Thursday, April 28, 2011

T. Smith - Mount Varnum Cemetery, Washington Township, Butler County, Penna

Am I hot on the trail of Thomas Smith of Butler County, Pennsylvania, who is my ancestor or am I on a wild goose chase tracking down someone else's ancestor? I feel the need to search out every possibility until I find enough information to confirm that this man and his family is or isn't mine.

Yesterday I searched the Butler County Cemetery Inventory to see if I could find Thomas Smith in any of the cemeteries in Parker Township. It seems Parker Twp. had very few cemeteries - and he wasn't in any of them. I decided to look in the listings for cemeteries in the five adjoining townships in Butler County, Pennsylvania.

Washington Township is directly west of Parker Township and Thomas' property in Parker was close to the border between both. The Parker Twp. cemeteries were closer to the center and eastern areas of the township while Mount Varnum Cemetery is on the eastern edge of Washington Township. In fact, the cemetery is almost directly west of Thomas' property as shown in the 1858 Butler County map. In the map to the right, Mt. Varnum Cemetery is slightly below the "T" in Washington. Thomas' property was just across the border from the "N" in Washington. The distance was probably less than 3 miles. I'm sure people in the 19th century were aware of township lines but, as in our day, those lines weren't borders or boundaries that prevented people from shopping, worshipping, and friendshipping outside their townships.

There were several Smith families in the six counties. One family had a series of deaths of young children and as I was copying the information I was thinking how sad for that family to lose so many children. The first child was Martha who died in 1863. Thomas of the 1850 census had a daughter named Martha but I didn't guess any connection to the man who may be my Thomas Smith. But when I came to the next to the last name, it was also Martha who died April 20, 1846, at 40 years, 4 months, and 14 days of age, wife of T. The last name in the group - no name, really, only an initial - was T. Smith who died September 6, 1862, at 69 years, 6 months, 9 days of age. Which puts his birth at February 25, 1793, which is within range for the Thomas Smith of the 1850 census.

Is this my Thomas Smith and members of his family? Thomas of the 1850 census had children named Martha and Nelson living with him and his calculated age was close to this Thomas' calculated age. But some questions arise in my mind. There were children whose parents were "T. B." and "A" and others who were the children of parents with the possible initials of "M." and "S." There was a Martha, "wife of T." Could Thomas/T. have been married twice (of course it's possible!) or are these two different families buried on the same plot? Are initials M. and S. really M. and S. or were they so "faded" that it was only a guess what the initials were?

Below is a transcription (of a transcription!) of the Smith family gravestones in Mount Varnum Cemetery, Washington Township, from the Butler County Cemetery Inventory, Volume I, located on the first page of the Mount Varnum transcriptions.
Smith Martha J - [died] ??-30-1863 - 1/? - Child of M.? & S.?
Smith Infant - Child of M.? & S.?
Smith Nelson - Co. L 14 Pa. Cav. GAR
Smith Lavina - [died] 07-03-1868 - 5[years]/2[months]/22[days] Ch. of T.B.& A.
Smith James E. - [died] 02/20-1856 - -[years]/3[months]/15[days] Ch. of T.B.&A.
Smith Infant - [died] 01-24-1856 - Child of T. B. & A.
Smith Infant - [died] 12-29-1861 - Child of T. B. & A.
Smith Perry - [died] 1856 - Child of T. B. & A.
Smith Martha - [died] 04-20-1846 - 40[years]/4[months]14[days] - Wife of T.
Smith T. - [died]09-06-1862 - 69[years]/6[months]/9[days]

I hope, over time and with more information, I'll be able to confirm (or refute) a connection to this family. If this turns out not to be my family, I'll have plenty of research to share with their descendants!

Previous posts regarding Thomas Smith:
Searching for Thomas Smith, Sr.
The Search for Thomas Smith Continues - 1850 and 1860 Census Records
Neighbors of Thomas Smith, 1850. Neighbors of Henry Smith, 1860
Thomas Smith and 1858 Property Map of Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania

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