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Ask Ancestry Anne: Are These The Same People?

Question: I have built my family tree on 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?)


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. 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.



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.


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.


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


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:




Finding Patti Page

As I was washing dishes the other day, strains of How Much is That Doggie in the Window came drifting into the kitchen from the living room. My husband was watching the news and they were sadly reporting that Patti Page, who made that song famous, had died.

I must confess, I never really knew much about Patti Page. I didn’t have any of her records growing up, but in the early 60s, that 1953 novelty song, was still a hit in elementary schools across the country. I can remember our music teacher hammering it out on the piano that she wheeled from classroom to classroom at music time. I stepped out to the living room to find out more about Patti Page.

Whenever someone dies, I get the urge to find out more about them. I guess as a kind of homage. But the news piece was brief and unsatisfying. A few clips of her singing a few songs, and we were back to averting the fiscal cliff. So after the dishes were done, I found myself on the computer googling this woman, who prior to her death I hadn’t really thought much about. Some people might think it a bit strange, but I’m a genealogist. It’s what we do. We research dead people. 

I learned quickly that her name was actually Clara Ann Fowler and that she was from Oklahoma and was born in 1927. Parents’ names—B.A. and Margaret. OK, good enough for a start.  I hit and started with a basic search—name, birth date, and birth state.  Sure enough, the first hit was for her in the 1930 U.S. census. Parents B.A. and Margaret, and nine children—among them Clara, age two.


Her dad worked for the railroad and the family was living in Foraker, Osage County, Oklahoma. So what else could I find? The family should still be somewhere in Oklahoma in 1940, but where was that entry? I went back and scanned the list of results—nothing.
Curiosity piqued. I went directly to 1940. Tried Clara Fowler, and added in her parents’ names. Nothing. Added siblings. Again, nothing. 

OK, Universe, challenge accepted. I cracked my knuckles and went in for the kill. I pulled the “sans surname search technique” from my bag of tricks.  I entered just the first name of Clara (leaving off the surname),  born 1927 in Oklahoma. Added in father B.A., mother Margaret, and to beef up my chances, I added siblings Ruby and Virginia. Based on their ages in the 1930 census, Ruby and Virginia would have been around the ages of 17 and 14, so there was a good chance they were still living at home.

I scanned the list of results for a name that in some way resembled Fowler, but the first hit caught my attention. It was for Clara Adalphus, and the parents were Benjamin and Margaret.  Was the B. in B.A. an abbreviation for Benjamin? I took a closer look and sure enough, I had the right family. But why Adalphus, or Adolphus as it looked to be upon closer inspection? 


Immediately my mind started swirling with wild possibilities. Was the family on the lamb? Didn’t seem likely. Dad was still working on the railroad, and was now assistant foreman making $1,200 a year.  The answer turned out to be something a bit more mundane.  A search of for his father using the birth date and place I found in the censuses turned up more records, but the answer to the question came in a match in an online tree. His name was listed on that tree as Benjamin Adolphes [sic] Fowler—a.k.a., B.A.  Fowler.  The census taker probably just asked for the husband’s name. Margaret responded “Benjamin Adolphus” and he assumed Adolphus was the family surname. 

So it wasn’t some fantastic story I had unearthed, but now I have a little more to attach to that pretty face and voice. And I will most likely have How Much is That Doggie in the Window running through my head for the rest of the day. Oh well, there are worse things.

Ask Ancestry Anne: Is Wilson really George’s Father?

Question:  I have found a possible connection to my great-grandfather, George W. Coulter (1857-1926) who died in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I have a lot of information that seems to link him to a man named Wilson George Coulter (1827-1881), who I believe, is his father.

I don’t have specific linking documentation, just a LOT of situations where they are found in the same locations at the same time. The suspected father of my ancestor traveled due to his being a preacher, and my great-grandfather is found in many of the same areas. For example, according to his death certificate, George was born in an obscure town, which is where the preacher was stationed at that time. My George had a child born in Lancaster, which is where the preacher died. Plus, a George Coulter with same occupation as mine is in the city directory for Lancaster on same street as preacher’s son, Peter Henry Coulter.  It seems extremely unlikely that this is a mere coincidence. Should I add this to my tree even though I don’t have them living together. I am 99.9% sure they are family.

— Cynthia Coulter Marcinik

Answer: Short answer: No. 

Let me first commend you for digging deep to find everything you can and then recognizing that you still don’t have anything that states outright that George W. is the son of Wilson George Coulter.

But what you are doing is using an excellent tactic for making that connection when you can’t find document proof — you’re looking for friends, neighbors and other relatives, all of whom could help you make a strong case that you’ve found the right person.

Let’s look at what we know.

In 1880, George Coulter is living in Allegheny, Blair County, Pennsylvania.

Wilson George Coulter is living in Newport, Perry County, Pennsylvania in that same census.

In 1870, the same Wilson Coulter is living in Medford, Burlington County, New Jersey, and you’ll notice in 1870, there is a George living in the household. But unfortunately, in the 1850, 1860, and 1870 census the relationship is not stated.

In 1860, the same Wilson Coulter is living North Newton, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and again there is a George of the right age living with him. (This one is hard to read)

So where do you go next?

In the 1900 census, we are told that George Coulter and Minnie were married ca. 1878; it also tells us that he was born in April 1855.

Possible documents that might state the parent/child relationship:

  1. George’s marriage certificate, but you will need a location
  2. George’s birth certificate, again a location
  3. You state that Wilson dies in 1881.  It is likely there was a will or an estate settlement which would possibly include his children.
  4. When does Wilson’s wife, Mary die?  If it was after Wilson, she is likely to have a will or estate settlement.
  5. What churches did Wilson work for?  They may have directories that include George or state something about him.
  6. Do you have an obituary for George?  Maybe it names his mother or father or both.
  7. Another route would be research the other children of Wilson and Mary and see if a direct connection can be made.  Then you can possibly draw a connection between George and the sibling.

 I agree with that it is highly likely that Wilson is George’s father.  But likely is not proof, is it?  Keep searching, the answer is out there.

 — Ancestry Anne

Templates from the Citing Your Sources presentation on facebook

You can find the presentation at:

1850 US Census

1850 U.S. Census, COUNTY_NAME County, STATE_NAME, population schedule, CITY_OR_DISTRICT, p. XXX (stamped/penned), dwelling DDD, family FFF, person or people; ( accessed : DATE);  digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, M432, roll RRR.

1860 US Census

1860 U.S. Census, COUNTY_NAME County, STATE_NAME, population schedule, CITY_OR_DISTRICT, p. XXX (stamped/penned), dwelling DDD, family FFF, PERSON;  digital images, ( accessed : DATE);  digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, M653, roll RRR.

1870 US Census

1870 U.S. Census, COUNTY_NAME County, STATE_NAME, population schedule, CITY_OR_DISTRICT, p. XXX (stamped/penned), dwelling DDD, family FFF, PERSON;  digital images, ( accessed : DATE);  digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, M593, roll RRR.

1880 US Census

1880 U.S. Census, COUNTY_NAME County, STATE_NAME, population schedule, CITY_OR_DISTRICT, enumeration district ENUM_DISTRICT, p. XXX (stamped/penned), dwelling DDD, family FFF, PERSON;  digital images, ( accessed : DATE);  digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, T9, roll RRR.

Private Holdings: Family Bible


Example: Gillespie Family Bible, The Holy Bible, (New York, American Bible Society, 1857), “Family Records, Births”, p840; privately held by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] California, 2012. The sons of Tarlton and Mahala Gillespie are listed with their birth dates; it appears that they were all written at one time and are date April 20 1860. Index/Database

DATABASENAME, database, ( : accessed DATE), entry for PERSON, EVENT DATE, EVENT LOCATION; citing SOURCE.

Example: “Virginia Marriages, 1740-1850,” database, ( : accessed 18 Jul 2012), entry for Jeremiah Gillespie and Mary E Gillespie, 21 Nov 1848, Amherst, Virginia; citing Dodd, Jordan R., et al.. Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850. Bountiful, UT, USA: Precision Indexing Publishers.

Kris Williams Discusses the Importance of the 1940 U.S. Census

Kris Williams: The Importance of the 1940 U.S. Census

We should all be aware of what took place in our country leading up to the 1940 census and what followed shortly after. Our country had experienced many ups and downs in just a short span of time. From the prosperity of the roaring 20’s till its end in 1929 with the crash of the stock market; resulting in The Great Depression. To the rise of organized crime in 1920 due to prohibition; till it’s end in 1933 with the 21st Amendment. Following end of prohibition, there was the Golden Age of Hollywood that made “stars” out of gangsters. Radio was the main source of news and entertainment, like today’s Internet. The airwaves were dominated by popular radio shows, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Glenn Miller and The Andrews Sisters.

In Europe, the rise of the Nazi Party and Hitler were tearing countries and families apart. The United States tried to remain distant from the war in Europe. However, it became unavoidable with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in 1941. While the Great Depression taught people to make due and save, WWII sent our young men off to war and changed women’s roles in society forever.

I have always found the 1930’s -1940’s to be one of the most fascinating times in our history. There was so much life altering change, in such a short amount of time, it touched everyone. How were all of these events affecting the everyday American? More importantly, how did they affect your family?

The 1940 census is the first census to be released in the last 10 years. What is different about this census is the amount of information that is included in it. For starters, it shows who in the family filled it out, people living in the household and those who were not home when it was taken. Other details it covers are-the highest level of education completed, employment, income, and where they resided 5 years before in 1935. Along with the standard information, sampling techniques were added to the 1940 census. 1 in 20 people were asked to answer 14 additional questions, which included literacy, income and fertility. So much information was included that 72 years ago when it was put out, there were moves by organizations and senators to have it boycotted completely.

The most fascinating part to me about the 1940 census is that many who were included in it, are still alive today. My grandparents were in their late teens or early twenties when it was taken; for you it may have been your parents who were. Getting a better understanding of the time period that shaped them, will give us a better understanding of how its directly affected the people we are today. The 1940 census can not only tell us about the state our country was in as a whole, but it is also a glimpse at what life was like for our parents or grandparents.