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.
Saturday Night Genealogy Fun
By Don Taylor
Randy Seaver, of Genea-Musings, suggested taking a look at our third great-grandparents lifespan. When were they born; how long did they live? Randy’s suggestions often make me think about my tree and point out where I have holes or other problems in my genealogical research, so I thought I’d give it a try. Randy’s suggestion this time was no different.
Of my 32 great-grandparents, I only have 23 named in my database. Two are women for whom I only know their married surname. Only 13 of them, do I have birth and death dates. I have much more work to do to fill in the blanks.
My earliest born 3rd Great’ was John Calvin Roberts, born 3 March 1795; the most recent born was Andrew Haley born 1837. I was surprised there were 42 years between two ancestors in the same generation.
The youngest to die that I know about was Joel Cruff Taft who died at the age of 48. Barney Daney Brown was born about 1814 and died sometime between 1860 and 1870 could have died at age 46, age 56 or any age in between.
My longest living 3rd great-grandparent was William Sanford who lived to 92. However, I must mention that my great-grandmother Mary (Manning) Brown lived to be 105.
The average age at death for my 3rd great-grandparents was 70.6 years old.
My Ancestors for whom I know their birth and death dates include:
As is so often the case with Randy’s exercises, Randy reminds me how much more genealogical work I still need to do. I’d love to learn the birthdates and death dates of all my 3rd great-grandparents. Then again, my genealogical goal is not to fill in the blanks; instead, my goal is to get to know my ancestors, to try to understand them, and to appreciate their lives.
52 Ancestors – Week 2018-18
By Don Taylor
I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History.” With that in mind Elizabeth (Blackwell) Roberts must have been extremely “well behaved.” All of the records I have found only refer to Elizabeth, none of them are about Elizabeth. She was born in Western North Carolina, moved during the pioneer days to Tennessee as a child. She married in Tennessee and had sixteen children. She lived a full life dying at the age of 70.
3rd Great-grandmother: Elizabeth Blackwell (1796-1867)
4th Great-grandfather: David Blackwell (1757-1842)
When Elizabeth Blackwell was born, on 10 Sept 1796, George Washington was in his second term. She was born in Surry County, North Carolina, the fifth of nine children of David and Sarah (Harris) Blackwell.
The siblings of Elizabeth included:
Nancy Blackwell was born in 1779. She died before 1848 (Possibly in 1840.).
William Blackwell was born in 1781. He died in 1826.
Patsy Blackwell was born in 1783. She died before 1848 (Possibly 1840).
Richard Blackwell was born in 1783. He died in 1832.
Armestead Blackwell was born in 1794. He died before 1848.
Hugh Blackwell was born in 1803. He probably died before 1848
Dicy Blackwell was born in 1804. She died in 1880.
George W. Birth unknown; he died on 02 May 1840 in Tennessee, USA.
Nothing is known of Elizabeth’s childhood. We know that her family moved from Surry County, North Carolina, to Roane County, Tennessee sometime before April 1816, when the twenty-year-old Elizabeth married twenty-one-year-old John Calvin Roberts in Poplar Creek, Roane County, Tennessee. John had served in Captain Chiles company of the Tennessee Militia during the war of 1812 and returned home after he mustered out on 1 May 1815. Fresh back from the war, the young couple settled down and started a family.
John and Elizabeth had sixteen children together, all of whom were born in Roane County, Tenn. (Death dates are either approximate or unconfirmed.)
Children of John Calvin and Elizabeth (Blackwell) Roberts
Calvin Roberts (b. 25 Dec 1816 – d. 1848).
Elias R. “Robbie” Roberts (b. 27 Oct 1818 – d. 1902).
David R. Roberts (b. 24 April 1820 -d. 1848).
Elijah Josiah Roberts (b. 10 Feb 1823 – d. 12 Nov 1868).
Elizabeth Roberts (b. 17 Nov 1823 – d. 1848.
George W. Roberts (b. 22 Nov 1824 – d, 1848.
Francis Marion “Jack” Roberts (b. 03 Dec – d. 1863).
Roberts, S. E., Roberts families of Roane County, Tennessee, 1794-1969, Copy, John C. Roberts – Page 226 thru Page 229. Roberts, Snyder. E. (1968). Roberts families of Roane County, Tennessee, 1794-1969. Oliver Springs? Tenn.
Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002, Ancestry.Com, John Roberts & Elizabeth Blackwel. Accessed 13 Feb 2017.
Tennessee, Compiled Marriages, 1784-1825, Ancestry.Com No Image – John Roberts & Elizabeth Blackwell – Marriage Date: 3 March 1816. Accessed 13 Feb 2017.
 Attributed to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, See: Chicago Now – http://www.chicagonow.com/listing-beyond-forty/2015/07/who-said-well-behaved-women-seldom-make-history/
 I will write more about Elizabeth’s share in her father’s will when I write about David Blackwell (1757-1842)
 There were three male children that should have been 11 to 14 years of age that do not seem to appear in the 1840 Census Record. John, Age 12 and Philip, Age 11, both died before 1848; from this census it appears they died before 1840.
 There were three male children born that would have been 20 to 29 during this census-Calvin (23), Elias (21), and David (20). Any one of them could have moved out or could have died before 1840. Both Calvin and David are believed to have died before 1848 so it is very possible one of them died before the 1840 Census.
 It is not clear who Elizabeth Nelson was. Elizabeth’s daughter Elizabeth was born in 1823, which would make her 26 years-old during the 1850 Census, so I don’t believe it was her, but it could be.
Roberts and Robertson are patronymic names that come from the first name Robert. The name has Old German origins coming from ‘hroth’ and ‘berht’ which mean “fame” and “bright,” similar to how our word “illustrious” is used today. [i] Had I known 50 years ago that my biological father was a “Roberts,” I probably would have adopted the illustrious surname for myself. But instead, I adopted “Taylor” as my surname, which is a story in itself.
I was pretty sure I was a Roberts long before I could prove it. After, I learned that I was most likely “a Roberts,” I purchased a Roberts tartan at a Scottish Fair. I don’t know if my Roberts’ are Scottish, as I still need to track down the origins of my Roberts line, but I like the tartan.
Today, Roberts has its highest frequency of use in Wales where one in 124 people have the surname. However, by far the greatest number of people with the Roberts surname live in the United States where over 50% of the people in the world with the surname currently live. Among the States, the greatest number of “Roberts” live in the great state of Texas. Worldwide, Roberts is the 658th most common name; approximately 793,774 people bear the surname.[ii]
My Roberts Ancestors
My earliest known Roberts ancestor is my 4th great-grandfather, Edward Roberts. I haven’t tracked down where Edward was born, yet, but his son, Elias, was born in South Carolina and died in Tennessee. Elias was born in 1767, so this Roberts line goes back to at least colonial times.
Elias Roberts married Rebecca Brashears; they had nine children including John Calvin Roberts.
John Calvin Roberts was born in the Southwest Territory (Tennessee); he married Elizabeth Blackwell and they had fifteen children, including Asa Ellis Roberts.
Asa, who was born in Tennessee, had sixteen children with two wives including a son, Hugh Ellis Roberts, with his second wife.
Hugh, who was born in Illinois, had four children including my paternal grandfather, Bert Allen Roberts.
My known relatives.
I have five half-siblings, all of whom have the Roberts surname.
My records have 272 direct descendants of Edward Roberts identified, so far.
Do you think you are a related Roberts? Test with FTDNA and see.