Friday, January 11, 2013

Breaking Down My Brick Wall, part 2

       As exciting as it was to have all of the papers relating to Nathan’s estate in my hands, I still didn’t know anything about it. I had proof that his wife was Hannah. I had proof that he existed and I had proof that he died and was buried. But his parents? No. His death date? No. I still really didn’t have much.
Well, I take it back. 
On closer inspection of the estate documents I had discovered some names in a final accounting of Nathan’s estate.
John C. Eakman.  
Elizabeth Eakman, deceased.
Lucinda and Laura Hannah Eakman.
Possibly another Elizabeth Eakman. 
Sarah Eakman, widow.

     From the references, I presumed that John C. Eakman had died prior to the death of Nathan, and there was still a disbursement from his estate to be made to Nathan’s estate. As I read through the few lines in this document I decided that it was possible that John C. was the father of Nathan. Sarah was the widow of John C. and that Lucinda and Laura Hannah were children of John C. who inherited at his death but had died themselves. 
     I hypothesized that Nathan was a child of John C. and as such was entitled to a share of John C.’s estate and a portion of Lucinda and Laura Hannah’s shares. I wasn’t sure who Elizabeth was, possibly an aunt or grandmother since she was not listed with the other girls. Oh, and Sarah was still among the living in 1865 when this document was written up because it refers to the death of Sarah as something in the future. 
     I checked the 1850 US Census for John C. Eakman and found a John Eakman and a John S. Eakman living in Armstrong County. But neither with a wife named Sarah. So I went back a decade to the 1840 US Census. This would have the name of the head of the household only and then tally marks for children of various ages and genders. 
     Bingo! John C. Eakman. But wait; there was also a John Eakman, a John Eckman, and a John L. Eakman. I back-pedaled one more decade to 1830 and found three John Eakmans. No John C. 
     Then I have to confess that I threw up my hands and put it all away. My husband’s family is only mildly interested in their history, and no one wanted to hear about the troubles good old Nathan was causing me. Nathan Eakman became one of my someday-I’ll-get-to-it problems.
     Fast forward to earlier this week. I was hanging out at the Rootsonomy Research Group and noticed that no one was asking any questions. I am a firm believe that a second set of eyes can be very useful in genealogy. Someone who doesn’t know your family like you do will see all of the documents with no preconceptions and might spot something you overlooked. And it is fun to dig and discover in tandem with someone else who is just as passionate as you are about making the discovery.
     Jan Edwards was in the group, hanging out, waiting for something to help with, so I proposed my dilemma. And Jan, the genealogical bloodhound, was off. Over the next several days she and I looked up and looked at all sorts of documents. I won’t detail the work that we did, checking ages, scrutinizing handwriting, searching for more and more documents.
     One day Jan overwhelmed me with a plethora of documents relating to the deaths of John and John C. Eakman. She found the will index, wills, guardianship papers, documents relating to the estates, and on and on. I gamely saved them all and vowed to “get back to them soon.” And I did. 
     Four o’clock the next morning found me back at my desk reading through the various papers, tedious and boring in their legality. John C.’s will was a disappointment. He left everything to his beloved Sarah for as long as she remained a widow and on her remarriage or death everything went to their children. But no children named. 
     (Oh, and before everyone gets all “het up” over John C.’s terms of his will, that was very common, designed to protect his widow. While a widow, she would have control of her inheritance. If she remarried, her new husband had control of everything and she was helpless to stop her new husband from frittering away their wealth through bad investments, gambling, and etc. If she remarried, it would be for love and to a man who could properly support her, not because some money-grubber preyed upon her.)
     I still didn’t have anything to say that John C. was the father of Nathan. It appeared that he was, and I was confident that Sarah was Nathan’s mother, but I didn’t have anything to connect the men to each other.
     And then I found it – a four-page-long auditor’s report from the December 1864 court which found that Sarah remarried “about five years subsequent to the death of her husband [John C.] “and recommended that she be removed from the land and house that had belonged to John C. and all of the goods and property be divided among the children and heirs.
     We won’t discuss the unpleasantness that must have caused in the family at this point, but I will tell you that this lovely report, filled with all sorts of references to legal precedents and details of the law was just what I needed. In it are listed all of the children of John C. and Sarah Eakman, namely:
Nathan, deceasedAaron [alternatively referred to as Aaron and Adam], deceasedElizabeth, deceasedLucinda, deceasedLaura Hannah, deceasedIsraelMartha [now Johnston]Mary [now Davidson]

     Ultimately the court agreed with the auditor and Hannah received an additional $200+ from her father-in-law’s estate ($23,500).
     I still don’t have a date or cause of death for Nathan, nor have I found him in the 1850 or 1860 US Census, nor do I know in what year he was born, but I do have documentary evidence that Nathan Eakman was the son of John C. and Sarah Eakman and that Nathan, the husband of Hannah, died after his father’s 1844 death.
     Some might argue that my brick wall isn’t truly down. It’s banged up, but without the facts I listed as missing, this isn’t a complete record.
     True, it isn’t complete, but I have verified that Nathan Eakman existed and I have verified his parents, siblings, and wife. With no will and given the fact that Elmer was born between the 1860 and 1870 US Census reports, I doubt that I will ever find a document that says clearly “Elmer was the son of Nathan Eakman.”
     For some, that means this is still a brick wall. Circumstantial? Perhaps. But I am confident that the information I have is accurate, and the best that is available out there.
     Time to move on to the next brick wall.

1 comment:

  1. I was told that Elmer was a "bound boy" by my Aunt, but can't recall all of the details. I do believe that is how he came out west.