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Rainy Day Genealogy


I am sitting here, watching the skies try to rain, which would be nice to help break this gathering drought.  I have just spent a few hours trying to figure out the ties between the Jefferies, Ghrists, Simpsons, and Kelleys of  Washington, Fayette, and possibly Westmoreland Counties, all in Pennsylania.  I have reviewed the work of other researchers on, and have also come up with a few leads of my own.  I have decided that much of our work is solid, but that some of it might not be so good.

The first problem is that many of our possible ancestors had extemely common first names, as well as surnames, so there are several possibilities for each person, in the same and multiple municipalities.

The second problem is that the US Census only named the Head of Household until the 1850 enumeration.  In the earlier counts, all other family and non-family members in a household were merely tabulated in a variety of age groupings.  I have tried to do numerical progressions to trace a family aging over the decades, but there really are too many variables to infer facts from such an endeavor.  At best I have found it a somewhat useful method of discarding some of the several persons who share the same name (with more than one spelling), and live in the same, or in neighboring, municipalities,

So I am not able to tell if the Joseph Kelley {Sr.?} in Luzerne township, Fayette Co. in 1820 and 1830, is the same person who resided in Sewickley Twp., Westmoreland Co. in 1840.  I think that there is a good chance the Joseph Kelley in that 1840 census is the same man who lived there in 1850. Among the family members named in that count is one son whose age agrees  with the 1832 birthdate of  Joseph Kelley {Jr.?}who is my great-great grandfather and married Margaret A.Simpson(b.1837)  {also listed as “Martha” in their son Harry’s obituary, as well asin her daughter Margaret Nancy’s (or v.v.) application for marriage, and death certificate}.  They lived in Jefferson Twp., Fayette Co. and sired my great-grandmother Margaret Nancy Kelley (b. 1866), who married George B. Johnson (b.1866).  They lived in Redstone Twp., Fayette Co., and begat my grandfather McClelland Johnson in 1895.

I am also fairly certain that Martha  A. (or J.)  Simpson (b. 1838) was the daughter of James Simpson (b. 1807) and Nancy Anne Ghrist (b. 1810 Jefferson Twp., Pa.   I also have some certainty that Nancy Anne Ghrist (b. 1810) was the daughter of  Joseph Ghrist (b. 1787 in Chester Co. ,Pa.)  and Hannah Anne Jefferies {sp?} (b. ca. 1790 also in Chester).  Other researchers have use LDS records to trace the back to 1611 Wiltshire, England.  I have never researched this data base, but I hear good things about it.

So, as you,my readers can see, this is all rather confusing to me, and probably is to you.   I have found out a lot about my family (remember that I had little knowledge of them until 2007), but the farther back I go, the murkier it gets.   Now that I know of my relatives born in the USA in the late 18th Century, that seems good enough, for now.  I will put my research on pause, for the moment, and start writing up some of what I have found.

I am pleased that some of you , who did not know about this website, have Googled in one of your ancestor’s names, and been lead to our site.  You are more than welcome to use anything you find here, but be warned: 1) I make mistakes, and 2) as you can see I am a terrible typist.  And I welcome members from my “way back” and modern families getting in touch.

Thank You

Thom Dunn Marti

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