Samuel Downing, my ggg grandfather, was second of 16 children. His immediate younger brother Thomas followed him to Illinois and purchased neighboring land.
Thomas had three wives. He apparently had a thing for the number 13 too. [Remember that.] He married Elizabeth Kellison in Pike County, OH, on May 13, 1819. They had five daughters before she died. He married Rebecca Huff in Pike County, OH, on September 13, 1832. They had three children, a daughter and two sons, before she died. He married Loretta Sherman, who was 17 years younger, on October 13, 1842, in Ohio. They had four children, three daughters and a son. Add it up. Thomas had 12 children, nine daughters and three sons.
On June 11, 1865, Thomas Downing died in Logan County, Illinois. The original probate documents leave a blank for his widow, list five daughters [Margaret, Nancy, Susan, Mary and Rebecca] and three sons [George, William, Thomas]. Three daughters [Caroline, Elizabeth and Sarah] had died young or at least without heir. The child of the deceased daughter Hannah Downing French is listed. 12 children, all accounted for. Thomas had no will and probate took some time.
There apparently was a dispute which resulted in a suit to partition and to assign specific land to Loretta as her dower. It was filed September 23, 1867, more than two years after Thomas’ death. This suit lists the heirs of Thomas as Loretta, the five daughters, the child of Hannah and his FOUR sons George, William T., Thomas and Samuel W.
Samuel W.??? Where did he come from?
Samuel W. duly got his share of the estate, specific parcels of land which can be found on 1873 plat maps. Since he was not a minor we can assume he was a child of one of the first two marriages. He is not mentioned in any other documents before or after but he is a very real presence in the probate documents.
Samuel, brother of Thomas, died 14 months after Thomas. His son Samuel Wesley inherited a share and controlled more of that estate as guardian for various other heirs.
Did the courts get confused when the names were the same and the lands were all in the same area? Are land records wrong?
Or is the mysterious Samuel W. the 13th child of Thomas? [cue ‘Twilight Zone’ theme]