Patricia Craig Johnson --- Searching for My Ancestors --- Sharing My Life Stories

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Lesson In Humility --- Whoops, Its Hester Ann Johnson Not Hester Ann Davis

In my last report, I said I was sure that the death certificate for Hester Ann was in error. Now, I must amend my statement and "eat crow". As many years as I have been doing genealogical research, you would think that I surely must have learned the basic fundamental research principle. "Do not be so sure of something that you publish first and ask later." As soon as I do that, it comes back to haunt me big time.

In the beginning, Davis and Hester Ann Ryan were the last two people to quit claim their interest in the John Van Buskirk farm in 1877. I eliminated Davis as the connection to the Van Buskirk family as I found he had a brother still alive in 1900 -- and if he were the heir, his brother would have shared equally with Davis. This caused me to concentrate on Hester Ann as being the heir. I was reasonably sure she was a Davis, and descendant of Elizabeth Van Buskirk Bannon Davis. When I finally received her death certificate and it stated her father was William Johnson, I left the world of reality, momentarily, and chalked it off to simply an error in reporting by the informant.

But at the same time, a little voice was whipering in my ear, "You had better check out this new name and make sure her father CAN'T be William Johnson." With the same feeling a kid has when they have to drag themselves somewhere to apologize for doing something wrong -- I started double checking the area of Madison Co Indiana where Davis and Hester lived most of their lives.

There was a William Johnson, with a daughter named Hester Ann in the same neighborhood as Davis Ryan in 1870. Matter of fact he lived "just one page" away from the Ryan family on the 1870 census. Davis and Hester married about 1872 in Madison Co Indiana. So why would Hester be involved in the John Van Buskirk farm? Perhaps she was a child of William and another wife before Vilena Johnson? No, William and Velina were married by 1850 and living in Rush Co Indiana. Hester Ann was born in 1853. Also Hester Ann Johnson had 4 siblings and outliving all of them in 1877 seemed very unlikely. They were all younger than she was. She was the oldest child of William Johnson, and the next child was 4 years her junior. If the Van Buskirk connection was Hester, why wouldn't her siblings be heirs as well?

I had nothing left to do but admit defeat. I immediately removed Hester from my PAF database, and also the man I thought was her father, William DAVIS. If something is revealed at a later date, I can always re-enter her. Perhaps I will never find the truth here. Is Hester Ann, perhaps, not the biological daughter of William and Velina Johnson? If that is the case, it will not be easy to prove.

For now, I have to be content that I have found the 7th heir of John Van Buskirk. That was my goal in the beginning. I have enough compelling evidence that I feel comfortable in my conclusion. Not that I will totally abandon Hester Ann. She will live in the back of my mind. Who knows, perhaps it will all become clear later.

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