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Ask Ancestry Anne: Who were Silas Allington’s parents?

Question: I have connected with several other members of to try and find more about my husband’s great great-grandfather, Silas Allington. We all have the date of his birth, January 26, 1850 (we think in New York), and the date of his death, March 15, 1897, in Chillicothe, Illinois. We all agree that he was married to Emeline Potter. This is all documented on his grave stone. The problem is that we all have differing or no information as to who his parents were and beyond. We have all hit a roadblock. Can you help us go further?

Answer: I think I have found a path that you can follow.

Let’s start with what you know and work back.  Silas’ tombstone, in Chillicothe City Cemetery in Peoria County, Illinois, states that he was born Jan 26, 1850 and he died March 15, 1897.  He has a wife, Emma that was born October 20, 1852 and who died May 10, 1923.

So where to begin?

  • Silas should be in the 1850–1880 censuses.
  • Emma is most likely in the 1880 through 1920 census with her married name.  Maybe 1870 census.
  • Given Emma’s death date, we can look her up in a death index for Illinois.

Let’s start with 1880, where we find them in Chillicothe, Peoria, Illinois:


  • Silas was born about 1851 in New York, and his parents were born in New Jersey.
  • Emma was born about 1853 in New York, her parents were born in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
  • Willie was born about 1875 in New York as were his parents.
  • Freddie was born about 1878 in New York as were his parents.
  • It is possible that Silas and Emma were married in New York about 1873 or 1874; we can make that guess because Willie was born in 1875.
  • They moved to Illinois sometime between 1878 and 1880.
  •  I found no other Allingtons are in Peoria or surrounding counties in 1880.

Next I look for the death record for Emma.                  

She is in the Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916 -1947:


The birth and death information match the tombstone.  The index states her father’s name was Potter and her mother’s name was Amelia.  I suggest you find the actual record from Peoria County, Illinois.  There may be more clues on the actual death certificate.

Our best guess at the moment is they were married in New York, around 1873.  We are not likely to find them in the 1870 census living together.

I have yet to find a Silas in the 1870 census in New York, but I have found a really good candidate in 1850 and 1860.

According to his tombstone, Silas was born in January 1850 in New York, prior to the census in 1850, so he should be in there.  I found only one candidate, a 1 year old Silas in Elmira, Chemung, New York:


In 1850, Jonathan is listed as being born in New York; in 1860 he is listed as being born in New Jersey.  Is Jonathan the father of Silas?  Is this the right Silas?

Jonathan dies in 1869.  Here is a snippet of the will that I locate in a tree on that lists his next of kin:


In 1869, Jonathan leaves his estate to his one son, his five daughters whom he does name directly and his grandson Samuel Maxwell.  In the will he does not mention his wife.  In the paperwork, her name is left blank, so I suspect that Abigail has died sometime between 1860 and 1869.

The previous page on the will, lists Silas Allington, Caroline Davis, Samuel Maxwell all of Elmira, New York; Eliza Hill of Van Etten, New York; and Harriet Ving or King and James Bennett of Illinois.  The surrogate for the Will states that he doesn’t know where Harriet or James live in Illinois.  This doesn’t add up to 5 daughters, but there are enough names in here to associate it to what we see in the 1850 and 1860 census.


I’ve also found Emma Potter, very close to Elmira in 1860 in Horseheads, Chemung, New York.  She is living most likely her parents, Morris and Amelia Potter, which matches the Illinois death record:


I find an Emeline Potter in Horsehead in 1870 working for a Smith family:


Is this your Emmeline?  Possibly. I could not find Silas in 1870.  And I could not find any marriage records online for New York.  If he is still in Elmira, it is very close to Horseheads and so we have them possibly geographically close to each other.  They had to meet somewhere!

So I believe that Jonathan and Abigail Allington are excellent candidates for Silas’ parents.  I would try and find the following:

  • A marriage record for Silas and Emma/Emeline
  • Birth records for the children born in New York
  • Obituaries for any Allington you are researching here
  • A death record for Silas

I would also track the other children of Jonathan and Abigail as well as the people in Jonathan’s will.  They may have left you a clue which will prove or disprove this theory. 

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

Ask Ancestry Anne: It’s Time for Wedding Bells!

Women’s History Month continues. Today’s prompt:

Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

I’m pretty sure this is a photo taken about the time of my great grandparents wedding.  Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald were married January 24, 1894 in Lexington, Virginia.

Tall men and short women seem to be a theme in my family. :-)

When I was researching this couple, I learned the value of looking for the marriage record and then looking to see if their names appeared elsewhere in the database.  Well, guess what.  Wyatt’s did.  I talk about in Returned not used: How I Almost Wasn’t

OK, now it’s your turn!  Post a URL to a blog post where you talk about a wedding in your tree or tell us a story in the comments.

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

Ask Ancestry Anne: Who Were You Named For? Or Use the Favorite Woman in Your Life!

Women’s history month continues.  Today’s prompt:

Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

I am Anne Elizabeth,  and I was named for both my grandmothers, Ann Irene Feazell and Jennie Elizabeth Payne. 

I have always been confused why my grandmother spelled her name Ann and mine is Anne, but that is what it is.  Oh, and she always went by Judy. 

My other grandmother, Jennie Elizabeth Payne, had a life that I knew nothing about until I it uncovered in census records and other documents.  I blogged about it in How Eight Children Ended Up Living Alone in 1930

And now it’s your turn.  Who were you or your wife, your mother, your sister named for?  Post a URL in the comments, or tell us your story.

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

Ask Ancestry Anne: Do You Have A Photo of A Female Ancestor?

Women’s History Month continues. Today’s prompt:

Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

For me that’s easy.  I have this great picture of my Great Grandmother Laura Cecile Gillespie Donald with her dog.  You can read about in Wisdom Wednesday — Granny’s Dog (OK, it’s not my snappiest title. :-) )

So now it’s your turn.  Post your blog links, or tell us about your favorite picture of a female ancestor.

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

Ask Ancestry Anne: You Didn’t Ask, But It’s Women’s History Month!

It’s Women’s History Month, and it’s time to explore the “fairer side” of our family tree.

Lisa Azlo, who writes the blog The Accidental Genealogist, has written a series of blogging prompts for the month, and maybe it will inspire us to dig a little deeper in our trees.   To play along, post a url to a blog post you’ve written, or reminiscence in the comments.

You can find the blogging prompts at: Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.

Today’s prompt:

Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

It’s really hard to pick one, isn’t it? I have many that inspire me and make wonder more about their lives.

Elizabeth Jane Wallace, my g-g-grandmother always pops to mind.  She was  born in 1844 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, the daughter of Charlton Wallace and Martha Jane Cash.  She married James Calvin Donald on March 20, 1860 in Rockbridge.

James, like many other Virginians, went off to fight in the Civil War, for the Confederacy.  From time to time, it appears that he was able to come home, most notably in March of 1864.  (His unit is documented as being in Lexington at this time.)  In June of 1864, he is captured and spends the rest of the War in Camp Chase, a Yankee prison camp, being released in March of 1865.

In Dec 1864, Elizabeth and James’ first child, James Henry Donald is born.  I can only imagine how 20 year old Elizabeth felt.  Her husband is in a prison camp; most of their married life he was away at war.  Was she scared?  How was she getting by?  Life in the south was grim at best in 1864 and even most ardent believer in the Confederate cause must have known the war was coming to the end.

Did she even know if her husband was alive at that point?

When we look at how the Civil War impacted our ancestors, it is often on the male side of our tree.  Who fought and what happened to them. 

But our female ancestors lived through the war as well. And the birth of Elizabeth’s first child gives me a glimpse of who she was and how her life was impacted on a very personal level by large historical events.

So who inspired you? Who do you want to learn more about? 

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne



Ask Ancestry Anne: How is Cousin Bait Working for You?

I did a Livestream,  Cousin Bait: Blogging to Find Your Family in January.  The video and slides are available if you are interested.

I was fortunate to make a connection, not with a cousin, but with a lovely lady, Martha, who went to high school with my father. She sent me relevant yearbook pages for both my father and my grandfather.  My grandfather is in the upper left corner: Most Dependable.

I talk about it on my blog in The Gift of Yearbook Pages.

I’m curious to hear if anyone else has had some success with blogging and finding new connections.

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne