Tuesday, December 4, 2007

'Tis a mystery!

While working with the search engines today, I used a "last name first" search for "smith devier" - Devier James Smith was the son of Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith. I was surprised to see the following on the http://www.rootsweb.com/~wiwaupac/Misc/M1.htm web site.

NAME = SMITH, Devier J. [changed from] LAMPHIER, Devier
COUNTY = Dodge
DATE = 1866/Mar/21

This is a list of name changes that were recorded in Wisconsin county courts. The database says -

" The name changes transcribed here were found in the following resource books: Laws of Wisconsin Territory, General Acts Passed by the Legislature of Wisconsin, Private & Local Laws Passed by the Legislature of Wisconsin and Acts & Resolves Passed by the Legislature of Wisconsin. It is best to check the source given, as some of the records indicate the place of residence, the parent's name and why there was a name change."

So my question is, who was Devier Lamphier and why did he change his name to Devier J. Smith? The things I considered were:

1) Devier Lamphier is a minor child adopted by a Smith family in Dodge County. However, there is no Devier (and spelling variations) Smith in the census records in 1870, except for my Devier J. Smith age 30 in Taylor County, Iowa. This is a realistic hypothesis.

2) My Devier J. Smith was born Devier Lamphier. However, the Bible pages I have say his parents were Ranslow and Mary Smith, and he is in the 1850 and 1860 census as their child. I don't think that this hypothesis is realistic.

3) My Devier J. Smith was the son of Ranslow and Mary Smith, but changed his name for some reason before 1866, and in 1866 he changed it back to Devier J. Smith. This really doesn't change the ancestry of Devier Smith, does it? I don't think that this hypothesis is realistic.

I found a likely candidate named Derias J. Lamphier, age 2, in the 1860 census in Dodge County WI, son of Nathan and Ellen Lamphier. However, D.J. Lamphier, age 12, is in the 1870 census as the son of Nathan and Elen Lamphier. If he were adopted by someone else in 1866, he came back to his family by 1870. By the way, Devier and Abby (Vaux) Smith moved to Taylor County, IA before 1870 - perhaps that caused the adopted child to return to his family?

I cannot find Derias/Devier/D. J. Lamphier (and alternate spellings) in the 1880 census anywhere. I did find a "Nat Lamphere" living without the rest of his family in 1880 in Dodge County WI. The rest of the family are not in the 1880 census as far as I can tell.

My hypothesis at this point is that Devier Lamphier was a child adopted by a Smith family - but I don't know if it was the Devier J. Smith family. It might have been! I don't think that this was "my" Devier J. Smith changing his own name.

How can I find out? By chasing the paper trail - find the Dodge County WI court record executed on 21 March 1866 - it may give more particulars of the parties. The LDS Family History Library Catalog does not show any Court or Probate Records available in microform, so a review of the resource books in several Wisconsin repositories is probably required.

Name changes may be one of the most overlooked resources to finding "elusive ancestors" and their parents.

Can anyone come up with other hypotheses for me to consider concerning this mystery? I'd appreciate any help you can provide.


Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Hi Randy,

Intriguing puzzle! Have you considered searching Guardianship papers? I think it likely that your Devier was born to Lamphier parents (or mother, perhaps an illegitimate birth) and then adopted by your Smith family. There *may* be guardianship records. Here is what is listed in the FamilySearch catalogue for your time period (ca 1835-1850)

index to guardianship, 1831-1900
New York. Surrogate's Court (Jefferson County) (Main Author)
Microfilm of original manuscripts in Jefferson County courthouse at Watertown, New York.

Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1972

Guardianship index 1831-1900 - FHL US/CAN Film [ 894445 Item 4 ]

Letters of guardianship, vol. 1 1851-1861 - FHL US/CAN Film [ 897749 ]

Anonymous said...

Allen F. Johnson bio: