Thursday, April 16, 2009

Finding Lamphears in Jefferson County NY - Post 1

My major research effort this month has been to start my search for the potential parents of Devier J. Lamphear Smith (1839/1842-1894), whom I've written about in the recent past - see here and here. To summarize, Devier formally changed his name from Lamphear to Smith in Dodge county, Wisconsin in 1866 and his father, Ranslow Smith, named him as his adopted son Devier J. Lamphere also known as Devier J. Smith in his will written in 1865 in Dodge County and proved in 1875 in Andrew County, Missouri.

Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith moved from Henderson, Jefferson County, New York to Dodge County, Wisconsin in about 1843, and then to Taylor County, Iowa in 1867 and Andrew County, Missouri before 1875. Devier J. Smith ended up in Concordia, Cloud County, Kansas and McCook, Red Willow County, Nebraska and died there in 1894.

Based on the above, I'm starting my search in Jefferson County, New York, since that is where Ranslow Smith was before 1843.

I ordered some Surrogates Court and Deed Index microfilms for Jefferson County NY in March, and abstracted the Lamphere/variants data several weeks ago. Now I have a list of persons that had estates and deeds recorded in the County. I ordered the 1825 and 1835 State Census records on microfilm, and need to go to the FHC next week to read them.

Online, I searched in vain for any listing for "Devier J. Lamphear" (and surname variants like Lamphier, Lamphere, Lamfear, Lamfere, Lanfear, Lanphear, Lanphier, Lanphere, Lanpher, etc.) in my list of about 50 web sites with surname databases. I spent some time using Google to find him also, using both "Lamphere Devier" and "Devier * Lamphere" (and variant surnames) as search strings. Nearly everything I found is from my own musings.

Last week, I searched the 1830, 1840 and 1850 census records for Jefferson County NY for the Lamphear and surname variants. I did a bit more today and found more variants by using given name searches in the county. There were very few Lamphear/variant families in Jefferson County in these records.

My working hypothesis is that Devier J. Lamphear was orphaned at an early age and was adopted by Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith of Henderson, Jefferson County, New York. Henderson is in the southern part of the County, but the Lamphear family could be anywhere in the county or the surrounding counties of St. Lawrence, Lewis and Oswego.

One orphan scenario is that Devier's mother died soon after his birth, and the father could not deal with an infant child while supporting his family. Perhaps he looked for a wet nurse, or a family that wanted an infant to adopt and raise. Perhaps he was a young man without much family support.

I will summarize what I find in future posts. If you have any ideas or hypotheses about why and how an adoption of an infant or young child was done in the 1840 time frame in upstate New York, I would appreciate knowing about them! What records would you search for? Who would you contact for information not online?


Lynn said...

Randy, were you aware of the Wisconsin State Censuses available on the new FamilySearch site? 1855 and others are available. They are only browsable at the moment, but you might want to look at the records there.

Anonymous said...


No new ideas.

Can only repeat the suggestions I already made, and doing so because they are not on the posts you linked to.

Born in New York and adopted elsewhere. Perhaps he was on one of the Orphan Trains?

This site has lots of info, and shows how many spelling variations there are...

Lamphear Genealogy Web SiteAdditions:

The Lamphear FamilyAnd this page list an email address for a Lamphear researcher:

Missouri Surname Researchers List, "L", By Gary Smee- Tamura

Anonymous said...

I blame blogger for messing up the line breaks.

TheGeneticGenealogist said...


I was born and raised in Jefferson County, small world. For many years my summer job was working at the general store in Henderson!

Have you contacted the Henderson Historical Society ( They have a lot of old town records and might be able to help you out.

footnoteMaven said...


Have you tried to get a copy of the bill:

Journal of the SENATE OF WISCONSIN, FOR THE YEAR, A. D. 1866.

No. 191 S.,

A bill to change the name of Devier Lamphier to Devier J. Smith, and constitute him the legal heir of Ranslow Smith, of Dodge county.

As it is a legal document it may lay out the reasons for the name change. I understand the legal heir portion was so he could inherit and the death had already occurred. (Then again it may be no more than is written here.)

Also, newspaper articles for N.Y. and Wisconsin around the time of name change. May have required public notice.

The name Devier. Unusual. Possible it was the maiden name of his biological mother? Perhaps a search for DeVier in N.Y.?

Noticed the difference in the worth of Devier from 1850-1860. 1860 he's 21. Did he inherit? Legal documents filed in and around 1860 where he lived or where you believe he was born.

Just some random thoughts.


footnoteMaven said...

A bill to change the name of Devier Lamphier to Devier J. Smith, and constitute him the legal heir of Ranslow Smith, of Dodge county.

The Journal is here:,+Devier#PPA496,M1

Devier’s bill is mentioned in four places in accordance with its progression through the Senate

1 – Assembly concurs in 191 S. pg. 497
2 – Committee examines and finds correctly enrolled 191 S. pg. 528
3 – Presented to President of Assembly for signature pg. 580
4 – March 21, 1866 presented to Governor for signature pg. 680

Try State Historical and State Law Libraries to find where actual Bill 191 S. 1866 might be found.

Found your links as well, but went in circles.


Anonymous said...

Have you read this article?