Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lucretia J. Smith - Someone's Daughter?

Once in a while in your genealogical research you may come across one of those families that seemed to have moved around a lot, at least it seemed so in the census years. You need to keep in mind though that the census was taken every ten years and a lot can happen in that ten year stretch in between times. Such was my problem trying to find the parents of this little girl, Lucretia J. Smith. I had recently took a day and photographed all the tombstones in one of our small older cemeteries in Brown County, namely the Southview Cemetery. (See the Southview Cemetery facebook page: Every once in a while when I go on one of my pet projects I come across one person that intrigues me, such was the case with Lucretia. I just had to find out who she was and who she belonged to.

Her stone was barely legible, but you could read her name and part of a death date - possibly 1860s. Also it seemed to read "Daughter of L. & H. V. Smith." She appeared to be buried in a family plot with a Lucas family. Two other Smiths were buried nearby, one a Thomas J. Smith and a Leander Smith. Thomas' stone read "Son of Margaret Smith, Died Feb. 22, 1866, Aged 5 years, 4 months, & 18 days. The other one was a Civil War stone for a Leander Smith with no dates on it. It read "Co. K, 145th Indiana Infantry." Now this could possibly be the beginnings of a family for Lucretia. Her stone had named an L. Smith as a father, but the mother was named H. V. Smith. So the search was on for other documentation.

First, a search for a marriage record for Leander Smith was necessary. One was found for him and a Margaret which resulted in bewilderment. Leander Smith married Margaret Lucas on May 3, 1867 - after her son (?) Thomas J. died in 1866. In the 1870 census Leander Smith is found living alone in the next household by Harrison Lucas who has a daughter named Margaret age 32. There is no sign of them living together or any young children as a result of their marriage in the Smith name, more questions arise. Then there's the question what happened to Lucretia's mother, this mysterious H. V. Smith? There was no sign of Margaret or an H. V. Smith buried in this cemetery. Why had Margaret named her dead child, Thomas J. Smith? Why can't I find Leander in earlier census records with another wife and a daughter named Lucretia?

On a whim I decided to look at Divorce Records for Brown County. There I found more pieces to the puzzle. "Leander Smith vs. Harriet V. Smith - filed Dec. 3, 1864. Married Dec. 5, 1857, Harden Co., Iowa. In July of 1862 they moved to Hamilton Co., Indiana where they lived until May of 1863 when Harriet 'eloped' with John J. Robison; they now live in Iowa. Depositions are to be taken from Edward Anderson, Stanton Teeters, and John Smith of Noblesville, Hamilton Co. . . Leander to have custody of their daughter, Lucretia J. Smith, age 5 in 1865 and Harriet to have custody of their daughter, Sarah E. Smith, age 3 in 1864."

That answered most of my questions, except one. Why did Margaret Lucas bury her son, Thomas J. under the name of Smith? Possibly, she couldn't afford a tombstone for him until much later. Maybe her new husband did this for her and she was grateful to him; she wanted to give her son his name. One can only wonder about her reasoning. It seems in the later census records Leander and Margaret lived together as man and wife, but had no other children. Leander died in 1895 and Margaret filed for his Civil War pension. So far no more has been found on Margaret or her final resting place.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Draper Manuscripts - Booth Research

Still looking for scraps of information for my illusive ancestors I have been collecting historical accounts that might mention any of them. Even if it is just an historical account of their home county or city, etc. This time I got interested in something that some of my older collegues kept mentioning, but I thought it was out of my reach. So I started digging to see if I could find how I could get a hold of these famous Draper Manuscripts. From all the research I did they said I should first get a copy of the Guide to the Draper Manuscripts. So I finally ordered a copy for our local Society to be put in our local library. You can get a copy from the Wisconsin Historical Society Online Store at

I finally got my copy last week and am anxious to go through it. I first decided to make a list of all my ancestors that I want to look up in the index. I also want to look for those persons related along the side lines such as son-in-laws, some of the neighbors that I found listed elsewhere, etc. So I got a little excited at first and started browsing through the guide. There is a lot more to this guide than just an index. The first section describes what each set of manuscripts covers. I was able to pick out a name (some of the more common names such as John Smith) and compare it with what the description of the particular manuscript is about. That way I was able to narrow down which area of the country that was closest to my ancestor.

I did get one definite hit so far. There was a listing in the index for a James Booth, hopefully mine, that had written a letter about an Indian attack in Wheeling, WV. One of these letters is by James Booth concerning an attacks in 1777-78 on the Charles Grigsby family. My James Booth was known to be in that area about that time. In fact, I had previously found an historical account of how Captain James Booth had been killed in an Indian attack in 1778 in Harrison County, WV. Even if this is just a one page letter written by my James Booth, it would be one of the most valuable items I could acquire.

Captain James Booth left a family with children. I am a descendent of his son, John Booth. His son, John, was also involved in military service during the Revolution. John Booth eventually moved to Indiana which is where my family is from. I'm getting excited about this, but I need to slow down and finish that list. I need to try to cover all my ancestors. Who knows what else I might find.