Monday, April 29, 2024

Still Out There


It is always helpful—albeit puzzling—to find that I've missed an entire branch of the family tree. Such was my challenge over the weekend when I discovered I had never even realized there was another daughter of Sarah Ijams and her husband John Jay Jackson. Exciting as that discovery might have been—after all, that adds another possible set of matches to my mother-in-law's matriline—it was quickly followed by the next discovery: there's another possible branch still out there for me to find.

It was partially thanks to a stray DNA match claiming to descend from another daughter of Sarah Ijams—one I hadn't yet realized belonged to our matriline—that I discovered this omission. Out of the forty eight DNA matches for Sarah's line linking to my husband's results at, there was only that one match who claimed this missing Jackson daughter as an ancestor; all the rest either descended from Sarah's daughter Nancy, or her two sons Joseph and Robert.

That missing daughter's name was Rosanna. She was born about 1821 in Ohio, but had closed out her years in Iowa. Marrying Walter Mitchell in Perry County, Ohio, in 1840, Rosanna and her husband had several children before moving to Chickasaw County in Iowa. Using the 1860 census as a guide, I could see locations of her children's place of birth indicate that the Mitchell family must have made the move to Iowa just before 1859.

While it might be tempting to think that Rosanna ended up moving so far from home due to her husband's wanderlust, looking at the broader perspective of her extended family helps paint a different picture. Rosanna's brother Robert, after his 1851 marriage and birth of his first two children, had moved his family to Chickasaw County, Iowa, in the mid-1850s. But before either of those two siblings' families made the move, their brother Joseph was in nearby Lansing, Iowa, having moved his family there right after the 1850 census.

The suspected trigger point for all these decisions to leave their home in Ohio—at least, this is my guess—was that all the children of Sarah and John J. Jackson who lived to adulthood, with the exception of my mother-in-law's direct ancestor Nancy Jackson, opted to move out of town rather than remain close to their father's household after his marriage to his second wife. The only one who remained—Nancy—had married into another family with deep roots in Perry County. Perhaps the rest of Sarah's family wanted to separate themselves from reminders of a lost mother, as well as to get a new start in life for themselves.

Reviewing all these details this past weekend after discovering the existence of Rosanna's line, however, opened up another possibility: there is likely another Jackson line out there yet to be discovered. While working on this puzzle, I looked far and wide for another record I had yet to find: the obituary for their father, John J. Jackson.

As it turns out, John J. Jackson had a small but noteworthy claim to fame, himself: he was said to have been the oldest surviving soldier in Perry County from the War of 1812. His funeral, it was noted in newspaper reports, was attended by military representatives from much younger ranks than his own long-gone comrades. I finally managed to find the actual obituary, a long, wordy review of his life's story.

Obituaries from that era can disappointingly omit the very details we seek—names of survivors would be a nice touch—yet from that record, I noticed one mention about his surviving children. Explaining that Sarah, John's first wife, had died young, the obituary mentioned that her husband was survived by four of Sarah's seven children. While I was aware of Nancy, my mother-in-law's direct line, plus sons Joseph and Robert, and daughter Elizabeth who died unmarried in her early twenties, adding in the discovery of Rosanna still left me two children short. Looking at it another way—checking those who still survived their father's death in 1876—I had to remove Rosanna from the list, since she died in 1862. From that perspective, too, there was one child still missing from among the survivors.

Who that one Jackson child—or two—might have been, will likely need to be a project reserved for another year's research quest, as we're nearly at the end of this month's project. That will need to be item number one on the to-do list I draw up tomorrow to close out the month.    

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