Last week I went to FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, Utah with one main goal – to prove that John Duer (Circa 1803 PA-1885 IN) was the son of Thomas Duer (1775 NJ – 1829 OH). I’ll blog next week about researching in the renovated library but for now, this story is just unbelievable!
I have long wanted to prove that I am a descendant of Patriot John Duer (1748 NJ – 1831 OH). I’ve written two analyses on indirect evidence linking Patriot John to his oldest son, Thomas, who died intestate, and Thomas’s son, John, who was of age when his father died and therefore, not named in probate.
Early on in my research, I was advised to check land records and I did. The problem was that some early deeds for Trumbull County, Ohio are missing. Both Patriot John and Thomas lived next to each other from 1809 until Thomas’s untimely death at age 54 in 1829. Since Thomas died before his father he was not named in his will, however, one of Thomas’s daughter’s husbands was named in Patriot John’s will as receiving land. All of the rest of Patriot John’s children were noted in the will. He had one other child who had predeceased him; for that child, the grandson was named as receiving cash.
In Salt Lake City I was looking at volumes written by Henry Baldwin in the mid-1800s. I found the information I needed to prove that Thomas was the son of Patriot John. The books didn’t help, though, by showing Patriot John’s grandson, John, was Thomas’s son.
I asked several AGs and research specialists for ideas. I had looked for records that included Bibles, Presbyterian Church, cemeteries, obits, probate, wills, deeds, tax records, court records, identifying census tic marks, journals for pioneers/circuit riders, genealogy society records, mug books, and contacting people who had online family trees. One AG recommended checking Masonic Lodge records as he noted that many Presbyterian farmers were members.
FamilySearch has New York Masonic records but not Ohio so I reached out to the Public Library of Youngstown, Ohio, and was referred to Warren County Public Library. I sent an email request noting I was looking to prove a relationship through Masonic records.
The following day I received a wonderful reply – no Mason records but someone once left 4 pages of typed research notes on the family in the surname files. The librarian scanned them for me. Those notes were undated, the library had no idea who had left them or when. I had contacted the library for various help over the years and no one had ever mentioned these 4 pages of notes.
I figured the Masonic records were a long shot but I admit, I was initially disappointed when I looked at the notes. I began reviewing the attachments and on page 3, almost fell out of my chair. The individual who had left the information had abstracted deeds. I had seen every deed at FamilySearch.org but one. The one that was not listed in the index was the one that had named the wife of Thomas and all their children, shown above. It neatly sold land that was mentioned in Patriot John’s will to another of Thomas’s children. The husband of that child sold the land to the named son of Thomas.
I had looked page by page at early deed books but stopped at the end of 1832 as that was when the estates were finalized. I used indexes going forward. This one transaction wasn’t indexed. The land was sold in 1832 but not recorded until 1833.
It never dawned on me to go page by page for the following year AFTER the estates were closed. I could have solved this problem years ago if only I hadn’t relied on the index and remembered that deeds are not always recorded when they were made. Lessons learned!
I finally found the tombstone of my 3rd great-grandfather, John Duer, in Kessler Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio! Last Saturday my husband suggested we drive to Ohio to check out the cemetery in the hopes of finding John’s gravestone.
I’ve blogged many times in the past about my Duer family and the frustration of not being able to find where John was buried. I had probate from Adams County, Indiana so I knew John’s date of death but have never found an obituary and the probate didn’t disclose a burial location.
No memorial was ever made on Findagrave or Billion Graves.
When I lived in Florida my resources were sparse and I didn’t find the information when I went to Salt Lake City in 2015. I contacted organizations in both Adams, Indiana, and Mercer, Ohio but nothing was found. Sue Thomas, a trustee of Kessler Cemetery had sent me records for rows 1-7 and there was a John Duer, but it was the son of the man I was looking for. I wasn’t aware at the time that the records were incomplete.
Fast forward to June 2022 when my husband and I visited the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the 2nd largest genealogy library in the country. I didn’t really think we’d find John’s burial location as the 1st largest genealogy library in the US didn’t have it. I was shocked when I handed my husband a book of Mercer County cemetery inscriptions and he found an entry for Kessler Cemetery, row 15, on the last page of the book that noted “John Duer – unreadable.”
As soon as we had settled into our new home winter hit and I had to wait for spring before I could resume my quest to find John’s burial site. Last Saturday, the snow had melted, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. I had a meeting to attend in the morning so when I arrived home the last thing on my mind was John’s tombstone but my husband thought it was a good day to go look.
The cemetery is in a rural location in Ohio so we had to use coordinates to find it. It is accessible from a county road and surrounded by a field. There is a farmhouse visible to the north and a rooster doing his singing the entire time we spent there.
There are 331 memorials on Findagrave and it’s noted that the cemetery is 92% photographed. Of course, John was one of the 8%! This man left behind a few records so it is fitting.
As soon as my husband turned into the unpaved U-shaped drive I was ecstatic. I immediately spotted my 2nd great-grandparent’s tombstone and another of my 3rd great-grandparent’s tombstones. There were Kables, Kuhns, Bollenbachers, and Duers as far as the eye could see.
I’ve certainly visited many cemeteries over my genealogical career but I have never visited a small family cemetery that belonged to my family. There are no words to describe the feeling of knowing that everyone in this location was my kin. Best of all, I knew their stories. Seeing, touching, and walking among the stones made them real. The documents, stories, and photos I’ve amassed were connected to the individuals lying right below where I stood.
Even my husband got excited, shouting “Look, there’s a Kable, oh, there’s a Kuhn, there’s another Kuhn.” He had heard me speak of these people for over 50 years and now, he too, felt they had become real.
He parked in the field and the hunt was on. It was obvious the older stones were on the south side of the drive so we began there. Several were completely unreadable. I knew from the book that John was buried in row 15 but it was difficult to determine where the rows began as the graves were not dug in lines beginning at the same point. From the records that Sue Thomas had sent me I could tell that Row 1 was where the newest graves were placed. Even counting from there was difficult.
Cold and frustrated, I said aloud, “John Duer, Come on. I’ve been searching for you for years and I’m tired of this. Where are you.” I turned and looked down and there was the stone pictured above. Standing back from and just at an angle, the late afternoon sunlight clearly showed John and 1885, his death year. The rest of the stone was unreadable. Yes, I did thank him!
I was disappointed that I couldn’t read the entirety of the stone as nowhere is John’s birthdate recorded. It appears that it could be calculated from the stone but no longer. My husband, laid upon the grave to get as close a look as possible as the stone is tilted downward.
My husband is not interested in genealogy so his actions spoke volumes to me about how much he understands my passion. Think about this, the ground was damp, it was freezing, and he was lying on my 3rd great-grandfather’s grave to get a better look at me. I told my kids if that isn’t love I don’t know what is.
I had one more mission which was to find his first wife, Jane’s grave. I’ve blogged before about the possible error on her stone giving a death date as 1866. John had married again in December 1864 and had a child with his second wife by 1866. No divorce document has been found. He wasn’t likely a polygamist as he was raised as a Presbyterian. Lastly, Jane’s grave states she was the wife of John Duer. If they had divorced she wouldn’t have been his wife. Interestingly, when his second wife died, she too has the “wife of John Duer” on her stone. He must have been something!
We couldn’t find Jane anywhere and a stiff wind began to blow so we went back to the car to look up Findagrave to see if we could identify background stones to help us find Jane. We then realized we had no cell service. Yep, this cemetery is remote. Husband stuck his phone out of the window and finally, we got a signal. Although there are two photos on Findagrave only one would display and it was the closeup with little info in the background. We got out and looked again.
I was standing catty-corner from John’s grave and my husband was in the last row before the field, about 3 rows from me. John was considered in row 13 and Jane was in row 14 but there was a large space where I was standing with no stones so I turned and immediately was facing Jane. What had happened was Jane’s top stone portion had come loose and it looked like someone had turned it 90 degrees so it was now facing John’s row. In 2007 when the Findagrave photo was taken, the stone was facing south as John’s was. When I was reading stones in row 15 I thought Jane’s stone was just another stone that had become illegible. Instead, I was looking at the back of her stone. I was beyond euphoric at finding her final resting place.
Although I certainly never met her in person, I know that she was a strong woman who used a small inheritance from her father to purchase land in Killibuck, Holmes, Ohio so she could take her garden produce to town to sell. I love her entrepreneurial spirit, unusual for a woman in the 1840s. She lost several children, one as a child, several to the Civil War, and one to a mental illness. The family moved from eastern Ohio to mid-Ohio and finally to the border with Indiana. It must have been difficult leaving her family behind as they moved west.
I’ll be doing many more cemetery visits as the weather warms as I expect you will, too. Don’t give up your search! Your ancestor is out there just waiting to be found.
Before I begin with what I had planned to share today I want to give a shout-out to Nordia, a Customer Service Rep with Ancestry.com. Yesterday afternoon I discovered that, although I was signed on to Ancestry, I could not access complete information when I was researching. Some of the information was a blurry gray and when I clicked to view or save, I would get a pop-up telling me I needed to pay for membership. Umm, I took care of that back on February 4th when I renewed. Evidently, the individual I spoke with did not provide me with a seamless transfer as I had asked. My “gift” membership expired on the 23rd and he began the renewal on the 25th leaving me in limbo on the 24th.
I was in a panic as I had work for a client to do and Nordia saved the day. She canceled the original renewal and re-entered it with the date of the 24th. By the way, if you are using a gift membership, you should get an email with a code. I hadn’t received that.
Personally, I’m not recommending Ancestry gift memberships. In 2021, I renewed that way as there was a Black Friday discount available. So, it was a gift I bought for myself. Ancestry changed its policy in 2022 so there was no gift membership discount for current members. After I received a renewal notice I called to ask if I should continue my membership as a gift or as a regular customer. That gentleman told me it was simpler to keep it as a gift so I did. Apparently, it wasn’t but I do appreciate the quick support and professionalism of Nordia.
Now, for my regular blog. . .
I reviewed the relationship analysis for John as the father of Thomas Duer that I blogged about last week and it struck me that there were two names that I did not have in my family tree – John Piersol and Robert McClelland. Both individuals were named in documents for both John and Thomas Duer. Who were these folks?
I quickly looked at who John Piersol married and discovered it was Anne Morrison. I have a bunch of Morrisons as Jane Morrison married Thomas’s son John Duer. Jane was noted to have received money from the guardian of one of Thomas’s children while her father, John Morrison, served as an appraiser for John Duer’s will.
I knew the names of Jane’s siblings but Anne wasn’t one of them. Was she related? Morrison is a very common name but interestingly, the only male was Jane’s father, John, in any record, I found in Trumbull County, Ohio through 1830. In the 1850 US federal census, Anne reported that she was born in Pennsylvania.
I looked for online public trees on Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, Geneanet, and FindMyPast but did not find one tree that had information about Anne. Now that was startling!
Time to investigate Anne’s husband. I quickly discovered a county history that told his story. Born in Fayette, Pennsylvania, he traveled with his mother and step-father to what is now Bellaire, Ohio but he returned to live in Pennsylvania with an uncle. Hmm, John Duer had sold land that is now in West Virginia and across the Ohio River in Bellaire, Ohio. Did the Duers meet John Piersol on the frontier?
Another county history stated Anne was the daughter of Joseph Morrison of Fayette, Pennsylvania. Again, no public online family trees for Joseph. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t find a public tree for someone I was searching for – I’m thinking it was back in the early 2000s.
John and Anne, as a tic mark, were in Trumbull County, Ohio by 1820 and remained there in the 1830 US federal census. John Piersoll signed as a witness to John Duer’s land purchase in 1826; the other witness was Thomas Duer. After Thomas’s death, Piersoll became the guardian of three of Thomas’s children.
Only identified family members, including in-laws, were involved in court guardianship records. It’s likely that the relationship between Piersol to the Duers was through his wife, Anne. I still have a long way to go but I just might have identified a brother of John Morrison. Love the FAN Club and using Mills’ Identity Triangulation method. Best of all, this took less than an hour to discover.
My long-time readers know my obsession with the Duer family. I’ve been good, though, and haven’t blogged about them in almost two years. Honestly, I have not researched their lines since the pandemic was full throttle.
Last month I watched a Legacy Family Tree presentation by Elizabeth Shown Mills who is, lucky for us, back from retirement. The lecture gave numerous ideas on how to problem-solve using “trivial details.” A comment she made resonated with me; there are going to be times that we will NEVER find a document that clearly establishes a relationship.
I’m one of those genealogists that believe that somewhere, somehow, that long-sought record will unveil itself and leave me with a happy ending. Too many Disney movies, I guess! The lecture made me come to my senses. It was time for me to resurrect, review, and re-analyze all of my Duer findings and move toward a conclusion.
Briefly, my 5th great grandfather, John Duer (1748-1831), died after my 4th great grandfather, Thomas Duer (1775-1829) so Thomas and his family were omitted from John’s will. Another daughter of John’s who had died early was also omitted, however, her only son was named in John’s will. None of Thomas’ children were named. Thomas had died intestate (of course). The family originated in New Jersey; only one document there ties John and Thomas together but doesn’t state a relationship. That document was both men witnessing a will for a neighbor.
John is found in a deed in what is now West Virginia. He made the purchase in 1792 but didn’t move until about 1797. By 1805 he was in Trumbull County, Ohio. As was Thomas. There is no deed for either John or Thomas in the early years in Ohio but they are on tax lists, next to each other. Property maps show them residing next to one another.
And that is all I have. Not!
Using what Mills discussed, I pulled out every document I had for both men and created a different timeline than I had previously done. This time I made 5 headings – Date, Event, Place, Source(s), and Name. I began with the earliest records I had for John. Some of the sources, I’ll admit, are stinky like this for birth – http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/b/e/a/Scott-C-Beal/GENE4-0004.html (no source) – though I recorded each as together, clues are provided. In the Name column, I recorded who was named in the record. The few that showed John and Thomas together I highlighted in pale green. I then went through Thomas’s records and fit them into the same timeline in chronological order. This is where I realized there were many more connections between the two men – guardianship of Thomas’ children, land sales among the surviving family members, and religious affiliation. I highlighted those in pale orange. Yes, it is an ugly color scheme but it does stand out.
I then wrote 9 pages of relationship proof. It also includes DNA. My plan is to share this with colleagues over the next few weeks for their insight. Possibly, I’ll be publishing it, too. I may even approach a lineage society and complete an application.
My husband remarked, “So, you’re now done with the Duers.” I thought, “Is one ever done with a line?” You know the answer. No, in analyzing the John-Thomas information I noticed some very interesting (to me!) nuances. I decided to take on a major Duer surname study of the New York, Antigua, and possibly Connecticut lines in the hope of identifying their shared relative. Clearly, they all had a shared relationship both in the Caribbean and in the Colonies. It also involves John Duer’s maternal grandfather, Daniel Hollingshead, who I have written extensively about. During the pandemic, I was able to find how Daniel, a Presbyterian, was related to the Quaker line. I was unable to understand his relationships with the New York Duers who married into the Alexander family, as Daniel did, but those Alexander families don’t seem to connect, either. It is a convoluted mess! As you can see by the tree shown at the top of the page, every generation of every line has a John, Thomas, William, and Daniel. And, they intermarry. And, they don’t leave a lot of records. And researchers confuse them, particularly the Ohio and Pennsylvania John’s Revolutionary War Service. It’s going to be fun to sort this all out so look forward to more blogs about my Duer Dilemma!
It’s been a slow genealogy week for me. One of our computers is down and another is acting wonky – freezes and shuts itself off. Since I’m still holed up at home this greatly impacts my genealogical research.
Last week I blogged about my 3rd great grandmother Jane Morrison Duer who was mostly forgotten by her children and I was seeking to discover why. I suspected that discovering the divorce documents may shed light on this mystery.
Jane married John Duer in Trumbull County, Ohio on 29 Jul 1827. The couple had 11 children together and relocated to Holmes County and later, Mercer County, Ohio. They are last found together in the 1860 US Federal census with their youngest children residing in a residence two units away from their oldest surviving married daughter, Maria Duer Kuhn.
John remarried widow Margaret Martz Searight in Mercer County on 11 December 1864. John was raised a Presbyterian so there most likely is a divorce document somewhere. In other words, I doubt he was a polygamist.
I suspect he asked for the divorce because Jane’s tombstone in Kessler Cemetery records her as “wife of John Duer.” But she wasn’t that at the time of her death, 10 July 1866.
When the second wife died, her tombstone, also in Kessler Cemetery, records her as the “wife of John Duer.” She actually was the widow of by the time of her death but she was also the widow of her first husband. I suspect that her children purposely engraved the stone to reflect what was on Jane’s.
No tombstone has been found for John. Family legend says he’s buried next to Jane, which is possible but unconfirmed because Kessler’s records are incomplete. There is a sunken space next to Jane that likely is a burial but who is in that space is unknown. Second wife is buried in another section of the cemetery and there are marked stones on both side of her so that is not where John lies.
I was hoping to find the divorce document to get a better understanding of the circumstances. I guessed that John asked for divorce; I reasoned Jane would not have wanted all eternity to be known as his wife if she had wanted out of the relationship. She did not remarry so likely was not involved in another relationship.
I did not think finding the divorce document would be difficult but is has proven to be. In Mercer County, the Common Plea Court holds divorce records and they are not available online. I wrote to the Clerk and was informed that a search was made between 1860-1866 and no divorce record was found.
I then thought that perhaps the divorce was granted in Adams County, Indiana where John had purchased property in June 1860 when he was still married to Jane and where he eventually resided. He was shown with his second wife, their children, a child from her first marriage and two children from his first marriage in Adams in the 1870 census.
In March and May1863, John sued in Common Plea Court in Mercer for money owed him in the sale of property he had made in November 1862. Jane was not mentioned in the court document so it’s likely that she was not on the deed.
Why he remarried in Mercer and not Adams is another mystery.
I reached out to Adams County this week and was informed yesterday they have no divorce record.
So, do I give up. NOPE! I did ask both Mercer and Adams County Clerks where I might look and neither answered that question. My next step was to email a genealogist who lives in the Mercer area for recommendations.
Why was Jane Morrison Duer divorced from her husband John after about 37 years of marriage and eleven children together? Jane followed John from her native Trumbull County, Ohio to Killbuck Township, Holmes, Ohio and on to Mercer County, Ohio over their long years together. What would cause the relationship to end? I have a working hypothesis but no proof. This was a family most likely stressed by societal and personal crises.
Of the 11 children, 5 predeceased Jane. The couple’s first child, a female, died between 1830-1840. We only know of her existence from the 1830 census record’s tick mark that she was in the age group as being “under 5.” No grave has been discovered for her so she remains nameless.
The next child, William, was certified as insane at age 23 in Holmes County and sent to the Ohio Lunatic Asylum. There are only two other records found for William. In the first, he was listed in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census as an insane laborer, age 30, residing in the asylum in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. That is correct but his birth in Germany is not. That’s interesting to note as his sister and several siblings did marry into the Kuhn family that were immigrants from Germany. Maria, William’s oldest surviving sister, had her birth place listed in error as Germany on her death record provided by her son. William and Maria most likely were born in Trumbull County, Ohio before the family relocated to Holmes County in the late 1930’s.
The second document is a notice in the newspaper, the Holmes County Farmer, on 14 March 1861 recommending that community members write to him and the 7 other “inmates.” I infer he must have been the longest committed as his name appears first. Although alphabetically his surname would be recorded first the others listed are not in alpha order. The article states that “some of these poor unfortunates are supposed to be incurable.” Most of his family had moved on to Mercer County, Ohio by the time the clip was published. No death date has ever been found for William so I suspect he died at the asylum. I am waiting for the organization that holds the records to reopen as they are closed due to the pandemic.
Next oldest son, Thomas Ayers, relocated to Winterset, Madison, Iowa by 1860, enlisted in the Civil War and died unmarried and likely childless of Febris Typhoides on 5 May 1862 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Daughter Maria wed Henry Kuhn and the couple lived two residences away from Jane and John in 1860. Henry enlisted in the Civil war, leaving Maria to raise their young children. During this time period, John and Jane divorced. Although no record has been found, John remarried in 1864, two years prior to Jane’s death. John relocated with his second wife to Adams County, Indiana where he had two deeds for land. Neither deed had then wife Jane’s name on them. When John died, Maria is not named in his will. Maria’s death certificate names both of her parents.
Son John B. had married first in 1860 but his wife Keziah died a few months after the marriage. He then married Carolina, one of the sibling of Maria’s husband, in 1863 and moved across the state line to farm in Adams County, Indiana. He seems to have had a falling out with his father as like Maria, he is not named in John’s will, even though he was residing in the same county as his father. Marriage records found do not name John B.’s parents. No death certificate for him as been located.
Mary Ann was found living with John and his second wife in 1870, however, she also was not named in his will. She may have had a falling out with her sister Maria as shortly after mother Jane’s death in July 1866, Mary Ann took Adam Kuhn, Maria’s brother-in-law, to court in Mercer County. Pregnant with Adam’s child, the unmarried couple could not agree on a financial settlement. Adam, in December 1866, was jailed by Jacob Baker, who married my 3rd great aunt, Caroline Bollenbacher, as Adam refused surety.
Sister Maria and her husband Henry was close to Adam as evidenced by their naming their son, born in February 1866, after him.
Mary Ann and Adam’s child must not have survived as there is no further court records of payment. He married an Elizabeth or Catharin Harper in Van Wert, Ohio 16 January 1868 and went on to have 5 daughters before dying at age 44, possibly due to injuries sustained during the Civil War when he fought in Union Company F, 99th Ohio Infantry.
Mary Ann married first, James Furman in 1875 who must have died shortly after the marriage as she married second John L. Ceraldo in 1879. John’s first wife had probably died as the child, Daniel, shown living with Mary Ann and John in 1880 would have been too old to have been theirs together. No record is ever found again of the boy who is presumed to have died. Mary died in 1909 in Michigan; her husband named John Duer as her father but her mother’s name was unknown. Although she had married after Jane’s death, why would she have not informed her husband in their 30 years of marriage what her mother’s name had been? Like Maria and John B., Mary Ann was not named in her father’s will.
Son Prosser remained in Holmes County, Ohio after the rest of the family relocated to Mercer County. He enlisted in the Civil War and died at Stones River, Tennessee on 2 January 1863. He did not marry or have any known children.
Daughter Sarah Jane married another sibling of Maria’s husband, Phillip, in 1870, four years after Jane had died. Sarah was also not named in her father’s will. Although she died in 1920, no death certificate or obituary has been found for her.
Son Mark Duer disappears from records after being found in 1850 with the family in Holmes, Ohio. He likely died there but no burial location has been found.
Son James William was found living with John and his second wife in Adams, Indiana in 1870 yet he, too, was not named in John’s will. When James wed in 1887 he named his mother as Sarah J. Marisum sic Morrison. James would have been 18 years old when his mother Mary J[ane] died. How did he not remember her name? Perhaps because she was called by her middle name and he thought of his sister Sarah and not Mary as having the first name as his mother. He spent the rest of his life living in Adams County where he was killed in a bike accident. He death certificate names his father as John but the mother was listed as unknown. It was completed by his son, Elra Leroy. Elra was born 6 years after his grandfather John had died. How did he remember John’s name but not the name of his grandmother Jane?
Youngest child, Angeline, was named in her father’s will. She is the only child of John and Jane’s to be named. She was living with him and his second wife in 1870. She married in 1874 and remained in Adams, Indiana until her death in 1933. Like her siblings, her father John is named on her death certificate. Her mother is recorded as Catharine, born in Ohio. The information was provided by Angeline’s daughter, Effie. Effie probably remembered her grandfather as she would have been 9 years old and living in the same area as him when he died. Where Effie came up with her grandmother’s name as Catherine is unknown as there is no Catherines in the family; her paternal grandmother’s name was Nancy.
Jane is buried in Kessler Cemetery and according to the trustees, the records are incomplete. They do not show who purchased the plot or if her husband John is buried next to her as family lore claims. There is a sunken area that appears to be burial next to Jane but records do not exist to state who is interred there. There is no tombstone. John’s second wife was buried in Kessler but in a different location. John is not buried on either side of his second wife. What is obvious is Jane’s tombstone that is boldly engraved “wife of John Duer” even though she wasn’t at the time of her death.
I suspect daughter Maria purchased the headstone as she was the only child still residing in Mercer County at the time of Jane’s death that had the means to afford it. Maria’s husband was a prosperous farmer and active in the community. In my opinion, Maria wanted the legitimacy of the first marriage noted for eternity.
It’s likely that Margaret’s children paid for her tombstone and wanted to show the world they, too, were legitimate so also engraved their mother as the wife of John.
The year 1866 must have been a tremendously difficult time for Maria. She had 5 children age 7 and under, her parents had recently divorced, her father remarried, her husband was away fighting for the Union in the Civil War, she has a brother that was committed to an insane asylum, 5 deceased siblings and her sister files a bastardly charge against her brother-in-law. What a mess!
But my underlying question is why did Jane and John’s children not hand down their mother’s name to their spouses/children?
Perhaps the state of the union, along with the loss of so many children caused Jane to suffer from the same melancholy as her son, William. John may have abandoned Jane for a new relationship with the widow who owned property close to his newly purchased land across the state lines in Indiana.
I believe Jane was forgotten by her adult children because it was too painful to remember those difficult times. They did not want to inform their children of their mother’s and brother’s mental state. No family member I have reached out to was aware of Williams insanity commitment. The family just didn’t speak about painful situations.
Last week I received a call from a clerk with the Mercer Ohio Common Plea Court. She had searched for a divorce record for John and Jane between 1860 and 1866. None was found. Perhaps John abandoned Jane and the paperwork was filed in Adams County, Indiana where I’ll be searching next. It’s possible that single document may help me better understand the straw that was the backbreaker of the relationship. The search continues!
Last week I blogged about my strange experience looking for my Hollingshead family going from England to Barbados to Pennsylvania/New Jersey. I was desperately searching for a document to show proof that my ancestor, Daniel, was the individual in all of those locations. Some odd happening occurred – a dream, an undelivered email, an internet site popping up after the electricity had been turned off – put me back on track. Here’s what happened this week… Although the member of my local genealogy association that I had reached out to for help in connecting with a presenter’s email was returned as undeliverable, I used the same email address and reached the person I was seeking a few minutes later. She responded she was unavailable but when get back with me soon. I’ve signed up for a British seminar online that I found by “looking small” as instructed in my dream. It’s scheduled for Friday and I’m eagerly awaiting it. Being impatient, I had a hunch that the dream meant more than just the upcoming lecture. I don’t know why I did the following, but I did and I’m glad of that. I decided to check Ancestry.com hints for Daniel. I don’t use the hint option very often. I do sometimes if I’m starting a new search for a client but for my own tree, not so much. In case you aren’t aware, your Ancestry hints never really leave you. If you click “Ignore” that isn’t the same as delete – which isn’t an option. When you Ignore, it simply goes to the Hint section and is placed under that heading. The other categories are Undecided and Accepted. Accepted hints are all those that are showing in your Facts section, Undecided are those you can’t make up your mind about after you’ve reviewed it. In my Undecided section, I had about 15 hints and most were completely wrong – wrong locations (like Ohio and I was searching before there was even an Ohio territory), wrong time period (like the 1900’s and I needed 1600-1700’s), or wrong names (like Hollins). There were 2 interesting hints, however, that I clicked on and both were from a DNA relative I’ve corresponded with in the past. I trust her work and she always uses citations! The hints were notes she had taken from old texts she had found in her local library. Lucky lady, she lives close to an awesome research library.. I wanted to find the original books to check her notes so I did a Google book search (on Google, click the “Other” box and then click “Books” is the easiest to find and lo and behold, this is what I discovered:
Alfred Mathews. History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: R. T. Peck & Co,1886, p. 1156.
Even though this is exactly what I’m looking for regarding the route of immigration, there is no proof, other than that Stroud J. Hollinshead, a likely descendant, shared the info for his personal biographical sketch. Sigh! He even got some of the facts wrong. The second paragraph is a hot mess; How could Daniel, the first ancestor, be killed at the Battle of Blenheim and then hold public office in Sussex County, New Jersey? Quite a feat, I say. The date of birth is off by a few years. Didn’t mention the first wife, Ann Alexander, from whom I’m descended but does mention their child, Mary, as the daughter of the second wife, Thomasin. Mary married a Duer; according to this bio, so did Mary’s stepmom after the death of Daniel. Hmm, but something isn’t quite correct there, either. Thomasin was a female and the information states she married a Jane Deuer. I suspect they meant John as this would have been the early 1700’s. Then I found the following interesting story:
Rev. John C. Rankin, DD. The Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge, NJ. Jersey City: John H. Lyon, 1872., p.7.
I knew Daniel was flipping property but I didn’t know that he had sold to a James Alexander of New York. That peaked my interest as his first wife was an Alexander and I’ve not been successful in locating her family. So I read up on James Alexander and Lord Stirling. The family liked to hide among other Alexander families in Ireland and France where they fled after picking the wrong political side in Scotland. Scholars haven’t been able to sort through all the stories the family told in the documentation they left behind of who was related to whom as the same individual’s tales changed from time to time. Then, there’s the whole timely topic of race relationships. Lord Stirling made his money partially from the slave trade while father James was alive and didn’t object. My Daniel, however, appeared to have not been in favor of slavery. He brought a slave family with him to New Jersey but it appears there was manumision. I told myself (no proof here!) that Daniel was empathetic as he was purportedly an indentured servant, though others felt this showed he was of the Quaker faith. Yet, as I learned more about James Alexander, I discovered that Daniel’s second wife Thomasin left several slaves to her children when she died so the couple may not have the same shared beliefs or, I’m completely wrong about Daniel. More research definitely needed. The Presbyterian Church reference provides another important clue. Some believe that Daniel was Quaker but I’ve found nothing to support that. He and his children were baptized in the Church of England in England and Barbados, Some of the Alexander land was later donated to the Presbyterian Church. That’s not surprising since James was a Scott and probably of that faith. Further reading informed me there were no Quakers in the the area when Daniel relocated there. If he had been a devout Quaker, he would have likely settled in Bucks County, Pennsylvania as the Duer’s initially did. This would explain why I’ve never found a Quaker record for Daniel. Although all of this is interesting to my research, the last weird occurrence happened while I was reading online. My husband and I share an office and he decided he was going to clean his workspace. He is a piler and I’m a filer – he has piles everywhere and I have everything sorted in a variety of devices (handing file folders, in/out baskets, file cabinets, tubs in folders, etc.). As I was deeply involved in an old text my husband said, “Is this yours?” He was holding a CD. I haven’t used CD’s in I don’t know how long so I shook my head no. “Should I toss it?” he asked. “What’s on it?” I replied. “The theme song of Pirates of the Caribbean.” I thought he was kidding me. “Yeah, right.” I said. “Seriously,” he replied. He thought I had recorded it to help me with my search. (Photo above – you can see it’s scratched so it’s not new.) Nope, wasn’t I but somewhere in the great beyond there’s a tech savvy spirit with a sense of humor who is helping me along. Keep it coming!
Last week I blogged about obtaining school records to help identify parentage. This week I’m thinking in reverse; say I know the parents names but I don’t know the children’s names. Where to look if census records aren’t available? Try church records.
Now wait, before you stop reading because you don’t know if the family was affiliated with a church, I’m going to tell you some tricks to discover that information.
First look at the marriage license to see if there was a minister named. You might get lucky and the church address was also recorded. In that case, see if the church is still the same denomination and contact them.
If you aren’t able to identify a church, then take the minister’s name and try to identify his religious affiliation from the previous census. When researching a local family, I was able to look at the 1945 Florida State census to find the minister and his address. Using property records, I could tell the denomination of the church he was affiliated with then – it was Baptist. The marriage record from 1946 was in Tampa so it was probable that the family had married in that particular Baptist church. They had records and I was able to confirm the marriage occurred at that site and several children, named, were inducted in the Cradle Club.
This works, too, even if you’re looking for much older records for an elusive family. If this was in the time of circuit riders, do a Google search to see if the minister named on the marriage license denomination shows up, then identify where those records may have been kept. For example, I’m always interested in finding information about my Duer family living in what is now Ohio. I was able to determine they were Presbyterian (after leaving the Quaker denomination). I know where the circuit rider records are kept but they are not yet digitized or indexed so someday I’ll be visiting the repository to check them out.
I’ve blogged in the past about obtaining a transcription of a diary written by one of my husband’s 3rd great aunts (yes, I extend searches to distant family – you never know what you’ll find and it’s usually awesome). Mary Ann Eyster Johnson died in 1905 and descendant’s of her husband (they had no children) donated her diary to her rural church in St. Joseph County, Indiana. While researching Mary Ann’s sister, Sara, in the hopes of identifying all of their children, I located Mary Ann’s diary and happily found she had recorded all of Sara’s children’s birth dates and in most cases, times. This was long before birth certificates were available.
My recommendation is always check out church records and if possible, go in person and bring chocolate. It’s always worked for me!
I have blogged extensively about my mysterious Duer family that I connect with DNAwise but can’t prove a firm document relationship between son Thomas, who died in 1829 and his purported father, John, who died in 1831. Thomas’ family lived next to John in Trumbull County, Ohio but none of Thomas’ children were mentioned in John’s will. John’s will only mentioned 1 grandchild and named all of his other living children. The 1 grandchild was the son of his deceased daughter and was easily recognizable by his last name, Hazen.
I’ve theorized that none of Thomas’ children were named because Thomas had already been given an “inheritance” of land adjoining John’s. I also thought John might have been slightly put off by Thomas’ widow, Hannah, quickly remarrying another neighbor who was a widower, James Preston. That marriage didn’t seem to last as both Hannah and James can be found in 1840 living with their adult children.
The land that Thomas lived on remained with one of his son’s until the mid-1800’s when he sold it to what I believe would have been a cousin who had come to own John’s property. Of course, there was nothing to show the connection between the two listed in the deed transaction so I can’t prove that relationship, either.
I’ve been told repeatedly to give up the search but I will admit I’m obsessed with this line. So, every few months, I recheck to see if any new records are uploaded, a new DNA match can be found that might hold the key in their basement or attic, or a donation is made to an archive in the areas the family lived where someone drops off records that will be the proof I need.
Yes, I already have DNA proof. There have been several descendants of John’s children who have tested and we all relate but I want a document! Or do I?
Last month, I found 2 documents online that gave me promise. I was hoping they would lead me to the smoking gun record; this is what I discovered posted on Ancestry with no citation:
Although I found this posting just two days after it was done, when I reached out to the poster, her response was she couldn’t remember where she found it and would get back with me. I love her dearly because she wrote back the next day and said she found it from another Ancestry poster named John Shivers. She though it came from Revolutionary War Patriots from Ohio. She gave me a link to an archive in Ohio but they didn’t have it.
I found a John Shivers on Ancestry and emailed him but he hadn’t been online in over a year so I wasn’t hopeful I would get a response. I wasn’t even sure he was the John Shivers that originally posted it as I couldn’t access the private tree.
Then I reached out to a colleague in my locale who is a member of the Trumbull County Genealogical Society to see if he could check the membership roster and give me contact info for John Shivers. There was no info but he sent me a new member who was interested in the Duers. I emailed them but the email address wasn’t working.
I then searched Worldcat and Google for the title but only found a SAR pdf that wouldn’t open.
Going to the national SAR website, I found no new info; the Ancestor # 150827 is the number assigned by that organization so I decided to reach out to the Mahoning County, Ohio Chapter hoping that they might have a file with the relationship I was seeking that wasn’t submitted to national.
The local chapter’s website is under construction. Their Facebook page has no contact info. I reached out to a Trumbull County local who had given me info several years ago – she had tripped over Thomas’ fallen gravestone when she was conducting a cemetery clean up and loves to kid me that he almost killed her. She found two email addresses for local SAR members.
I emailed both. One never responded. The other said he’s no longer in that area so isn’t a member but he kindly forwarded my query to the current president. The president said the chapter reactivated 4 years ago and has no old files in their possession (who knows what happened to that stuff!?) so he forwarded my email to the organization’s state genealogist. That gentleman gave me the heartbreaking news – the real citation is from Roster of Revolutionary War soldiers buried in Ohio. Wilbur R. Branthoover, compiler. Veterans Affairs, Ohio. Reprinted by OHSDAR. 1929.
The SAR doesn’t even use it any longer because the info has been found to be incorrect. That is true – my John Duer who is buried in Ohio served in New Jersey and not Pennsylvania, that was my John’s cousin also named John.
So, another dead end here. Then I found another posting that stated that Thomas had been in the War of 1812. That was news to me as I had checked online and in the National Archives and could never find him involved in that conflict. The posting had a citation (hurray!) and when I followed up this is what I found:
It was a John Duer and not Thomas that served. Someone had misindexed and then hadn’t checked the original source. And the John named to have served in the War of 1812 was my John’s grandson but not descended from Thomas. You have to laugh at this – I discovered the mistake on November 2, 2019, 107 years to the day that this cousin John left the service.
Yes, I’m deeply disappointed that the newly found leads led to nothing but I’m not giving up. Several people have told me that I’m never going to find what I’m looking for but I don’t agree. I’m thinking boots on the ground might be my next action. Unfortunately, that will have to wait a while.
In the meantime, I’m moving on to other lines. Oh, Duers, why doth disappoint me so?
The universe has made some odd Duer connections for me lately and I just have to share!
For my new readers, I’ve been enamored with my Duer lines for the past several years after I received an out of the blue email from a Duer genealogist who informed me I had wrongly recorded the surname as Dure in my Ancestry.com tree. Edgar sent me an electronic version of his work which went back generations and within two weeks, he died. The good news was that he got the information out before he passed; the bad news was I could never ask him questions or collaborate on further research with him. The odd thing about that email was that it did not go through Ancestry but Edgar had somehow gotten my personal email. I never learned how he tracked me down. It also was received at a time I was extremely busy with family matters that strengthened the Duer connection.
The weirdest occurrence at the time I received the information was to discover one of my children had followed the same path as the Gateway ancestors. My child had spent a college term in Cambridge, England, decided to live in Grenada, West Indies upon graduation and then relocated to Morristown, New Jersey. Seriously, who follows that migration? Apparently, others in my family.
The Gateway ancestor, Thomas Duer, had married Mary Ann Hollingshead who had been born in the West Indies and with her father, relocated to Sussex County, New Jersey. Her parents were from Great Britain, as were Thomas’. My child was following the same immigration routes as her ancestors 250 years before. The problem was I only had 2 weeks to research as the dear child was once again relocating and I would have no reason (or place to stay for cheap) in Morristown. During breaks in the packing, I’d planned to visit the library which contained the oldest remaining records of the area. The night before my arrival, there was a gas explosion and the library was off limits. I was beyond disappointed. I did check out several other research facilities around the area but discovered nothing. (And yes, I did make a trip back later to visit the library when it reopened and I mined it for some small tidbits of info.)
Although researching in the Sussex County area had been disappointing I found another way to gather information. Edgar had not made his work public which I promptly did and that has opened the universe to many connections that have enabled me to put together the family’s dynamics over centuries. To me, it’s a very interesting family who never backed down from their beliefs which were way ahead of the society in which they lived. That character strength led to records, mainly court, which have been fascinating to read.
For the past 2 years I’ve been trying to connect Revolutionary War Patriot John Duer to his son, Thomas. Thomas died intestate before John so he wasn’t named in John’s will. Records from New Jersey are scant but last month I did find a document through FamilySearch.org that placed John, his wife, Susannah, and Thomas, all in the same place at the same time in Sussex. They had witnessed a will of a widow of the town’s physician. I learned that Susannah was illiterate, John had wonderful handwriting and Thomas, not so much. Thomas would have been 18, of legal age to testify in court that he had witnessed the widow’s wishes.
The record I wished to view was only available at a Family History Library so I trekked to one, accessed the microfilm, and promptly saved it to a thumb drive. I checked the thumb drive before I left the facility. All good. Until I got home and tried to open it. I can’t explain why but only half of the first page of the will was visible and it was the part that didn’t have the Duer signatures. The facility was now closed and wouldn’t reopen until the following week so I sought out another library location. My husband offered to go as it was quite a drive. We made it through a violent rain storm and I again found the record quickly (thanks to clearly writing the citation down) and triple checked that the document was saved intact. This time, I was successful. It seems I must work extra hard on this line to move forward!
I know from land records that the family relocated to what is now West Virginia/southern Ohio shortly after the will was written. I’m still trying to hunt down those deeds. I have found 2 clues to their existence but have been unable to locate the exact location. I decided to spend the summer working on that project.
I began by reading up on various companies that sold land during the late 18th century in the U.S. and track down where the land grant records were held. John is not listed in Bounty Land records held by the government so I decided to pursue private collections, such as the Ohio Company, whose records reside at Marietta College.
I got a beep on my phone that an email had come through so I checked as I was anticipating a response from Marietta College. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to have received 3 photos of the grave of Thomas. I had placed a request on Find-A-Grave and Billion Graves several years ago but no one picked it up, probably because the cemetery is so remote. The sender was a gentleman I had met once at a local to me genealogy meeting. In the twisted Duer way I discover information about the family, I had signed in and put my current area of research was Trumbull County. At the conclusion of the program about Cuban genealogy, the gentleman asked who I was. I waved and he said he wanted to have a word with me. After the meeting concluded he informed me that he was from Trumbull County, Ohio and he had never met anyone else in our area that was researching that location. We exchanged contact info and I asked him if he knew of anyone I could reach out to to obtain a picture of the gravestone. He said he would try his friend. I was not surprised when a week later he told me his friend had become ill and would not be able to visit the cemetery. So again, out of the blue, nearly two years after we met, the gentleman, also named Ed, remembered my request while visiting the area and surprised me with the photos.
I decided to share them with the only other person I had ever connected with who has Trumbull County roots – a former genealogy society member who still lives in that area but due to age, can no longer drive. I forwarded the pictures to her because when we first connected two years ago, she told me that Thomas had almost killed her. I was understandably confused since he died in 1829 and she was still alive but she went on to explain that she was doing a cemetery clean up and had tripped and fallen over his stone. She and other genealogy society members had righted and replaced it.
A few days went by and while I was outside speaking with the house painter I had hired, my cell rang. I excused myself as I saw the area code was from Trumbull County. Sure enough, it was the dear woman who had righted Thomas’ gravestone and we talked about my latest findings and where I was headed with the research. Hanging up, I explained to my painter how excited I was to receive the photos and to collaborate with someone so knowledgeable who lived in the area I was researching. The painter, who had gone to high school with one of my children, asked where I was researching. When I told him he laughed and informed me that his family had first emigrated from Greece to Trumbull County and he had spent the last 10 years living in the area as he still has family there who are bridge painters.
I was speechless. The universe was clearly making connections and the discovery was in my own backyard. Very weird! Even stranger, I had planned to visit Cuba for the first time 3 days later. I had only attended the local genealogy meeting where I met Ed because I wanted information in preparation for a trip to Cuba. We had had a tropical storm the previous day of that meeting and I debated whether I should drive across bridges to get there as the wind was still strong. At the end, the genealogy bug won and I made the trip. I’m so glad I did!
Patience is a virtue I have trouble possessing. Maybe that’s the lesson the universe is trying to teach me. The Duer seeds were planted a few years ago and the universe, in its own time, are maturing them and now I’m reaping the fruits. I can’t wait for the final harvest – that missing document that clearly shows that Thomas is the son of John. People have told me repeatedly I won’t find it but I believe it’s out there somewhere. The search continues.