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Searching (and Not Finding) Illinois Death Records

What is it with my family? They seem to have had an aversion to getting their vital statistics recorded.

Take my second great-grandparents’ generation, the Shermans. I can look in vain for their death information. Some examples:

  1. Thomas Sherman (1841-1912). His obituary says he died at Charleston, Coles County, Illinois. The county kept a death register at the time of his death, but is his name on it? No. Nor is his name on the cemetery listing for Mound Cemetery where he reportedly was buried.
  2. John Sherman (1845-?)l He was Thomas’ brother, and he was still living at the age of 85 in 1930 in Madison County, Illinois. Yet his name does not appear on the Illinois list of deaths for the period 1916-1947. Is his name just missing, or did he live to be older than 102?
  3. Jasper Sherman (1849-1878). Another of Thomas’ brothers, he died in Edgar County, and he was buried in Swango Cemetery. Unfortunately, his name does not appear on the Edgar County death register.
  4. Mary Scott Sherman (ca. 1845-?) Thomas’ second wife who disappears from the record after 1880 when the couple lived in Edgar County. Thomas remarried in 1881, so I hypothesize that Mary died 1880-1881.

Why are all these people missing from the Illinois death registers? I can understand one, or maybe two going unreported. But everyone? This seems to be a familial pattern of noncompliance.

To get my family tree filled in, I need to turn to some other records. Land records come to mind, but these folks were blacksmiths without a lot of money. They did not purchase much land, and they often left no wills.

I find this line very difficult line to document, a good mental challenge. The vital records can offer a nice place to start, but they do not provide a lot of answers for this family.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks No. 18—Katherine S.

Katherine, Katherine. Who were you and where did you come from?

This ancestor of mine reportedly died in Indiana right after the Civil War. My family knows virtually nothing about her. All the information I have came from my great-aunt, Bertha Reed Evert, who was our ancestor’s granddaughter. Bertha was born twenty years after her grandmother died, so anything she knew was hearsay.

She told this story: Katherine Staninbaugh/Stanabaugh/Stillenbaugh Sherman was a German girl who immigrated to the U.S. when she was eight years old. She married Thomas Sherman during the Civil War. She died in Indianapolis shortly after the 1865 birth of her daughter and only child, Anna Petronellia, Bertha’s mother.

That’s all we know. No record of her marriage, death, or burial has been found. Nothing is known of her birth family or where they may have lived besides Indianapolis.

We do know that the Shermans resided for a time during the 1860’s in a small community south of Indianapolis, in Johnson County, Indiana. They had German neighbors named Stilgenbauer. Was Katherine one of them?

Several cousins and I have spent years trying to unravel this mystery. Despite our diligent efforts, we have found no clues as the identity of our mysterious Katherine. My Dad’s DNA test tells us he has some northern European ancestry although he is mostly English, so some German ancestry for him would make sense. He received 1/8 of his DNA from our mystery woman.

I find this search for Katherine long and frustrating because we never seem to make any headway. Still, I would really like to locate a family for her, so I will keep working on it.

A Gathering of Norwegians in Colorado

This week I have had a chance to get in touch with my Norwegian roots. I served as a delegate from my Fjelldalen Lodge #162 to the District Six Sons of Norway biennial convention in Loveland, Colorado. In a nod to our state’s mining heritage, we used the theme, Mining Our Heritage.

What a great opportunity to meet with fellow Americans of Norwegian descent and to engage in the fraternal aspect of our organization! Folks came from Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, and all over Colorado. We enjoyed these activities even as we conducted the business of the convention:

  1. A heritage night where many delegates donned their traditional native costumes, or bunads, and modeled them for the group,
  2. A folk art competition where members submitted their Norwegian craft work, including hardanger embroidery, wood carving, and rosmaling for competitive evaluation, and
  3. Daily snacks of cookies made from traditional Norwegian recipes.

I do not have a bunad, so I wore my Norwegian sweater (the hotel was really cold although it was nearly 100 degrees outside) for the heritage night. I contributed some cookies for the snack table. Perhaps I should have entered some of my hardanger embroidery for the competition, but I did not take the time to prepare anything. Those who did earned ribbons for their efforts.

When I returned home, I had a letter from the Sons of Norway waiting for me. It informed me that I have earned the Level I Cultural Skills pin for proficiency in Hardanger embroidery. Earlier this spring, I had submitted to the national organization photos of three Hardanger embroidery pieces I stitched over the winter—a sugar and cream doily, a hexagon-shaped doily, and a bookmark. The pins tells me that I have mastered the basic Hardanger stitches. Maybe I should take the time to prepare and embroidered piece for competition at the next biennial convention.

The Sherman Family on FindAGrave

Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent time on the Find A Grave site ( to document burials and family links for my Sherman family. I looked for my ancestor Daniel Sherman, his wife Rebecca Howe Day, and their children, including my great-great grandfather, Thomas Sherman. Things did not go smoothly. So far, my results look like this:

  1. Daniel Sherman, about 1800- ? I do not know when or where he died, and no likely candidate comes up in a Find A Grave search.
  2. Rebecca Howe Day, 1808-1876. She was buried in the Swango Cemetery, Symmes Township, Edgar County, Illinois. I have requested a photo of her cemetery marker.
  3. Polly Sherman, about 1828 – ? I know only that she was born in Kentucky, not enough information to do a Find A Grave search.
  4. Anderson Sherman, 1852-1910. Oddly, he has two burial monuments on Find A Grave. I believe he was buried in the Antioch Baptist Cemetery in Saline County, MO in 1910. I contributed a photo of that cemetery marker to Find A Grave. Someone, however, created a monument for him in the Nineveh Cemetery in Johnson County, Indiana alleging a burial thirty years earlier in 1880. This week a Find A Grave volunteer could not find a record or marker for Anderson at that place. The person who created the Indiana monument has been asked to either provide some evidence for his burial there or take down the Find A Grave memorial.
  5. Evaline Sherman Alvey, 1834-1922. Her obituary states she was buried in the Mound Cemetery, Coles County, Illinois. The cemetery has a record of her burial but there is no marker on the plot.
  6. Emily Sherman, about 1836 – ? and Eliza Sherman, about 1838 – ? I do not have enough information about these girls to do a Find A Grave search.
  7. Thomas Sherman, 1841-1912. His obituary states he was buried in the Mound Cemetery in Coles County, Illinois. The cemetery has no record of his burial, and no marker has been found.
  8. Gilla Sherman Cobb, 1843-1923. She was buried in the Lake Cemetery, Barton County, Missouri. I have requested a photo of her cemetery marker.
  9. John Sherman, 1845- after 1930. I do not when or where he died. In 1930, he was living with his son Frank in Madison County, Illinois.
  10. Jasper Sherman, 1849-1878. He was buried in the same cemetery as his mother in Edgar County, IL. I have requested a photo of his cemetery marker.

In summary, I have three outstanding requests for cemetery marker photos (Rebecca, Gilla, and Jasper), two that were not found (Evaline and Thomas), and one person who purportedly died and was buried twice (Anderson). I need to do more research on five others for whom I have not located any death information (Daniel, Polly, Emily, Eliza, and John). No one has a complete record.

Find A Grave is a wonderful tool, and I contribute to it whenever I can. So many volunteers have answered my call for photos of cemetery markers. The site provides a great way for us to lend a genealogical helping hand.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks no. 17: Thomas Sherman (1841-1912)

Thomas (Lane?) Sherman always reported on the census records that he was born in Ohio on November 23, 1841, but most of his siblings hailed from the state of Kentucky. The family lived in various Kentucky counties, including Bath, Clark and Madison before and after his birth. His father Daniel worked as a blacksmith, and the sons, including Thomas, all followed him into this profession. Thomas’ precise birthplace in Ohio has not been found, nor is it known why the family briefly resided in Ohio around 1840.

The first record of Thomas outside of the census records appears during the Civil War when his name appears as plaintiff on a court record in Madison County, KY in the case of Sherman v. Raines. Thomas alleged that in September, 1862, Deft Raines had taken a grey horse for use in the Confederate Army. Thomas sued for the value of the horse, $240.

Shortly after this case, the Shermans left Kentucky and relocated to Johnson County, Indiana. There Thomas and his brother Anderson registered for the Civil War draft in June, 1863. Whether Thomas actually served remains unclear. According to his obituary, he had enlisted in Louisville in 1861. No record of his service has been found, nor did he or his third wife apply for a pension based on his service.

Family tradition says that Thomas married for the first time during the Civil War. His bride was said to have been a German girl named Katherine Stillenbaugh or Stanabaugh, but no record of this marriage has been found. Their daughter Anna Petronellia came into the world at Indianapolis in 1865, and Katherine died shortly afterwards.

Thomas’ obituary says he lived at St. Louis after the war, but by 1870 he resided in Hunter Township, Edgar County, Illinois. His four-year-old daughter Anna lived nearby with his mother Rebecca while he worked as a blacksmith in the Fawcett Keyes household. His siblings John, Evaline, and Jasper also lived in Edgar County at the time.

On March 21, 1872, Thomas remarried. His second wife was Mary Scott. They lived with his daughter Anna in Edgar County in 1880 where he continued working as a blacksmith. Mary Scott Sherman disappears from the record after that.

Thomas married for a third time a year later on September 8, 1881 in Moultrie County, Illinois. His wife, Alice Farris, was half his age. The couple appears to have relocated to Missouri after the wedding, and their oldest son Charles Frederick Sherman was born there in 1882.

Afterwards, they returned to Illinois and lived there for the rest of their lives. They had four more children:

  1. George Raymond, born in Coles County in 1884,
  2. Ethel, born in Coles County in 1887,
  3. Claude, born in Cumberland County in 1889, and
  4. James Walter, born in Cumberland County in 1891.

By 1900, the family had returned to Coles County where Thomas worked as a blacksmith in Seven Hickory and Morgan Townships. Sometime in 1910 he suffered a work-related accident when he was hit in the head with a hammer. This head injury brought on acute insanity, and in May of that year his son George petitioned for his commitment to the Illinois Eastern Hospital for the insane. Thomas was released five months later. When he returned home, the court ordered George and Claude to each contribute $1.50 a week toward the support of their father.

Thomas lived for another year and a half in poor health. He passed away at his home in Charleston, Illinois at the age of seventy on February 3, 1912. He reportedly was buried in the Mound Cemetery in Charleston but the cemetery office there has no record of his interment .

Oddly, his obituary does not name his eldest daughter Anna Petronellia as a survivor. Who provided the information for the obituary? Anna and Thomas’ third wife Alice were said to dislike one another. Was the snub deliberate?

If one of the other children prepared the obituary, perhaps her half-siblings did not really know her and forgot to include her name. Anna had lived far away in southern Missouri since the time of Thomas’ marriage to Alice. Their obituaries did not list Anna as a survivor, either, and they may have lost touch. Yet she seems to have remembered the connection, always keeping photos of them. And she outlived them all.

We have no photos of Thomas, but there may be cousins out there who do. I would love to see them! In the meantime, I do have this photo of three of Thomas’ sons (George, Claude, and Walter) that gives me a clue as to what he may have looked like.

A DNA Test Pays Off

Some time ago I asked my dad to take a DNA test. All my brick wall ancestors lurk in his side of the family, so I keep hoping a DNA match will turn up to help resolve questions on these family lines. Dad does not use a computer, so I manage his DNA accounts for him.

Over time, we have worked with a few of our identified matches trying to figure out how we are related. Generally we have identified a common ancestor and then gone our separate ways. Most of these people seem to have done DNA testing mostly to learn about their ethnic heritage, not because they have a deep interest in genealogy.

That changed a few weeks ago. A third cousin contacted us because her DNA test identified a match to us. We exchanged some information via e-mail. Then we agreed to a phone call to talk over our mutual family history. We learned that we live within driving distance of each other, and we both know a local professional genealogist. We decided to meet for lunch.

Yesterday we shared a meal and spent two hours exchanging more family information. We agreed to work together in our research on our Reed and Carter family lines.

I am thrilled to have a new research partner for this branch. For years I had worked with a couple of my dad’s cousins on these same lines, but both of them have passed away now.

Advice I received years ago has paid off again. Vern Tomkins, a former President of the Colorado Genealogical Society always said, “Keep contacting your cousins. You never know what they may have.” And then there is the corollary stated by Terry Quirk, a former Vice President of the Society, “Contact the oldest and sickest ones first.”

My newly-identified cousin and I are not particularly old or sick, but I am sure glad she contacted me.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks no. 16—Jane Carter Reed (1824-1907)

Jane Carter, also known sometimes as Janete, was born on December 15, 1824 in southern Kentucky. Her parents John Carter and Mary (Polly) Templeton lived along Harmon’s Creek in Wayne County. Jane had 8 surviving siblings: Susan (b.1815), Shelton (b. 1816), Nancy (b. 1818), Bailey (b. 1820), Thena (b. 1823), Joseph (b. 1827), Elizabeth (b. 1829), and Catharine (b. 1832). Her parents moved the family to Ashmore, Coles County, Illinois in 1829 when Jane was still a small child. Her father lived only a few years after arriving in Illinois, passing away in 1841 when Jane was sixteen.

During Jane’s youth, the Presbyterians held a revival in Ashmore and organized the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Jane joined that church at the age of 18 and remained a member for 65 years. Perhaps she acquired some of her religious devotion from her mother Mary who on April 15, 1856 presented her daughter with a Bible containing the following inscription: Presented to Jane Reed by Mary Carter, her mother. Daughter this I present to you as the gift of God. And I hope you and Family will read and ponder well the truths contained in it.

In some ways this was a strange gift because according to census records, none of Mary’s children could read or write. When Mary died a year after presenting the Bible, Jane inherited $39.57, the equivalent of about $1100 today.

Jane married Caleb Reed in Coles County on February 22, 1844. Together they ran a farm and had a family of eleven children. They knew tragedy as three of their young children passed away: Thomas B. at one year in 1854, Mary at age 8 in 1855, and James at age 2 in 1864. Twenty years later they lost two more children: Emma Jane and George both died in 1886. A few years later, one more child predeceased the parents. Albert died in 1890.

At some point, Jane and Caleb retired from the farm and moved into the town of Ashmore. Their daughter Martha lived nearby, and they visited often. After Caleb died in 1903, Jane lived another couple of years alone. Often after supper, Martha would send her youngest son Hugh Wright over to carry in wood and do other chores for her. He would sometimes spend the night if Jane wished. This went on until he overheard an uncle tell her it was unnecessary to feed Hugh. He promptly left and refused to go back.

Jane spent her last days at the home of Martha and Jim Wright where Martha cared for her. During her final illness no one tried to keep her from knowing that the end was near. She made all her own last arrangements. She asked Mrs. Brown, who lived nearby, to help with her laying out. She wanted the promise that after she was dressed, Mrs. Brown would run her hand beneath her and smooth her dress because “I can’t abide a wrinkle”.

As she breathed her last breaths, she asked her son-in-law Jim Wright and granddaughter Amanda Pearl Wright to sing a hymn. They chose When Our Ships Come Sailing Home. When they thought she was no longer breathing, they stopped, but she roused and commanded them to continue. After a while longer, she died from inanition due to influenza.

After her mother died, Martha wrote this in a letter to one of her daughters: Jane Reed died April 30, 1907 at 15 minutes after 7 o’clock [aged 82 years, 4 months, 15 days]. Her children: Sam, John, Tom, Ida, and Martha were all there. Funeral was at two o’clock May 2, 1907. Her casket cost $130 and the flowers were ten dollars.

Funeral services were held from the family residence, the Rev. Jonathan Williams officiating. She was buried at Ashmore Cemetery next to Caleb.


Where Are the Records?

My research into my Sherman ancestors remains pretty much stuck in the mid-19th century. I need to find some additional records to learn more about them.

Current information on their movements boils down to this:

  1. The Daniel Sherman family lived in various central Kentucky counties from the late 1820’s on. Daniel and his wife Rebecca sold their place in Madison County in 1863, and he disappears from the record after that.
  2. The oldest son, Anderson Sherman, relocated to Brown County, Indiana sometime before 1860. He and his family eventually moved on to nearby Johnson County.
  3. Daniel’s sons Anderson and Thomas registered for the Civil War draft in 1863 in Johnson County, Indiana.
  4. Daniel’s daughter Gilla Ann married John Cobb in Johnson County in 1864.
  5. By 1870, numerous members of the family including the wife (widow?) Rebecca; sons Thomas, John, and Jasper; daughter Evaline Sherman Alvey; and 4-year-old granddaughter Anna Petronellia Sherman all lived in Edgar County, Illinois.

Now I have these questions:

  1. When and where did Daniel Sherman die?
  2. When and where did Thomas Sherman marry Anna Petronellia’s mother? Who was she? Her granddaughter’s report that she was Katherine Stillenbaugh from Germany has not been verified.
  3. Did Thomas serve in the Civil War? His family claimed he enlisted at Louisville, KY, but so far I have found no service record or pension application. His brother Anderson filed for a Civil War pension, but it was denied due to lack of evidence of his service.

I intend to develop a research plan for each of these questions. They have plagued me for years, and I would love to answer any or all of them.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks no. 15—Caleb Reed (1818-1903)

A large extended family of Reeds began with the birth of a baby boy near a small Kentucky stream on 1 December 1818. At a farm along a waterway called Elk Creek southeast of Louisville, Kentucky, Caleb Reed came into the world that day.

The Elk Creek area was part of Shelby County at the time, but the state later split off lands from Shelby, Nelson, and Bullitt Counties to form the new Spencer County a few years later in 1824. Thus, we find Reed records in two Kentucky jurisdictions even though the family did not move.

At the time of their son’s birth, parents Thomas Reed and Ann Kirkham Reed already had three other children, Robertson (b. 1808), Eliza (b. 1810), and Jane (b. 1817). The family later added another brother, William (b. 1822).

Baby Caleb became one of many family members to share the same name. His paternal grandfather was also named Caleb Reed. That Caleb had a son Caleb C. Reed (our Caleb’s uncle). Our Caleb later had a nephew, Caleb R., son of his brother Robertson. Subsequent generations would continue to use the name. Our Caleb would have two grandsons who shared his name: Caleb Logan Reed and Caleb Reed Wright.

Some uncertainty surrounds Caleb’s full name. The family Bible simply gives his name as Caleb with no middle name. His marriage record lists his name as Caleb Samuel Reed. A different name appeared in his obituary where the informant reported his name as Joseph Caleb. Neither of these full names is corroborated by any other source.

Caleb lived his first decade in Kentucky until his parents decided in 1829 to move to lands newly-opened for settlement in Illinois. On his eleventh birthday the family left the state of Kentucky to find a new home in the wilderness. The journey consumed nearly a month.

Arriving in Edgar County, Illinois, they spent a few days. About New Year 1830, they went westward on to Coles County. They settled about one and a half miles from of the village of Ashmore. Caleb Reed later owned that farm.

At some time during his life, Caleb learned to read and write. If he attended school in Illinois, perhaps he went to the first school in Ashmore, located at the southwest edge of town. It was a fair weather school made of logs and had an earthen floor. The three sided structure opened to the south with a split log shelf along the two sides. The seats were crude split logs with pegged legs. The building also served as a church.

When Caleb was 25 years old, he married a neighbor girl, Jane Carter, daughter of John Carter and Mary (Polly) Templeton Carter. Caleb and Jane wed on 22 February 1844 at Coles County, Illinois where they were united by a Justice of the Peace. They eventually had eleven children: Samuel (1845-1928), Mary (1847-1855), Martha (1849-1918), George (1851-1886), Thomas B. (1853-1854), Emma Jane (1855-1888), John (1857-1921), Thomas L. (1860-1925), James (1862-1864), Ida May (1864-1954), and Albert (1866-1890).

Even before Caleb married Jane, he began accumulating land holdings. At the age of twenty-two he went to the federal land office at Palestine, Illinois on 20 May 1841 and bought the SESE/4 of Section 6, T12 N, R14W, Coles County, Illinois. He received an adjacent 177 acres of land in Section 6 from his father in 1847. On 1 February 1850 he bought the NESE/4 of the same section. At the time of the 1850 United States census, their nearest post office was in Hitesville, a town about 2 miles southeast of Ashmore. It no longer exists.

Caleb’s younger brother William died in 1845, and his death left four surviving Reed siblings. When their father Thomas passed away a few years later in 1852, Caleb inherited a 1/4 share of the family farm. He and his brother Rob then purchased their sisters’ shares. Caleb settled in to life as a farmer and stock raiser. He never sought official positions because he felt his farm of 430 acres required his entire attention. He and Jane lived on the site of his father’s original settlement.

By 1860, Caleb owned $1200 worth of livestock. He was a farmer with $6000 in real estate and $1000 in personal property. Today the farmland alone is worth over $3 million, and Caleb’s descendants still own it. In May and October 1864, when an income tax was briefly enacted to fund the Civil War, Caleb paid tax of $9 and $15 to the assessor.

The Masons organized in Coles County during the Civil War in 1863. Caleb Reed together with Jane’s brother-in-law Robert Boyd (her sister Nancy’s husband) became charter members of Ashmore Lodge, No. 390. Caleb was elected Junior Warden, and Boyd served as tiler or guardian to the entrance of the Lodge.

Coles County furnished more than its quota of soldiers for the Union Army during the war years, but most volunteers were from the western part of the county. On the eastern side, where the Reeds and Carters lived, there were many rebel sympathizers who had come from Kentucky. These people hated abolitionists and the draft. Although Caleb Reed did register for the draft as required in June 1863, there is no record of his eligible son Samuel registering or serving from Coles County.

As the war progressed, troops constantly moved through the Ashmore area. Local farmers supplied corn at the high war price of $.60 per bushel. Perhaps Caleb was able to add to his wealth by selling farm products to the Army.

In March 1864, Caleb and Jane must have watched with interest as tensions between Union soldiers and local insurgents known as Copperheads heightened in Coles County. On March 28, 1864, violence erupted when the former sheriff of Coles County and the Copperheads attacked a group of soldiers in Charleston, the county seat 10 miles from the Reed farm. In the end, 9 people died, 12 were wounded, and 29 men were arrested in what became known as the Charleston Riot. Among those apprehended was John Galbreath, a relative of Caleb’s sister Jane Reed Galbreath.

After the war, Caleb and Jane continued living on their farm. In 1878, Caleb was appointed by the Coles County Board of Supervisors to serve as a Grand juryman from Ashmore Township for the November term.

At some point, the Reeds decided to retire from the farm and move into Ashmore. They lived in one house for a while and then traded houses with their friend Newt Austin for a home located mid-block west of the Presbyterian Church. Newt was related to Jane’s sister Susan Carter Austin.

The Reed’s grandchildren visited often, and Jane would send them to the butcher shop to buy for the noon dinner. Some of the grandchildren complained about having to visit because they found nothing to do there. The only entertainment was to watch the trains come into town. The only reading material was the Sunday School newsletter.

By 1902, Caleb’s health was beginning to fail. He sold some of his land to his sons T. L. Reed and John C. Reed. The following year, he sold land in Section 7, Twp. 12 North, Range 14 West to his daughter Ida May Thompson for $1.00.

In the spring of 1903, the Mattoon, Illinois newspaper reported that Caleb Reed had taken quite sick on the previous Saturday, May 16, and remained in feeble condition. The following week he was no better. Ida Thompson visited her parents and then returned home to Indiana. Later that summer, she was again at the bedside of her aged father who was in very poor health.

On 10 November 1903 at his home in Ashmore, Caleb ate a hearty breakfast. He felt as well as usual but continued to be ill with kidney trouble. After his meal he went to take his customary rest while Jane was in another room attending to her household duties. Thinking that he had slept long enough she went to rouse him and found that he had passed away at the age of eighty-four.

Two days later on the day of Caleb’s funeral, the family sat at the house in an uncomfortable hush until it was time to go to Ashmore Cemetery. A few, including his widow, went by carriage, but the others walked behind the men carrying the casket. As one bearer tired, another stepped up to take his place. There was a graveside prayer.

Caleb left behind a large family clan that became known to later generations as the Reeds of Ashmore. Although he had outlived six of his eleven children, he had numerous descendants in Ashmore and beyond.

Katherine, the Brick Wall

As I work on learning the details of the life of my great-great grandfather Thomas Sherman, I continue to puzzle over his activities during the 1860’s. The biggest riddle remains the identity of his first wife, and my great-great grandmother. According to family lore, she was German, and her name was Katherine Stillenbaugh or Stanabaugh. Thomas and Katherine were said to have resided in or near Indianapolis where their daughter, Anna Petronellia, was born in 1865. Katherine reportedly died shortly afterwards. No record of her has been found to verify any of the family story.

I know these facts about Thomas and his family during that decade:

  • In 1860, Thomas’ name appears on the U.S. census for Madison County, Kentucky in the household of his father, Daniel “Shearman”. Thomas was a 19-year-old blacksmith.
  • In 1862, a man named Thomas Sherman, presumably my ancestor, filed suit in Madison County over the taking of a horse by Confederate soldiers.
  • In June 1863, Thomas and his brother Anderson registered for the Civil War Draft at Ninevah, Johnson County, Indiana.
  • Thomas and Anderson’s younger sister Gilla married John Cobb in Johnson County in 1864.
  • By 1870, Thomas worked as a blacksmith in another man’s household in Edgar County, Illinois. His four-year-old daughter lived with his mother, Rebecca, in the same county.

It seems that Thomas relocated from Kentucky to Indiana sometime during the Civil War. He joined his older brother Anderson and lived in the county just south of Indianapolis. This much fits the family story. But what about the rest of it?

Anderson had lived first in Brown County and then moved a few miles northeast to Johnson County. Among his neighbors was a German family named Stilgenbauer, a name several of them Anglicized to Stillabower or Stilabower. These names are tantalizingly close to the Stillenbaugh name reported by the grandchildren of my German ancestor. Did she belong to the Stilgenbauer family? If so, I cannot find a likely candidate named Katherine on the 1860 Indiana census. I have been unable to locate a marriage record for Thomas in Indiana, nor have I found burial information for Katherine Sherman. Nothing I have found so far verifies her identity.

I need to locate some more Indiana records! I need to do more research on the Stilgenbauer family. We have had this brick wall ancestor for far too long.