Tag Archives: Ohio

The Irish Connection: John Henderson

John Henderson (1747-1814)

John Henderson Tombstone

John Henderson tombstone in Taggerts Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Lafferty, Ohio

Note: I frequently warn that genealogical research is a work in progress.  Here is an example. No sooner did I hit publish on this post than I found more information that threw things into doubt. Most particularly, I am now not at all certain that John Henderson was born in Ireland. Like all these Scots Irish ancestors, it is really hard to determine how many generations moved from Scotland to Ireland.  It looks like it may be a long slog to find out just which John Henderson we are dealing with in order to pinpoint his father and siblings. 

The tombstone provides death and through age at death, birth year information. It also claims he is a Revolutionary War veteran.  However, it is obvious that this stone is not from the actual time of his death, so who put it up? Did they have the correct information?

I am confident that I have the right John Henderson that connects to the will–but even there, I can add to what I wrote. I found more information–which I will share as soon as I get a readable image or a good transcription.  Turns out that Ancestry was holding out on me, publishing only the will.  The probate file also includes a list of monies owed and collectible and the home and farm inventory.  Because this was supposed to be a quick post, I did not search Family Search.org, which I will now do.  If they don’t have a digital copy, the information is copied on another Ancestry.com users page.

I should say, John Henderson provides one of the Irish Connections, since on my maternal grandmother’s side, once I start digging into her ancestors, the Irish roots show up consistently.  I always knew that on my maternal grandfather’s side, the Andersons, we have plenty of Scots Irish.  So far, it looks like those on the Anderson line came from Scotland rather than Ireland, but the McCabes and Fifes and perhaps Thompsons are proving rather elusive.

Until recently, I had overlooked the fact that my maternal grandmother’s line also yielded Irish blood. The Irish roots show up in the Cochrans, for instance. When my grandmother’s grandfather married Emmeline Cochran, however, it led me back to not only Cochrans but also Hendersons and even an Adams that seem to all come from Ireland.

Irish Cultural Center

Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix

So why this sudden fascination with Irish ancestors?  I recently learned about a very special Irish Cultural Center and library in Phoenix, Arizona–just a two-hour drive from where I live.  Next week I’m going to visit there, and if I decided to track my Irish or Scots Irish ancestors, I can return to their library on a day when they have helpers available.  I’m excited about the trip, and so I started looking at the Cochrans and stumbled upon the fact that John Henderson, my fifth great-grandfather is from County Down in Ireland.

I have not had time to get an enormous amount of information about John and his wife Martha and their enormous family of ten children–but I did find his will, and figured I might as well share it.  Just to show that wills can be marvelous starting points for research.

John lived in Pennsylvania for a time and his oldest son, William was born there, but he moved to Belmont County, Ohio.

Note that Belmont County sits next door to Guernsey County where my Stout ancestors lived.  I have written about my great-grandfather Stout’s family quite frequently, starting with his father Isaiah.  I also wrote about Emmeline Cochran Stout, who leads me to HER great-grandfather, John Henderson.


John Henderson Will

John Henderson Will 1814

[I have separated parts of the will into paragraphs and added some punctuation to aid clarity. I also put the family names, in one mention, in bold, for clarity. It appears that the will was written by a clerk, including the signatures, so I am not showing the signature for Henderson.]

Whereas I, John Henderson of Belmont County, State of Ohio, being weak in body but of sound mind and memory, do make this my last will and testament in the manner and form following, viz. First, I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Martha Henderson the third part of the rents and profits at the middle third piece of land I now live on with the privilege of living in one-half of my dwelling house during her widowhood, viz. also sixty dollars to be paid out of the money due to my estates and her choice of one Cow out of my stock, her bedstead bed and bedding, a spinning wheel, bureau, a walnut table, corner cupboard and all the furniture usually kept in the same and her saddle.

I do also give and bequeath to my sons William, Thomas and John, one dollar each. 

I give and bequeath to my son Robert his heirs and assigns the south third of my land where he has improved and he is to pay one hundred and ninety dollars in two years after my decease for the use of my daughters.

I also will and bequeath to my son David his heirs and assigns the north third part of my land where he has made an improvement. He is also to pay one hundred & thirty dollars two years after my decease for the use of my daughters.

I likewise will and bequeath to my son Andrew, the middle third part of my land and his heirs and assigns forever. The lines of each of the above mentioned places to stay as they are now run except two acres that is to (sic) much in my son David part which is to be taken from that part and given my son Andrew to be taken below the sugar crop across the bottom and I wish my son Andrew to work the 3rd part now given to him. For to enable him to do it he shall have the two horses and two pairs of gears and all other articles necessary for plowing.  One ax and one grubing (sic) hoe, two hilling hoes and he is to have the young bay mare, two years old this spring. And give up the other two when he comes of age which is to be sold and divided as the other moveable property and if he works the place he shall have the two thirds of the profit, the other two thirds to be equally divided between my beloved wife and my daughter Martha while Martha remain single. If she marries it shall be given to her mother and the said Andrew is to pay one hundred and ninety dollars three years after he comes of age for the use of my daughters.

I do also will and bequeath to my daughters Agnes, Sarah, Martha, and Margaret all the money due and owing to my estate that is not herein otherwise disposed of together with the five hundred and ten dollars to be paid by my three sons.  My daughters all to be made equal counting what they have got that is charged to them in the papers enclosed with what may be charged to them before my decease.

I do further devise that my moveable property not herein otherwise disposed to be sold by my executors and the third part thereof I give and bequeath to my beloved wife and the other two-thirds to be equally divided among y four daughters.

And lastly I do hereby appoint my beloved wife, my son Robert and David Wallace to be my sole Executors of this, my last will and testament hereby revoking all former wills and testaments any time heretofore made or executed hereby declaring ratifying and confirming this to be my last will and testament to intents and purposes.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty-seventh day of May Eighteen hundred and fourteen.

Signed, John Henderson


William C. Theakes

John Campbell


With this will, we learn the approximate date of his death, his location–county and state– the first names of his wife, six sons and four daughters. We learn that Andrew is the youngest son.  Since he mentions that Martha will get XXX until she marries, I might assume that his other daughters are married, but that is not made certain as it is in some wills where the women’s married names are used.  He does not mention any grandchildren, which could mean he doesn’t have any, but likely means that none of his children died before him, leaving “issue.”

Find a Grave and an application for the Sons of the American Revolution indicate he was born in 1747, so he is about 67 years old when he writes his will.  His wife Martha is 55.  I can speculate that he was married when Martha was 18 to 20, so they have been married 38-40 years and his oldest son, William (usually the children are listed in order of age) is about 40 years old in 1814. In fact, other sources say William was born in 1774 and Andrew in .

The will is only a starting point, and much more evidence is needed, but it gives plenty of clues for the search.

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie (Kaser) Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette (Anderson) Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Vera (Stout) Anderson, who is the daughter of
  • William Cochran Stout, who is the son of
  • Emmeline (Cochran) Stout, who is the daughter of
  • Martha (Henderson) Cochran, who is the daughter of
  • William T. Henderson who is the son of
  • John Henderson from Ireland

A Note on Sources

Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998, Accessed at Ancestry.com. From Will Records, 1804-1919 ; General Index to Estates, 1801-1935; Author: Ohio. Probate Court (Belmont County); Probate Place: Belmont, Ohio Will Records, Vol A, 1804-1816

Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/70178975 There is quite a bit of information on John Henderson and his wife, without documentation. I have written to the poster to ask for more detail.

U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970 accessed at Ancestry.com  While some applications for Sons of the American Revolution can be valuable, this one appears to have skipped a generation after John Henderson’s son. With an obvious error in another generation, the information on John and Martha cannot be taken as proof.

The following records indicate a John Henderson, and are consistent as well as located in Belmont County, Ohio, however I need more data to be sure they apply to the correct John Henderson.

Ohio Tax List 1809, John Henderson, Belmont County, Oxford Township. From Ohio, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1790-1890 at Ancestry.com

Ohio Tax List 1806, John Henderson, Belmont County, no township listed. From Ohio, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1790-1890 at Ancestry.com

U.S., Indexed Early Land Ownership and Township Plats, 1785-1898, Plat map with John Henderson’s name in two places, accessed at Ancestry.com. From National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Township Plats of Selected States; Series #: T1234; Roll: 51

Dr. Dallas Smith Becomes a ‘Phisition’ in the Big City.

Joseph Dallas Smith ( 1845-1933)

My great-grandmother Annie Smith Butts’ would have been 7 years old when her younger brother Joseph Dallas Smith joined the family.  It seems that people mostly called him Dallas, but occasionally, official records refer to him as Joseph. I will call him Dallas, because I like the unusual name.

Note to ancestors named Smith:  It surely helps when you use an unusual first name with the last name Smith!!

Dallas, born after the Isaac and Mary Smith family moved to Ohio from Maryland, would  be the last living child of the family.  (One daughter, born two years later, died within a few months.)

By 1850’s census 6-year-old Dallas’ family included Ann (15), Isadore (10) and James (8).  The older children by then were out on their own.

In 1860 the census shows the Smith family consisted of the three teenagers : Isadore, James and Dallas. Ann,  24, would soon be married to my great-grandfather Henry Allen Butts. When Dallas reached 19, he must have been hit hard by the death of his older brother John Henry in the Civil War.  Can’t you just imagine the 19-year-old wanting to join up and his mother pleading with him not to? At any rate, the war was winding down, and Dallas stayed put in Knox County.

The family continued to live in Union Township, Knox County in 1870.  Dallas’ older brother William had returned home and worked with his father as a shoemaker. Dallas, now twenty-four, living with his parents and still unmarried, worked as a farmer. But in the next decade his life changed dramatically.

Dallas Smith Becomes a Phisition

At some point he decided to become a doctor.  According to the 1901 Physicians and Dentists Directory of State of Ohio, J. D. Smith graduated from Wooster College and became a “regular” physician in 1880. That means that he was not an eclectic physician like my great-grandfather  “Doc” Stout and Doc’s brother George nor a naturopath, homeopath or osteopathic physician.

Wooster, in Wayne County, would have been an easy commute from Danville, and perhaps the premed part of his education took place there. However, the short-lived medical school operated in Cleveland, Ohio from 1864 to 1881. In 1881 faculty split to either join the Cleveland Medical College to form Western Reserve University Medical Department or reopen the University of Wooster Medical Department

The 1880 census taker, using very creative spelling, notes the occupation of the 35-year-old Dallas Smith as “phisition.” At that time, Ohio did not license doctors, but by 1896 he would have been granted a license as a graduate of a regular medical school.

Dallas Smith set up his practice in the town of Gann, which I knew as Brinkhaven when I lived in Ohio. Dallas still lived in Knox County, but in 1880 the census shows him living with his sister-in-law, the widow of John Henry Smith and her son instead of with his parents.

He was about to have another very eventful decade.

The Move to Columbus

Some time in the 1880s, Dallas moved to Columbus. Before 1892 he had set up his office at 980 West Broad Street in Columbus.  The state capitol in 1901 had a population of 141,000.  In the medical directories, future census reports and legal papers (1892, 1900, 1901, 1905,  1910 ) he lived and practiced medicine at 980 West Broad Street in Columbus.

Broad Street was the “Main Street” of Columbus Ohio, and followed the old National Highway through town.  The State Capitol Building stands at the intersection of Broad Street and High Street, so the government and commercial center of town grew up around that area. East Broadway became the home of large mansions and lush parks along its wide expanse.

The Scioto River (Sigh-OH-ta) runs through the western edge of downtown and Broad Street extended across the Scioto. Dr. J. D. Smith’s office and home would sit in that area west of the river. The area is highway commercial now and only a few of the gorgeous old Victorian homes have survived. A modern building now stands at 980 where Dallas lived.

Martha Ellen Fitzpatrick

The same year that we see Dallas listed as a “phisition” in Knox County in Ohio, a 25-year-old Irish lass, Martha Fitzpatrick, shows up in the Columbus, Ohio (Franklin County) census working as one of two servant girls in the home of a lawyer.  That lawyer and his family live on Broad Street, about eight blocks away from Dallas’ eventual home/office.

Both Martha’s parents were Irish, although the 1880 census indicates her birthplace as Ohio. In 1900, at the peak of Irish immigration, the Irish were the 2nd largest ethnic group in Ohio, right behind Germans. After poring over census records with many Fitzpatricks, all of whom had numerous children, I believe that Martha’s father was named John (and of course there are dozens of John Fitzpatricks) and her mother Ellen, and in 1860 the family lived in Lancaster Ohio.  Martha had two sisters and two brothers in 1860, which as Irish families go, was very small. Her grandfather, also named John, lived with the family.

In 1870, when she was 18, I found Martha Fitzpatrick working as a domestic in a township with a Lancaster, Ohio mailing address.  The well-to-do family hired three domestic servants. However, by 1875, she has moved to Columbus Ohio and is working for that attorney that shows up on the 1880 census as well. The fact that this house with three servants was a few blocks from Dallas hints at the fact that he had chosen a nice neighborhood to live and work in.

Dallas Marries Martha

Marriage license.

Dallas Smith and Martha Fitzpatrick Marriage license.

It would be delightful to learn how the small town doctor met the Irish domestic servant, but, alas, all we have to go on is a marriage license that tells us that in January of 1884, they were married. Ohio marriage licenses from that period hold sparse information. The printed form assures us that the groom is over 25 and the bride over 18 and neither of them are currently married to someone else. That’s about it. From other records, we know that Martha is ten years younger than Dallas Smith.

Presumably, Martha had made a giant leap from taking care of someone else’s house to be the lady of the house in a Broad Street home of a doctor.  Dallas Smith apparently did well for himself in his new location and shared his good fortune with his wife.

Deaths in the Family

November 1892 was a tough month for Joseph Dallas Smith.  Late that month his mother died. At the time, Dallas would still have been coping with the death of his young wife on November 3, 1892

Martha only lived eight years after their marriage, and died at the age of thirty-eight without having any children. Unlike most married women of that period–and particularly, one would think, of former serving women–Martha Fitzpatrick Smith left behind a will.  In it we learn that she owned two pieces of property in her own name.  One of those she willed to her older sister Annie, along with a Leader Sewing Machine.  The other property (both pieces of land were in Columbus Ohio) went to her beloved husband Dallas Smith, along with all her other personal belongings.


Lizzie Fitzgerald

The search for the background of Dallas’ second wife Elizabeth proved frustrating.  Those large Irish immigrant families all seemed to name a daughter Elizabeth.  However, with a few clues from her later life, I believe I found her family and perhaps what she was up to in the several years before she married.

It seems likely her parents were both Irish, and all information agrees that Elizabeth Theresa Fitzgerald was born in Canada.

I have not tracked her father from Ireland to Canada, or determined whether her mother actually came from Ireland or France, (or perhaps French Canada). However, I do believe that thanks to the sparse information on Elizabeth’s death certificate I do have some clues.

Census reports from 1870, 1880 and 1900 of David Fitzgerald with wife Ellen show that Elizabeth came from a family with ten children. The five oldest, including “Eliza” were born in Canada, and the youngest were born in Pennsylvania. That narrows down the arrival of the family to 1865-1867, most probably 1866 when Elizabeth would have been about 3 or 4 years old.

This is one of those times when the missing 1890 census would come in very handy!

The Facts

Marriage License

Dallas Smith and Elizabeth/Lizzie Fitzgerald Marriage in Pennsylvania

Joseph D. Smith married “Lizzie” T. Fitzgerald (Elizabeth Theresa)  in Lawrence, Pennsylvania on April 4, 1894, two years after his first wife died. Good news!  Pennsylvania marriage licenses of that period delivered a great deal more information than Ohio licenses. According to  the marriage license, Lizzie’s birth year was 1863 (October 23, 1863) making her at least eighteen years younger than Dallas Smith, who would have been 49 years old and Lizzie, perhaps,  had not yet reached 31.

That birth date is somewhat in doubt, since subsequent census records vary from 1863 to 1867, however her death certificate lists October 23, 1862, so the year seems to be close to that.

From her death certificate, I learned that her father’s name was David Edward Fitzgerald, born in Ireland and her mother’s maiden name was Ellen Cheevy.

The Marriage license also tells us that Lizzie came from Canada, and it names her birthplace : Belle Ewart, a town in Ontario, Canada.  When married, she lived in Newcastle Pennsylvania. Her occupation: dressmaker. ( The license is signed by A. S. Love, clerk of the Orphan’s Court. How appropriate.)

Census reports vary on what year Elizabeth Theresa Fitzgerald immigrated from Canada, but they agree that she was still a young child, between three and five years old. Based on census reports that ask the question, she did not become an American citizen.  The reports say her father came from Ireland or from Canada and two records says her mother came from France, but others say Ireland.

Married Life

Married in April 1894, the couple settled in the home Dallas had occupied since he moved to Columbus, at 980 West Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio.  Elizabeth gave birth to a her daughter, Martha, nine months later in Januaury 1895. Apparently, Dallas wanted to honor his first wife by naming his daughter for her.

Three years later, March 2, 1898, Elizabeth gave birth again and the couple named their second daughter Elizabeth (called Betty.)

The 1900 census tells us that Elizabeth now had the help of a 17-year-old servant girl.

On August 18, 1903, Elizabeth gave birth to a son, James.

A Move from Broad Street

In 1910, we find the family still living at 980 West Broad Street, and Dallas, listed as Joseph, still practicing medicine, but they no longer have a servant living with them.  However in the next decade Joseph apparently retired and the family had moved to 2177 Indiana Avenue. The stimulus might have been a devastating flood in 1913 that inundated the West side of the Scioto River where the Broad Street home was located. The new house still stands near Ohio State University.

Collumbus home of Dallas Smith

2177 Indiana Avenue, Columbus, Ohio, where the Dallas Smith family lived in 1920.

In 1920, all three children still live at home.  Martha, twenty-four, works as an order clerk; Betty (Elizabeth), 22, also works as a clerk, and James F.,16,  still attends school. However they did not stay in this house for long.  By the time Betty married in 1924, they had moved again, to 1743 Fulton Street.

A Marriage in the Family

In August, 1924, Betty married Robert V. Rotterman a telephone engineer from Cleveland. (the 1920s Ohio marriage licenses  carry more information than earlier).

I recently discovered a DNA match with a man named Rotterman.  I know that the Rotterman family has extensive information about Dallas and Elizabeth and their family, since they are descended from the only one of Dallas’ children who had children.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get in touch and share information?

Aging Parents

By 1930,  Martha (32) now a stenographer and James (25) a clerk, remain at home with their  85-year-old father and 65-year-old mother. Betty has moved to Cleveland with her husband.

In 1930, Dallas Smith’s family resides in the home they have occupied since the early 1920s at 1743 Fulton Street in Ohio.  The house is on the east side of Columbus and the home currently on the property looks like it has been extensively remodeled, so I am not showing it here.

Dallas lived in this house until he died April 26, 1933. The cause of death is listed as senility and he is buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Columbus.

The family continued to live in the Fulton Street house, according to the City Directories of 1935, 36 and 37. The 1940 census shows Elizabeth and Martha and James continuing to live on Fulton Street with their mother. Now Martha worked as a stenographer in a certified accountant’s office and James as a salesman of soft goods.  Neither Martha nor James ever married.

On May 10, 1946, Elizabeth Theresa Fitzgerald Smith died of a cerebral hemorrhage and was buried with her husband at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Columbus. They were back on the west side of the Scioto where he started.


I see a pattern in Dallas’ marriages. Do you?  Dr. Smith seems to like Irish girls much younger than he is.

Now, how did Joseph meet a woman living in Newcastle Pennsylvania? I suspect that she may have not have actually lived there, but it was the home of her parents.

My suspicion about Elizabeth’s residence before marriage stems from the fact that I believe I found the correct Elizabeth Fitzgerald listed as a dressmaker or seamstress living in Columbus in years between 1889 and 1892. (Remember, she is listed as a seamstress on their marriage license.)

My father’s great-uncle definitely broke the mold of the Smith family, particularly by leaving Knox County.  He also struck out on a different career and married two much younger women from immigrant families.  All these things contribute to making Dallas Smith well worth the telling of his story.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser (Badertscher)  is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, the son of
  • Mary Isadore (Mame) Butts (Kaser), the daughter of
  • Ann Marie Smith (Butts), the sister of
  • Joseph Dallas Smith.

Notes on Research

United States Federal Census Reports, 1850- Millwood, Knox County, Ohio; 1860, 1870, 1880 – Union, Knox County, Ohio; 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 – Columbus, Franklin, Ohio; 1860, 1870 Pleasant, Fairfield, Ohio; 1880 Union, Lawrence, Pennsylvania; 1880, Columbus Holmes, Ohio; 1900 Newscastle, Ward 6, Lawrence Pennsylvania.

Ohio Births and Christening Index, 1800-1962–Elizabeth F. Smith, (Ancestry.com)

Ohio Marriages 1774-1992, Joseph Dallas Smith to Martha Ellen Fitzpatrick, 17 Jan. 1884; Elizabeth F. Smith and Robert V. Rotterman, August 5, 1924,  Ancestry.com

Pennsylvania Marriages 1852-1968, Joseph D. Smith to Lizzie T. Fitzgerald, April 4, 1894, Ancestry.com

U.S. City Directories 1822-1925 (Ancestry.com), Polk’s Columbus Ohio City Directory, 1932, XJ. L. Polk & Co., Publishers,Smith,  Jos. D (Eliz);  1833, Martha E. Fitzpatrick; 1885, Martha Fitzpatrick; 1895, Smith, Joseph D.,  Physician.

Ohio Deaths 1908-1932, 1938-2007 (Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health)  Elizabeth T. Smith, 16 May 1946

Find a Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/97653045, Joseph Dallas Smith. This page also has an image of his death certificate.; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/97653124, Martha Ellen Fitzpatrick Smith; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/97653902 Elizabeth Teresa Fitzgerald Smith

Ohio Wills and Probate 1786-1998, (Ancestry.com), Martha E. Smith, Franklin County, Executors Bonds and Letters, Vol 8-9, 1890-1895, and Probate: 21 Dec 1892, Will Records, Vol N-O, 1891-1894

Smith Family Bible, transcription shared from Family Search tree of Mary Martha Vonville. Family Bible [was] in possession of family of Joseph Dallas Smith; Elizabeth Ferretti Smith Rotterman, near Cleveland Ohio, 2016. Hand written Bible page transcribed by Mary Martha Vonville.

William Jackson Smith, The Bachelor Uncle Postmaster

William Jackson Smith 1828-1911

William Jackson Smith, my great-grandmother Annie’s third oldest brother deviated from the mold of most of the Smith family men.  While I’m missing some census reports, he seemed to not have a steady career until his late middle age. How ironic that a man who found a career as a postmaster, proves difficult to track by address! And most significantly, he never married.

Lacking a family history narrative or diaries, I will probably never know what made William Jackson Smith a bachelor.  However, with all those brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and probably cousins as well, he would not have led a lonely life.

What a challenge my Uncle William has been.  He seemed to go out of his way to hide from me and confuse me. The common name “William Smith” provides challenges in tracing my 2x great uncle’s life.  In the most “official” records–his government employment and his obituary, the middle name or initial helps clarify which William Smith, but of course we can’t count on the census takers to always use a middle initial.

That also makes we wary of other “William Smith” records like the Civil War draft index from 1863.  Because the birth year is only one year off, I thought at first that his name appeared on that record, but I now have eliminated that possibility.  The registration states that William Smith is a resident of Harrison Township, Knox County and is a farmer.  I have no other evidence for either of those facts. And there is another William Smith who fits that profile better.

Okay, I know I should not take all this personally.  On the bright side, his life interests me because it did not fit the mold of most of the other Ohio.


The same confusion of William Smiths from Knox County made me go through some census reports line by line to try to find “my” William in 1850, 1860 and 1880 census reports. I could eliminate any that were married. The Williams listed were born in Ohio and their parents were born in some place other than Pennsylvania or Maryland.  Too many discrepancies to assign the name to William.

William, born and baptized in Maryland (according to Catholic church records for Maryland), moved with the family to Knox County Ohio. According to a census report from 1830, I have learned that the Isaac Smith family probably lived in Quemahoning Township, Somerset, Pennsylvania that year. I can tell it was a brief residence because baptism records show that the family lived in Maryland when William was baptized in 1830, and his sister Elizabeth’s birth and death took place in Knox County Ohio in 1833. Another sibling, George Washington Smith ‘s birth, recorded in the family Bible without location, took place in January, 1831, presumably in Pennsylvania.

1830 Census

That 1830-1840  census reports–the kind that I call the “chicken scratch” census because it has only the name of the head of household plus tic marks for other residents, matches up nicely with Isaac Smiths family.

  • The form shows two boys under 5–that would be Jeremiah (3) and William (2);
  • one boy between 5 and 9–that would be John Henry (6 or 7)
  • and one man between 20 and 29.  Isaac would have been pushing the upper edge of that category.
  • Additionally, in 1830, the Isaac Smith family included, according to this census and in real life, one girl under 5–that would be Mary Jane;
  • And one woman between 20 and 29–Mary Maria who would have been 26.

Since Isaac had already applied for a land patent in Ohio, perhaps the family was just transiting through Pennsylvania on their way to their final destination.

At any rate, William shows up as twelve years old in 1840 in Knox County with the rest of the family.

Missing 1850 and 1860

I have not found him on either the 1850 census or the 1860 census, despite going through every township in Knox County that is anywhere near where his family members were living.  A mysterious disappearance. All I know is that he was not living with his parents or his older siblings.

Reappearing in 1870

William reappears in 1870, living with his father and mother in Union Township, Knox County, Ohio, post office: Jelloway. Only his younger brother Dallas still lives at home.  William is 40 years old.  In 1880, he again is listed with his father, now in College Township next to Union Township.

 Civil Service Records to the Rescue

Another gap since the 1890 census is missing.  However, since he was appointed as a postmaster in 1883, and reappointed several times, we know that he was living in Knox County, Ohio, perhaps near the crossroads of Hunt, where he worked, or perhaps still living with his parents until they died (1886 and 1892).

William Jackson Smith’s Older Years

The 1900 census confirms that he has never married. At 73 years of age for the first time he is listed as living alone in Union Township, Knox County.

As he ages, William moves in with his younger brother James, a farmer in Union Township of Knox County.  In 1910 he lives with James and his wife and their infant child.


Going by the few census records I have and the extensive Civil Service Records, I have pieced together the odd employment history of William Jackson Smith.

What he did in earlier life I have no clue. We do not see an occupation for him until he is forty years old and living with his parents. In 1870, he practices the same trade as his father, shoemaker.

Starting in 1883, at the age of 53, he finally finds steady (more or less) employment. William Jackson Smith receives appointments as postmaster for the tiny village of Hunt, Ohio.  Originally called Hunt’s Crossing, the name changed to Hunt in 1882 and the post office survived until a few years before William Jackson Smith died. He served as Postmaster for most of those years, with short breaks in service.

Appointment records show October 1883 – October 1887 and May 1908 to May 1912. These dates do not coordinate with Presidential elections, so his was not strictly a political appointment. Besides, as an article that I’ve linked below points out, people paid more than $1000 a year were appointed by the President or Senators. Below that, by an assistant Postmaster General. And, He actually served between 1887 and 1908 according to the pay schedules, so the break in service starting in 1887 was brief.

Payments for his yearly service show up in the Register of Civil, Military and Naval Service, published every two years, show these annual payments to William.

  • 1885: $104.96
  • 1887: $89.33
  • 1888: $52.40
  • 1889: $80.78
  • 1891: $81.83
  • 1895: $8l.90
  • 1897: $99.79
  • 1899: $97.18
  • 1901: $90.61
  • 1903: $73.92
  • 1905: $81.80

William Jackson Smith died before he finished his last term of appointment. The post office was decommissioned in 1912.

William Jackson Smith’s Death

William died at his brother James’ home on February 20, 1911, having reached the age of 84.

His brother filed probate papers in lieu of a will, that listed his next of kin:

James F. Smith, brother, Howard, Ohio; Joseph Smith, brother,  Columbus, Ohio; Mary Jane Stevens,sister, Howard Ohio; Anna Marie Butts, sister,Buckeye City Ohio (part of Danville); Lillis Blubaugh (niece), Danville; Victoria Blubaugh (niece); Henry Smith (nephew) Coshocton County, Ohio.  William left property of $700.

The Final Mystery

Even William’s last address provides somewhat of a mystery.  Find a Grave says that he was buried in the Workman Cemetery in Danville, Ohio.  Why would this member of an extensive Catholic family be buried in a German Baptist cemetery?

Did you have an ancestor who served a term or more as a postmaster?  Check out this National Archives page to learn more.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser (Badertscher)  is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, the son of
  • Mary Isadore (Mame) Butts (Kaser), the daughter of
  • Ann Marie Smith (Butts), the sister of
  • William Jackson Smith