Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Name Revealed

   Sometime before Christmas I sent to the Illinois Department of Public Health to obtain a death certificate for my ggg-grandfather Theodore Jones.  My line to Theodore looks like this:
Elizabeth Thomas (me!)
William Thomas (my dad)
Wendell Thomas (my grandfather)
Walter Thomas (my great grandfather)
Turesa Jones (my gg grandmother)
Theodore Jones (my ggg grandfather)
  What I know about Theodore has been gleaned from the records of other individuals and from the googlebooks copy of The History of Livingston County, Illinois, 1878 edition. Through many readings of the History I discovered that Theodore and a brother named Thomas were the son of one of the first pioneers in the county, a Charles Jones who came to Illinois from Bordentown, New Jersey.  I discovered that another son of Charles Jones, named St. Clair, was one of the first marriages in the county, but I haven't found any other records pertaining to St. Clair Jones.  The History also told me that Theodore's mother was one of the first deaths in Forrest Township, and it even said she was buried in "Judge Burton's deer park" but it fails to reveal the name of Mrs. Jones.
   In searching for the family on I discovered that a few others had trees which included not Theodore, but a sister of Theodore, named Elizabeth Hopkins Jones who married a politician named Orrin Phelps.  I even discovered a picture of Theodore's sister, and I suspect it is a 4 generation photo with Theodore's sister as the eldest member of the family.
AG Phelps, Elizabeth Hopkins Jones Phelps, Elizabeth Davis, Dorothy
(Caption from member)

I have tried to contact the member who originally posted this picture, seeking further information about the Jones family of Fairbury, Illinois, but so far I haven't received a reply.  After I learned of Elizabeth Hopkins Jones Phelps, I wondered if the name "Hopkins" might be the maiden  name of Elizabeth and Theodore's mother.  It was a common practice to use a mother's maiden name as the child's middle name.  And in fact I knew that the practice had continued in this family since my great grandfather Walter was named Walter "Jones" Thomas after his mother's maiden name.  But I kept searching.
   This week I got a confirmation that my hunch was correct!  Just when I had nearly given up, Theodore's death certificate arrived.
   The first thing I noticed is that is has his address listed!  I looked it up on googlemaps and I *think* I've discovered the house that my ggg-grandparents lived in.  If googlemaps is directing me to the right location, it does indeed show a house of the right age that it could have easily been there during Theodore and Elizabeth Rachel's retirement when they moved to town.  Not only that I know that my great grandmother Turesa moved in with her mother after Turesa's husband died.  Even more interestingly Elizabeth Rachel's obituary reports that Mr. and Mrs. Walter Thomas were in attendance at her funeral, so I can surmise that *Mrs. Walter Thomas*, my great grandmother Blanche whom I actually knew, probably visited that house.  There's something about that thought that ties it all together; from a relative that I knew as a living part of my family to this other branch of relatives that is slowly becoming more and more animated as I learn more about them.  The great grandmother that we called Mimmie was actually there, with these people and probably at that house. Neat.
   The second thing I noticed is that I WAS RIGHT!  Everything I thought about Theodore's parents was true.  There was his father Charles from New Jersey.  But best of all, Theodore's mother *was* named "Hopkins."  For the first time I was able to learn the name of my pioneering 4Xgreat grandmother who was "buried in Judge Burton's deer park; it was Mary Hopkins.  It says she was born in "Penn."

 The informant was Henry T. Jones, the son of Theodore Jones and brother of my gg grandmother.  I wonder if Henry really knew his grandmother's name...he could never have known her; she died long before he was born.  But Theodore and Elizabeth Rachel only had two children who survived into adulthood.  I'm hoping in their small family they passed on this information to their son so that Henry's report of his grandmother's name is true.
   It would be wonderful if the member who posted the picture of Theodore's sister would respond to my message.  It would be even better if that person would tell me that more pictures of the family exist and yes, maybe there is a photo of Elizabeth's brother Theodore in one of them.  But for today and I am very happy to have learned the identity of Mary Hopkins, who is no longer just "the wife of Charles Jones." I hope I can learn more about her and her family that lived in Pennsylvania.  But mostly I am glad to have discovered her name.  Now I can properly remember her in a way that perhaps hasn't happened since 1917.

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