Perhaps it has something to do with the large percentage of farmers and coal miners in my own family history that explains why the wills that I find are few and far between or, perhaps, I just have not found them all yet…but I do love to find a good will!
Some will are better than others as far as the information that they give up. Some are crazily vague – “…bequeath to wife…” with no mention of her name! Ugh! There are times when I’m browsing through the wills and probate records at familyserach.org, I’ll just read through other wills that might catch my eye, even if they don’t belong to my family. That might make it seem as if I have too much time on my hands, but it’s refreshing to just back away from my own research at times. Sometimes, I even stumble upon information that helps me a lot with my own research.
I haven’t been able to find a will for David Withrow, but I did find this will of his son, Hugh. It’s a great will because he gives up so much genealogical information.
It might just be me, but when I’m trying to transcribe anything with old handwriting, I have a hard time with going back and forth from the original document to the Word document. I know that at least part of it is that I’m dealing with trifocals (not much to be done about that!), and part of it is my impatience with not being able to immediately find the spot where I left off when I look back to the original document on the screen. So one day, I grabbed this tiny little digital recorder that I have…
…and then I just read the will out loud, noting if there was something that I wasn’t sure of, and spelling out anything that I might not remember the spelling from the document. Then I just hooked up the recorder to a USB port on my laptop and using my Express Scribe software that I have for transcription work, typed out the will. That went well and lowered my level of frustration a LOT! As a final proof, I’ll pull up the transcription side-by-side with the original:
And this is why Hugh’s will is so wonderful.
I Hugh Withrow of the county of Carroll in the State of Ohio do make and publish this my Last Will and testament in manner and form following that is to say:
First it is my will that my funeral expenses and all my just debts be fully paid.
Second I give devise and bequeath to my beloved wife Susan Withrow in lieu of her dower all and singularly of my real estate and all the livestock horses, cattle, sheep, hogs etc by me now owned also all the household and kitchen furniture and other items not particularly named and otherwise disposed of in this will during the time she shall remain my widow. She however first disposing of a sufficiency thereof to pay my just debts as aforesaid. But if she should marry again it is my will she should have one third of my real and personal property then remaining to dispose of at her pleasure and if she should die my widow it is my will that she shall still have the disposal of one third of the property as above mentioned. And the remaining two thirds to be disposed of in the following manner to wit.
First, I give and bequeath to my brother Charles Withrow fifty dollars. Forwith I give devise and bequeath to my brother Samuel Withrow fifty dollars. Third, I give devise and bequeath the remainder of the two thirds of the above specified to the following eleven persons equally, to wit William Withrow my brother, John Withrow my brother and his son Hugh Withrow, James Withrow my brother and his son William Withrow, Boston Withrow my brother, Elizabeth Small my sister wife of Thomas Small, Catherine Earls my sister wife of William Earls, Jane Taylor my sister wife of John Taylor and her son James Green, and Hannah Whitla my sister wife of Hugh Whitla.
Sixthly it is my will that my father-in-law Mordecai Bond have peaceable possession of the five acres he now occupies on my farm in East Township Carroll County during his natural life.
Lastly I hereby constitute and appoint my said wife Susan Withrow and James Withrow, my brother Jonas Lumm and James A. Ball to be the Executers of my Last will and testament revoking and annulling all former wills by me made and ratifying and conforming this and no other to be my Last will and testament.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this eighteenth day of February A.D. eighteen hundred and forty one.
Signed published and declared by
the above named Hugh Withrow as
and for his last will and testament
in the presence of us who at his
request have signed as witnesses
to the same.
James A. Ball
The first thing that impressed me is that he has given everything to his wife as long as she’s his widow and that if she does remarry, she still gets to a keep a third and to dispose of that on her death as she wishes. He also names his father-in-law. Which gives us his wife’s maiden name. And then, bless his heart, he names all of his brothers and sisters and who the sisters are married to. This helped me to list David and Elizabeth’s children. This is so important while piecing together the family considering that all or most of their children would have left home by the time of the 1850 census and a name was noted for everyone in the household. Since Hugh doesn’t list any of his own children, we have to assume that he either had no issue, or that there were no surviving children. This will also helped me fill in a blank that I had concerning Hugh Whitla in connection with my Hackathorn family providing me with his wife, Hannah’s, maiden name. So even though we don’t have David’s will, his son has kindly presented us with a lot of information on David’s family.
David Withrow is my 5th great-grandfather on my mother’s side. I had written a post earlier this year about his wife, Elizabeth, and how I didn’t know what her maiden name was. This is something important to me because she is in my direct matrilineal line and I’d kind of like to get past her. I was contacted shortly after this blog post by a cousin who shares these 5th great-grandparents and have received some good hints, like that Elizabeth might also have gone by the name of Isabelle according to a short biography on one of David’s grandsons (and in his direct line) in a Richland County source. (Thanks, Randy!) Acting on that tip, I started looking at the children of David and Elizabeth to see what they’d named they’re children. Any named after their grandparents? Why, yes! Daughter, Hannah, gave birth to a daughter named Elizabeth I. Whitla. Son, James, had a daughter named Elizabeth and another daughter named Isabell. Son, Samuel, named a daughter Isabell. This looks to be like more than a coincidence. So at this point in time, I am searching for an Elizabeth Isabel, or perhaps an Isabel Elizabeth.
David married his second wife, Catherine Morrison, on 28 December 1824 in Columbiana County, Ohio. I’m assuming that Elizabeth passed away sometime between the birth of her last child, Boston, born 1817 in Beaver Falls, Beaver County, Pennsylvania and David’s marriage to Catherine, so to find her death date is also on my list of things to research. David and Catherine are buried at Glade Run Cemetery in East Township, Carroll County, Ohio.
Also on the research that needs to be done list is finding David Withrow’s parentage. We know that he was in Beaver County, Pennsylvania before moving to Columbiana (now Carroll) County, Ohio, because we find his name on a petition – along with that of Charles Phillis and that of Jacob Hackathorn.
To the Honorable Court of Quarter Sessions for Beaver County: —
The Petition of stmdry Inhabitants of South Beaver Township in
Beaver County most respectfully sheweth that your Petitioners labor
under considerable Difficulties and Inconvainancjrs in attending Town-
ship meetings, working on Public roads and Township officers performing
their several offices — ^from the Distance they have to Travel occasioned
by the Excessive Largeness and Extensive bounds of said Township. .
Your Petitioners respectfully Prays your Honors would take the
Premises into consideration and grant them relief by Dividing the afore-
said Township into Two Townships by a Division Line, to wit beginning
on the line of the State, at a deep gully between James Grorrel’s and Jehu
Coulson’s thence a Direct course to Alexander Reed’s Including said
Reed in the Division next the Ohio river from thence to George Conkle’s
striking B ready’s run at the East side of said Conkle’s Plantation In-
cluded in the above Division, thence down the north side of the Bottom
of said run to Big Beaver creek, the Division next the Ohio river to be
called Ohio Township and the other Division to retain the name of South
Beaver Township,— or whatever other names or Division line, as to your
Honors may appear most practicable, &c.
And your Petitioners shall ever Pray. —
David Drennan, William Duncan, James Drennan, Chas. Phillis,
Alexander Reed, Neal McLaughlin, David Withrow, Samuel Robb, James
Grimes, James Freel, Henry Woods, John Cotton, Henry Corkendall,
James Phillis, Thomas Blackmore, Paul Reed, Henry Barnes, Joseph
Smith, James Cotton, Ezekiel Moore, George Mason, Sen’r, William
Reed, John CHndinning, Alexander Grant, John Bavington, John Himter,
Edward Neville, Solomon Carlile, John Hampton, Wm. Steel, Saml.
Calhoon, George Mason, Jesse Smith, Abrm. Buskirk, David Calhoon,
James Witacre, Saml. Caughey, John Shireers, Benoni Dawson, Robert
Barnes, Philip Mason, Thos. Hoyt, Willum Calhtme, Jacob Hackathom,
John Cross, Robert Himter, John Campbell, Benjamin McGaffick, John
McGaffack, Charles Beventon, Alexander Todd, Thomas McCoy, Daniel
Martin, H. Johnston, Jonathan Grant, James Kennedy.
This petition was presented at the November Sessions, 1804,
and the court at the same Sessions appointed David Drennan,
Henry Kuykendall, and Samuel Caughey as viewers to enquire
into the propriety of granting the petition. A return was made
by the viewers at February Sessions, 1805; and at the same
Sessions a remonstrance was presented against the division of
the said township, which was held under advisement by the
court until the May Sessions. Samuel Caughey filed a dissent
from the return of the other two viewers. At May Sessions,
1805, the court confirmed the report of the viewers and divided
the township, **the south part of the division to be called Ohio
township and the other to retain its original name of South
That’s the one thing that you can count on with genealogy…there’s always something else that needs to be found out. And there are always new ways to work that make life easier for us. What are some of your favorite tricks for working with old manuscripts? Please share in the comments.
This is my Week #18 post for Amy Johnson Crow’s
52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Challenge.
The optional theme for this week was “Where There’s a Will”.
9 Replies to “52 Ancestors: #18 David WITHROW ~ Where There’s a Will…”
Hollie, great post! I love your idea of using a little digital recorder to transcribe script. I usually split my screen with the handwritten doc on one side and word processor on the other side.
I also have Transript. It splits the screen top-bottom which is a bit easier on the eyes. You can change the brightness and zoom in and out on the image. I’m more likely to use Transcript on longer documents like wills.
Reading through documents that don’t pertain to your family is a good exercise. It gets you accustomed to the handwritting and as you say, often gives you ideas of things to look for in your research.
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Thanks, Cathy! I’m still playing the catch-up game and will hopefully gain on it in the next day or two. I had to google Transcript to check it out and I like the looks of it. I might have to invest in that at some point, although I see that they do have a free version available. Right now, using the digital recorder is working well for me and the transcription isn’t seeming like such a chore. I have to confess that I read other wills and documents not pertaining to the family because I’m easily distracted. LOL! Plus, I do love the handwriting. I want to take some lettering classes some time in the future and also study old handwriting styles. That’s probably a bit down the road since I have so much on my plate right now, but I know that I’d really enjoy it. I learned how to write in cursive before I learned how to print…I hate having to pick up my pen from the paper for printing…cursive just flows out of your hand and doesn’t interrupt thoughts. 🙂
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Hollie I didn’t see your reply until now. I also learned to write cursive first and with a fountain pen, inkwell and blotter! I know one blogger who took classes in the old German script writes her shopping list in Sütterlin.
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Well, Cathy, you’ve got me beat there! I did love fountain pens – but the kind with the little cartridge that you popped into it! That’s one of things that I spent my allowance on. 🙂 Very cool about the classes in German script! And a great way to stay in practice.
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Thanks, Hollie! This blog was very helpful. David and Elizabeth/Isabel are also in my direct lineage. David has many records in Beaver County, PA, around the late 1700s/early 1800s and beyond, but it is a blank slate before then. Any additional progress to report on this research?
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Hi, Amy! Thanks for reading my blog! Unfortunately, I have not had and recent breakthroughs with this line. I keep hoping that I’ll get some kind of X chromosome match with my DNA autosomal testing since Catherine WITHROW and her mother would be in my direct maternal line. Have you had any DNA testing done? If so, it would be interesting to see if we share any chromosome matches. I wondered if you happened to see this blog post:
Can you tell me where you got the documentation on the marriage of David Withrow and Catherine Morrison? I searched the marriage records in Ohio and couldn’t find it.
Absolutely! You can find it here: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-S5J8-M?i=90&wc=Q3FD-827%3A121347301%2C121371901%3Fcc%3D1614804&cc=1614804