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From the Ancestry Daily News
  Michael John Neill – 3/20/2003

Probating Wesley Jones

The recent series on the 1860 census entries of Wesley Jones in Macon County, Missouri indicated that other records needed to be accessed.

While online sources are not the only ones available to the genealogist, they can be an excellent starting place. Based upon Wesley's residence, I decided to visit the USGenWeb page for Macon County in Missouri and the Missouri State Archives page to determine what information could be accessed through those portals. While not the only sources for information, they will allow me to get my research started. Local libraries, the county courthouse, the Family History Library, appropriate cemeteries, databases, etc. should also be included in my research plan. No one should limit themselves to online sources and in this case online sources will help me to access records that are actually offline.

I decided to peruse the Macon County, Missouri, USGenWeb page in an attempt to determine what resources were online either via that site or from links on that site. I was already roughly familiar with Missouri sources, which helped. Those new to research in Missouri (or any state) should reference the following materials to learn more about research in general and what types of records are available in the specific location where the family lived:

Research Guides from the Family History Library

Ancestry's Red Book: American State, County & Town Sources, edited by Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG

The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, edited by Loretto D. Szucs and Sandra H. Luebking

These three references will provide the reader with an excellent starting point in their research.

The Macon County, Missouri USGenWeb page included links to many online finding aids and indexes, some of which unfortunately covered time frames too late for my problem. There was, however, an online index to will and probate records that covered the time period under study. While the index did not include dates, there was a probate reference for Wesley Jones with an administrator whose name appeared to be that of his second wife. This was a record I needed to obtain. It was hoped the probate would provide additional information on Wesley's children. I copied the probate reference and decided to order a copy of the records after I had completed some other online research.

Off to the State Archives
The Missouri State Archives had a searchable database of copies of county records in their collection. There were many records listed in their inventory. After some searching, it was determined the state archives had copies of the Macon County, Missouri, probate records that I needed. Additional surfing of their site indicated they would send copies via regular mail. I made my request and within a few weeks had my copies of the Wesley Jones probate. I estimated Wesley's date of death as between 1870 and 1880 based upon census enumerations. Fortunately the initial date listed in the Wesley Jones probate was between those years. The records provided me with a listing of Wesley's children and other information about the family. Unfortunately, I was still slightly confused.

Application for Letters of Administration
The application for letters of administration provided the most information of any document in the probate record. The application, dated 8 August 1872, indicated Wesley had the following heirs (all of Macon County, Missouri, unless otherwise indicated):

Huldah A. Winn,
Heirs of Elizabeth F. Brown
Permelia J. Green, of Linn County, Missouri
Lucretia M. K. Rhodus
Aquilla Jones
James W. Jones
Wm. L. Jones
Hamilton F. Jones
Jarusha E. Jones

Other Children?
Wesley could have had children other than the ones listed here, but they would have died before Wesley and left no heirs of their own. Wesley's daughter, Elizabeth, apparently pre-deceased her father (her heirs are listed, but not specifically named and are probably the two Brown children enumerated with Wesley Jones in 1870). Other records indicate Wesley was married twice and the probate records of Wesley will not indicate what children were born of what marriage. There is little chance William's first wife left a probate record (women who died before their husbands during the time period under study did not often leave their own probate record). There is possibly a chance that Serilda, Wesley's second wife, left a probate. This would indicate what children were hers and help filter out the children to the correct wife. I'll look for a probate for Serilda later. However given the small amount of property listed in Wesley's probate there's a good chance that Serilda did not even warrant a probate file upon her death.

Any Younguns?
The probate of Wesley does not indicate whether any of his heirs were minors. It appears the children were listed approximately in order of age. Another problem in this family is that several of Wesley's children used various names at different points (or different days?) of their lives. Comparing as many records as possible would be helpful in determining the names of Wesley's children as accurately as possible. The 1880 census enumeration for Serilda Jones indicates that at least two of Wesley's children would have been minors at the time of Wesley's death.

Creating a Family
Previous articles discussed Wesley's entries in the 1850 and 1860 census, particularly how they related to the mysterious "Iam" entry. Before analyzing Wesley's family further, family enumerations were located for 1840 through 1880. Using the 1850-1870 censuses, the following "children" were found for Wesley Jones. Of course, the presence of a child in Wesley's household does not mean the child is his, but that is our working premise.

Children of Wesley based upon 1850-1870 censuses:

Permilia J. born ca. 1834
Lucretia M. K. born ca. 1839
Elizabeth born ca. 1841-1842
Aquilla born ca.1843
John W. born ca.1847
James W. born ca.1850
Franklin, born ca. 1865
Emma. J., born ca. 1860

Daughter Hulda (mentioned in the probate) is not enumerated with Wesley in the 1850-1870 censuses. Based upon information in the probate, Hulda Winn (and her family) was located in the 1880 census, living in Macon County. Her age of 48 in 1880 would indicate an approximate 1832 year of birth and she could have very easily been married and out of Wesley's household by 1850 and hence not appear in that enumeration. Wesley Jones' 1830 household indicates three female children, one under five and two between the ages of five and ten. The approximate ages of Wesley's children, based upon 1850-1880 census entries is consistent with his 1830 census entry. The only male in Wesley's 1830 household is a male between 30 and 40, apparently Wesley himself.

There is a slight discrepancy between the children listed in the census and the children listed in the probate record.

It is believed that Hamilton F. Jones is actually Hamilton Franklin Jones and that Emma J. is actually Emma Jerusha.

The administration lists a Wm. L. Jones and the census records list a John W. Jones. Are they the same person? Further research will have to be conducted in order to reach a possible consensus regarding these two people. Research never ends.

From Census Index to Image

A Partially Correct Census Entry

Traveling the Rhodes Road

I am Jones or Am I Something Else?

I am what I am. Or am I?

Michael John Neill, is the Course I Coordinator at the Genealogical Institute of Mid America (GIMA) held annually in Springfield, Illinois, and is also on the faculty of Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. Michael is the Web columnist for the FGS FORUM and is on the editorial board of the Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly. He conducts seminars and lectures on a wide variety of genealogical and computer topics and contributes to several genealogical publications, including Ancestry and Genealogical Computing. You can e-mail him or visit his website at:, but he regrets that he is unable to assist with personal research.

Copyright 2003, Inc.

Other Genealogy Articles by Michael John Neill