I wrote earlier about how I found John Thompson, my great-great-grandfather, in FamilySearch’s online Ohio Death Certificate Index, then continued my search to find his obituary to confirm him as my John Thompson.
In reviewing his death certificate, I made two helpful observations:
1) The names given for John’s parents were Jacob Thompson and Mary Richardson. Considering that John died at a county home, I thought it was unusual that his parents’ names were known.
2) The informant for the death certificate was William Thompson. Since I was fairly certain that John didn’t have a son named William, I wondered if he was John’s brother. John’s obituary noted a brother named William.
As family historians, we’re always searching for the next generation back. We also know that death certificates don’t always have accurate information but they can give clues. Based on the hope that what was recorded on the death certificate was close to correct, I began searching for Jacob and Mary (Richardson) Thompson.
Searching for Death Certificates
When I searched the Ohio Death Certificate Index, I searched, in particular, for Jacob Thompson and Mary Richardson as the parents. I knew that if I found individuals with those parents’ names, I could look for additional sources - obituaries, census records, wills - to help confirm or refute the relationship to my John Thompson.
The results of my first search yielded 2 individuals whose parents were named as Jacob Thompson and Mary Richardson: Rachel Anna Hoaglund and Elizabeth Orwick; another individual, William Henry Thompson, whose parents were named as Jacob Thompson and Mary Richerson; and James R. Thompson, on whose death certificate the line for mother’s name was blank but his father was named as Jacob Thompson.
Some information recorded on their death certificates:
Rachel Anna Hoaglund died 24 October 1940 in Zanesville, Muskingum County, Ohio. She was born 7 May 1856 in Cadiz, Harrison County, Ohio. Her parents were Jacob Thompson and Mary Richardson. Her burial location was Alexandria Cemetery near Steubenville, Ohio. The informant was Mrs. Thomas Dusenbery [?].
Elizabeth Orwick died 17 December 1921 in Island Creek Township, Jefferson County, Ohio. She was born 17 June 1849. Her parents were Jacob Thompson and Mary Richardson. The place of burial was Union Cemetery, Steubenville. The informant was Amos Orwick.
William Henry Thompson died 5 October 1842 in Delaud Creek, Jefferson County, Ohio. He was born 4 April 1861 in Jefferson County, Ohio. His parents were named as Jacob Thompson and Mary Richerson. The informant was Andrew Thompson.
James R. Thompson died 9 December 1838 in Cross Creek Township, Jefferson County, Ohio. He was born in 1866 in Wayne Township, Jefferson County, Ohio. His place of burial and the informant were both Jefferson County Home. The father’s name was noted as Jacob Thompson.
Searching for Obituaries
With names plus death dates and locations, I went to the Ohio Historical Society Archives Library to search for obituaries, hoping that parents and siblings would be named in some of them. Below are excerpts from the obituaries I found.
Rachael Hoagland. There were 2 obituaries, one from The Zanesville News, the other from The Zanesville Signal (with the surname spelled “Hoazland” in both),” and one funeral notice in The Steubenville-Herald Star with the name spelled as on the death certificate. Mrs. Thomas Dusenberry, the informant of the death certificate, was named as one of her 5 daughters. Probably much of the information on the death certificate was close to accurate. William Thompson was named as a brother.
Elizabeth Orwick. Her obituary in The Steubenville Herald-Star named Amos Orwick as a son. He provided the information on the death certificate, so again I assumed it was probably accurate. This was a great obituary because it named her siblings as James R. Thompson, John Thompson, William Thompson, Mrs. Martha Smith, Mrs. Mary Fellows, and Rachel “Hoglan.” Until finding her obituary I knew of only the five siblings.
William Henry Thompson. There were three brief funeral notices, all in The Steubenville Herald-Star, each on a different day. One named his children, including Andrew Thompson, probably the informant of the death certificate.
James R. Thompson. I was unable to find an obituary. I don’t suppose the County Home paid to publish obituaries.
A Marriage Record
While I was at the historical society I also searched through the book of transcribed marriage records for Jefferson County, Ohio. Because their oldest known child (known to me, anyway), Elizabeth, was born in 1849, I guessed that Jacob and Mary were married between 1847 and 1849. I was pleased to find a record of their marriage for 27 July 1848, and surprised to find that they were married by Justice of the Peace Thomas Thompson. It leaves me wondering if the J.P. was a relative. I have yet to order a copy of their marriage record from Jefferson County.
Putting the family together with parents, Jacob and Mary Thompson, and children as Elizabeth, James R., John, William, Martha, Mary, and Rachael, I began my search of the census records with the 1850 census.
The following is what I found in the census records.
1850 U.S. Census, Cross Creek Township, Jefferson County, Ohio, 29 August 1850, Dwelling 1387, Family Number 1449, Lines 19-21
Jacob Thompson, 25 years, male, laborer, born Maryland
Mary Thompson, 26 years, female, born Ohio
Elizabeth Thompson, 1 year, female
1860 U.S. Census, New Athens Township, Harrison County, Ohio, 11 June 1860, Written Page 67, Printed Page 33, Dwelling 475, Family Number 472, lines 23-29.
Jacob Thompson, 35 years, male, coal digger, $50.00 personal property, b. Ohio, illiterate
Mary Thompson, 37 years, female, b. Ohio
Elizabeth R. Thompson, 9 years, female, b. Ohio, in school
John S. [or T.] Thompson, 8 years, male, b. Ohio, in school
Martha I.[?] Thompson, 7 years, female, b. Ohio
Rachael A. Thompson, 4 years, female, b. Ohio
Mary E. Thompson, 1 year, female, b. Ohio
1870 U.S. Census, Cross Creek Township, New Alexandria Post Office, Jefferson County, Ohio, 2 June 1870, Printed Page 288, Dwelling No. 7, Family No. 7, Lines 30-37.
Thompson, Jacob, 50 years, male, white, laborer, $200 real estate, b. Maryland, cannot read, eligible to vote
--------, Mary, 47 years, female, white, b. Ohio
--------, Elizabeth R., 20 years, female, white, b. Ohio
--------, Rachel A., 13 years, female, white, b. Ohio
--------, Mary E., 11 years, female, white, b. Ohio
--------, William H., 9 years, male, white, b. Ohio
--------, James R., 4 years, male, white, b. Ohio
--------, Amos R., 1 year, male, white, b. Ohio
1880 U.S. Census, Cross Creek Township, New Alexandria, Jefferson County, Ohio, 11 June 1880, Written Page 18, Dwelling Number 36, Family Number 36, Lines 39-42.
Thompson, Mary, white, female, 58 yrs, widow, keeping house, b. Ohio, father b. blank, mother born [MD?]
--------, Mary E., white, female, 21 yrs, daughter, single, at home, illiterate, b. Ohio, parents b. Ohio
--------, William H., male, 19 yrs, son, single, farm laborer, illiterate, b. Ohio, parents b. Ohio
--------, James R., male, 13 yrs, son, farm laborer, disabled (maimed, crippled, bed-ridden, or otherwise disabled), cannot write, b. Ohio, parents b. Ohio
Jacob and Mary’s son, John Thompson and his wife, Lydia, were living next door their 4 children.
More Death Certificates
I have yet to search for the obituaries for these other probable siblings but below is the information from their certificates of death. I feel fairly confident that these two people are Jacob and Mary (Richardson) Thompson’s children but I won't yet say positively that they are. I need to do more research to confirm or refute the information.
Martha Smith died 23 June 1935 in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio. She was born 4 March 1853. Her father was named as Jacob Thompson. The informant was Mrs. Mellissa Ritchie.
Mary Ellen Fellows died 8 March 1925 in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio. She was born 20 January 1858. Her father was named as Jacob Thompson and the informant was Mrs. Janus [Tumi?].
While the names and the dates seem to fit together for these individuals, I need to do more research. And I have some unanswered questions.
I’d like to know what happened to little Amos, age 1 in 1870, who appears in no other census. Was Amos Orwick, informant on Elizabeth Orwick’s death certificate, named after Amos Thompson? When and how did little Amos die?
James R. was listed as disabled in 1880 census, then years later he died in the County Home. What was his disability? The way the census question reads, it seems to ask more about a physical disability than a mental disability. I don't suppose I'll ever learn more about James R.
There is a 3-year gap between Martha (b. 1853) and Rachael (b. 1856); a 3-year gap between Rachael and Mary E. (b. 1859); a 5-year gap between William H. (b. 1861) and James R. (b. 1866); and a 3-year gap between James R. and Amos R. (b. 1869). Were children born during those gaps who died between census years? How will I find them, especially the ones born before Ohio required the registration of births?
When did Jacob Thompson pass away? Certainly between 1870 and 1880, since he’s on the census in 1870 but not in 1880, and Mary is listed as a widow in 1880. He was only 50 in 1870. I’d like to find out when, where, and how he died. Will I find a will and/or estate file for him? In the 1870 census it seems that he owned property. Can I can find a deed?
When did Mary (Richardson) Thompson pass away? I haven't found her in the 1900 census yet. If she were alive at that time, she would have been about 75. Where and how did she die? Did she have a will? Did she live alone until her death or did she move in with one of her daughters during the last year or years of her life?
Questions seem to spring forth from every answer I find. Always the search continues....
Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier