Wednesday, April 20, 2016

More Questions Than Answers

     Jeff and I went to Meigs County last week to do some family tree research.  I thought I had prepared very well for the trip:  I had my laptop with and Family Tree Maker, had all my paper files, had looked up where county records were kept and hours for each of those facilities. Our campground had no internet access, and when we were told that, I thought, "No problem.  I have everything on my phone I need."  Well, there wasn't even cell phone service at the campground unless we went up on the hill with the groundskeeper goat.  Again, I thought, "No problem.  There will be wireless at the library and historical society."  The library was undergoing a huge renovation, which looks like it's going to be lovely, but all the records I wanted to look at were in storage.  There was no wireless access.  So we went on to the historical society, which was supposed to hold the earliest public records of Meigs County.  The historical society was supposed to open at 10 a.m. according to their web page, but the sign on the door said they were closed until 1 p.m.  So we went cemetery hunting and returned at 1.  The research room was tiny, with 6 or 8 of the huge record books strewn across the table, so very little room to work, and there was no wireless.  It turns out the only original records the historical society had were estate records.  There were photocopies of other records, which had been made several years ago and shrunk down to 8.5x11 pages from books that were originally about 30x22 inches.  Come to find out, the original records are still at the Court House, and of course, by the time I figured this out it was time for the Court House to close on a Friday afternoon.  So, it was a rather frustrating research trip, but a wonderful camping trip!

     Some of the information I did find led to more questions than answers.  First, I found a book called Meigs County History Book, copyright 1979, by the Meigs County Pioneer and Historical Society.  Many counties made these history books when genealogy research became much more popular with the advent of software programs like Family Tree Maker.  The books contain narratives written by family members  who tell what they know about their family's history.  The narratives contain no source information, and are usually just retelling of family tradition.  The Meigs County History Book contains an article on the Ashworth Family which begins: "The ancestors of the Ashworth family came from Ireland to the United States during the Irish potato famine of 1845-56."  It goes on to state that "James Ashworth was born 1759, died January 8, 1844.  His son Thomas Ashworth, born 1789, died November 25, 1857, married Nancy Ashworth, died July 1, 1876."  The birth and death dates matched what I had, but the rest of the story did not add up.  I felt quite sure I had correct information for the family arriving in 1812, but set out to make sure I had reliable sources.  It is possible that there was another family arriving during the War of 1812 with the same names.  However, I have 1820, 1830, 1840, and 1850 U.S. Census Records showing Thomas Ashcraft living in Meigs County, Ohio.  His marriage to Nancy Blain is recorded on July 1, 1824 in Meigs County.  Although I have not yet found a birth record for his son, John, born in 1828, the 1860 Census tell us that he was born in Ohio.  I feel quite confident that my dates and information on the Ashworth Family shared in an earlier post are correct.

John Ashworth, Died Feb 19, 1898, Aged 69 Years, 2 Months, 1 Day
Carleton Cemetery 

Thomas Ashworth, Died Nov.  26, 1857, Aged 68 Years
Chester Cemetery

Nancy Blain, Wife of Thomas Ashworth
July 1, 1876
Chester Cemetery

     Another question was raised when I read through John Ashworth's will.  He left all his property both real and personal to his wife (Caroline) and at her death "to be divided between my heirs--giving to my oldest daughter the sum of five dollars the residue to be equally divided amongst the remaining heirs."  Why was Mary singled out to receive exactly five dollars?  Was it a slight because of her illegitimate son (Clarence Goldsberry)?  Or a smaller amount because she was married to an older, established farmer?  I haven't found the answer to this question yet!

     A third question arose when we were visiting the Smith Cemetery.  Findagrave states that John Smith and his wife, Elizabeth Parsons Smith, are buried in the Smith Cemetery in Bedford Township, Meigs County.  John was a veteran of the War of 1812.  We found Smith Cemetery on the top of a large hill, and it is one of the prettiest cemeteries I have ever visited. 

We made the long trek to the top of the hill, and I was so excited to find this tombstone with a War of 1812 Veteran marker. 

     I thought I had found John Smith's grave!  However, on closer examination, I found it actually said John Smitley, not Smith.  Most of the other tombstones were clearly "Smiths," so could this tombstone have been carved incorrectly and used nonetheless?  I came home and did some internet searching for a War of 1812 Veteran John Smitley, and found his last name was correct.  I also discovered that a Smith female had married a Smitley, so there was a family connection.

     Several of the tombstones were completely devoid of their inscriptions.  I assume John and Elizabeth's tombstone engravings have succumbed to weathering.  I looked for a listing of Smith Cemetery transcriptions in the Historical Society, but did not find anything.  As I looked over my notes, I questioned why John and Elizabeth Smith would have been buried in Bedford Township when they had lived in Letart Township? Letart is the southernmost township, and Bedford is one of the most northern townships, and I would estimate it to be 30 miles away.  More research is needed to figure this riddle out!

     I wonder if I can talk Jeff into another few days in Meigs County?  It was a beautiful trip, in spite of the research frustrations!

No comments:

Post a Comment