Archive for January, 2014

#52Ancestors – No. 4 – Theodocia R. Sims

This post is part of the 52 Ancestors Challenge were we blog about a different ancestor for each week of the year.

In this weeks’ challenge I chose Theodocia Rachael Sims. Theodocia is the wife of last week’s ancestor Benjamin C. Woodburn.  I had assumed early in my research that she most likely passed way before 1890.  I was not able to find a record of her in later years.  Years have come and go and new information has bought a series of dots to connect on this line.

Theodocia was born in 1841, near Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky. She is the daughter of William Sims/Simms and Catherine Woodburn.  William Sims dies within a year or two of Theodocia’s birth. This leaves her mother with seven daughters to rear. Her mother Catherine stays close to the Woodburn family and is enumerated on the same census page in 1850 and 1860. Her farm, if she had a farm, may have been next door to her father’s James Woodburn or brother, Alexander Woodburn.  The Wilson family between the two families, is Catherine’s oldest daughter, Amanda Woodburn Wilson.

 Woodburn's and Sim's 1860 Census

Woodburn’s and Sim’s 1860 Census

Theodocia didn’t go too far to meet her husband.  He was just across the field at her Uncle Alexander’s house. Theodosia married her first cousin, Benjamin Woodburn who was four years younger. Benjamin enlisted in the Union army in 1862 and returned home sometime before 1867.  He and Theodocia married in April 1867 in Christian Co., Kentucky.  I have not been able to find an image of the marriage bond or license.

On the 1870 Census, they reside near Decker Station, Indiana. Four children are listed, with the oldest one, Charles, born in 1864, three years before they married.  Benjamin was in the Civil War for at least 3-4 years.  He could have furloughed from the war and had pre-marital relations with Theodocia.  Or, Theodocia was married before or had relations with another man.  I have not found a marriage record for an earlier marriage.

Fast forward to Civil War Pension records.  Theodocia applies for a widow’s pension in 1892.  So now I know she is still around.  I am still not able to find her in the 1900, 1910 or 1920 Censuses.  While researching her daughter Addie Decker Woodburn, I found information leading me to Theodocia.  I found Addie’s death certificate listing her mother’s name and Addie’s married name (Morris) and residence.  Addie is living in Dallas and/or Fort Worth area of Texas. I started looking to see if I could find Theodocia.  By that time Texas records were added to

Eureka! A death certificate is discovered for Theodocia R. Sims Thacker. Theodocia’s death certificate lists Billie Sims and Katherine Woodburn as her parents. The date of her death is August 3, 1926.  The informant on the record is Jimmie Morris, Addie’s husband. At findagrave, there is a headstone for Granny Thacker, no first name.  The spouse on the headstone is M. L. Thacker.


I have not found any record that definitely connects Theodocia to this M. L. Thacker.  M.L. Thacker is allegedly Marcus Lafayette Thacker born 1831 in Tennessee, died 1920 in Fort Worth, TX.  I do know that M. L. Thacker lived in Christian Co., Kentucky in 1860.  He is enumerated in the same district and not too many pages from the Woodburn’s and Sims.

I continue to search for any listing of Benjamin Woodburn.  I was rewarded a couple of weeks ago when his name came up in a Civil War Remarried Widow Pension Application.  Filed in May 1920, shortly after Marcus Thacker’s death, Benjamin’s widow filed for a pension.  The name on the application is, Theodocia R Thacker.  I’m slowly connecting the dots and tearing down the walls.


Source Citation: Year: 1860; Census Place: , Christian, Kentucky; Roll: M653_362; Page: 596; Image: 94; Family History Library Film: 803362.

“Kentucky Marriages, 1785-1979,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Jan 2014), Benjamin H. Woodburn and Theodocia R. Sims, 28 Apr 1867.


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#52Ancestors – No. 3 – Benjamin C Woodburn

For this week’s installment of the 52 Ancestors Challenge to write about one ancestor a week, I chose to stay in the Woodburn family.  This post is about Benjamin C Woodburn, the father of last weeks number 2 post, Josephine Woodburn.  Benjamin is the father who signed off on the marriage bond that allowed 12 year old Josephine to marry.

I am trying to grasp why a father would allow his very young daughter to marry.  The average age of women marrying in the 1880’s was in the early to mid 20’s.  It might be that Benjamin didn’t have the cash flow to take care of his family.  Having one less mouth to feed may have kept them out of the poor house. I think this line of Woodburn’s are the poor relations in the family.

Benjamin C. Woodburn (Ben), born in Christian County, Kentucky is the son of Alexander Woodburn and Charlotte Lacy.  Alexander Woodburn is a prosperous farmer in the area. In November 1862, Ben enlists in the Civil War for the next three years. He participates in many skirmishes and battles as a Private in the Third Kentucky Calvary Company “A”.  I don’t have all his muster cards some indicate his pay or when his unit was detached (not assigned to regiment).  I do have one indicating that he was sick for two months in Nashville, TN right after he enlisted in November 1862. According to wikipedia, 168 enlisted men of this company died of disease.  Ben was darn lucky to survive.

Through Google, I discovered a group of Civil War Cartes de visite (photographs) of the officers of the 3rd Kentucky Cavalry.  They were donated to Baylor University-Texas.  For more information check out the flickr link at:

Civil War soldiers were allowed furlough from the war and could come home.  I am hoping that is the case as you will see later.  Ben returns from the war between 1865-1866.  He gets married on April 28, 1867 to Theodocia Rachael Sims. Maybe this is the event were he is cast out of his family.  But, then again, this is Kentucky.  Theodocia is Ben’s first cousin.  She is the daughter of Catherine Woodburn and William A. Sims or Simms.  Catherine is the brother of Alexander Woodburn, Ben’s father.  Maybe the family is not into kissing first cousins.

Ben and Theodocia are living in Decker Station, Indiana per the 1870 Census.  They are listed with their three children.  There is a transcription error on their last name, Woodham, instead of Woodburn.  Their first child is Charles Woodburn, age 6.  That means he was born before Ben and Theodocia got married.  So maybe Ben came home on furlough and met his cousin in the hay barn.  Or, Theodocia was married or co-inhabiting with some one else. I did look for other marriage certificates for Theodocia and didn’t find any.  Their daughter Fannie is born in 1867 and presumed dead by 1880.  I find no record of her after the 1870 census.  Then I considered maybe she got married off at 12 or 13 like her sister.  Charles names his first daughter Fannie, and I have a feeling that his sister did pass away. Next is James William, all listed as being born in KY.

The next two girls, Josephine (my great-grandmother, 1872) and her sister Addie Decker Woodburn (1875) are born in Decker Station.  I couldn’t figure out why Addie’s middle name was Decker.  There are no Decker’s in my family tree.  I happen to come across an article about the building of the railroad station in Decker.  I guess the family wanted a remembrance of where she was born.  Ben is listed as a day laborer in the 1870 Census.  I could not locate other Woodburn family members in the area.  I am curious as to why they moved there.  Was it to find work or get away from the fracas of marrying his cousin?

The family moves to Boggess, Muhlenberg Co, Kentucky by 1880.  Ben works in a stable, 15 year old Charlie is working the mines. Ben files for an invalid pension in September 1882 for his service in the Civil War.  Could this be also be a reason that he may not have been able to support his family?  I could pay Fold3 to look at more Civil War records on Ben, but I am not in a paying mood.  Theodocia files a claim for a widow’s pension in March 1892.  I have not yet found a death or burial record for Benjamin C Woodburn.  I find it frustrating that I can find records on a dozen or more Woodburns’ but none belonging to my direct ancestor.

I don’t know why Ben and Theodocia let Josephine get married at 12 years old.  I found a record of her sister, Addie getting married at 24 after Ben has passed away. Charlie gets married in 1885 to Claudia Fortney, who is a cousin to John T. Pittman, Josephine’s husband.  Maybe with fewer mouths to feed, the family holds on.

Next week, I will write about Theodocia Sims.  How a clue in the Civil War pension record confirms a remarriage.





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#52Ancestors – No. 2 – Josephine Woodburn Pittman

I chose this ancestor because I feel the need to go back in time to ask why this marriage took place.  What was happening in the family environment that led to this event? What would compel the parents to give their permission for the marriage?  I cannot accept that the couple married for love.

My first record of Josephine Woodburn is from my grandmother Olive Roll Howes 3×5 index card listing her parent’s family names.  Grandma Olive was way into genealogy back in the 60’s.  She would so get a kick of the records we have access to today.  Josephine was my first brick wall outside of the Polish side.

Grandma Olive's 3x5 card

Grandma Olive’s 3×5 card

I knew she died young and her husband John Thomas Pittman remarried and had more children.  My next clue was the 1910 Census for John Pittman.  Josephine is not listed.  The three oldest girls and the new wife are in the record.  So this implies that Josephine died sometime after her third daughter was born and John’s remarriage.  Long before computers, I searched the microfilms of the 1870 and 1880 Censuses looking for her.  I had two possibilities and logged them on my Dad’s old letterhead and keep them in the pile of records.  Year’s later I added them to my Ancestry Shoebox for future reference.  The information just wasn’t quire right.  They were for two separate Josephine’s.  One born in 1862 had a mother named Martha, I have an Aunt Martha.  The 1880 record of a Josephine had all the matching info, except the age was off.

I searched over the past 25 years to no avail.  As computers came online I searched again, but I needed records.  I so needed the 1890 Census lost forever to fire and water.  I was sure that would tie everything together.   I scoured various Internet sites looking for records; again, I needed more records online.

My favorite genealogical website is KYGenWeb – Online Kentucky Genealogy Resources.  It is definitely the go to site for your Kentucky and Indiana ancestors. I would spend hours search their records for information.  This was before they added a search engine.  I would open every single link and comb through line by line looking for references, sources, any clue to long lost relatives.  I check back every so often to see if they added more records that I could search.  A few years back I found my wrecking ball at KYGenweb.  That elusive piece of information that would finally bring down that brick wall.

I don’t think I will ever have empirical sources on Josephine Woodburn.  The records I have found do demonstrate both direct and indirect evidence.  The indirect evidence is my wrecking ball.  KYGenWeb provided a listing of burial records at the Old Dovey Cemetery in Central City, KY.  It is an original transcription from Muhlenberg County, Kentucky Cemeteries Vol. 1 by Marian G. Hammers. 1976.  There near the bottom,  a record for J.K. Woodburn, wife of J.T. Pittman, December 11, 1872 – February 12, 1893.

But was it my Josephine Woodburn?  I use the dates given searching for birth and death records, nothing is found on Josephine.  I do find records for the girls linking them to Josephine and John Pittman.  It would take another year, before the index of Josephine and John’s marriage is online.  Their marriage date in October 28, 1885.  I am still haunted by that 1880 Census.  The birth date on the cemetery listing fits the Josephine listed on the census.  The brick wall in my brain will not accept it at all. That Josephine born in 1872 is too young to be my Josephine.

What in Sam’s Hell was going on in the Woodburn family in 1885? I am beginning to think that this Woodburn line were the poor relations of the family.  Struggling financially to get by raising and providing for the family.  Did Josephine’s father Benjamin C Woodburn injuries from the civil war affect his ability to provide for his family?  Where is my time machine?  I have a lot of questions to ask you Benjamin and Rachael (Sims) Woodburn!

Marriage Bond for John T Pittman and Josephine Woodburn

Marriage Bond for John T Pittman and Josephine Woodburn

I found the marriage bond for John Thomas Pittman and Josephine K. Woodburn at  Agreeing to the marriage was B.C. Woodburn.  The wedding took place at the home of B. C. Woodburn, witnesses were Levi Eaves (family relation) and Josephine’s brother, Charles Woodburn.  John Pittman is 22 years old, Josephine is listed as 14.  FOURTEEN!  Who in the ^*&*% let’s their child get married at FOURTEEN?!  But Josephine is not 14, she is 12 years old. She will be 13 years old six weeks later. I just cannot fathom why a 22 year old would marry a 12 year old.

Their first child, Grace Pittman Holmes is born in 1887, followed by Mable Laura Pittman Roll in 1889.  Mary Katherine (Kit) Pittman Jackson is born in August 1892.  Josephine Woodburn Pittman is dead six months later.

At the age of 36, John T. Pittman marries Ella McDowell, 29 in 1900.  They have four children together.  By the 1910 Census, Josephine’s daughters have left the house. My grandmother Olive, says that John Pittman demanded a lot from his girls, housecleaning and taking care of their younger siblings. They left as soon as they were able. John out lived both his wives, Ella passed away in 1936.  John lived to be 93 and passed away in 1956.

I was not able to find Josephine’s headstone listed at Findagrave.  It may be lost to time or just overlooked.  I think the headstone has a story to tell.  In a time when men rule and women have no rights, maybe Josephine’s family wanted her to be remember forever as a Woodburn.  Because the stone does not say J.K. Pittman in a time where women lost their identity. Her stone reads J.K. Woodburn.

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#52Ancestors – The King’s Daughters Marguerite Cardillion #1

I am taking up the challenge leveled by Amy Johnson at No Story Too Small.  The challenge is to write one blog post each week on one of your ancestors for 2014.  The challenge is a tool to write consistently, which is what I don’t do.  I write one long blog a week and should write a few times a week.

I chose my 8th great grandmother, Marguerite Cardillion.  Marguerite was born in St-Gervais, Paris, Ile de France, France in 1651 (some records show 1641).  In 1665 she left France for the Canada sponsored by the French Government as a Les Filles de Roi (King’s Daughters).  France was desperately trying to increase population of New France in the 1660’s to preserve their threshold in the New World.

The were many men in Quebec and very few women.  Women were wanted to marry and bring forth many children to the new colony.  The Crown offered a King’s dowry to women who willing went to the new world.  Girls or young women who were either orphaned or without means to offer a dowry for a suitable marriage were eschewed in 1600’s France.   Either condemned to women’s pauper prisons, convents, or worse yet the streets, some felt their only escape was a chance in an unknown new world.  About 800 women took up the endeavor and traveled across the Atlantic to Quebec to become wives of soldiers and settlers.

King's Daughters

King’s Daughters

The crossing took two months in the hold of a stinking ship.  To survive that voyage, a person needed to be of hardy stock.  Though the men wanted good looking women, they needed stocky women who could work a new farm and bear many, many children.   Marguerite most likely married within six months of arriving.  The women/girls did have time to get to know the men that were courting them before entering a contract of marriage.   There was very little hanky-panky back then.  Everything was kept prim and proper by the Church, nuns and society itself.

I chose Marguerite for this post because she took a chance leaving France where she faced hardship as an orphan with no way of supporting herself.  Going to a strange land where she might not even survive the crossing, willing to contract a marriage to a man she barely knew and knowing there was no return to France if she changed her mind.

She fulfilled the Crown’s goal of populating the French Colony. That 15 year old girl is the 8th great grandmother to hundreds of descendents in Canada and the United States.   n the U.S.

Photo credit:

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