Okay, hereâ€™s the right one. Last week I shared some of my findings from my mother-in-lawâ€™s Pennsylvania-based Wolford family, and this week weâ€™re following up with a few more avenues that you might like to try as well.
Exploring Ancestry and a Cartographic Find
After I filled in as much information as I could and had traced the Wolford family back through the census to 1850, I set out to explore what other records I could find at Ancestry. My first stop was to the Search tab, where I selected Pennsylvania from the map in the lower left corner of the page. I browsed through the listings of databases and did a quick check for John Wolford in the Civil War databases. John would have been around eighteen years old in 1862 and although I found several â€œJohns,â€ follow-up is something I canâ€™t do just now, so this went on my to-do list. Since he lived relatively near the Ohio border, Iâ€™ll need to begin my search for him in regiments from both Ohio and Pennsylvania.
In addition to the list of databases there, I also wanted to check out what was available in the Family and Local Histories Collection. For this I used the Card Catalog, and did a search for:Â
Â MERCER COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA
One of the three hits I got was Combination Atlas of the County of Mercer and the State of Pennsylvania: From Actual Surveys & Official Records, 1873.Â Since Iâ€™m still relatively unfamiliar with Pennsylvania research and geography, I thought this would be worth a look. The family had appeared in Liberty Township in the 1870 and 1880 censuses, so the date of the atlas was perfect.
It took a little bit of bouncing around, but I was able to locate the map of Liberty Township on page 28.
Wow! This was much better than I expected! The map listed a â€œJ. Wolfordâ€ and a â€œJ & Dan Wolford.â€
In the 1870 census, John had been enumerated in the same household as Daniel Wolford, those who appear to be his family, and an older woman named Mary Wolford. The previous year, it was broken down into two households enumerated next to each other, one listing John, Mary, and John Wolford (the latter being listed with the occupation of music teacher), and another household with Daniel and his family.
Since there are no relationships stated, we canâ€™t state for certain what the family structure is, but one possible scenario would be that John and Mary are John and Danielâ€™s parents. John would have been born a little late, with both parents near age forty, while Daniel would have been born around 1827 when the parents were twenty-one or twenty-two years old.
Since the elder John would have been deceased at the time of the atlas, and John the music teacher would have been newly married, itâ€™s likely that J. Wolford is John Wolford (music teacher), and that J. and Dan Wolford is Dan and his eldest son, Jacob, who would have been twenty-one in 1873.
Also on the map, near them is Sch. Ho. No. 4, possibly where John began his teaching career. (You can view this map on the blog version of this article. Click on the image to enlarge it.)
Expanding the Search
I decided to branch out a bit and did a Google search for:
Â WOLFORD MERCER COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA
I found a biographical sketch from Butler County online at RootsWeb. An entry for a Henry Wolford has some interesting information that Iâ€™ll want to follow up on. Of particular interest was this portion about Henryâ€™s father:
His father, John WOLFORD, was a native of eastern Pennsylvania, and came of Dutch ancestry. He lived and died in Westmoreland County where he followed the occupation of a miller and farmer. His family consisted of the following children: George; John; Peter; Henry; Christian; Daniel; Jacob; Betsey, and Susan. All of these died in Westmoreland County excepting George, who settled in Indiana County, John who located in Mercer County, and Henry who came [p.1286] to Butler County, and spent the remaining years of his life here.
Early censuses, 1810-40 list what appear to be several generations of John Wolfords in Mercer County, but Iâ€™ll have to do quite a bit more research in other sources to confirm this. In 1800, there are no John Wolfords (or Soundex variants) in Mercer County, but I found a John Wolfard and John Woolpheart in Westmoreland County.
Much Remains to Be Untangled
With the pre-1850 enumerations I have gathered, I will need to sit down and analyze the ages of the various family members throughout the year and hopefully will be able to piece together some kind of family structure, albeit without names. For example, using the first John Wolford on the 1830 census page and the tallies under the various age groups, I find a family with:
One male born 1825-1830
One male born 1800-1810
One female born 1825-1830
One male born 1800-1810
As I follow them back, Iâ€™ll compare the family structures this way and see if they are consistent. This is going to take some time and patient analysis, and with my article deadline looming, it probably wouldnâ€™t be a good idea to rush it. It will be helpful to have as I seek out other records.
Clues like another line in Henryâ€™s biography, that says â€œMr. WOLFORD was a member of the Lutheran church, and both he and wife died in that faith.â€ will help guide me to more records.
In the meantime, in just a couple days, I have gathered quite a nice collection of family records to send to my mother-in-law with her Christmas package. I hope she enjoys them as much as I enjoyed looking for them.
P.S. For those who are wondering, Timmy is fine and Lassie is enjoying a heroâ€™s dinner of kibble. 😉
Click here for a printer-friendly version of this article.
Juliana Smith has been an editor of Ancestry.com newsletters for more than eight years and is author of The Ancestry Family Historian’s Address Book. She has written for Ancestry Magazine and wrote the Computers and Technology chapter in The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, rev. 3rd edition. Juliana can be reached by e- mail at Juliana@Ancestry.com, but she regrets that her schedule does not allow her to assist with personal research.