Categorizations and True and Untrue Statements

Regular readers know I have a fair number of relatives in Hancock and Adams Counties in Illinois. Most of those individuals arrived in those locations between 1847 and 1883 (as families with children, newly married couples, and single immigrants). There were no early settlers or relative latecomers among my Illinois ancestors.

I never really thought about categorizing them based upon their origins until I had researched for several years. After all, they all were my ancestors–there was no need to put them into any categories other than easy to research and difficult to research.

But mentally I had put them in categories. But like many things we do in our mind, we don’t often commit that action to paper.

As I shared information with others and answered questions on a message board for Adams County, Illinois, I realized that my Adams County ancestors and near relatives (smaller in number than those who were in Hancock County) fell into three general categories:

  • Ostfriesens in the Golden and Coatsburg areas
  • Maryland and Ohio natives who settled in Keene and surrounding townships
  • William Ira Sargent who lived near Lima—Ira is in his own category in so many ways

My Ostfriesens

My Ostfriesen relatives in the Golden and Coatsburg areas were part of the relatively large number of Ostfriesens who settled in those areas in the mid-19th century.  Two of my second great-grandmothers (Fredericka Maria (Sartorius) Janssen and Anna (Dirks) Goldenstein) were born in Adams County in the 1860s to families who stayed in the area. I have numerous other aunts and uncles and cousins who came to the area during the 1850-1880 time period. Some stayed and some moved on. I also have numerous other Ostfriesens who settled to the north in Hancock County. Settlers in both counties interacted with each other, bound by a common heritage and religion. That’s why I have ancestors in both locations.

The Maryland/Ohio Connection

Family of my third-great-grandparents, James and Elizabeth (Chaney) Rampley also settled Keene Township in Adams County, Illinois. Married in Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1830, the Rampleys were part of a larger group of migrants to Adams County from both their extended families. Born in Harford County, Maryland, in 1803, several of James’ first cousins (from several siblings of his father) also settled in the general area of Keene Township.  Elizabeth was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, in 1804 and went with a brother to Coshocton County, Ohio, in the late 1820s. Her sister followed them to Ohio and later brought her family to Adams County, Illinois as well.

Interestingly enough, oral tradition in this family was that James was the only Rampley to come from Ohio to Illinois. Whether that is technically true or not depends upon how one defines “Rampley.” If it is James’ immediate family, then it is true as none of his siblings settled in Adams County.  If it’s the extended Rampley family one is talking about, then it is not true, as several of James Rampley first cousins (children of different sisters of his father) did settle in the same general area as James.

James had to know his cousins were nearby–he bought land from one of them in the late 1840s.

It is always possible that the statement that person saying that no other Rampleys came to Illinois was making that statement because no other member of the Rampley family with the last name of Rampley did settle near him.

William Ira Sargent

What brought William Ira Sargent to the Lima area in the 1880s is anyone’s guess. He nor his wife had family in the area, but his family has an established tradition of being “highly migratory and landing where they had no kin.” Most likely Ira heard of a farm to rent or an available farm hand position while he was living in nearby Warsaw in Hancock County (where he lived in 1880). What brought him to Warsaw is not precisely known either, but perhaps he heard of a job available in the river town when he was living in Union County, Iowa, where he married in 1870. Not everyone travels as part of a larger chain.

 Why Categorize?

Analysis of how our ancestors fit in with our other ancestors–besides the obvious ties of marriage and close kinship–can help us to research them more effectively. I might even find this helpful to do with my more numerous families in nearby Hancock County.

And thinking about that “no other Rampley” reference was helpful as well. One has to be careful in how one interprets statements. Any statement can be partially true and partially incorrect.

Sometimes we forget that.



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