His Middle Name is not West

I’ve been aware for some time that there are trees that have the middle name West for Francis Gibson who was born in 1779 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania and died 2 Dec 1858 in Neshannock, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. I wondered about this so I did some research, and discovered that Francis Gibson and Francis West Gibson are two different men.

Francis Gibson is the son of Charles Gibson who died in 1828 in New Wilmington, Mercer, Pennsylvania, and Esther Graham who died after 1810 in Mercer County (now Lawrence), Pennsylvania. He married Elizabeth Moorhead, probably before 1799. His Will is found in Lawrence County in Will Book 1 pg 396.

Gibson, Francis Will pg 1 cropped

Francis West Gibson, born 27 Mar 1774 in Silver Spring, Cumberland, Pennsylvania and was the son of Col. George Gibson born 10 Oct 1747 in Lancaster, Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Ann West born 1750 in Sligo County, Ireland. He married Frances Harriet Greenwood born 7 Jan 1785 in Pennsylvania. His obituary reads: “Died on the 18th instance, Mr. Francis Gibson of Perry County near Landisberg, in his 82nd year. American Democrat, Friday, March 21, 1856.” He also left behind a Will that can be found Perry County Wills, Vol C-D, 1854-1880 pg 38-9 (Available on ancestry.com). Here is his Find-A-Grave memorial.

I’d like to see people honor both men by making this correction so that future generations know the difference.


Okay, So I Got THAT Wrong

In an earlier post on this blog titled Brick Wall Paper, I thought I had discovered a census record for my great-grandfather James H. Myers.1

Possible parents for Amarilla Cox

I speculated that the enumerator just dittoed the Cox surname onto some grandchildren. Wishful thinking on my part. Turns out the James H Cox is actually James Hamilton Cox. I discovered this in the best way possible. I got a DNA cousin match on Ancestry.com that proves I have the correct family for my Amarilla (Winnie) Cox!

Oddly my first reaction to this was, Be Careful What You Wish For. This new cousin match had Martha G and John Cox on it, but with a lot of other unknown siblings to the James Hamilton Cox. I was sad that I no longer had an early census record for James H Myers, but thrilled that I had proof I had the right family. I got to work correcting my tree and researching this James H Cox.

My first clue that he is the real deal was the 1880 US Census for James.

1880 Census James Hamilton Cox
1880 Census James Hamilton Cox2

He named his first son Jerome Benjamin, which is his older brother’s name. I haven’t found James Hamilton Cox in the 1900 or 1910 census yet, but he does show up in the 1920 census in Cambridge, Washington, Idaho.3 This is the same location his brother Jerome Benjamin lived when four of his many children were born. Other records suggest James Hamilton Cox was divorced even though he is listed as single in this 1920 Census. He was working as a laborer in a pool hall.

I even have a theory on where the middle name Hamilton came from: a friend and neighbor with whom John and Martha Cox bought and sold land in Putnam County, Missouri: Hamilton Davis. I’ve been combing through a deed index for that county and have found multiple entries for land exchanges between the Cox family and Hamilton Davis.

Bless the heart of the woman who had her DNA tested on Ancestry.com and had this Cox line on her tree! I don’t mind being wrong on who I thought James H was…especially since now I know I have the correct family. Yay!


1 1860 US Census, Missouri, Putnam, Liberty, pg 346, HH# 35

2 1880 US Census, Missouri, Chariton, Wayland, ED 163, pg 437A, HH# 142

3 1920 US Census, Idaho, Washington, Cambridge, ED 182, pg 1B, HH# 20

The Facebook of Their Day

I enjoy searching online newspaper archives. It is interesting to see mentions of family in context with what was going on in those moments in time. Newspapers might have relied on advertising for revenue beyond subscriptions, but they relied on their readers for some of their content, free content, the same way Facebook does. It’s a pretty good business model.

Since I’m all about Putnam County, Missouri these days, I’m especially grateful for the Putnam County Library’s online newspaper archive. It uses optical character recognition for search terms; the accuracy rate is good enough for my purposes.

Anyone who has spent time reading these old newspapers is familiar with how people used the paper to tell their friends and neighbors about their comings and goings, about who came to visit, who was ill or recovering from an illness, even marriages and births. The mini-announcements were usually two or three lines of pertinent details that included names, locations and very often relationships. Joe Smith’s uncle Rudolph Smith came to visit from Oregon yesterday. Jane Doe’s mother Barbara Gold is home recovering from a stroke. That sort of thing. These gossipy items are what would be called ‘click-bait’ today. It’s the relationships that fascinate researchers…they are golden because they appeared while these people were still alive.

I was searching for mentions of Jacob Myers known children from the 1850 Census, as well as mentions of their children. The youngest known daughter from Jacob’s first marriage was Sarah Rebecca Myers. She married James P Delay in Iowa in 1872.1 Their son Fred Delay was born in 1873.2

Searching the archive netted me this:

Nutt with nephew Delay pg 5 - Copy Nutt with nephew Delay pg 9 - Copy

“Mrs. Mollie Nutt and nephew Fred Delay went to Glennwood Saturday” and “Fred Delay and sister Ina and George Nutt drove over to Mystic, Iowa Monday to visit relatives.”

Wait. What? Who is Mollie Nutt?

I was in an interesting frame of mind when I discovered these tidbits. Just the day before I had been staring at the profile page for Jacob Myers on Ancestry and was wondering if there were any more Myers children after the 1850 census was taken. I know Jacob married my Amarilla Cox in 1856. No one knows when his first wife Elizabeth (Minick) died, but it was presumably before he remarried. I was prepared to ask myself if Mollie Nutt was born after the 1850 census and before the second marriage.

Lucky for me the answer to my question was right in front of me. I clicked on the Ancestry Family Tree link I had used to add Fred Delay to my tree. I clicked through to that person’s tree and they had a Mary Jane ‘Mollie’ Myers born in 1851 and an Angeline Myers born in 1855 as sisters for Sarah, but none of the rest of the family. Two questions came to mind. What happened to these girls if their mother died before 1856? Where have I seen the name Angeline before?

In my previous post I mentioned I would write about a discovery I made about the Breedlove children listed in the 1860 census for Linn County, Missouri.

1860 Census Susan Breedlove
1860 Census Breedlove Family3

I wasn’t looking at the older children on the census because I just assumed that they were the children of James Breedlove since they were born before the marriage to Susan, and James was old enough to be their father. Yet there they are: Sarah, Mary JANE, and Angeline! Once again, Myers children appear in the census with the same last name as the male head of household. They are living with their oldest sister Susan and her husband and new little nephew Jacob. I didn’t take this at face value, of course. I verified all of it. All the records support that Mary Jane “Mollie” Myers and Angeline Myers really are daughters of Jacob and his first wife Elizabeth. I’m thrilled to have more Myers children! I’m up to (if I include the possible twins I found) 11 children from four wives. I’ve been in genealogy heaven lately. This so totally makes up for the frustration of other parts of family research. I’m so grateful for all the records that still exist on this fractured family. It has been so much fun putting them back together again.


1 Iowa, Select Marriages Index, 1809-1992

2 U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007

3 1860 US Census, Missouri, Linn, Township 59, Range 18, pg 625, HH# 169

Can I Get A Witness?

If the opportunity to get old court records ever presents itself, and the circuit clerk asks if you want everything in the file, SAY YES! I am loving these court records. The witness lists have been pure genealogical gold for me.

I overcame being overwhelmed by the handwriting in the indictment of Jacob Myers for Felonious Assault to get to the point where I am starting to make some sense of it. We think of court recorders as being the person with the little machine that they tap as they hear testimony like we see on television. That capability didn’t exist in the mid-1850s; testimony was written in longhand, which might account for the rough handwriting.

Here is an example of some of that testimony. The person being questioned was Susan Myers, oldest known daughter of Jacob Myers. (The name at the top, Emily Branscomb, is another daughter’s mark from the previous page of testimony.)

Susan Myers testimony
Susan Myers testimony1

I finally spotted the q for question and A for Answer in this. That helped me understand what I was seeing.

The discovery that excites me in this court case comes from one of the references to witnesses who were called for the defense.

Witness List case #227
Witness List case #2272

I didn’t notice it at first. It wasn’t until a couple days passed, and I had time to digest all this that my memory of the name Susan Breedlove was activated during one of those golden thought moments that we get before or after sleep or in the shower. Uh, is Susan Breedlove also Susan Myers?

Well, let us see.

Susan Myers marriage record.
Susan Myers marriage record.3

Not enough to confirm, but a start. The date falls within the range of the known dates of the court case.

1860 Census Susan Breedlove
1860 Census Susan Breedlove4

George Minick is a known cousin. This is in Linn County, Missouri, one county is situated between Linn and Putnam. The infant male named Jacob is promising. A look at the 1900 US Census in Putnam County Missouri in Elm Township shows us a Jacob M Myers living with his wife Amanda and their 8 children. Next I found this in the Iowa, Select Marriages Index, 1909-1982 on Ancestry.com:

Jacob Myers Breedlove
Jacob Myers Breedlove5

Susan named her first born after her ‘pap’. So, yes, Susan Myers is Susan Breedlove.

The other part of the page that includes the above witness list indicates that both Susan Breedlove and David Myers weren’t found the second time they were summoned. This is for part of the proceeding that took place on a later date. Now we know that Susan Breedlove was in Linn County. Turns out David was also in the same township and range in Linn county as his sister, living with the Minick family in household #99. Bless George Minick’s heart; he was enumerated twice that year, he’s also listed as living with the Minick family. David Myers is also shown as not being found to testify at the trial.

I haven’t found Susan or James Breedlove in subsequent census records yet. It might be that their only child together was Jacob Myers Breedlove. In my next post, I’ll reveal what I learned about the other Breedlove children listed in that 1860 Census. Hint: a pleasant surprise.


1 Putnam County Courthouse,1601 Main St. Room 204, Unionville, MO 63565, Circuit Court Case #227: Testimony

2 Putnam County Courthouse,1601 Main St. Room 204, Unionville, MO 63565, Circuit Court Case #227: Witnesses for Defense

3 Missouri Marriages, 1750-1920, Family Search.

4 1860 US Census, Missouri, Linn, Township 59, Range 18, pg 625, HH# 169

5 Iowa, Select Marriages Index, 1909-1982 on Ancestry.com

Four Sisters

In my previous post I mentioned some court documents that I was waiting eagerly to get. I’ve received them, and it is going to take awhile to make sense of all of what I have. The indictment against Jacob Myers for Felonious Assault with Intent to Kill on first glance looks more like a ‘he said, he said’ deal. It is easily one of the most difficult to read documents I’ve attempted. The language is colloquial, the spelling is creative, and the handwriting is poor. As for the divorce between Jacob and Amarilla Myers, it was ug-ly. I knew he would have said something bad about her, but I was not prepared for his vitriol. Yikes. It’s easy to guess that this was a thoroughly loveless match from the beginning. Jacob simply did not like Amarilla at all. Sadly there is no mention of children or even a pregnancy.

The court record I’m most capable of making sense of right now is the civil suit that Amarilla brought against Jacob for not paying her the one third of the profit he made from selling land in which she had a one third stake. The amount she claimed he owed was $500, that she claimed he refused to pay. I haven’t yet seen the document that signed that one third stake over to Amarilla after their marriage, but I know from a distant relative that it exists. Legally, she was entitled to that $500. There is no judgment in this file; it is unknown if he was ever forced to pay her what he owed and promised (he told her he would pay her if she signed the deed; she signed the deed; he reneged).  I don’t know if he even appeared because the summons was delivered by the sheriff to “a free white person over the age of 16, a member of Jacob Myers family’ on 1 April 1857 after the Sheriff failed to find Jacob in his county.

What does this have to do with four sisters? The juicy bit of this file is the list of witnesses Amarilla had called to testify on her behalf. I’m inserting this census record from the previous post to refresh our memory about who are these sisters.

1850 Cox family in Clinton County, KY
1850 Cox family in Clinton County, KY1

The father is John S, the mother is Martha (G), the sisters are Lucrecy C., Winey A., Lucinda P. and Leann E. I speculate that Winey A is Winey Amarilla.

Here are the marriage records I found on Family Search

Cox, Lucretia married Ashlock, Francis P Cox, Lucinda married Summers, Richard

Myers, Jacob married Emariler CoxCox, Leann E married Soloman Wisman

Lucretia first married Francis P Ashlock, Amarilla married Jacob Myers, Lucinda married Richard Summers, and Leann (transcribed Sean, mistaking an ‘L’ for an ‘S’) married Solomon J S Wisman. At the time of the civil suit–17 Sep 1856-Apr 1857, Leann was still a girl living at home.

Witnesses called in Myers v Myers civil suit.
Witnesses called in Myers v Myers civil suit.2

The first name that jumped out at me from the list was Lucretia Ashlock. The next name of prominence was M. G. Cox. This is Lucretia’s mother; we know from the 1860 census that Martha’s middle initial was G. On paper, she is probably Amarilla’s mother too, as well as the mother of Lucinda and Leann.

When the witnesses were called Lucinda and Richard Summers had just been blessed with their second known child Preston Summers, so neither of them were called. However, three of Richard Summers’ siblings were called: Simon Summers, Jonathan Summers and Luanna Morrow, wife of William Morrow. From the 1860 census for Putnam County, Missouri, it appears there are close ties between the Morrow, Summers and Logsdon families. Isaac Fowler and his wife Mary Logsdon are next door neighbors of Martha and John Cox in 1860. Benson Williams might be Phillip B. Williams who lived two households away from Scott B. Wright, also close neighbors of John and Martha Cox. The people on this list of potential witnesses are poster children for FAN: Friends Associates and Neighbors.

Clearly Amarilla knew these people well enough to call upon them as witnesses for her claim and quite possibly her character. If Amarilla isn’t a biological child of John and Martha G Cox, then she’s at the very least a cousin. I think she’s one of four sisters. Now if the DNA would just support that belief, I’d be in business.


1 1850 US Census, Kentucky, Clinton, District 2, pg 188A, HH# 62

2 Putnam County Courthouse,1601 Main St. Room 204, Unionville, MO 63565, Circuit Court Case #31

Brick Wall Paper

Autosomal DNA testing is such a miracle. How did people do genealogy before this technology was introduced? You know what else is a miracle? Ancestry message boards. Well, genealogy message boards in general. Third miracle? The Family History Library. Well, the Mormon church with all their dedication to preserving our heritage on microfilm. It’s like the holy trinity of ancestor worship.

Too much? I effuse about all three things coming out of Utah right now. I would not have gotten as far as I have with tracking down the ancestors of my James Henry Myers without all three of these capabilities. Bored of him yet? I wouldn’t blame you if you were, but honestly, this story just keeps getting better and better, and promises to get even better. I’m having too much fun right now.

Quick refresher from previous posts: DNA results led me to the father of James Henry Myers: Jacob Myers. Ancestry Discovery and FHL digital marriage image led me to a possible biological parent for Jacob Myers (James’ father) in John Naylor. FHL digital search gave me the marriage record for Jacob to Amarilla Cox.

One of the problems with breaking down one brick wall is that there is another brick wall right behind it. Never thought in a million years I might figure out who were the parents of Amarilla Cox. On paper, I may have found them.

Let me see if I can adequately recap the timeline of how this progress came about. I performed a Google search for Emarilier Cox, the name on the marriage record. I discovered a message board post asking for information from her descendants. Lucky for me the individual who posted it is still a member of Ancestry, so I was able to send a message to her; we began corresponding. She has a wealth of information about Jacob Myers. I learned from her that he, and subsequently his ‘widow’ had a Civil War pension file, which I ordered. My first reading from it didn’t give much new information since I’m not descended from his last wife, but it does present me with the ability to create a timeline of where he was and when from 1850 until his death in 1888. This is valuable for many reasons, primarily because he’s so difficult to pin down in Census records, and there might be another Jacob Myers in Putnam county around the same time. She also told me about a record where Jacob had transferred ownership of some land to Amarilla Cox after they married.

Meanwhile I requested the index to court records for Putnam County from Family Search. Armed with case and page numbers from the index, I ordered the reel with the first two volumes of court records and read through the references. The index showed me a tantalizing Myers v. Myers file that I was eager to learn more about. My thought was that it might have been a divorce record for his first wife Elizabeth Minick. Imagine my surprise when I found that he had initiated divorce proceedings against Amarilla! He married Amarilla on 18 May 1856. What do I find for 18 Oct 1856?

Amarilla Myers responding to Divorce suit.
Amarilla Myers responding to Divorce suit.1

The cad. The birth month and year I have for James Henry Myers is May 1857. Uh. Hmmm. Anyone else thinking what I’m thinking? Was this a shotgun wedding? Was James conveniently told he was born in 1857 rather than 1856? Luckily the index gave a case number for this petition. I called the Putnam County Circuit Court this week and learned this file still exists! I’m excited to learn what, if anything, might have been said about Amarilla when the copy is received. (On a side note: the woman who helped me with this is super nice.) I do know from these records and the clerk that the divorce was not granted.

I haven’t captured an image of it yet, but on that same reel is a reference to another case where Jacob was indicted for Felonious Assualt with Intent to Kill! I suspect that is going to be another post all by itself. I’m on pins and needles waiting for the copy of that file! Key in the record was mention of a witness named Martha Cox. It doesn’t take much to guess how little time transpired between me getting home from the Family History Center and searching the 1860 Census for Martha Cox2.

Possible parents for Amarilla Cox

I love my life. This thing is so tantalizing and has so many possibilities. James H. Cox aged 5. None of the people who have saved this image to their Cox lines have a clue who that is, or the set of two-year-old twins on the page. I can’t stop myself from speculating that James H. Cox is really James H. Myers, and that he is living with his grandparents. If James really was born in 1856, then he would have just turned four when this census was taken. If he really was three, this is a stretch, but not unheard of if the informant was John Cox. A forty-seven-year-old male not knowing how old his grandchildren are is hardly news.

Enter the Message Board Miracle, part deux. Back in 2001, a message was posted asking for descendants of John T. Cox from the 1860’s. Other people might remember when Heritage Quest had superior transcriptions for census records before Ancestry ruined it. Back then I could have found this record myself. Bless this person’s heart for transcribing this to make it so I could find it now, because Ancestry’s transcription of it is way off.

1850 Cox family in Clinton County, KY
1850 Cox family in Clinton County, KY3

John T. Cox 35 KY (the initial is actually an ‘S’)
Martha Cox 35 KY
Lucrecy C. Cox 15 KY
Winey A. Cox 13 KY
Lucinda P. Cox 10 KY
Leann E. Cox 6 KY
Jeremiah Cox 4 KY

These are significant names. That same Missouri marriage database that gave me the Cox-Myers marriage record also has the three other girls on this census: Lucinda married Richard Summers. They are living next door to Margaret and John in the 1860 Census. Lucretia married F.P. Ashlock; Leann E married Solomon Wisman. Amarilla married Jacob Myers…all of them took place in the 1850’s in Putnam County. Is Amarilla that Winey A. Cox? The age is plausible; the proximity to the other Cox girls is supportive. James’ 1900 Census record reports that his mother was born in Kentucky. I’m prepared for this to fall apart. Not for the first time with this family. I will probably have to wait to see if a descendant from one of these other children gives me a DNA match I need for proof, but I’m hopeful that I’ve made some serious progress on this family thanks to some 14-15 year-old message board posts, FHL and Ancestry DNA.


1 Court records v. A-B 1855-1867 Putnam County, FHL Film # 1010790

2 1860 US Census, Missouri, Putnam, Liberty, pg 346, HH# 35

3 1850 US Census, Kentucky, Clinton, District 2, pg 188A, HH# 62

100 Years Ago Today

William Mitchell Watson
William Mitchell Watson

My great-great-grandfather was William Mitchell Watson. His death certificate, Civil War Pension file and obituary all confirm his birth date was 17 Mar 1842, in Neshannock, Lawrence (formerly Mercer), Pennsylvania. He died 12 July 1915 in Trinidad, Las Animas, Colorado. His parents were Alexander Johnston Watson and Susannah Mitchell; he had four younger brothers and two younger sisters. He was raised as a Presbyterian on the Watson farm/orchard/pottery factory. His Scotch-Irish family was active in the church.

He enrolled into Company H of the 100th PA Infantry (aka the Roundheads) on 28 Aug 1861 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Roundheads were ordered to Port Royal Harbor on the coast of South Carolina. After a storm-tossed voyage they arrived on November 5th of 1861. Following fighting in such battles as Secessionville and Bull Run, William’s military career was unceremoniously ended at Chantilly, Virginia on September 1st, 18621 when he was shot in the backside by either a musket or mini ball. He was taken to the Emory hospital in Washington DC, and discharged honorably from there on December 23rd, 1862.

He returned to the New Castle, Pennsylvania area and began 51 years of marriage to Miss Anna Belle Gibson on 28 April 1864.

Anna Belle Gibson Watson
Anna Belle Gibson Watson

They remained in the New Castle area until at least 1876 where they had six daughters and one son who all survived to adulthood.

I haven’t sorted out all the places that William lived yet. The Civil War pension has details about his whereabouts that conflict from one telling to the next. They seem to have gone back and forth between New Castle, Pennsylvania, Wilson, Kansas and various points in Colorado. All this migration will probably warrant its own post, but that’s for another time. It seems clear what made all this movement possible: the railroad. Wilson, Kansas was a favored destination of Texas cattle drovers wanting to get their beef to market by train, free of harassment by settlers complaining about their crops being trampled.2 The Watsons settled north of the Kansas Pacific railway tracks in Highland Township, Lincoln, Kansas. They were farmers, but William is also listed in the 1885 Kansas State Census as an engineer. I’m going to guess that meant on the railroad. His brother Cornelius was an engineer, too.

In addition to working for the railroad and being a farmer, I’ve found listings for his employment as a stationery engraver, a silver miner and he worked in a laundry, probably the laundry my great-grandmother ended up owning. It’s been fun reading the list of Colorado mining towns he worked in: Carbondale, Caribou, Red Cliff, Leadville, Freedland and Cripple Creek. Some are ghost towns now, which is kinda cool.

I admire him and his wife for keeping their family together the entire time, no matter what was going on in the world, or where they were in it, they remained close. Respectability was important to him. So was patriotism. He was one of the charter members of the Grand Army of the Republic Post #25 in Trinidad, Colorado. His military service was a great source of pride for him.

1913 Trinidad, Colorado. William is the man walking between the rail tracks.
1913 Trinidad, Colorado. William is the man walking between the rail tracks.

Anna Belle was the author of his obituary. She was proud of him, and about him she wrote:

On the fourth of this month, though scarcely able to stand he placed a number of large flags about the Hindman home and spent the greater part of the day under their tri-colored folds.

You see that bullet was never removed from its place next to his tailbone. He lived with it and the pain (from the resulting rheumatism) his entire married life. A few days after the Fourth of July he was released from that pain and buried with military honors in the Masonic cemetery. Six months later Anna Belle joined him there. I visited the cemetery a few years ago. It is still lovingly maintained by the community.

Thank you for your service to our Union, great-great grandfather William. May you rest in peace.


1 http://pa-roots.com/pacw/infantry/100th/100thorg.html

2 Guide Map of the Best and Shortest Cattle Trail to the Kansas Pacific Railway: with a concise and accurate description of the route: showing distances, streams, crossings, camping grounds, wood and water, supply stores, etc. from the Red River Crossing. Kansas Pacific Railway Company. Ramsey Millett & Hudson printers, Kansas City, Mo. (Date unknown) http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=njp.32101074863513;view=1up;seq=4

(I’ll come back later to fill in the rest of the citations. This post is time-sensitive.)