Welcome to my genealogy blog. Ancestors I Wish I Knew is a combination of genealogical information and stories about individuals in my family tree. The focus is on those from my Cochrane, Eitelbach, Merrett, Minarcik and Richards lines and their descendants.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

#102--James Hannah--What Did You Own?




Last week I blogged about how I found James Hannah’s estate papers in Brown County, Ohio.  In those papers are an inventory of his possessions along with the accounting of the auctions where they were sold.  Very often what a person owns will tell you about the person.  That was true of James.

I was pretty sure that like most people living in Brown County in the early 1800’s, James farmed.  That proved to be true.  According to his inventory, he owned both farm animals and equipment.  Listed were 1 mare, 1 colt, 2 cows, 2 calves, 1 heifer, and 11 sheep.  Equipment included 1 hoe, 1 scythe, 1 mattock, 1 axe handle, 1 hay fork, 2 ploughs, 1 shovel, 1 log chain, 2 augers, 1 saddle and 2 sets of horse gear, and 1 tree and cloves.  Not being familiar with farm equipment, I learned that a mattock is a combination of an axe and adz and a tree and cloves is used to hitch horses to a plough or wagon.

Not surprisingly, James owned household goods.  Included in the inventory were a chest, looking glass, ten gallon kettle with a handle, andirons, bedstead, stew pot, satchel, barrels and 5 chairs.  Also listed were a loom, 4 reeds and spools.

According to the appraisers, his goods were worth $137.42, however at auction they sold for $124.50.  The most valuable item was the mare, which sold for $34.50.

His widow, Nancy McKee Hannah, kept a colt, table, wheel, quilt wheel, small pot, bake oven, churn and real.  These were valued at $9.50.

 I was surprised by the loom, reeds and spools.  They are used for weaving and it makes me wonder if James in addition to farming did some weaving. I think if his wife was the weaver, they would not have been sold.  It is indeed possible that James was a weaver.  A letter I have (and I have learned not to trust the information too much) says that James’s family in Ireland were weavers and ran Hannah’s Bleaching Green.   Another mystery to be solved.

If I were able to talk to James, I would certainly ask him about the looms, etc. and if he used them.  I would also like to know what crops he grew.

Monday, April 3, 2017

#101--James Hannah—Looking for James in All the Wrong Places



            James Hannah is my 4th great grandfather.  For all my direct line ancestors, I like to have documentation of their births, marriages, and deaths.  While I have been pretty successful in doing that, I have not been able to find any documentation about James’s death.  I did, however, have a clue—a letter written in 1929 describing how when James Hannah came down the Ohio River from western Pennsylvania, he settled in Cincinnati.  Then when he died, the writer’s grandfather went to Cincinnati and brought James’s wife Nancy back to their home in Brown County, Ohio.  So when I was looking for documentation, I looked at death and cemetery records for Hamilton County and Cincinnati with no success.

           Last year I found a book entitled Brown County Court Records, 1818-1850 by Patricia Donaldson.  Most of the book listed those who died with a will, but in the back there was a listing of those who died intestate.  As I checked to see if there were any Hannahs listed, I was both surprised and delighted to find James Hannah.  The date of his death fit and the administrator, Joseph Mckee, made sense as Joseph was his son-in-law.

Last month I contacted the Probate Court in Brown County and was able to get all the documents in James’s file.  Once I looked at them, I knew that I had the correct James Hannah.  I learned a couple of lessons from this.  One is that no matter how convincing a memory of event is, the event may not be true.  In this case, I suspect the writer was thinking of another grandparent.  Second, when you cannot find a record, look in nearby counties.  Had I done that, I would have found those estate documents much sooner.


           Right now I am trying to make sense of about 50 pages of bills, receipts, inventories, etc.  Stay tuned for an analysis.