Genealogy Mystery Theater: Addressing Identities

Merry Christmas everyone! I thought I’d try something new tonight. Once the presents are all unwrapped, the guests gone, and your belly full, I have a game we can play. You know those murder mystery theater things– ones where the audience gets to play along and guess the killer? That’s the idea here, only with genealogy mysteries. Hopefully a few of you will join in and play along. If there’s a good response, I’ll try and make this a regular feature and post pieces of problems that are common to research we all do. The level is beginning/intermediate, but anyone is welcome to join in!

What will you need to play along? For this mystery, you’ll probably need access to and/or I’ll give you one record and a problem to solve, and you’re all on your own to try and come up with a solution. Once you think you’ve got the answer, leave it in a comment along with a brief summary of why your answer is the correct one. If you don’t want to know the answer – or at least what someone else thinks is the answer – don’t look at the comments :)

Without further adieu, I present:

Addressing Identities- A Genealogy Mystery

Below is the 1850 New York, New York census record for John Cassidy and family.1 (Click for full size).

Of course, the 1850 census doesn’t record street addresses, but it’s interesting to know where our ancestors lived. More importantly, it’s also an important tool to sort out people of the same name. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to determine as accurately as possible the address where this Cassidy family resided. You may need to scroll a few pages backwards and forwards in the census to get your bearings. You can access the page on Ancestry here. Good luck! Bonus question: Which direction was the enumerator moving?


Did you find this interesting? Let me know your thoughts!

  1. 1850 U.S. census, New York, New York, population schedule, New York, dwelling 164, family 467, John Cassidy household; digital images, ( : accessed 5 Sep 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432. []
Posted in Fun!, How-To | Comments Off on Genealogy Mystery Theater: Addressing Identities

New Presentation Topic Added: ” Where Does It Say That? Learning to Love Indirect Evidence”

Where Does It Say That? Learning to Love Indirect Evidence

Direct evidence, the sort of evidence that completely answers a research question by itself, is often scarce. It can also be wrong, or we may discover two pieces of direct evidence that conflict with each other. Without any documents telling us exactly what we want to know, how do we identify relationships that might not be stated explicitly, resolve conflicts between records, and arrive at sound genealogical conclusions? By collecting, analyzing, and correlating indirect evidence of course!The Henry McGinnis family of 19th century rural Pennsylvania provides an easy-to-understand example of using mostly indirect evidence to reconstruct a family which left precious little for descendants to work with.

Posted in Events, How-To, Thoughts and Musings | Comments Off on New Presentation Topic Added: ” Where Does It Say That? Learning to Love Indirect Evidence”

“Because I Know He Is”: Edith Staats vs. Jesse Pickering, 1838

Each time I post about this subject, I wrestle with whether or not I should be airing the family laundry here in cyberspace. However, as genealogists, we are most interested in the truth. Sometimes the truth is not what we would like it to be. It’s perhaps not like we had hoped it and envisioned it to be, and sometimes it makes us uncomfortable. The main characters in this family story have been dead over 100 years, and I think that this is not only a tale worth telling, but also a lesson in just how incredibly valuable– or perhaps invaluable— court records can be in conducting our research. How-many-ever years ago, this was my first foray into Common Pleas records. The moment I found this case in the index–a dusty book that was long forgotten and stuck in a little-used storage room– is to this day the single-most exciting find I’ve had.

Granted, this is my own family so it’s likely more compelling to me than anyone else. However, more than all the combined documents I’ve found, more than any county history I’ve read, this court case makes my ancestors human–with all their strengths and weaknesses– in a way nothing has before or since. It’s a slice of life that gives me chills and I swear to you, I can see and hear this case as it’s being tried. I can hear the silence…the uncomfortable silence, as witnesses are brought before the judge and jury to testify for and against their children, friends, neighbors, and associates in rural Harrison County, Ohio that day in May of 1838.1

This is not a good guy/bad guy tale– simply a story of two people; one that also happens to be the story of how my branch of the Staats family came to be.


Edith Staats was the second youngest child of Elijah Staats and Margaret Chandler, born 12 Apr 1818 in Freeport Township in Harrison County, Ohio.2 The Staats family came to Freeport from Luzerne Township, Fayette, Pennsylvania in 1815.3 Jesse Brock Pickering was born two days before Christmas, 23 Dec 1818,4 a son of Abel Pickering and Nancy Brock.The Abel Pickering family was also in Harrison County by 1817, when Abel was taxed there.5 In the 1830 census, the families are enumerated a page apart – the Pickering family in the city of Freeport, and Staats family in Freeport Township.6

Jesse Brock Pickering married Elizabeth Manlove Whealdon one day before his 18th birthday, the 22nd of December 1836.7  Both the Whealdon and Manlove families were Quaker8, and migrated from Kent County, Delaware– just across the New Castle County line where Elijah Staats’s family lived. Their first child, Able, was born 22 Sep 1837.9 Elijah Staats’s wife, Margaret Chandler was also Quaker.10 These families were no doubt, well-acquainted with each other. 

This case focuses on the events of one day in June of 1837.11 Edith was a nineteen-year old single girl, and Jesse eighteen, married, his wife, Elizabeth expecting their first child in a few months. 

The State of Ohio on Complaint of Edith Staats vs. Jesse Pickering:
Court of Common Pleas May Term, A.D.1838. Bastardy.

Passages in italics are quoted from the Common Pleas Record entry. All other information is paraphrased from the same entry unless otherwise noted.12

Be it remembered that heretofore to wit on the fifth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty eight: John Knox Esq. one of the Justices of the Peace of Freeport Township Harrison County and State of Ohio filed in the Office of the Clerk of the Common Pleas Court of said Harrison County a transcript of the proceedings before him had in a certain action of bastardy…

On the sixth day of February 1838, Edith Staats an unmarried woman entered complaint under oath against Jesse Pickering the defendant setting forth that she, the said complainant is now pregnant and that he, the said Jesse Pickering is the father of said child.

A warrant was issued and Constable Cree returned the same day with Jesse Pickering. The defendant refused to make any compromise. It had been a cold Ohio winter13, and it was about to get even colder, as John Knox began the questioning:

Knox: What reason have you to believe that Jesse Pickering is the father of the child with which you are now pregnant?
Edith: Because I know he is.

There’s no hesitation, no beating around the bush, and indeed no sign of backing down. I picture Edith casting a steely stare directly at Jesse as she makes her statements.

Knox: When had he sexual intercourse with you?
Edith: The twenty fourth day of June.
Knox: Had he intercourse with you more than once?
Edith: No.
Knox: Where were you at the time you had sexual intercourse together?
Edith: At our own house (Staats’s)
Knox: Was it at night?
Edith: No, it was in the daytime.
Knox: Were any of the family at home?
Edith: No. There was nobody there but myself.

In that direct, no-nonsense line of questioning, Edith points to a single moment during that day, the 24th of June 1837. She points to one instance of weakness between two people who probably should have known better– who almost certainly did know better. Further testimony would reveal it was likely that Jesse and Edith had a previous, amorous past, but nothing leading up to that moment would prove to have as lasting an effect as that solitary encounter in June. An agent for Jesse, R.R. Price, took over the questioning:

Price: Was this before harvest or after harvest that this took place?
Edith: Before, in June.
Price: Was Mr. Pickering in the habit of paying his attentions to you at that time?
Edith: No, not after he was married. 
Price: Was there not any other young men paying their respects to you about that time?
Edith: No.
Price: Did you not, after Jacob was married, say that you would match them yet?14
Edith: No. I never said any such thing.

Having already withstood questioning by the Justice of the Peace, Edith is now facing these questions by the agent – presumably an attorney for Jesse. She never backs down, and fires right back. The agent’s questions imply less than subtly, that there was a previous relationship between Edith and Jesse, and perhaps a bitter ending when Jesse married another. It’s easy enough to picture, and clear where the attorney is going with the questioning – that she had a motive to lie. Next up, Jesse himself asks the questions:

Jesse: Do you not remember, Edith, at the time I came to your house to get a piece of paper, did you not consider me clear at that time?
Edith: No. You never denied it to me.
Jesse: You recollect the paper you gave me to clear up this do you?
Edith: No. I never gave you any.

Whereupon the said Jesse Pickering still continuing to refuse to compromise with the said Edith Staats he was required to enter into recognizance in the sum of three hundred dollars…

Standing tall in the face of questioning by a Justice of the Peace, an attorney, and Jesse himself, Edith persevered and took the case to court. As the record shows, Jesse never denied the encounter, but instead focused on a piece of paper– presumably a written statement by Edith absolving him of responsibility. The case went to trial and carried on for at least five days. Twenty three witnesses took the stand including Edith’s mother, and several relatives of both plaintiff and defendant15- this in a township of less than 1300.16 Anyone who’s lived in a town that small will understand– there are no secrets.

When the dust settled, the jury returned a guilty verdict. A notice of appeal was mentioned, but no appeal has been found.17 Based on comments included in the original case files for this case, the defense was trying to prove that Edith had relations with other men during the same time frame, but the testimony was disallowed. Original documents also included the doctor bill for the the birth of Alexander Allan Staats, my great great grandfather.18

What did one have to pay for child support in 1838? Jesse was ordered to pay $36 plus court costs up front, and  $0.75 per week for five years. It appears payments were made quarterly, but only though 1841.19


Edith married Daniel Toms in 1847.20 They had no children together. Alexander Staats went on to attend Marietta College, Starling Medical College, and graduated from the Cincinnati College of Medicine and Surgery. He served in the 88th OVI in the Civil War, and practiced medicine in Summerfield, Ohio until a short time before his death in 1913.21 Edith passed away in 1901.22 Family legend is that she kept a detailed diary, and that on her deathbed, she asked one of her granddaughters to read the diary and then destroy it. The rest is history…or more accurately, lost to history.23 The Alexander Staats family has many descendants still alive and kicking, including your author.24 I’ve taken a yDNA test to try and confirm the court’s findings  I’ve had three close matches. They are all Pickerings. And to think– it all goes back to that single fateful day, the 24th of June, 1837.

Ready to check into court records now and see what details they might hold about your own family? I hoped that you would be.


  1. Harrison County, Ohio, Common Pleas Record, E:313, May Term 1838, State of Ohio on Complaint of Edith Staats vs. Jesse Pickering, 26 May 1838; Harrison County Historical Society, Cadiz. []
  2. (Caldwell) Noble County Leader, 27 Feb 1901, p.2, c.1. []
  3. William Wade Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy. Vol. IV: (Ohio Monthly Meetings) (1946), p. 352; digital images, ( : accessed 29 Jan 2009). []
  4. Find A, database ( accessed 10 Nov 2012), entry for Jesse Brock Pickering, memorial no. 38545482, citing Friends Church Cemetery, Springdale, Leavenworth, Kansas. []
  5. Further research is needed to confirm the organization of’s Ohio Tax records entries for Harrison County. Abel Pickering is listed as early as 1816 in Cadiz Twp, but that information is not consistent with deeds stating Freeport. []
  6. 1830 U.S. census, Harrison, Ohio, Freeport Twp, p. 226, line 13, Elijah Statts household; digital images, ( : accessed 5 Dec 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M19, roll 133. For Able Pickering see 1830 U.S. census, Harrison, Ohio, Freeport Twp, p. 225, line 6, Able Pickering household. []
  7. Harrison County, Ohio, Marriage Records, B:486, Pickering to Whealdon (1836); Probate Court, Cadiz. []
  8. For Quaker references, see Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy. Vol. IV: (Ohio Monthly Meetings). []
  9. For information on the Whealdon and Manlove families, including Able Pickering’s date of birth, see Jeffery Bryant, Descendants of Isaac Whealdon ( accessed 5 Dec 2012). []
  10. Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy. Vol. IV: (Ohio Monthly Meetings). []
  11. Harrison Co., Oh., Common Pleas Record, E:314. []
  12. ibid. []
  13. “Review of the Cincinnati Market,” Cincinnati Daily Gazette, 7 Feb 1837, p.3, c. 2; digital images, ( accessed 4 Dec 2012). []
  14. Jesse is mistakenly referred to as Jacob in this line of the transcription. []
  15. Harrison County, Ohio, Common Pleas Execution Docket, G:260, May Term 1838, State of Ohio on Complaint of Edith Staats vs. Jesse Pickering, 26 May 1838; Harrison County Historical Society, Cadiz. []
  16. 1840 U.S. census, Harrison, Ohio, Freeport Twp, p. 236 (stamped), population totals (bottom of the page); digital images, ( : accessed 2 Dec 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M704, roll 409. []
  17. Harrison County, Ohio, Common Pleas Journal, D:175, May Term 1838, State of Ohio on Complaint of Edith Staats vs. Jesse Pickering, 26 May 1838; Harrison County Historical Society, Cadiz. []
  18. Harrison County, Ohio, Common Pleas Case Files, May Term 1838, State of Ohio on Complaint of Edith Staats vs. Jesse Pickering; Harrison County Historical Society, Cadiz. []
  19. Harrison County, Ohio, Common Pleas Execution Docket, G:261. []
  20. Washington County, Ohio, Marriage records, 2:242, Daniel Tom-Edeth Staats (1847); Washington County Probate Court, Marietta. []
  21. L.H. Watkins, History of Noble County (Chicago: L.H. Watkins & Co,: 1887), p. 193. []
  22. (Caldwell) Noble County Leader, 27 Feb 1901, p.3, c. 1. []
  23. Unrecorded conversation between the author and Marguaritte (Cleary) Miller, granddaughter of Alexander Staats, 2005, Barberton, Ohio. The granddaughter referred to in the story was either Mrs. Miller’s mother, Elizabeth (Staats) Cleary or aunt, Violet (Staats) Reed. []
  24. Personal knowledge…at least I think I’m still alive. You guys really read these footnotes? []
Posted in Family Findings, Thoughts and Musings | 11 Comments

City Directories: Addressing Identities

1890 Cleveland City Directory page1

*Note: Since I’ve not a had a chance to explicitly clear the use of his ancestor’s names, I will avoid anything that might identify the client’s family (including the source citations)*

City directory research can be a lot like tax research, with the addition of occasional pictures and advertisements thrown in for spice. Wading through each consecutive year can become a bit tedious. Why do I care what my ancestor’s address each year was, or where he worked? Believe it or not, tracking your ancestor each year through their appearances (or non-appearances) in city directories, paying attention to those who may have lived with or near him or her, and knowing your ancestor’s occupation at a given time can help you sort out people of the same name.

I am currently working on a client project where city directories provided the key piece of evidence needed to help confirm the identity of his ancestor in a marriage record. The client knew his ancestor had been married twice, and had found the first wife’s death register entry, coroner’s report, funeral home record, obit, and cemetery record – none of which provided any clue as to her maiden name. No marriage record had been found in the county where his ancestor was born, lived, and died.

The first wife died in 1898 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, at which time the husband would only have been 25 years old, which helped narrow the range of potential marriage years. I was able to find a likely marriage record in Canton, Stark, Ohio for people with the same names in 1894. But how do I know that this couple 60 miles away is the same couple? I turned to the city directories. The ancestor appears in the 1891-1893 city directories as a baker. He is not listed in the 1894 city directory, but is again listed in the same area in 1895, again as a baker. The surname is not very common, and he is the only person of that surname listed as a baker. I found it rather interesting that the only year this person was not in the city directory happened to be the same year of the Stark County marriage record.

What do I do next? Since they’re available (although not online), it’s off to the Stark County Library to check Canton city directories. Starting in 1890, there is no one of that surname listed through 1892. There is no one of that name listed from 1895 forward, but as you may have already guessed– in one directory, the 1893-94 directory, this man is listed. He is listed as a baker.  He is boarding with his employer (the owner of the bakery), and even better- so is the woman that he will wed later in 1894!

While more work remains to be done, and the woman’s past continues to elude me, the information that the city directories provided helped make a very strong case that we’ve successfully determined the first wife’s identity and his ancestor’s marriage date/location. And just as importantly – using only addresses, noting occupations, and connecting the dots, we can reconstruct at least a small part this couple’s early life together and begin to tell their story.

Cleveland city directories can be found on from 1861-1923. Later years are available at the CLeveland Public Library and Western Reserve Historical Society. Canton and other Stark County towns are found at the Stark County District Library, Main Branch, in Canton, Ohio. All marriage records were accessed using FamilySearch’s “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994″ database

  1. The Official Cleveland Directory for the Year Ending July, 1890, (Cleveland: Cleveland Directory Co., 1890), 490; digital images, ( accessed 20 Nov 2012). []
Posted in How-To, Thoughts and Musings | Comments Off on City Directories: Addressing Identities

April 12-13, 2013 is Legal Genealogist Weekend in Cleveland, Ohio!

Disclaimer: I am the chairperson of the Western Reserve Genealogical Society’s Genealogical Committee, as well as the Great Lakes APG chapter representative. I am also a big fan of Judy Russell. I dig genealogy. My favorite color is green, but am most partial to a dark emerald hue. I can cook.

With that all out of the way, I can’t wait for this April! Why? Well, Judy G. Russell will be right here in Cleveland Ohio, speaking at two different events: a Friday evening lecture, and then an all day seminar on Saturday.

Here’s the scoop:

On Friday, April 12, 2013 — the Great Lakes APG chapter is hosting an evening lecture featuring Judy G. Russell, who you may know better as the Legal Genealogist. Her topic will be The ABC’s of DNA. Details are still being finalized, but the event will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 32895 Cedar Rd, Mayfield Hts, Ohio 44124.

Exact times and registration information will be announced soon. Anyone who is registered for the WRHS Saturday seminar will receive a discount for this event. If you want to be sure to get this info, drop me an email at, and I’ll forward the info as soon as it’s finalized.

Then the big show on Saturday April 13, 2013 from 9am to 4pm– the Western Reserve Historical Society is excited to present Genealogy and the Law.
The legal context in which our ancestors lived affected their lives and the records they created. Understanding that context will help wring every bit of evidence out of each record you find. In addition to explaining how and why they may have acted as they did, court records often reveal surprising details about our ancestors.
In Judy’s words: “Without understanding the context in which events took place and records were created, we miss so much of both the significance and the flavor of what happened. “ Don’t miss this!


8:30-9:00 Registration (coffee and refreshments)
9:00-10:00 Knowing the Law
10:00-10:30 Break
10:30-11:30 Court Records and Family Stories
11:45-1:30 Lunch (not provided)
1:30-2:30 Widows, Orphans, and the Law
2:30-3:00 Break
3:00-4:00 Through the Golden Door: Immigration After the Civil War (1864-1924)

Complete details and online registration can be found on the Western Reserve Historical Society’s website. Hope to see some of you there this spring!

Brought to you by:


Posted in Events, Fun! | Comments Off on April 12-13, 2013 is Legal Genealogist Weekend in Cleveland, Ohio!

Facebook Increases Awareness of the East Cuyahoga County Genealogical Society

I have to admit, having pressed our board to let me create a page for the East Cuyahoga County Genealogical Society, I dropped the ball at first. I made a few initial posts, and no one really responded. I made a few more and still not much response. After awhile, I neglected to keep up with the page other than updating the “next meeting” info.

On October 28th, I attended a meeting of the Cleveland District Roundtable – which is a gathering of representatives from all the various Cleveland-area  genealogy societies. This was the first of these I’ve attended, and one of the topics on the agenda was using facebook for genealogy societies. I spoke quite a bit in support of social media – maybe a little too much so, as I’ve been tapped to speak about the subject at next summer’s Ohio Genealogical Society’s Chapter Management seminar. I was asked plenty of questions after the meeting, and it really inspired me to do a little more with this

Driving home from meeting, I decided that if I was going to speak about using facebook for your genealogical society, I better start using facebook for MY genealogical society. Honestly, I didn’t have a detailed plan in mind, but decided to try two things:

1) I would change the cover photo on a regular basis to different pictures from Cleveland’s history
2) I would post some “popular” genealogy links. I also figured that the posts would get more exposure if I shared them on my own page.

So how much work did I put in, and did it work? A looking at the graph below pretty clearly shows some dramatic results. You can see what immediately happened on October 28 – the date I changed the cover photo and made a post. I shared both on my own wall. It literally took me a combined total of less than 10 minutes to post those seven links and add a comment. Reach went from 10 views on Oct 27th to 117 by October 31 – more than 10 times the level it was just four days earlier. Better yet, it has stayed at that level, and probably will as long as I continue to post regularly.

I’m convinced. There is no doubt that with a minimal amount of effort, you can greatly increase your society’s exposure. The cool thing is that this little trial is only about two weeks old, so who knows how far this graphic could expand. Will more exposure lead to more members? Maybe, maybe not, but people aren’t going to join if they don’t know about you. And younger people certainly aren’t going to join if you don’t have a presence where they are likely to find you.

This is an experiment in progress.  If you’d like to be part of it, please visit our page, “like” it, then post a comment or two or three. Post a link to your society’s page and we can like each other. See how sweet all of this is? I like it. Coming Soon to East Cuyahoga: Twitter? …well, maybe not quite yet – one social media step at a time.

Activity on the ECCGS FAcbook page

Posted in Thoughts and Musings | 2 Comments

My BCG Portfolio Is On Its Way…

…to an extension!

Yes, it’s time to break down and file for that extra time. I don’t regret going on the clock and not getting done within the year. I’ve had a lot of other things going on – speaking, writing, as well as working, family, etc, etc — and all those things are good things. I would have liked to have gotten a little bit farther along in the process by this point, but that’s okay.

The primary benefit of my time spent being on the clock is simply the fact that certification is always on my mind as I do whatever genealogical activity it is I’m doing. Even though I haven’t finished the portfolio components, I think it has helped increase my quality of work simply by reminding me that I want to meet the standards each and every time out of the gate. The cool thing is, that even after I successfully submit my portfolio (not if – when!) those standards will stay stuck in my brain. They can keep all the other weird things that are lodged there company!

Posted in Fun!, Misc. | 2 Comments

A Better Way To Set Up Your Genealogy Society’s Email

In the course, of doing publicity for various genealogy events, I’ve run into this problem many times:

After compiling a distribution list of all the chapters in the area, I send an announcement about a particular event. Inevitably, several of them bounce as they are often older, inactive personal email addresses. Even some that do go through don’t get to the right person. Since officers change frequently, often the person I send the message to is no longer in the corresponding secretary position (or president, or whoever was listed as the contact), and they then have to forward the email to someone else, or ask me to resend it.

While I’m sure that some societies already do this, wouldn’t it make sense that each society have a one, set email address for each particular board or committee position? This address could then be configured to forward messages to the personal email addresses of whoever is currently in that position. Setting up that forwarding is pretty painless, and doesn’t require that you have a technical guru on staff.

For example, if I am trying to send something to the newsletter editor at the Anycounty Genealogical Society. Looking on their website or other online listings, I would see that the email address is “”, and all the other offices have similar addresses (,, etc). If Jane Smith were the editor in September, and I sent her an article, it would go to the AGS_News address and be forwarded to her personal email address. When I want to send something else in February, unbeknownst to be, the new newsletter editor is John Jones. Since, the AGS folks were slightly tech-savy, and updated the forwarding address to John Jones’s personal email – the message I send to the AGS_News address automatically goes to the correct person.

I don’t need to update my contacts list. They don’t need to try and forward things or remember to pass on the message at the next meeting. No muss, no fuss – just easy-peasy.

I am definitely going to suggest this at the next round of society meetings I attend. Would this work for your society, too?

Posted in Thoughts and Musings | Comments Off on A Better Way To Set Up Your Genealogy Society’s Email

Ghosts at the Staats House: Caldwell, OH, 1877

I admit it, I’ve posted the text of this article before, However:

1) It’s Halloween, and
2) I am still without power due to Hurricane Sandy.

I hope you enjoy this spooky story involving my 3rd great uncle!

“More Spiritualism,” Wheeling (WV) Register, 24 Oct 1877, p. 1, col. 2.

Posted in Fun! | Comments Off on Ghosts at the Staats House: Caldwell, OH, 1877

A Whodunit: The Curious Case of Benoni Staats And His Disappearing Children

Benoni Staats would lose six children in the ten years between the 1850 and 1860 Washington County, Ohio censuses. How could this happen? Who did this? Poor Benoni, right? Not really. Unlike most whodunits, this one starts off with the answer: the 1850 enumerator did it.

Here is that 1850 entry1:

We see that according to this entry, Benoni and his six children are enumerated in the household of Hezekiah Collins in Adams Twp, Washington, Ohio.

Let’s take a look at Benoni in 18602:

1860 Barlow Twp, Washington, Ohio census

Where did all the kids go? Benoni was married to the Rebecca listed here, Rebecca Addis, in Noble County, Ohio on 9 May 1851.3 You’d think that at least one of the children would still be there wouldn’t you? It would be surprising, especially since most of the children were a little older in 1850, that all of them would have succumbed to some terrible disease, wouldn’t it? Well, it would be surprising, and you’ll all be glad to know that the children were spared.

Let’s find Hezekiah Collins in the 1860 census4. Here he is, in a hard-to-read record that doesn’t list the whole first name – just initials, but look at the sequence and relative ages:

1860 Martinsburg, Pike, Illinois Census

Comparing the 1850 “Staats” children and the ones here, we get a pretty good sense they are the same kids.The ages are a little off, and Mildred is not in the household, but she could have been already married, and it’s hard to argue against the fact that the rest of the sequence appears in order.
T=Zachariah (T would turn out to be his middle initial)

Obviously, the 1850 census enumerator in Ohio wasn’t all that concerned with what name went with what people, nor did he seem to care all that much about correct ages. Notice that Benoni was the same age in 1860 as he was in 1850 – a pretty nifty trick. For further confirmation that the children in 1850 are actually children of Hezekiah Collins, not Benoni Staats, we can look at the 1870 Census for Hezekiah, and see that Zachariah is still in the household, and the family has moved on to Oregon5 :

1870 Coast Fork, Lane, Oregon census, showing Zachariah’s middle initial of “T”

While I have not completely followed up on the Collins family, we can find evidence of the other Collins children in Oregon as well. Here’s a 1914 city directory listing showing Ballard and Zachariah6:

Eugene, Oregon 1914 City Directory

While I have not followed up completely with the Collins family, it is clear that nothing terrible ever happened to the children of Benoni between 1850 and 1860 – he didn’t have any to lose.
The next mystery to solve with Benoni is what happened to his children between 1840 and 1850. Again, you ask? Yes. In 1840, there are six children in his household7.
Are they his? Are they someone else’s? That, my friends is a mystery for another day!

1840 Harrison County, Ohio entry for Benoni Staats showing six children in the household (edited to better fit the space).

  1. 1850 U.S. census, Washington, Ohio, population schedule, Adams Twp, p. 264 (handwritten), dwelling 151, family 155, Hezekiah Collins household; digital images, ( : accessed 21 Oct 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 738. []
  2. 1860 U.S. census, Washington, Ohio, population schedule, Barlow Twp, p. 263 (stamped), dwelling 21, family 17, Benoni Staats household; digital images, ( : accessed 21 Oct 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll 1049. []
  3. “Ohio, County Marriages 1790-1950,” digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 21 Oct 2012), Staats to Addis (1851); original data: Noble County, Ohio Probate Court, Marriage Records 1:2. []
  4. 1860 U.S. census, Pike, Illinois, population schedule, Martinsburg, p. 542 (handwritten), dwelling 78, family 78, H. Collins household; digital images, ( : accessed 21 Oct 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll 219. []
  5. 1870 U.S. census, Lane, Oregon, population schedule, Coast Fork, p. 515B (stamped), dwelling 40, family 40, Hez Collins household; digital images, (http://www/ : accessed 21 Oct 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M593, roll 1286. []
  6. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 (Beta),” database and images, ( : accessed 21 Oct 2012), 1914 Eugene, Oregon city directory, p. 486, Ballard T. Collins and Zachariah T. Collins. []
  7. 1840 U.S. census, Harrison, OH, Moorefield Twp, p. 91, line 16, Benoni Staats household; digital images, ( : accessed 21 Oct 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M704, roll 409. []
Posted in Thoughts and Musings | Comments Off on A Whodunit: The Curious Case of Benoni Staats And His Disappearing Children