Sunday, July 30, 2017

Who's Your Daddy - Part One

One of the challenges of online genealogy research is the amount of bad data you'll find in the trees of other researchers. You never make a mistake, right? I will certainly admit to my share of errors. Someone, maybe one of us, makes a mistake or an invalid assumption. That person's tree is copied and the error spreads to other trees. Reaching out to those people gives mixed results, from thank you to no response to a nasty response. Some trees are also abandoned and will never be corrected.

One of my favorite sayings is that the best defense is a good offense. Creating correct trees with ample documentation is the very best offense we have in the war on errors. And of course fixing our own errors is critical.

A few years ago I created a tree for an unknown, probably related, couple whose marriage record was often confused with that of my ancestors. Placing that mini-tree online has begun to bear fruit, as that couple is now being copied into other trees. Hopefully, with two marriage records now showing as hints, tree owners are considering both choices.

Lindsay Lake is one of the people in my tree that has both incorrect parents and incorrect children in online trees. Even in the master tree at Family Search, he has incorrect parentage. The frustrating thing about the error is that it is obvious via simple math.

It's also a case of negative evidence, rather than positive evidence, which is much harder to document with the Ancestry methods. I'll take you on a tour of the evidence as an elaboration for all my cousins.

How Old Were They?

Lindsay was born between 1805 and 1813 in Breckinridge County, Kentucky, and lived as an adult in Cass and Morgan Counties, Illinois. First let's examine census records.

  • Illinois state census of 1835: Linzey Lake, age 20-30 (1805-1815)
  • Illinois state census of 1845: L. Lake, age 35 (1810)
  • Illinois state census of 1855: Lindsay Lake, age 40-50 (1805-1815)
  • Illinois state census of 1865: Lindsey Lake, age 50-60 (1805-1815)
  • Federal census of 1840: Lindsey Lake (Lark), age 20-30 (1810-1820) 
  • Federal census of 1850 (many errors): Lindsey Lake, age 45 (1805) 
  • Federal census of 1860: Lindsey Lake, age 47 (1813) 
  • Federal census of 1870: Lindsay Lake, age 57 (1813) 

Lindsay Lake's tombstone says he died August 19, 1876, at the age of 63 years, 3 months, 12 days. That is very specific and computes to May 5, 1813. That is the date that I have chosen to use as his birthdate. From the census records, the most likely years are 1810-1813.

Not His Daddy

Lindsay Lake's incorrect parentage is listed as Harrison Lord Lake and Jane Branham. Harrison's name varies from Lord to Laird, with either that name or Harrison being used as his recorded name.

Looking at the marriage record, Harris Lake married Jane Branham on  January 27, 1822, in Perry County, Indiana. There is the first obvious clue that there is a problem. Lindsay was born at least 8 years before that marriage!

Could Lindsay possibly be a child of Harrison Lake by another wife? Harrison was in Hancock (formerly Breckinridge County), Kentucky for two census years, dying in 1848 in Illinois.

  • Federal census of 1830: Harrison Lord Lake, age 20-30 (1800-1810)
  • Federal census of 1840: Harrison L Lake, age 30-40 (1800-1810)

Even if Harrison was born in 1800, he would have been no more than 13 when Lindsay was born. No, he is in no way Lindsay's father. More likely he is an older brother or cousin.

It's so very easy to stop with the census, but there are many other records to explore. You know that stopping research at the census is a pet peeve of mine. Digging a bit further into the evidence for these men turns up more tidbits to piece together the family.

Harrison Paid Taxes

Kentucky tax rolls are a wonderful source  of information. Examining the tax lists for Breckinridge County and Hancock County show that Laird Lake was first taxed in Breckinridge County in 1821, as a man of 21 years of age, who was also taxed on one horse. This tax roll implies that his birth year was 1799-1800.

In 1826, he was taxed on 37.5 acres of land in the Sandy Branch watershed and in later years the land was listed as being in the Indian Creek watershed. In 1828, he also owned three horses. He was accumulating wealth.

Hancock County was created in 1829, and Harrison's land was part of the change. He was taxed in Hancock County in 1829 and thereafter. In the last year he was taxed in Kentucky, 1845, H.L. Lake held 80 acres in the Indian Creek watershed, valued at 500 dollars. He also had three children between 5 and 16, nine head of cattle and three horses. It is humorous that the tax list did not include whether there was a wife.


Two family biographies expand the story of Harrison Lake and his family. We find the following in the Portrait and Biographical Album of Morgan and Scott Counties, ILLs.,  (Chapman Brothers, Chicago, 1889).

The biography of Jesse Lake:

A native of Kentucky Mr. Lake was born in Hancock County, July 15, 1825, and is the son of Lord H. and Jane (Branham) Lake, the father a native of Pennsylvania and the mother of Virginia.
In 1845, when a young man of twenty years, Mr. Lake emigrated with his parents from Kentucky to Illinois and settled in Cass County, where the father died shortly afterward. Jesse remained with his mother until ready to establish a home of his own, and was married in Cass County, April 9, 1848, to Miss Harriet, daughter of Henry and Patsy (Brown) Phelps. Of this union there were born six children, only two of whom are living -- Isaac and Jesse, Jr. The deceased were Harrison, Henry, Martha and Lindsay.

Mr. Lake came to Morgan County in 1867, and settled upon his present farm where he has since lived.
The biography of Isaac Hale:

Mr. Hale was married in Kentucky, Jan. 9, 1845, to Miss Lurissa J. Lake, who was born in Perry, Ind., but was reared in Kentucky. She was the daughter of Jesse and Mary Lake.
Lurissa Lake is incorrectly presumed by many to be the daughter of Harrison Lord Lake, as he gave consent, as her father, for her marriage in Hancock County. Lurissa was probably Harrison's niece.

Notice that Jesse Lake (the younger) named a son Lindsay, implying a relationship to the subject of this blog post.


Who do you think was the administrator of Harrison L Lake's Cass County probate in 1848? It was Isaac Hale, his presumed nephew-in-law. Harrison's eldest son, Jesse, was only 23, while Isaac was 25. Lindsay was 35 years old, but was not the administrator, serving as further proof that he was not Harrison's son. Why Isaac Hale was the administrator is certainly a mystery.

County Atlas

According to the Atlas Map of Morgan County, Illinois, 1872, Lindsay Lake came to Morgan County, Illinois, from his birthplace of Breckinridge County, Kentucky, about 1828. That was 17 years before Harrison Lake migrated to join Lindsay and other relatives.

More Census and Probate

Returning to the math of this connection, Lindsay was between 15 and 18 years old when he came to Illinois. There are no men named Lake in the area in the 1830 census. Therefore he came as a hired hand or with a mother or sister who had a different last name. If you've been following the Lake story, you can guess who Lindsay probably lived with in 1830.

Reuben Moore, aged 30-39, had in his household two children under 5, plus one male aged 15-19 and one female aged 15-19. Reuben's wife, Elizabeth Lake, was aged 20-29. When Reuben Moore died in 1840, all the heirs in his probate were minors. Calculating ages indicates that the two oldest children in the household were not Elizabeth's children, but were probably her siblings, Lindsay Lake and Precious Lake.


Lurissa J Lake Hale's brother died in 1906, and had a lengthy obituary in the Meredosia Budget Newspaper - 12 July 1906 -- Vol. I No. 49, Front Page.

Harrison Laird Lake departed this life at the Soldiers Home hospital in Quincy, Ill., at 6:40 o’clock on Thursday evening, June 28, 1906, the immediate cause of his death being given as heart failure.

At the time of his demise, Mr. Lake was 75 years, 5 months, and 28 days old, having been born January 1, 1831 at Hawsville, Hancock County, Kentucky.
When but two years of age his mother was called from family and friends to the great beyond, leaving her two children, the subject of this sketch and the late Mrs. Lourissa J. Hale, then 11 years of age, to the tender care of a near relative, and two years later the father joined the mother on the other shore.

The two orphans continued their home with their relative until January 9, 1843, when the sister became the wife of the late Isaac Hale. 
It's interesting that Harrison Lord Lake (the elder) was called a "near relative", rather than an uncle. This phrase keeps the question open of the exact relationship between the various branches of the Lake family of Morgan and Cass Counties, Illinois.

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