Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chronicling Jeremiah and Rosalie - Part 2

In Chronicling Rosalie and Jeremiah - Part 1, I transcribed the three newspaper articles found in the Washington Times for June 1906 on the Library of Congress Chronicling America web site.

Several years ago, I found the marriage record of Jeremiah McKnew and Rosalie B. Taylor in an index database of Washington DC Marriages. The index provided no ages for the parties that married on 29 October 1852.

Elijah McKnew (1836-1912) was one of my wife's great-grandfathers, and his parents were Jeremiah McKnew (1804-????) and Allethia Pickrell (1810-1845). Jeremiah and Allethia were married 26 March 1829 in Washington DC. They had six children - Jeremiah (born 1831) , Catherine Louisa (born 1832), Elizabeth Jane (born 1834) , Elijah Pickrell (born 1836), Benjamin Pickrell (born 1840) and Maria Louisa (born 1842) McKnew. After Allethia died in 1845, Jeremiah apparently married Sarah --?-- and had at least one child by her in 1848.

In the 1850 US Census, Jeremiah (age 41, a laborer, born MD) and Sarah (age 25, born MD) McNew in Washington DC with children Benjamin (age 9), Maria (age 8), and Horrace (age 8 months, listed as "dead" in the census listing). In the 1850 census, sons Jeremiah (age 19) and Elijah (age 17) are living in boarding houses in Washington DC away from their father's family.

Several years ago, I had found the death notice in the 30 March 1860 edition of the Baltimore Sun newspaper, headlined Washington, March 29, that said:

"The Independent Order of Odd Fellows are this afternoon attending the funeral of their deceased brother, Jeremiah McKnew, one of our highly esteemed citizens."

For several years I thought that this referred to the elder Jeremiah McKnew and had entered the death date for him in my database.

When all I had was the marriage of a Jeremiah McKnew to a Rosalie Taylor in 1852, I figured that it was probably the older Jeremiah - the one married to Sarah in the 1850 census. It wasn't until I found Rosalie's death notice this week that said she was born in 1835 that the alarm bell went off in my head - she was 17 and he was 48 in 1852? That doesn't make much sense - he has children older than she is. Could the Jeremiah that married Rosalie Taylor be the Jeremiah who was the son of Jeremiah and Allethia (Pickrell) McKnew, born about 1831?

What evidence might I find for it? If a Jeremiah McKnew died in March 1860, then he should be in the 1860 US Census Mortality Schedule. Sure enough - he's listed in Washington DC with extracted information of:

* Jeremiah McKnew -- age 28, male, married, born in Maryland, died in March [1860], a grocer, died of consumption, suffered for 120 days (United States Federal Mortality Schedules, 1850-1880, 1860, Washington, District of Columbia, Page 17 (penned), on National Archives Microfilm Series T655, accessed on

And in the 1860 US Census is the entry for the remaining members of the family:

* Harrison Taylor - age 57, male, white, Mas. Brick layer, $22,000 in real property, $500 in personal property, born VA
* Rosa L. McKnew - age 24, female, white, born VA
* Willie McKnew - age 4, male, born W. City DC
* Susan McKnew - age 1, female, born W.City DC
* Rich H. McKnew (probably Taylor) - age 18, male, clerk D.G. store, born W.City DC
* Anna McKnew (probably Taylor) - age 74, female, born VA
* Josephine Adams - age 18, female, mulatto, servant, born W.City
(1860 US Census, population schedule, Washington Ward 3, District of Columbia, Page 725, Dwelling #35, Family #46, on National Archives Microfilm Series M653, Roll 102, accessed on

This 1860 census entry shows Rosa[lie] McKnew, living with a Taylor head of household (probably her father) and her two children Willie and Susan (remember William H. and Susan F. McKnew from Rosalie's obituary in 1906?). I think that even though the enumerator listed Rich H. and Anna as McKnews that they were probably Taylors - probably Rosalie's brother and grandmother, but I haven't proved that yet.

So now I have it pretty well tied together - Jeremiah McKnew, born about 1831, married Rosalie B. Taylor (born in 1835) in October 1852 in Washington DC and they had children William H. McKnew and Susan F. McKnew. Jeremiah died in late March 1860, leaving Rosalie a widow with two small children.

I made at least three mistakes in my earlier assignment of the elder Jeremiah McKnew being the husband of Rosalie Taylor:

* I didn't check for Rosalie Taylor's age in the 1850 census, nor in the 1860 census which would have provided it and raised alarm bells.

* I assumed that the "highly esteemed citizen" and IOOF member was the elder Jeremiah McKnew, and was not the younger one (only age 28 at death, a grocer).

* I didn't check the 1860 US Census Mortality Schedule for the age of the Jeremiah McKnew that died in March 1860.

"They say" that if "we" ASSUME something that it means that you make an A$$ of U and ME - it certainly fits in this case, doesn't it? All of my assumptions were logical up to a point, but wrong once I found more facts!

The lessons learned include:

* Don't ASSUME facts not in evidence
* Do a "reasonably exhaustive search" for records
* Analyze and conclude only after finding sufficient records that are without conflict.

Now I still don't know when the elder Jeremiah McKnew died. A search of Washington DC City Directories and newspapers does not indicate his presence in the city after the 1850 US census there, and he does not appear to be in 1860 or later census records.

The good news is that I've probably figured this puzzle out. There are some more McKnews (William and Susan, and William's children) in my genealogy database. Are there descendants of Jeremiah and Rosalie (Taylor) McKnew alive today? Perhaps. If one of them Googles the names above, they should find this post and can contact me concerning their McKnew ancestry.

1 comment:

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