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Finishing Up for 2016

I am closing out another research year. For the last twelve months I have researched the life of my blacksmith great-great grandfather, Thomas Sherman. I have learned about his life and written up my findings for distribution to my family. For wider dissemination of the information I have gathered, I have put all the names, dates, and places into the family tree on Family Search (www.familysearch.org).

During the year I learned that Thomas, like many in the nineteenth century, moved around a bit, as evidenced by these life events:

 

  • Born 23 November 1841 in Ohio,
  • Grew to manhood in Kentucky, and learned the blacksmith trade from his father, Daniel Sherman,
  • Married his first wife, fathered his first child, and registered for the Civil War draft in Johnson County, Indiana,
  • Married twice more and fathered five more children in eastern Illinois,
  • Died 3 February 1912 at Charleston, Illinois.

A big mystery still not answered from my research this year is the identity of his first wife. Next year I plan to continue with the Sherman research in an effort to discover who she may have been. I do have a name and place to go on—Katherine Stillenbaugh/Stanabaugh of Indianapolis, Indiana. Family lore says she immigrated from Germany.

I would just love to place this woman, my great-great grandmother, into her birth family. I plan a trip to Germany in 2017, and it would be wonderful to know more about her by then.

Planning a Project for 2017

The life of our ancestor Katherine Stanabaugh remains a mystery to me and my family. We know so little about her, and we have found next to nothing of her life in any records.

Most of our information comes from family lore:

  1. Katherine immigrated from Germany when she was eight years old.
  2. Katherine married the blacksmith, Thomas Sherman, during the Civil War.
  3. Katherine’s only child, Anna Petronellia Sherman, was born at Indianapolis on 1 April 1865.
  4. Katherine passed away shortly after her daughter’s birth.
  5. Katherine was buried at Indianapolis.
  6. Katherine’s surname appears as Stillenbaugh in family papers, and as Stanabaugh on her daughter’s 1961 death certificate (a record created nearly a century after Katherine herself had died, by a grandson who never knew her).

I have been unable to corroborate any of this information. I cannot locate any Stillenbaugh or Stanabaugh families in 1860’s Indiana. I cannot locate a marriage record for Thomas and Katherine. I cannot locate a death record or grave for Katherine.

This weekend I attended a Palatines to America seminar where the special guest was Kent Robinson, the President of the organization. He resides in Indiana and kindly offered to look at this case. I am hoping he can offer some advice on records I have not thought to search.

Beyond that, my best course of action will be to create a research project using the FAN approach to genealogy. This acronym stands for the groups of people one must research (Friends, Associates, Neighbors) when the subject leaves little or no paper trail. A look into the lives of these people can often reveal details of the life of an ancestor. Circumstantial evidence gleaned from their records can help a genealogist build a case for placing the ancestor into the proper family.

Katherine will be my research project for 2017. She deserves more than a passing mention in our family history.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks no. 36—Rebecca Howe Day (1808-1876)

A search for the Day family in central Kentucky during the 1800’s reveals a large extended family, difficult to sort. My 3rd great-grandmother Rebecca was born into this clan on the 5th of June, 1808. She was named for her maternal grandmother, Rebecca Howe. Her parents were Daniel Day and Rhoda Hoskins. Young Rebecca actually was born in Tennessee, but the family soon moved on to Kentucky.

Rebecca’s father died when she was young, and she became the ward of her grandfather, John Day, a Revolutionary War veteran from Virginia. The family had settled in Morgan County when they reached Kentucky. There, Rebecca met a blacksmith, Daniel Sherman, and they decided to marry. The marriage took place on September 4, 1826 when Rebecca was eighteen years old.

Over the next years, Rebecca and Daniel traveled around central Kentucky and southern Ohio, wherever Daniel found work. Together they raised a large family of about ten children. By the time the Civil War broke out, they resided in Madison County, Kentucky.

At some point as the war progressed, they made the decision to move north. On April 29, 1863, they sold their small holding in Madison County. After that, Daniel disappears from the record. They may have relocated to Johnson County, Indiana where their eldest son, Anderson Sherman, lived.

By 1870, Rebecca, by then a widow, had moved again, following some of her children to Edgar County, Illinois. That year her household included her third son, John, and a granddaughter Anna Petronellia, the daughter of Rebecca’s second son, Thomas. Other Sherman children (Thomas Sherman, Evaline Sherman Alvey, and Jasper Sherman) lived in the same county.

Rebecca died in Edgar County on September 28, 1876. She was buried in the Swango Cemetery in Symmes Township although her grave is unmarked.

Much research remains to do on Rebecca and her birth family. Sources conflict on when and where her father died. Some family members claim her mother lived to be over 100 years old, although we have no proof of that. Some researchers claim Rebecca descended from the illustrious Howe family of Revolutionary War fame with connections to the English royal family.

Rebecca Howe Day will make a fascinating research subject when time permits.

 

The Glover Boys: Bad Men

Genealogist like to talk about their Black Sheep ancestors. This week I found a few as I read some historic newspapers.

Members of my family became original pioneers of Coles County, Illinois around 1830. The locals kept good records, and I have quite a bit of success learning about the lives of those who lived in that area during the nineteenth century. The newspapers from Mattoon, Illinois provide an especially rich source. There I found many mentions of “Bad Man” Frank Glover and his siblings.

My second great-grandfather Thomas Sherman’s sister had married a Glover, and this is my connection to the Glover family. Frank was one of her sons. He and some of his brothers often ran afoul of the law. The Mattoon newspapers documented it all. They labeled Frank with the epithet, “Bad Man”.

What did he and his brothers do?

According to the papers, Frank had no occupation. Over a fifteen-year period, he robbed a man at gunpoint, shot a Sheriff’s deputy who attempted to repossess some property, and stabbed the village Marshal during a fight. He served time for these crimes.

Frank’s brother Henry Glover was a counterfeiter. The paper described Henry as a Republican who favored the unlimited coinage of silver and home-made dollars. Henry liked physical fights and even faced charges once for beating up Frank’s wife. Henry died a violent death when he mysteriously was shot in his home one Saturday night. He made a dying declaration naming his assailant, but no one believed him.

Another brother, Edward, ran a grocery story. He was indicted on occasion for selling tobacco to minors. His store seemed to suffer no end of criminal activity including burglary, robbery, and mysterious fires.

These guys definitely qualify as the Black Sheep of my family. Their cousin, my great-grandmother Anna Petronellia Sherman, was said to dislike her family. Perhaps these fellow’s activities contributed to her opinion. A staunch Methodist, Petronellia most certainly would have considered her Glover relatives to be bad men.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks no. 35—Daniel Sherman (abt. 1800-?)

As we work further back in time, the details on our ancestors’ lives become murkier. Eventually, we find little or no information about them.

For many years now, one of my 3rd great-grandfathers, Daniel Sherman, has been what genealogists call a “brick wall” ancestor. He seemingly appeared out of nowhere, raised a large family, and then disappeared again. I know nothing about his birth family.

According to U.S. census records for Kentucky in 1850 and 1860, Daniel originally came from New York. He was born around 1800. He worked as a blacksmith, but he also had some education. In the 1850’s he wrote out permission slips for his daughters to marry.

Daniel began appearing in the Kentucky records in the late 1820’s. He married Rebecca Howe Day on September 4, 1826 in Morgan County. The next year, his name came up a couple of times in the Morgan County court minutes. The first time, he was appointed to take his turn to keep the state road in good repair. The second time, he was ordered to pay 37 ½ cents to a member of his wife’s family in a case involving horse feed. In 1828, he received payment of $2 when he resigned as county jailor.

That same year, Daniel and Rebecca started their family. They had at least ten children:

  1. Polly Ann, born about 1828
  2. Unknown daughter, born about 1829
  3. Anderson O., born 22 Aug. 1832
  4. Evaline, born 5 Aug. 1834
  5. Emily Elizabeth, born about 1836
  6. Eliza/Louisa Jane, born about 1838
  7. Thomas, my 2nd great-grandfather, born 23 Nov. 1841
  8. Gilla Ann, born 26 Mar. 1843
  9. John, born Dec. 1845
  10. Jasper, born 30 Oct 1849

During these years, Daniel and his wife moved around a lot. Their children were born in various Kentucky counties (Morgan, Bath, Clark, Madison, Estill) as well as in Scioto County, Ohio. The couple never seemed to own much land. Apparently, they followed the work he could get.

By 1853, Daniel finally appeared more ready to settle down in one place. On September 25 that year, he gave permission for his teenage daughter Eliza/Louisa to marry in Madison County. Several years later, on 4 January 1858, he purchased an acre of land on Clear Creek in the same county. Perhaps they intended to remain there with grown children nearby.

Then, during the course of the Civil War, for some reason Daniel and Rebecca changed their minds and decided to leave Madison County. They sold their land on 29 April 1863.

After that, Daniel disappears from the records. By 1870, Rebecca lived with relatives in Edgar County, Illinois. Daniel’s name has not been found on the 1870 census, so he probably died before then.

Before he died, Daniel passed some of his learning on to his sons. All of them picked up the blacksmith trade. That is how the family continued to earn its living into the next generation, well into the twentieth century.

So, who were Daniel’s people? When did his Sherman family come to America? Where did he end his days? The answers to these questions about the life of Daniel Sherman await discovery.

Narrowing Down a Birthplace

Nearly fifteen years ago I began searching for information on my great-great grandfather, Thomas Sherman (1841-1912). I began with only the family story. He served in the Civil War, and then he married a German girl who died at Indianapolis shortly after their daughter Anna Petronellia was born in 1865. Later in life he worked as a blacksmith in Coles County, Illinois. During the 1880’s he married Alice Farris, a woman the same age as his daughter, and had several more children.

I began my research into his life by reviewing his obituary. It identified some of his siblings but did not provided a birthplace. I then turned to the U. S. census records. I found that most of the Sherman siblings had been born in Kentucky. But Thomas himself and one sister, both middle children, consistently had Ohio listed as their birthplace.

Where in Ohio? I could find no record that even listed a county, much less an actual town or post office. Ohio has 88 counties, and that proved to be too many to search without some additional information.

This week a new clue turned up. I came across the Kentucky marriage record for Thomas’ sister, E. E., to John Glover. I had located their Madison County marriage bond and consent many years ago, but I could not find a marriage record. This week on Family Search, I looked at a Kentucky-wide database and at long last found their marriage record in nearby Estill County, not Madison. And there was the clue I needed. This sister, also born in Ohio, provided her birthplace county, Scioto, for the record.

Scioto county lies on Ohio’s southern border just across the Ohio River from Kentucky. Perhaps Thomas was born there, too. The Sherman-Glover marriage information may really narrow down my search for Thomas’ birthplace.

Of course I immediately looked for the father’s name, Daniel Sherman, on the 1840 U.S. census for Scioto County. There he was on the index! But when I looked at the image of the actual record, the name does not look like Sherman to me. Still, the indexer thinks otherwise. To settle this in my mind, I need some corroborating evidence.

If the name truly is Sherman, the larger question of whether the Daniel Sherman in Scioto County in 1840 is the same man as my Daniel, father of Thomas, also remains. I intend to create a research plan for this question. At least now I have an idea of a location where I can begin to find an answer.

Differentiating Emily and Eliza

My ancestor Daniel Sherman (abt. 1800-bef. 1870), a blacksmith who lived in central Kentucky, had several children. Among his daughters enumerated on the 1850 census we find two girls named Emily E. and Eliza J.

Later that decade, we find Daniel giving consent for his daughters to marry. This time, their names appear as Elizabeth (E. E.) and Louisa Jane. Same girls? If so, how do we reconcile these differences in their names?

I do not feel I have yet sorted this out, but so far I have assembled this evidence for the daughters:

Emily E.                                     Elizabeth (E. E.)                          Eliza J.                                        Louisa Jane

b. abt. 1836 (1850 census)      b. abt. 1836 (marriage)               b. abt. 1838 (1850 census)

b. Kentucky (1850 census)      b. Scioto Co., OH (marriage)    b. Ohio (1850 census)

b. 1836 KY (1880 census)

m. John H. Glover (marriage)   b. KY (1860-70 census)           m. Stephen Dykes (marriage)

John H. Glover has not been found on the 1860 or 1870 census records. His wife Elizabeth, born in Kentucky, is named on the 1880 census, the last record of her.

Stephen Dyke appears on the census in 1860 and 1870 with his wife Eliza and Eliza Jane. By 1880 he was a widower. His wife’s birthplace was reported as Kentucky in both instances.

I find it so tempting to conclude that the Emily E. of the 1850 census is the E. E. or Elizabeth who married John Glover. It’s also tantalizingly easy to assume that Eliza J. and  Louisa Jane are the same girl because the names are phonetically close. Yet the evidence does not quite match up. Was one of the daughters born in Ohio? If so, which one? Why would the marriage record and permission slip of one daughter clearly say her name was Louisa Jane if her name was really Eliza, as it always appears on the census records? Did Daniel Sherman have more than two daughter born during this time frame? If so, where were they when the 1850 census was taken?

As is always the case on these family puzzles, I need some more evidence.

Floundering in Indiana

My Sherman family lived in Indiana during the 1860’s, mostly in Johnson County. I have a little information about them at that time but not enough. Big events occurred in the family during that decade, events for which I have no proof or documentation:

  1. My ancestor Thomas Sherman (1841-1912) is said to have married a German girl named Katherine sometime during the Civil War. They had a daughter, Anna Petronellia, born 1 April 1865 near Indianapolis. The wife died shortly thereafter. I have found no proof of this marriage in Indiana civil or church records. I have found no grave for Katherine. Her reported maiden name, Stillenbaugh, does not appear in the modern-day German phone book, so I suspect this name has been corrupted by the family through the years.
  2. Thomas and several family members had relocated to Indiana from Kentucky in the early 1860’s. His father Daniel sold land in Madison County, Kentucky in 1863. Daniel disappeared from the record after that. I have not found a grave or any other information about him in Indiana or elsewhere after the land sale. His wife Rebecca was a widow by 1870.
  3. Some of Thomas’ descendants claim he served the Union during the Civil War, enlisting at Louisville, KY. I have not found a service record for him from Kentucky or Indiana.

Over the years I have searched every Indiana record I can find in an effort to learn about Thomas’ first marriage and his Civil War service. I have looked for information on the death of Daniel Sherman which must have occurred during the same time period. Nothing.

I have heavily researched most of the children in the family in an effort to shed light on the lives of Thomas and Daniel. I have a couple of people to go—sisters, Polly, Emily, and Elizabeth. As we all know, searching women’s lives presents quite a challenge. Yet this is the only avenue I have left in my effort to uncover information in the Sherman men in my direct line during the 1860’s.

Divorce Not Found

As I have worked on my Sherman line, I have spent a lot of time chasing down my ancestor Thomas Sherman’s elder brother, Anderson (1832-1910). Because of difficulty in researching such a common surname as Sherman, which the brothers shared with a couple of famous Civil War general officers including one named Thomas, searching for an unusual name combination like “Anderson Sherman” has proven easier than searching for my own Thomas. An added distinguishing bonus is the brothers’ blacksmith profession. Uncovering Anderson’s life has helped me shed light on Thomas’ life.

Yet Anderson has presented me with a conundrum. How did he free himself to marry a second wife?

I have prepared a short timeline of his life to help me sort this out:

  1. 1832—Anderson Sherman born in Bath County, KY.
  2. 1854—Anderson Sherman marries Sarah Jane Prewitt (1838-1907) in Madison County, KY.
  3. 1858—Anderson Sherman resides in Johnson County, IN.
  4. 1860—Anderson Sherman resides in Brown County, IN.
  5. 1863—Anderson and Thomas Sherman register together for the Civil War draft in Johnson County, IN.
  6. 1870—Anderson Sherman works as a blacksmith in Johnson County, IN.
  7. 1874—Anderson Sherman works as a blacksmith in Johnson County, IN.
  8. 1876—Anderson and Sarah Jane’s last child, Minnie, is born in Johnson County, IN.
  9. 1880—Sarah Jane Sherman, widow, lives in Johnson County, IN. Anderson Sherman, widowed, lives in Edgar County, IL. Huh?
  10. 1882—Anderson Sherman marries his brother Jasper’s widow, Armecia, in Edgar County, IL.
  11. 1884—Anderson Sherman of Edgar County, IL applies for a Civil War pension based on his service as a blacksmith.
  12. 1889—Twins Maud and Claud Sherman born to Anderson and Armecia Sherman in IL.
  13. 1900—Anderson Sherman works as a blacksmith in Saline County, MO.
  14. 1910—Anderson Sherman, local blacksmith, dies at Saline County, MO and is buried at Antioch Cemetery in Liberty Township.
  15. 1912—Thomas Sherman’s obituary lists Anderson Sherman of Missouri as a survivor.

Again I ask, how did Anderson and Sarah Jane’s marriage end? He left Indiana sometime between the birth of their youngest child in 1876 and his enumeration on the Illinois census in 1880. His wife held herself out as a widow that year.

At least one person has taken her at her word and built a FindAGrave memorial for Anderson in the Nineveh, IN cemetery showing an 1880 death date. The cemetery has no record of this interment. I suggest that is because he did not die that year, nor was he ever buried there. Sometime before 1880, he left Indiana for Illinois and ultimately Missouri, where he died in 1910.

I thought perhaps Anderson and Sarah Jane actually divorced and simply claimed widowhood to avoid social stigma. Unfortunately, the Johnson County, IN courthouse has no record of such a divorce. So did Anderson simply desert his wife and eight children in Indiana to start a new life in Illinois between 1876 and 1880? I can find no other explanation.

Anderson is not my direct ancestor, so I will not pursue this question any further for the time being. But if any of his descendants (he had eleven children) have an explanation, I would like to hear it.

Sherman Serendipity

I happened upon a treasure the other day. While contemplating the next step in my Sherman family research, for some reason I looked into a desk drawer that I had not opened in a while. There I found a folder marked “Sherman.” I had forgotten all about it.

It contained several Sherman-related documents I have collected over the years. I had tossed them in the folder awaiting a time when I could focus on the Shermans. Surprisingly, some of the papers were documents I had just been considering seeking as a next step in my research. What a find! (not to mention the opportunity to clean out something from the desk drawer).

First I turned my attention to a Civil War Widow’s pension file. It pertains to my ancestor Thomas Sherman’s brother-in-law, John Alvey. I learned the following from this file:

  1. Private John Alvey’s widow Evaline (Thomas’ older sister) filed for a pension in 1867, and she began receiving $8 per month. The pension continued until her death in 1922—a period of 55 years.
  2. The discrepancy on the 1851 Alvey marriage record between her name Evaline Sherman and the recorded name Emeline Shearer was explained as an Estill County, KY scrivener’s error.
  3. Pvt. John Alvey enlisted as a Union volunteer in August, 1862 at Hendersonville, KY. He served in the 8th Kentucky cavalry.
  4. Pvt. John Alvey died of diphtheria in January 1863 in a hospital at Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
  5. When Evaline filed for the pension, both she and two sisters who served as witnesses (Elizabeth Sherman Glover and Gilla Sherman Cobb) had moved from Kentucky to Williamsburgh, Indiana.
  6. Evaline and John Alvey’s only child, Roena, was born December 25, 1852.

Finding this Sherman folder just when I needed it becomes another example of that genealogy serendipity I experience every so often. Other genealogists talk about it, too. It is almost as if our ancestors want to be found, and they nudge us in the right direction. I cannot wait to see what else I find in this long-forgotten folder.