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“Facts” in Histories are Suspect

“Facts” in Histories are Suspect

In working with some early histories I noted some interesting differences. I assume much of it has to do with the politics of the time, who was writing the book, etc. Certainly it is evident in many “histories” who the “preferred” families were. And it was not unusual to pay for an “appropriate” mention.

For whatever reason, the “facts” vary from history to history. This example relates to one of the early settlers. I found equally interesting “facts” in the others.

In one Logan County (Illinois) history we learn that John and Hannah Downing came to Salt Creek with their sons Robert and James. Actually it says they are “said to have settled on Salt Creek.” I’m not sure what that means since there are clear records of residence and land purchase.

The 1886 history says the Downings came “between 1824 and 1827 or ’28.” Land purchases came after settlement. Perhaps these editors went on land purchase dates although I find it doubtful they had access to the records then.

A 1936 history (of Mt. Pulaski) written by Judge Lawrence Stringer (an historian of some note, although not always accurate – and definitely a politician) says: “The first permanent settlement in the Salt creek country, in the vicinity of present Mount Pulaski. was made by Robert Downing. With him, came his wife, Jane Morrow Downing, and his parents, John and Hannah Downing. Also about the same time, came his brother and wife, James and Ruth Downing.” Note that Robert brought his family rather than he came with his parents. I do not know if James and Ruth came with the rest of the family or just “about the same time” but James and Robert Downing were brothers and Jane and Ruth Morrow were sisters.

The Downings are believed to have arrived in 1822 from Ohio but there is no black and white proof of the date. In the 1820 census Robert was recorded in Monroe Township, Madison County, Ohio. Robert Downing voted on August 2, 1824, in Union Precinct, Sangamon County. (Logan was part of Sangamon County at that time.)

In 1822 John was 60 and Robert was 28. John and Robert both bought land, much of which remains in the hands of descendants.

The 1936 history says Robert Downing “was a Black Hawk war veteran.” He was a War of 1812 veteran, having served  from Ohio along with his brothers John and Josiah. In addition to the military records, he was receiving a pension for his service at his death. Note is made in his probate file that the government wouldn’t cash his final check. I have not seen evidence he served in the Black Hawk War and he is not listed as a veteran in the state’s records.

Such histories have to be considered clues and not factual evidence.

A Clue in Samuel Downing’s Bible

A Clue in Samuel Downing’s Bible

Samuel Downing was born in Maryland. The family soon moved west. At the age of 18 he served with the Ohio Militia in the War of 1812. In 1818 he married Margaret Matthews in Pike County, Ohio. After her death he married her widowed sister Mary Matthews Day.

Margaret and Mary were daughters of John Matthews, said to be a surveyor. The name of their mother is unknown. The only surviving Matthews child in 1880, William, said on the census that year his father was born in Ireland and his mother was born Pennsylvania.

Samuel Downing keep a record of the family in his Bible. The Bible, definitely a Protestant Bible, was printed in Dublin, Ireland, in 1781. Samuel kept his family records, except his own birth and death, and the Matthews family records in the Bible. The writing appears to be the same hand until Samuel’s death.

In the Bible is this mysterious listing: “Thomas Matthews Deceased January the 17th in the yeare of our lord 1833” and “And Sarah Matthews his Wife Died May the 15th in the yeare of our Lord 1840.”

There is no missing Thomas Matthews. Thomas, brother of Margaret and Mary, died in 1875, and he left a will. The probate documents state he died February 11, 1875, leaving “no widow, nor children, father or mother, but heirs John Mathews, heirs Margaret Downing, heirs Mary Downing, heirs Jane Lawrence and William Mathews.” Those are the Matthews children. The will indicates he was mute. (Matthews is spelled different ways in different places. Samuel Downing was consistent with Matthews.)

There is no hard information as to the name of the the Matthews father. It has always been said his name was John but I find no proof. It is possible it was assumed from the naming pattern of the children.

Samuel and Margaret named their children: George (Samuel’s father), Sarah, Elizabeth (Samuel’s mother), Thomas, Mary Jane (Jane was the name of one of George’s sisters and one of Margaret’s sisters; Margaret also had a sister Mary) and Samuel.

Maybe the name of the parents of the Matthews children was never a mystery. Maybe Samuel told us their names: Thomas and Sarah.

A Farmer is Born

A Farmer is Born

On this  date 128 years ago in a farmhouse three miles northwest of Mt. Pulaski in Logan County, Illinois, Eliza Harding Downing gave birth to her second son, Ellis. The couple already had an 18 month old.

When Ellis was two he got another brother.  This picture was taken when he was about 4, just before his maternal grandparents, their other daughter and three sons, none of whom were married at the time, moved to Iowa. His father’s father had served with his mother’s father during the Civil War. His paternal grandfather died in Arkansas as the war ended of “typhoid pneumonia.”

William H. Downing family

Apparently there was good rail service between north central Iowa because there seems to have been visiting between Eliza in Illinois and her family in Iowa.

The fourth and final son came when Ellis was 8. The family was complete. Or they gave up hope of ever having a girl.

The family had been living on land which William had inherited from his grandfather as his father’s heir when he came of age. Now he was able to purchase more of it. With the help of his sons he cleared the land. They wore high leather boots to protect them from snakes. They built a new house half mile east. Things were going well.

Then, in the fall of 1903 tragedy, struck. The oldest son, Clarence, caught typhoid. Then Ellis got it. William nursed Ellis while Eliza cared for the younger boys and the recovering Clarence. Then William got typhoid. Both of the boys survived but William did not. Just before Christmas he died leaving a widow and four minor sons.

It was not the plan for Ellis to be a farmer. He went to business school. But, in the end, Ellis was the one who stayed on the land and farmed while his brothers went their  ways. Each of his brothers and their wives had one son. Ellis and his wife had three sons. After 11 years he had a daughter – and then another one.

He died two weeks after his 90th birthday.

 

Moved Away

Moved Away

Recently I had a discussion with a relative – our mothers were cousins – about some family members. I knew they married but lost track after that. She remarked it was because I moved away.

I have heard a version of that before. But you know, if your ancestors hadn’t “moved away” you’d still be living in a cave in eastern Europe or wherever they currently think we came from.

Our mutual ancestors come from people who “moved away” for several generations. It’s my “last in” line with the shortest “moved away” history. The other lines had been moving away from Europe, then the east coast and so on, some for 200 years, when the Ryans arrived.

Michael Ryan married Catherine Donovan in Lismore Parish, Waterford, Ireland, November 26, 1825. They decided to move away. They boarded the Russell Baldwin in Liverpool and arrived in New York on July 28, 1834. They brought Bridget, Daniel Edward and John with them.

For reasons I can’t begin to imagine, they moved away from New York to southeast Wisconsin. They are not to be confused with another Ryan family who also went to that part of Wisconsin.

In 1844 they were living in Merton Township, Waukesha County, according to a later court transcript. They were there for the 1850 census. They managed to appear in court records so they are fairly easy to track.

In 1855 Daniel Edward married Catherine J. McKenney. Her parents had moved away from Ireland to New York where she was born and then moved away to Wisconsin.

In 1865 the Daniel and Catherine and their sons moved away from Wisconsin. Their sixth son, Thomas, was born in Wisconsin in 1864. The seventh son Edward Daniel, was born St. Joseph, Andrew County, Missouri, in 1865. Eventually Daniel and Catherine had 12 sons, including three sets of twins. Eight survived.

Daniel and Catherine were in Missouri about seven years, then moved away again, finally settling in Harper County, Kansas. There Edward Daniel Ryan met Lillie Margaret Wood. Her family had been trying to move away from Logan County, Illinois, to various places for years. Lillie was born in Falls County, Texas, on one attempt. Edward and Lillie married November 16, 1886, in Harper County. Shortly thereafter, her family moved away for the last time, back to where they started.

Edward and Lillie had a daughter and the trouble began. It was settled when Edward and Lillie got into a covered wagon with their daughter and moved away to Logan County, Illinois, where they stayed for the rest of their lives. They had nine more children, some of whom eventually moved away.

Where Does It End?

Where Does It End?

When I began entering my genealogy into PAF in the 1980s I pretty much stopped at my grandparents. Yes, my aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings, are there but not all the children of my grandparents’ cousins. Certainly not their children. Maybe not my cousin’s children. Vaguely there were concerns about privacy but also I wasn’t thinking about contemporaries. I was entering ancestors.

With DNA there is the suggestion you need six generations of complete information. I’m doing ok – with some notable exceptions – until I get to the children of my mother’s first cousins. But say my oldest great nephew wants to do his DNA. Six generations (in our mutual line) would be his mother, his grandfather, great grandmother, great great grandparents, 3rd great grandparents. I know or knew all those people! I have them in my database. But I don’t have all of their descendants. I’d probably recognize the names.

Now add all of his ancestors who married my relatives – his father, other grandparents and so on. I have no clue.

I don’t have an inclination to do any research to get all those people into my database. I could spend the rest of my life working on ancestors and, since I have a choice, that’s what I plan to do. Yes, if the information comes my way I’ll enter it so I can make you a chart. But you have to research it, source it, etc.

John Downing, Revolutionary War Veteran

John Downing, Revolutionary War Veteran

John Downing was born about 1762 in Maryland. Thanks to DNA testing we know he saw service in the Washington County, Maryland, militia. He was a Private, 5th Class, in Capt. Basil Williams Company, 2nd Battalion, in 1778. For many years he was believed to have served in Pennsylvania. See John Downing’s Elusive Service.

As far as we know, he did not apply for a pension which is part of the reason his service was elusive. As a result we don’t have a written version of his travels across the country. We know in 1783 he was living in Marsh Hundred, Washington County, Maryland. By 1786 he was living in Hopewell Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. In 1790 he is on the first federal census there. By 1808 he was in Jefferson Township, Monroe County, Ohio. A history of Madison County says he was “a native of Virginia.” It also tells us that in 1822 he moved to Logan County. In another error, it places Logan County in Ohio.

On August 6, 1831, he purchased 80 acres of federal land in Chester Township.

John Downing and his wife Hannah Frakes had eight children, seven of whom survived childhood. Three served in the War of 1812 while they lived in Ohio. One died in battle and one died not long after returning home. The third died in Logan County at the age of 94. Another son continued on to Iowa and another eventually went to Kansas. A daughter married and left for Oregon but got delayed in Kansas. Another daughter died in Logan County before her father.

Downing died on December 18, 1838, in Salt Creek Precinct, Sangamon now Logan County, Illinois. Less than two months later Logan County was officially formed. There were various early courthouses but the final one is in Lincoln. Almost immediately after all files were transferred to the new courthouse it burnt. There is no probate file nor any other records.

Unlike James Turley and Humphrey Scroggin, we know exactly where he is buried – in Bowers Templeman Cemetery.

French’s Chapel – Methodist Church

French’s Chapel – Methodist Church

For 81 years French’s Chapel served the residents of a rural area in Logan County. It was located on the south side of Salt Creek and just west of the Primm Road, a little over seven miles northwest of Mt. Pulaski, five miles east of Broadwell, seven miles south of Lincoln.

The church was built in 1870 on land originally owned by Asa and Hannah Clark French. Hannah was the daughter of John Winans Clark. Her uncle David Clark and her brother-in-law Richard Clark were Methodist Ministers and her cousin Dr. John Clark had been instrumental in the founding of the Mt. Pulaski Methodist Church.

Asa and Hannah had been holding services for the Methodist Episcopal Church in their home since about 1840. Caroline Alexander, the wife of Asa and Hannah’s son Ezekiel, had been converted at a meeting and was a devout member for the rest of her life. At her death they found a sugar bowl full of coins she had been saving to build a church.

The surviving French sons Daniel, John and Ezekiel were among the leaders in building the chapel. Ezekiel kept a record of expenses — the largest sum paid was $800 to G. Downing, presumed to be the contractor on the project. George Downing was a brother of Hannah Downing who married Daniel French, another son of Asa and Hannah. The total cost of the church was $1,650. The church was dedicated September 11, 1870.

The final service was held June 3, 1951. For many years a foundation remained but that is now gone. The French family no longer owns the land. No trace remains of French’s Chapel.

Humphrey Scroggin, Revolutionary War Veteran

Humphrey Scroggin, Revolutionary War Veteran

Humphrey Scroggin has been discussed before. His burial place is almost certainly in Carlyle Cemetery but his DAR marker is in Steenbergen. See Who is Buried in Humphrey Scroggin’s Grave?

Humphrey Scroggin was born in 1763 in Culpeper, Virginia. He served in Capt. S. Tarrant’s Company of Colonel Abram Penn’s Regiment. His application for a pension was more detailed as to his service record.

“On this seventeenth day of November, Eighteen hundred and Thirty four, personally appeared before the Circuit Court, in and for the county and state aforesaid, Humphrey Scroggins, a resident of said county and state, age Sixty Eight years, who being first duly sworn, according to law, doth on his oath, make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the provisions made by the act of Congress, passed June 7th, 1832 – That he was drafted into the service, in the State troops of the State of Virginia, in the year 1781, in the early part of the month of March, and served in the following manner and under the following named officers –

“That he was drafted into the Company commanded by Capt. George Hastern, but does not recollect the names of the Lieut. and Ensign – the Company belonged to Col. Richardson’s Regiment, Lieut. Col. Halcom – Recollects no other field officers – Said Regiment was immediately marched to guilford Court House in North Carolina and joined the Army commanded by Genl. Nathaniel Greene, the day after the Battle at that place, and was placed in Lawson’s Brigade –

“That the Army then marched in pursuit of the British, Down to Deep River, at Ramsay’s Mills – This took them 7 or 8 days by forced march – at Ramsay’s Mills, Lawson’s Brigade were all discharged, with the Exception of Capt. Hastern’s Company, and the Company commanded by Capt. Shaw – Our Company was then marched alone down to the lower part of North Carolina across Cape Fear River – The Company remained at Cape Fear River 2 or 3 weeks – Then marched back by the way of Hillsborough to Henry County, Virginia and were then discharged in the Latter part of May – He received a written discharge for three months service from Capt. Hastern.

“That he was drafted again in the year 1781, in the month of July – in Capt. Hamon Crite’s Company, Lieut. John Torrence – Regiment was Commanded by Col. Halcom – Recollects no other officers – Our Company was marched to Mobbins Hill, at Woodson’s ferry, on James River, where we joined our Regiment, then the army commanded (as he thinks) by the Marquis LaFayette – The Army marched across Pomunky River, and he with four others of his company, were placed in a reconoitering party, Commanded by Col. Matthews and marched to within 8 miles of Williamsburgh and Encamped at a place called Ruff Creek Church, and there remained 4 days – Then Fell back 4 miles and staid there 3 or 4 days – We 5 were then discharge from Col. Matthews for 3 months service – in Sept. as he thinks

“In November 1781 he volunteered in Capt. Peter Hasterns Company – the Company was placed in a Battalion or Regiment Commanded by Major Fearn consisting of 300 men and marched as a guard, having in charge 500 British and 40 tories taken as prisoners at the battle of Cowpens, at Tarletons Defeat – through Spittsylvania, Halifax, across Staunton River at (Chisholm’s?) Ford – a new guard then relieved us commanded by Col. Callaway, and we marched back to Henry County where we were discharged in December or January -Received a written discharge from Capt. Hastern for two months Service –

“In February 1781 (1782?) he volunteered in the Company commanded by Capt. Samuel Torrence, Lieut. Jno. Torrence – in the Regiment Commanded by Col. Matthews – marched to Spittsylvania, then Returned & were discharged – were gone 2 weeks – Received a written discharge from Capt. Torrence for 2 weeks Service.

“That in all, his service was 8 1/2 months – that the said 4 written discharges were all burned together with his papers, in his sons house, which burned down in this County, about four years since – That when he Entered the service at the Several periods above stated, he resided in the county of Henry in the State of Virginia, and removed after the war to South Carolina, from there to Kentucky, from there to Tennessee and from that State, to Sangamon County, in the State of Illinois where he has resided for (last or just?) seven years.”

On October 15, 1784, he bought 351 in District 96 in South Carolina. Shortly thereafter he married Sarah Ann Kirby, a daughter of David Kirby and Elizabeth Tarrant, and a sister to James Turley’s wife Agnes. Were they related to Capt. S. Tarrant? I don’t know.

By 1800 the Scroggin family was in Warren County, Kentucky, according to the reconstructed census. The census was taken from the tax lists so it seems likely he owned land there.

On September 10, 1814, he bought 160 acres in Gallatin County, Illinois. By the 1830 census he was living in Sangamon now Logan County, Illinois. From his pension application it would seem he arrived in the area about 1827.

On March 15, 1835, Humphrey Scroggin’s pension application was denied for having less than six month service.

He died in July of 1845.

 

 

 

 

 

James Turley, Revolutionary War Veteran

James Turley, Revolutionary War Veteran

James Turley was born January 8, 1761, in Fairfax County, Virginia. We know a great deal about James Turley because he wrote about his life in detail his application for a Revolutionary War pension.

“I was born in the year 1761 at my residence in this County, I have a record of my [birth] copied from my Father’s family Bible.” It was in Virginia in 1781 that he married Agnes Kirby. Agnes was one of the daughters of David Kirby and Elizabeth Tarrant. (They will come up again.)

Turley wrote “the first time I entered service I was a resident of Fairfax County, Virginia.” In his letter for his application for a pension he said he was only 16 when he enlisted in August of 1777. He was a private in Captains Thomas Pollard’s and John Seal’s companies of Colonel Rumney’s Virginia regiment.  He served at the Battle of Germantown and was discharged about December 1, 1777.

“I moved to Henry County in 1778 and resided there fourteen years.” In the spring or summer of 1781, he enlisted and served three months as a private in Captain Hill’s company of Colonel Richardson’s Virgina regiment. Immediately after completing that service he enlisted and served four weeks as a private in Captain Torrence’s company of Colonel Lyon’s Virginia regiment.

“I moved thence to South Carolina where I resided four years, thence to Montgomery County Kentucky and lived twenty years…” In 1807 he was the Sheriff of Montgomery County, Kentucky.

“…then to Union and lived five years…” I haven’t looked into this. It is likely Union County, Kentucky, on the southeast border of Illinois. Union County, Illinois, would be out of the way for his journey from Kentucky to central Illinois.

“…and thence to this County in which I have resided thirteen years…” According to his account, made in 1831, he arrived Sangamon now Logan County, Illinois, in 1818.

His chronology makes his arrival in Sangamon County to be 1821. He is recorded as being one of the first settlers in the area, probably arriving a bit earlier. His granddaugher Martha, born in 1822, was the first white child born in what became Logan County. He voted in Sangamon County on June 23, 1821, in the Militia election, and on August 2, 1824, when he was Clerk of the election.

On June 7, 1832, he was awarded a pension effective March 4, 1831, in amount of $23.33 (and a third) per year, payable semi annually. How they divided that one third cent is not stated.

He died on June 4, 1836, and was buried in the Turley Graveyard, now Carlyle Cemetery. The exact location is unknown.

 

 

 

Lake Fork Predestinarian Baptist Church

Lake Fork Predestinarian Baptist Church

I originally placed a version of this on the Logan County ILGenWeb site, of which I am the County Coordinator. It remains there. Since that time there have been many changes. I no longer know the location of one copy of the records. The one I know of is too fragile to scan further. I understand the Primitive Baptist Library in Carthage, Illinois, has an old photocopy of one set. I am posting the information here using the theory that the more places it is posted the more likely the records will survive.

The Lake Fork Church of the Predestinarian Baptists was the first organized religion in south Logan County and perhaps in Logan County itself. Amazingly, two copies of the contemporaneous records of this denomination have survived. They appear to be identical and are in extremely fragile condition. Many years ago the late Dalen Shellhammer, a genealogist in this area for more than 50 years, read one copy and made some notes. I read pages of the other copy and made additional notes, including some history and genealogy related to the group and its members.

The Lake Fork Church of the Predestinarian Baptists, a strict, fundamentalist group, was organized January 20, 1827, at the house of James Turley by William Kenner, Hiram Bowman and Phillip Stephens. Hiram Bowman was chosen as moderator and James Turley as Clerk. James Turley and his wife were the first white settlers in south Logan County, arriving from Kentucky and locating in section 30 of what is now Mt. Pulaski Township.

The seven original members of the Lake Fork Church of the Predestinarian Baptists were: James L. Turley, Charles Barney, James Scot (sic), Carter Scroggin, Agness Turley, Margaret P. Turley and Phebe Scroggin.

Meanwhile, in Greene County, Ohio, the Regular Baptist Church of Indian Run, for reasons unclear, decided to migrate en masse to Illinois. Most of those who did not migrate in the first wave came within a couple years. The original members of that church were: (men) Abraham Lucas, Michael Mann, Philip Stevens, Solomon Wood, Lewis Chance, John Turner, Ebenezer Perry, James William Wilson, Peter P. Lucas, Joseph Lucas, Thomas Lucas, Samuel Nives, and William Copeland; (women) Sarah Copeland, Elizabeth Chance, Massy/Marcy Kelsey Lucas [wife of Abraham], Sarah Price Lucas [wife of Joseph], Rachel Perry, Mary Lee, Elizabeth Mann, Margaret Smith, Mary Lucas Turner, Sarah Hoblit Lucas [wife of Thomas], Sarah Lucas Copeland, Phebe Lucas Wood, and Elizabeth Stanberry. Most of them ended up in south Logan County and became part of the Lake Fork Predestinarian Baptist Church, soon to become the Regular Baptist Church of Lake Fork (1833).

Religious services were held at the home of James Turley until March 1828 when the home of Boston Finders was purchased. This served as the meeting house until June 1831 when, according to the minutes, Brother Collins and Turner were appointed to choose a spot for a new church building.  “Selected a spot on William Copeland’s land at or near a spring and Brother Copeland agrees to give one acre of land to bild (sic) said meeting house on and to make a deed to the same.”  The trustees were authorized to sell the old meeting house and “convert the money toward bilding (sic) a new meeting house”  (November 1831) [Several researchers believe this spot was north of the Lake Fork ditch a little over a mile south of Steenbergen Cemetery on the east side of the road. Nothing remains.]

In 1836 William Copeland was made Clerk and Michael Mann, Moderator.  The meetings were held on Saturday, before the first Sunday each month.  Many families would come great distances, bringing baskets of food and prepared to stay over night. Michael Mann and Stephen Hukill both preached, as a rule.

In April of 1841 John Turner succeeded Robert Burns, who later joined the church at Buffalo Hart, as trustee.  John R. Burns, who also transferred to the Buffalo Hart church, served as Clerk of the Lake Fork church, succeeding William Copeland in April 1856.

The discomforts caused by cold weather were apparent in the church minutes when in 1856 and 1857 they voted to hold their meetings in Copeland Schoolhouse.  In February of 1857 the minutes show that $618.00 was “in the hands of the building committee” and the church instructed the committee “to go on and enclose the house with windows and doors and the church will be responsible for what is lacking.” This apparently solved their problem as the winter of 1857 they used the “old meeting house as usual.”

July 12, 1859 – James Cheatham was appointed deacon to replace late Carter Scroggin
August 1860 – A. L. Clayton replaced Stephen Hukill as trustee
April 1862 – James Cheatham replaced J. L. Mann as Clerk
May 31, 1866 – Michael Mann, pastor for 30 years, died

In July 1868 the members voted to move the building from “where it now stands to a place near Brother J. L. Mann’s residence.” J. L. Mann and G. N. Simpson were to be superintendents of the moving.  In Nov 1869 they voted to “fense house known as Lake Fork Baptist meeting house with a good plank fense”. The moving committee was discharged and the deed received for the land from J. L. Mann and his wife.

Brothers and Sisters from Buffalo Hart Grove who requested letters of dismissal to form their own church (December 1871) were: Robert and Patsy Burns, John and Lucy Burns, Benjamin and Ellen Luckett, W. A. and Emily Burns and James Elder.

The records for the Lake Fork Baptist Church end in August 1894. There was no mention of the church closing but it is believed that the church closed its doors about this time. No one has located any pictures of any of the church buildings.

To view the records click on the links below. The scans were done by Pamela Erlenbush, a triple descendant of Abraham Lucas.

Lake Fork Church 1

Lake Fork Church 2

Lake Fork Church 3