Sunday, June 20, 2010

Proving My Connection

A number of years ago Pat Q. shared with me a copy of a deed he located in the court records of Hamilton County, Ohio. The deed, dated 29 December 1855, records a sale of land in Clark County, Indiana by Harriet Francony to James Z. and Milton Wilson of Ross County, Ohio. The deed contains a witness statement by Jno. Lewis (shown above) which reads "he saw Harriet Francony alias Harriet Ward the Identical grantor in said deed sign her mark to this deed...she then did reside at Aaron Hutton in said County...he has known said grantor for twenty yearz and knows her to be the wife of Zebe=diah Ward deceased a revolutionary soldier and formerly Harriet Jones and knows her to be the daughter of Stephen Jones..."

During my visit to the Family History Library, Beth, a volunteer at the United States Information Desk, suggested that this was an extraordinary level of identification. On my return home, I continued thinking about her assessment of the witness statement, and about the marriage record I had located for 'Harriet Jones to Jacob Hunsucker dated 1837 in Butler County, Ohio' [FHL US/CAN 333631 Early marriages in Butler County, 1803-1847]. Was it the fact that there was at least one other individual known as Harriet Jones that brought about the need for specific identification?

As to the individual points in Jno. Lewis' statement, he first states that Harriet "then did reside at Aaron Hutton in said county," [i.e. Hamilton County, Ohio]. I will address this statement at a later date.

Next, Mr. Lewis has "known said grantor for twenty years," dating his acquaintanceship with Harriet from about 1835. Stephen Jones lived in Delaware County, Indiana in 1831, and had moved to Missouri by 1838. Is it possible that his grown children, reportedly born in Hamilton, then Butler County, Ohio remained in the Cincinnati area, and Jno. Lewis made acquaintance with Harriet through them? Or did Stephen Jones return to live in Cincinnati around 1835?

Mr. Lewis knows Harriet "to be the wife of Zebe=diah Ward, deceased." Zebediah Ward and Harriet Jones were married 16 July 1828 (yes, it looks like "1825," but the records recorded above and below it in the register are definitely 1828) in Harrison County, Indiana. Beginning in 1833, Zebediah and Harriet patented land in Clark County, the location of the property being sold in this deed. The description of the land matches that of land that was patented by a Harriet Ward on 8 Oct 1834 in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Jno. Lewis also knows Harriet "to be the daughter of Stephen Jones, indicating to me that said "Stephen Jones" was well enough known by the court in Cincinnati to be of help in identification. This would be likely if a man had lived and done business in the county between 1802 and 1830 or more, and had family who remained in the area. The fact that Stephen Jones is not further identified may indicate that he was the only individual by that name living in the area, as well.

The witness statement indicates Harriet's relationship to three men: her father, Stephen Jones, her first husband, Zebediah Ward, who died 24 Aug 1836 in Clark County, Indiana, and her second husband, Francony (first name not given). I believe the witness statement was made to clearly differentiate Harriet Jones, daughter of Stephen Jones from another Harriet Jones who was also known in Cincinnati.

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