Sunday, May 24, 2015

Massachusetts Family History Trek

I have a work conference in Boston this week and came early to spend Memorial Day weekend tracing family roots in western Massachusetts.

After picking up my rental car, I drove two hours west to the town of Hadley in Hampshire County.

Over the past couple months, I've been researching when and why my 4th great-grandfather George Henry's last name was changed from Jucket to Hawks. It seems his mother, Lucy (Hawks) Jucket, passed away young and his father, Daniel Jucket, was unable to care for him. George was taken in by a maternal aunt and she raised him with her surname.

The ongoing mystery drew me to the cemeteries where this cast of characters - my ancestors - are buried.

Hawks Ancestry
First stop was the Sugarloaf Street Cemetery in South Deerfield, Franklin County. The cemetery is a small wedge of green surrounded by buildings and a busy street. I quickly found the stone obelisk that has the infamous L.H.J. inscription, which I believe is Lucy Hawks Jucket (my 5th great-grandmother). Her initials are inscribed below those of her parents, Silas Hawks and Mary (Blodgett) Hawks (my 6th great-grandparents).

Silas and Mary (Blodgett) Hawks and daugher Lucy Hawks Jucket

Sugarloaf is also the final resting place of Mary (Blodgett) Hawks' parents Timothy and Melicent (Perry) Blodgett - my 7th great-grandparents.

Timothy and Melicent (Perry) Blodgett

Silas Hawks' father Waitstill Hawks, my 7th great-grandfather, is also buried on the grounds.

Waitstill Hawks

A short drive from the Sugarloaf Cemetery is the old burying ground in historic Deerfield. My 8th great-grandparents Eleazer and Abigail (Wells) Hawks rest beneath a conjoined stone whose faint inscription is faded by the years.

Eleazer and Abigail (Wells) Hawks

A few steps away are Eleazer's parents, Deacon Eleazer and Judith (Smead) Hawks, my 9th great-grandparents.

Eleazer and Judith (Smead) Hawks

Historic Deerfield includes a handful of buildings dating from the mid 18th century. One of the town's guides was excited to hear of my Hawks family connection. 


She told me I had to see the Sheldon Hawks home. The house was built in the mid-1700s and was representative of how my Hawks ancestors would have lived. It also belonged, at one time, to a distant Hawks cousin.

Sheldon Hawks House
The home's interiors were flush with wood paneling. Wood walls, wood floors, wood ceilings. It smelled warm and earthy. Light a cozy fire in the brick fireplace and it's ready for me to move in. When I walked into the house, I told the docent I was a Hawks descendant. She waved aside the standard guestbook, pulled open a drawer, and lifted out a book for descendants to sign. It was the equivalent of rolling out the red carpet.

Back in Hadley, only 10 minutes from my hotel, my journey down the Hawks ancestral line continued to John Hawks, my 10th great-grandfather (tenth!). He's the immigrant ancestor who came to the new world from England. His descendants erected a stone marker in his honor.

John Hawks

But Where's the Jucket? 
I tried to locate a grave for Daniel Jucket - the husband of Lucy Hawks. According to his death record, he was buried in Enfield. However, Enfield - the entire town, including its cemetery - was moved to make way for a man-made reservoir in the early 20th century. More than 7,600 burials from 34 cemeteries across eight towns were disinterred and most were moved to Quabbin Park Cemetery. 

Unfortunately, there's no exhumation record for Daniel. A cemetery official told me that all reburials should have this record. The lack of a record suggests that he was either not disinterred (perhaps there was no stone denoting his burial) or he was buried elsewhere. 

I spent time trawling through Quabbin Park with some success. I found the burial for Daniel's son Charles who was a half-brother to my George Henry Jucket Hawks.

Charles Jucket

Despite this find, Daniel was nowhere to be found. I drove to Quabbin Reservoir and walked along the shoreline. It's eerie to imagine the remnants of a town beneath the surface. It's unrealistic, I know, but I had hoped to uncover a clue that would lead me to Daniel Jucket. 

I drove away empty handed. Pulling out from the reservoir, I turned past a street sign that made me do a quick double-take. The name! Daniel was taunting me, yet inspiring the search to go on. No exit sign is going to stop my sleuth work! 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Daniel Jucket to the Grave

The investigation continues into the identities of George Henry (Jucket) Hawks' parents and the circumstances that changed his surname from Jucket to Hawks (see Research Attic: George Henry Jucket Hawks).

One of George's great-granddaughters has a letter from his purported Jucket niece, which names George's parents as Daniel and Lucy (Hawks) Jucket. The preponderance of evidence seems to support this claim.

Family lore said that George was raised by his maternal aunt Emily Hawks after he was left orphaned. While we believe we've located the grave for Lucy Hawks Jucket, no grave or death record has been found for Daniel.

In fact, it appears that Daniel Jucket did not die at the same time as Lucy, and that George was not an orphan in the full sense of the word. Evidence uncovered to-date points to the following scenario:
  • Daniel and Lucy (Hawks) Jucket had five children (as enumerated in the 1830 census).
  • Lucy Hawks Jucket died in March 1832 at the age of 35 (as detailed on her tombstone). 
  • Daniel Jucket remarried in September 1833 to Mary Kentfield (as detailed in a marriage register).
  • Daniel and Mary (Kentfield) Jucket had two children and both were born after Lucy's death; suggesting that neither child was George Henry (as detailed in the 1840 census).
The working theory is that George Henry Jucket was motherless in 1832. Daniel, his father, was unable or unwilling to provide for a young child, so George - at four years of age - was raised by his maternal aunt Emily. Emily raised George under her surname of Hawks.

What became of Daniel after the 1840 census? The following is a life sketch through existing records.

1850 Federal Census
In 1850, Daniel Jucket was enumerated with wife Mary in Ware Township in Hampshire County, Massachusetts. There were three presumed children listed: Charles, age 14; Mary J., age 10; and Eliza A., age 8.

Daniel's profession was farmer and both daughters attended school.

Daniel Jucket family in 1850 Census

1855 Massachusetts Census
In 1855, Daniel Jucket was enumerated again with wife Mary in Ware Township. There were three presumed children listed: Alfred, age 18; Mary S., age 15; Eliza A., age 13. 

Alfred was a new addition who wasn't enumerated with the family five years earlier. Charles, who was enumerated in 1850, wasn't listed in this census. Also, the middle initial for Mary has changed from 'J' to 'S'.

Daniel Jucket family in 1855 Census

1860 Federal Census
Still in Ware Township, Daniel Jucket's family slimmed down to include himself, wife Mary (enumerated under the common nickname of Polly) and daughter Eliza. Daniel's profession was farm laborer.

Daniel Jucket family in 1860 Census

1865 Massachusetts Census
Daniel was enumerated with wife Mary and daughter Eliza. Daniel's profession was farmer, and his birth location was Shutesbury. Daughter Eliza was born in Enfield.

Daniel Jucket family in 1865 Census

1870 Federal Census
Five years later, Daniel and Mary were enumerated in Enfield Township with their surname spelled as Jackett. His profession was listed as a farm laborer. Neither he or Mary could write.

Daniel Jucket family in 1870 Census

1880 Federal Census
Daniel and wife Mary were both enumerated in Enfield in the 1880 census. He was 81 years old and still worked as a farmer. 

This was his last appearance in a census.

Daniel Jucket family in 1880 Census

Daniel's Death and Burial
There are two records that record the death of Daniel Jucket on March 2, 1885 in Enfield Township. He was 86 years, 3 months and 2 days old. The cause of death was heart disease. He was listed as married, suggesting that his wife Mary survived him.

According to this death record, he was born in Shutesbury to Daniel and Hannah Jucket. 

Daniel Jucket death record

According to this record, he was interred in Enfield.

Daniel Jucket death record (alternate version)

Where is Daniel Jucket's grave? The question is complicated because the town of Enfield and its cemetery were moved in 1938 to make way for the man-made Quabbin Reservoir. Most remains from Enfield Cemetery were moved to the new Quabbin Park Cemetery.

I was unable to locate a reburial record for Daniel Jucket. I contacted Quabbin Park Cemtery. An employee wrote:
"There was nothing that I could find in our records for Daniel. Even if he had been buried in one of the Quabbin town cemeteries and was reinterred in another cemetery than the Quabbin Park Cemetery, we would have a record of that in our files."
I was stumped about where Daniel was buried. After further investigation, I received another response from the Quabbin Park employee who had found a listing for Mary Jucket's initial burial:
"I was curious to see that Mary was originally interred in the Fish Hill Cemetery in Prescott. While it is adjacent to Enfield, it is a different town. Prescott was near New Salem and Fish Hill is in the northern part of Prescott, quite close to the New Salem town line. So you might want to check the New Salem records to see if he was buried there."
According to its FindAGrave page, most Fish Hill Cemetery burials were moved to Quabbin Park, however, just over a thousand graves were moved to other neighboring cemeteries. It seems reasonable that Mary would have been buried beside her husband. Perhaps they were both initially buried in Fish Hill and then moved to a yet-to-be-determined cemetery in New Salem.

Next Steps
This life sketch of Daniel doesn't shed additional light on the question of why George was raised by his maternal aunt. What is clear, though, is that Daniel was not a documented presence in his life. Perhaps, in a way, that's indicative of why George was given the surname of Hawks instead of Jucket.

Fortunately, we do have new information on Daniel that can direct further genealogical research on his family line.
  1. Search Shutesbury for birth information for a Daniel Jucket born to parents Daniel and Hannah Jucket in about 1799.
  2. Search New Salem records for information on re-interment of Daniel and Mary Jucket. 
  3. Search the repository for Enfield records to see if probate records exist for Daniel.

Monday, April 6, 2015

His Mother's Sister: A Hawks Transformation

"He was left an orphan when quite young. His mother's sister, Emily Hawks, raised him and gave him the name of Hawks."

Family lore says my 4th great-grandfather George Henry Hawks was originally born with the surname Jucket (see Jucket to a Hawks: Finding Truth in Lore).

The investigation into the identities of George Henry Jucket Hawks' (GHJH) parents led to an unexpected twist. The quote above, taken from a letter penned by a purported Jucket niece of GHJH, revealed a tantalizing piece of information that, if true, suggests that his maternal aunt played a significant role in his transformation from a Jucket to a Hawks.

Are there facts to support it?

Thanks once again to New England's faithful record-keeping, GHJH's mother, Lucy Hawks, is listed in the Massachusetts-published family census for Silas Hawks. Born in February 1799, she was the eldest child of Silas and Mary (Blodgett) Hawks.

Scanning down the list of births, there is a likely candidate that supports the letter's claim: a sister, Emily Amelia Hawks, was born in November 1817. This confirms that Lucy did indeed have a sister named Emily.

Silas Hawks Family Births

You may recall that the headstone for Silas and Mary (Blodgett) Hawks includes death date inscriptions for some of their children. Among those inscriptions is one for LHJ who died March 30, 1832 at age 35.

The Massachusetts birth record indicates that LHJ (Lucy Hawks Jucket - according to working theory) was born in 1799. However, the stone records a birth year of 1797 (1832 year of death - 35 years old at death). This slight discrepancy could very likely be chalked up to human error.

Curiously, if Emily Amelia Hawks was in fact the sister in question, then she was only 14 years old when Lucy died and young GHJH was orphaned. As Cousin Tex noted, this was "a little young, but I guess not impossible" for Emily to take on the role of adoptive mother.

Deferring to the claims laid out in the letter, it's entirely possible that young GHJH (who was only four years old) lived with Emily and her family while she took on the primary mothering responsibility.

In Pursuit of Emily

GHJH's Timeline: GHJH was likely enumerated in the household of Daniel Jucket in Montague, Franklin County, Massachusetts in the 1830 U.S. Federal Census. His next documented appearance was in December 1848 in Menard County, Illinois when he married at the age of twenty.

Where was he before leaving Massachusetts, and when did he leave Massachusetts for Illinois?

Making Sense?

1840: Where was Emily Hawks in the 1840 U.S. Federal Census? Although she was an adult (about 23 years old) she wouldn't appear by name unless she was the head of household. Her father Silas died in 1831, so there wouldn't be a household under his name either. At this time, GHJH would be about 12 years old.

No hits yet, but it's possible that individuals of their age can be located in the household of one of Emily's siblings.

1855: Cousin Tex located an 1855 Massachusetts state census that enumerated a 37-year-old Emily A. Hawks who lived with a handful of people all labeled as paupers. This Emily's age puts her birth year at 1818 making her a close match to our 1817-born Emily Hawks. GHJH was, of course, no longer living in Massachusetts.

Curiously, the family enumerated below Emily were Blodgetts. Blodgett was the maiden name of Lucy and Emily Hawks' mother Mary. Is this our Emily A. Hawks?

Deerfield, Franklin County, MA 1855 Census

There is no record of her in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census. Was she was living with one of her siblings or with her mother's Blodgett family? Perhaps wherever she was in 1840 is where we will find her in 1850.

1860: In Deerfield, Franklin County, Massachusetts, the 1860 U.S. Federal Census enumerated an Emily A. Hawks who was 42 years old and a pauper. She lived on land that's labeled as a "pauper farm."

Deerfield, Franklin County, MA 1860 Census

1865: Again in Deerfield, Emily Hawks was enumerated as a single female pauper in the 1865 Massachusetts census. Her age was listed as 47, five years older than her appearance in 1860.

Deerfield, Franklin County, MA 1865 Census

This is the last census appearance for Emily A. Hawks so far. Did she die between 1865 and 1870? Perhaps. Or, with a more positive spin, did she marry and find happiness outside of the pauper farm? I sure hope so.

Shadow of Doubt: To keep us on our toes, another inscription was discovered on Silas and Mary (Blodgett) Hawks' tombstone. On a different side from the LHJ inscription, the stone obelisk is engraved: EH Died July 10, 1838 Age 27.

Who is EH? Is this Emily Hawks? There were no other children enumerated in the family of Silas Hawks whose names began with "E".

Someone who died at 27 in 1838 would have been born in about 1811. This doesn't match Emily's birth date of 1817. In July 1838, GHJH was only ten years old. Was he orphaned for a second time? Or is "EH" a different relative entirely?

A public family tree on Ancestry.com (gasp!) provided a clue. According to that tree, Lucy and Emily's brother Silas Hawks, Jr. married a woman named Eunice. It lists her birth as 1811 and her death as July 10, 1838. Certainly, these dates need to be substantiated, but if proven true, this would alleviate the doubt cast by the mysterious "EH" inscription and confirm that our Emily got to live another day.

The engraving directly above "EH" adds credence to the in-law inscription theory. The inscription says: PFH died July 19, 1836 Age 22. Find A Grave lists this as the grave of Pheba Frary Hawks who was the wife of Lucy and Emily's brother Richard Hawks - their sister-in-law. Perhaps this face of the obelisk was reserved solely for in-laws.

The facts appear to support the theory that different faces of the obelisk were reserved for in-laws and blood relations. When you look at the LHJ-inscribed side, the theory holds up. Below LHJ is the inscription HH, which was for Silas and Mary's son Henry who drowned in the Connecticut River - Lucy's brother.

Based on this additional information, EH could very well be Eunice Hawks. Emily did not die in 1838.

A Ringer: Another complication is the fact that Emily Hawks is a common name in Massachusetts during that time. There are at least two ringers thrown into the fray.
  • Emily Hawks born in September 1818 in Charlemont to parents Thomas and Sally Hawks.
  • Emily Hawks born in June 1819 in Deerfield to parents John and Emilia Hawks.
Trawling through the records, it's important to be mindful of these individuals and work to eliminate them as contenders. Fortunately, neither one is listed with a middle initial of "A".

Questions Remain
Did Emily Hawks die in 1838 or did she live to appear as a pauper in the 1855, 1860, and 1865 census records? I have a gut feeling she did not die in 1838 (that the grave's inscription really is her sister-in-law Eunice), and that she was - sadly - a pauper for much of her adult life.

Unfortunately, the written records we've uncovered to-date fail to provide definitive answers. The more we dig, the more questions we uncover. Why did GHJH move to Illinois? What became of Emily? Why was she a pauper? When did she die and where is her grave?

What's Next?
  • A review of the 1840 census records for Franklin County may reveal some of Emily's siblings with tick marks in age categories that could be her and GHJH.
  • Emily (or another Hawks sibling) may have filed a guardianship record for GHJH in Franklin County. This tip came from the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
  • A review of tax records for Franklin County, MA and Menard County, IL could determine when GHJH quit/started paying taxes. This can help pinpoint his location and narrow the timeline for his whereabouts.
  • A review of Menard County land records could determine in which year GHJH purchased property (if at all). 
  • Franklin County will or probate records for Silas Hawks (if they exist) could shed light on the family dynamic at the time of his 1831 death. For that matter, do any probate records exist for GHJH in Benton County, Arkansas?
  • Map out life sketches for GHJH's purported siblings and father, so we have a better understanding of the cast of characters that play a role in this puzzle.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Jucket to a Hawks: Finding Truth in Lore

Family lore says that my 4th great-grandfather George Henry Hawks was born with the surname Jucket. Following the untimely death of his parents, George was adopted by a maternal aunt. She raised him with her Hawks surname, which he carried for the rest of his life and passed on to his children.

No birth or adoption record has been found to corroborate this story.

Who were George Henry Jucket Hawks' biological parents? What evidence exists to substantiate this family legend?

GHJH Marriage, December 1848
GHJH: A Biographical Sketch
Census records (and his tombstone) tell us that George Henry Jucket Hawks (GHJH) was born January 7, 1828 in Massachusetts. He married Amanda Miller Johnston in Menard County, Illinois in December 1848. They had twelve children, nine of whom lived to adulthood.

The young married couple appeared in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census in Menard County with their first child, Robert Johnston Hawks. GHJH was listed as a farmer.

By 1860, the Hawks had migrated west to Lucas County, Iowa. In that year, the farm family boasted four sons, including my own ancestor Edmond Hawks. Fast forward a decade and the family grew to include eight children.

In the 1880 census, the family appeared in Republic County, Kansas where GHJH continued to farm. Based on the Hawks' appearance in the 1875 Kansas state census, we can conclude that they moved from Iowa between 1870-1875.

By 1900, GHJH and Amanda had moved to Washington County, Kansas near the state's northern border with Nebraska. Within a couple years, the aging couple joined two of their sons in Arkansas. On September 24, 1906, GHJH passed away following a short illness. He was buried in Springtown Cemetery in Benton County, Arkansas.


Photo by Family Sleuther

His obituary noted that he was, "a faithful, consistent Christian, and in his earlier years was a minister of the Presbyterian church, a man of fine intellectual powers and one who has accomplished much good in the world."

Family Legend
Different versions of the Jucket to Hawks adoption story have filtered through the descendants of his nine children. Each hints at the same kernel of truth.

Take me, for example. I descend from GHJH's son Edmond Oscar Hawks (my 3rd great-grandfather). Our published family history briefly touches on the topic, stating, "Family legend has it that [GHJH] was adopted and that his birth name was Juckett."

Similar accounts brought me in contact with descendants of nearly all of GHJH's children. Most recently, a descendant of his daughter Emma shared her family's iteration, which claimed that Emma not GHJH was adopted. Given that this particular descendant and I are genetic cousins (and therefore must share a common ancestor), it seems likely that the adoption story was muddled in its retelling over the years, like a game of telephone.

As I reached out to distant Hawks relations, I connected with a rock star research partner - a cousin in Texas from the family of GHJH's son Andrew Jackson. Together, we've lobbed a bunch of theories against this brick wall to see what sticks.

Cousin Tex connected with a great-granddaughter of GHJH who shared a letter addressing the adoption question, providing the most compelling clues to-date:
"Lucy Hawks married Daniel Jucket in Deerfield, MA on 12/7/1820. George Henry Jucket was their son (father of A.J.Hawks). He was left an orphan when quite young. His mother's sister, Emily Hawks, raised him and gave him the name of Hawks. He was born in MA." -Emma Jucket, daughter of Edmond Jucket, brother of Geo.Henry Hawks
Cobbling Family Together
This letter from a purported Jucket niece of GHJH was genealogy gold. With names for his parents, aunt, brother and niece, there was plenty for us to investigate. Could we substantiate the letter's claims?

First up were the parents. We found a record confirming that a Daniel Jucket and Lucy Hawks - both of Deerfield, Franklin County, Massachusetts  - were married on December 7, 1820.

Daniel Jucket and Lucy Hawks - December 1820 marriage 

Thankfully, New England had a penchant for keeping vital records in the early 1800s. We found a family census that enumerated Lucy Hawks' birth. She was a daughter of Silas and Mary Hawks, "born at Charlemont, February 25th, 1799." Charlemont is a town in Franklin County, Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Family Census for Silas Hawks Family

Cousin Tex made the next exciting discovery confirming that we were investigating the correct family. Scrutinizing the headstone for Silas and Mary Hawks, she noticed that the stone obelisk was inscribed with the initials and presumed death dates for some of their children. One set of initials stood out among the others: LHJ Died March 30, 1832 Age 35

Silas Hawks Headstone with LHJ inscription
Photo by FindAGrave user Theresa.

Are LHJ the initials for Lucy Hawks Jucket? Is this the grave of GHJH's mother? The initials and untimely death align closely with family lore.

Backing up, we found a Daniel Juckett (sic) in the 1830 U.S. Federal Census, living in Montague, Franklin County, Massachusetts. There is one male 30-39 and one female 30-39 living in the household. The female age bracket matches the age range for the above-mentioned Lucy. 

This census indicates that there are five children (four boys and one girl) in the household. One boy under the age of 5 would be our GHJH (the birth year engraved on his headstone is 1828).

1830 U.S. Census for Franklin County, Mass. Enumerates Daniel Juckett family

Daniel Jucket and Kids
What happened to Daniel after his wife Lucy died? He has no marked gravesite in the cemetery where Lucy rests. Is it possible that he survived her but didn't raise his five children? Did any - aside from GHJH - live to adulthood? 

A record search found a Daniel Juckett (sic) from Sunderland (a town in Franklin County, Massachusetts near to Deerfield) marrying Mary Kentfield on September 2, 1833. Is this our Daniel Jucket? Lucy passed away the year before, so an 1833 marriage certainly fits the timeline.

Daniel Juckett marries Mary Kentfield - September 1833

Seven years later, the 1840 census enumerated a Daniel Juckett (sic) in Enfield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts. His age is between 40 and 50 making him a prime candidate to be the 30-40 year old Daniel Juckett that was enumerated in the 1830 census. There are only two children in the household - a boy and a girl - both under the age of five. 

1840 U.S. Census for Enfield, Mass. Enumerates Daniel Juckett family

These two children were born after the 1833 marriage to Mary Kentfield, strongly suggesting that she is the mother. The absence of any other children indicates that Lucy's children are not with this Daniel Jucket (which aligns with family lore).

In fact, we can trace Daniel and Mary (Kentfield) Juckett through state and federal censuses from 1850 to 1880. These records tell us that they had at least three children: Charles, Mary, and Eliza. However, no children born before their 1833 marriage appear with them in the census records.

Again, what about the identities of the five children in the 1830 census that belong to Daniel and, very likely, Lucy Jucket?
    Alonzo Jucket: The New England Historic Genealogical Society pointed us to an October 1864 death record for an Alonzo Jockett (sic). Alonzo was born in Deerfield, Massachusetts to parents Daniel and Lucy. He was 43 years old at the time of his death, which places his birth at about 1821 (the year after Daniel and Lucy (Hawks) Jucket married). It seems probable that Alonzo was their first son and kept the Jucket surname.

    Alonzo Jockett 1864 Death

    Edmund Jucket: A broad record search turned up a death certificate for Edmund Blodget Jucket who died in Providence, Rhode Island on April 17, 1879. According to the record, Edmund was born in 1825 in Massachusetts to parents Daniel and Lucy Jucket. Edmund's middle name, Blodget, is also the maiden name of Lucy Hawks' mother Mary. 

    Edmund Blodget Jucket 1879 Death

    Based on these records, I believe it's evident that Alonzo and Edmond were the eldest sons of Daniel and Lucy (Hawks) Jucket. If they are the siblings of GHJH, then we're still on the hunt for two more children who appeared in the Daniel Jucket household enumerated in the 1830 census.

    How about Lucy's sister who supposedly raised GHJH?  Are there actual records that can link GHJH to the Juckets? We're just getting started finding the truth in lore. Stay tuned as the search continues!

    Sunday, March 29, 2015

    Researching the Facts

    I made my first research trip to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library. The cold windy weather absolved me of any guilt for holing up indoors on a Saturday.


    The library is loaded with volumes dedicated to the genealogical history of counties across the United States. Happily, the entire collection is free to peruse after the library recently eliminated the research fees they use to charge.

    Burial Surveys
    I hoped to find published copies of cemetery surveys for Lawrence County, Ohio, so I could determine whether Burr Dornon was among the enumerated burials. I pulled each book for Lawrence County off the shelf and carefully thumbed through every single page, purposely not relying on the indices in case something had been overlooked.


    Despite my methodical review, there was no listing for Burr. However, none of the published surveys in DAR's collection were older than the 1980s.

    According to the FindAGrave.com overview of Scottown Cemetery (where it's speculated a stone for Burr may have once existed), there were two surveys conducted some 50 years apart. Those two surveys were found to have discrepancies between them.

    Where is the initial survey that was conducted 50 years earlier (c. 1930s)? I want to get my hands on that one!

    Having exhausted the library's resources on Lawrence County, I next pulled the volumes on burials in Jackson County, West Virginia, which is located just across the Ohio River from Lawrence County. Burr's family lived in Jackson County in 1860 up until the Confederates briefly invaded in September 1862.

    Again, no luck. There was no mention of a burial for Burr anywhere. I decided to set the question of his death and burial aside for the afternoon.

    Exact Birth and Marriage Dates: A Task List
    With easy access to all of the library's indices on births and marriages, it occurred to me that I should see if I could find other missing records for the Dornons.

    I'm embarrassed to admit it, but my family tree has exact dates for several Dornon family life events with absolutely no sources to provide confirmation. These dates came from relatives - now deceased - who began work on our genealogy years ago. Sadly, they weren't the best documented trees. I took them as starting points, but have yet to locate evidence that corroborates the facts.

    Among the exact dates without documentation are:
    • Burr Z. Dornon birth: November 15, 1812
    • Burr Z. Dornon marriage to Sophronia Rogers: March 5, 1835
    • Sophronia (Rogers) Dornon birth: May 22, 1815 (may be calculated based on the age on her headstone)
    These dates are so specific they had to have come from a record, right? I just need another trip to the DAR library.

    Also, since I'm sketching my to-do list, where are the Dornons in these records:
    • Burr and his father Andrew in the 1820 and 1830 censuses
    • Sophronia (Rogers) Dornon in the 1870 census
    There's never a shortage of questions to research. More to come...

    Saturday, March 28, 2015

    John Benedick At Rest

    I'm laser-focused on finding my 4th great-grandfather Burr Zelah Dornon's grave. I believe he rests eternally in a cemetery somewhere in Lawrence County, Ohio or across the river in Jackson County, West Virginia.

    I've been so focused on that search, though, that I've neglected another 4th great-grandfather, John Benedick, who's closely linked to Burr.

    According to the U.S. Federal Census, John was a stone cutter in 1850 and a farmer in 1860. We also know he was an active supporter of the Whig Party's presidential candidate in 1840.

    Celebrating her 90th birthday in 1899, John's widow Mary Ann (Miser) Benedick reflected on "the years of her young womanhood when history was being made so rapidly during the middle of the century."

    She recounted for the local newspaper how she and her husband helped host a dinner in their Harrison County, Ohio orchard for General William Henry Harrison during his campaign for president (Tippecanoe and Tyler Too).

    Unlike Burr, I know where John is buried  His grave was documented in a survey of Miller Cemetery burials in Lawrence County. Curiously, John died in May 1863, which is very near to the time frame I speculate that Burr died.

    But that's not all they share in common. Two of Burr's daughters married two of John's sons, including my 3rd great-grandparents Albert and Anna (Dornon) Benedick.


    These links made me eager to see a photograph of John's headstone. I submitted a request several years ago through FindAGrave.com. Unfortunately, the request was never taken up. Until this week.

    Carl Murdock, an administrator for the Lawrence Register - a Facebook group dedicated to Lawrence County genealogy - trawled through Miller Cemetery and found the weathered headstone. After more than 150 years, the stone is still upright.

    John Benedick's stone pictured center. Photo by Carl Murdock. Used by permission.

    Time has taken its toll on the memorial; it could use a gentle cleaning. The inscription is worn and hidden behind rust-colored lichen, but the name is still visible. The hand pointing heavenward still attests to his faith.

    John Benedick. Photo by Carl Murdock. Used by permission.

    The existence of John's headstone, after all these years, is encouraging. Perhaps Burr's stone may still be out there waiting to be rediscovered. My search continues, but, in the meantime, I honor an ancestor at rest and am thankful that his marker still has its place.

    Sunday, March 22, 2015

    Where's the Family Lore?

    Where's the family lore surrounding Burr Zelah Dornon?

    I've been asking myself that question lately as I continue to investigate when and where my 4th great-grandfather died and was buried (Feeling out of the loop? Get caught up: Poor Guilty Creatures and Narrowing Burr's Window of Death).

    Families tell and retell stories about their ancestors. Over time, a story may take on a life of its own as facts are embellished. Despite the distortion, at least there's a story to share. Skeptical genealogists can always do the dirty work of looking for kernels of truth that advance evidence-based research.

    When it comes to Burr, though, there's not much narrative for us to pick apart. That surprises me. With nine children, you would think that bits and pieces would have traveled through the years.

    Sadly, as FamilySearch notes, it only takes three generations for oral family history to disappear. It seems that Burr has suffered this fate.

    Mindful of this reality, the incessant digging into Burr's past (along with the fantastic help of a handful of Dornon cousins) is cobbling together a narrative; restoring his history.

    Buried on the Hill?
    Speaking of Dornon cousins, I've connected with several of Burr's descendants on The Lawrence Register, a Facebook group dedicated to Lawrence County, Ohio genealogy.

    Scottown Cemetery. Photo by Henry Dillon & used by permission
    One cousin mentioned that a great-grandson of Burr - still living - thinks he recalls seeing a tombstone for Burr on a hill in Scottown Cemetery in Lawrence County. Unfortunately, many of the headstones have disappeared or were destroyed over the years.

    We're trying to locate an early survey for the cemetery to see if a turn-of-the-20th-century census of burials includes Burr.

    Another cousin is doubtful. He's been visiting the cemetery since 1969 and never recalled seeing a marker for our man in question. However, his caveat was that there were a few markers that were no longer legible because they were so worn and weathered.

    Nine Lives: Burr's Immediate Family
    What about Burr and his wife Sophronia's nine children? What do we know about that cast of characters? Who among them had and passed on the family lore? We have some descendancy mapping to do.

    Albert Dornon: In June 1863, two of Burr's children - Joseph and Mary Susan - sell land that their father bought in Lawrence County, Ohio, to Albert. It appears to me that they're selling their stake in land that was inherited. I speculate the eldest child was the administrator for his father's estate.

    Curiously, an Albert Dornon is enumerated in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census in both Lawrence County, Ohio (with a wife and two children) and in Jackson County, Virginia (with his parents and siblings). The age and state of birth are the same in both records. Burr's family lived in both counties. Is it the same man? Should we map out the children enumerated in Lawrence County? Albert's fate is unknown.

    Albert Dornon: 1860 US Census Lawrence County, OH

    Joseph DornonJoseph's son Burzilla Hoyte Dornon was born January 6, 1862 in Lawrence County, Ohio. It seems Joseph named his son after his own father. I realize that's a pretty standard practice. But is there more to it? Was he named in mournful homage to his grandfather? Perhaps. Or perhaps Burr Zelah was ill at the time of Burzilla's birth and the eternal writing was merely on the wall.

    Burzilla H. Dornon death certifcate. Courtesy Roger Dillon.

    Like his brother Albert, Joseph's fate is currently unknown.


    Lorenzo wound. Pension Record.
    Lorenzo Dornon: Two months after their mother Sophronia passes away, Lorenzo paid $200 for 100 acres of land that belonged to "Burr's heirs." This included his brother Andrew, and three sisters: Abigail, Anna, and Lucinda. Lorenzo turned a profit on the land, selling it about six months later for $600.

    Lorenzo passed away in June 1910 in Lawrence County, Ohio. He's buried in the above-mentioned Scottown Cemetery. A veteran of the Civil War, he sustained a bullet wound to the left chest that remained lodged in his body.

    I'm hopeful we can track down an obituary to see if it provides any details about his parents.

    Vandegrafts
    Mary Susan (Dornon) Vandegraft: Mary Susan married Jackson Vandegraft. They settled in Illinois and had at least six children. Mary is buried in McLean County, Illinois. As the eldest Dornon daughter, I wonder if she was the keeper of family heirlooms and stories? Are there photographs?

    I have a very poor quality photocopy of a picture that includes three Dornon sisters and their spouses. Mary Susan is pictured with her husband. Despite the poor quality, you can make out her strong facial features and see the striking similarity to her sisters Anna and Abigail.

    Although she passed away in February 1896 before the practice was common, I'm hopeful that an area newspaper included a death notice or full obituary. The McLean County Genealogical Society was unable to locate her name in their obituary index of the Pantagraph (the local paper). An independent search of the papers from that time needs to be commissioned.

    Anna (Dornon) Benedick
    Anna (Dornon) Benedick: Anna is my link to the family. She was my 3rd great-grandmother and married Albert Benedick (a Civil War veteran who was in the same regiment as Anna's brother Andrew).

    She passed away in March 1913 after a life that was a "battle against infirmity...[that] she endured courageously, hopefully, patiently."

    Her obituary notes that immediate survivors include only a brother. There's no mention of any other siblings, which is important as we consider when her mysterious sister Lucinda Dornon dies. Unfortunately, there's no mention in Anna's obituary of either of her parents.

    Andrew Dornon: Andrew was Anna's twin. He was the longest surviving Dornon child. He eventually settled with his family in Colorado where he passed away and is buried.

    Andrew Dornon

    The Pikes Peak Library District in Colorado Springs was unable to locate a death notice or obituary for Andrew in their 1930 newspapers. It seems odd that there was no record of his passing, particularly since his wife survived him and could have overseen its publication.

    Phebe Jane Dornon: Phebe Jane is a phantom. She's in everyone's online tree (including my own), but without any supporting documentation to confirm her existence.

    Online trees give a birth and death date of July 14, 1850. That's a very exact date. Without a record to provide that level of detail, it seems that this information would have to come from family records. Who provided that information? I want to talk to that person!

    Abigail (Dornon) Benedick: Like her sister Anna, Abigail married a Benedick brother (George). Also like her sister, Abigail's 1910 obituary makes no mention of her parents.

    Abigail (Dornon) Benedick

    We learn that in her final years, she was "subject to sinking spells due to heart trouble ... attended with great suffering." However, she "maintained a quiet and hopeful disposition and her cheerfulness and calm fortitude [attested] to the strong spirit and great courage and endurance which formed ... prominent features of the character."

    Lucinda E. Sophronia (Dornon) Scannel Stanley: Lucinda's story was documented in Lost Lucinda: Like Father Like Daughter. I'm still searching for her death location and then, hopefully, an obituary that might shed light on her father's passing.

    To-date, her last known recorded appearance is in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. She's living with her second husband Levi Stanley in Stella Township, Woods County, Oklahoma.

    1900 U.S. Census: Lucinda (Dornon) Stanley

    A letter to the Woods County Genealogical Society requesting help in locating information on her life in Oklahoma and death was returned as undeliverable. I suspect the society is defunct. I'll need to circle back with the Oklahoma state genealogical society.

    Dornon Descendants
    Are you a descendant of Burr and Sophronia Dornon? Where do you fit into this puzzle? What information can you shed on the Dornon siblings? Let's swap family lore!