we really need documentation to complete the research circle—I was able to find the exact location where William Ijams' paperwork was parked in the microfilmed records online at FamilySearch.org.

Though I was able to spot one error in transcription in this note—James, not Joseph, Turner was identified in receipts as the husband of William's daughter Rachel—overall, the subscriber's note and transcriptions provided a wealth of information. But the most important part was: the note also provided a way for me to find the documents by replicating the steps of the original researcher.

That is what makes collaboration such a valuable aspect of research: helping fellow researchers to replicate the same path to documentation. With collaboration like that, research friends lead friends to the source so they can see for themselves whether the document answers the specific research question. That kind of collaboration enables all of us to do our due diligence in ensuring we are adding the right people to our family tree. That's the kind of sharing we can learn to appreciate—and remember to become part of the process of passing it on, ourselves.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Female Legatees

 

Since the 1815 will of William Ijams specified selling a parcel of land in Fairfield County, Ohio, and dividing it equally among his unnamed daughters, of course inquiring minds like mine want to know just what the names of those daughters might actually be.

I already knew one daughter was Sarah Howard Ijams, in 1815 not quite yet the wife of John Jay Jackson, my mother-in-law's third great-grandparents. I also knew of one other daughter, Comfort, who married Edward Stevenson. But who the others were—or if there even were any others—I couldn't say.

That is where the grunt work should have come in, but fortunately there was something else that popped up to save me many steps in grinding through digitized copies of microfilmed records.

Here is what I found. In the several pages of the legal paperwork it took to settle William Ijams' estate, there were several items listing partial payments to the "female legatees" of the decedent. And there actually was a recapping page detailing all five of the so-called female legatees, in some cases giving the daughter's married name, then "formerly known as" version of their name at birth. Perfect: just what I was hoping for.

With that discovery, it was quite pleasing to see that my wild chase of the one Ijams in the early Fairfield County marriage records—for Mary Ijams who married Walter Teal—turned out to be a reasonable hunch. Though I couldn't find anything further on documentation for the couple, William's probate case records stated what I was seeking specifically:

Walter Teal and Mary Teal formerly Mary Ijams Receipt, No. 7 [for] 541.00

With that confirmation, here are the others whom I'll be adding to William's family group sheet. First appearing in the steady stream of receipts issued by the executor, William Wiseman, were several items concerning Rachel Ijams, wife of James Turner.


In addition, the recap mentioned another daughter, Rebecca Ijams, whose married name turned out to be the same as that of the executor: Wiseman. Wife of William? Hard to tell, though there have been many times when a family member related by marriage has appeared as part of the process of drawing up or executing the directives of a will. More searching through local documentation may reveal Rebecca's husband's given name, but for now, at least she has a place among the daughters—and legatees—of William Ijams.

If it weren't for that little something else which had popped up during my search for answers, I would likely still have been going page by agonizingly slow page in the microfilmed court records of Fairfield County, Ohio. Thankfully, something helpful showed up...something that deserves mention in a post of its own, tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

What About Walter?

 

We've been searching for ways to discover the names of any unidentified daughters of Ohio settler William Ijams this week. As we work our way through the Ijams women who were married in Fairfield County, Ohio, in the early 1800s, we've narrowed down our list of possibilities to two: one named Rebecca, and the other named Mary. Rebecca, as we discovered yesterday, was likely the daughter of William Ijams' brother Thomas Plummer Ijams, who had migrated with William to Ohio at the turn of the century. But what about Mary? Was the woman who married Walter Teal in 1804 a possible daughter of William Ijams?

Going back to one source we had used in the past few weeks, Harry Wright Newman's Anne Arundel Gentry, I looked through the listing of children for the two brothers who had migrated with William Ijams to Ohio. Thomas Plummer Ijams apparently did not have a daughter named Mary, so we won't be snared again with yesterday's problem. While the other brother who joined them in Ohio—named Isaac—did have a daughter named Mary, Newman's book identified her husband as Joseph Ijams, her cousin who was a son of William. So we can continue to search for the answer to our question about William's unnamed daughters knowing that we've already eliminated the other possibilities.

But what about Walter? Would this marriage indeed be that of one of William Ijams' daughters? By process of elimination, that might seem so—unless there were other Ijams family members in the migration party which we don't yet know about. Let's see what we can discover about Walter.

Not much, it appears, at least from records I can find so far. Walter Teal does appear in the 1830 census, still in Fairfield County, Ohio, along with a family of unnamed sons and daughters—plus the wife whom we can assume was still Mary. It appears Walter was there to stay in Fairfield County, for just two years after his November 29, 1804, marriage to Mary Ijams, he, along with Arthur Teal, both "assignees of Edward Teal," laid down money on a parcel of land there.

While I can't find much more about Walter than those details, we could presume that Walter was related to Arthur and Edward Teal, the two other men mentioned in the land transaction. Searching further using those names, I discovered that Arthur was son of Edward, who happened to be a Revolutionary War Patriot (spelled "Teel" in DAR records). 

Though Edward's burial site is no longer known, a memorial was dedicated to his memory at a nearby cemetery, the Stevenson Ruffner Cemetery, calling to mind two other surnames affiliated with the Ijams name. Edward Teal's memorial is close to that of his identified son, Arthur Teal, at that cemetery—though no word can be found on the one we are looking for, Walter. A newspaper article shared by a Find A Grave volunteer does mention some of the names I've seen among the friends and family of the three Ijams brothers, but it did not include any mention of Walter, nor the identity of his wife Mary.

There are, of course, other sources which affirm the names of two other possible daughters of William Ijams. I hesitate to grab those without documentation, but perhaps it would be worth our while to examine what others have asserted about these missing Ijams women.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Oh, Bother: It's Brothers

 

So much for those best laid plans to speed up the research process using cheat sheets. My idea yesterday, rather than plowing through browse-only digitized files of probate records for 1816 in search of the names of William Ijams' daughters, was to take a shortcut by researching the Ijams women married during that time period in Fairfield County, Ohio.

There was only one thing I didn't take into account: brothers.

Yes, William Ijams didn't make the journey from his native Maryland to the "frontier" of the new state of Ohio alone. He traveled with at least two brothers—and likely with their sizeable families, too.

There is one down side to families which do things together: they often name their children after the same ancestors. Thus, if I am seeking the names of William Ijams' daughters, I need to be doubly careful that I am not tracing the daughter of one of his brothers.

That is precisely what I ended up doing today. Seeing the 1812 marriage entry for one "Rabecca" Ijams, I thought if I looked for any further documentation on the family which eventually would issue from her marriage to James Beck, I could determine whether this was one of the unnamed daughters of William Ijams.

It was a plan that might have worked, except for a few unexpected twists. One was that this Rebecca apparently died young—far too young to show up in a census report for 1850, which had been my initial hope. The second twist was that I forgot all about the Ijams brothers in Ohio. Oh, bother.

As far as I can tell—and there isn't much documentation to substantiate this—the "Rabecca" Ijams who married James Beck in 1812 could actually have been a child of William Ijams' brother, Thomas Plummer Ijams of nearby Muskingum County. Thomas died in 1847, just a few years shy of that name-all census enumeration in 1850. Fortunately, he did leave a will which, though not naming his wife, specifically included the name of each of his daughters.

There was one other detail in Thomas' will: he mentioned that his daughter Rebecca had predeceased him. Unfortunately, if this were the same Rebecca as the one we've spotted as wife of James Beck, her father neglected to call her by her married name. But I'll be happy with the gift of at least her given name!

That leaves one other possible daughter of William Ijams to examine: Mary, the 1804 bride of Walter Teal. Tomorrow, we'll see what we can find on Mary's husband and possible family.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Cheat Sheet: Searching for Shortcuts

 

One thing about researching family history in the digital age: we can speed up the search process by manipulating the data we seek. Granted, "browse only" files can seem to slow down the research process, but there are plenty of other files available online which are fully searchable.

Thus, while I am plowing my way slowly through the oldest of browse-only probate records for Fairfield County, Ohio, there may be a shortcut for finding the answer to my question about the unnamed daughters in William Ijams' will.

William had died in Fairfield County in the early months of 1816, but tax records indicated he had settled there much sooner than that. He had arrived there from his family's home in Maryland and, as often was the case, William Ijams' family did not travel there alone. According to what I've found in some hundred year old local history books, William—along with his wife and children—had made the move west with at least two of his brothers.

Thus, when I strike out, riffling through hundred year old documents for a shortcut to my question's resolution, I do need to take care that I don't grab a record for a collateral line in this extended Ijams family, rather than a record for William's own descendants. This family did tend to recycle favorite names from generation to generation.

Finding a collection of Ohio marriage records at Ancestry.com, I put the digitized record set through its paces to see if I could compose a cheat sheet for my research question. I narrowed the search to show results from Fairfield County only, as that was where William and Elizabeth had settled with their family, and only for the surname Ijams, including the usual spelling variants. Then, pulling up the resultant list—there were fourteen marriages listed—I then culled the results for only the brides with the maiden name of Ijams.

Out of those fourteen marriages in that search result, six entries were for brides surnamed Ijams (or a spelling variation). Of those six, I recognized only one.

That entry was for Comfort Ijams, the known sister of Sarah, my mother-in-law's third great-grandmother who faced an untimely death in 1829. Comfort had married Edward Stephenson—alternately spelled Stevenson in other records—in 1811.

Since the other Ijams marriages in that list of possibilities included some names of grooms which I recognized from among William's sons and grandsons, I further culled this list based on the years of marriage given for the descendants I knew. Though the list included dates as late as 1841—another clue to keep in mind for future research—I noticed the marriage dates for those descendants I already knew hovered closer to the turn of the century. With that in mind, I looked specifically at the Ijams brides married before the date of their possible father's death.

Here, then, were the possibilities left to me. Marrying late in the year of 1804 was Mary Ijams, wife of Walter Teal. And, following a year after Comfort's wedding in 1811, someone named "Rabecca" Ijams married James Beck in 1812.

Just as a simple experiment, I'll take some time this week to see whether either of those women—Mary or Rebecca Ijams—lived long enough to produce documentation which links them to the right Ijams family. While this is a roundabout way to find my answer, it may turn out to be a faster route than wading through page after page of browse-only probate records for the same county.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Of Royal Relatives

 

Depending on who your friends are, your social media accounts may have been a-buzz this weekend over the coronation of King Charles III. While I don't exactly count myself in such a crowd, I was grateful for one side benefit of the gala affair: it generated a couple articles I found not only interesting, but possibly useful.

One, from the BBC, asked, "Are you related to a king?" The article's writer, David Cox, traced the story of confirming the identity of skeletal remains of another king, Richard III, through DNA—including a photo of professor Turi King guiding the ancient king's current-day descendant through the process of swabbing to collect samples for a mitochondrial DNA test. From there, inserting some calculations by professor Graham Coop of UC Davis, the author discussed the not-so-remote possibility that a large number of subjects of the British crown could also be descendants of the nation's previous kings.

Long live the king, who just may be our distant cousin.

While I was musing over such a thought, a second post thanks to social media drew my attention to another genealogy-inspired take on the weekend's coronation festivities. Blogger Roberta Estes used the event to mention use of WikiTree to gain a quick take on whether you are related to the king—or to anyone else, for that matter. 

I had discovered that very feature last month as I was puzzling over my mother-in-law's matrilineal connection to the Howards of colonial Maryland. Because of WikiTree's dedicated research community and their incorporation of DNA test results, it became obvious to me that those mtDNA test results linking my mother-in-law to that Howard line might be helpful for other collaborating researchers to know. I've actually been considering becoming part of the WikiTree community. From what I've seen so far, I'm impressed with the care taken there to have document-supported entries on their community tree.

All told, I'm sure the celebrations in England have been spectacular and I wish the new king and his subjects all the best. But what I'm really glad about is the coincidental information which came my way over this weekend, thanks to some genealogy buffs on social media. 

Saturday, May 6, 2023

A Regular Nose

 

Sometimes, it just pays to look more closely at those hundred-year-old documents we peruse for family history purposes. If nothing else, that can be worth a smile, if not a chuckle.

When I closed out last month's research project on my mother-in-law's matriline, the chase led me to several unexpected people—son of a president, and a prince of pre-revolutionary Russia, for instance, each married to women sharing the same matriline as my mother-in-law.

With such international connections, of course there would be passports to be applied for. And, from our perspective as family historians, we know that passports can provide useful genealogical information.

I took a close look at one application, dated in 1870 for Laura Virginia Carr, by then wife of Chicago businessman Benjamin Lockwood Honoré. Her niece's husband, Chicago investor Potter Palmer, had signed to vouch for Laura on her application.

Since this was an application pre-dating the widespread use of photographs for such documentation, the paperwork included a verbal description of Laura's appearance. From that record, we learn that Laura had a high forehead, a sharp chin, a small mouth, and a regular nose.

A regular nose? What is that supposed to mean?

I thought that was an unusual way to describe any feature of a person's face, so I took a look at the applications for the rest of this traveling family. Laura's niece Bertha, wife of Potter Palmer, had a nose that was said to have been "straight." Though completing her application over a decade after Bertha's, her sister Ida—by then, wife of the president's son—had the same description: a "straight" nose. Likewise for Ida's daughter Julia, completing her application in preparation for her life as the wife of a Russian prince: "straight" nose.

Perhaps, back in 1870 when Laura HonorĂ© completed her paperwork to travel abroad, the science of facial descriptions had not been so finely tuned. After all, it can take a thousand words to add up to one picture—and pictures were what those passport applications were lacking.

Isn't that just like the challenge we face when we look at any other dated document describing our ancestors' lives? We read papers filled with words carrying hundred-year-old baggage, terms that could have meant something entirely different to those who lived during that era than they would to us today. We are consigned to rely on reports of what eyes spotted back then, but which say nothing of the questions we would have asked of the same people today.

Somehow, with all those restrictions, our task is to recreate a picture of those ancestors, doing far more than merely counting those "regular" noses. Overcoming the nondescript terms we have to work with, our goal is to craft a family narrative based on those mundane facts that can not only speak to us, but can resonate with the future generations to whom we hope to pass along our message.


Above: Description of physical appearance of U. S. Passport applicant Laura Honoré, part of her passport application which was filed August 5, 1870, in New York City; image courtesy Ancestry.com.

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