Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Samuel E. Clark

From disappointment to delight ... here's the scoop:  Last week I visited the Washington County, PA, courthouse and made the disappointing find that they have no birth records prior to 1898.  Disappointing because I had really hoped to find a birth record for Samuel E. Clark, my 2nd great-grandfather who was reportedly born in the 1850s.  I wrote about him in a July post in which I noted:
"I've been trying to put together a post about Samuel and Margaret, but the more I dig into my info, the more conflicts I keep finding. I don't want to post the conflicts here until I'm a little more sure of my line of reasoning."

Apparently it's time to just throw some of my info out here and see if anyone else has different ideas as to Samuel's correct birth info.  I have bolded the variations in the following discussion.

The marriage license for Samuel Clark and Margaret Shimp is my primary lead that Samuel was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania.  Unfortunately, the informant was Margaret's mother - giving a little less credibility than if Samuel himself had been the informant.  However, there are several other sources that support the state being Pennsylvania.

According to Samuel's death certificate:
  • Born 25 August 1853 in Pennsylvania
  • Died 01 June 1936 in Moundsville, West Virginia

Per the 1856 Iowa State Census, Samuel was 3 years old and born in Pennsylvania - this agrees with the birth info above.

Per the 1865 Kansas State Census, Samuel was 11 years old and born in Pennsylvania.  More agreement with the death certificate.

The 1930 U.S. Census also supports a birthplace of Pennsylvania.  The age is off by a year, but that's common in census records.

Now for the conflicts ...

The 1900 U.S. Census reported Samuel's birth as August 1852 in West Virginia (of course it was still Virginia in 1852).

The 1910 U.S. Census also reported his birthplace as West Virginia (on the bright side, the age given is consistent with the birthdate on his death certificate).

The 1920 U.S. Census is the only source I've run across giving Kansas as Samuel's birthplace - but I make a good argument against that one on my website (just look up Samuel E. Clark in the Surname Index).

At this point, I'm leaning toward Samuel's birth info being:
25 August 1853 in Pennsylvania
I'd like to find additional documentation to confirm if it was Washington County before I take that stand officially - the courthouse folks suggested searching for church records. Easier said than done!  If you're a Clark researcher who has input, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

One last thing ... I started this post with, "From disappointment to delight".  So what was the delight?  My husband and I took our Treks to Wellsburg, WV, yesterday to ride the Brooke Pioneer Trail now that the connection to the Wheeling Heritage Trail is complete.  (If you like paved rail trails, we highly recommend both of those.)  We had a PERFECT day ... low 60s and lots of sunshine.  Delightful!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Flora R. Harris

In the John Harris family cemetery on Fork Ridge in Marshall County, West Virginia, there is a grave marker for Flora R. Harris:

As you can see, Flora was the daughter of J. A. and I. Harris - but when I took that photo in 2004 the initials didn't register. I recently searched through my Harris folks for a J. A. Harris married to an I. “Somebody” and realized I had John A. Harris married to Isabella/Isabell/Isabel Littleton. Aha!

Sounded like a good match, but was I really on the right track? I needed more to back up my theory. I have a typed copy of John's obituary that lists his children, obtained from a distant cousin. Per that obituary, John and Isabella had 13 children, 12 of whom were still living when John died. Could the one who died be Flora?

John and Isabella lived in Marshall County, (West) Virginia when they were married and for the birth of their earliest children. The obituary says that the family moved to Illinois in 1865 after John's Civil War service. Flora's gravestone is pretty worn, but it looks to me like she died 29 April 1865 only 22 days old. So it seems plausible that she could have died shortly before the family moved. If I'm right about John and Isabella being her parents, then her burial in the John Harris (Sr.) family cemetery means that she was buried on her great-grandfather's farm. John A. was a son of Benjamin Harris, who was a son of John (Sr.).

Unfortunately, I've run into issues with my theory. I just added the 1870 and 1880 federal census enumeration for the John A. Harris family living in Fairbury, Livingston County, Illinois, to my West Virginia Heritage website. I'm running into likely name errors and incorrect genders that don't entirely match up with the children's names listed in John's obituary … this is leaving me with more than 13 children.

I've lost touch with the distant cousin I mentioned earlier, but I think it's time to see if I can track her down again!

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Word to the Wise

I'm busy these days updating, correcting, and adding census information to my West Virginia Heritage website.  Keep your eyes on the Recent Updates page to follow along.

And once that's done, I'll be adding more info about the people who are currently included on the site ... things like military service, immigration, etc.

And once that's done, I'll be regularly adding more people - which is where the "word to the wise" comes into play.  If you bookmark pages for specific people on the website, please be aware that those links may stop working as I add people. 

The best thing to do is to bookmark the home page or one of the main pages such as the Surname Index or Recent Updates - those links will stay the same.  Pages for specific individuals or photos are more prone to being changed when my software publishes my data to the website.  It's an automated process that does its own thing!

So if you get 404 error pages advising you that something can't be found, try starting at the home page and using one of the menubar links near the top.  Odds are the info is there ... but if you still can't find it, I hope you'll send me an email so I can see if there is a problem.

Remember that I would love to hear from you if you have additions or corrections.  You can send an email from the bottom of any of the website pages.  Hope you're enjoying it!