Sunday, April 27, 2014

52 Ancestors: #17 - Simeon JOLLETT JOLLEY JOLLY

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor.  It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.

James and Nancy Walker Jollett had a son named Simeon.  In my database, he’s number 9, but he could have been born at any time between 1790 and 1808, judging by conflicting census records.  My gut feeling is he was probably a “big brother,” not the “baby brother” like my database reflects. 

What has brought me to that conclusion is the number of times Simeon posted bond or served as a witness in the marriages of his sisters.  That sounds like something an older brother would do.

But here’s the real puzzle about Simeon Jollett:  he never appears in a census record. 

Or does he? 

It’s only been recently that I have opened my mind to accept that “Jolly” and “Jollett” could be related families.  The first nudge was discovering a known ancestor listed in a census as “Fielding Jolly,” rather than as “Jollett” as he was identified in all other records.  Soon I found others who alternated between Jollett and Jolly, thanks to whoever mis-heard or mis-recorded the name in the early 1800s.

What I AM sure about is that my Simeon Jollett married Nancy Glass in Orange County, Virginia in July 1822.  There’s a record. 

from Virginia, Orange County Marriage Records 1757-1938, index and images
FamilySearch ( : accessed 09 Apr 2014), Simeon Jollett and Nancy Glass, 08 Jul 1822; citing , , County Courthouse, Orange; FHL microfilm 33031

After that, nothing.  They alluded me for years until I decided to search for Simeon Jolley.  Simeon Jolly.  Simon Jolley.  Simon Jolly. 

I do believe I found him.  In Ohio.  In Indiana.  In Illinois.  And why not?  A sister and brother joined the migration into the Northwest Territory in the 1830s, so it seems logical that he might have done the same.  While the details of age and state of birth fit, that’s really the only “proof” I have.  It’s dangerous to make an assumption, but right now, this is the best that I have to go on.

In 1840, Simeon Jollett was in Jefferson, Ohio, enumerated as Simeon Jolly. 


1 under 5
1 5-9
1 10-14
1 40-49

1 5-9
1 30-39

I grant there are a couple problems with this family.  First, there is another son for whom I have no name.  It’s possible he died young.  It’s also possible one of the other Jolly families is actually “mine” and I just don’t know it.  However, in studying other census years, I have found nothing to connect to a third son.  Second, there is another daughter without a slot in this census.  Perhaps she was married already.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

In 1850, Simeon, aka Simon Jolley, was in Harrison Township, Indiana with his wife Nancy, and three children Robert, Elizabeth, and G.W. (George).  I’m confident this is the same family from the 1840 census; plus, now I can see Simeon and Nancy were from Virginia.  Go Team Jollett!  Henry had married and moved his family to Fayette, Ohio.  Still no sign of the daughter Catherine who supposedly had married one J.J. Hunter.  Simeon was working as a shoemaker.

1850 federal census for Harrison Township, Wells Co, Indiana

By 1860, Simeon and Nancy Jolly “no -e” had moved once again, this time to Tippecanoe, Indiana.  Only George was still at home.  As for the whereabouts of Robert and Elizabeth, I have no clue.  Vanished.  There is no shortage of Robert Jolly’s and Robert Jolley’s in Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana, so he could be any one of them.   Meanwhile, Henry and his family were in Randolph, Illinois.

1860 federal census for Tippecanoe, Indiana

Between 1860 and 1870, Nancy died.  In 1870, Simeon lived with his son Henry and family in Lexington, Illinois.  Catherine’s son Charles was there too, enumerated as Henry’s nephew.  Now Simeon’s son George was among the missing.  I thought I had found him in someone’s family tree on Ancestry, but it was actually Henry’s son George. 

1870 federal census for Lexington, McLean, Illinois

There is more due diligence required before I can claim this family once and for all, but I’m confident they are mine.

Three Generations:

Simeon JOLLETT JOLLEY JOLLY (Before 1800 Orange Co, Virginia – After 1870) & Nancy GLASS (1805 – Before 1870) 18 Jul 1822 Orange Co, Virginia

1.  Henry S. JOLLEY (1824 Virginia - 29 Mar 1897 in Ithaca, Saunders, Nebraska) & Nancy FOX (1828 Ohio – 23 Jun 1910 Red Willow, Nebraska) 20 Aug 1846
  • George Marion JOLLEY (17 Sep 1846 Fayette, Ohio - 18 Mar 1925 Plainview, Pierce, Nebraska) & Elizabeth Eva RITCHIE (8 Aug 1851 Fulks Run, Rockingham, Virginia – 2 Feb 1945 Plainview, Pierce, Nebraska) 1 May 1873 Plainview, Pierce, Nebraska
  • Mary JOLLEY (Feb 1852 Ohio - 10 Nov 1852 Milledgeville, Fayette, Ohio)
  • Emma Elizabeth JOLLEY (11 Feb 1854 Defiance, Fayette, Ohio - 10 Feb 1951 Bartley, Red Willow, Nebraska) &  Samuel Miller HART (11 Apr 1846 Ashland, Ohio – 3 Jul 1935 Bartley, Red Willow, Nebraska) 5 Jan 1871 Lexington, McLean, Illinois
2.  Catherine JOLLEY  (1825 Virginia - ) &  J. J. HUNTER
  • Charles Harvey HUNTER (Apr 1866 Illinois - 1925 Saunders, Nebraska) & Margaret RIDDICK (Jan 1866 Missouri - ) 1894
3.  Robert JOLLEY (1830 Ohio - )

4.  Elizabeth JOLLEY (1833 Ohio - )

5.  George W. JOLLEY (1842 Ohio - )

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. What a lot of cross referencing and matching you have to do and with different spellings that might be the same person, it must make your research quite painstaking to ensure you have the correct facts.

    1. So far this is the only case of a significantly different spelling, but that makes me wonder how many more related families there might be.

  2. Good detective work! It's so easy to be fixated on a particular name and/or place, and not know how far out to cast your net. Seems like you are on the right track! The State of Illinois online archives has a good marriage database, if you need to check for marriages pre-1900.

    1. Thanks for the tip about the archives. I looked and found some of the names that I have here. Since parents' names are not included, I can't tell if they are "mine," but it gives me a lot of possibilities that I can follow up on.

  3. Facinating as always. I can give you a first hand example of a modern day name change, done legally. My father Robert changed our last name legally from Baldrige to Baldridge because he was tired of getting mail with the extra d always added. So he made it legal. My cousins and his brother and sister and parents still spelled their name Baldrige, and continue to. I remember getting a phone call when I was in college in the 1970's from someone named Scott Baldridge, who was researching his family. It was awkward when I told him I wasn't a real "Baldridge"! :)


    1. Probably if you go back far enough, those Baldriges and Baldridges are one.