Saturday, October 21, 2017

Sarah Campbell-Wray: Searching A Place For Everyone Who Shares A Surname

My ancestor Elizabeth Wray-Forgey she was the Daughter of Sarah Campbell-Wray

I've hit a brickwall with my ancestor Sarah Campbell-Wray of Jackson County, Indiana. Researching women is challenging because they were named in few records. My male ancestors names can be found in deed records. When buying land for the family home or farm only the male head of household's name appeared on the deed. Women's names didn't appear on census records until 1850, unless the woman was the head of the household because she was widowed, for instance. My ancestor Sarah Campbell-Wray died in 1847 as a wife and mother, at age of 37. Her early death and the young ages of her children has lead to a brickwall regarding her origins, and the names of her parents. On top of this there were only two identified Campbell males contemporary with her recorded on censuses for Jackson County, Indiana. These men weren't old enough to be her father.

Since there wasn't a Campbell family in Indiana that Sarah Campbell-Wray fitted into I searched neighboring counties. I thought I found her family in Lawrence County, Indiana. William and Mary Gilles did have a daughter named Sarah and they were old enough to be her parents. Unfortunately their daughter Sarah wasn't my Sarah. She married a Dougherty the same year my Sarah married Anderson Wray. This led me to return to Jackson County, Indiana records to see if there were Campbells missed by the censuses.

A major set of records containing women's names in the 19th century, and before, are marriage records. Indiana marriage records are online at Ancestry and Family Search. There is a quick index search at the Indiana State Library site. This index is perfect for my search. It's an index to marriages to 1850. To find every Campbell who married you have to enter the surname in the spouses search. The first surname search field only brings up husbands names. Here we see more names than those represented on the early censuses. Possible siblings of Sarah? I looked up information on those listed, but have not been able to find a connection?

Probate records are another source listing many names not appearing on early census records. This record collection hasn't produced any results regarding Sarah Campbell.

Tax records are another source for names between censuses, but not available for the time period I need online.

Another source containing names missed in the censuses, or who lived in the area between censuses, is deeds. The Family Search microfilm digitizing project has completed digitizing the deed films for Jackson County, Indiana. Unfortunately you have to view the online digitized deed books at a Family History Center or Family History Library to unlock them (there is a little lock beside records that need to be viewed at an FHC or FHL, or you just need to sign in to see). These records are not indexed yet, but many books contain indexes, and there is often also a general index that has been digitized. Oddly the general indexes for Jackson County deeds are at the bottom of the list of digitized films, so some people might miss them.

Indiana sales deeds include the wives names because the wife has a dower interest her husband's property, and therefore had to sign the deed. When land was sold wives were interviewed, as Sarah Campbell-Wray was, to insure she wasn't coerced into signing the deed by her husband.

Looking through the Jackson County Deeds I did find several Campbell men who didn't appear on any of the other records. These men included a James T. Campbell, a Joseph B. Campbell, and a William P. Campbell. Of these 3 men one stood out. James T. Campbell had a land transaction with Sarah's husband, Anderson Wray's, Uncle William Harrison. The fact a relative was named with a Campbell is a breakthrough,


I have not been able to find anything stating James T. Campbell is related to Sarah. The deed I found states his full name is James Trigg Campbell. I searched censuses looking for him. I could not find him on the censuses for Jackson County. I did find a James T. Campbell in neighboring Washington County. This James T. Campbell would be too young to be my Sarah's father, but in the right age range to be her brother. He was born in Tennessee in about 1809. He has a Charlotte Campbell in his household in 1850. My Sarah also has a daughter named Charlotte. Tennessee matches the birthplace for my ancestor Sarah according to her daughter Polly T. Wray-Hall. My ancestor Elizabeth Wray-Forgey's 1880 Census entry gives Indiana as the birthplace for her parents which isn't correct.

Polly Thurman Wray-Hall, Sarah's daughter, gave Tennessee as her mother's birthplace on the 1900, 1910, and 1920 censuses. On the 1880 her mother's birth location was given as Virginia. Her husband may have provided that information? She was a widow and most likely provided the information on the later censuses.

James T. Campbell is a good candidate for a brother or possible cousin of Sarah Campbell-Wray. Some of the information for him is hard to reconcile and might suggest he came to Indiana from Tennessee later than Sarah? The Charlotte in his household was born in Tennessee in the late 1830's and my Sarah married in Indiana in 1833. This Charlotte is said to be James T.'s sister in the 1880 Census. There is a 30 year age gap between them. Not sure if that relationship is a correct? An Elizabeth Campbell appears to be a relation living close to James T. and family in 1850. She has a 4 year old daughter born in Tennessee in 1846. It appears relatives of James joined him in Indiana many years after he settled there according to later censuses.

Charlotte died in 1903. Her parents weren't named, but East Tennessee was listed as her birthplace narrowing the place of origin for these Campbells.

BLM land grants is another collection of records listing individuals not always found in other records. There is a Robert Campbell listed that I hadn't seen on other records for the area.

In 1860 Sarah Campbell-Wray's daughter Elizabeth Wray-Forgey had a Jane Campbell in her household. That Census doesn't give relationships so there is no way of knowing if she was a relative or friend visiting the household?  I mention this because a Jane Campbell is listed in the BLM index for Jackson County. This widow would have been too old to be the Jane in the 1860 Forgey household. The BLM Jane was likely too old to have been born in the mid 1830's. The Jane in the Forgey household was born in the 1830's. The BLM Jane's husband was a soldier in the War of 1812.

One of James T. Campbell's neighbors in 1850 appears to be a Campbell relative of his. Eliza Campbell born in Tennessee has a Jane in her household. She was born in the 1830's. It's possible she is the Jane appearing in the Forgey 1860 household, her age is closer to the same.

Not finding Sarah's parents in Jackson County, Indiana I turned to Washington County where the James T. Campbell and his relatives families from Tennessee settled. I found an interesting woman named Elizabeth Campbell who could be old enough to be my Sarah's mother. She purchased land in 1829 and sold it in 1840. Since Sarah had a daughter named Elizabeth this person might be worth looking into, if she can be found on any other records giving her origins?

I have found more Campbells in Jackson County, Indiana than were listed on the early censuses. There could be others who happened to die shortly after migrating to the area without leaving any traces behind? Sarah Campbell-Wray is still a mystery. I'm hoping these newly found families lead to a breakthrough. James T. Campbell seems particularly promising, although no one has a tree with his parents names either? I'll continue looking at the available records and do some page by page searching in court orders, probates, and deeds. Indexes can miss people and not all names are indexed.

When trying to find parents of ancestors it is important to find everyone carrying their surnames living in the same area. Researching all of those with the same name for clues. Relying on census records alone causes us to miss everyone in an area between censuses, as I've discovered.

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