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.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jane Flint: A Bell Child Identified

By Jean M. Hoffman, CGSM

Samuel and Mary (Lyons) Bell of Newport Township, Washington County, Ohio, had one son still living in Newport at the time of an 1881 county history. That son, Nathan, is undoubtedly the source of the information in the book. It states that there were twelve children in the family.1 Early census records support that number.2

Five surviving sons were named in the county history. All appear in the 1880 census. Their names and locations in 1880 are: Nathan, Newport, Washington County, Ohio; Samuel, Jr., Meigs County, Ohio; Joseph, Gallia County, Ohio; Hiram, Hillsdale County, Michigan; and William H. Bell in Fillmore County, Nebraska, and soon after in Salt Lake City.3 Three daughters have been identified as Mary, wife of Presley Tuel and later Nelson Wallace; Charlotte, wife of Nathan Bell of Barlow Township, Washington County; and Amanda, wife of Bartlett Jackson.4

Viola and Thomas J. Bell were children of Nathan Bell of Newport Township. Nathan’s first wife, Adaline (née Reckard,) died in January 1849, shortly after their house burned down, leaving the children motherless and homeless.5 Their father was enumerated with his brother, Joseph Bell, in Newport Township in the 1850 census.6 The children were recorded with Porter and Jane Flint.7 A third child in the Flint household was David Delos Flint. He was the son of the late Asa Flint, Porter’s relative.8 Finding the Bell children with her was the first step in identifying Jane Flint as a member of the Bell family.

Jane was the wife of Porter Flint of Ludlow Township, Washington County, Ohio. They were married 18 February 1836. While there is no civil record, the marriage is noted in the newspaper giving Jane Bell’s home as Newport Township.9

In April 1860, Porter Flint drowned leaving Jane alone on their property.10 She was issued Letters of Administration for the estate of her late husband on 8 Aug 1860. She gave bond of $3,000 with Joseph Bell, undoubtedly her brother, and Richard Scott as her sureties.11 A few days earlier, the census enumerator listed her alone at age fifty-six. Her real estate was valued at $3,500 and personal property at $800. William H. Bell and family were listed two households later.12 He was the youngest of the Bell children identified to date. Jane wrote her will 11 August 1865. In it she left many bequests including to her “beloved brother William H. Bell” her spotted horse, five sheep, and a clock. To his daughter, Jane Bell, she left her bureau. Her will was presented to probate in Washington County on 29 January 1866.13

A resident of Newport Township before marriage, Jane was associated with the children of Nathan Bell in her home, with Joseph Bell as her surety, and with William H. Bell by proximity and specifically as her brother. She is clearly their sister, probably the oldest girl, and a ninth of an apparent twelve Bell children. She was born about 1803-04 in Ohio and died in 1865-66 as a resident of Ludlow Township, Washington County, Ohio. She had no children.


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. 1820 U.S. census, population schedule, Washington County, Ohio, Newport Township, page 222 (stamped), line 9, Samuel Bell; NARA microfilm M33, roll 95.
3. 1880 U.S. census, population schedules. For Nathan see Washington County (Newport Township,) Ohio, ED 235, page 350D, dwelling 211, family 231, Nathan Bell household; NARA microfilm T9, roll 1076. For Samuel, Jr. Meigs County (Racine Village, Sutton Township,) Ohio, ED 120, page 307A, dwelling 78, family 82, Samuel Bell household; NARA microfilm T9, roll 1048. For Joseph see Gallia County (Clay Township,) ED 21, page 277B, dwelling 231, family 237, Joseph Bell household; NARA microfilm T9, roll 1018. For Hiram see Hillsdale County (Camden Township,) Michigan, ED 83, page 77B, dwelling 201, family 207, Hiram Bell household; NARA microfilm T9, roll 580. For William H. see Fillmore County (Fairmont Village,) Nebraska, ED 323, page 455D, dwelling 128, family 132, William H. Bell household; NARA microfilm T9, roll 748. Also for William H. see “Report of Coroner’s Inquest, Death of William H. Bell, Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, 14 June 1887,”Emeline Bell, widow's pension application no. 380,677, certificate no. 255,011; service of William H. Bell (Pvt., Co. F, 116th Ohio Vol. Inf., Civil War), 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.
4. For Mary see Josephine E. Phillips, compiler, Vital Records of Washington County (Cleveland, OH: Western Reserve Historical Society, 1942), 4, Mary Bell to Presley Tuell (1830.) Also Samuel Bell and wife Mary to Joseph Bell (1834,) Washington County, Ohio, Deed Book, 24: 318-19, reserving a tract “given to my daughter Mary Tuel,” County Recorder's Office, Marietta, Ohio. Also Nelson Wallis and wife Mary to Joseph Bell (1844,) Washington County, Ohio, Deed Book, 36: 61. For Charlotte see “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994,” Washington County Probate Court, Marietta, Ohio, vol. 1: 423, Charlotte Bell (Newport) to Nathan Bell (Barlow), 1832; digital image, FamilySearch ( accessed 24 May 2013); from FHL microfilm 941,958. For Amanda see Phillips, Vital Records of Washington County, 4, Amanda Bell to Bartlett Jackson (1840.)
5. “House Burned,” Marietta (Ohio) Intelligencer, 1 Feb 1849, p. 2. Also 1850 U.S. census, Washington County, Ohio, mortality schedule, Newport Township, page 293, line 1, Adaline Bell entry; NARA microfilm T1159, roll 15, her death erroneously reported for 1850.
6. 1850 U.S. census, Washington County, Ohio, population schedule, Newport Township, page 465 (stamped), 929 (penned), dwelling/family 1, Joseph Bell household; NARA microfilm M432, roll 738.
7. 1850 U.S. census, Washington County, Ohio, population schedule, Ludlow Township, page 497-98 (stamped), 993 (penned), dwelling/family 73, Porter Flint household; digital image, FamilySearch ( accessed 15 October 2012); from NARA microfilm M432, roll 738.
8. David Delos Flint, guardianship, Administrators and Executors Docket, 1857–1865, Book C: 176, Washington County Probate Court, Marietta, Ohio.
9. “Hymeneal [marriages],” Marietta (Ohio) Gazette, 9 April 1836, p. 3.
10. “Drowned,” Marietta (Ohio) Republican, 13 April 1860, p. 3, col. 1. Also 1860 U.S. census, Washington County, Ohio, mortality schedule, Ludlow Township, line 10, Porter Flint entry; digital image, ( accessed 15 October 2012); from NARA microfilm T1159, roll 30.
11. Administrators and Executors Docket, 1857–1865 (Probate Court, Washington County, Marietta, Ohio), C: 455; “Ohio, Probate Records, 1789–1996,” digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 17 October 2012; imaged from FHL microfilm 946,228.
12. 1860 U.S. census, population schedule, Washington County, Ohio, post office Flintsmill, Ludlow Township, page 469 (stamped), dwelling/family 91, Jane Flint household and dwelling/family 93, William H. Bell; digital image, ( accessed 15 October 2012); from NARA microfilm M653, roll 1049, imaged from FHL microfilm 805,049.
13. Jane Flint will (1865), Washington County, Ohio, Will Book 1: 523-24, Washington County Probate Court, Marietta, Ohio; "Ohio, Probate Records, 1789 - 1996," digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 May 2013); imaged from FHL microfilm 946,216.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Moses Eckles Nichols: Naming Patterns To the Rescue

Jean M. Hoffman, CGSM

Charles Nichols, born in 1817, arrived in Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky, as a young adult and soon married a daughter of the local wagon maker, Charles Eckles.1 Charles Nichols and Nancy Boyd Eckles were married by H. J. Perry on 12 March 1840.2 They probably were young adults in the 1840 household of her father.3

By 1850 Charles Nichols ran a blacksmith shop and was a Ruling Elder of the Georgetown Presbyterian Church with his father-in-law.4 The only information on his origins was a birthplace of New York in the 1850 and 1860 U.S. censuses.5 Nichols is a common surname and many lived in New York in 1820 when Charles was about three. Finding his birth family seemed a daunting task.

He and Nancy had eight children, six surviving when Charles died 2 November 1862.6 All the children had first and middle names that appear to honor family members. An exception was the youngest child, Daniel Y. Nichols. He was named for their minister, Daniel Young. The oldest son was Moses Eckles Nichols. As his mother’s father was Charles Eckles, his father’s father might be a Moses Nichols. When this finally occurred to me it changed the scope of the problem of the origins of Charles Nichols. Only two New York households in 1820 were headed by men named Moses Nichols. Both lived in New Windsor in Orange County. One had four males under age ten and could include Charles.7

I had not pursued this lead until a fellow club member mentioned an active Yahoo! Group run by the Orange County (New York) Genealogical Society. He also told me of a member who would look up probate records there. I joined the group and contacted Marty Irons, a kind and helpful researcher in New York.

Probate records include the estate of Moses Nichols, the will of his second wife Mary, and guardianship papers for their four orphaned sons, Aaron W., Robert J., Charles, and Moses Higby Nichols. Charles of Kentucky was indeed one of those sons. His guardian was his uncle Samuel Nichols.8 A genealogy focused on Humphrey Nichols of Newark, New Jersey, was published in 1917.9 Humphrey was the grandfather of Moses and Samuel of New Windsor. Charles isn’t named, but his ancestors in the Nichols line are covered. I later found a biography of the second son, Charles Boyd Nichols, in a Kentucky publication.10 He identified his father’s birthplace as Newburgh, a town near New Windsor in Orange County.

There is one problem still: Charles’s mother Mary. There is an unsourced online family tree that claims her maiden name is Mary Ann Wright, born 29 January 1780 in Orange County, New York.11 Her oldest son’s middle initial is W., lending some support to the claim. I’m still working on this puzzle. It is amazing that my friend and I, here in Ohio, each have a brickwall involving members of one church in Little Britain, a portion of the Town of New Windsor, New York.


1. Georgetown Cemetery (Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky), Nichols marker, photograph by author, 27 August 2008 (years of birth and death, name of wife and a daughter).
2. Marriage Register 1837–1863: item 218 (unpaginated), Scott County Clerk's Office, Georgetown, KY.
3. 1840 U.S. census, Scott County, Kentucky, George Town, p. 93 (stamped), line 12, Charles Eckles household; NARA microfilm M704, roll 123.
4. 1850 U.S. Census, Scott County, Kentucky, population schedule, District No. 2, p. 448, dwelling/family 33, Charles Nichols household; NARA microfilm M432, roll 218. Also William Henry Perrin, History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison and Nicholas Counties, Kentucky (1882; reprint Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1979), 197.
5. 1860 U.S. Census, Scott County, Kentucky, pop. sch., District No. 2, Georgetown, post office Georgetown, page 788, dwelling 48, family 49, Chas. Nichols household; NARA microfilm M653, roll 394.
6. Nichols/Eckles family members’ marriages, births, and deaths; typescript apparently of records in a family Bible but without annotation. It was in the possession of, undoubtedly transcribed by, Elizabeth (McClintock) Nickell. Since her death owned by her grandson (address available).
7. 1820 U.S. census, Orange County, New York, pop. sch., Town of New Windsor, p. 479 (handwritten), p. 194 (stamped), line 18, Moses Nichols; digital image, ( accessed 17 August 2009); citing NARA microfilm M33, roll 64.
8. Orange County, New York, Letters of Administration, E: 212, Moses Nichols entry, (1822), and Wills, H: 302-04, Mary Nichols will, (1827), and Letters of Guardianship, B: 197, Charles Nichols entry, (1831), Surrogate Court Clerk's Office, Goshen.
9. Frederic C. Torrey The Ancestors and Descendants of Humphrey Nichols of Newark, New Jersey, and of his Brothers and Sisters (Lakehurst, NJ: author, 1917), Google Books digital images ( : accessed 18 August 2009).
10. E. Polk Johnson A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians: The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities, Vol. 3 (Chicago - New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1912), Google Books digital images ( : accessed 16 August 2009), 1593.
11. “Soher Iversen Gammon Beal Carson Spalding Bevan,” online family tree, RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project ( : accessed 25 August 2009.)

originally published as a supplement to the December 2012 Bits & Bytes, newsletter of CAGG-CA, Volume 19.04-2.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Samuel M. Williamson: West To the Gold Fields & a Brother’s Widow

by Jean M. Hoffman, CGSM

Moses Williamson, 1820-1856
Compton Cemetery
In learning about the Charles Williamson family, I’ve followed one son from West Virginia and Ohio to the California gold rush region. I'd welcome any comments on the research and report. Moses and Samuel M. Williamson were two of the sons of Charles and Martha (Martin) Williamson. Both were named in the 1858 will of their father in Wood County, (West) Virginia. (see earlier post) All references below to Virginia are places now in West Virginia.

Moses Williamson was born 25 February 1820, probably in Tyler County, Virginia.1 He married Cornelia Ann Thorniley on 30 March 1850 in Washington County, Ohio, both residing in Marietta.2 Later that year they still lived in Marietta, twenty-six-year-old Samuel Williamson with them.3 Moses moved back across the Ohio River to Wood County, Virginia, where he died 20 August 1856.4 He was buried in Compton Cemetery south of Waverly.5 He had one daughter, Virginia Williamson, named in her grandfather’s will as “the only daughter of my sone Moses Williamson decese.”6

Four years after Moses died, Cornelia A. Williamson was a farmer and head of household in Wood County, Virginia, near Bull Creek (now Waverly.) Living with her were nine-year-old Virginia Williamson, four non-Williamsons, and farm laborer George Williamson, age twenty-two, most likely the youngest of her brothers-in-law.7 Cornelia Williamson does not appear locally in the 1870 census.

In 1850 the Samuel Williamson living with Moses and Cornelia was twenty-six, implying birth in 1823–24. Like Moses, his Virginia birthplace would most likely be Tyler County.8 There were eight other men of that name born in Virginia between 1820 and 1830 enumerated in the 1850 census.9 They were:
1850 census location
Samuel H.
Appomattox County, Virginia
Mecklenburg County, Virginia
Hampshire County, Virginia (now W.Va.)
Saml. D.
Hampshire County, Virginia (now W.Va.)
Berkeley County, Virginia (now W.Va.)
Hancock County, Virginia (now W.Va.)
Samuel T.
Sumter County, Alabama
Campbell County, Kentucky
Some have different initials, several are at the age extremes checked, and none lived close to Wood and Washington counties. Samuel M. Williamson isn’t easily confused with them.

A likely Samuel M. Williamson has not been located in the U.S. census for either 1860 or 1870.

On to California

On 10 June 1880 a “Samuell” Williamson, born in Virginia, age fifty-five, was enumerated in San Francisco. With him were his Ohio-born wife “Cornellia,” California-born daughters Alice and Laura, and three boarders.10 September 29 of that year Samuel Martin Williamson of the same address, 1324 Howard Street, registered to vote. He was a native of Virginia, occupation miner.11 Samuel M. Williamson of West Virginia, age fifty-nine, died in San Francisco on 20 January 1884.12 Saml. M. Williamson married Mrs. Cornelia A. Williamson on 14 February 1864 in Downieville, Sierra County, California, a boom area during the gold rush.13 Samuel Martin Williamson also registered to vote in Sonoma County, California, on 6 June 1871. He was a hotel keeper in Mendocino, age forty-six and a native of the United States.14

The California records of Samuel, Samuel M. and Samuel Martin Williamson are for one man born in (West) Virginia about 1825. That is very close to the 1850 age of Samuel Williamson in the household of Moses and Cornelia in Ohio. Martha Martin was the maiden name of the wife of Charles Williamson, so Samuel’s middle name is a link to her.15 In the 1880 census only two other men named Samuel Williamson were enumerated with birth in Virginia or West Virginia between 1820 and 1830.16 They were Saml. H., age fifty-one, Campbell County, Va. and Sam’l. D., age fifty-four, Washington, D.C., both with middle initials other than M.  The California man is the son of Charles and Martha (Martin) Williamson.

Cornelia, daughter Virginia and Virginia’s husband, William A. Farish, sold their interests in the late Moses Williamson’s Ohio River land in Wood County, West Virginia, to P. V. Thorniley in 1870.17 The Farishes then lived in San Francisco. Virginia affirmed her part in the deed as a minor in 1872 after she turned twenty-one when she was in Sierra County, California.18

Cornelia Ann Williamson lived on in California in San Francisco and later in Oakland where she died 15 November 1922.19 She had given birth to three children all living through 1910. Her daughters were Virginia, wife of William A. Farish; Alice, born in Sierra City, Sierra County, California, wife of Daniel W. Strong; and Laura who married later in life William D. McNicoll.20 Virginia and Alice provided her with grandchildren. Enumerated with her in 1900 were two of them, Lillie Farish and Laura Strong. While Cornelia’s death certificate omitted her parents’ names, that of Alice Dana Strong lists her father as Samuel Williamson, born in West Virginia, and mother’s maiden name as Cornelia Thorniley, born in Ohio.21

Probably because Samuel M. Williamson was not included in a published genealogy of the Williamson family, online family trees do not record the origins of Cornelia’s second husband. In fact, he was a younger brother of her first husband who went west to the California gold fields either with her or inviting her to follow.

1. Compton Cemetery (Wood County, W.Va.; Waverly Road about 3.8 miles south from Route 14 in Williamstown), photographed by author, 6 December 2012; gravestone includes birth and death dates. Also 1820 census, Tyler County, Virginia, population schedule, p. 896 (penned), line 25, Charles Williamson household; digital image, ( : accessed 11 March 2010); citing NARA microfilm M33, roll 140; shows family location in 1820.
2. Washington County Marriage Records 2: 357, Moses Williamson and Cornelia Ann Thornily, 1850; digital image, FamilySearch, “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994” ( : accessed 21 August 2012); imaged from FHL microfilm 941,958.
3. 1850 U.S. census, Washington County, Ohio, population schedule, Marietta Township, p. 485 (penned), p. 218 (stamped), dwelling 54, family 55, Moses Williamson household; digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 21 August 2012); NARA microfilm M432, roll 738, imaged from FHL microfilm 444,731.
4. Wood County, West Virginia, Register of Deaths, vol. 1, p. 11, entry no. 69 for Moses Williamson; index, “West Virginia, Deaths, 1853-1970,” FamilySearch citing FHL microfilm 579,068; digital image, West Virginia Division of Culture and History ( : accessed 19 April 2010).
5. Compton Cemetery, Wood County, W.Va.
6. Charles Williamson will (1858), Wood County Will Book 5, 1856-1869: 127-28, digital images, “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” FamilySearch, ( : accessed 10 August 2011), imaged from FHL microfilm 577,194.
7. 1860 U.S. census, Wood County, Virginia, population schedule, post office Bull Creek, Va., p. 61 (penned), dwelling 1748, family 1744, Cornelia A. Williamson household; digital image, ( : accessed 21 August 2012); NARA microfilm M653, roll 1384, imaged from FHL microfilm 805,384.
8. “1825 Tax List” database, Tyler County West Virginia Genealogy Project ( : accessed 9 December 2012), Charles Williamson entry; shows continued residence in Tyler County.
9. FamilySearch 1850 U.S. census query for Sam* Williamson, born Virginia, 1820-1830, returned nine names plus 20 more for surname Williams or McWilliams, ( : accessed 9 January 2013.)
10. 1880 U.S. census, San Francisco County, California, population schedule, San Francisco, ED 155, sheet 134A, dwelling 323, family 341, Samuell Williamson household; digital image, ( : accessed 8 December 2012); from NARA microfilm T9, roll 77; imaged from FHL microfilm 1,254,077.
11. San Francisco County, Great Register (Sacramento, Calif.: California State Library, 1880), 7th Precinct, 11th Ward, Samuel Martin Williamson entry, voting no.343; citing Collection Number 4 - 2A; C SL roll 49; digital images, "Voter Registers, 1866-1898 California " ( : accessed 9 December 2012); imaged from FHL microfilm 977,198.
12. California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1835-1931, Samuel M. Williamson, 1884, no. 77, Kremple & Halsted Funeral Records, Vol. 1, 1883-1897; digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 8 December 2012).
13. Marriages, Vol. A: 97, Saml. M. Williamson and Mrs. Cornelia A. Williamson, 1864, Sierra County Recorder, Downieville, California.
14. Sonoma County, Great Register (Sacramento, Calif.: California State Library, 1871), Samuel Martin Williamson entry, no.7848; citing Collection Number 4 - 2A; C SL roll 132; digital images, "Voter Registers, 1866-1898 California " ( : accessed 9 December 2012); imaged from FHL microfilm 978,587.
15. Raymond Martin Bell and Edna Marian Miller, The Williamson Family of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, Washington County, Pennsylvania, Ohio County, West Virginia (Washington, Pa.: R. M. Bell, 1986), 57.
16. FamilySearch 1880 U.S. census query for Sam* Williamson, born Virginia, 1820-1830, returned three names plus 33 more for surname Williams and two Williams born in W. Va., ( : accessed 9 January 2013.)
17. Deeds, Book 32: 539-40, Cornelia A. Williamson to P.V. Thorniley, 1870, Wood County Clerk, Parkersburg, West Virginia.
18. Deeds, Book 32: 539, Virginia E. Farish to P. V. Thorniley, 1872, Wood County Clerk.
19. 1900 U.S. census, San Francisco County, California, population schedule, San Francisco City, Assembly District 37, ED 153, sheet 4B, dwelling 58, family 89, Cornelia Williamson household; NARA microfilm T623, roll 104; imaged from FHL microfilm 1,240,104. Also 1910 U.S. census, San Francisco County, Calif., pop. sch., San Francisco, Assembly District 37, ED 167, sheet 11A, dwelling 187, family 235, Cornelia A. Williamson household; NARA microfilm T624, roll 99; imaged from FHL microfilm 1,374,112. Also 1920 U.S. census, Alameda County, Calif., pop. sch., Oakland, precinct 147, ED 94, sheet 6A, dwelling 86, family 153, Cornelia A. Williamson household; NARA microfilm T625, roll 89. All digital images, ( : accessed 8 December 2012). Also Cornelia Ann Williamson, Certificate of Death local no. 211 (1922), Alameda County Recorder, Oakland, California.
20. JudyPeterson12, compiler, "Oversby/Strong Family", Public Family Tree ( : accessed 8 December 2012). [for Virginia:] Deaths (Farish, Virginia Williamson), The New York Times, New York, NY, 20 September 1936, p. N11, col. 4; "Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2009)," digital images, ProQuest ( : accessed 26 December 2012). [for Alice:] 1900 U.S. census, Amador County, California, population schedule, Township 4, ED 8, sheet 4A, dwelling/family 75, David W. Strong household; digital image, ( : accessed 13 December 2012) : NARA microfilm T623, roll 84; imaged from FHL microfilm 1,240,084; Alice is his wife and daughter Laura Strong is enumerated both here and with her grandmother. [for Laura:] 1930 U.S. census, Alameda County, California, population schedule, Oakland City, Block 1239, ED 1-12, sheet 10A, dwelling 113, family 204, William D. McNicoll household; digital image, ( : accessed 26 December 2012); from NARA microfilm T626, roll 101; imaged from FHL microfilm 2,339,836; Laura his wife at the same address where she lived with her mother in 1920. Also Laura Thornley McNicoll, Certificate of Death no. 6015 - 155 (1959), Alameda County Recorder, Oakland, California.
21. Alice Dana Strong, Certificate of Death, District no. 190, Registrar's no. 282 (1944), Alameda County Recorder, Oakland, California.