Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Research Problem

Purported picture of William Preston Williams
from the Gallia CountyGenealogical Society
 web site.  No one can tell me the source of the photo,
so it will not be included in my application.

William Preston Williams is my 2X great grandfather. He enlisted in the 3rd West Virginia Cavalry during the Civil War. It is through him that I joined the Civil War Families of Gallia County and will be joining the Society of Civil War Families of Ohio next spring.

It is through his father, John Williams, that I believe I qualify for First Families of Ohio. John Williams came to Gallia County circa 1806-1810. Here is the problem:

I need to prove that William Preston Williams (1839-1910) is the son of John Williams (1796-1880). The only source that I have that links William Preston and John Williams is the 1882 History of Gallia County by H.H. Hardesty.

The biographical sketch of William's brother, Elijah Williams, states:
"His father, John Williams, was born February 20, 1796, and was one of the first settlers of this township (Guyan), enduring may privations... Louisa T. (Sartin) Williams, the mother of Elijah, was born April 20, 1803, and died November 19, 1876. Mr. Williams had three brothers in the late war. John S. Williams enlisted for three years, and, after serving two years, he died of measles; William P. and James H. Williams both served three years, and the latter died in the hospital at Washington after the war had closed."  History of Gallia County, H.H. Hardesty, 1882.

The Ohio Genealogical Society does not consider the biographical sketches in the 19th century histories as evidence, and for good reason. The sketches were paid for by the subject of the sketch and usually represents a sanitized view of what they could remember of their family history.

  • His death record does list his parents, with a wrong last name for his mother. Death records are not considered a primary source for a birth record. The person giving the information, most often an adult child, would NOT have first person knowledge of the individual's birth. This record needs to be combined with other records to prove the relationship.
  • His marriage record does not list his parents
  • There are no government issued birth records in Ohio prior to 1867.
  • 1850-1860 census records do not list relationship between members of a household
  • By 1870 & 1880 William P. Williams is in his own household.
  • No will or estate record has been found for John Williams or William Williams in the county records
  • Even his Civil War Pension records do not list his parents.
William P. Williams death certificate #31993.   Notice his mother's name is given as "Lucy Pillman".
The information is given by Ann Johnson, William's sister.
SOURCE: Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics

Excerpt from the 1870 Census for Guyan Township, Gallia County, Ohio, showing William P. Williams living right next door to John & Lucy Williams. Note that it does not mention relationships between people in the same household.
SOURCE: Ancestry Library Edition

Marriage record of Willam P. Williams and Rebecca Tagg, dated 12 March 1869. No parents are listed.
SOURCE: Gallia County Marriage Records, Court of Common Pleas

Excerpt from 1850 Census for Guyan Township, Gallia County, Ohio, showing William Williams listed with John &
Lucinda Williams. Note that it does not list their relationship.
SOURCE: Ancestry Library Edition

There were five John Williams in Gallia County at the time of William's birth. And to complicate matters further, he is not the only William Preston Williams to live in Gallia County, Ohio during this period. In the 1830's the area had an influx of Welsh settlers that included a number of WILLIAMS families. Luckily, the other William Preston Williams is too young to have been my ancestor. Oh, and the family tree on Ancestry has the WRONG William Preston Williams in the 1900 census.
My last place to search: Land Records.

Several months ago, I had ordered the indexes to the land records of Gallia County from the website. They had come in and I was slowly going through them. My father's family had settled in Gallia county from 1810 through 1870's. As long as I have the index, I wanted to check for all of his family lines. And with names like Williams, Johnson and Barry, there are a LOT of records to go through. Luckily, I had finished the Williams surname and so when I went to Gallia County for the Lineage Banquet/Research Trip, I had the volume and page numbers of the records I wanted to copy.


Note the second line where the arrow is. It lists William P. Williams and his wife Rebecca Tagg. The fourth line
states "the heirs at law of John Williams. The date of the document is 5 December 1881. John Williams died
26 February 1880. He didn't leave a will and no estate record has been found.
Deed Records of Gallia County, Vol 50, pages 141-142.

So there it is! Proof positive that William P. Williams, husband of Rebecca, is "an heir at law" of John Williams. 

Once I get all the paperwork filled out, I will be sending in my application for First Families of Ohio!!


BTW, if you want read an interesting article on the latest information on Neanderthals and how advanced they were, check out the February 2015 copy of Scientific American. I am interested in Neanderthals ever since I learned I have 1.8% Neanderthal DNA!!

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