My 3rd great grandmother, Jane Lawson, is one of my most frustrating research subjects – almost a brick wall. She just vanishes in my research. She was born about 1820 in Tennessee. She probably married a man surnamed Marshall about 1842, because she had her only known child, Patience Anna Marshall, on 30 Dec 1843.
Her husband either died or vanished before 1849. The 1850 Census shows the 30-year-old Jane living with her younger brother Thomas, in Jefferson County, Illinois along with Thomas’ new wife and Jane’s daughter Patience. And there are no Marshalls in the mortality schedule identified in the 1850 Census for Jefferson or surrounding counties.
One researcher suggests that Jane may have married Farris Presley in Marion County, Illinois, in 1864, but I have been unable to confirm that.
In my research, I was able to place her as likely in the household of Jacob Lawson during the 1840 Census. (The census only provides names of heads of households.)
So, I’ve discovered woefully little about Jane and her life. I’ve followed her brother Thomas having 10 children and living Jefferson County all of his life. I’ve discovered her mother’s name was Patience, presumably who she named her daughter for.
Circa 1820 – Born
Circa 1842 – Married? (Unk Marshall)
30 Dec 1843 – Gave birth to Patience.
1 June 1850 – Lived with brother, Thomas
Jane’s Parents – Jacob and Patience Lawson
In the 1850 Census, her parents and (apparent) siblings are listed only as being in Jefferson County, Illinois, but the 1860 Census add a key fact, the family lived in Township 2S of Range 4E. Whenever I see a person living in the Midwest, I always check the Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records. There, I searched for the surname Lawson in Jefferson County Illinois. There were six, and one of them was Jacob Lawson, in Township 2S, of Range 4E. He received bounty land.
Pursuant to an act of Congress on 28 September 1850, Jacob Lawson, private in Captain Waterhouse’s Company, Tennessee Volunteers – Florida ???? received 80 acres on 2 January 1854. It was the North Half of the South-East Quarter of section thirty-four. A quick review found the land about two miles south of Bluford and about two miles north of Interstate 64. (About 10 miles east of Mount Vernon and 90 miles east of Saint Louis.)
This new knowledge gives me a new direction and new hope for further research. What might I find about Jane when I research her other siblings? What Newspapers did Mount Vernon publish during her and her parent’s lives? I also know that her father served honorably in the War of 1812. Jacob is the first of my ancestors for whom I learned served during the war of 1812. The Tennessee Volunteers are one of the key units during the War of 1812. I wonder what my 4th Great-Grandfather did in the war. It should be interesting to research that.
The father of Patience Anna (Marshall) Dean Roberts continues to elude me. I’ve never heard of a wall growing, but the brick wall regarding Patience’s father seems to become more and more solid. I know virtually nothing about him.
Patience was born on 30 Dec 1843, so we can assume his father was alive in March 1843 in order to father Patience.
Patience and her mother are living with Jane’s brother in the 1850 Census. Additionally, a search for anyone with surname Marshall in Jefferson County, Illinois in the 1850 Mortality Schedule, yielded no one with the Marshall surname listed for Jefferson County or the surrounding counties. This leads me to believe that Patience’s father died before 1 June 1849.
Jane (Lawson) Marshall was about 22 years old when she conceived Patience, so, I’m guessing that her husband was at least 18 and probably under 32 when they were married. That suggests a birthdate somewhere between 1810 and 1822.
Even though the 1850 Census indicates that Patience was born in Tennessee, all other records indicate she was born in Illinois. I believe the Tennessee entry is in error. Patience’s mother was born in Tennessee and Jane’s younger brother Thomas was born in Illinois in 1829, suggesting the Lawson’s moved to Illinois before that. Additionally, it appears that Jane’s father is Jacob Lawson and Jacob appears in the 1840 Census as a family head of household. That suggests Jane lived in Illinois prior to meeting and marrying Patience’s father.
With this in mind, I speculate, Patience’s father was:
Born: 1810-1822 – Probably Tennessee.
Marr: 1842-1843 – Probably Illinois – Probably Jackson County.
Died: 1843-1949 – Probably Illinois – Probably Jackson County.
Newspapers are often a great source for death information. Chronicling America indicates 3 newspapers have been published in Jefferson County, Illinois. The earliest is the Sentinel beginning in 1856. Likewise, Find-a-Grave is an excellent source for death information and clues; There are no entries for anyone with the surname Marshall before 1864.
The 1840 Census indicates no families with the Marshall surname in Jefferson County.
The 1850 Census indicates there were only two households containing individuals with the Marshall surname. First, Jane and Patience were living with Jane’s brother. Second, was a family consisting of seven individuals, apparently Gabriel Marshall, age 45 from Tennessee, his wife, Frances, and five (apparent) children. Based upon the birthplaces of his children, it appears they came to Illinois between 1834 and 1838. This is about the time that Patience’s father may have come to Illinois as well. As such, my next effort with the Marshalls is to attempt to find Gabriel Marshall family and see if Gabriel had a brother that would fit as Patience’s father.
A visit to the Jefferson County Historical Society may help find additional resources.
Today, in recognition of World Beard Day, I’m recognizing some of my ancestral beards. I’ve had a beard most of my life. I didn’t have a beard for the first few years in the Navy, but while Admiral Zumwalt was the Chief of Naval Operations and beards were allowed, I too had one. I grew a full beard again after I got out of the service. I shaved it off for a short time while I ran for City Council in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, but promptly grew it back after I failed to win. My wife has never seen me without a beard except in photos and we’ve been together since 1991. She says shaving it off would be grounds for separation.
My Maternal Side – Mannin & Parsons
My 3rd great-grandfather, Enoch Mannin had the most amazing chin-curtains ever. I find chin-curtains to be beards without the benefit of not shaving. Chin-curtains require daily shaving of the face. Mustache area, cheeks, and chin are all shaved daily. Only the area under the jawline is left to grow. I find shaving under the jawline and shaving the neck to be the easiest part of shaving, so leaving that natural and shaving the more difficult areas seems odd to me.
My 4th great-grandfather, Chester Parsons also had interesting chin-curtains as well. In The History of Washtenaw County, Michigan, Page 437, a drawing of Chester Parsons shows his chin-curtains were gray in the center under his chin and dark on the sides.
My Paternal Side –
Although he was clearly a working man, my 2nd great-grandfather, Samuel Vaden Scott, had a nice, well-groomed beard (at least when the photo was taken).
His father, my 3rd great-grandfather, William Hunter Scott had a full beard. The photo I have of him shows a beard much like mine was several years ago – white on the sides with salt & pepper on the chin and mustache. He had an interesting face.
Although not related directly to me Henry Conn, Sr., the 3rd great-grandfather of my nephews Mike & Luke, had wild hair, a full beard, and a twisted bar mustache. He was an Oregon pioneer.
Some years ago, I worked for a military organization as a civilian. Some of the leadership there were active duty officers. When one of the majors came on board and was introduced to the employees. When he was introduced to me the first words he had for me weren’t, “Hello, nice to meet you” or anything similar. Rather his first words were, “When are you going to get a shave and a haircut?” A couple weeks later, I was in the cafeteria with a couple other bearded employees. I saw that Major A. was coming over to our table. Upon his arrival, I segued the conversation to beards. I asked the table if they knew how shaving became popular in Western Culture. When no one knew the answer, I said it came from “the Greeks, some of whom wanted to keep their boyish appearance for their men lovers.” Major A. never again suggested I shave.
Today, on World Beard Day, I remember all my ancestors who had beards.
I have a little brick wall because I am seeking to understand who Patience Marshall’s father is. Sometimes, you need to jump over a wall and work on it from the other side to bust it down.
My process is to:
Understand what I think I know.
Postulate a reasonable hypothesis.
Prove or disprove the hypothesis.
The 1850 Census tells us that six-year-old Patience was living with her mother, Jane, in the household of Thomas Lawson. The 21-year-old Thomas is unknown, but with the same surname as Jane, I suspect that Thomas is Jane’s brother. The census reports Jane as being born in Tennessee about 1819-1820.
Other Records suggest that Jane’s father was Jacob Lawson. Patience was born in Tennessee, so it is likely that Jane and Jane’s father were married in Tennessee between 1840 and 1844. So, I wondered if I could find the Jacob Lawson family in Tennessee. If so, might a Marshall live in the same county that could be Patience’s father?
There was only one Jacob Lawson identified in Tennessee during the 1840 Census.
Most marriages at this time took place between people in the same county. So, I questioned, are there any Marshall families in the same county that could be Jane’s husband.
In 1840, there were three Marshall families in McMinn County, Tennessee.
0 0 1 1 0 0 1 // 1 1 2 1 0 0 1
0 0 0 0 1 // 1 0 0 0 1
0 // 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 1
< 5 0
15-20 1 – Candidate
40-50 1 (William?)
< 5 1
40-50 1 (William’s wife?)
< 5 0
15-20 0 – No Candidates
< 5 1
20-30 1 (John’s wife?)
No Males – No Candidates
< 5 0
60-70 1 (Milley?)
Note: Immediately beneath William Marshall.
I still don’t know who Patience Marshall’s father was. However, I hypothesize that William Marshall of McMinn County, Tennessee, is likely Patience Marshall’s grandfather. So next, I will research the William Marshall family of McMinn County, Tennessee. That research might give me the answer.
I’ve made notes that I’ve made two leaps of faith.
Jane’s father is Jacob Lawson (of McMinn County).
Jane’s husband was a Marshall also from McMinn County.
I think both are reasonable assertions, but both require further research to prove or disprove my hypothesis. Sometimes, that can be easier said than done, but the process provides me with a new direction for research.
The oldest of my half-brothers (I now have four known half-brothers) asked if I might take a look at his maternal line (we share a common father). Of course I said, “Sure,” and started on my merry way researching. I began with his great-grandfather, Thomas Frederick Spry. I learned that Thomas didn’t live to 100, or even 99 as many records indicate. He lived to be 98, dying two days before his 99th birthday.
Research Family 2017 – Ancestor #14
List of Grandparents
Grandmother: Viola Lorraine Spry
1st Great-grandfather: Thomas Frederick Spry
2nd Great-grandfather: Johny M Spry
Thomas Frederick Spry (1875-1974)
Thomas Frederick Spry was born in Michigan (probably Detroit) on 19 May 1875. He was the fifth of nine known children of Johny M. and Catharine Spry. Ulysses S Grant was president and shortly after Thomas’ birth President Grant announced he would not run for a third term.
Thomas’ siblings included:
Benjamin F. Spry
Robert J Spry
Thomas Frederick Spry
19 May 1875
Harry (or Henry) Spry
The 1880 Census shows the entire family living at 538 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, Mich. Johny, Catharine, and all seven children were living together. Today 538 Michigan Ave is a parking ramp.
By 1895, the 20-year-old Thomas worked as a press feeder and boarded at 134 Locust, the same place as his older brother Benjamin. He was listed as being a printer in the Detroit 1898 City Directory living at 81 Plum Street. If you were heading east on the Fisher Freeway and took the off-ramp to the John C. Lodge Freeway, 81 Plum Street is about where the split to go north or south on the John C. Lodge Freeway is today. (Across the Lodge freeway from the MGM Grand.).
Thomas had been an usher for his oldest sister, Alice’s wedding and the family ties seem to have been close. The 1900 Census finds Thomas, and his brother Benjamin, living with their sister Alice, her husband and her five kids at 1027 Hudson Ave. Today, most of this part of Hudson Ave is replaced by the E. Edsel Ford Freeway.
Thomas married Ottilie Saleske in 1901. Ottilie was also known as Tillie, Lillie, Tilly, and even Matilda in various records. Likewise, Ottilie’s surname is spelled Saleski and Salesky in different documents.
The Four Children of Thomas and Ottilie Spry
Date of Death
Ethel H Spry
03 Sep 1902
07 Apr 1985
Baby Boy Spry
26 May 1904
26 May 1904
Viola Lorraine Spry
06 Dec 1908
28 Jun 2002
07 Aug 1918
04 Dec 1992
It isn’t clear exactly when, but by 1902, when their first daughter, Ethel, was born, the couple was living 30 miles away in Ypsilanti. Thomas was still working as a printer, an occupation he would have his entire adult life.
In 1904 tragedy struck. Ottilie had a baby boy on 26 May 1904; the child only lived 5 hours. It appears that shortly the baby’s death the family moved back to Detroit.
The 1910 Census finds Thomas and Otillie living at 671 Buchanan St. Thomas. With them are their two children Ethel and Viola. Also living with them is Otillie’s brother, Otto.
The 1916 Detroit City Directory indicates that Thomas had his print shop, Spry Printing Company located at 50 Woodward. Today, that location is known to have a marvelous statue known as “The Spirit of Detroit.” The statue was the largest bronze statue cast since the Renaissance when it was installed in 1958. I’ll never be able to see facsimiles of the statue on Detroit city vehicles and offices without thinking of Thomas Spry’s print shop. When Thomas registered for the World War I draft, he was 5’5-1/2” tall, medium build, blue eyes and he had light hair.
In 1920, Thomas was renting a home at 1417 25th, Detroit and he was working as a printer. Living with him was his wife and his three daughters, Ethel, Viola, and Isabel.
Before 1930, Thomas and family had moved again, this time to 5727 Missouri Ave, Detroit. The Missouri Street house was a two-story home with nearly 4,000 square feet of living space. Living with him are his wife and two of his daughters. Viola and Isabel. Viola had married three years before; I don’t know why Viola and Albert Dion were living apart. By 1938, Thomas had moved his printing shop to the 3rd floor of 216 Monroe. (Today this is a vacant lot at the corner of Monroe and Randolph Street—across from the Cadillac Center People Mover Station.)
Daughter Viola was joined by her husband and they had a daughter. In 1940, the three of them were living with Thomas and Ottilie in the house on Missouri Ave.
Thomas Frederick Spry died on 21 May 1974. He was survived by his wife and his three daughters. His burial location is unknown.
1880 Census, Family Search, 1880 – Johny M Spry – Detroit, Wayne, Michigan – ED 295, Page 42. Year: 1880; Census Place: Detroit, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: 613; Page: 45B; Enumeration District: 295.
1900 Census (FS), Family Search, 1900 – Thomas Salmoni – Detroit, Wayne, Michigan. “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M917-3KH : accessed 6 May 2018), Thomas Salmoni, Detroit city Ward 12, Wayne, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 141, sheet 13A, family 294, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,752.
1910 Census, Other, Thomas Spry – Detroit, Wayne, Michigan – ED 211, Sheet 9B. Year: 1910; Census Place: Detroit Ward 14, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T624_686; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0211; FHL microfilm: 1374699
1920 Census (A), Ancestry.Com, Thomas Spry – Detroit, Wayne, Michigan. Year: 1920; Census Place: Detroit Ward 12, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T625_811; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 363.
1930 Census (NARA), Ancestry.Com, 1930 Census – Thomas Spry Head – Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, Precinct 16.
1940 Census, Ancestry.Com, Thomas Spry, Head. 1940; Census Place: Detroit, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: m-t0627-01856; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 84-527.
City Directory (A), Com, Detroit, Michigan – 1895, Page 1279 – Spry. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
City Directory (A), Com, Detroit, Michigan – 1898, Page 1382 – Spry. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
City Directory (A), Com, Detroit, Michigan – 1900, Page 1470 – Spry. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
City Directory (A), Com, Detroit, Michigan – 1906, Page 1980 – Spry. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
City Directory (A), Com, Detroit, Michigan – 1916, Page 3671 – Spry. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Michigan Births, 1867-1902, Family Search, Ethel Spry – 3 Sep 1902. “Michigan Births, 1867-1902,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NQFN-9XY : 10 March 2018), Thos. F. Spry in an entry for Ethel Spry, 03 Sep 1902; citing item 1 p 419 rn 1673, Ypsilanti, Washtenaw, Michigan, Department of Vital Records, Lansing; FHL microfilm 2,363,098.
S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014, Ancestry.Com, Thomas Spry (1874-1974). “United States Social Security Death Index,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JYKD-8PF : 20 May 2014), Thomas Spry, May 1974; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Ancestry.Com, Thomas Frederick Spry. “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K6XQ-X74 : 13 March 2018), Thomas Frederick Spry, 1917-1918; citing Detroit City, Michigan, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,675,372.