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Ask Ancestry Anne: Three Andrew Blankinships. How Do I Choose?

Hi Anne,
I’ve run into a brick wall on researching my great grandfather, Andrew Blankinship.  We have very little information about him…parents and siblings are unknown.  Here is the information we do have: 

1) Born in Ohio, believed to be around Cleveland.   I had entered parents I found on my tree, but later deleted them as I found 3 sets of parents who had a child named Andrew around 1845 in Ohio.  All were born in/around Aid, Lawrence, Ohio.  Parents I found were: Madison & Delila; Beverly & Malvna; & Wesley & Hanna.  Also, my father always told us we have Native Americans in our ancestry & I’m wondering it could have been the Blankinships as they are such a mystery.  We have searched census records.
2) Andrew fought in the Civil War, believed for the Confederate Army.  He was wounded during his active duty.  Selia drew a pension after the death of Andrew. A record was found in “1890 Civil War Veterans” as follows: ”Blankingship, Andrew; Ho-95-1; Pvt H Co, 1st US Inf;  Sep 27 62 to Jun 29 65; McKinnon PO.”
3) Andrew Blankinship and Selia Caroline Cathey were married 08/03/1871 in Stewart Co, TN by J.B. Lune, J.P. & had 11 children.  Selia belonged to the Methodist Church & Andrew belonged to none.
4) Andrew & Selia moved to Napier, TN around 1889, when my grandmother, Fannie, was 5 years old.  Andrew worked at the coal pits in McKinnon TN & also Napier, Tn.  Andrew died of a heart attack at Napier, TN and Selia died of pneumonia.  They are buried at Napier Lake Cemetery in Tenn.
5) Andrew & Selia owned a home in McKinnon, TN, but rented when they moved to Napier, Tn.

— Carol

Dear Carol,

Let’s start with a review of some of what you have told me. 

According to Find-a-Grave, Andrew Blankinship was born February 23, 1845 and died on January 22, 1895.  Selia Carolyn Blankinship nee Cathey was born April 18, 1834 and died on July 17, 1901.

In the Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861 – 1934, we find Andrew Blankinship with his widow Selia Blankinship listed:

Andrew fought with the West Virginia Ninth Infantry and the West Virginia First Veterans Infantry.  He was a Union soldier, not a Confederate soldier.   You may want to consider the applications from NARA (both the Invalid and the Widow application) may hold some clues to his parents or other relatives.

You’ll notice that Selia filed for a widow’s application on February 25, 1895.  Given that we believe Andrew died on January 22, 1895, this fits.

You found 3 Andrew Blankinship’s in Ohio (all in Lawrence County, Ohio) in the 1860 census.  This is a reasonable guess that one of them is your Andrew.

 The Andrew who enlisted in 1862 did so in Pt Pleasant, Virginia (now West Virginia):

Aid, Ohio is about 34 miles away from Point Pleasant.  This is a reasonable distant to travel to enlist.  I found no other likely candidates in Ohio in 1860 and 1850, so these seem to be a reasonable group to focus on.

Family one

Family Two

Family Three

I think we can rule out William and Hannah.  The Andrew living with them in 1860, is also living with Hannah in 1870 and 1880.

In 1870, we find 5 Andrew Blankinships in the US:

We ruled out The Andrew living in Ohio in 1870.  The Andrews who are both born in Virginia and are living in Virginia in 1870 do not seem likely candidates.

Montgomery County is adjacent to Stewart County, where your Andrew’s bride to be lives. Giles County is quite a distance away.  Also, if you look at that census image the Andrew in Giles County is stated to be born in Alabama.

Andrew and Selia were married in 1871 in Steward County.  I searched for Andrew in Stewart County in 1870, and could not find him there but I did find an Andrew in neighboring Montgomery County who may be your Andrew:

He is the correct age, he is a Collier which is someone who worked in a Coal Mine, which was Andrew’s occupation in later years and he was born in Ohio.  This is hardly definitive proof, but the best guess is the Andrew living in Montgomery County in 1870.

But is he the son of James and Margaret or Beverly and Lovina?

Here is what I recommend:

  • Check the names of Andrew and Selia’s children and compare to the names of James and Margaret’s children and then Beverly and Lovina’s.  Are there similarities?
  • Contact the Lawrence County, Ohio Historical Society and see if they have any information or suggestions on where you might look for Birth announcements and Obituaries that might have clues.
  • Order a copy of Andrew’s pension application.  Even if the parents are listed, there may be brothers and sisters listed that will help you identify the parents.
  •  Track the parents and brothers and sisters in the two families in successive census.  Do any move close to Andrew and Selia? 
  • If you can find death dates for the parents you might be able to find probate records or obituaries that lead you to the answer.

This one is not easy.  But that will make the answer that much sweeter when you find it.

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne