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.
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., He is the son of John Calvin Roberts (1795-1873) and Elizabeth Blackwell (1796-1867).
Acy, as he was probably known of as child, 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.
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.
Asa married Elizabeth Minerva Toney (1834-1872) on 19 May 1852 in Rowan County, Tennessee. 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.
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.
His company mustered in on 18 September 1861 at Cairo, Alexander County, Illinois. 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., 
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.” 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.
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.
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. 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.
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, was buried at Hope Cemetery in Spring Garden, Jefferson County, Illinois).
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
Hugh Ellis Roberts
Asa Ellis Roberts
John Calvin Roberts
 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.  Sources: Find-a-Grave / Asa E. Roberts – Memorial# 90772797  Note: He was listed as “Acy” in 1850 Census. – Family Search: 1850 Census / Roane, Tennessee – House Number 1415; John Roberts  Family Search; 1880 Census; Winfield, Elk Prairie township, Jefferson Co., Illinois, Sheet 481B, Line 8; Asa Roberts  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.  Family Search: 1860 Census – Township 5 S Range 3 E, Franklin, Illinois, (Page 534) Line 12  Web Source: Illinois State Archives; Illinois Civil War Detail Report / Asa Roberts  Web Source: Illinois State Archives; Illinois Civil War Detail Report / Asa Roberts  Internet: National Park Service: The Civil War; Battle Detail; Fort Donelson; https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battles-detail.htm?battleCode=tn002  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  Chris H. Bailey – “Descendants of John Calvin Roberts & Elizabeth (Blackwell) Roberts of Roane County, Tennessee”; Page 10 (Person 10) Asa Ellis Roberts.  Family Search: Illinois State Census, 1865; Township 4S, Range 1E, Jefferson, Illinois – Asa Roberts/  Family Search: 1870 Census – Township 4. Range 3, Jefferson County, Illinois, Line.  Source: Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1934 / Asa Roberts – P. Anna Dean (Patience Marshall) (Other)  Family Search: 1880 Census; Winfield, Elk Prairie township, Jefferson Co., Illinois; Sheet 481B, Line 8 – Asa Roberts –  Source: Find-a-Grave / Asa E. Roberts – Memorial# 90772797 – Find (Other)  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.
One of the reasons that I enjoy Randy Seaver’s blog, Genea-Musings is that he regularly makes me realize the missing branches I have in my tree leaves have lots more to do on my tree. His recent “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun” asked folks to look at their tree and determine the age of death for their male ancestors. (He had done a similar thing for female ancestors the week before.)
Using Heredis, it is really simple to generate such a report. I clicked on myself, then clicked on Documents/Ancestor Report and the system generated the data. Then I went to Report Export, I selected Excel from several options. After the information exported, the Excel spreadsheet opened automatically.
Because the ahnentafel numbers for the individuals are exported, it is easy to select just the male ancestors by deleting all of the odd numbers. I immediately saw that my 3rd great-grandfather, Enoch Mannin, lived the longest – 88 years. The ancestor who died the earliest was my great-grandfather Hugh Ellis Roberts, who died at an extremely young 24 years of age.
Next, I began seeing my gaps. I have three people with a range of dates for their life. For example, my great-grandfather John F. Montran was born sometime between 1860 and 1875 and died sometime before 1911. So, he could have died at 35 or died at 51 years or anywhere in between; I don’t know.
Then, I realized I have six ancestors for whom I have no death dates. More work.
Finally, I realized I have nine ancestors in the past five generations that I know nothing about. No names, let alone birth or death dates. So, Randy’s challenge reminded me of how much more work I still have to do. But the good news is that I have 11 of my male ancestors identified as to their age at death. Even better, I have eight more this year than I would have had last year (all of my Roberts line.). I even have one more than I would have had last week, So things are definitely looking up.