Given Name(s) Last Name

from the Ancestry Daily News
  Michael John Neill Ė 9/12/2002

More Chasing The Ever Changing Chaneys

Several astute readers gently pointed out a problem with the birth date range for Thomas Chaney in my series of articles on analyzing pre-1850 census records. One wrong year was listed in Thomas' birth range. The year is corrected in the online versions of my articles. The final installment in the Chaney census articles is posted at:

In summary, Thomas' census entries indicate the following ranges on his date of birth:

1810 Censusóborn between 1765 and 1784
1820 Censusóborn before 1775
1830 Censusóborn between 1760 and 1770
1840 Censusóborn between 1760 and 1770
1850 Censusóaged 84, born in 1766

The 1810 through 1840 censuses give Thomas a birth range of 1765 to 1770. This is consistent with his age in 1850.

The error was my fault, but it did have an added bonus: I tried to locate additional records to provide more information on Thomas' date of birth.

The Taxman Cometh
Before making a recent trip to the Allen County Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, I decided to see if the library had any materials that might provide an age for Thomas. I had already exhausted the census. Specific title and subject searches in the card catalog for Bedford County, Pennsylvania, were conducted. Additionally, a "call number browse" was done for the located materials in the hope of finding additional references. A call number browse lets an online card catalog user effectively browse the stacks from the convenience of their own home. The only problem is that I can't pull the book off the virtual shelf. The search revealed a publication "Bedford County, Pennsylvania Tax Records with Recorded Ages." It was put on my "to do" list.

This 1842 enumeration for Southampton Township listed Thomas Chaney as a 72-year-old farmer. This Thomas would be born in approximately 1770. This is still within the birth year range for Thomas obtained from the 1810 through 1840 censuses, but is four years off from the specific age Thomas gave in 1850. Based upon past experience this minor difference is not a major concern (it is, however, being duly noted in my records). Six sources for Thomas provide an age range of 1765 to 1770. I have other ancestors for whom records are not nearly as consistent.

The Tax List Tells More
At the end of the tax list for Southampton Township, the single freemen are listed. Included in this list is a William Chaney aged 23 and a Thomas Chaney aged 34. These two men are reasonably Thomas' sons. This helps me fix the ages of Thomas' two youngest sons and indicates that they are not married as of 1842.

Hagan or Hagar?
Some readers may remember that one of my dilemmas with Thomas' children centered on the child who was supposedly named Hagan. This name came from handwritten notes I had taken nearly eighteen years ago from a biography of Thomas. I decided to get an actual copy of the biography from the "1884 History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania." My old notes were WRONG. The printed word is "Hagar." Of course, it could really be Hagan and the book was incorrect in the first place. However, I now have exactly what the book says. It pays to go back to the original.

Calling Abraham
The pre-1850 census analysis for Thomas indicated he had three sons, born in the following ranges:

Boy 1 1794-1800
Boy 2 1800-10
Boy 3 1810-20

Based upon 1850 through 1880 census records and the 1842 tax list, son William Chaney was born ca. 1819. This would make him the youngest son listed in the pre-1850 census records, who was referred to as boy 3 in our earlier analysis.

Based upon the 1850 through 1880 census records and the 1842 tax list, son Thomas Chaney was born ca. 1806. This would make him the boy 2 in our earlier analysis.


The Method

I did not just grab any William or Thomas Chaney and assume that they were the sons of my Thomas. William was followed from his first appearance with his father in the 1850 census and Thomas was tracked using his occasional occupation as a teacher and information obtained in his father's 1884 biography. Both sons stayed in Bedford County and lived relatively close to their father. There were also no other individuals in the area with the same name and reasonably the same age. Two of Thomas' sons have been tracked down as recently as 1880. We just can't grab the first person and assume he is ours.

What About the Oldest Son?
Thomas biography also referenced a third son, Abraham. Based upon information located on Thomas and William, Abraham would likely be the oldest son of Thomas Chaney. This would make Abraham born between 1794 and 1800. Process of elimination indicates this is Abraham, but it would be nice to back this conclusion with additional records if possible.

Thomas Chaney the father purchased land in Coshocton County, Ohio, and sold it to his son Abraham in the 1830s when Abraham was living in Coshocton County, Ohio. Thomas' daughter Elizabeth Rampley is also known to have moved to Coshocton County, Ohio, probably at the same time as her brother. Thomas' deed selling the Ohio land to Abraham clearly indicates Thomas' residence is still Bedford County, Pennsylvania, and that Abraham Chaney and Elizabeth Rampley are his children. I lost track of Abraham shortly after that.

Alive in 1880?
It was a long shot, but since the 1880 census transcription was conveniently located on my desk I decided to give it a try and search for Abraham. I located an 83-year-old Abraham Chaney living in Christian County, Illinois, with a son Harry. This Abraham was born in Pennsylvania. The age and place of birth were consistent with my Abraham Chaney from the pre-1850 census records of his father. This was promising.

And Abraham said his mother was born in Ireland.

For me this was the most important clue. The three other children of Thomas Chaney who had been located in the 1880 census also indicated their mother was born in Ireland. The Irish mother might have been a coincidence, but this Abraham in Christian County warranted a closer look. There were too many things fitting together for me to ignore the Christian County Abraham. A quick search of the online census indexes at Ancestry located Abraham in other Illinois census records, some including a son Harry. What appeared to be the same Harry was located in Christian County, Illinois, using the 1920 census index at However, I needed something to tie the individuals together and to see if the Abraham in Christian County, Illinois, in 1880 was the one I was looking for who was in Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1830. Census records alone were not going to do it.

To The Library Again
As usual, my research time at the Allen County Library was limited. Since son Harry lived in Christian County, Illinois, for at least forty years (1880-1920), I decided to focus on that area initially. Several Christian County references were included on my "to do" list while at the library.

What I found in the 1918 History of Christian County, Illinois, almost cause me to shout in the library. However, I avoided the temptation. And I do not do the "Happy Dance." (grin)

The book contained a picture of and a biography of Harry Cheney [sic]. According to the biography, Harry's parents were Abraham and Jenette (Evens) Cheney and Harry was born in Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1842.

This was a good turn of events. The location matched where I knew my Abraham had lived in 1830 and possibly later. The biography indicated that Abraham died in Taylorville, Illinois, on 22 September 1887, in his ninetieth year. The age was again consistent with the Abraham I had in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

While it seems reasonable I've got the right Abraham, I'm not satisfied and I'm not finished. Everything fits and that is good, but I'm hoping there is more to be located. A death certificate or an obituary for Abraham in Taylorville, Illinois, might provide a county of birth, which will hopefully confirm whether I've got the "right guy." I also need to locate and analyze every census record for Abraham from 1830 through 1880. There is the possibility if I can locate more information on this Abraham Chaney, it will lead me to more information on my Thomas Chaney in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. More on Thomas is the goal and researching all his children may be the way to find out more.

Of all of Thomas' ten children, I likely now have dates of death for only two: Elizabeth Rampley (my line) and Abraham. Elizabeth's death information provides little additional details about her family in Pennsylvania. I'm hoping Abraham is a little more revealing. But if he is not, I've still got at least eight more children of Thomas Chaney to document! Thank goodness for large families.

 Used by the author on his website with permission.

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