Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mystery Solved!

With so many "brick walls," it is so satisfying to break down at least one. John Shoens of Camillus, Onondaga County, New York, had a wife named Rebecca. In the 1850 census, a Ruth Randall was living with the family. Unfortunately, in that census, relationships are not given. Oh, one might surmise, that must be Rebecca's mother and, therefore, Rebecca's surname must have been Randall. Many researchers have made that mistake and linked John to a Rebecca Randall who was born and married in Oneida County. She was born about the same time as the wife of John Shoens. Just one problem - she married someone else and died in Oneida County. A visit to the Shoens plot in Belle Isle Cemetery gives a valuable clue. The gravestone for John and his wife lists "John Shoens" and "Rebecca Fox his wife." Her birth year is 1800.

A search of indicated that a Ruth Randall applied for a widow's pension for Revolutionary War service by her first husband, Lemuel Fox. In order to prove her relationship to Lemuel, Ruth tore pages out of her bible and sent them with her application. Those pages are found among the digital images on Footnote. The bible pages showed the date of her marriage to Lemuel, the names and dates of birth of her children and the date of Lemuel's death. Rebecca Fox is listed as their first child, born 17 June 1800. Is that the Rebecca we have been looking for? The surname and date of birth match the information on the gravestone.

Ruth's application was denied because no record of Revolutionary War service was found for a Lemuel Fox in New York. Ruth subsequently remarried - to a John Clark, a proven Revolutionary War soldier. When John died, Ruth applied again under his name. That application was denied due to the previous application. Ruth remarried and her surname became Randall. Mr. Randall died, and, you guessed it, she tried once more. She was never successful in getting her pension. That might be one of the reasons she, as a widow, was residing in the home of her daughter and son-in-law in Camillus in 1850.

The 1855 New York State census states that John was born in Oneida County and Rebecca was born in Onondaga County, NY. Ruth Randall is living with them and is identified as "mother-in-law." The children of Ruth and Lemuel Fox were born in Onondaga County. Upon preponderance of the evidence, the wife of John Shoens was Rebecca Fox, not Rebecca Randall.

1 comment:

  1. Footnote is now known as Fold3. Further research of Revolutionary War Pension Records has shown that Ruth did finally receive a pension. It was given to her as widow of her second husband, John Clark, while she was Ruth Randall.