Monday, January 17, 2011

Keeping Up with the Joneses

   I had discovered that my father's grandfather's grandmother was Elizabeth Rachel Popejoy Jones; but the more I tried to learn about her the more enigmatic she became.  Let's look at what I knew...

I had her obituary from yesterday's post, which stated very clearly that she had married a man named Theodore B. Jones.  Yet when looking on the internet and on other people's trees on I kept encountering listings for Elizabeth Rachel Popejoy married to "Henry Jones" or sometimes they said Theodore with (Henry) in parenthesis as if they weren't sure of his name.  Well I had her obituary so I was sure she married Theodore not Henry...or so I thought.  That was until I sent to Livingston County, Illinois for her marriage license.  I got a very thoughtful handwritten note from someone at the clerk's office saying that the only marriage license they found for Elizabeth R. Popejoy was to Henry Jones. What?  The plot thickens.

Now I was really perplexed. (And on top of everything else the county clerk at that time was an S. Ladd which is an intriguing link to my husband's family.) But I had also sent for Elizabeth Rachel's death certificate.  It only said "widowed" but not the name of her husband.  I looked to the records of her children for more information.  I had already researched her daughter Turesa Jones Thomas, so I returned to her death certificate just to be sure, "Name of Father: Theodore Jones."  So who was Henry?  Was Theodore's middle name Henry? Did he go by another name earlier in life?  I was puzzled.

To make matters more confusing the only time I could find Elizabeth Rachel Popejoy as a child, she appears on the 1850 census listed with several other Popejoy children but living with a head of household, presumably a step-father who is also --you guessed it -- a Jones!

It became a joke in our house; every time I saw "Jones" on anything I just laughed and shook my head, oh no another one!

I finally looked carefully once more at the language in Elizabeth Rachel's obituary and noticed what I had failed to recognize before--the date of her marriage to Theodore: September 12, 1856.  But the date on the marriage certificate to *Henry* Jones was August 8, 1852, a whole four years earlier!  Why hadn't I noticed that before?!  Apparently Elizabeth Rachel had married TWO men named "Jones."

Armed with this new insight I discovered that I could search the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900, on the Illinois State Archives Website.  So I searched for the Groom's name:
"Jones, Theodore" in Livingston County and what do you suppose I found...

JONES, THEODORE     JONES, ELIZABETH R (MRS)    1856-09-12 C  /24   47  LIVINGSTON   

No wonder they hadn't found a record for Elizabeth Rachel "Popejoy" marrying Theodore Jones at the county clerk's office; by the time she married Theodore, she was already a Jones! 

What a fascinating turn of events.  Elizabeth Rachel had been raised by a step-father named Charles Jones, she married a Henry Jones, then four years later she married my great great great grandfather Theodore B. Jones.

What's more, I discovered that her sister Susan Popejoy married the Joseph Jones that you see listed on the 1850 Census above.  I've yet to untangle the mystery of all these Joneses. It's clear that while I may not understand them all, my great great great grandmother Elizabeth Rachel had no trouble at all keeping up with the Joneses!


  1. Hi Elizabeth. Do you suppose that Theodore and Henry might be brothers? In my tree, I have several instances of one spouse becoming widowed and then marrying the sibling of the dead spouse. I'll be interested to see how all these Joneses shake out!

  2. I sure wish I knew. I have turned over every lead I can to find out more about Theodore and I just haven't come up with a lot. I have discovered some other siblings but not a Henry. So confusing. But the thought had crossed my mind. In addition, one of Elizabeth Rachel and Theodore's children was named Henry T. Jones. It seems rather unlikely that E.R. would have named her son after her first husband if he weren't some kind of relative or person of importance to Theodore. I will keep looking...