Saturday, June 24, 2017

Precious Serendipity

Precious: of great value (Cambridge English Dictionary)

Serendipity: finding valuable things not sought for (Merriam-Webster)

Precious will be forever 16 years old in my mind. That was her age when she was listed, out of place, in the error-filled 1850 census of my ancestor. Was she really there, or was it just another error in the midst of many?

She did exist, as she married the next year. My ancestor had previously administered the probate for a man of the same surname. Was there a connection? Her lovely name stuck in my brain for over 15 years, but I didn't see any reason to research that family.

Last year another woman named Precious appeared in the same county. My brother had a DNA match to one of her descendants. This older Precious was a member of the family. As I studied the extended family, I found the name again. Perhaps our young Precious was related to the family through her mother. I created a speculative tree for her and set it aside.

Recently I pulled out the heavy county history to see what more I could learn about the older Precious. This particular book is somewhat like a city directory. Within each township is a list of heads of households along with occupation and location. Interspersed are a few short biographical sketches. Lack of an index was no problem, as I could quickly read the sketches for everyone in a couple of small townships.

I turned to the page with my ancestor's bio. Glancing at the facing page, my eye landed in the middle of a bio of a stranger. What jumped out at me was the name of the man who might be the father of young Precious. His wife had my family surname. The stranger had married the sister of Precious! I did a happy dance and started adding Elizabeth's new-found family to my tree.

Returning to research young Precious, I followed her moves between counties, the births of her children and the too soon death of her husband at the end of the Civil War. She had a few grandchildren and died at a very old age. But at that point a problem arose. She appeared in the state death index with a different father. Now what?

Since death records are not primary sources, I searched for any other record to support either father. Having no luck at Ancestry and Family Search, I turned to Google. I did several searches and found another county history.

Precious, in her 70s, had her own bio in the 1907 history of the county where she was living. She named her parents, the same as Elizabeth's, listed their approximate death years and also gave the count of her siblings. Thank you, Precious, for this unusual bio for a woman!

Since that serendipitous finding, I sent for and received the probate file for Precious' father. It is a goldmine of information for that family. It does not prove the relationship to my ancestor, but with all other clues, I believe the connection between these men is important.

Stay with me if you are researching families of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky that are part of or allied with the Weathers, Moore and Lake families of Morgan and Cass Counties, IL. This is a part of my proof case for the Lake family.

Meet the Elizabeth (Betsy) Lake and Reuben Moore Family


Precious Moore states in her bio that she was born November 10, 1833, in Morgan County, IL. She married Joshua S Weathers on November 09, 1851, in Morgan County. She was one of six siblings, with only two surviving in 1907.

Elizabeth Moore was born December 11, 1836, and married John Frederick Muntman on November 23, 1852, also in Morgan County.

They identified their parents as Reuben Moore and Elizabeth (Betsy) Lake. Betsy died about a year before Reuben, who died on December 13, 1840.  His coffin was purchased the next day for $7.50.

Lindsay Lake (probably Betsy's brother) took out letters of administration in Morgan County, IL, on December 16, 1840. The minor heirs were: Polly Moore, Julia Ann Moore, James Moore, Elizabeth Moore, Andrew J Moore and Precious Moore. No bondsmen were listed in the copies of the probate that I received (the Morgan County clerk's office did a very poor job of copying this file). The probate appears to have been closed in 1846.

The children's legal guardian was Charles Coffin, J.P, who was responsible to make sure their assets were protected. However, the children lived with family members.

Andrew J. Moore died on April 20, 1841, and John C. Carter paid the funeral expenses which were later reimbursed from the estate.

Elizabeth Moore resided in the household of John York. He received twelve months support, "for keeping and boarding". She is likely the 13 year-old girl named Elizabeth that was in the York household in the 1850 census.

In January, 1842, Polly Moore is called Polly Turner. I have found no further information, but would certainly like to know what happened to her.

In January, 1844, Juliann Moore is called Juliann Brooks. She was stated as deceased in the accounting of January 15, 1846, but the accounting kept her as an heir. The estate paid in 1845 for her to have medical attention from Dr. J.R. Dowler of Beardstown, so her death year was likely to be 1845. I believe that her marriage was to William Brooks in Pike County in 1843. Did Juliann have children who inherited her share?

The Moore house and land was leased for $2 per acre to Lewis Giberson on April 1, 1841, with the lease ending on January 1, 1844. The crops were ruined by a flood in 1843. The leased land was listed as 40 acres in the NE 1/4 of the NE 1/4 of section 33, township 17 north, range 13 west. Was the lease term due to James Moore coming of age by 1844? I have no further information on James.

The probate lists another 96 acres, but there is no information on the disposition of any of the land.

Elizabeth Moore Muntman died on December 13, 1926, in Morgan County. She is buried with her husband in Hodges Cemetery near Meredosia. The biography for John Frederick Muntman appears on page 759 of the History of Morgan County, Illinois (Donnelley, Loyd & Company, Chicago, 1878).

Precious Moore Weathers moved to Hancock County, IL. Her biography starts on page 699 of the Biographical Review of Hancock County, Illinois (Hobart Publishing Company, Chicago, 1907). Precious died there on August 03, 1925, at the age of 91.

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