Wednesday, March 19, 2014

So Many Children He Had To Marry and Marry and Marry

by 

Thomas Lucas didn’t live in a shoe but he had a lot of children, 16 in fact, possibly 17.
He was born April 27, 1814, in Liberty Township, Clinton County, Ohio, to James Lucas and Hannah Bowman. He came to central Illinois with the rest of the Abraham Lucas clan – Abraham was his grandfather – and members of their Baptist Church from Greene County, Ohio, in the later 1820s. Within a short time after their arrival, James Lucas died. John Lucas and John Turner, uncles, were named guardians of Thomas, age 13. John Lucas was married Hannah Bowman’s sister Mary. John Turner was married to James Lucas’ sister Sarah.
On June 10, 1834, Thomas married one of John and Sarah Bowman Turner’s granddaughters, Mary Turner, a sister of the infamous Spencer Turner. Thomas and Sarah had 10 children. There is a long-held story that their first daughter was named Minerva. She apparently was born before they were married and she died. I have found no evidence of this child. Mary Turner Lucas died on October 4, 1855, leaving seven living children. Two months later their two oldest daughters married. Thomas was left with an adult son, a not so healthy teenage son who did not survive his mother long, a 9 year old son and two young daughters.
On May 1, 1856, less than seven months after the death of his wife, Thomas Lucas married Harriet Gambrel, widow of John Lanham. She was 38 and had no children of her own. However, she added two daughters to the Thomas Lucas family before she died on January 5, 1867. By then there were two of Mary’s daughters and two of Harriet’s daughters at home but one of Mary’s daughters married in April of that year. Thomas was down to three minor children.
On July 10, 1867, six months after the death of his second wife and on the 33rd anniversary of his first marriage, Thomas Lucas married Charlotte Bowman, the widow of Jacob East and a relative of Thomas’ mother. She was also the sister of the soon to be husband of her new stepdaughter Arminda Lucas. Probably it was Thomas’ marriage to Charlotte that introduced the young couple.
We know Charlotte had three children by her first marriage but not what happened to them. It does not appear they survived infancy. Thomas had three children at home and soon he and Charlotte had more, four more to be exact. Thomas’ last child was born posthumously and only lived about six weeks.
Thomas Lucas died August 18, 1874. Both of Harriet’s daughters were at home although one married within months. (Parent dies, child marries. Seems to be a pattern.)
Thomas Lucas was buried at Lake Bank Cemetery with two of his wives, several children and, later, other children and grandchildren.
Letters of Administration issued to Allen Lucas, eldest son, on August 22, 1874, same date as his Petition. The estate contained 918 acres of land. The widow received $234.88. The surviving children or their heirs each received $46.97.
Sometime after 1880 Charlotte and her surviving children moved to Oxford, Kansas, where there were other Lucases and Bowmans as well as others who had left central Illinois for the promise of land in Kansas. She did not remarry but is not buried in Lake Bank.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

JOHN DOWNING'S ELUSIVE SERVICE

John Downing, an early pioneer of Logan County, Illinois, fought in the Revolutionary War. That was never in doubt. The problem turned out to be where. It was complicated by so many John Downings and the lack of diversity in place names in early America.

Originally, John got a Revolutionary War marker based upon his service in the company of Capt. James Scott, 3rd Battalion, Washington County Militia, Pennsylvania. He was a private 5th Class and can be found listed in the Pennsylvania Archives. DAR agreed. Later John and his extended family and friends traveled to Ohio and on to Sangamon now Logan County, Illinois. They even brought along James Scott. 

(When I looked into this I couldn't find anything about the James Scott except he traveled with John Downing. About the same time a James Scott joined the Lake Fork Predestinarian Baptists before dying in neighboring Macon County, Illinois. I could not swear it is all one person but it seems likely. Not that it mattered.)

Then it was determined that was not the right service for this John Downing. Nope. His service was in Capt. Timothy Downing's Company, Washington County, Pennsylvania, militia. At least the location was correct. And probably the two Johns are related. A new marker was added to the old on at Bowers Templeman Cemetery just north of Salt Creek. The DAR participated in the ceremonies. That was 1977. 



Then the DAR decided that wasn't correct either. And the timing really was off. After the war John moved back east in Pennsylvania instead of continuing on west? That could not be explained. 

Recently, DNA testing allowed Mary Lou Cole of Pennsylvania to follow a theory. John Downing didn't serve in Washington County, Pennsylvania, but Washington County, Maryland. Mary Lou is not a descendant of this particular Downing line but she was determined. There were naysayers, including me. She continued on.

On September 5, 2013, the DAR notified Mary Lou that they agree with her conclusions (and documentation of course) and John Downing is now officially recognized as having his Revolutionary War service in Maryland.

John Downing has three stones. He has his original, which goes with the stone of his wife Hannah, to go with the two in the photo. Will he get a fourth, this time with the correct service? 




Tuesday, August 06, 2013

FamilySearch is Looking Better

I haven't had a lot luck finding my relatives on Ancestry.com. My six month trial is about up and I'm debating on whether to go another six months. I particularly hate searching for "John C. Brown, born 1830 Illinois, married 1850 Illinois, died 1890 Illinois," and being presented with choices of people who lived and died in other states and other countries, World War I draft registrations, 1940 census results and so on.

Today I searched from my genealogy program (Legacy) to FamilySearch.org. I was not expecting much. However, they seem to have improved their search. The results were a lot more relevant than those I've gotten from Ancestry. I found some census images (specifically 1850) which were sharper than those I had saved from Ancestry. I don't know how widespread the better images are but I plan to check.

Fortunately FamilySearch is able to use logic in the searches. Volunteers transcribe documents and those transcriptions show up in the search. The volunteers are working with old images and rotten handwriting in some cases. Some of the transcriptions are quite accurate. Some of the transcriptions are hysterical, so obviously incorrect it is pathetic. It reminds me of some of the 1940 census arbitrators' "wisdom." But FamilySearch finds that and that's what counts.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Genealogist vs. Family Historian


There is an ongoing discussion about genealogy and family history.

Family Historian seems to be a title for those who collect all sorts of things that a family member once touched or might have touched or probably would have touched had it been placed in their hand. In other cases it is the process of collecting family stories.
Everyone, I hope, had one or two or three cherished items from ancestors. But 300?
People collect family stories to preserve them. It turns out that collecting family stories is also perceived as a way to draw young people into genealogy.
There are plenty of family stories. But, and here’s the rub, how many of your family stories are true? Three brothers came to America… My ancestress was an Indian Princess… You get the idea.
Genealogists deal in facts. Ok, not a lot of those whose family trees bloat Ancestry.com, but serious genealogists are into facts and proof. They want evidence. Heck, they want you to prove you were born and didn’t just appear full grown. (Superman is in big trouble.)
Isn’t being a “Family Historian” contradictory to being a “Genealogist”? What do you think?

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Ancestry Family Trees

I have now been introduced to Ancestry family trees. They are extremely creative. I am pretty sure it is inappropriate to use "genealogy" and "Ancestry family trees" in the same sentence.

I am amused by all the "hints" which lead to other family trees. Those trees have misinformation, creative information and no sources. They obviously copy from one another because the same errors are repeated over and over again.

I am not so amused to find they have stolen and used as their own my personal family pictures. In a couple lines the number of descendants is extremely limited. I don't know the authors of those trees. They are clearly not descendants of the people in the photos. There is no way they would be the owners of the photos. Some still have my date stamp or other identifying marks on them. They have been stolen from places such as these blog posts, my web sites, ILGenWeb and FindAGrave.

I think the thing that upsets me most is having my family photos attached to the junk family trees.

Someone suggested I complain to Ancestry. Have you seen the process? Do you really think Ancestry cares?

Is this the price we pay for sharing information?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

FindMyPast


When I first saw FindMyPast I was particularly struck by the maps which show you the person's location on that census. I could see many uses for that. And the census maps in FindMyPast would be useful -- IF they were dependably accurate. But they aren't. And there are too many I know aren't to trust those I don't know.

Robert Downing arrived in Illinois and settled along Salt Creek in the center of the state in 1821. I know what land he bought and where it is. It hasn't moved since.

In the 1830 Census for SANGAMON County, Illinois, I found Robert Downing. There he is on a page with the folks that were his neighbors at the time, many of whom, or their descendants, would continue as his neighbors the rest of his life. With the transcription is the map of his location. He is found somewhere north of the Decatur airport. Decatur is in Macon County, Illinois.

From the 1840 census for Mt. Pulaski Precinct, LOGAN County, Illinois, I find Robert Downing. He didn't move. In 1839 Logan was created from Sangamon. The transcript is correct. I know it is the right person, right neighbors, etc. Yet according to the map he is now northeast of Paris in EDGAR County, Illinois, just west of the Illinois-Indiana border. In 1850 he is in the same location in Edgar County. When I began to look for the 1860 census for him FindMyPast crashed.

In 1870 Robert is still farming but he is doing so from a house in the town of Mt. Pulaski according to the map. The census sheet show his neighbors, all those farmers. Amazing that they all moved to town together isn't it? In 1880 Robert, now a man of 86, retired farmer, living with his wife, son, daughter in law and grandchildren, is again located in the town of Mt. Pulaski according to the map. Unfortunately the actual census page shows his neighbors to be people living on farms. At this point it crashed again. It seems to do that a lot.

FindMyPast also has the Social Security Death Index. The searches I did returned what I expected. You can get the SSDI free at FamilySearch.org though.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Birth Certificates

Birth certificates have gone big time. Everyone wants to see your birth certificate. Like genealogists they see them as accurate proof of birth.

I am looking at a certificate of birth issued by the State of Illinois. Dwight H. Green was Governor. I know, just as trivia, he was the governor before Adlai Stevenson so that gives me a date range and sure enough, it was issued in 1947. 

It was created at the county level. I personally knew every person who is named at that level and am familiar with their signatures. I know therefore that it is a transcript of the actual certificate and the signatures are not real. While I would think that would be obvious just looking at it you just never know who has questions.

The birth, however, took place in the prior century. Nowhere on the document does it say "delayed" or other term that would indicate same.

The father's birthplace, city, is not listed and the state is wrong. The mother's birthplace, city, is not listed. The person giving the information states: "I HEREBY CERTIFY that I had actual knowledge of the facts as stated in this RECORD OF BIRTH at the time the birth occurred, and know them to be be true; and that I am related to this person as mother and that I am at least one year older."

The "I am at least one year older" always amuses me. One year olds have "actual knowledge of the facts...at the time the birth occurred..." Really?

So we have the person and her mother and then the Notary Public who attests to all this. The Notary is the signer's youngest son. 

The informant, who is the mother, doesn't know exactly where she was born and she is wrong about even the state of her husband's birth. All of the persons who signed off at the county level are members of the same family. No other person signed off on it at the county level. It went to the state and was duly issued. 

Why do we think birth certificates are reliable sources?