Monday, August 24, 2015

#52 Ancestors 2015 Week 5 "Plowing Through": George Whitfield Manley (1796 - 1875)

I haven't worked on my family tree for a several months, and this blog has suffered because of it.  My current schedule doesn't allow for weekly writings so I am going to try to do several now, while I have a short break.  I hope that this will allow me to continue the blog for the balance of the year, as I do think this process is important.  I will start with the ones I began many months ago then work on the current weeks, going back from there.  The 5th week's suggested topic was "Plowing Through" and I chose to write about George Whitfield Manley for a few reasons.  One: George means farmer; two: his middle name contains the word "field"; and three: George was listed as a farmer on all of his census records.  

George Whitfield Manley was my 4th great grandfather and was born on the 20th of May in 1796.  I believe he was born in Massachusetts, but I am not sure the name of the town.  He married Desire Lucritia Weed on the 12th of March 1818 in New York and they had eight children.  All of their children were born in New York state, but the family moved to Knox county, Illinois sometime before 1850.  Though he was listed as a farmer in 1860 and 1870, an IRS document from September/October of 1862 shows that he was "wholesaling dry goods" with George Underwood.

From this is the IRS document from 1862.

George Whitfield Manley died on the 29th of May 1875 in Persifer, Illinois at the age of 79.  He is buried in Knox County.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

#52 Ancestors 2015 Week 4 "Birthday": Wilford Evans (1814-1897)

This week's theme is closest to your birthday, but I have already written about the ancestors who fit this theme.  Therefore I have decided to write about one who relates to last week's ancestor, and whose birthday is nearest to mine of that group.  This week's ancestor is Wilford Evans, my 3rd great grandfather.  He was born in Virginia on the 27th of March 1814 to John Evans and Nancy Hawthorne, and was the second of three or four children.  Sadly, his mother died when he was just 4 years old, and some years later his father died, making Wilford and his brother's orphans.
1850 census for Wilford Evans taken from

I am uncertain what became of Wilford between the death of his father and his marriage to my 3rd great grandmother, but I have found an interesting account which may or may not true.   I found it in an online book titled "Portrait and Biographical Album of Knox County, Illinois" which was published in Chicago by Biographical Publishing Company in 1886. This book can be found here:  and Wilford's portion can be found on page 563, with portraits on the previous pages. The following information from 1831 until 1845 was summarized from this book:

Wilford went to Mason County, Virginia to work on a farm when he was about 13 years old.  Four years later he went to Ohio where he worked and saved until 1835.  After saving a sum of $200, he traveled to Elkhart County, Indiana where he bought 80 acres of land.  He worked the land until the following winter, then returned to Ohio for another two years.  At this point he traveled to Mississippi and shipped wood over the next five years.  Wilford settled in Knox County, Illinois in 1843 where he made a living chopping wood, splitting rails and removing posts.

As I said, I am not sure if that information is correct, but I think a portion of it is possible and so I have decided to share it here.  As to the information I have been able to find on, Wilford married Eleanor Rambo on the 17th of December 1845 in Knox County, Illinois.  Like I mentioned last week, there is a second marriage record dated the 17th of November 1868.  I am not sure why they married again, and I think it is very unlikely I will ever find out.  The couple had 8 children, at least one of which died as a small child.

Many years later, after the death of their daughter Nancy in 1879, Wilford and Eleanor took in her four children.  Unfortunately their granddaughter Emma West died a short time later in 1880.  Edna, Oscar and DeForrest West, however, all lived to adulthood and stayed with their grandparents until they were of age. There are several photos of them among my collection so I think they later settled in the Knox County area as well.  I am not sure why their father, Sgt. Timothy Dewitt West, was unable to care for them; but he married Elizabeth Brown around 1880, settled in Ohio and the couple had 3 children together.

1880 census record for Wilford taken from  This census shows
that Wilford's grandchildren were living with him at this time and his son
Allen was a close neighbor.  

I have found several land records for Wilford, but I am not sure if he owned them over a period of years or even at the time of his death.  There is a transcribed version of his will on, but as I have not seen the original I do not know if it is at all factual.  The will lists several portions of land, but I would have to consult someone else to know if the land described in the will is the same as that on the maps.  I think as Wilford was listed in the above mentioned book, he was likely a relatively important resident, and perhaps he did own several pieces of land. 

Wilford died on the 7th of April 1897 in Knox County, Illinois and is buried in Russell Cemetery located in the same county.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

#52 Ancestors 2015 Week 3 "Tough Woman": It's all in the name...Eleanor Rambo (1823-1903)

The theme for this week is "Tough Woman" and it took me a while to select my featured ancestor.  I skimmed and skimmed my list, and no one jumped out to me.  So I took a break, grabbed some coffee and walked back to my computer; then it hit me.  Of course!  Why didn't I see it before?  So here she is, my "Tough Woman" ancestor, my third great grandmother Eleanor Rambo.

1860 census record for Eleanor taken from

Eleanor Rambo was born on the 23rd of August 1823 in Gallia, Ohio to Reuben Rambo and Charity Haptonstall.  She was one of nine children and the sixth in birth order. Among her elder siblings were  twin sisters, with possible birth dates of one day apart.  I wonder if that is in fact the case, or if someone has made an error along the way.  All of the children were born in Ohio, though the family moved to Knox County, Illinois sometime between 1840 and 1845.

Eleanor married Wilford Evans in Knoxville, Illinois on the 17th of December 1845 and they had eight children together.  All of their children were born from 1846 - 1864 in Knox County.  I am not sure why, but there is a secondary marriage record dated the 17th of November 1868.  I wonder if, like my grandparents, they had to remarry for a specific reason.  My grandfather was in the military and stationed out-of-state.  In order for my grandmother to live with him on base, they had to prove they were married. Since they did not bring the record with them, they remarried near the base and provided that record as their proof. My grandparents were a young couple, without children.  Eleanor and Wilford were a middle aged couple with eight children. So why would they have remarried? Maybe they lost the original record and it was a legal necessity?  Perhaps it was a romantic gesture? I wonder if they did such things in those days?
Headstone photo for Eleanor Rambo from

Eleanor spent the remainder of her life in Knox County, Illinois.  She died on the 3rd of May 1903 and is buried at the Russell Cemetery in Knox County, Illinois.  I have a few old photos of that line and I think she might be in one, but I have not been able to verify that point.  I did see a pencil drawing of her on the find-a-grave website here:  She looks as tough there, as her name sounds.  I wonder which of my distant cousins owns the original and if they have other photos. I wonder if I would be able to verify my photo does include her by comparing them.   Perhaps one day I will find out..

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

#52 Ancestors 2015 Week 2 "King": Isaac Mastin (1811- 1893)

This week's suggested theme is "King".  As far as I know I am not related to any Kings and I have no one in my family with the name of King.  So, I was not left with many options for this theme.  I did find a few ideas and chose to go with the husband of last week's ancestor.  This week I will write about my 3rd great grandfather, Isaac Mastin.  He was born on the 25th of December 1811 in Kings County, New York. Okay there it is, the obvious reference, though the date of his birth could also be referenced. Initially that was my link to the theme.  Then I tried to fill in some of the holes, and that is when one more slight reference came to light.

I do not know the names of his parents, or know if he came to Illinois on his own, but as I mentioned in my previous post, Isaac married Olive Manley on the 22nd of July 1839 in Knox County.  They had at least four sons, the last of which was my 2nd great grandfather Francis Marion Mastin. After Olive died in January of 1855,  Isaac married Eliza Jane Epperson on the 5th of April 1855.  It seems rather soon to me, but perhaps Olive had been ill in the last years or Isaac needed help with the household.  Regardless, Isaac had at least four additional children with Eliza, and they named their last, a daughter, Olive.

1860 Knox County, Illinois census record for Isaac taken from
Isaac's occupation in 1860 was a carpenter, but by 1880 he was a Justice of the Peace.  I wonder what the requirements for such a position were at the time.  Did one need a legal background, a religious one, or were they elected based on their standing in the community?  Isaac died in Knox County, Illinois on the 19th of October 1893.

1880 Knox County, Illinois census record for Isaac taken from

Now for my final themed connection...Isaac lived in Knox County, Illinois at an interesting time.  On October 7, 1858 Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas held one of their debates at Knox College in Galesburg.  Yes, it was only an Illinois Senate debate between the two candidates, but Mr. Lincoln was elected as our 16th president just two years later.  I wonder if Isaac (or any of my other ancestors) were in attendance. I think it very likely, given the politics of the time and the fact that one didn't have an option to hear speeches on the radio or watch them on TV.  We, of course, live in a country without Kingdoms and Monarchs.  We have Presidents who live in the White House instead of Kings and Queens living in a Palace, so this themed connection can not be literal.  However, I believe it can, figuratively speaking, be considered.  Abraham Lincoln was a determined and powerful leader and its those qualities that I find are quite like the good Kings of the world.

#52 Ancestors 2015 Week 1 "Fresh Start": Olive Manley (1820-1855)

This week's theme is titled "Fresh Start" and I am going to use that meaning in a slightly different way than others.  For the last several months I have been writing about my danish ancestors, because they were the least researched and the most unknown part of my family tree.  For this first week of 2015 however, I have decided to switch gears and to start at a fresh place in my family tree.  Based on the upcoming themes, I am going to write about an ancestor on my paternal grandmother's side and continue with that line for the next few weeks.

1850 census for Knox County, Illinois taken from
This week's featured ancestor is my 3rd great grandmother, Olive Manley.  She was born on the 20th of December 1830 in New York.  The daughter of George Whitefield Manley and Desire Lucritia Weed and one of possibly eight children, though I have seen conflicting data in that regard.   I am not sure how long the family stayed in the New York area and when the family settled in Knox County, Illinois.   However, the records I have show that all of the children were born in New York, the last of which was Sarah in 1831.  I also know that Olive married Isaac Mastin in Knox County, Illinois on the 22nd of July 1839.

Olive and Isaac had at least four boys (one record shows that they also had a daughter, but that she died in infancy).  Their youngest son, Francis Marion Mastin, was my 2nd great grandfather.  Sadly, Olive died in Illinois on the 15th of January 1855, at the young age of 34.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

#52 Ancestors week 52: Searching for my Danish Ancestors...Ane Cathrine Olesdatter (1826-?)

Here it is, my final post for this first year of #52.  I am so grateful for this opportunity to write about the people who shaped my family tree, both proper ancestors and collaterals.  As Amy said in a recent post, several bloggers chose to include collaterals in their posts, even though they are not direct-line ancestors.  I am one such blogger.  At first I thought that I would just focus on those from whom I descend.  However, as time wore on I realized that so many of the connections I want to make, start with an aunt, uncle or cousin.  Especially in regard to my danish family.  So I branched out, and began to blog about those whom my ancestors loved.  Writing about their siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins helped me to better understand them. It was like looking at a cropped photo and then comparing it to the original.  Cropping the photo might help one focus on the main "point" of the photo, however by doing so we might miss something in the surroundings.  Imagine taking a famous photo and cropping it.  What would you miss if it were cropped?  That is how I came to feel about my collaterals.
Birth record for Ane Cathrine taken from

1834 census record for Ane Cathrine taken from
1840 census record for Ane Cathrine taken from

This last collateral is another sister of my 3rd great grandmother.  Her name was Ane Cathrine Olesdatter and she was born on the 18th of June 1826 to Ole Christen Jacobsen and Ane Dorthea Sørensdatter.  The fifth in birth order of nine siblings, she is the only daughter for whom I have been unable to find a marriage record.  In fact I have only been able to find her birth record, and two census records.  I thought perhaps she had moved away from the parish, but I could not find her on the list of outgoing parishioners either.   However it is possible that she left earlier than my research in that area began.  I plan to spend a little extra time looking for her when I can.  For now I am just happy that I found someone else while looking through the list recently; my 3rd great grandmother, Ane Marie Olesdatter.  She left home much earlier than I had expected, at the young age of 14.  I can't imagine my children leaving home to work for a family at such a young age, but then again I can't imagine going through many of the experiences my ancestor had to. I am honored to be descended from them, and hope that by telling their stories, I might honor them in return.


#52 Ancestors week 51: Searching for my Danish Ancestors...Johanne Christiane Katrine Olesdatter (1820-1850)

Continuing with the last family...

As with the last few posts, this post will be about one of my 3rd great grand aunts.  Johanne Christiane Katrine Olesdatter was born on the 7th of July 1820 to Ole Christen Jacobsen and Ane Dorthea Sørensdatter in Mou, Denmark.  The second oldest of nine children, she is the first child for which I have a birth record from the parish of Mou.  

Birth record for Johanne Christiane Katrine Olesdatter taken from
1834 cenus record for Johanne Christiane Katrine Olesdatter taken from
 As of yet, I have not been able to find the marriage record for her, though I do know that she married Anders Pedersen sometime before 1850.  I also know that she had at least one son, Johannes Christian Andersen, though I do not know if she had other children previously.  Johanne Christiane Katrine died on the the 8th of August 1850, the same day her son Johannes was born.  Given the way the family often named children after deceased family members, it does not surprise me that her son was named for her.  I wonder if she lived long enough to hold him, or if she did not have that pleasure.  I know of the dangers pregnancy and childbirth presented women of that time (and of impoverished countries today), and the uncertainty that an infant would live long enough to thrive.  However, while researching this particular branch of my family, there seemed to be more instances than most.  I wonder if it was really the case, or if the area had a health concern at the time that added to the issues.

Death record for Johanne Christiane Katrine Olesdatter taken from