In “Near to Moberly” Good Enough?

Nancy Rampley fought repeatedly for a pension based upon her husband Riley’s service in Company D of the 78th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. That was bad for her, but good for her descendants in that a special examiner was sent out to obtain testimony from Nancy and several of her neighbors.

Nancy’s sixteen-page testimony, given on 14 August 1902, provided several direct genealogical statements including the following:

“I was born near Milroy, Rush County, Indiana. My maiden name was Nancy J. Newman. My father’s name was William Newman. My mother’s name was Rebecca Newman. Her maiden name was Rebecca Tinsley. My father and mother are both dead. They died near to Moberly, Randolph County, Missouri.

There is nothing more specific bout the Newmans in Nancy’s pension file. All that can be inferred from Nancy’s statement is that her parents were dead as of the date her statement was made: 14 August 1902. William and Rebecca have not been located in the 1880 census. They are enumerated in the 1870 census in Hancock County, Illinois, where they had moved in the 1860s from White County, Indiana.

Census records, pension records, and vital records on their children allow the researcher to establish a list of the known children of William and Rebecca.

What’s missing is a precise date of death and a precise place of death.

And that may never be found. If William and Rebecca owned no real property at their death, then it is not surprising that there is no probate file. Missouri death records in the 1880s are incomplete. None of William and Rebecca’s other children lived in the immediate Moberly area–it is possible they are buried in an unmarked grave or one that received little attention or care after the stone was erected. I may not find any good record of their death or burials.

Of course they are deceased-that’s not really the question. There are sites and compilations that have a death year for them–but something with a source is what I’m after.

The question is how much time do I want to spending trying to get at an exact date and place of death.

Or do I just go with what great-great-grandma Rampley said and move on (citing her testimony as the source)?

I’m tempted.

It’s a decision we all have to make, balancing time, money, and other research interests.


5 thoughts on “In “Near to Moberly” Good Enough?

  1. Ruth M Gray says:

    Having exact, sourced information of course is always the goal. When that is elusive and beyond the normal challenge level, I base my decision on whether or not to continue the pursuit on the possibility that it might further other research threads or unblock a brick wall.
    I totally agree that priorities of time, money, etc. have to be taken into account

    • I’m in agreement.

      In this case, the parents of William and Rebecca are documented and established clearly with other records. This couple didn’t settle near where their children were living at the time and apparently only lived in the area where they died for a few years. They are documented in a variety of records in Indiana and Illinois. It’s just the last few years of their lives. Their children are clearly established with other records.

      There’s always the chance of finding something that is a revelation, but there’s not any real stumbling blocks on this family.

      And there’s also a chance that something gets indexed in a few years that answers this question.

  2. Sue McCormick says:

    Michel — for your followers (I know you know this): The Genealogical Society of Boone County and Central Missouri may have records you need, or where to search in Randolph and Boone counties. Go to their site or send a request and see if someone can help your. It doesn’t take much time, and sometimes hits pay dirt.

    (I’m a member of this group and I know we have good researchers, although I’m not one of them.) But my point is that any of the many local genealogy or local history groups in any area may provide this type of help. I thought of this because Columbia is “near to Moberley” but I’m mentioning it because such groups are great help no matter where the “near to” search is located.

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