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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.

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