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Category: Logan County

FindMyPast

FindMyPast

When I first saw FindMyPast I was particularly struck by the maps which show you the person’s location on that census. I could see many uses for that. And the census maps in FindMyPast would be useful — IF they were dependably accurate. But they aren’t. And there are too many I know aren’t to trust those I don’t know.

Robert Downing arrived in Illinois and settled along Salt Creek in the center of the state in 1821. I know what land he bought and where it is. It hasn’t moved since.

In the 1830 Census for SANGAMON County, Illinois, I found Robert Downing. There he is on a page with the folks that were his neighbors at the time, many of whom, or their descendants, would continue as his neighbors the rest of his life. With the transcription is the map of his location. He is found somewhere north of the Decatur airport. Decatur is in Macon County, Illinois.

From the 1840 census for Mt. Pulaski Precinct, LOGAN County, Illinois, I find Robert Downing. He didn’t move. In 1839 Logan was created from Sangamon. The transcript is correct. I know it is the right person, right neighbors, etc. Yet according to the map he is now northeast of Paris in EDGAR County, Illinois, just west of the Illinois-Indiana border. In 1850 he is in the same location in Edgar County. When I began to look for the 1860 census for him FindMyPast crashed.

In 1870 Robert is still farming but he is doing so from a house in the town of Mt. Pulaski according to the map. The census sheet show his neighbors, all those farmers. Amazing that they all moved to town together isn’t it? In 1880 Robert, now a man of 86, retired farmer, living with his wife, son, daughter in law and grandchildren, is again located in the town of Mt. Pulaski according to the map. Unfortunately the actual census page shows his neighbors to be people living on farms. At this point it crashed again. It seems to do that a lot.

FindMyPast also has the Social Security Death Index. The searches I did returned what I expected. You can get the SSDI free at FamilySearch.org though.

THREE BROTHERS

THREE BROTHERS

There were three brothers who went to Illinois. Most genealogists will tell you if it starts with “there were three brothers” or a descent from an Indian princess or royalty it is likely fantasy genealogy. Not so fast.

David Clark of Rahway, New Jersey, married Sarah Winans. They had nine known children, all born in New Jersey. The youngest three, all boys, were David, John Winans and Isaac – our three brothers who went to Illinois. They all went from Rahway to Miami County, Ohio, to Sangamon County, Illinois, although not together.

David Clark  went to Kentucky in 1798 and married Rachel Rutter there about 1800. She died in 1804. He went to Cincinnati in 1805, made brick for the first brick house there, then went back to New Jersey where in 1806 he married Sarah Winans. They became, like his parents, David Clark and Sarah Winans. In 1809 they moved to Miami County, Ohio. David’s oldest son Richard Winans Clark married John Winans’ second daughter Margaret Ann Clark in 1829 in Miami County, Ohio. The same year David, Sarah, the newlyweds and most of David and Sarah’s other children packed up and moved to Sangamon County, Illinois. David was a farmer and a Methodist preacher.

John Winans married Ann “Nancy” Isgrig in Bourbon County, Kentucky. They soon went to Miami County, Ohio. Family records indicate that their son Daniel was born in Ohio in 1812 but John Winans did service in the War of 1812 in the Kentucky Mounted Volunteer Militia, mustering in on August 31, 1813. After that he was undoubtedly in Ohio. He did not settle in Sangamon County, soon to be Logan County, Illinois, until 1838 when he was 60 years old. At that time his eldest daughter Hannah and her husband Asa French also moved to Logan County.

Isaac, the youngest, first married Lydia Zeliph. She died before 1821. He then married the widow Sarah Royal Stought, in Miami County, Ohio.  In 1829 they went Illinois, almost certainly stopping first in Sangamon County, where Sarah’s daughter Hannah by her first marriage married David Ward Clark, a child of Isaac’s brother John Winans, in Sangamon now Logan in 1831. Note that John Winans was not yet in Illinois but several of his children were. Issac settled in Fulton County where he owned a water powered grist mill.

Three brothers did come to Illinois. So far no Indian princesses or royalty. My emigrant Isgrig ancestor was transported to America by his majesty, a prisoner from Old Bailey – does that make a royalty connection?

FEMALE ANCESTORS

FEMALE ANCESTORS

How many generations in your direct female line do you know? This question is for females. The way records were kept men can generally go further back with data on male lines than females with their female lines. Mitochondrial DNA is inherited solely from the mother and thus enables the trace of your maternal line back in time. Unfortunately it can’t put a name to the members of the line.

Obviously you are #1 and your mother is #2. My maternal grandmother #3 was Leona Ethel Ryan Downing who was born in 1892 and died in 1975. Her mother was Lillie Margaret Wood Ryan #4. Lillie was born in 1871 and died in 1956. I knew all of these people. Lillie’s mother, #5, was Sarah Katherine Lucas Wood. Sarah was born in 1835 and died in 1896. Sarah’s mother was Mary Turner Lucas #6. She was born in 1813 and died in 1855. Lillie, Sarah and Mary are buried in the same area of Lake Bank Cemetery, Lake Fork Township, Logan County, Illinois.

Mary’s mother was Margaret Low Turner. Margaret #7 was born in Maryland around 1793, had 13 children and died, presumably, in DeWitt County, Illinois, after 1870. Her husband Allen had died in DeWitt in April 1846. Margaret’s mother was Mary Low, maiden name unknown. We know her name was Mary from land records in Ohio. Mary #8 was born about 1771 in Maryland, married Nathan Low and died after 1827, presumably in Madison now Clark County, Ohio, where her husband died a few years later.

Expand the View 2

Expand the View 2

This is my maternal grandfather’s mother’s line.


Eliza S. “Lida” Harding [1869-1942] m. William H. Downing [1863-1903] m. John Rupp [1878-1935]
do
Benjamin Harding [1836-1915] m. Mary Ellen Clark [1847-1914]
so 
Daniel Harding [1798-1869] m. Elizabeth Wilson [1801-1884]
so
John Bennett Hardin [?-1849] probable but not sufficiently proven – his ancestors are known should proof surface


My maternal grandfather’s maternal grandmother’s line.


Mary Ellen Clark [1847-1914] m. Benjamin Harding [1836-1915]
do
Rev. Richard Winans Clark [1808-1854] m. Margaret Ann Clark [1808-1867]
so
Rev. David Clark [1776-1847] m. Rachel Rutter [? – c 1803] m. Sarah Winans [1788-1843]
so
David Clark [1737-c 1802] m. Sarah Winans [1737-1807]


Margaret Ann Clark was the daughter of Rev. David Clark’s brother John Winans Clark [1779-1859] m. Ann “Nancy” Isgrig [1783-1867]. The Isgrig line can be traced back to William Isgrig, son of William and Ann. William Isgrig was transported from Old Bailey in London to Maryland in 1740 instead of being hanged for stealing after his boss testified on his behalf. This record is online.


The Winans go way back and include early New Englanders as well as early Dutch. The ancestry of David Clark is 100% unproven. It’s a very common name. A fantasy version can be found online. My theory is he came from Scotland and brought the passion for the Methodist religion his descendants carried west with him.


I know nothing about Elizabeth Wilson except she also came from Virginia but they were married in Ohio. They had at least 13 children, most of whom apparently did not reach adulthood. One, Wilson, appears to be buried at Laenna with his wife Christena. I have no clue.


My maternal grandfather’s paternal grandmother’s line.


Delilah J. Downing [1842-1909] m. William N. Downing [1839-1865] m. David Shellhammer [1830-1912]
do
Robert Downing [1793-1887] m. Jane Morrow [1802-1882]
so
John Downing [1762-1838] m. Hannah Frakes [1766-1842]
so
James Downing [?-?] m. Nancy Gardner [?-?]
so
brick wall


Several Morrow children married Downings and Shoups [sister of John Downing] in Ohio. The Morrows were from New York. 


Hannah Frakes was the daughter of Robert Frakes, born in England about 1746, who married Mary Dawson in Pennsylvania about 1766. 


Some Downing, Frakes, Shoup and other families traveled from Pennsylvania to Ohio to Illinois together or in tandem.

Expand the View

Expand the View

I recently had a lengthy email correspondence with another transplanted Logan County native. We have different backgrounds and no ancestors in common but when we started talking our ancestors, collaterals and their families brushed at so many spots that I learned new things.


This indicates to me it would be worthwhile to expand our somewhat limited view and see what turns up.


If you have any connection to these lines or think you might – or know anything that might be interesting – I want to hear from you.


This is my maternal grandfather’s direct male line [with spouses]. This is what is used for most DNA, which will come up later. 


Ellis Downing [1888-1978] m L. Ethel Ryan [1892-1975]
so
William H. Downing [1863-1903] m. Eliza S. Harding [1869-1942]
so
William N. Downing [1839-1865] m. Delilah J. Downing [1842-1909]
so
Samuel Downing [1794-1866] m. Margaret Matthews [1797-1836] m. Mary Matthews Day [1800-1847]
so
George Downing [1867-1848] m. Elizabeth Bennett [1772-1802] m. Winifred Downing [1778-1841]
so
Timothy Downing [c 1744-c 1800] m. unknown m. Mary Chenoweth [1749-after 1791]
so
brick wall


Samuel Downing came to Logan County with his second wife Mary Matthews. Samuel was born in Maryland, lived many years in Ohio and came to Illinois. Mary was born in Ohio. Samuel’s first wife Margaret was Mary’s sister. Samuel’s brother Thomas, members of his assorted families and various members of the Matthews family also came to Logan County. According to family history John Matthews, father of Margaret, Mary and others, was born in Ulster, Ireland. This is important.


Samuel’s father and grandfather were also born in Maryland.


Note that there are two Downing-Downing marriages. Delilah is the daughter of Robert, son of John, all of Logan County. John came from “Virginia” which, at the time, could be about anywhere. Before his father James he is a blank.


Winifred is the daughter of Joseph, another Downing line living in Pike County, Ohio, but Joseph came there from Maryland. Before that he is a blank.


To the best of anyone’s knowledge and all research to date, these three lines are not related.


Enter DNA. DNA testing indicates that all three [and one or two others tested] have a common ancestor back about the above Timothy’s grandfather. This totally ruins my theory that they came by UFO, a theory which conveniently explains some relatives. 


Further, testing indicates they came from Ulster. It appears likely, from research in yet another DNA matched line which my ancestors did not marry, that this common ancestor came in through District 96, South Carolina. This will come up again. Sarah Kirby and Humphrey Scroggin were married there. But that’s another line.


See, we already have circles.

William Henry Downing Probate

William Henry Downing Probate

William Henry Downing’s probate file came from the Logan County Circuit Clerk. Parts of it could be found at IRAD and the whole probate would be in the FamilySearch files.


On December 2, 1903, in the typhoid epidemic, William Henry Downing died. He was the only child of William Nelson Downing, who died in the Civil War, ironically of “typhoid pneumonia,” and Delilah Downing Downing. He was 40 years old, not expecting to die and had no will.





His heirs were his widow Eliza Harding Downing, sons Clarence, Charles Ellis, Ennis and Floyd. Clarence was 17 and Floyd was 7. [Floyd isn’t in the picture.]


The widow was named Administrix on December 8, 1903. David Shellhammer, husband of Delilah Downing Downing, and James Shellhammer, Delilah’s first son by her second marriage, stood as sureties. Appointed as appraisers were Lewis Upp, Charles Brooker and William Beckers, all three very close neighbors. Brooker would become the father in law of the eldest son Clarence. Upp was married to a Lincoln, descendant of the same immigrant ancestor as the more famous Lincoln.


They finished up their work promptly and reported on December 28, 1903, valuing the property of the estate at $4,700.25. The list is four pages long and is quite specific at times – “6 rocking chairs, 1 bay mare named Brownie, 1 red steer, 1 gray mare, 66 hogs” – and less specific at others – “1 lot of chickens” [which I first read as “a lot of chickens”]. 


The value of the widow’s property as prescribed by law, which included school books, a sewing machine, beds, one fourth of a cow for every family member [fortunately for the cow there were four members], two sheep for every family member, one horse, etc., was $1,281.50. 


The Administrix reported on March 23, 1907. There was $4,700.25 in receipts which included $599.37 for “property not sold but kept…to make up amount shown on appraisement bill.” In the long list of bills totalling $3,704.76 we learn that funeral expense was $263.75 and the stone cost $1,140. The balance after all bills was $995.49, less than the widows’ amount.





The land apparently passed separately. It is not mentioned. Each son received 80 acres which was farmed by son Ellis until the early 1970s. Most of it is now farmed by his grandson, Roy Downing.

Delilah Downing Downing Shellhammer Will

Delilah Downing Downing Shellhammer Will

Delilah Downing Downing Shellhammer was the youngest child of Robert Downing whose probate was previously discussed. I had never considered that she had a will or probate but I found it in the probate records posted online at FamilySearch. These probate files are more work to collect, not being word searchable, but they are also free. Help with the records





Delilah died June 22, 1909. She first married William Nelson Downing who died in the Civil War. She then married David Shellhammer. She had a son, William Henry Downing, by her first husband. William Henry died in 1903 leaving four sons. She had two sons, James and Albert, and two daughters, Sarah Jane Shellhammer West and Augusta Shellhammer Park, by her second husband. 


On June 1, 1909, Delilah executed a will. Delilah couldn’t write and had to sign it with her mark. Whether Delilah couldn’t write or was too ill to write at the time is unknown.


Delilah very carefully and specifically divided her property into fifths giving one fifth to each child and the remaining fifth to be equally among the heirs of her deceased son William. Her estate consisted of her personal effects and furniture and land in Section 1, Mt. Pulaski Township. She directed that one heir buy out all the others and that the others cooperate to do that.


Finally she named T. A. Scroggin executor of her will. There were no claims against the estate. Everyone cooperated and probate closed November 1, 1909. 


Some of Delilah’s descendants should have taken a lesson from her will.

Robert Downing Probate

Robert Downing Probate

This is the first of several planned posts on probate. This probate file was obtained in the standard way from the Logan County Circuit Court Clerk.



On June 14, 1887, Robert Downing died. The War of 1812 veteran and one of the earliest settlers in Logan County, Illinois, was 93 1/2 years old. He died without a will. Letters of Administration were not issued to his eldest surviving son, Robert Harden Downing, until January 3, 1888. As he died with little money, no land and two of his daughters were given a lump sum by agreement of all other heirs it would appear he had carefully divested himself of most of his property, probably beginning after the death of his wife Jane Morrow Downing on May 16, 1882.


The heirs of Robert Downing were the four daughters of his deceased eldest son John, son Robert Harden who was the administrator, daughter Mary Downing Roberts, son Lorenzo, son Alexander, the son of his deceased son Henry Clay, daughter Melita Downing Downing [correction added March 23, 2012] daughter Elizabeth Downing Downing, daughter Delilah Downing Downing Shellhammer. One child, Hannah, had died young.


At the time of his death Robert was receiving a pension of $24, apparently per year, for his War of 1812 service. In the estate was an uncashed check for $24 which was characterized as “utterly worthless” as the government refused to pay it.


Daughters Elizabeth and Delilah, the youngest of the children, were given $200 each which all of the other heirs agreed was proper so that they “might equally share the estate.” This seems to indicate the others already had their $200 at the time of death. Each heir signed off on the agreement. Their individual affidavits tell us where they were located at the time as well as their name. 


The stone for Robert cost $23.75. I would have to guess this is the “Father” stone at the side of the major stone for Robert and Jane. In the foreground is the War of 1812 marker.





When all was said and done, exclusive of the $400 above, each of the eight heirs received only $53.28. The four daughters of John each received $13.32. Elizabeth died after her father but before the disbursement. Each of her eight children got $6.66.

13

13

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]

10,000 Dead People

10,000 Dead People

It was a long and miserable December thanks to the cold from hell. The bright spot is when I was able to be up but not able to go out I worked on my “10,000 Dead People” database and got it to a place where it could be uploaded. I had to divide it into thirds to do that and fidget with the formatting to get each part to reasonable size. It went up the last week of December and almost immediately I began receiving additions, corrections, etc.

What I personally call 10,000 Dead People is basically a list of people buried in south Logan County, Illinois. Why there? With only a few exceptions this includes all of my ancestors back to the beginning of this country so I am particularly concentrated in this location. Unfortunately that made it more difficult to work on which is why I gave it the frivolous name. I am related to a lot of these people, was very close to some of them, knew many more of them. It’s difficult to look at some of them as a name on a stone. Too many memories.

Now it is up and it is a great resource for those researching in south Logan County along with the Logan County ILGenWeb site which, if I do say so, contains many resources for researchers of the same area.

It’s permanently a work in progress. If you have additions or corrections send them on.