Thursday, January 21, 2010

With Answers Come Questions - John L. Tolley

Rarely do genealogists find proof that leaves no room for questions. For some time, Tolley family researchers had wondered what happened to John L. Tolley, probably the eldest brother of Rachel Catherine Tolley of Crittenden County, Kentucky. In fact, they weren't completely sure John L. was the brother of Rachel Catherine, but circumstantial evidence pointed that way.

It was known that John L. Tolley had two daughters - one who died early and the other, Emma, born 1870 in Illinois. She married and divorced Dr. Thomas W. Cottrell of Pope County, Illinois and later John Logan Buckman of Franklin County, Illinois. But what happened to her father, John L. Tolley?

Then, a discovery was made. While searching Crittenden County newspapers on Chronicling America, David Sullivan of Denver, Colorado, great great grandson of Rachel Catherine Tolley, found a genealogical gem. In the 24 June 1909 issue of the Crittenden Record-Press, Sullivan found the obituary of John L. Tolley. The obituary reads as follows: [The names are spelled as they appeared.]

"John L. Tolly, the nonagenarian, uncle of James Tolly, who visited his nephew here last winter, died Sunday, June 13, at Thompsonville, Ill., where he was visiting another nephew, John Tinsley. He made his home with his daughter, Mrs. J.W. Sutton of Macedonia, Ill., but had gone away for a visit, died away from home and was buried there.

"Mr. Tolly was one of the first settlers on the site where the city of Marion now stands and was one of the men to cut the timber away before the site was actually located. This was prior to 1840, or about 70 years ago.

"Mr. Tolly was an interesting conversationalist and had a wonderful memory of incidents of the forties, fifties and sixties, and is remembered by many of our people, who will learn of his sudden death with much regret. He was born in 1817 and was in his 93rd year."

The earlier visit referred to in the obituary was mentioned in the 27 August 1908 issue of the Record-Press. At that time, John L. Tolley, a former Marion resident, was visiting his nephew, James Tolley, "it being the first visit since 1852." According to the article, "he was born in Eddyville 19 March 1817 and came to Marion when the town plat was being cleared off to locate the county seat. He and his uncle cut the trees which stood as a dense forest where Marion now stands ... Mr. Tolley's wife was a Miss Johnson. She died five years ago at Macedonia, Ill., where they have been living."

These articles provided new information, such as the third marriage of John L. Tolley's daughter, Emma, but they didn't answer all questions. Was James Tolley, John L.'s nephew, the James Henry Tolley of Marion, Kentucky? If so, then was James Henry's father, Joseph Tolley, the brother of John L.? Was John L., indeed the brother of David Sullivan's great-great grandmother, Rachel Catherine Tolley? Sullivan believes she was, but continues to search for additional information. If you can help, contact him at


David Sullivan said...

I want to thank you for posting this Brenda. It means SO much to me and my family. And thank you also for letting us all know about the Chronicling America web site. What a WONDERFUL source to learn what's contained in those old newspapers! -- David Sullivan

villette1 said...

Brenda, could you provide a link to the Chronicling America Web site? I would like to send it to my mom (she lives in Eddyville). Thanks!

Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG said...

Amy, go to the 30 Nov 2009 blog on "Chronicling America." There is more information and also a link. Good luck.

PalmsRV said...

Reading this post inspired me to search the Chronicling America site (I had searched it before, but not for several weeks). Looking for items of interest for my Cameron Collections blog, I found enough for a couple of posts, the first of which is this one:

Thanks, Brenda, for the inspiration!


Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG said...

Thanks! Chronicling America is one of my favorite web sites.