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.

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