Vetting History

When came out with their new DNA Circles (free video to learn more) I was prompted to find out more about the ancestor who was the first one to appear for me as a DNA Circle: William Wood. I’d never paid any attention to him in the past; he was just sitting there like a forgotten toy.

The first thing I did was check my ignored hints. That’s where the Ancestry Member Trees live in my world. I went through the interesting trees to see what was there just to get a sense of what might be available for me to use as a finding aid. Spend any time at all on Ancestry following hints and we all see them: 15 family trees that are all over the map about spouses and children. One thing they all had in common was that William’s father was John Wood who died in 1807-8 in Clermont County, OH. I decided to take John Wood out for a test drive by adding him as William’s father with generic birth and death dates. Then I rummaged through the family tree hints for him. One finding aid kept appearing—it was a transcription from a history of Clermont County, OH. I Googled one of the sentences from it to find the book so I could see the quote in context.

John Wood, the eldest of the brothers that came to Manning’s Station, was one of the early associate judges, and while attending court at Williamsburg fell ill, dying the next day after he was brought to his home north of Neville. He had five sons and two daughters, – Joseph, who married Mary Hodge and died in Tate sixty years ago; Absalom, the husband of the widow Buchanan; William removed to Illinois, as did also John and David; one of the daughters married David Jones, and the other Peter Collins, of Highland County.1

William moving to Illinois sounded promising. William was married in Bracken County, KY. I have the marriage bond courtesy of a cousin. Bracken County, KY is just across the Ohio River from Clermont County, OH, so he didn’t stray far. Lucky for me five of the remaining six referenced children have marriage records that can be found on Family Search as digital images. The daughter who married David Jones was Hannah; the daughter who married Peter Collins was Nancy. That marriage between Peter Collins and Nancy Wood proved to be key.2

Collins, Peter and Wood, Nancy Marriage cropped

Peter Collins is living in Washington Township, Clermont County, Ohio in 1830; they have two boys and two girls.3 By 1840, Peter is out of the picture and Nancy is the head of household in Edgar County, Illinois; she has three boys and two girls. Enumerated on that same page is my William Wood.4 When 1850 rolls around Nancy is shown living with two of her sons, Andrew and Arza Collins.5 The history book makes no note of Peter and Nancy also joining the three Wood brothers in Illinois.

What of the three Wood brothers who removed to Illinois?

Wood, William land patent cropped

Wood, David Land Patent cropped

Wood, John land patent cropped

Wasn’t it just sweet of them to state where they were from in 1831 when these patents were issued?6 Note that all three are located in Township Fifteen North of Range Eleven West, which is Brouilletts Township. Based on the way the townships are numbered in Illinois, they are neighbors.

William Wood died in 1841, leaving a Will that names his wife and children, one of whom is George Wood.7

Wood, William Will cropped

John Wood died in 1861, leaving his widow Margaret to carry on without him. David Wood is found in the 1850 Mortality Schedule; he died of rabies, leaving behind his widow Peggy.8 Nancy Collins died in Edgar County in 1855.

Whatever happened to Peter Collins, Nancy’s husband? In the course of this process, I was attempting to learn more about Township fifteen north of Range eleven west, so I Googled it and this9 turned up:

Wood, George H law cropped

My interpretation of this is that William Wood had been made an administrator of Peter Collin’s estate (this has been confirmed for me by the Edgar County Circuit Court), and he died before he could finish the job, so his son George H. Wood (my ancestor) had to get permission to complete the process of transferring the land held by Peter to Godfrey Wilkin(s). Godfrey Wilkin was well known to the family. He’s living next door to William in the 1840 Census and is a witness on his Will. There is other evidence that supports the belief that John Wood is my William’s father such as deeper connections to Godfrey Wilkin over a longer period of time, and Nancy’s sons living with or next door to William’s offspring.

I’ve had encounters with “History Books” (or Brag Books) having it wrong before. These sources are only as good as the information that is provided to them by the people living at the time. In this case, however, I think whoever provided the information to the author(s) of this Clermont County, Ohio history got it right. I think I’m in the clear calling John Wood the father of William Wood.


1Everts, L. (1880). Washington Township. In History of Clermont County, Ohio, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men and Pioneers (p. 363). Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Company.

2Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 3 January 2015), Peter Collins and Nancy Wood, 26 Feb 1822; citing Highland, Ohio, United States, reference 173; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 570,622.

31830 U.S. Census, Ohio, Clermont Co, Washington Twp, pg. 248

41840 U.S. Census, Illinois, Edgar Co, pg. 77

51850 U. S. Census, Illinois, Edgar Co, District Nineteen, pg. 116B, Family 40

6United States. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records. Automated Records Project; Federal Land Patents, State Volumes. Springfield, Virginia: Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 2007; Accession # IL0380__.481, # IL0370__.334, # IL0360__.477

7I didn’t record where I got this Will years ago. It probably came directly from Edgar County Circuit Clerk.

81850-1885,U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, Illinois, Edgar, District Nineteen, pg. 215, ln 14

9Laws of the State of Illinois passed by the Fourteenth General Assembly at Their Regular Session and Held at Springfield, Dec 2nd, 1844 (p. 270). (1845). Springfield, Il: Walters & Weber, Public Printers.


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