The Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois CourthouseOh my, the twists and turns of genealogical research can surely be a surprise. Yesterday, as I was doing my shift at the Family History Center in Fort Collins, it was pretty quiet so I used some of the premium websites that I don't personally subscribe to. That is one of the nice tools provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They are free to patrons that visit the Family History Centers.
But to get back to my story --- as some of you know, I am writing about my fourth great grandfather, Berriman McLaughlin and his eleven children that reached adulthood. I am almost finished and have one more to go, but the one I just finished is his youngest child, Josephus McLaughlin, born about 1820. I have studied him pretty thoroughly because so little is known of his life, and when he died is a complete mystery. I know about his wife, Vilotta Peak and some about their five children. I figured I had learned all I possibly could about this illusive man. Until yesterday!!
I was in World Vital Records and just had a whim that said, "Put in Josephus McLaughlin." I didn't find anything new until I scrolled down all the way to the bottom of the results and saw his name with the location Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois. Thinking like a person that "knows it all" I thought "no way" is that my Josephus McLaughlin. But then upon reading the transcription of these land records in Hancock County, Illinois, there was the proof, one transaction was a land sale and his wife was Vilotta McLaughlin.
Now a brand new scenario appeared for Josephus McLaughlin. The first land transaction was dated June 1846. It adds a whole new chapter to the story of Josephus and Vilotta McLaughlin. The interesting thing too, is that he bought these land parcels from Mormons at the time they were leaving Nauvoo for The Great Salt Lake. The grantors were Claudius V and Hiram Spencer; John and Perces Stiles. One grantor was James Todd, and I can't determine that he was a Mormon. At the time of the first two land transactions in June and July 1846, Josephus and Vilotta were residents of Jersey County, Illinois. By the end of the land transaction in May 1850 the McLaughlins were residents of Hancock County, Illinois. Apparently, Josephus McLaughlin had not kept his agreement in the original land transaction and in May 1850 it looks like a foreclosure caused a commissioner's deed to be executed by the two Spencer men. All of these land transactions are found in Hancock County, Illinois Deed Books Q, T and Y.
In August 1850 the couple and their five children were living back in Scott County, Illinois with Vilotta's parents. In 1855 on the Illinois State Census, Josephus and Vilotta are on that census with all five of their children. This is the last record of Josephus McLaughlin that I have found. From that date forward all of the records are of Vilotta. She never remarried, and she had her children with her in her many moves until they began their own families. Family lore indicates that Josephus went to California during the Gold Rush and never was heard of again. All I can verify is that he was never heard of again.
But stranger things have happened, and someday I may find the answer to this mysterious man's death.