Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Slow Progress

Unfortunately, genealogy and blogging have taken a back seat to other activities as summer has turned to fall.  One of my biggest frustrations is having only snippets of time for research because there are never enough hours in a day.  I'm quite sure you know exactly how I feel!  I have made very little progress in learning more about William and Nancy King of Harrison County, Indiana, who may possibly be Elizan King Redden's parents.  It's amazing how many couples named William and Nancy King lived in the region in the early 1800s. Member contributed family trees found on often only added to the confusion, as the same couple would appear in more than one family tree with different sets of children!  It actually seems that the answer may not be found on-line, at least not at this time.  I think for now, I'm setting William and Nancy aside.

My research goals for the next few weeks are first to continue exploring the life of Richard and Elizan's daughter, Amanda.  I also want to create some timelines to explore the lives of our Redden ancestors and put their lives in historical context. 

So, I haven't given up on Redden research, but I have slowed down a bit.  I'll be back on track soon.  In the meantime, feel free to share any of your own comments, questions, discoveries, or Redden family news in this blog. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Is one of our brick walls crumbling? Proceed with caution!

Recently I had the pleasure of talking with another descendent of Richard and Elizan Redden, Rulon Parker.  Rulon is descended from Richard and Elizan's son Robert.  Robert's son James Alvin was Rulon's grandfather.  James Alvin's daughter, Clara Annie Redden Parker, was Rulon's mother.  Many new stories are composing themselves in my head and anxiously awaiting posting thanks to what I have learned from this personable, generous, and knowledgable distant cousin.  But what I have discovered tonight with just a few minutes of targeted searching has pushed its way to the front of my list of blog posts-in-waiting.  It seems one of our brick walls may be crumbling!  However, we must proceed with caution. 

In a recent post, I discussed some mysteries of the 1850 census.  One mystery was the listing of an apparent son of Richard Redden, James.  I speculated that James may not be a son of Elizan's due his age and his listed birthplace of Kentucky. Since Elizan was born and married in Indiana, and appeared to be only about 14 years old than James, it doesn't seem likely she was James' mother.  So tonight, finally having a little time to devote to some research, I decided to focus my attention on trying to learn more about James Redden.  Another person listed on the 1850 census in Richard Redden's household was Amanda King, presumed to be Elizan's sister (Elizan's maiden name was King), but I'm getting ahead of myself.

A search on for James Redden, born approximately 1835 in Indiana, resulted in a link to a burial record on listed a James Redden born 24 April 1837, died 21 January 1853 and buried in -- bingo! -- New Amsterdam, Harrison County, Indiana.  As you know from earlier posts, New Amsterdam and Harrison County, Indiana, figures prominently in Redden family history.  Many Redden ancestors are buried in New Amsterdam, Indiana, and have lived and owned land in Harrison county.  When I first saw that James was buried in New Amsterdam, I wondered how I could have missed his burial record as I have a copy of, and have studied, the cemetery index for the New Amsterdam cemetery many times.    Unlike many other Redden ancestors, however, James is buried in the Martin, Hogan, and Long Burial Ground which is not actually in the town of New Amsterdam, but nearby, in the Harrison-Crawford State forest.  We were not even aware of the existence of this cemetery, and for now I have to assume that it is probably a very old, small cemetery located off the beaten path. 

Scrolling through the other burial records (a total of 39 internments are listed), I came across burial records for William King (birth date unknown, death date 17 December 1856) and Nancy King (death date June 27, 1853).   A photo of Nancy's headstone identified her as the wife of William.  (No photos of William or James' headstones have been posted.) These names immediately jumped off the page because I had seen them only recently in an email from Rulon where--once again proving two heads are better than one--he told me he had found an 1850 census record for "Wm and Nanay" King (sic) living in Harrison County, Indiana, who also had an Amanda King in their household.  Could this be Elizan's parents and sister?  The first thing to do was to compare and see if the age of the Amanda in the William and Nancy King household was similar to the age of the Amanda in Richard and Elizan's household.  It's not that uncommon for people to be listed in more than one household in census records.  Amanda was listed as 19 in one record, and 18 in the other, so this could well be the same Amanda.  This discovery made us hopeful that we had identified Elizan's parents, but again, we must proceed with caution.  William King and Nancy King are very common names, and I  have found many instances of other couples with the same names throughout the same time period and even in Indiana, so more evidence is needed.

Other clues do exist to help suggest that William and Nancy King may be Elizan's parents.  For example, Richard and Elizan had a son named William, and a daughter named Nancy.  It seems our early Reddens often named their children after other family members.  Could this be another example?  Also, Richard's son Robert named one of his sons James Alvin.  Could James Alvin have been named for a brother who died much too young?

A few things literally don't add up.  For example, the James Redden buried near New Amsterdam reportedly died about 2 1/2 years after the 1850 census recorded him living in New Albany, Indiana, at the age of 15, but his age at the time of death was apparently 15.  Of course, it's very common for ages to be reported incorrectly in census or other records, so this discrepancy doesn't rule out the possibility that we have found our James.

There's one more tantalizing bit of information I will leave you with.  On James' record on it's noted that he is the son of "R and S Redden."  Could the R be our ancestor Richard and the "S" an unknown (for now) wife of Richard?  You may recall that it doesn't seem likely that Elizan was James' mother.  Perhaps this "S" supports the theory that Richard was married before he met and married Elizan.

So again, let's proceed with caution as we continue to investigate these promising new clues and chip away at our crumbling brick wall. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sharing our Oral History

One of my goals in researching Redden family history is to make our history more than just a set of names and dates.  I want to bring our ancestors to life--to learn how they lived, the struggles they faced, their accomplishments, the facts of their daily lives that in some way influence how we, their descendants, live today.  At the NGS conference in May 2012, I attended one session on how to write a family history that your family will want to read, and another session on creative non-fiction.  These programs have further inspired me to try and learn more about our ancestors as individuals.  One big step in that direction came when my husband, Nick, was able to make contact and have a phone conversation with a Redden gentleman who was a cousin of his father's.  We believe he is probably the oldest living descendent in Richard and Elizan's direct line.  I'm giving his name at this time because we didn't think to ask for his permission to do so, but I still want to pass on some of his stories.

Nick asked this cousin if he ever knew his grandfather (my husband's great-grandfather), Mayo Redden.  Mayo is a bit of a mystery to us because no death record or obituary has ever been located for him.  We know plot #20 was purchased for him in the New Amsterdam, Indiana, cemetery, but cemetery records do not prove he was ever actually buried there.  From piecing together other sources, it appears Mayo died around 1939,  preceding his wife, Sharlottie, in death, but he is not even mentioned in her obituary.  Now with the release of the 1940 census we have another confirmation that Mayo passed around 1939, as his wife is shown as a widow living in Corydon, Indiana with her daughter in 1940.  It was especially exciting to us to learn that this Redden cousin does recall visiting his grandfather new New Amsterdam, Indiana, as a young boy.  He did not have a lot of memories, but he did recall that Mayo was crippled as the result of an accident.  Mayo was a carpenter, and apparently he struck his leg violently with an adze, resulting in the devastating injury.  It was recalled that Mayo's leg would swell up and that liquid would have to be drained from it to bring him relief.  Our cousin also recalled that his grandmother Sharlottie was known to be able to "take the fire out of a burn."  He had no idea how she did this, but apparently Sharlottie had the ability to relieve the pain of a burn and was well-known for this gift.

I hope we will have the privilege to receive email from or speak with other Redden cousins to learn more about our history and to share some of these stories here.

Does our Brick Wall Originate in Kentucky? It seems so.

The internet is a wonderful thing.  Not only does it allow us to do a lot of family history research from wherever we are, it helps links us to others with similar interests.  Since starting this blog I have happily heard from a few other descendants of Richard Redden, and one thing we all have in common is that we've encountered a brick wall when trying to learn the name of Richard's parents and any possible siblings.

Here is what we do know.  From census records, we are fairly certain that Richard was born in Kentucky in 1812 (some records suggest he may have been born in 1814).  We also find that Richard's parents were listed as having been born in Maryland.  If this is true, this means that Richard's grandparents were in the United States by the mid to late 1700s.  The Reddens have been in the U.S. for a very long time! 

One reason it's been difficult to learn more about Richard's early years is because knowing where to locate early Kentucky records can be fairly complicated.  At the NGS conference in Cincinnati early in May of this year, I had the privilege of attending a very helpful session on Researching Kentucky Records given by Mr. Don Rightmyer of the Kentucky Historical Society.  Mr. Rightmyer is the editor of the Kentucky Ancestors magazine and was a wealth of information.  He showed us how the state of Kentucky has evolved over time.  Kentucky was originally a part of colonial Virgina.  In 1776 Kentucky was actually "Kentucky County," Virginia, but by 1780 was divided into three Virginia counties.  It was not until June 1792 that Kentucky became it's own distinct entity, the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  Today, Kentucky consists of 120 different counties.  To do early research, it is important to first determine the name of the county at the time your ancestor lived there.  This can be a real challenge because of how counties have been divided over time.  Once you determine the county name, you then have to find out where any records from the time period are currently housed.  Fortunately, the Kentucky Historical Society has experts on hand to help navigate this maze of information.

So how do you determine the Kentucky county in which your ancestor lived?  It was suggested during the NGS workshop that some of the most likely sources of information will come from tax, land, and military records.  These records are especially important because birth, death, and marriage records from before about 1852 only scantily exist.  Again, Richard was born around 1812.  The vital statistics law in Kentucky did not become effective until 1911.  Although some localities kept records much earlier, many lost their records during the Civil War because courthouses were often set aflame as towns became temporary battle grounds between the union and rebel forces.

Another reason for the brick wall is that the vast majority of records that might help solve our Redden ancestor brick wall do not yet exist on line.  It seems that for now the best course of action is to use on-line resources and the help of Kentucky history experts to try and narrow down where it is that Richard's parents likely lived.  Once this is determined we can decide if an in-person visit is needed or if there are researchers who will be willing to do some of the local research for us.  I also attended a program at the NGS conference on researching Kentucky tax records, and I'll highlight some of what I learned on this subject in a later blog.  Even though the search will be challenging, I left the conference with hope, and actually with a fair bit of confidence, that armed with these new research tools that Richard's elusive history will reveal itself to us yet.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mysteries of the 1850 Census

Some of the best genealogy research advice I've ever received is to go back and take a fresh look at records you already have.  I think this advice is especially important for people like me who do genealogy here and there as time permits.  Sometimes my research has to take a back burner to other things going on and when I'm able to get back to it I have to almost start all over.  Sound familiar?  Another piece of advice that's been helpful is to try and find information from different angles.  This advice has really applied to some research surrounding the 1850 census.  

For a long time I was not able to find an 1850 census record for Richard Redden.  I came to find it when I was trying to find more information on Richard's first wife Elizan.  I know Elizan's maiden name was King from her marriage record.  While trying to find census records for "Elizan King" I came across an. 1850 record for Amanda King who was residing in the same household as Richard and "Eliza Redding" in New Albany, Indiana.  Also residing in this household is James, born about 1835 in Kentucky, and William, Robert, and Nancy E. "Redding."  Bingo!  Much of the record makes sense, such as the location.  It's reasonable that Elizan would be listed as "Eliza."  We know that Richard and Elizan had sons named William and Robert, and their birth years listed on the 1850 census are accurate (although Richard's is off  by about 3 years).  However, who are James Redding, Nancy Redding, and Amanda King?   In the 1850 census, the family is listed in a specific order.  First is the head of the household, usually the father/husband, and next is the wife.  I know from later census records and obituaries that William and Robert are sons of Richard and Elizan.  It is reasonable to assume that Nancy is a daughter of Richard and Elizan based on her age and other records that suggest Richard and Elizan had children who did not live to adulthood.  But who is James?  Richard and Elizan were married in 1842 in Indiana, so we can be pretty sure that James, who was born in approximately 1835 in Kentucky, is not Elizan's son.  Although we cannot assume the ages listed in the census are 100% correct, Elizan appears to be only about 14 years older than James.  Could James be Robert's brother,  or possibly a nephew?  Probably not, since he is listed just after Richard and Elizan which  strongly suggests he is a child of the head of the household.  Now there's a new mystery -- could Richard have been married before?  Amanda King is likely Elizan's sister, or perhaps a niece.  Hers is the last name for the household which, in addition to the King surname, supports that she is not a member of the immediate family.  Although mysteries now, these individuals are also clues and possible pathways to learning more about Richard and Elizan's parents and siblings.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Conference Bound

I'm excited to announce that next week I'll be attending the annual conference of the National Genealogical Society in Cincinnati, Ohio.  I've also been given permission to share blog posts about the various exhibits and educational sessions I'll attend.  Hopefully, I'll learn some new research techniques that will help me break through some brick walls and learn more about our family history.  I also hope that my conference blogs will be interesting and informative to you.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Robert Redden, 1846-1927

"Uncle Bob"

Robert Redden was a son of Richard and Elizan King Redden. Most of what I know about Robert comes from his obituary. The unknown author of Richard's obituary paints a wonderful picture of this ancestor. I can't improve on what was written, so I'm just transcribing the obituary which appeared in the June 22, 1927 issue of the Corydon Democrat newspaper.

Death of Union Soldier
Robert Redden Died Suddenly at His
Home in Corydon Last Saturday

Was a Good man and Devoted Christian
and Had Many Friends

"Aged Eighty One Years"

Robert Redden died suddenly and unexpectedly at his home in Corydon. He and Mrs. Redden were visiting Mr. and Mrs. George Adams near Ramsey. (Mrs. Redden and Mrs. Adams are sisters) and when Mr. Redden awoke Friday morning he was ill. It was found that he was suffering from a ruptured blood vessel of the neck, and he was hurriedly brought to his home here and he continued to grow worse until the next day when death relieved him.

"Uncle Bob" was a fine old gentleman and was loved and respected by all who knew him. He was an unusually friendly man and was a welcome caller wherever he went.

Funeral services were held at the New Amsterdam United Brethren church at 10:30 o'clock last Thursday morning, conducted by Rev. Horace Sonner, the M.E. pastor at Depauw. The church choir furnished the music for the funeral with Miss Beulah Moyars as organist.

The pall bearers were Robt. Hughes, Reaugh Jordan, Edw. Rudicel, James R. Brewster, Asa Harbaugh, and Straude Sonner.

The American Legion Post No. 123 was represented at the funeral and the deceased, who was a Union soldier in the Civil War, was given a military burial, the Legion Boys conducing their ritualistic service at the grave.

Members of the Legion attending were Robert Hughes, Robert Lemmon, George Hurst, Reaugh Jordan, Edw. Rudicel, Philip Rosenbarger, Harry Morris, Jas B. Brewster, Asa Harbaugh and Straude Sonner. The following Civil War veterans attended: H.H. Wise, Henry Friedley, John Rainbolt, Luther Miller, and Valentine Montgomery.

The following obituary was read at the funeral: Robert Redden, son of Richard and Ellazan Redden was born January 10, 1846 at New Albany, Indiana, and died June 18, 1927, aged eighty-one years, five months, and eight days. On September 8, 1867, he married Clarinda Montgomery and to this union were born three sons and one daughter, William J., James A, Richard E., and Eva A. He is survived by his devoted wife, two sons, William J. of Corydon, James A. of Provo, Utah, one daughter, Eva A. Cunningham of Corydon, also two brothers, Charles of Corydon, and Mayo of New Amsterdam, Ind., and half-sister, Clara Isaacs, of Enid, Oklahoma, sixteen grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, and a host of other relatives and friends all of whom mourn because of his death. He was preceded in death by one son, Richard E., one sister, Amanda, and one brother, William, one half-brother, James, and two grandchildren.

On December 9, 1863, he enlisted as a member of the Thirteenth Indiana Cavalry and served his country faithfully until November 18, 1865, attaining the rank of Corporal and from then until his death was an ardent American citizen. He was in the engagement of Overall's Creek, Siege of Murfreesboro, Wilkinson's Pike and the Mobile Defenses.

On February 15, 1885, he united with the Methodist Church and from that time he lived a devoted Christian life so that when he realized that he must go he could say, "I long to meet my Savior face to face."

Uncle Robert, as he was familiarly known, was a favorite with all who knew him. He was never so happy as when meeting acquaintances or in some way shedding sunshine in the life of someone. He was a devoted husband, a loving father, and his presence will be missed by all.

A short time before going he called his loved ones to him and told them that all was well with him and extorted his sons and daughter to hold fast to the faith and to be friends of all. Who could have been more fitted by the exemplary life to leave such a message as father?

* * * * * *

The following obituary for Robert's wife, Clarinda Montgomery Redden, was found as a posting by Barbara D. Young on, on May 4, 1998. Although I have no reason to believe the information is not accurate, I don't know its source and haven't yet verified all of the information.


Mrs. Clarinda Redden, 80 years old, widow of Robert Redden, passed away early Saturday morning (June 4, 1932) at her home in Corydon following an illness of a complication of diseases.
Mrs. Redden was born May 1, 1852, in Washington Township, the daughter of Andrew J. and Joan Montgomery. Most of her life was spent in Washington Township. She had lived in Corydon several years. At the age of 14 she joined the Methodist Church at New Amsterdam and was a good Christian woman.

The survivors are two sons and a daughter, Jesse Redden and Mrs. John F. Cunningham of this county, and Alvin Redden of Provo, Utah; two sisters, Mrs. Anna Adams of Ramsey and Mrs. Dora Love, of Greencastle; a brother, James Montgomery of Eastbank, W. Va., fifteen grandchildren and thirteen grandchildren. Her husband, who was a Civil War veteran, died in 1927.

Funeral services were held at 2:30 o'clock Tuesday afternoon at the New Amsterdam United Methodist Church conducted by the Rev. E. Craig Brandenburg, pastor of Pfrimmer's Chapel U.B. Church, assisted by the Rev. Edward Rudicel, Corydon Christian minister. The pallbearers were Jas. N. Mason, Otto Kopp, Dressel Becker, Philip Rosenbarger, Jas. C. Kirkham, and Adna L. Harris, members of the Harrison Post No. 123, American Legion. Burial was in the church cemetery.