Friday, July 13, 2012

Is one of our brick walls crumbling? Proceed with caution!

Recently I had the pleasure of talking with another descendent of Richard and Elizan Redden, Rulon Parker.  Rulon is descended from Richard and Elizan's son Robert.  Robert's son James Alvin was Rulon's grandfather.  James Alvin's daughter, Clara Annie Redden Parker, was Rulon's mother.  Many new stories are composing themselves in my head and anxiously awaiting posting thanks to what I have learned from this personable, generous, and knowledgable distant cousin.  But what I have discovered tonight with just a few minutes of targeted searching has pushed its way to the front of my list of blog posts-in-waiting.  It seems one of our brick walls may be crumbling!  However, we must proceed with caution. 

In a recent post, I discussed some mysteries of the 1850 census.  One mystery was the listing of an apparent son of Richard Redden, James.  I speculated that James may not be a son of Elizan's due his age and his listed birthplace of Kentucky. Since Elizan was born and married in Indiana, and appeared to be only about 14 years old than James, it doesn't seem likely she was James' mother.  So tonight, finally having a little time to devote to some research, I decided to focus my attention on trying to learn more about James Redden.  Another person listed on the 1850 census in Richard Redden's household was Amanda King, presumed to be Elizan's sister (Elizan's maiden name was King), but I'm getting ahead of myself.

A search on for James Redden, born approximately 1835 in Indiana, resulted in a link to a burial record on listed a James Redden born 24 April 1837, died 21 January 1853 and buried in -- bingo! -- New Amsterdam, Harrison County, Indiana.  As you know from earlier posts, New Amsterdam and Harrison County, Indiana, figures prominently in Redden family history.  Many Redden ancestors are buried in New Amsterdam, Indiana, and have lived and owned land in Harrison county.  When I first saw that James was buried in New Amsterdam, I wondered how I could have missed his burial record as I have a copy of, and have studied, the cemetery index for the New Amsterdam cemetery many times.    Unlike many other Redden ancestors, however, James is buried in the Martin, Hogan, and Long Burial Ground which is not actually in the town of New Amsterdam, but nearby, in the Harrison-Crawford State forest.  We were not even aware of the existence of this cemetery, and for now I have to assume that it is probably a very old, small cemetery located off the beaten path. 

Scrolling through the other burial records (a total of 39 internments are listed), I came across burial records for William King (birth date unknown, death date 17 December 1856) and Nancy King (death date June 27, 1853).   A photo of Nancy's headstone identified her as the wife of William.  (No photos of William or James' headstones have been posted.) These names immediately jumped off the page because I had seen them only recently in an email from Rulon where--once again proving two heads are better than one--he told me he had found an 1850 census record for "Wm and Nanay" King (sic) living in Harrison County, Indiana, who also had an Amanda King in their household.  Could this be Elizan's parents and sister?  The first thing to do was to compare and see if the age of the Amanda in the William and Nancy King household was similar to the age of the Amanda in Richard and Elizan's household.  It's not that uncommon for people to be listed in more than one household in census records.  Amanda was listed as 19 in one record, and 18 in the other, so this could well be the same Amanda.  This discovery made us hopeful that we had identified Elizan's parents, but again, we must proceed with caution.  William King and Nancy King are very common names, and I  have found many instances of other couples with the same names throughout the same time period and even in Indiana, so more evidence is needed.

Other clues do exist to help suggest that William and Nancy King may be Elizan's parents.  For example, Richard and Elizan had a son named William, and a daughter named Nancy.  It seems our early Reddens often named their children after other family members.  Could this be another example?  Also, Richard's son Robert named one of his sons James Alvin.  Could James Alvin have been named for a brother who died much too young?

A few things literally don't add up.  For example, the James Redden buried near New Amsterdam reportedly died about 2 1/2 years after the 1850 census recorded him living in New Albany, Indiana, at the age of 15, but his age at the time of death was apparently 15.  Of course, it's very common for ages to be reported incorrectly in census or other records, so this discrepancy doesn't rule out the possibility that we have found our James.

There's one more tantalizing bit of information I will leave you with.  On James' record on it's noted that he is the son of "R and S Redden."  Could the R be our ancestor Richard and the "S" an unknown (for now) wife of Richard?  You may recall that it doesn't seem likely that Elizan was James' mother.  Perhaps this "S" supports the theory that Richard was married before he met and married Elizan.

So again, let's proceed with caution as we continue to investigate these promising new clues and chip away at our crumbling brick wall.