Breaking Down a Brick Wall With Just One Letter

In my last post I talked about my search for Edward Darnell Arvin, and how it led me to a different ancestor instead. In this segment I discover how spelling does matter, what a good friend Google is, and that Find A Grave can suck away an afternoon.

The census records were very enlightening. I knew from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) database that Julia Ann Cannon Arvin was James’s granddaughter through his son Joseph Cannon. Check them off the census lists. Then I began looking for the other Cannon families in Daviess and Martin Counties (Martin was formed from Davies County in 1820, and many of the Cannons were there). Like a grocery list, I began checking off the possible children of James Cannon. Then, in the 1850 and 1860 censuses I found her. Berthena Cannon, not Bethena, daughter of William and Mary Cannon. That one “r” had caused me to not be able to find my third-great-grandmother! Plus, William was one of the suspected children of James and his wife Jemima Nichols.

Okay, so now where else to look? Google to the rescue, of course! I searched for “James Cannon Revolutionary War Daviess County Indiana” and wow, look at the results… kick me for not Googling first. There were pages from the DAR, theSons of the American Revolution (SAR), county historical sites, images of his headstone, transcripts of his pension records… and the list goes on. First off I found his probate records, and those of his son Joseph who was the father of Julia Ann. The site also contained a really nicely done family tree. To top it off, William Cannon was on the will on behalf of his step mother Sarah. Stand up and do the happy dance! Now I just needed to link this William to my William with concrete proof and I was all set.

A database at Ancestry.com (A roster of Revolutionary ancestors of the Indiana Daughters of the American Revolution: commemoration of the United States of America) proved to hold what I was looking for. There was a listing of all James Cannon’s children in black and white. Double squee! So, was that William my William? Back to digging I went, the intrepid explorer bound and determined to solve the mystery! A few more Google searches and I came up with a website called “Indiana Patriot Graves” maintained by the SAR. James Cannon’s memorial page was WONDERFUL! It listed William and his wife Mary Smith. I also found out where James’s grave is located, which meant or course I had to go out to Find A Grave.

Find A Grave was very enlightening, and led me down another research afternoon. First off, William Cannon is buried in the same cemetery as his father. These discoveries led me off on a tangent to see who else from my mother’s line I could find. It took half a day, but I catalogued nearly 100 relatives (grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins) in 30 Cemeteries all within Martin County, Indiana. I have not brought myself to do Daviess County… yet.

To be continued…

Photo by Chris Deavers


Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Shannon Bennett of Locust Grove, Va.


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