Biography – Asa Ellis Roberts (1835-1886)

Roberts/Barnes Research

By – Don Taylor

“The rich got money and the Roberts got kids.”

Well, at least they did back in the 19th century. My second great-grandfather, Asa Ellis Roberts, came from a large family. He was one of at least 16 children. He too, had 16 children, 12 with his first wife and another four with his second wife. A father, farmer, and Civil War veteran, he led a hard life.

Asa Ellis Roberts was born on 28 February 1835 in Roane County, Tennessee.[1],[2] He is the son of John Calvin Roberts (1795-1873) and Elizabeth Blackwell (1796-1867).

Map of Asa Ellis Roberts Life.
Born: Roane, TN, Liven adult life in Southern Illinois
Map developed using Mapline.Com

Acy, as he was probably known of as child[3], was the 12th of 16 children. He grew up in Roane County, Tennessee. Apparently, he did not attend school as he still was unable to read and write according to the 1880 Census[4].

 

I have a lot of research to do regarding Asa’s childhood. It appears that something tragic occurred in 1848, when Asa was 13. It appears, from other researchers’ information, that five of his siblings, Calvin, David, Elizabeth, George, and John all died that year. There are five of his other siblings that I do not have death dates, so it is possible that even more than five of his siblings died in 1848. Definitely, more research is needed.

Adulthood

Asa married Elizabeth Minerva Toney (1834-1872) on 19 May 1852 in Rowan County, Tennessee.[5] Asa was 17 and Elizabeth was 18. Shortly after their marriage the young couple moved to Illinois where all of their 12 children were born.

  • William T. Roberts, born about 1853.
  • George Washington Roberts, was born about 1855 in Jackson County, Illinois; he died in 1902. He married Harriet Shinall sometime before 1895; next he married Hariett Alice Burchell on 24 December 1895.
  • John G. Roberts, born between about 1856 and died about 1870 at 13 years of age.
  • Margaret M Roberts was born about 1858. She married William Harvey Porter sometime after 1870.
  • The 1860 Census found the young family living in Township 5S (Ewing Township), Range 3E, in Franklin County, Illinois. Asa was a farmer, living with him was his wife and four children. His personal property was valued at $15.[6]
  • Calvin Logan Roberts was born in December 1860. He married Mary Emeline Fryer, next he married Willie Adeline Harrell, then he married Margaret E. (last name unknown).

Civil War Service

On April 12, 1861 the Civil War broke out and Asa joined Company I, 31st Illinois Infantry (Union) on August 15, 1861, at Benton, Franklin County, Illinois.[7]

His company mustered in on 18 September 1861 at Cairo, Alexander County, Illinois.[8] Cairo is the southern-most city in Illinois and the perfect place to begin a campaign against the Confederacy.

The “Dirty First,” as it was known, saw action at the Battle of Belmont on November 7th under the leadership of Brig. General Ulysses S. Grant. The Regiment then captured Forts Henry, Heiman, and Donelson during February 1862. The taking of Fort Donelson was a major victory for the Union. The unconditional surrender of the 12,000-man garrison ensured that Kentucky would remain with the Union. It also provided Grant the nom de guerre of “Unconditional Surrender” Grant.  Grant also received a promotion to major general.[9][10]

Shortly after the battle at Fort Donelson (Feb 1862), Asa entered the hospital for pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium – two thin layers of sac-like tissue that surrounds the heart). On 23 July 1862 Asa was discharged for “Chronic Pericarditis.”[11] His physical description at discharge was 5’8”, dark hair, gray eyes, with a fair complexion.

After Asa’s Civil War Service

Sarah Angeline Roberts was born on 5 March 1863. She married Daniel Rufus Baltzell.

James Monroe Roberts was born in June 1865. He married Nancy J. Huckshorn.

In 1865 Illinois held a state census which indicated Asa and his family were living in Township 4S, Range 1E, Jefferson County, Illinois.[12]

Then tragedy struck over and over and over again. Three children in a row died as infants, 1866, 1868, and 1869.

The 1870 Census finds the family living in Township 4, of Jefferson County, Illinois. Asa is still a farmer and his personal property value had grown to $400. With him are his wife and six children; William, George, Margaret, Calvin, Sarah, and Monroe.  It appears that his son John G Roberts had already passed.[13]

In 1870, John C. Roberts was born. He died in 1873, living only three years.

On 26 May 1872, Asa’s wife, Minerva died. I don’t know if it was as the result of childbirth, but I suspect it was.  Because another child was born and died as an infant in 1872.

On 25 August 1872, Asa married Patience Anna Marshall Dean (1845-1919), in Jefferson County, Illinois.[14] Asa was 37 and Patience was the 26-year-old widow of Thomas Dean. Patience had two children with Thomas, Elnora and another child who had passed already.

With John C. Roberts’ death in 1873, that made five children in a row born and died and six children passing within only seven years. Asa’s father, John Calvin Roberts, also died in 1873.

However, Asa and Patience had their first child together Charles Wilson Roberts on 5 July 1873. Charles married Clara Farmer on 29 January 1891.

Rosa Della Roberts was born on 26 May 1875 in Jefferson County. She married James Lawrence Derrington.

Florence Elizabeth Roberts was born on 21 January 1880 in Ewing, Franklin County; she died on 26 October 1948 in Sesser, Franklin County, Illinois at 68. She married Frances Perry Scott on 24 March 1901, next married Spencer. She had 2 children I know of: Nellie and Alfred.

By the 1880 Census, all of the children Asa had with Minerva had moved on and his household in Elk Prairie Township, Jefferson County, Illinois, consisted only of him, his wife Patience, their three children together (Charles, Della, and Florence) and Patience’s daughter from her marriage to Thomas Dean, Elnora Dean.[15]

Hugh Ellis Roberts was born on 2 July 1884 in Jefferson County. He died on 30 August 1908 in Ina, Illinois at the age of 24. He married Clora Dell Scott on 7 October 1900. They had 4 children: Harry, Carrie, Bert, and Mabel.

Asa Ellis Roberts died on 5 October 1886 at the age of 51[16], was buried at Hope Cemetery in Spring Garden, Jefferson County, Illinois).[17]

Further Actions:

  • Research the death dates for 5 siblings for whom I don’t have dates.
  • Research the causes of death for the siblings who died in 1848.
  • Research Asa Ellis Roberts’ Civil War Record, his pension application, and the pension application of his widow, Patience Anna Marshall Dean Roberts.

List of Greats

  1. Hugh Ellis Roberts
  2. Asa Ellis Roberts
  3. John Calvin Roberts
  4. Elias Roberts

ENDNOTES

[1] Note: Chris H. Bailey indicates that Asa was born on Feb 18 and that his father’s bible is what indicated 28 Feb. His date is probably based upon either Asa or Patience’s civil war pension record. I need to research those records closely. That said, his grave marker and other secondary sources are all in agreement as to the 28 February date.
[2] Sources: Find-a-Grave / Asa E. Roberts – Memorial# 90772797
[3] Note: He was listed as “Acy” in 1850 Census. – Family Search: 1850 Census / Roane, Tennessee – House Number 1415; John Roberts
[4] Family Search; 1880 Census; Winfield, Elk Prairie township, Jefferson Co., Illinois, Sheet 481B, Line 8; Asa Roberts
[5] Family Search: Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002 / Asa Roberts – Elizabeth Toney. Note: Some researchers suggest that Elizabeth Minerva Toney’s first name was Cynthia. My use of Elizabeth is based upon this marriage record.
[6] Family Search: 1860 Census – Township 5 S Range 3 E, Franklin, Illinois, (Page 534) Line 12
[7] Web Source: Illinois State Archives; Illinois Civil War Detail Report / Asa Roberts
[8] Web Source: Illinois State Archives; Illinois Civil War Detail Report / Asa Roberts
[9] Internet: National Park Service: The Civil War; Battle Detail; Fort Donelson; https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battles-detail.htm?battleCode=tn002
[10] Internet: National Park Service; The Civil War; Battle Unit Details; Union Illinois Volunteers; 31st Regiment, Illinois Infantry; https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=UIL0031RI
[11] Chris H. Bailey – “Descendants of John Calvin Roberts & Elizabeth (Blackwell) Roberts of Roane County, Tennessee”; Page 10 (Person 10) Asa Ellis Roberts.
[12] Family Search: Illinois State Census, 1865; Township 4S, Range 1E, Jefferson, Illinois – Asa Roberts/
[13] Family Search: 1870 Census – Township 4. Range 3, Jefferson County, Illinois, Line.
[14] Source: Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1934 / Asa Roberts – P. Anna Dean (Patience Marshall) (Other)
[15] Family Search: 1880 Census; Winfield, Elk Prairie township, Jefferson Co., Illinois; Sheet 481B, Line 8 – Asa Roberts –
[16] Source: Find-a-Grave / Asa E. Roberts – Memorial# 90772797 – Find (Other)
[17] Many thanks to Chris H. Baily for his “Descendants of John Calvin Roberts & Elizabeth (Blackwell) Roberts of Roane County, Tennessee.” His research confirmed much of the research I did, provided new insight into Asa Ellis Roberts’ life and the lives and even the existence of some, of his children.

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Searching for the death records for Frank Barber

Franklin E Barber (1836-1917)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 4
By Don Taylor

Intro

Sometimes learning a key bit of information about an ancestor can be complicated.  In the 1910 Census, Franklin’s wife, Sarah, indicates that she is a widow. Also, their 1869 marriage record indicates that Frank was born between 1940 and 1842, depending upon how you read the record.  Those “facts” had me searching and searching to no avail. Sometimes you need to go back to the beginning and grind through the documents and do a lot more analysis.  It isn’t always about finding the obvious “low hanging fruit,” but rather, doing your due diligence and analysis of what you do find.

Birth

The 1869 marriage record when Franklin Barber married Sarah H Blackhurst indicated that Frank was 28 years old and was born in Sheridan, Michigan.[i] Because the marriage occurred before the license was gotten, it is unclear of the age of 28 was at the time of marriage or at the time of the license. Considering both possibilities, he would have been born between Nov 1840 and Jan 1842 by this record.
The 1880 Census, shows Frank E Barber as 40 years old, indicating a birth between 2 June 1839 and 1 June 1840. It also says he was born in Ohio.[ii]
It is interesting to note that the 1917 death certificate for Frank’s daughter, Eva Louisa (Barber) Goff, indicates that her father, Frank was born in Pennsylvania.
It is also interesting to note that the 1930 Census record for Ida Mae (Barber) Knight indicates that her father, Frank was born in Spain.[iii]
Franklin (Frank) E Barber was born between 2 Jun 1839 and Jan 1842 in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Spain or possibly even France.

Military Service

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor
According to the 1890 Census [iv] Frank Barber enlisted in Union Army in April of 1864 and was discharged in 1865. It appears he served in Company I, Sixth Michigan Heavy Artillery. He lived in Albion Village in Calhoun County when he enlisted and was discharged at Jackson, Michigan.
The Sixth Michigan Heavy Artillery mostly saw garrison duty in Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi.  However, the unit, while Frank was a part of it, was involved in the “Mobile Campaign,” including the siege and taking of Spanish Fort.[v]

Marriage

Franklin Barber and Sarah H Blackhurst were married on 8 Nov 1869 by Justice of the Peace, Stephen White, in Sheridan Township, Calhoun County, Michigan. Franklin, Sarah, both witnesses, James Hickey and Louisee Sanders, and the Justice were all from Sheridan. The village of Albion is within Sheridan Township. The record also shows that the couple didn’t get their marriage license until a couple months later, on 22 Jan 1870.
1870 – Unable to find Frank/Franklin Barber/Barbour in the 1870 Census.
1874 – The birth of their first child, a daughter Ida Mae Barber, my Great Grandmother, occurred on 24 March 1874.
1877 – The birth of their second child, another daughter, Eva Louisa Barber, occurred on 5 Dec 1877.
1880 – Frank is married to Sarah and living in Albion Village, with his wife and two girls. His occupation was a painter, but he had been unemployed for four months during the previous census year.  This Census indicates his father was born in New York and his mother was born in Vermont.[vi]
1890 – It is rare to find a person in the 1890 Census. Luckily there was a Schedule “Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War” that indicated that Frank was living in Albion.[vii] That census record also confirms the information regarding his Civil War service.
1900 – This is where the records really go awry.
Sarah, Frank’s wife, is living, as the head of the household, in in Detroit with her 22-year-old daughter, Eva. The record is legible and it indicates that Sarah is 42 years old but was born in December of 1867. If she was really born in December of 1867, she would be only 32 years old. So it is clearly an error in the census record. It also indicates that she has been married for 27 years, which indicates she was married about 1872-1873. [viii]
By 1900, Ida is on her second marriage and living in Manistee with her husband Max Fisher. The census indicates Ida was 25 years old and had been married to Max for seven years. Max was only 23. Madonna was going by the surname of Fisher and was seven years old. The freaky part of this census is that the census indicates that Ida’s father (Frank) was born in France.[ix]
Main Building, Soldier’s Home, Grand Rapids, MI
Photo by Tichnor Brothers, Publisher
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

But where is Frank in 1900?

I can’t find Frank in Calhoun County in the 1900 Census. With Ida heading up her own household, I figured that Frank abandoned her.  Then I found a Frank Barber in the Soldier’s Home in Grand Rapids, Michigan (about 100 miles away).[x] I had seen this record before and have vacillated between believing that the Frank Barber at the Soldier’s Home is Frank Barber of Albion and not believing it to be the case.

Comparison of Frank Barber of Albion & Frank Barber of Soldier’s Home

Our Frank
Soldier’s Home Frank
Birth
1840-1842
Oct 1836
Married
1869
1861 – 39 years
Born
Ohio
Ohio
Father Born
New York
New York
Mother Born
Vermont
New York
Occupation
Painter
Painter
There are definitely enough points of convergence to make me think it might be the same Frank Barber and enough differences to make me think they are different Frank Barbers. So, I got to thinking. In the 1910 Census, Sarah indicates she is a widow. Could I find Frank in the 1910 Census?
1910 – Ida (now Holdsworth) is now the head of the household in Detroit with her daughter, Madonna, and her mother, Sarah, living with her. Sarah is identified as a widow, which implies that her husband, Frank, has passed. Ida reports her father (Frank) was born in Ohio.[xi]
The 74-year-old Frank Barber was enumerated in the 1910 Census. He was identified as being born in the United States, serving in the Civil War for the Union, and was widowed.[xii] [Great – hear the sarcastic tone in that “Great.”] It is certainly possible that both Frank and Sarah wanted to consider the other one dead and reported themselves as widowed. But it is not a position I felt confident with.
Returning to the National Park Service’s Search for Soldiers, (By the way, a really great and useful site – http://www.nps.gov.) I looked for Frank Barbers who fought for the Union in the Civil War. The database reported 16 individuals.

National Park Service – Results of search for Union Soldiers named Frank Barber

Name
Battle Unit Name
Comments
Franklin E Barber
10th Reg., Ohio Cavalry
Our Frank had located to Michigan before the war – Unlikely but possible.
Frank Barber
9th Reg., Mass. Infantry
Massachusetts
Frank Barber
81st Reg., US Colored Inf.
Colored
Frank W. Barber
91st Reg., Illinois Inf.
Middle initial is wrong and our Frank has no history of Illinois.
Frank Barber
2nd Reg., Minnesota Cav.
Minnesota
Franklin F Barber
2nd Reg., Illinois Cav.
Middle initial is wrong and our Frank has no history of Illinois.
Frank Barber
6th Reg, Mich Heavy Artillery
Enlisted in Albion. Definitely our Frank.
Franklin A Barber
1st Reg., Mich Light Artillery
Middle initial wrong – But Possible.
Franklin H Barber
1st Reg., Mich Light Artillery
Middle initial wrong – But Possible.
Frank W Barber
49th Reg., New York Inf.
New York
Franklin Barber
7th Reg., Wisconsin Inf.
Wisconsin
Frank Barber
Ind. Battery… Colored Inf.
Colored
Frank Barber
62nd Reg., US Colored
Colored
Frank Barber
79th Reg. US Colored
Colored
Frank J Barber
4th Reg., Wisconsin Cav.
Wisconsin
Frank Barber
193rd Reg. New York Inf.
New York
So, which of these sixteen potential Frank Barbers is the one in the Soldier’s Home in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1900 and 1910? Further looking at the Soldier Details on the NPS database revealed that Franklin A Barber was originally filed under Franklin H Barber, so it appears they are one individual.
The record that swayed me to back into believing that Frank Barber of Albion and Frank Barber of Soldier’s Home are the same person was in the Civil War Draft Registrations Records. This record shows that the Frank Barber of Albion was born in Ohio and was 26 years old on 1 July 1863. That puts his birthdate between 2 Jul 1836 and 1 Jul 1836.[xiii] Now, the 1900 Census entry indicating Frank of the Soldier’s home is consistent with Frank of Albion.
Our Frank
Soldier’s Home Frank
Birth
2 Jul 1836-1 Jul 1837
Oct 1836
Married
1869
1861 – 39 years
Born
Ohio
Ohio
Father Born
New York
New York
Mother Born
Vermont
New York
Occupation
Painter
Painter
As I said before, I have been vacillating between Frank of Albion and Frank of the Soldier’s Home being the same person. I can live with the discrepancy of his mother’s birth location, particularly because it is the same as his father’s birth location.  The discrepancy in marriage information concerns me somewhat; eight years seems like a lot.
Frank Barber, Co. I, 6 Mich Heavy Artillery
Photo via Find-a-Grave.
However, one last find totally convinced me that Frank Barber of Albion and Frank of Soldier’s Home is the same person. MIGenWeb (Michigan Genealogy on the Web) has a section regarding Michigan in the Civil War. A search for Frank Barber found the Frank Barber buried at Soldier’s Home in Grand Rapids was part of the 6th Infantry, Company I.[xiv] (The 6th Infantry was renamed the 6th Heavy Artillery.)
Knowing Frank was buried at Soldier’s Home made it easy to find a Find-a-Grave record for him. According to Find-a-Grave, Frank Barber died on 7 April 1917 and is buried at Grand Rapids Veterans Home Cemetery, (Soldier’s Home Cemetery) Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan at lot 7, Row 10, Grave 13.[xv]
Certainly, the idea that Frank went into the Soldier’s home in his early sixties and his wife and children moved on without him is disturbing.  That both he and his wife thought of themselves as widowed in 1910 is also saddening. We may never know how or why Frank went into the home but it is worth pursuing.

Further research needed:

Find Franklin Barber in the 1870, 1860, 1850, and 1840 Censuses.
Determine Franklin Barber’s parents’ names.
Learn more about Frank Barber’s Civil War Experience.
Determine why Frank went into the Soldier’s home at such an early age.

Endnotes

[Note: The bold numbers refer to my source database.]
[i] 481. “Michigan, Calhoun, Certified Copy of a Marriage Record,” Don Taylor, Maine, Don Taylor
[ii] 609. “1880 Census,” Sheridan, Calhoun, Michigan, USA, 13, Frank E Barber (Line 48), 1 Jun 1880, Digital Image, Image from Ancestry.Com, 3/7/14.
[iii] 269. “1930 Census,” Ancestry, http://www.Ancestry.com.
[iv] 612. “1890 Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War,” Albion, Calhoun, Michigan, 10 of 146, Frank Barber (Line 16), 1 June 1890, Digital Image, Family Search, 15 Jan 2016.
[v] 613. National Park Service, “Union Michigan Volunteers,” 6th Regiment, Michigan Heavy Artillery, http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=UMI0006RAH, 15 Jan 2016.
[vi] 609. “1880 Census,” Sheridan, Calhoun, Michigan, USA, 13, Frank E Barber (Line 48), 1 Jun 1880, Digital Image, Image from Ancestry.Com, 3/7/14.
[vii] 612. “1890 Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War,” Albion, Calhoun, Michigan, 10 of 146, Frank Barber (Line 16), 1 June 1890, Digital Image, Family Search, 15 Jan 2016.
[viii] 610. “1900 Census,” Detroit Ward 4, Wayne, Michigan, Roll 748, Page 13B, ED 0036, Sarah Barber, 1 Jun 1900, Digital Image, Ancestry.com, 15 Jan 2015.
[ix] 614. “1900 Census,” Manistee Ward 6, Manistee, Michigan, Sheet 4A, Max Fisher, 1 Jun 1900, Digital Image, Ancestry, 14 Sep 2010.
[x] 611. “1900 Census,” Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan, Frank Barber,  Roll: 723; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0148; FHL microfilm: 1240723, 1 Jun 1900, Digital Image, Ancestry, 15 Jan 2016.
[xi] 615. “1910 Census,” Detroit Ward 7, Wayne, Michigan, Roll: T624_683; Page: 8A, Ida Holdsworth, 15 Apr 1910, Digital Image, Ancestry, 13 Sep 1910.
[xii] 616. “1910 Census,” Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan, Roll: T624_655; Page: 10A, Frank Barber, 15 Apr 1910, Digital Image, Ancestry, 16 Jan 2016.
[xiii] 617. “U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865,” Franklin Barber, NAI: 4213514; Archive Volume Number: 1 of 3.
[xiv] 618. “Michigan Veterans of the Civil War, Buried at Soldiers Home, Grand Rapids, MI,” Frank Barber, http://www.migenweb.org/michiganinthewar/gravesites/soldiershome.htm, MIGenWeb (Michigan Genealogy of the Web), Don Harvey.
[xv] 619. “Find a Grave,” Frank Barber – Memorial #14714632, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=14714632.
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