The prompt for Week #8 of the 52 Ancestors/52 Weeks Challenge is GOOD DEEDS, as in an ancestor found through land deed records. I’m also going to expand this theme a bit and further define GOOD DEEDS as a good genealogy deed, which I’ll explain in a bit. This is something of a continuation of Week #7, Eliza Jane Campbell Simmons Gordon Denton, my 2x great grandmother. This week it’s about Eliza’s mother, Hannah Stone Campbell.
Hannah Stone Campbell, my maternal 3x great grandmother, has forever been a brick wall. I don’t know who her parents were; I don’t know for sure where or when she was born; I don’t know when she died; and I don’t know where she was buried. Essentially, I don’t know anything about the beginning or the end of Hannah’s life. This brick wall was passed on to me from family researcher Doris Denton, who after 30 years of work on the family, from the 1970s to the 2000’s, was stumped by the same details of Hannah’s life. One thing I know for sure: if Doris couldn’t find her beginning or her end, then she won’t be easily found.
Here’s what I do know about Hannah:
Hannah first appears in a marriage record in Carter County, Tennessee: Hannah STONE marrying Jeremiah CAMPBELL, 27 July 1822. Jeremiah is my 3x great grandfather, and his family is well-known to me through extensive research in Carter County. Jeremiah was 25 years old when he married Hannah; therefore, I’ve given Hannah a birth year of c.1800, plus or minus 5 years. It’s not likely that she was younger than 17 years old when she married and it’s equally unlikely that she was older than 27. One possibility for Hannah that I haven’t looked into at all, that her marriage to Jeremiah was her second marriage, and she was marrying him under her married name, not her maiden name. But that adds a complication that I don’t need right now–tuck that one away for a later day. Suffice it to say that I have solid, sourced information about Hannah’s life from 1822 through 1867. In this post, I’m going to focus on the end of Hannah’s life, to see if I can break through that segment of the brick wall.
Hannah Campbell and her husband Jeremiah are last found together in the 1850 federal census for Flat Branch, Shelby County, Illinois. This is the first time that we find family members mentioned by name in the census records. The one HUGE problem with this particular census is that the area was enumerated with criminal idiocy. Not only is the handwriting all but illegible, but also the names are wildly guessed at, misspelled, and many times just moronically wrong. However, it is worth the effort to figure out what is written in the census. The family is found in the 6th of 9 images for Flat Branch at Ancestry.com. Why there are only 9 images for this area is anyone’s guess.
The translation for the above scribble:
Jeremiah Campbell, head of household, age 53, “farming,” Value of Real Estate Owned [looks like] $2,000 [but might be $9,000], b. Tennessee, cannot read or write; [all the rest are “Campbell“] Hanah, age 50, b. North Carolina, cannot read or write; Joseph, age 19, male, farming, b. Tennessee; William, age 17, male, farming, b. Tennessee; Jane [it’s only remotely legible because I already know that this must be Eliza Jane], age 14, female, b. Illinois; Luiza, age 12, female, b. Illinois, attended school within the year; Henry, age 10, listed as female and his name looks more like “Heny,” b. Illinois, attended school within the year; Nathaniel, age 8, male, b. Illinois; Nancy, age 6, female, b. Illinois.
So the four older children were living elsewhere: John, Mary, Elizabeth, and Sarah.
Two pieces of information stand out from this census: Hannah’s age, 50 years old, and her birth place, North Carolina. Since the other birth places and ages are correct, then the person who gave the information for Hannah at least believed she was born in 1800 in North Carolina. These are clues, not facts, but I’ll take whatever I can find for Hannah.
In the year following the 1850 census, Jeremiah Campbell dies and Hannah is 51 years old and left a widow. She has four young children, ages 13, 11, 9, and 7, and three older children who were old enough to be finished with school, the two boys farming and Eliza Jane helping her mother with the “women’s” work. Jeremiah’s burial site is unknown, which brings up the “Good Deed” portion of this week’s post, mentioned above. I believe that Jeremiah Campbell and a lot of other people were buried at “Cemetery Name Not Known,” a designation given to a destroyed cemetery in Sec. 9 of Flat Branch Township that was also known as Campbell Cemetery. The good deed part is that I’m simply going to keep working on this cemetery, trying to tease from the records who might be buried there and what might have happened to it. It’s possible that Hannah was also buried there; the other possibility is that she remarried and perhaps moved on.
Jeremiah’s death was beginning of the “decade horribilis” for Hannah Campbell. Hannah and Jeremiah had five daughters and four sons. At least three of her daughters, and probably four, died as young married women between the years of about 1852 and 1859. Hannah and Jeremiah also had four sons. At least two of her sons, and probably three, died as young married men between 1854 and 1863. That list doesn’t count the many sons-and daughters-in-law as well as grandchildren who also died. Since I don’t know about Hannah’s family of origin, I don’t know if she had any siblings in the area who also died during this time. It was a decade the likes of which would destroy a strong person. Since I found her in an 1867 record, I know that Hannah survived at least until then. She must have been a woman of strong faith, although I’ve not yet found her listed in any of the area’s church records.
I believe the land records are the key to figuring out what happened to Hannah after Jeremiah died. Jeremiah bought 160 acres of land in three parcels in Flat Branch Twp. on 12 Dec. 1842–120 acres in Sec. 9 and 40 acres in Sec. 8. Did he still own that land when he died, and if so, who inherited the land? This is research that I haven’t yet done, and it needs to be done.
Sometimes our “brick walls” are not so much walls as they are research not yet done. Hannah Stone Campbell is going to be my focus here until I either throw up my hands (again) or finally figure out what happened to her.