My 4th great grandfather, Elijah Staats, came from a long line of elusive ancestors and passed this ability on to many of his children. While his line of ancestors might be long, his line of known ancestors is not. In any event, shifting the focus to his descendants–
Elijah had eleven children, possibly twelve. Of those twelve children, the ultimate fate of five of those children is unknown. It used to be six.
Enoch Staats was born in Ohio about 1816, presumably in Freeport Twp., Harrison, Ohio where the family resided at the time. He is enumerated in the 1850 Union Twp., Monroe, Ohio census with wife Elizabeth and children Phillip M., age 11, and James, age 6. They are next door to Elizabeth’s parents, Phillip and Elizabeth McWilliams.
1850 Union Twp, Monroe, Ohio Census
Attempts to locate the family in the 1860 census were unsuccessful. The last known record of Enoch and Elizabeth is 19 Apr 1858 when Enoch and Elizabeth sign as having received their share of Phillip McWilliams estate
After that, they no longer appear in any Noble County record (this portion of Monroe County became part of Noble County upon it’s formation in 1851). An Elizabeth Staats appears in both the 1870 and 1880 Noble County censuses. Is this the same Elizabeth (McWilliams) Staats?
While working on a presentation about Google Books, I stumbled across a clue that ultimately provided the answer and so much more. I went to Google Books, and did a search that I’m sure I’ve done a number of times: [“noble county” staats]. This time I got a result from a Gov Docs, List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883. It listed an Elizabeth Staats in Sarahsville (Center Twp), certificate no. 32,286, as a dependent mother.Armed with this new information, I headed to Ancestry to search Civil War pensions. Sure enough, I found an entry for Phillip M. Staats, for whom Elizabeth was applying for a dependent mother’s pension. Phillip served in Company A, 63rd Illinois Infantry. The certificate number matched the Google Books entry.
A little research revealed that this company mustered in Richland County, Illinois. A search of the 1860 Richland County Census for a Phillip, born in 1839, returned a result indexed as “Phillip Sailor.” This was the family of Elisabeth, Philllip, and James Staats. Enoch was not listed.I would never have known to look in Richland County, Illinois, nor would I have ever thought of a variation that would have included “Sailor.” I requested copies of the pension file. The contents were amazing, even if only a few pages.
In her application, Elizabeth’s declaration states that she is the widow of Enoch Staats “who died the 28th day of Sept 1858…” Depositions were also provided by George and Catherine McWilliams, Elizabeth’s brother and sister-in-law. They attested that they “were well acquainted with Enoch Staats and Elizabeth McWilliams before their marriage…” and “that they were present at the county of Monroe State of Ohio on the 26th day of October 1837 and saw Enoch Staats and Elizabeth McWilliams married…” In 1867, the probate court in Monroe County burned, and all records were lost. Nor do any church records exist for this couple. This is the only record recording Enoch and Elizabeth’s marriage date.
Elizabeth’s declaration continued:
““…Phillip Staats…was their son, who died at Richland Co., Ill on or about 4 April 1863 of disease contracted while in the service of the United States…James Staats late a private in Co. A 63 Reg’t Ill. Volunteers deceased at Mound City, Ill on or about the 9th day of August 1862.” and that “[Elizabeth] was dependent on her said son Phillip and James Staats for her support, that she is without means and that her said sons both died by reason of disease…”
So there it was in those four or five pages. Enoch died four months after signing a receipt in his father-in-law’s estate. Having settled the estate, packing up and moving west to Illinois with their two children…Enoch didn’t even make it through the summer. Though she still had her brother, and quite possible other Noble County family and friends around her, she was now in Illinois, a widow with two sons and no means of support. But she managed to make it work. At least until a few years later when the Civil War broke out and both her sons enlisted. Neither one survived the war– and sadly, neither one even made it out of the state. Not surprisingly, Elizabeth returned to Ohio, living with relatives and friends.
The search for Enoch and family was over. I wish they had descendants with whom I could share their tale. But there aren’t. The best I can do is share the tale with the world, and hope that it in some small way helps memorialize a family that has no one else to tell their story.