Monday, June 26, 2017

A Precious Puzzle Piece

Family history research is the world's largest jigsaw puzzle. However, those pieces don't come all wrapped up in a nice box with a picture on the front.

Finding the pieces is up to us and can be a life's work. Figuring out how they fit together is yet another challenge. Sometimes a piece even seems useless.

I found just such a piece last year. After learning a family member had been underage at marriage, I obtained the marriage license to see who gave parental permission for her to marry. Does this information look useful to you?

Pressius Lake,
she not being
eighteen years of age
and not having
a guardian

On the surface, this looks like a dead end. But it isn't. In fact this sentence is critical to understanding the Lake family of Morgan County, Illinois and Breckinridge County, Kentucky. To see its worth, it has to be taken within the larger context of all the other documentation on the family.

This section of the document reads:

State of Illinois
Morgan County
Know all men by these presents that we William York and Lindsey Lake do hereby indemnify Dennis Rockwell Clerk of the County Commissioners Court of said County for issuing a marriage license to John York and Pressius Lake, she not being eighteen years of age and not having a guardian and bind ourselves each and severally to pay all costs charges judgements fines etc, if any should accrue therefrom.
Given under our hands and seals this 13th day of October 1834
William York (his mark)
Lindsey Lake (his mark)
J W Evans

First, and most importantly, Precious Lake has no guardian. This is a critical clue that her parents had died by the end of 1834.

My working assumption is that her father was Aaron Lake who was enumerated in 1820 in both Breckinridge County, Kentucky, and Perry County, Indiana, though he primarily lived on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River.

There has been speculation that Aaron Lake moved to New York state, dying much later than 1834. This document indicates (but does not prove) that the man in New York is not their father. It does prove that the Aaron Lake who died in Morgan County in 1835 is not the father of Precious and Lindsey. I have more evidence on the Aarons for a future post.

Second, it is interesting that Lindsey Lake served as surety for Precious Lake. Lindsey, if his birth year of 1813 is accurate, was barely 21 years old. Precious was about 16 years of age. Assuming them as the children of Aaron Lake of Kentucky, they were the two youngest children, so likely shared a special sibling bond.

There were two other men that I know of in Morgan County who could have provided surety in 1834: Aaron Lake and Reuben Moore.

Aaron Lake, as their (presumed) older brother, would have been the most logical choice. However, Aaron was unwell, based on his 1835 probate.

Reuben Moore, as their (presumed) brother-in-law, may have felt it was not his place. He also had the most to lose if there was legal and financial fallout.

I have to think that Lindsey was feeling proud of his 21 years and offered to help his baby sister. The men may also have thought that young Lindsey was the best choice, as he had few assets to lose.

This marriage license is the best proof to date that Lindsey and Precious were siblings. There is also DNA evidence to support a familial relationship.

Images of the license are below for researcher files. The remainder of the license reads as follows:
Mr Rockwell you will Issue a marriage License to my son John York to marry Pressius Lake and for so doing this shall be your voucher this 13 Oct 1834
William York (his mark)
State of Illinois
Morgan County
To any authorised preacher of the Gospel Justice of the supreme or Judge of any inferior Court or Justice of the peace of said County; Greeting [sic]:
You are hereby authorised and licensed to join in the Holy State of Matrimony John York and Pressius Lake the consent of his father being obtained, and we being indemnified with security for her and for so doing this shall be your sufficient justification.
Given under my hand as Clerk of the County Commissioners Court of said County, at Jacksonville this 13th October 1834
[signed] Dennis Rockwell, Clerk

Personally appeared before me, a Preacher of the Gospel, John York and Pressius Lake and were joined together in holy Matrimony on the 16th October 1834
[signed] John Fox

Ret 10 Nov 1834 and Recorded in Book A page 31
[signed] D Rockwell

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