I need genealogy help sorting out this family

+4 votes
My wife's 2nd great-grandfather on her mother's mother's side is John W. Griffin (Griffin-3729). He married Julia Ann Goodwin. But, Julia Ann Goodwin was (supposedly) married before to Richard Ausley (Ausley-39). But the Census records are confusing.

Richard Ausley supposedly married Julia Ann Goodwin in 1858. They had a son in 1859 (this is according to family history which you can read on FindAGrave here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/120766561/thomas-avant-ausley

Richard Ausley died from wounds suffered in the Civil War in 1864.

The 1860 Census for Richard shows him at 20 years old living in the household of his father. No wife. No child.

I haven't found the 1860 Census for John. In the 1870 Census he's listed with a wfie (Julia) and five children (William - 11), John (9), Elizabeth (8), James (3) and Sarah (no age).

The gap in age between Elizabeth and James seems odd, since the 1880 Census shows the four youngest children at 13, 11, 9, and 7.

At first, I thought that William, John, and Elizabeth were Richard's children, which John "adopted" by marrying the widow Julia. According to the FindAGrave record, Julia and Richard had one child, a son named Thomas William Ausley, born in 1859. His records show up more frequently as William.

Now I don't know what to think. I found an 1880 Census for William Ausley (Richard's brother) that lists a Thomas Ausley - nephew and Emiline Ausley - niece with the ages 21 and 20, which means 1859 and 1860.

The only reason I can think of for a niece and nephew to live with their uncle is if their parents are gone. And their ages match a marriage between Richard and Julia perfectly. But that then means that John and Elizabeth must be John Griffin's children. Was he married previously and his wife died?

I wish I could find the 1860 Census for John Griffin, because that would clear up some of the confusion, hopefully.

At this point, I don't know whose kids are whose. If anyone has any brilliant insights, I'm all ears.

You can view the Ausley tree on familysearch.org here: https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/portrait/L6KH-TNG

Addendum: Now I'm even more confused. I found an 1860 Census that lists John Griffin as a farm laborer living with the Lett family in Chatham County.
WikiTree profile: John Griffin
in The Tree House by Paul Schmehl G2G6 Mach 1 (18.9k points)
edited by Paul Schmehl
The first linked FindAGrave page doesn't seem to mention anyone born in 1859.
That's correct. This is the FindAGrave for Thomas William Ausley: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/145864567/thomas-william-ausley

The link in my post is to his uncle's page where he is mentioned as the son of Richard Ausley.

2 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer
If you look closer at the 1860 census for Richard Ausley, you will see that his wife is listed underneath his name, Julia age 19 and child Thomas W. age 1
by Melissa Jamison G2G6 Mach 1 (17.3k points)
selected by Paul Schmehl
You must be looking at a different census. And I'd really like to see that one. Do you have a link?

This is the one I'm looking at:  Year: 1860; Census Place: Eastern Division, Chatham, North Carolina; Page: 2; Family History Library Film: 803892, https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/41136009:7667?ssrc=pt&tid=172885952&pid=422252610751
yes, that is the same one.  Look at the original and you will see Julia and Thomas underneath him.  It looks like a different household, but maybe a mistake.  The handwriting is horrible!
Geez, Melissa. I'm ashamed to admit that I never looked at the original record. You're right. There they are, staring me in the face. So, I now have confirmation that they were married and that Thomas William was their son.

That leads me to believe that William (11), John(9), and Elizabeth(8) in the 1870 Census for John Griffin were Richard Ausley's children. Thank you so much.
+2 votes
Census records may not be a great way to sort out which kids belonged to which person. I think you will have to locate marriage and birth certificates for that. Maybe newspapers could help? Civil war widows pension? DAR application records?

Plus, John Griffin is a fairly common name. There are 967 occurrences of an exact match in the 1860 census and over 4000 if the match is not exact. The one you found may not be the same person
by Jonathan Crawford G2G6 Pilot (113k points)
Yes, I know. Census records are a real pain. Especially the pre-1850 ones.

However, there was only one Griffin family in Lower Regiment, Chatham County in the 1850 Census, and the members of that family were Sarah (mother), John, Anne, Abel, Catherine, Jane, and Alexander. (The latter three are spelled Griffon instead of Griffin, but they're listed in the same household - go figure.) John's father died before the Census, and those are his siblings and mother, so that has to be him. He's listed as a laborer and he's 21 years old. (Ages are kind of squishy in the Census records.)

So, that's definitely him, and his entire family.

In 1860, the Upper and Lower Regiment designations were gone, and it was now Eastern, Middle, and Western Division. So that makes it a little harder to figure out. But, in the Middle Division, there are four Griffons listed: John, Mary, Sarah, and Alexander. Mary, Sarah, and Alexander were the three youngest of that family, so it appears that John was now caring for his siblings, who were teenagers by this time.

It isn't until 1870 that Julia shows up, but suddenly there' are three older children who were born in 1859, 1861, and 1862, along with John's (what I think are) first two children with Julia.

So, the only explanation I can come up with for the three older children is that they were Richard Ausley's.

They didn't have birth certificates in the 1800s, and the marriage records are basically bonds that some people ignored, because of the cost. So, finding birth certificates is a non-starter, and finding marriage evidence is spotty at best.

well, I guess it was later 1800s, like 1870ish possibly, https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/North_Carolina_Vital_Records, but they did exist for some of the 1800s.

Next thought is probate records, if either Richard or John had wills that might clear things up.

Looks like the census records did help some, good luck with this one! Seems like a textbook example of "we'll never really know, but all known evidence points to ..... because of ..... based on <list of searches and results>"

Oh for the love of mike....on the fourth attempt at editing, here is a research worksheet I put together that might help you track progress, obviously not all these apply to older profiles, I just delete out the stuff that didn't exist for whichever person, it's comprehensive to remind me to check things 


Thanks for the tip, Jonathan. At least we've settled part of it. Richard DID marry Julia, and they DID have a son named Thomas William Ausley. I still have to figure out who John A. and Elizabeth Griffin are. Was John W. married briefly, having two children with that unknown wife? Did she die bearing the second child?

So many questions....

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