Nelson brick wall, family heading West - help finding parents.

+3 votes

According to the 1880 census records Jane Lynn (Nelson) Underwood was born in Ohio. Her father was from Virginia and her mother from Maryland. There is a lot of information on her husband and children but dead ends when it comes to her origins. I'm not sure where to look next. This was obviously a family migrating West from Southern states stopping in Ohio and Illinois to Wisconsin. The majority of my previous research has been in New England and Canada so this is new territory. Any help would be appreciated even if you can point me to some new resources. Thank you.

WikiTree profile: Jane Underwood
in Genealogy Help by Kim Clark G2G2 (2.8k points)
Other than the Family Search LDS pedigree which does not have a primary source for the date and location of birth, what points you to that date of birth and the location? Identifying the proper county, for the date of birth, is probably the first step in locating parents.

In my own ancestry, there was a 4th great grandmother said to be born Ohio in one generation before this person. People had looked for birth records for decades finding nothing. I found that she was actually born in Virginia (thankfully documented in Quaker records) as was her husband. I never did discover where the 'born in Ohio' came from in her case but it was erroneous.  (~ T Stanton, Westward Ho Project Coordinator)
The only birth info I have to go one is exactly what you mentioned, which is not verified. Yes, I was thinking something similar as her birth could have been Virginia, Maryland, another county in Ohio, or even Illinois. But that of course spreads this out further. I'll keep looking.

Thanks for the input.

1 Answer

+2 votes
Best answer

It might be a lot of work, but you could start by looking at Levi's siblings to see what sources you can find for them. At a quick glance it seems that several of them also moved to Ohio/Illinois/Wisconsin.

Once you have a collection of family names to look for, and a good idea of what county they settled in, try local county histories. These often talked about early settlers, and often the extended family. (gah, something strange going on with WikiTree, can't find the space page that lists these.) For sure you can try the Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, which you can find at Ohio and Wisconsin also have county histories. You might also find these by going to FamilySearch catalog and search by place.
by Kay Knight G2G6 Pilot (409k points)
selected by Kim Clark
Here is a link to lots of sources
Levi's family took a slightly different trajectory coming west from Massachusetts and New York. But they merge somehow in Illinois as that is where they married before continuing onto Wisconsin so that might be the best attack figuring out the Illinois portion. I had been so centered on her birth in Ohio but as mentioned in another comment that may not be correct since it isn't verified.

Thank you for the resource links! I will bookmark them and investigate further.
Kim - I've found lots of clues by looking at siblings. I've found families from New York that all traveled within a few years and settled in nearby locations. For the ones in Wisconsin, I only found one family. But.. I do have several ancestors from several families that all settled near each other in Illinois (after a brief stay in Ohio). Then these families seemed to also move on together (I had several move to Iowa and Kansas). Sometimes there are lots of clues in looking at the census images to see who is living nearby (or together - just this week I found a widow living with her sister in 1885).

The Illinois encyclopedia tends to have biographies in Vol II.
To add to Kay's good suggestion on county histories, many of these counties will have two or three very similarly titled county histories. These were a money-maker for several late 19th and early 20th century publishing companies. They often have very similar (if not the same) titles so if you get multiple hits at or HathiTrust check to see if they are different books -- often written only 20-30 years apart and often one has info the others do not. But, verify what you find in these as much of the info was submitted by the local residents and are just as subject to "family lore" as we are today.

T Stanton Thanks for the insight! I had seen several with the same titles. I will look at the publishing info as well before passing it over as a duplicate.

Kay Sands I did find info on a brother-in-law that shed some light on another family question. So, that's been a plus. As I go deeper I am seeing similar migration patterns.

Love experiencing history this way.  

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