Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Smart Genealogy in LaGrange County, Indiana

The Midwest has a cameo in the current National Genealogical Society Quarterly, in Arlene V. Jennings's masterful article on the Yorkshire origins of Hanna (Watson) Smart. Most of the research action takes place in England, as the author matches up the Indiana and Yorkshire families almost as quickly (and a good deal more cogently) as a certain TV show. Then things get interesting, because Hannah Watson had no baptismal record in the village of North Newbald, where she was married.

In one of those laconic sentences that represents countless hours of work, the author observes that "of eighty-six parishes within a twelve-mile radius of North Newbald, candidates for Hannah appear in four parishes." (There's even a citation to a local demographic study justifying the choice of that size radius.)

Using clues provided by siblings, Hannah's parents are identified, but her father is William Watson, a common name in the area. Eight of the article's twenty pages are devoted to sorting out William Watsons in the area, using land tax assessments, churchwardens' accounts, poor rates, manorial records, maps, probate records, and censuses. These records provide an amazing level of detail about where Hannah's parents lived (near a boundary, of course) and where her parents had lived before their marriage. The genealogical summary shows Hannah's children ending up not only in LaGrange County, Indiana, but in St. Joseph County Michigan; Steuben County, Indiana; and Osage and Marion counties, Kansas.

Arlene V. Jennings, CG, "The Yorkshire Origins of Hannah (Watson) Smart of LaGrange County, Indiana," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, vol. 100, no. 3 (September 2012):199-219

Harold Henderson, "Smart Genealogy in LaGrange County, Indiana," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 24 October 2012 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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