Friday, October 23, 2009

Searching For Downers (Part 1)

For the last two weeks or so, I have been actively researching my Downer line. This line has been extra exciting for me, because I've never researched in the New England states before (like New York, Vermont, and Connecticut) and this would be the farthest generation I've ever gotten to.

But with the excitement, I am also trying to learn as much as I can from this area and time period. Up until now, I haven't been interested in New England since I haven't had ancestors from there and I never bothered learning too much about the time period because I didn't need to.

So how does my Downer line fit into my family tree? Well, it starts with my great-great-great grandmother, Julia Ann Downer. Julia was born in February of 1831. She married William Morris (born January 1827 in Virginia) in abt. 1856, probably in Ohio.

But Julia isn't the focus of my research right now. My focus is on Julia's parents, Zaccheus Downer and Harriet (Thatcher?) Downer.

Zaccheus and family are found in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census in Belpre Township, Washington County, Ohio. Below is a description of the household:

Zacheus Downer ---- Age: 51 ---- Birthplace: New York
Harriet Downer ---- Age: 48 ---- Birthplace: Canada
Sanford Downer ---- Age: 22 ---- Birthplace: New York
Julia Downer ---- Age: 19 ---- Birthplace: New York
Augustus Downer ---- Age: 16 ---- Birthplace: New York
Asa Downer ---- Age: 8 ---- Birthplace: New York

The 1850 census gives me an approximate year of birth: 1799. But the census also provides other clues. Since each of the children were born in New York, it makes sense to look for Zaccheus in New York for the 1840 census.

Zaccheus is found in the 1840 U.S. Federal Census in Dayton, Cattaraugus, New York. Below is my analysis of the household:
1 male, age 5 - 10: Augustus Downer (Son)
1 male, age 10 - 15: Sanford Downer (Son)
1 male, age 15 - 20: Albert Downer (Son)
1 male, age 40 - 50: Zaccheus Downer (Head)
1 female, age 5 - 10: Julia Downer (Daughter)
1 female, age 30 - 40: Harriet Downer (wife)

The approximate year of birth for Zaccheus is further supported (although rather broadly supported) in this census, with the approximate range of birth years between 1790 - 1800.

My next step was to locate the family in the 1860 census. I found the family living in Belpre Township, Washington County, Ohio. Below is a description of the household:

Zacheus Downer ----- Age 61 -----Birthplace: New York
Harriet Downer ----- Age 58 -----Birthplace: Lower Canada
Augustus Downer ---- Age 26 ----- Birthplace: New York
Asa Downer --------- Age 19 ------ Birthplace: New York

The age given for Zaccheus points to him being born in 1799. The last two sons are living with Zacheus in this census. Albert, Sanford, and Julia have married and moved out.

I then began searching for Zacheus in the 1870 census. I found him in Hamilton Township, Sullivan County, Indiana. Below is a description of the household:

Zachus Downer ----- Age 71 ------ Birthplace: New York
Harriet Downer ----- Age 68 ------ Birthplace: Canada
Augustus Downer ----Age 35 ------Birthplace: New York.

Once again, Zaccheus' age points to his birth year being 1799. In this census, Augustus is now the only remaining child living at home.

I haven't be able to find Zaccheus or his son, Augustus in the 1880 census. However, I did find Augustus in the 1900 Census in Belpre Township, Washington, Ohio. Therefore, I believe that either Zaccheus died before 1880, or I just haven't been able to find him in the 1880 census and he really died sometime after the 1880 census.

But these census images don't help me with establishing parents for Zaccheus. I would be content with anything that would lead me closer to his parents or siblings.

So I have a lot of work to do. So stay tuned for part two...

Note: If you would like to see the source citations for the census' that I've listed above, let me know in a comment or through emailing me. I would be happy to privately email you the citations or to post them here.