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
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.
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
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
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 Ancestry.com. 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
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.
by the author on his website with permission.