Monday, February 28, 2011

Notes - Where I'm Stuck

   I feel like many of my lines have become brick walls.  I just keep looking at the same information over and over but haven't gotten any eureka moments or breakthroughs to take me further.  Going down my tree from top to bottom, these are the places I have come to a standstill.

   John "Dock" Thomas b. 1824 in Bristol, England, moved to Wales as a child, then to the US. His story, with some errors in the dates, can be found in the Portrait and Biographical Album of Vermillion County, Illinois, p. 679. This text and other distant relatives with their own family histories point towards the parents of John Thomas being named Jacob and Sarah Thomas.  Searching for them in Wales or England has been a dead end; there are so many people with these names in those locations.  I am not sure how to proceed.
   John Thomas was married three times according to the Biographical Album, which states that his 2nd wife, mother of my gg grandfather, was named Ann Davis.  Other distant family members agree with this.  However my gg grandfather wrote his mother's name as being Ann Hughs on his marriage license.  This is confusing and I am not sure what to think.  Ann Davis is nearly as common a name as all the Thomases when searching in England and Wales.  I am at a loss for where to look next to sort out this line.

   Contining to look backwards along my great grandfather Thomas' line I find that I have sorted out quite a lot regarding his mother's family.  From various documents and googlebooks sources I have gone as far back as my 4Xg grandfather, Charles Jones, who was born in New Jersey and came to Livingston County, Illinois from Bordentown, NJ with his family in about 1837.  Charles was born in 1798 and from a cemetery record appears to have died in 1885.  I haven't found Charles in any records in New Jersey and I don't know anything about his family of origin.  But now that I have a death date there is a possibility that I might be able to find an obituary for him if we make another trek to Fairbury to the library.
   I have just learned that the wife of Charles Jones was named Mary Hopkins and she was born in Pennsylvania.  She died shortly after moving to Illinois and the only reference I can find about her burial location says she was buried in Judge Burton's deer park in Forrest Township.  Is there a small burial ground that sprang up in that location?  This is something to explore the next time we visit Livingston County.  When looking for Hopkins families in Pennsylvania there were at least two that have quite a bit written about them. Now to try to determine if Mary was from either of these groups.

   For years all I knew was told to me by my paternal grandfather's mother.  I have been in contact with a 1st cousin twice removed who verified what I had written down as a child and told me a little more.  I know that my 3Xg grandfather was named James B. McElfresh and that his son Albert Milton was born in Steubenville, OH.  I have found the family on one census in 1880 in Steubenville.  I am not sure when they moved to Indiana, but my cousin knew that James had remarried a woman named Louisa.  I discovered them on a census in Grant County Indiana but I never knew if that James B. McElfresh was really my relative.  Now that I know I can claim him I wonder if I can discover his grave site, death date and possibly an obituary.  I don't know why the McElfreshes moved from Ohio to Indiana.
   James' first wife, my 3Xgreat grandmother was Ann Clark.  I know she died in Ohio before the family moved here.  I don't know anything about her family, only that the 1880 census indicates that Ann was born in Ohio.  Perhaps her death would have been noticed with an obituary since it occurred after 1880 in an area where a newspaper might have been established by then.  Short of that, I am not sure how to learn more about Ann Clark's history.

   My paternal grandfather's mother's mother's family were Belgian immigrants whom I believe came to Anderson, Indiana, because skilled glass workers were needed.  Another first cousin twice removed has been  telling me everything she rememberes about my gg grandmother Lena Lechien's family.  Lena's parents were Charles and Antionette.  I found their grave last Thanksgiving and I have found Charles' naturalization papers, I believe.  I took a stab at corresponding in French with someone who had a genealogy page listing the name Lechien.  I got a long list of names from him going several generations back in that line.  But I have no idea how he got it or how to learn more about this line myself.  The man who emailed me the names was right about my 3Xgreat grandmother's maiden name, which he said was Roussaux.  I got a marriage license for Charles and Antionette's son and indeed he listed his mother's maiden name as Roussaux.  I am left with an email full of names but I have had little luck myself in trying to research anything about the families of Charles or Anoinette before they came to the US.

   My paternal grandmother's family came from Germany in the late 1800's.  All of her ancestors were German Catholic immigrants.  In the 1980's a family members wrote a very good family history for this branch so I have not done much myself to go beyond her work, other than to collect photos from far flung family members and try to acquaint myself with the people about whom so much had already been written.  Now that I have been participating in 23andme I wish I knew more beyond the already known German ancestors because I think it would help me determine how I might be related to people I have a genetic match with when their ancestral heritage is German.  But going further back will mean researching in Germany and I have been reticent to begin.  I don't read German and it just looks daunting.

   My maternal grandfather's family has been researched by my 1st cousin once removed.  She wrote a detailed history of each member of the family back to my grandfather's grandfather, a bigamist who disappeared from the family after his barroom brawl made it impossible for him to stay in the town of his 2nd wife and family.  I can find George Washington Blevins in the census record living with his family of origin and I learned that his father's name was Daniel. Although Daniel was from Kentucky, his family was living in Indiana by the time my gg grandfather George Washington was born in 1858.  Daniel Blevins appears in many  trees on but the details about his family begin to diverge and I'm not sure how to follow the real Daniel Blevins in the record.  There appear to be pension records for him in Indiana but there are several other Blevinses listed on the pension record too.  Sons? Brothers? I'm not sure.  I'm also not sure how likely it would be to find an obituary for him.  I don't know how settled and established the area was at the time of his death.  I'm not sure what step to take next to sort out the Blevinses living in Indiana in the early 1800's.
   Daniel's wife appears to be Sarah White, child of Basel White and Mary Ann Drury of Kentucky.  I have not tried to follow her tree much at all.  Determining where to send for marriage licenses, and death certificates is probably the first step to follow in this line.
   George Washington Blevins' 2nd wife was Sarah Isabel Willyard.  After George left I have lost track of Sarah in the census record because she remarried more than once. I would like to know where she is buried. I think she had a difficult life.  However because she married more than once, she should have left a trail of marriage licenses with information about her family origins.

   My maternal grandfather's mother was Bertha Ellen Black.  It appears that Bertha was descended from a revolutionary war patriot known as William Black.  William is buried in Pike County, Indiana and listed on a memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers.  I would like to learn more about this connection and find more of the paper trail to support this assertion.  I would also like to discover more about the Black line in general because the Black family is supposed to have come from Scotland.  Many of my 23andme connections seem to be of potentially Scottish origin but I don't know enough about any of my Scottish background to determine how I might be related to others with Scottish heritage.
   My great grandmother Bertha was the son of Elias Pearson Black.  I know nothing about his mother's Pearson line.  If I can get a guess about when she died, I should send for her death certificate to see what I can learn about her people.  Bertha's mother was Sarah Elizabeth Dyehouse.  Many people have her mother listed as Clara Dyehouse on trees.  But looking at the 1880 census it is clear that Lizzie Dyehouse was living with a stepmother, not a lot older than she was.  There is no father listed in the family at that time.  Brick wall.

   My maternal grandmother's father was the son of Irish immigrants Thomas J. Goff and Annie Cleary.  Thomas was from Duncormack, county Wexford, Ireland.  Family records say that Thomas and Annie were married in Philadelphia in 1867.  I would like to find a record of this.  I know nothing of Annie except that census records all report that she was born in "Ireland."  She died in 1882 in Dallas, Texas and is reportedly buried in a Catholic cemetery there.  All attempts to find the location of her grave have completely fizzled out. I don't know how to find anything about her family or where she came from in Ireland.  Knowing where Thomas came from is a good start, but I am daunted by searching for records in Ireland.

   My maternal grandmother's mother was the daughter of Albert E. Osborn and Mary Knox Paul.  All I ever knew about Albert was that he was a Union soldier in the Civil War and that he and Mary moved to Kansas in a covered wagon.  I received very confusing information about him from a family member.  He left his family in a sod house and never returned.  At various times both before leaving and after he tried to apply for a veteran's pension.  Before he left his family his account of when and where he married Mary differed from hers.  She claimed they got married July 3, 1873 in Camden, NJ.  He claims they married July 4, 1874 in Atlantic City. (?)  I have found no references to marriages in either place.  Need to write to both places and see if a record exists.  After Albert's abandonment of his family in 1904 he applied for a pension again.  This time he was married to someone named Sophia Busby.  At that time he stated that he had no children and had never been married before.  Albert had 5 daughters, including one that I am named after.  Albert also stated that he served in the Civil War in Company C of the 58th Illinois Volunteers, but he says he served under the name of Frank Clark. (?)  Albert Osborn died in Wilwaukee at the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in 1918.  Perhaps I should begin by sending for his death certificate.
   My gg grandmother Mary Knox Paul was born in Philadelphia Jan 5, 1851.  Her death certificate says that her mother's maiden name was Cunningham.  If this is true, then why was she named Mary Knox Paul? Where did the name Knox come from??  Every time Mary appears in the census she reports that her parents were both from Ireland.  However a family story says that Mary was the daughter of a very wealthy man who told his daughters if they did not marry and stayed with him until his death they would inherit all his wealth.  No one knows the name of this man, and of course Mary did not stay.  Looking in Philadelphia in the 1850's and 1860's there were several families with the name "Paul."  Some of them were quite wealthy.  But I haven't found any with a daughter named Mary of the right age.  I have found some with people named "Cunningham" listed as servants.  Was the story of Mary's wealthy father a tall tale?  Was Mary the daughter of a wealthy man and one of his servants?  I can find very few records that seem to point toward Mary Knox Paul.  It would seem that finding her marriage record would be a first priority and possibly her obituary as well.  She is very perplexing.


  1. Hi Elizabeth. I just wanted to let you know how much I'm enjoying your blog, and I've nominated you for the One Lovely Blog award. Cheers, and keep it up!

  2. Hey Wendy, I'm humbled & happy but, man, I better get cracking!

  3. Hi Elizabeth - found your blog while doing my family history. I'm a decendent of the Dyehouse family which married into the Blacks. You are correct - Clara was a second wife to George Dyehouse (Sarah's father). First wife was also named Sarah Elizabeth - thus the confusion. Your Sara was known as "Lizzie" in a lot of records. Hope this helps a little.

  4. Sandra, Thanks for your comment and it's delightful to get a message from someone connected to my family tree! Do you know anything else about George Dyehouse's first wife? Or in fact the Dyehouse line in general? I can only find George in the 1860 census in Gibson Co, IN. I haven't found him anywhere else. Do you know anything of his family? If you already know more about these folks and have them posted in a family tree at or some other site, I'd LOVE to take a look! I believe my mom has a quilt made by "Grandma Black" aka Sarah Elizabeth "Lizzie" Dyehouse. But I've found very little about her family when searching. If you want to contact me off the blog you can email me at Or this works too. I'm really glad you chimed in!

  5. p.s. to Sandra, I just read your description about being a perfectionist with fibers. Maybe it's genetic; I own a yarn shop! :-)

  6. Elizabeth, I am currently working to try to unwind your Daniel and Sarah White Blevins. I would love to know how you found Sarah's parents. Is there a death certificate? We have never found anything. Vivian

  7. Hi Vivian, Nice to see a comment on my poor neglected ancestry blog! The Blevins line is my least personally researched line, but the one about which I have corresponded the most with distant cousins. I have lost track of how many people I have emailed and corresponded with who are descendants of Daniel Blevins. Many tell the same tale of men who were very prolific in terms of fathering children and not so great at sticking around to raise them. I would have to go back through saved emails but it was through one of them that I got Sarah's parents. I haven't personally researched that line at all. I keep getting stuck before Daniel with his (infamous?) son George Washington Blevins and I throw up my hands in disgust until I get another new idea, which hasn't been for a while!

    How are you descended from Daniel Blevins? Glad to hear from you and maybe you'll even inspire me to get over my motivation slump.