John Cox, deceased 1838, Fulton Co., IL

March 15, 2012

“A bill of Services for going to Lewiston to enter Into bonds for gardean [sic] also for binding Said Children or Six of them …” [transcript of an undated note found among the probate papers for a John Cox, deceased before 07MAY1838 in Fulton County, Illinois.]

I found the probate papers while searching for one of my ancestors, Joseph Cox, born about 1836 in Indiana, according to the 1850 US Census for Fulton County, Illinois. He was listed in the Henry S. Marvial [sic, Marvel] household. A census search yielded no suitable Cox family living nearby, so I searched the probate records for deceased possibilities.

A Joseph Cox was listed among the minors in the John Cox probate records. According to the undated guardianship bond, the seven minors were: Joseph, Kaziah, Hetty, Betsy, Mary, Rebecca, and Nathaniel. Nathan H. Turner and Peter Cox signed the bond as co-guardians. Both men were also listed on the 07MAY1838 Administrative Bond along with the administrator, Abel Chase. A receipt dated 03JUN1839 shows that Nathan H. Turner, as guardian, received $19.87 in part payment of the children’s share of the estate. Here the children are listed as Joseph, Kaziah, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Mary, Mehetable, and Nathaniel.

From my experience with similar documents, I knew that children’s names were likely listed in order of descending age. Joseph as the oldest of seven children would be too old to be my Joseph Cox born about 1836. The ‘about’ comes from the uncertainty of US Census records; for example, my Joseph was listed as aged 14, but had he already had his birthday for that year or would it occur later in the year, after the census enumeration? The genealogical convention is to say ‘about 14′, rather than ’14-15’.

I’ve found errors in probate records before. It was possible that the heirs were listed in reverse order, youngest first, or in a random order. Since this was the only possible Joseph Cox I’d found in years of searching, I decided to study the family further and make sure it was not mine.

Other information gleaned from the probate papers was the name of John’s wife, Rachel, and a James Cox, relationship unknown. James Cox possessed land. Receipts show that he rented John 8 acres on credit, apparently unbroken grassland because other receipts in the probate show that John owed Aaron Jenneny for breaking prairie sod, June, 1837 and William Ogden for hauling and stacking hay, August, 1837.

John M. Parkinson ran a school that had several of John and Rachel Cox’s children enrolled in it, 1837 and 1838. The earliest full date in the packet was 14JUN1837 and the latest one was 03JUN1839.

John or someone in his family apparently liked drinking whiskey. By my reckoning, his store receipt showed the purchase of 19 3/4 gallons of whiskey during the period between 09NOV1837 and 26MAR1838. John was also billed by the schoolmaster for another half gallon of whiskey, That’s well over a pint of whiskey consumed each day. Other items listed as purchased from the store include: 2 yards of calico, tobacco, slates and paper, coffee, sugar, shears, dishes, gun powder, and lead.

In summary, by June, 1837, John and Rachael Cox were living in northwestern Fulton County, Illinois with at least seven children: Joseph, Kaziah, Rebecca, Elizabeth (Betsy), Mary, Mehetable (Hetty), and Nathaniel, minors at the start of probate 07MAY1838. Two other Cox men also lived in the area. Peter, likely an adult son or more likely, John’s brother. James, possibly a relative. Because Nathan H. Turner assumed the primary guardianship of the children, he was either a close friend, a close relative or, more likely, he planned to marry the widow Rachael.

There is an open question on whether the binding of six children was to Nathan Turner as their legal guardian or to others outside the family. At the time, ‘Binding out’ children was a legal way of dealing with orphans. Children were considered orphans at the death of their father, even if their mother survived. A ‘bound out’ child would be an indentured servant or an apprentice until the age of 21 for males or the age of 18 for females.

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March 14, 2012

I’ve been ignoring this blog for three reasons. (1) I had a grand plan of converting the blog from WordPress to Drupal because I wanted to learn more about the inner-workings of Drupal, and (2) this was primarily a writing and genealogy blog. I’d taken a hiatus from writing. Writing was so much fun that I found myself neglecting other interests and in danger of becoming a couch potato. (3) I was in the midst of a distractingly painful recovery from a non-serious surgery.  I’m over that now. I still haven’t caught up on my other interests such as software, hardware, woodworking, gardening, yardwork, etc., but I’d like to start writing again and start posting some genealogy studies I’ve done.

I’ve given up on the conversion to Drupal for now. Last summer, I downloaded Drupal to the Ubuntu system I have upstairs. I got Drupal working with no difficulty. I built my child-theme and had it nearly done. Then one day the hard drive wouldn’t respond. It was dead, which wasn’t too surprising since I’d recycled it from an old well-used computer. I’d been careless with backups so all my Drupal work was gone. It wasn’t a total loss though. I had the knowledge I’d gained. My reason for converting no longer seemed worthwhile, so I made some cosmetic changes to my WordPress Azul child-theme. I think it is prettier.

What? Oh yes, the title of this post. The comments to the blog were badly spammed during my period of inattention. There were some really rough links to porn sites and a bunch of really stupid sales links in the spam. It took several hours to work through and delete them all.

For now, I’ve limited the ability to make comments and will be closely monitoring them from now on. I’d like to have a way to receive comments without becoming a major spam target. If you have suggestions, I’d like to hear them.

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Another Robert Duke!

March 17, 2010

I’ve found another Robert Duke! But first, some background.

A huge problem for anyone who studies genealogy is the fondness that our ancestors had for reusing names. Another is the persistence of bad information. I encountered both early in my studies. My 6-great grandfather Richard Burge is a good example. In the 1700s, three generations of Richard Burge were born, but not in a direct line as many, including me, first assumed. After a year or so of digging into the scant historical records, I realized my mistake. My ancestor Richard Burge was the son of John Burge, who happened to be the elder brother of a Richard Burge. It took another two or three years to convince other family researchers of that truth and even today, over a decade later, I still encounter web pages that perpetuate the mistake. It’s particularly annoying to me to find that the mistaken information are old data copied word-for-word-without-credit from my early work. I suppose I should be glad now that my name isn’t attached to the error.

I found the similar problems with my Duke line. In 1990s, a book was published that discussed a singular Robert Duke who had a son named Moses. The two lived and died in South Carolina, with Moses Duke dying in 1821, according to the book. I took exception to the book because my 4-great grandfather Moses Duke from that area of South Carolina was alive in 1840 and living in Alabama. After studying the historical records for the area, I determined that there were actually three Moses Dukes and five Robert Dukes during that time. My study can be found in my Dukes of Camden District, SC note, which is still a work-in-progress, by the way. And yes, despite the passage of half a dozen years since I proved the finding, I still have to convince other genealogists.

Now back to Robert Duke. I’ve found a sixth one hidden among the others in the old Camden District. Actually, there is a seventh one, too, but that’s another story.

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Genealogy Web Page

March 3, 2010

I’ve upgraded and modified my genealogy pages for their new home at The old home at is defunct after 10+ years. Perhaps this site will be more permanent.

I’m trying something new with my Dukes of Camden District, SC genealogy note page. I use the pdf format rather than html. Pdf is supported by most browsers and will provide a cleaner image with the pertinent footnotes at the bottom of the page rather than a distant link. It will also produce a nicer printout. What remains to be seen is whether the readers will tolerate the additional download delay. If not, I may have to separate the DoCD information into smaller chunks, something I rather not do.

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