Friday, November 11, 2011

Brick Wall - Where did Joseph Hillis originate?

Last week I wrote about my brick wall in the KAVCIC family. I never thought I was going to get anywhere with that family, so it was exciting to find most of them in the passenger lists. Finding them in Austria/Slovenia is going to be a whole other thing though.

While I was looking for them, I was supposed to be working on a blog post about Joseph Hillis. I like to pick one ancestor who is being a pain and make them my #1 brick wall. The last one I had was Joseph's son, George. I couldn't find the names of George's parents anywhere. But then I found a death date for him and that led me to his death certificate and that held the names I was seeking. I found George with his parents in Boone County, Kentucky. I found his mother's parents and grandparents and great grandparents. But I couldn't find anything about Joseph.

Here's what I know about Joseph:
  • He was born 29 April 1832. (obituary)
  • He married Susan Brown MORSE on 12 May 1856 in Ohio County, Indiana. (Indiana Marriage database)
  • On 25 May 1857, son George was born in Rising Sun, Indiana.
  • In August 1859, son Valorous was born in Indiana. (He is named for his maternal grandfather.)
  • In 1860, Joseph and Susan are living with their two sons, George and Valorous, in Spencer County, Indiana. (1860 census)
  • In 1863, Joseph registered for the civil war draft. He was living in Ohio County, Indiana.
  • On 28 January 1864, daughter Mary Francis is born in Rising Sun.
  • In September 1865, daughter Lizzie is born in Indiana.
  • In 1880, Joseph and Susan are living with their children, Valorous, Mary and Lizzie, in Boone County, Kentucky. (1880 census)
  • In 1900, Joseph and Susan are still in Boone County. (1900 census)
  • Joseph died on 25 February 1907 in Boone County. (obituary)
  • He was buried in Rising Sun, Ohio County, Indiana according to his obituary. (obituary)
  • His occupation was fisherman.
Now the problems:
I have never been able to find the family in the 1870 census. This could be attributed to the family moving around the Ohio River.

There is no one birthplace listed for Joseph. Gathering all the census records for him and his children, his place of birth is listed as:
  • Ohio - 2x
  • England - 2x
  • Pennsylvania - 7x
  • Virginia - 1x
  • West Virginia - 1x
In 1880, the census enumerator wrote that Joseph's father was born in Pennsylvania and his mother in France. In 1900, it is written that his father was born in Ireland and his mother in Pennsylvania.

George named his first born Joseph Mills Hillis. His father never used a middle name or initial, but the Mills name might be from his family.

I was able to find his obituary 2 weeks ago. The Boone County Public Library in Burlington, Kentucky has an newspaper index on their website. I found an entry for Joseph and received the obituary in my email in a few days. So now I have some other places to look.

Here's my plan:
  • Search the Rising Sun, Indiana papers for mention of his death and burial. 
  • Search the family files at the Ohio County Historical Society. They have files on Hillis and Morse.
So it's road trip time!

1 comment:

  1. My family was living in Jefferson county, Indiana, close to your area, during the 1870 census but I haven't been able to find them. I'm almost sure they were there because two of their children were married there at this time. One explanation I've heard is that after the Civil War some were wary of anything to do with the government, thus census takers. Another explanation is that the census takers during this time and in this area were not very good. It might be interesting to read the local newspaper at this time, maybe it would shed some light on this problem.