Thursday, May 21, 2015

Chapter 6: Meet the Fockers...I mean, Fawkners

Family history "finds" don't happen in a logical order. And, with Google and a proliferation of online databases, we now find things that we might never have found 15 or 20 years earlier. It is hard to remember just how it happened, but several years of Internet searching brought Ida Fawkner into view.

Ida's short family history was collected in a 1940-41 Illinois Society D.A.R publication (it can now be found on  Writing about 1917, Ida identified herself as a daughter of James C. Fawkner. Ida said she had been born in Iowa in 1858. Was this the same James C. Fawkner who married Julia Angell in 1862 in Missouri? If so, he had had an earlier family.

Describing the Hendricks County, Indiana, family of Isaac Stephens and Sarah Harper, she stated that Elizabeth Turner Stephens married James C. Fawkner 13 July 1854 in Hendricks County. She added that the couple moved to Montrose, Iowa, by 1855, where they had two daughters:

  •  Ida Kemp Fawkner, born 19 July 1856
  • Josephine Elizabeth Fawkner, born 12 September 1858.
In a paragraph headed "THE HISTORY OF IDA K. FAWKNER," she wrote: "In winter of 1857 parents took Ida to see Aunt Mary Sears, Lucas Co., Iowa. Returning home in Feb. 1858, all suffered from severe, snowy weather. As a result, Ida, a mere baby, lost her hearing, not to be restored. She was educated in a school for the deaf, and since 1875 has resided in Indianapolis."

Here was the Sears name again -- something we will come back to. For the moment, consider what else Ida told of the Fawkner family.  Her father, James C. Fawkner, was the son of John C. Fawkner and Anna Faulkner, who had married in Orange County, Virginia, in 1828. James had four siblings:

  • Elizabeth A. K., born 10 August 1832,
  • John E., born 27 February 1835,
  • Cyrus, born 21 May 1837, and
  • George S., born 23 May 1839.
Ida noted that her father served in the 2nd Missouri Cavalry and that, after John C. Fawkner died in 1839, his mother remarried to Wesley B. Sears in 1841. This, indeed, is the family we've been tracking in earlier posts.

Oh, one more thing to which we will eventually return... Ida stated that he grandfather, John C. Fawkner (who died nearly 80 years before Ida wrote her account), was born 3 December 1777 in England, adding that, when he came to America, he met a distant cousin, Anna Faulkner. When married in Orange County in 1828, "John C. Faulkner changed the name to Fawkner, so his wife might have at least a change in the spelling of her name when married."

We will eventually put this last bit of information about the origins of John C. Fawkner to the test, but his four sons -- James, Cyrus, John and George -- will keep us busy for several weeks. In next week's post, we will pick up the Fawkner trail in Montrose, Iowa, but only after we encounter yet another surprise.

Oh, one more thing: Ida made absolutely no mention of her father's second family.

LESSON: Always do a literature search, using resources like the DAR online catalog, FamilySearch, Google Books, and PERSI. Remember: authored works have authors, and authors sometimes hold back information.

Note: Photo, believed to be Ida Kemp Fawkner, courtesy of Micah Karl.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hjalmar Heads to Burbank

Just a short commercial today for 2015 Jamboree, sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society (  I will be joining a flock of great genealogy educators, including, but not limited to Judy Russell, Paula Stuart-Warren, Thomas Jones, Lisa Alzo, David McDonald, Craig Scott, Ron Arons, and Michael Lacopo -- very good company, indeed!

I will be giving one of the pre-conference workshops on Thursday, June 4. "Who in the World was Hjalmar?" is a hands-on workshop in which students work together to make sense of Hjalmar's shifting identities. Starting from a handful of beginning documents, students will evaluate evidence and develop a next-step strategy. As new evidence comes to light, conflicts will appear, begging for a wider search.  Because a few of you might be in the audience in Burbank, I can't tell you more right not, but I can promise: Hjalmar is a fun character.

Oh, yes, I should point out that Hjalmar is not a Fawkner. Hjalmar's Norwegian immigrant family is nearly as rich in stories as the Fawkner family that this blog has been following. Rest assured, to date, we have only scratched the surface of the Fawkner saga. You might notice that I quietly shifted my regular blog publication schedule from Fridays back to Thursdays; this week's Fawkner installment will publish Thursday, May 21. Be sure to read "Meet the Fockers... I mean Fawkners."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Chapter 5: Fawkner? Faulkner? Fortner? or Was it Faught?

I will start this week with a bit of a spoiler alert. We usually put quite a lot of trust in obituaries because we assume a family member who knew the score provided the information. Or not.

 If you've been with us the past few weeks, you know that Ann Fawkner married Wesley Sears in 1841 in Hendricks County, Indiana. We first encountered Ann and Wesley in the 1850 U.S. Census, and from probate and guardianship records determined that James C. Fawkner was a son from Ann's first marriage to John C. Fawkner.  You might also remember that the family name has appeared in at least three spellings: Fawkner, Faulkner, and Fortner.

 Republican (3 January 1895, p. 7) reported that Ann died "of the weaknesses of old age." A pioneer of the county, she had settled in Hendricks County in 1831. This is true: John C. Fawkner bought government land there in 1831. The obituary continued: "She was twice married, her first husband was John Faught." A Hendricks County death certificate did not ask for a spouse's name.
By the time of the 1860 Census, Ann was a widow; Wesley had died in 1859. Ann lived another 35 years. An obituary in the Danville (Ind.)

Faught? Surely the newspaper editor heard the name incorrectly. But, we are genealogists, right? So, we decided to check-out this John Faught guy. Well, there was, indeed, a John Faught in the neighborhood. In 1850 a 22 year-old John B. Faught lived with his apparent father, Paul Faught, in Marion Township -- the same township where the Sears-Fawkner family lived. Between 1831 and 1837, Faught purchased government land in sections 30, 31, 32, 33, and 34.  John C. Fawkner's four purchases were in section 25 and 36, making Fawkners and Faughts near neighbors.

The problem is that Ann married Wesley Sears, and was still married to him when he died in 1859. In 1860, 1870, and 1880, she still lived with one or more of her children from the Sears marriage. John Faught married Mary Pierson 13 September 1855 in Hendricks County. They were enumerated together in 1870. He died before 1880, when Mary was living with her brother's family in Center Township.

Clearly, the obituary was incorrect.  Ann Sears had not previously been married to John Faught; the person giving the news to the newspaper might have been confused. Two of Ann's four sons had died; the other two were not living near Danville. It is thought that her daughter was deceased -- at least, she has not been located in the 1880 census or later.  Likely, the informant was from the Sears family, none of whom would have had any first-hand memory of John Fawkner, who had died in 1839. Possibly, the informant was Ann's granddaughter, Ida, who lived about 25 miles away in Indianapolis. We will meet Ida next week. 

The informant is not known, but one thing is certain: Ann's first husband had been dead nearly 55 years when Ann died. There was a Faught family in the neighborhood. It is not surprising that the informant confused John Faught with John Fawkner.

LESSON: Information from any source can be wrong. Always think about who the informant  might have been and consider whether the informant was likely to have known the facts. A confused informant leads to confused evidence.

A bigger surprise is coming next week when we will ask the real Fawkner family to stand up.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Chapter 4: No Birth Records? No Problem

I promise, there is fun stuff ahead, but first we need to spend a little more time fleshing out the Faulkner family in Hendricks County, Indiana. Although the 1850 U.S. Census did not name relationships of household members to the head of household, it was obvious that the Wesley Sears household in Marion Township was a blended family.

To refresh your memory... Wesley had an apparent wife Ann B. and four apparent Sears children, aged 9 months to 8 years. Also in the household were three Faulkner minors: John E., 15; Cyrus W., 13, and George S., 11. Head of the next enumerated household was James C. Faulkner, 21, and Elizabeth, no age stated.

A plausible hypothesis is that the Faulkners, possibly including James C, were children from a prior marriage of Ann B. Sears. Likely, her husband's name was Faulkner. All the children were born in Indiana, except James, who was born about 1829 in Kentucky. Ann B. Sears was born in Virginia. Her first marriage might have been somewhere in Virginia or Kentucky. George, Cyrus, and John were born between about 1835 and about 1839, but births were not registered at the time in Hendricks County. No family Bible has been found. If they lived long enough, death certificates for George, Cyrus, and John might name their father, but at this point research has not yet followed them forward in time.

Still, paternity can be established without doubt from other records. First, a Hendricks County marriage return registers the marriage of Ann B. Fawkner and Wesley Sears 1 September 1841. Since John, Cyrus, and George carried the Fawkner/Faulkner name, it seems likely that a first husband named Fawkner or Faulkner was present in Indiana between about 1835 and 1841. The 1840 U.S. Census enumerated Ann "Fortner" with five minors -- two boys under 5, 1 boy 5-10, 1 boy 10-15, and one girl, 5-10. The younger boys are a reasonable match for John, Cyrus, and George. The older boy could be James C., born about 1829.

We now have another name in play -- "Fortner" -- but still no father for Ann's children. A probate file and guardianship records provide a father.  On 25 June 1839, Ann B. Faulconer, "widow of John C.
Faulconer, quit claim her rights to administration of John C. Fawkner's estate. (He did not leave a will). She signed in her own hand: "Ann B. Fawkner." In February 1840 she was named guardian of John C. Fawkner's children, but after he remarriage, she petitioned the court to name Wesley Sears guardian of the children. The probate remained open 10 years, and in 1849, Wesley Sears gave a receipt for funds received as guardian of "James C., E.A. K. Faulkner, John E. Faulkner, C. W. Faulkner, & Geo S. Faulkner, minors."

With "Faulconer" now added to the mix, the spelling of the family name remains unsettled, but it is now clear that the father of James C. Fawkner and his siblings was John C.Faulkner or some variant such as Faulconer or Fortner.

The family is now anchored in Indiana, but surprises are just around the corner.  Tune in again next week when Ann Sear's obituary will throw us for a loop. ("Loop" is a technical genealogical term).

LESSONS:  Be alert to blended families and in an era before death certificates find probate or guardianship records that might reveal parent-child relationships.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Chapter 3: Remember Ann and Mildred Sears?

Did you look all the way to the bottom of the table at the end of last week's post ("No Marriage License was Required," 24 April 2015)?  Did you wonder about Ann B. and Mildred Sears? They will become critical evidence for placing James C. Fawkner in a birth family.

As you may recall, the James and Julia Falkner/Faulkner family was enumerated in Boone County, Missouri, in 1870, and in Coles County, Illinois, in 1880. Family lore rumored James to have been an Illinois volunteer in the Civil War. Censuses pointed to a birth about 1829 in Kentucky. Where was he for the 30 years before he married in 1862?

Boone County searches for him in the 1860 U.S. Census failed. By now, his surname had appeared  three different ways. A James Fawkner/Falkner/Falker would be difficult to find elsewhere without some clue to his location. A Soundex search for a James Faulkner born about 1829 in Kentucky yielded three hits.  One, in Pettis County, Missouri, could be easily dismissed because this James Faulkner family appeared intact in Saline County, Missouri, in 1870. A second seemed unlikely, but could not be immediately dismissed. In Saline County, Missouri, was James Faulkner, 32, and a possible wife, Malinda, 22. Plausibly, if the couple separated or Malinda died, this could be the James who married Julia Ann in Boone County in 1862 or 1863. This couple was not found in 1870, so necessarily remained a candidate. Another James Faulkner, 31, appeared as a farmhand in the John Hand household in Pendleton County, Kentucky. Possibly our man, but he might have been the 21 year-old James Faulkner in the Daves household in Henderson County, Kentucky, in 1850.

I now extended the search to 1850. A 50-state index search produced a James C. Faulkner, age 31 and born in Kentucky, living in Hendricks County, Indiana. His age, birthplace, and middle initial were spot-on. The best clue, however, came from the family living next door. In the William Sears household was a possible step-son, Cyrus Faulkner, age 13. Apparent siblings John and George were also at home. William Sears apparent wife (the 1850 census did not report family relationships) was Ann B. Sears, 42. If next-door neighbor James C. Faulkner was our man, it appeared he had named his son after a possible brother Cyrus.

This brings us back to Ann and Mildred Sears who were present in the "Falker" family in Missouri in 1870. The 1860 Hendricks County census listed Ann B. Sears (head of household) and an apparent daughter, Mildred E, 10. Although the relationships were not yet completely clear, it was obvious that the 1850 Indiana James Faulkner was the James Falkner in Missouri in 1870. Ann and Mildred were visiting, likely in anticipation of Elizabeth Ann Fawkner's 25 July birth.

Two new questions now arose:

  • Who were the parents of James C. Fawkner?
  • What was the relationship between James C. Fawkner and George, Cyrus and John next door?
The answers to these questions will emerge as we go along. Once they are answered, we will be able to follow the Fawkner family along many paths, some touching, some tragic, and some just plain interesting.

LESSON: Pay attention to every person in a census household, as well as immediate neighbors.

Friday, April 24, 2015

chapter 2: No Marriage License was Required

The funeral memorial booklet for Elizabeth Ann (Fawkner) Ehlenbach stated that her parents, James Coleman Fawkner and Julia Ann Angell, were married 10 November 1862 near Sturgeon, Missouri. A marriage license or registration might confirm the date and possibly identify their parents, but none was found.

Still, a little census sleuthing reveals the likely parents of Julia Ann. She would be expected to be found with her birth family somewhere near Sturgeon in the 1860 U.S. Census. She was 38 in 1880 and 28 in 1870, so we are looking for a Julia Angell about 18 years-old in 1860. In 1860, a Julia A. Angell, 18, and a possible father, Robert Angell, 62, were enumerated in the household of John and Tabitha Dunbar in Rocky Fork Township of Boone County. Working back 10 years, Tabitha, 14, and Julia A., 8, were apparent daughters of Robert Angell, 51, and his apparent wife, Martha, 47, in Boone County District 8.  This evidence suggests that Julia Ann Angell was the daughter of Robert and Martha Angell. Martha died in November 1857 and was buried at the Mt. Zion Cemetery in Hallsville (see photo at left).

 The funeral booklet also stated that James Fawkner served as a volunteer from Illinois in the Union Army. This will turn out to be only partly true.  While not discovered until much later in the research process, a Civil War pension file for James C. Fawkner provided the only documentation of the Fawkner-Angell marriage. In an affidavit dated 12 October 1891, George W. Angell stated that "James C. Fawkner & Julia A. Angell...were married at his house in Randolph County [Missouri] some time in the fall of 1862 or 1863, the chaplain of Merell's [Merrill's] horse officiating." Merrill's Horse was the 2nd Missouri Cavalry. Angell went on to say that he was Julia's brother, and explained that, at the time of the marriage nearly 30 years earlier, Missouri law did not require a marriage license and and officiating clergy were not required to file a marriage return. This is true; licenses were not required before 1881. Some marriage returns were recorded in Boone and Randolph counties in the 1850s and 1860s, but that of James and Julia was not -- perhaps because of unsettled war times

Boone and Randolph counties are the heart of an area once known as Little Dixie, settled by families from the hemp and tobacco growing areas of Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Slavery was relatively common in Little Dixie. Family lore states that Angell family loyalties were divided between the Union and Confederacy. The fact that a Union chaplain officiated at the marriage of James and Julia Ann in George Angell's home suggests that this part of the family leaned toward the North.

Finding the Fawkner family in Illinois (see 24 April 2015 post) was just a matter of following some rather large bread-crumbs. Locating the family in Missouri in 1870 was also not hard, but was a good example of a basic research strategy: matching individuals and families across censuses. Julia has been identified as the daughter of Robert Angell, but nothing is known yet about James C. Fawkner's background, except that he was born in Kentucky about 1829. In the next post, I will explain how James was found in the 1850 census.

LESSON: Match up households across censuses. Note birth dates and places as clues to migration.

Angell and Fawkner Census Enumerations
District 8
Boone County, MO
Angell household
Rocky Fork Township
Boone County, MO
Dunbar household
Township 51
Boone County, MO
Falker household
North Okaw Township
Coles County, IL
Falkner household

John W. Dunbar, 21, b. MO

Robert Angell, 51, b. KY Robert Angell, 62, b. KY

Martha, 47, b. KY

Martha J. L., 23, b. KY

Mary E., 21, b. MO

Catherine, 19, b. MO

James M., 17, b. MO

Tabitha C., 14, b. MO Tabitha C. Dunbar, 23. b. MO

Robert, 11, b. MO

James C. Falker, 41, b. KY James Falkner, 51, b. KY
Julia A., 8, b. MO Julia A. Angell, 18, b. MO Julia, 28, b. MO Julia, 38, b. MO
Henry G., 6, b. MO Henry G., 17, b. MO

Joseph E., 4, b. MO Joseph, 14, b. MO

Robert G., 7, b. MO Grant, 16, b. MO

Julia K., 3, b. MO Julia K., 13, b. MO

Cyrus G., 1, b. MO Cyrus, 1, b. MO

Elizabeth, 9, b. IL

Mattie, 6, b. IL

Attie, 6, b. IL

Henry, 3, b. IL

Ann B. Sears, 62, b. VA

Mildred Sears, 20, b. IN

Friday, April 17, 2015

Chapter 1: The Girl at the Top of the Stairway

A single cardstock photo and a cryptic set of family history notes launched a family history adventure several years ago. Jim Fawkner, with a bayoneted rifle, stovepipe hat, and G.A.R. ceremonial uniform faced the photographer sometime about 1870. The notes named James Coleman Fawkner and Julia Ann Angell, describing Julia as a southern girl standing at the top of a stairway. James apparently saw her standing there and declared, "I'll be back to marry you."

He kept his promise. This and several blog posts to follow will, in fits and starts, tell the story of the Fawkner family. Family history is rarely as linear as a time-line might suggest. Instead, the path of discovery zigs and zags, and the evidence does not arrive in chronological order.

In this case, there at least was a simple starting point. Elizabeth Ann Ehlenbach died 3 February 1952 in Superior, Wisconsin. Her obituary said she was born in Missouri and came to Duluth, Minnesota, in 1893. Her death certificate named her parents: James and Julia Ann Fawkner. A third document filled in some of the blanks. A handwritten funeral memorial booklet stated "Mrs. Ehlenbach was born in Sturgeon, Mo., July 25, 1870. Her father James Coleman Fawkner, and mother Julia Ann Angell, both born in the U.S., were married near Sturgeon, Mo., Nov. 10, 1862. Her father, a Volunteer from Illinois, served four years in the Union army.

The memorial booklet placed the family in Arcola, Illinois, prior to the move to Duluth. The first order of business was to find the family there. The Fawkner name is not common, but many variants of the name, including Faulkner and Faulconer, are. The 1880 U.S. Census enumerated the family of James and Julia "Falkner" in Coles County, Illinois, just a few miles across the county line from Arcola, which lies near the southern border of Douglas County. The family consisted of:

- James Falkner, 51, born Kentucky,
- Julia, 38, born Missouri,
- Grant, 16, born Missouri,
- Cyrus, 10, born Missouri,
- Elizabeth, 9, born Missouri,
- Mattie, 6, born Illinois,
- Attie, 6, born Illinois, and
- Henry, 3, born Illinois.

The family had apparently moved to Illinois between about 1871 and 1874.  Finding the family in Missouri was not quite as easy because Soundex searches for Fawkner (F236) or Faulkner/Faulconer (F425) do not turn up the family. Instead, a page-by-page search found the family of James C. and Julia A. "Falker" in Township 51 North of Boone County; the post office was at Sturgeon.

I was a beginner at the time, so I was quite pleased with my census sleuthing. I had no clue toward finding James Fawkner ("Falkner?") prior to 1870, so the next step required a little luck. The next installment of this blog will take James Fawkner back to 1850 -- although his whereabouts in 1860 will remain unknown through several more installments.

LESSON:  Start with a certainly known ancestor. Work back a generation at a time.