Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Brick Wall Starts to Crumble

Tombstone of C. Wilson, Crooked Creek Cemetery

One of my brick walls for a long time has been the family of Rev. Claibourne Wilson of Crittenden County, Kentucky. I have no trouble researching Claibourne, but his family has been a different matter.

Claibourne, the son of John E. Wilson and a Miss McVay, was born 16 September 1809 probably in Tennessee and died 12 February 1849. According to his obituary in the Baptist Banner, Claibourne was taken ill shortly after giving a sermon at Piney Creek Church. His illness was so sudden that he could not go home, being taken instead to "Brother Crane's, who lived near the meetinghouse." After twelve days, he passed away of "New Monia," leaving a widow, the former Martha Brown, and four children, Frances, John E., Thomas B. and Felix Ann Wilson. Claibourne was buried at Crooked Creek Cemetery.

A little over a month after Claibourne's death, his daughter Frances, usually called Franky, married Henry H. Cannon. The marriage didn't last long, though. Franky left her husband and, in 1850, Henry Cannon filed for divorce. It was stated in one of the divorce depositions that Franky "in company with her mother & others" left Kentucky and went to Missouri. The divorce was granted to Henry and all the rights of a single person were restored to him.

Claibourne's sons, John E. and Thomas B., are found on the 1860 Carroll County, Missouri census. John E. had married Sarah Woodard in 1853 in Carroll County and by 1860 had the following children: George C., age 4; Mary M., age 2 and Charles M, age eight months. Thomas B. Wilson was unmarried and living with his brother's family, also. By 1870, this whole family had disappeared.

Also, what happened to Martha Brown Wilson and her daughters Franky and Felix Ann? No marriages for them have been found and they do not appear using the surname Wilson on the 1860 Carroll County census.

I had decided there is a very large place somewhere known as "parts unknown" and that is where all of my elusive ancestors settled. I put this family aside again and planned to check on them later.

Maybe one last look might turn up something. Sometimes later is better and, in this case, it was! Using, I did a search for the John E. Wilson family on any 1870 census and there he was - listed as J.E. Wilson in Otoe County, Nebraska. Who would've thought he went to Nebraska! His wife is not listed so maybe she died, but children G.C., M.H. (ok, so it's not M.M.) and C.M. are with him and they are of the right ages and their birthplaces are correct. By 1880, J.E. Wilson has remarried, left Otoe County and was living with his wife, Mary E., in Butler County, Nebraska.

This is like a fresh beginning and there is much work to be done, but at least I know in which direction to go. The lesson here is don't give up, put your material aside for a while, and then come back to take another look. Sometimes it pays off.


Genevieve said...

The Homestead Act was passed in 1862. A homesteader could stake a claim on 160 acres and buy it for a nominal fee after living on it for 5 years. This is probably what drew your elusive J. E. Wilson to Nebraska.

Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG said...

Thank you! Very likely that is what happened. I have a lot to learn about Nebraska as this family stayed there for many years.