Sunday, November 29, 2015

Census Sunday: 1800 half page "missing" from New Windsor, New York

Jean M. Hoffman, CG

The town of New Windsor in Orange County, New York, was home to my ancestor Moses Nichols from 1798. His brother Samuel Nichols also lived there as did neighbors David Wright and John Wright. The four of them and other neighbors were enumerated on the bottom half of a census page the top of which contains the last names in the town of Newburgh.

Indexes at all five of the online sites* I tried show these men as being in Newburgh. The browse function does not return the page for New Windsor. I did enter alternate residence data for those four men at, but they might still appear "missing" to other researchers. Here's the page:
1800 U.S. census, Orange County, New York, New Windsor [mis-indexed as Newburgh], p. 284, line 11286 for John Wright and 11287 for David Wright, line 11296 for Samuel Nichols and line 11297 for Moses Nichols; digital images, ( : accessed 17 August 2009); citing NARA M32, roll 21.

*Sites consulted:, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, NEHGS American Ancestors, and HeritageQuest (but HQ is now just Ancestry index and images.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

More Wright Family of New Windsor, New York

Jean M. Hoffman, CG

The father of Mary, second wife of Moses Nichols of New Windsor, Orange County, New York, could be the David Wright of whom I've written. [1] Looking for evidence of a connection requires examining more of the records from David Wright and his associates.

Two accounts emerge from descendants of different alleged sons.

  1. Three related DAR applications claim patriot ancestor David Wright of New Windsor who served in the Second Ulster Regiment. Their descent is through a son Benjamin who allegedly died in 1820 and his wife Jane Gregg. The applications state that David died in 1833 in New Windsor. Benjamin was born about 1774, his mother wife #2, Margaret Woodhull. The record copy of the last application refers to family records, but there appear to be no supporting documents filed with it. [2]
  2. Descendants of a son John wrote up research results. They are reflected in a 1987 compilation. [3] The compiler has provided me with a copy of the 14-page typescript Francis Wright and Maude E. (White) Cleghorn produced. They indicate David Wright of New Windsor was from Hempstead, then Queens County, on Long Island. Census records for David in New Windsor in 1800, 1810, and 1830 were not located somehow, just 1790 and 1820. One conclusion was that David moved after 1823 to live with a son, Nathaniel, in Warwick, another town in Orange County. Conversely, on another page is the suggestion that Nathaniel returned to New Windsor to care for his elderly parent. The latter could be correct, but David Wright, age 80 through 89, has a household of himself and a female not quite as old, age sixty through sixty-nine, and no others in 1830. [4]

An important document referenced in #2 above is a deed from David Wright, carpenter, and his wife Mary of New Windsor in 1783 selling land in Hempstead to Nathaniel and Samuel Wright of Hempstead. One of the witnesses was a Benjamin Wright. The deed was recorded in 1799. I need to find a copy of this deed! The 1785 will of this Nathaniel Wright refers to a brother David Wright. [5]

Missing in any of this research or my own had been records of purchases of land in New Windsor or distribution of it following David's death. Because New Windsor was transferred to Orange County from Ulster County in 1798, I checked deeds in Ulster County. Two pertinent deeds were recorded there.

In 1774 Benjamin Wright, a house carpenter of Hempstead, Long Island, purchased two parcels in New Windsor from Reuben Weed and his wife Martha. The deed was recorded at the request of Mr. Benjamin Wright in 1787. [6]

In 1791, seventeen years later, David Wright and his wife Mary sold to John Wright, all of New Windsor, one of the parcels and part of the other purchased in 1774 by Benjamin Wright. The deed provides no insight on David's acquisition of title to the land. [7] A common reason for an unrecorded transfer is inheritance. Could David be a son of Benjamin? If so, what relation is John Wright?

Records in Hempstead, especially the eight-volume published town records, show several generations of Wrights in that location. [8] More research here might be worthwhile and David Wright's 1783 deed is needed. I have created a timeline for all Wright surname events I've found connected to New Windsor. One for Hempstead may be needed as well.

Still, this sheds no new light on the disposition of David's land after his death. Orange County deed indexes need to be followed further into the 1800s in hopes of finding a link to his heirs.


  1. Jean M. Hoffman, Wright blog posts on Bluegrass and Buckeye Roots: “Finding Mr. Wright?” ( : 20 May 2011); “Mystery Monday: Still No Mr. Wright ( : 20 June 2011); and “David Wright may be Mary's 'Mr. Wright'” ( : 30 July 2012).
  2. Membership application, Mirbell Shirey Pairan, National no. 226286, on David Wright (1745-1883, New York), approved 1926 or after; National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Office of the Registrar General, Washington, DC; digital images, Daughters of the American Revolution ( : purchased 28 August 2012).
  3. Douglas Wright Cruger, A Genealogical Dictionary of Wright Families in the Lower Hudson Valley to 1800 (Bowie, Md: Heritage Press, 1987), 25.
  4. Francis Wright and Maude E. White Cleghorn, “Wrights of Long Island,” 14-page typescript of now unknown origin, photocopy provided to the author by Douglas W. Cruger, 2015; citing a deed from David Wright and wife Mary to Nathaniel and Samuel Wright (1783, recorded 1799) presumably in Queens County, NY. Regarding U.S. census records, the 1800 and 1810 are cited in my blog posts (see #1 above) although the 1800 is in error as David and John Wright were enumerated in New Windsor but mis-indexed as Newburgh which ends in the top half of their page. Also, 1830 U.S. census, Orange County, New York, New Windsor, p. 103, line 14 for William Wright and line 18 for David Wright; digital images, ( : accessed 21 May 2010); citing NARA M19, roll 113; imaged from FHL microfilm 0,017,173.
  5. Will Record 38: 172-73, Will of Nathaniel Wright (1785); New York County Surrogate's Office, New York, NY, apparently later copy of original Queens County record; digital images, “New York Probate Records, 1629-1971,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 5 November 2015); imaged from FHL microfilm 866,989.
  6. Deed Record vol. 9 – II: 509-14, deed Reuben Weed and wife Martha to Benjamin Wright (1774, recorded 1787); Ulster County Clerk's Office, Kingston, NY; digital images, “New York Land Records, 1630-1975,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 3 November 2015); imaged from FHL microfilm 944,744. After 1798 land in the Town of New Windsor is in Orange County, New York.
  7. Deed Record vol. 11 – LL: 480-82, deed David Wright and wife Mary to John Wright (1791, recorded 1794); Ulster County Clerk's Office, Kingston, NY; digital images, “New York Land Records, 1630-1975,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 3 November 2015); imaged from FHL microfilm 944,749.
  8. Benjamin D. Hicks, editor, Records of the Towns of North and South Hempstead, Long island, New York [1654-1880], Volumes 1-8 (Jamaica, NY, Long Island Farmer Print, 1896-1904). Also digital images at Internet Archive.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Invited to the Funeral

Priceless Family History in Kentucky Funeral Invitations
By Jean M. Hoffman, CGSM

For some families no early Kentucky death records exist in the usual sources of probate, family Bibles, church records, and cemetery inscriptions. A quite different source was a surprise. My Eckles family is well represented in a book I found of transcribed funeral invitations. Some of the information is present nowhere else. Family members also appear in three other published collections of funeral invitations primarily from Lexington and Georgetown in north central Kentucky.

Funeral invitations, some quite elaborate, were in use by the 17th-century in England, some reportedly collected by Samuel Pepys. Kentucky invitations began with simple designs, the earliest in the collections from 1802.[1] They informed friends and neighbors of a death and served as invitations to the funerals. Often held a day after death, funerals could not be announced in the newspapers, as many were weeklies. Modern death notices and funeral cards are widely saved and so were the funeral invitations. Some can be seen as ephemera in online sales, at Pinterest, and in manuscript archives.[2]
Example: Funeral invitation, Broadsides and Ephemera Collection, Duke University Libraries Digital Collections
Marie Dickoré transcribed and annotated a collection but did not reveal the location of the originals. Her book includes funeral invitations for members of the family of Charles Eckles, wagonmaker of Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky.[3] Three are attributed to his first three wives. An elaborate invitation to the funeral of Mrs. Nancy Eckles on 27 April 1839 is noted as being for his first wife, who was Nancy (Boyd) Eckles, but she died before 27 January 1830.[4] Both the first wife and the mother of Charles Eckles were called Nancy and it is undoubtedly his mother who died in 1839. The funeral invitation of Mrs. Ann Eckles for 16 December 1843 revealed a name previously unknown. She is annotated as the second wife of Charles. A newspaper notice of a death that must be hers referred to her as Nancy as well.[5] My cousin has originals of a few of the notices in this collection, the earliest for Charles Eckles in 1867.[6]

Huckster Cyrus Parker Jones collected funeral notices in Lexington for many years. He bequeathed them to James M. Duff, a library trustee who presented the collection to the Lexington Public Library in 1900.[7] Among these funeral invitations is one from 1829 for Eleanora, a daughter of Susan (Eckles) Coffman, though only the father, Philip, was named.[8] One for a Mrs. Jane Huston in 1818 might be for the Jane Eckles who married James Huston in 1807 but that awaits further research. Susan and Jane are sisters of Charles Eckles.

An important find was an index entry for an Alexander Eckles in Kentucky Ancestors.[9] His 15 December1823 funeral was held at the home of his mother.[10] The city is not mentioned but many invitations in this indexed collection are from Georgetown. Tax records help confirm this as the Alexander Eckles of Georgetown. He paid Scott County tax from 1816 through 1823; the 1824 books are missing; and in 1825 Nancy Eckles, his mother, began to pay tax on town lots.[11] Alexander is a brother of Charles Eckles.

John M’Calla kept a scrapbook of Lexington funeral invitations until he moved away. Some duplicate the other Lexington collection but many are for additional people. Alexander Adams is one of the new names with an invitation to his 1805 funeral in Lexington.[12] The father of Nancy (Adams) Eckles, he also had a death notice in the Kentucky Gazette.[13]

The information from these slips of paper helped reassemble the Eckles family of Fayette County and Georgetown. Their few probate records are sketchy, a cemetery not located, no family Bible found, and their Georgetown Presbyterian Church was not formed until 1828.[14] I’m even told the first record book of the church is missing.[15] The funeral invitations in these four Kentucky collections have proven extremely valuable in family research.

Note: the images are taken from larger sheets. Reproduction of images from the library website are not allowed.

CG is a Service Mark of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluations by the Board.

    1.    James D. Birchfield, editor, A Collection of Lexington, Kentucky, Funeral Invitations (1802-1846); collected by John Moore M’Calla (Lexington, Ky.: Special Collections & Archives, University of Kentucky Libraries, 1999). [Includes transcriptions, in chronological order, of 430 funeral invitation cards and facsimiles of 24.]
    2.    For a sale see: 1898 Port Providence Pennsylvania Funeral Invitation, David w Fronefield; eBay  ( : accessed 30 July 2014). For Pinterest see: Vintage Funerals; Pinterest  ( : accessed 30 July 2014). For achives see: funeral invitation, Mrs. Ann E. Robinson, 1837, ID bdsv023193; Broadsides and Ephemera Collection, Duke University Libraries Digital Collections ( : accessed 30 July 2014).
    3.    Marie Dickoré, compiler, Copies of Names on Invitations to Funerals and Burials In Scott County and Fayette County, Kentucky, 1821 - 1898: Including Names of Deceased, Family Connections, Ministers, Church, Cemetery, Pallbearers, as They Occur on the “Invitations” (Cincinnati, Ohio: Marie Dickoré, 1942).
    4.    Guardian report from Charles Eckles in Will Book, E, part 2: 161 (this volume contains records reentered after the 1837 courthouse fire, done as best as they could be), Scott County Clerk, Georgetown, KY. Distribution of John Boyd estate to his granddaughters when his will named his then-unmarried daughter indicates the daughter is deceased.
     5.    DIED (Mrs. Nancy Eccles), The Protestant and Herald, Kentucky, 22 February 1844; - Historic Newspapers Online, digital images ( : accessed 28 March 2011.)
     6.    Collection of J.T.N. inherited from his grandmother, photographed by the author.
         7.    Linda Ramsey Ashley and Elizabeth Tapp Wills, Funeral Notices: Lexington, Ky., 1806-1887 (Rochester, Mich.: L. Ashley, 1982). Digitized and available online through the Lexington Public Library , Funeral Notices Collection:
    8.    James M. Duff, compiler, Duffs Funeral Notices Scrap Book, 1806-1887 (Lexington, KY: Lexington Public Library, 2002), Eleanora, daughter of Philip Coffman card; digital images Kentuckiana Digital Library ( : accessed 27 March 2011).
    9.    Jonathon Jeffrey, “Final Summons: Funeral Cards in the Kentucky Library of Western Kentucky University,” Kentucky Ancestors 37:74 (2001).
   10.    Alexander Eckles funeral invitation, 1823; Funeral Ephemera F526, Kentucky Library & Museum, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY; photocopy in files of the author.
   11.    Scott County, Kentucky; Manuscript Tax Lists, Kentucky State Historical Society, Frankfort; FHL microfilm 8,221; Alexander Eckles entries: 1816 Tax List, p. 20; 1817, p.11, Capt. Tilford; no 1818 Tax List; FHL microfilm 8,222; Alexander Eckles entries: 1819, p. 22; 1820; 1821, p. 24; 1822; 1823; no 1824 Tax List; Nancy Eckles entry, 1825.
   12.    Birchfield, A Collection of Lexington, Kentucky, Funeral Invitations (1802-1846), 17.
   13.    Died (Alexander Adams), Kentucky Gazette and General Advertiser, Lexington, Ky., 15 January 1805, p. 3, col. 1; Kentuckiana Digital Library, digital images ( accessed 2 September 2011).
   14.    Ann Bolton Bevins and J. Robert Snyder, editors, Scott County Church Histories: A Collection (Georgetown, Ky.: Scott County Bicentennial Committee, 1979), 57.
   15.    Pers. comm. from former church Sessions R.R.S., 1 September 2011.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Joseph Bell: son of Samuel and Mary (Lyons) Bell

by Jean M. Hoffman, CG

One Source of Direct Evidence
History of Washington County, Ohio, p. 568
“Samuel Bell….[and] wife, Mary Lyons….had twelve children, of whom five survive [to about 1881]…Samuel, Joseph, Nathan, Hiram, and William.”[1] This quote is a direct statement that Joseph Bell was a son of Samuel and Mary (Lyons) Bell. The source is a published county history, not generally a reliable source of information. An evaluation of the informant and this specific statement, however, shows that it is highly likely to be correct. Records of the Bell family in Newport Township, Washington County, Ohio, build a supporting case. The most compelling of those records is the settlement of Samuel Bell’s estate by administrator Joseph Bell in which he charged the estate $26 “for my mother’s gravestone.”[2]
Evaluating Source and Determining Probable Informant
The information in the county history covers Samuel Bell and his family followed by a paragraph about his son Nathan. By 1880, Nathan was the only child of Samuel Bell still living in Newport Township. He is enumerated there in the 1880 census[3] and continued to pay tax on the land to 1886 (pers. comm. Ernest Thode). The level of detail, though not all of it accurate, in the biographical sketch points to Nathan or a member of his immediate family as the informant. Nathan and his family members were well aware of the identities of his siblings even while dates were not reported accurately. Nathan Bell or a member of his immediate family is a credible source of the names of his siblings. The number of twelve children in the family is also probably correct. The 1820 U.S. census enumeration of the Samuel Bell household lists a male forty-five or above, a female twenty-six to forty-four, and twelve younger people, eight males and four females.[4]
Additional Factors and Family Connections
The county history does not stand alone. Joseph Bell as administrator of Samuel Bell’s estate is not identified by relationship but makes a close connection likely. The charge mentioned above implies that Joseph was Samuel’s son. Joseph lived until 1865 in Newport Township in close proximity to relatives. In 1834 Samuel Bell and his wife Mary sold to Joseph Bell land in that township, excluding a portion given to his daughter Mary Tuel. Joseph mortgaged the land to Samuel.[5] Again, no relationship is stated for Joseph, but his (likely) sister is living on land formerly part of the parcel he purchased. Nathan lived with Joseph in 1850 and in an adjacent household in 1860.[6] Joseph was associated with another sister, Jane Flint in Ludlow Township, when he provided surety for her bond for administration of her late husband’s estate. Jane also had a relationship with Nathan, providing a home in 1850 for his two motherless and homeless children after the death of his first wife. In 1860, brother William H. Bell lived close to her. In her will she named William H. Bell as her brother.[7]
Sons of Samuel Bell in 1880
The county history names five surviving children and all appear in the 1880 census. Samuel in Meigs County, Joseph in Gallia County, and Nathan in Washington County all were enumerated with father’s birthplace as Ireland and mother’s as Conn.[8] Hiram in Michigan came close with Ireland and Mass.[9] William H. Bell in Nebraska has both born in Ireland.[10] Combined, the 1880 census records illustrate the truth of the county history statement.

[1] H. Z. Williams Bro. Pub., 1788-1881, History of Washington County, Ohio, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches (1881; reprint Knightstown, Ind: Bookmark, 1976), 568.
[2] Samuel Bell Estate Settlement, 1847, Washington County Probate Record Book 8: 97-100, Probate Court, Marietta, Ohio. Joseph Bell as Administrator charged the estate $26.00 for “Grave Stones for my Mother.”
[3] 1880 U.S. census, Washington County, Ohio, population schedule, Newport Township, ED 235, sheet 350D, dwelling 211, family 231, Nathan Bell household; digital image, ( : accessed 11 February 2014); citing NARA T9, roll 1076; imaged from FHL microfilm 1,255,076.
[4] 1820 U.S. Census, Washington County, Ohio, population schedule, Newport Township, page 221, line 9, Samuel Bell household; digital image, ( : accessed 11 February 2014); citing NARA M33, roll 95.
[5] Washington County, Ohio, Deed Book 24: 318-20, Samuel and Mary Bell deed to Joseph Bell and Joseph Bell mortgage to Samuel Bell, 1834, County Recorder's Office, Marietta, Ohio.
[6] 1850 U.S. Census, Washington County, Ohio, population schedule, Newport Township, page 929, dwelling/family 1, Joseph Bell household; NARA M432, roll 738. Also 1860 U.S. census, Washington County, Ohio, population schedule, post office Newport, p. 8 (penned), p. 81 (stamped), dwelling 66, family 68, Joseph Bell household; NARA M653, roll 1048.
[7] Jean M. Hoffman, “Jane Flint: A Bell Child Identified,” Bluegrass and Buckeye Roots ( : accessed 11 February 2014).
[8] For Samuel: 1880 U.S. census, Meigs County, Ohio, population schedule, Sutton Township, ED 120, sheet 307A, dwelling 78, family 82, Samuel Bell household; digital image, ( : accessed 11 February 2014); citing NARA T9, roll 1048; imaged from FHL microfilm 1255048. For Joseph: 1880 U.S. census, Gallia County, Ohio, population schedule, Clay Township, ED 21, p. 277B, dwelling 231, family 237, Joseph Bell household; digital image, ( : accessed 10 October 2012); citing NARA T9, roll 1018. For Nathan: 1880 U.S. census, Washington Co., Ohio, pop. sch., Newport Twp., ED 235, sheet 350D, dwelling 211, fam. 231, Nathan Bell household; NARA T9, roll 1076.
[9] 1880 U.S. census, Hillsdale County, Michigan, population schedule, Camden Township, ED 83, sheet 77B, dwelling 201, family 207, Hiram Bell household; digital image, ( : accessed 11 February 2014); citing NARA T9, roll 580; imaged from FHL microfilm 1254580.
[10] 1880 U.S. census, Fillmore County, Nebraska, population schedule, Fairmont, ED 323, sheet 455D, dwelling 128, family 132, William H. Bell household; digital image, ( : accessed 11 February 2014); citing NARA T9, roll 748; imaged from FHL microfilm 1254748.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What Year Was Effie Irion Born?

By Jean M. Hoffman, CGSM

Effie Bell (née Irion) died 5 September 1948 in Gallipolis, Ohio. Her death certificate states that Effie was born 11 September 1862. The informant was Mrs. Oliver Lyle, the daughter with whom Effie lived.1 An obituary repeated the birth date and the gravestone of Effie and her late husband was carved with her birth year as 1862.2 While these might appear to be three different sources, most likely all came from Effie’s daughter, perhaps originally from Effie herself.
My problem is that I don’t believe that is the year she was born. An apparent two-year error in a birth date is a rather minor problem but provides an easily understood example of data analysis and conflict resolution.
The only U.S. census with birth information other than an age was recorded in 1900. Effie’s birth is written there as “Sep 1861.”3 No other records have been located that actually state her birth year. Civil birth records were not required in Ohio counties until 1867.4 The church to which she belonged in 1899 was the Clay Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church in Clay Township.5 Her parents were married by M. D. Vaughn, a minister of that church, so they may have been members when Effie was born.6 No baptisms for the Irion family are recorded in a book of extant records for 1856 –1875.7
The earliest record of Effie’s age is the 1870 U.S. census. The children in the household are Brooks age 11, Effie at 9, George 7, and John age 3. The enumeration took place on 6 June 1870.8 If Effie was born on 11 September, she would be nine on that date only if she was born in 1860. Effie married William W. Bell on 24 March 1879. The Gallia County marriage book documenting their marriage has pre-printed pages with blanks to fill. For the bride the printing reads: “is ____ of the age of eighteen years.” Parental consent would have been required for a bride under eighteen. Nothing is noted for Effie, implying she was at least eighteen.9 To be eighteen in March of 1879 with a birthday in September, she had to have been born by 1860. It is possible that she was underage at the time of her marriage and a license erroneously obtained without parental consent. However, she was married by J. D. Hathaway, the pastor of her church, and lived after marriage in close proximity to her parents. It is more likely that she really was eighteen. The following year on 19 June she is enumerated in the 1880 U.S. census as being nineteen years old.10 Again, she would be that age if born in 1860.
In 1900 she was listed as born in September 1861 as previously noted. In the census of 1910 Effie’s age was 47 on the 16th of April.11 This is the first record that would place her birth in 1862. The census records of 1920 and 1930 also have ages reflecting an 1862 birth.12 Her son-in-law, Oliver G. Lyle, was the informant for his household on the 1940 U.S. census. Her age that April was 78, placing her birth back to 1861.13
All later records show a belief that Effie was born in 1862 or possibly 1861. The data closest to her birth consistently points to the year 1860. One other factor supports the year 1860. That is the ages and birth dates of her brothers Brooks and George between whom she was born. Brooks, at the age of one year, was the only child in the household of John T. Irion in 1860.14 His 1900 census entry has him born in December 1858.15 His ages in the census of one in 1860 and eleven in 1870 are consistent with that birth date. George M. Irion went from an 1870 age of seven to seventeen in the 1880 census.16 Family tradition of unknown origin has his date of birth as 6 April 1863, a date that would result in those ages. However, if that date is correct, Effie cannot have been born to the same mother six months earlier in September 1862. While 1861 is possible, her birth in 1860 would place her closer to halfway between these two brothers and a normal approximately two-year spacing than would an 1861 birth year.

While 1862 is carved in stone, Effie Irion, later wife of William W. Bell, was born in 1860. She died just six days before her 88th birthday. My great grandmother lived to a slightly more advanced age than her family realized.


1.    Effie I. Bell, certificate of death no. 229 (1948), Gallia County Health Department, Gallipolis, Ohio.
2.    Mrs. Effie Bell Claimed Suddenly, Gallipolis (Ohio) Daily Tribune, 7 September 1948, p. 1. And Effie Irion and William W. Bell gravestone, Mound Hill Cemetery (Gallia County, Ohio); photographed by Jean M. Hoffman, 13 October 2001.
3.    1900 U.S. census, Gallia County, Ohio, population schedule, Clay Township, ED 26, sheet 8A, dwelling 155, family 160, William Bell household; NARA T623, roll 1271.
4.    Which Vital Records Do We Have? Ohio Department of Health ( : accessed 13 Dec. 2013).
5.    H.E. Brill, History of Clay Chapel (Gallipolis, Ohio: A.R. Harding, printer, 1899), 47: members in 1899.
6.    Irion-Poole marriage, 1857, Gallia County Marriage Book 2:352, Probate Court, Gallipolis, Ohio. Also Brill, History of Clay Chapel, 34: list of pastors.
7.    “Clay Chapel Baptismal Records Book I 1856–1875,” Mary James, transcriber; database, Gallia County Genealogical Society, OGS Chapter, Inc. ( : accessed 13 December 2013).
8.    1870 U.S. census, Gallia County, Ohio, population schedule, Clay Township, post office Mercerville, O., page 258 (stamped), dwelling/family 174, John T. Iron household; NARA M593, roll 1203.
9.    Bell-Iron marriage, 1879, Gallia County Marriage Book 5: 44, Probate Court, Gallipolis, Ohio.
10.  1880 U.S. census, Gallia County, population schedule, Clay Township, ED 21, p. 277A, dwelling 215, family 220, Wm. W. Bell household; NARA T9, roll 1018.
11.  1910 U.S. census, Gallia County, Ohio, population schedule, Gallipolis Township, Gallipolis City, Ward 1, ED 30, sheet 2B, dwelling 40, family 40, William Bell household; NARA T624, roll 1184.
12.  1920 U.S. census, Gallia County, Ohio, population schedule, Gallipolis, ED 50, sheet 7, dwelling 165, family 196, Oliver G. Lyle household; NARA T625, roll 1385. Also 1930 U.S. census, Gallia County, Ohio, population schedule, Gallipolis City, Third Ward, ED 27-7, sheet 4B, dwelling 111, family 116, Oliver Lyle household; NARA T626, roll 1803
13.  1940 U.S. census, Gallia County, Ohio, population schedule, Gallipolis, Ward 3, ED 27-8, sheet 4B, dwelling 95, Oliver G. Lyle household; digital image, ( : accessed 3 April 2012); NARA T627, roll 3072.
14.  1860 U.S. census, Gallia County, Ohio, population schedule, Clay Township, p. 352, dwelling/family 285, John T. Irion household; NARA M653, roll 966.
15.  1900 U.S. census, El Paso County, Colorado, population schedule, Colorado Springs, ward 5, ED 31, sheet 19A, dwelling 416, family 444, Brooks Iron household; NARA T623, roll 124.
16.  1880 U.S. census, Gallia County, population schedule, Clay Township, ED 21, p. 277A, dwelling 214, family 219, John T. Irion household; NARA T9, roll 1018.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday’s Obituary: Coroner’s Inquest on the Body of William H. Bell, 1887

Coroner’s Inquest on the Body of William H. Bell, 1887

By Jean M. Hoffman, CGSM

Ohio native, William H. Bell, died suddenly outside a Salt Lake City saloon. Details emerge from a coroner’s inquest and a related newspaper article. Conflicting reports of his marital status leave the truth uncertain.


 William H. Bell, born about 1820, was the youngest of twelve children of Samuel and Mary (neé Lyons) Bell of Newport Township, Washington County, Ohio.1 At forty-two, a farmhand, married, and father of six, he was not an obvious candidate to enlist in the Union Army.2 But enlist he did on 22 August 1862 in Company F, 116th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. His time in the army was eventful ending with his discharge on 8 August 1865 in Richmond, Virginia, after a transfer to the 62nd OVI. Sometime after the war he became a stonemason though he claimed to be unable to farm by that time.3
He may have followed work opportunities as in 1880 he was recorded living in Fairmont Village, Fillmore County, Nebraska.4 The county's population in 1870 was only 238, but in ten years grew to over 10,000.5 Such rapid settlement undoubtedly supported much construction. This is where marital status begins to grow mysterious as his household includes a woman named Adelia recorded as his wife. She was fifty and born in Illinois. Meanwhile his wife Emeline (neé Phillips) Bell had moved with their children across the Ohio River to Pleasants County, West Virginia.6

Death in Salt Lake City

William applied for a pension based on his Civil War service on 23 March 1886. Paperwork was still in progress when he died. The coroner of Salt Lake County, Utah Territory, reported to the pension commission on the inquest into William’s death held 14 June 1887.7

William H. Bell was described in 1862 as 5 feet 11 inches tall with a fair complexion, gray eyes, and light hair.8 At the inquest he was reported to be “a large powerfully built man.” A newspaper article stated he was a stone-cutter, aged 67, and “was roughly clad in laborer’s garb...was above average height, and had a short gray-white beard.”9
Copy of Coroner's Inquest Verdict
Monday, 13 June 1887, Bell and his co-workers spent much of the day at Wagener’s Saloon enjoying beer, song, and fellowship. He was employed by Frank Conklin and had been working on the Karrick Building.10 About 8:00 p.m. he began to eat leftovers from his dinner pail. Suddenly he was choking. Reportedly he spoke to his friends but kept choking. They took him outside the saloon and tried to assist him, but to no avail. Dr. Ewing pronounced him dead at the scene, concluding that the cause was apoplexy. In those days apoplexy was a catchall term for otherwise unexplained sudden death.11 A person with knowledge of the modern Heimlich maneuver might have been his salvation but that is only speculation.
Sexton Taylor's mortuary hearse came for the body. The coroner was not at home, requiring the inquest be put off to the following day. The inquest jurors returned a verdict that William H. Bell died from the effects of apoplexy. He was buried in the Salt Lake Cemetery.12
Word of his death slowly made its way to his family in West Virginia. Over a year later, on 18 September 1888, Emeline applied for a widow's pension based on the service of her late husband, William H. Bell. Her application contains her marriage record; she acknowledged no separation, divorce, or other marriage.13 There can be no question that Ohio and Utah records refer to just one man.
Emeline’s pension application gives no hint that William H. Bell was ever husband to another woman. Adelia was called his wife in 1880 in Nebraska and the hearsay reference in the Salt Lake City newspaper called him “a widower with grown children back in Kansas.” The only solid documentation is of his marriage to Emeline, but he was not present in her household after about 1875. It makes one wonder about his final years on the road in the construction business.

Further Reading

I was reminded of these records recently when I read an interesting article by J. Homer Thiel, “‘Well, They Didn't Live Happily Together,’ Researching Humphrey and Lola O'Sullivan Using Coroner’s Inquest Files,” American Ancestors 14 (Summer 2013): 31-34. The case and records are in Arizona. A sidebar gives suggestions on the use and finding of old coroner’s files.

1.   H. Z. Williams Bro. Pub., 1788-1881, History of Washington County, Ohio, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches (1881; reprint Knightstown, Ind: Bookmark, 1976), 568. William was a brother of my 2nd great-grandfather, Joseph Bell.
2.   1860 U.S. Census, Washington County, Ohio, population schedule, William H. Bell household, Ludlow Township, post office Flintsmill, page 469, dwelling/family 93; NARA M653, roll 1049.
3.   Declaration for Original Invalid Pension, 1886, William H. Bell (Pvt., Co. F, 116th Ohio Inf. and Co. A, 62nd Ohio, Civil War), pension no. S.C. 432,566, Case Files of Approved Pension Applications…, 1861–1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veteran Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.. Also 1870 U.S. census, population schedule, Washington County, Ohio, William Bell household, Newport Township, post office Newport, page 392, dwelling 297, family 301; NARA M593, roll 1279.
4.   1880 U.S. census, Fillmore County, Nebraska, William H. Bell household, Fairmont Village, ED 323, page 455D, dwelling 128, family 132; NARA T9, roll 748.
5.   Wikipedia contributors, "Fillmore County, Nebraska," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,,_Nebraska (accessed 17 October 2013); citing "U.S. Decennial Census"
6.   1880 U.S. census, Pleasants County, West Virginia, Emiline Bell household, Jefferson District, ED 174, page 100A, dwelling 74, family 79; NARA T9, roll 1411.
7.   Summation of Coroner's Inquest on the Body of William H. Bell, 1887, Emeline Bell, widow’s pension application no. 380,677, certificate no. 255,011, service of William H. Bell (Pvt., Co. F, 116th Ohio Inf. and Co. A, 62nd Ohio, Civil War), Case Files of Approved Pension Applications.
8.   Compiled service record, William H. Bell, Pvt., Co. F, 116 Ohio Inf.; Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations, Civil War; Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780s-1917, Record Group 94; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
9.   Dropped Dead of Apoplexy (Wm. H. Bell), The Daily Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah, 14 June 1887, p. 4, col. 4; digital image ( : accessed 30 July 2013).
11. Wikipedia contributors, "Apoplexy," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed 17 October 2013).
12. “Utah Cemetery Inventory,” William H. Bell entry, Salt Lake City Cemetery, sexton records; database, ( : accessed 10 November 2012).
13. Widow's Claim for Pension and Transcript From Record of Marriages, Washington County, Ohio, 1888, Emeline Bell, widow’s pension no. 255,011, Civil War, RG 15, NA-Washington.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Census Sunday: 1850 cholera death details in a population schedule

Margaret (Alexander) Davenport was widowed before the 1850 census enumerator reached her home on 18 September. Her husband was correctly listed in the census, as was his brother, because they were alive on June 1st. Both men's names were annotated with details of their deaths at the bottom of the page. The household beginning on line 30 reads:

#James Deavenport 55
Margarett      " 50
John              " 23
George          " 21
James            " 19
Ralph            " 16
Margarett      " 13
+Ralph Deavenport 60

At the bottom of the page are the following notes:

# Died August 19, 1850     Cholera     sick 2 days
+   "         "        6     "              "             "   12 hours

This is an unexpected, and probably improperly done, addition of information that might not be available from any other source. The men in the family were farmers and they lived in Troy Township, Delaware County, Ohio. The older generation was born in Ireland (Margaret Alexander in County Armagh*) and the younger ones in Ohio. Margaret was an older sister of my 3rd great-grandmother Sarah (Alexander) Poole.

*For Margaret's birthplace: Obituary Committee, compiler, Old Kenton Newspaper Death & Marriage Notices, Vol. 1 (Kenton, OH: Hardin County Genealogy Society, 1996), 146, 147, photocopies of clippings with handwritten dates 6-26-84 and 7-10-1884.

Here is the census page, click on the image to see it larger:

1850 U.S. census, Delaware County, Ohio, population schedule, Troy Township, page 278B (stamped), dwelling 2574, family 2526, James Deavenport household; digital image, ( accessed 30 September 2010); from National Archives microfilm M432, roll 675.