I was researching a Scots-Irish man, and I had his marriage record from 1818 in Knox County, Tennessee. He had children by 1820, somewhere in Alabama. His remarried wife shows up in Pike County, Illinois by the 1830s. That was all I knew.
The migration pattern itself was not unique, but getting some firm facts about my subject between the 1818 marriage and the early 1830s was most difficult. With no place to really start, I decided, he had to die in the county where his wife remarried. She had little children, which required support rather quickly.
I found her remarriage in neighboring Greene County, Illinois in 1830. That gave me a potential death date for my subject; 1824 when his last child was born and 1830. The potential death place would logically be Greene County, Illinois.
To solidify this, I found her second husband in the 1830 Census of Greene County and took note of his “neighborhood” since no township was listed. I also looked for other people with the surname of the first husband. I found one in Roodhouse Township in the land grants and the census. Further research revealed this other person served in the War of 1812 in the 1st East Tennessee Regiment, which recruited in part out of Knox County. Coincidence? I think not.
Since the second husband didn’t live to the 1840 Census, I took the “neighborhood” from 1830 and compared it with grants. I formed a “neighborhood” in White Hall Township which forms the southern border of Roodhouse Township.
So what did I learn? First I figured my subject most likely settled around his relatives in Roodhouse Township. He died leaving no record. Logically he was probably buried in the now abandoned graveyard in Roodhouse Township with no tombstone. This was where others with his surname were buried. His widow met her second husband, who was landless, and living in the designated 1830 “neighborhood” in White Hall Township. They met and married because they did not live that far apart, and she had small children to support.
All this was “reading between the lines.” None of it can be proven other than exploring common surnames and reconstructing “neighborhoods.” Without a probate, guardianship, land or tombstone, the closest I may ever come to documenting my subject’s death is 1824-1830, in Roodhouse Township. All reading between the lines.
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