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Ask Ancestry Anne: Are These The Same People?

Question: I have built my family tree on ancestry.com and figured out my great great grandfather’s father was John Logan. I found the family on censuses from 1850 through 1880, the last census surviving before John’s death in 1880. All of the censuses list John’s occupation as a farmer. However, I was recently going through my grandfather’s family heirlooms and found an original newspaper from 1895 with John’s obituary. In it, it says he was a judge. At first I thought maybe I had the wrong John Logan on the census as it’s not an uncommon name, nor with the same name, and ten children all who have the same name (the daughters’ married names mentioned in the obituary also match the 1860 census.) Did all of the census takers just get it wrong?

— Stacie

Answer: How lucky you are to find that obituary!  And nice job of knowing you should not ignore conflicting evidence.

(Note: I’ll attach the obituary at the end of the post.)

Let’s start with the family information and a quick timeline from information we can gather from the obituary.

  • 20 Mar 1822 John Logan was born in Connersville, Fayette County, Indiana.
  •  About 1839 he moved to Illinois with his father’s family.  (The obit says country, but I suspect county.)  They lived in Henderson and Warren counties
  • Abt 1842, he was given an 80 acre farm
  • 30 Jan 1844 he married Barbara Davis and the lived on the 80 acre farm for 50 years
  • 1863, he was elected county judge, serving two terms.
  • 1 May 1895 John Logan dies in Lomax, Henderson County, Illinois.

Barbara and John had 10 children: Susan, Alex, Taylor, Mary, Nancy D, Elmira, John W, Will, Annie, and E.L.  Susan and Alex were living with their parents when John died.

He served two terms as a county judge.

Given this information, we would assume we would find the family in Henderson County, Illinois in the 1850 – 1880 census.

General rule of thumb, work backwards. 

We find John and Anne Logan living in Honey Creek, Henderson County, Illinois in 1880 with six children: Ellicks (is this Alex?), Susan, Mira, John, William and Lincoln (E.L?)

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John is 58, born abt 22 in Indiana. His occupation is a Farmer.  Is Anne Logan, his wife, actually Barbara Logan.

Before looking for the next census, I look for a marriage record.  Ancestry.com has an index of Illinois Marriages, 1790 – 1860 that has an entry for a John Logan and a Barbara Ann Davis, married 30 Jan 1844. This sounds like our couple, and explains why John is married to an Anne in 1880.  It also states that there were married in Hancock County.  Henderson and Hancock Counties border each other, so it is not inconceivable that they were married or that they registered their marriage in Hancock County.

I find the 1870 census for John and Ann Logan in Township 8, Range 6, Henderson County, Illinois.

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The people in the household (we don’t know the relationships) are: Susan, Nancy, Almira, John, William, Anna, Lincoln, and Terrell.  Terrell is listed last and is not in chronological order.  This may signify that he is not a child, but a relative.  Or not.

In 1860, we find the family again in Township 8 N, 6 W, Henderson County, Illinois.  John and Barbara A are the correct age and both are born in Indiana.  John again is listed as a farmer. The people in the household are Susan, Albert, Taylor, Mary J, Nancy, Almira, John and William.

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In 1850, they are living in the same place, they are the correct age, and John is a Farmer.  Others in the household are: Susan, Alexander, Taylor and Mary J.  Notice that Susan is 5, born about 1845.  We know her parents were married in 1844.  That fits nicely.

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Let’s build a table of people in the household over the decades:

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The family described in the obituary sure looks like the family we find in Henderson County, Illinois, doesn’t it? 

So why is John always listed as a farmer when the obituary lists him as a Judge?  I suspect that being a County Judge was not a full time job, and we know from his obituary that he served two terms, leading us to suspect that he most probably had another occupation. From A History of the Illinois Judicial System, we learn that the Constitution of 1848 and other legislation “established a county court in each county with one county court judge who had a four year term.”  This leads me to believe that he served from 1863 to 1871.

I suspect that being a farmer is how he supported his family over the decades.  However, once an elected official has served as a President, Governor, Judge, etc, they are usually known by that honorific.

The details in the obituary match up exactly with the information we see in the censuses from 1850 to 1880.  There are no other John Logan’s in Henderson County who are candidates.  We can construct a reasonable argument as to why he was listed as a Farmer in the census records and as a Judge in his obituary.

I do not believe either is wrong.  I believe the two John Logans are the same man, and that he was both a Farmer and a Judge.

Happy Searching!

 — Ancestry Anne


The obituary, in 3 parts:

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