A few weeks ago I told you about how I broke down a brick wall by thinking outside the box… well, outside the box for me. Through the FTU Power Course I took on breaking down brick walls I learned you should look in places where records for ancestor maybe that are not in the regular places to look. Researching unusual databases, newspapers, magazines, court records, and real life locations are great ways to get off the beaten path and make family history discoveries. I had planned to go looking for one ancestor, and ended up solving a maternal line mystery in another family line instead!
Last summer I found a write up online about a likely ancestor named Edward Darnell Arvin, and I have been desperately trying to find the proof that links my line to this person. I have traced my mom’s line back, with some clues given to me by her family, to Henry Arvin, who was born Port Tobacco, Maryland on 7 November 1787, and died in Daviess County, Indiana on 18 June 1860. I would love to prove that this man, who according to the text was at Valley Forge, was indeed my ancestor. My oldest son, the military history nut, would go crazy. Unfortunately, the first place I looked, the Daughters of the American Revolution, does not have him listed as a patriot. I did, however, get pages of results showing the last name of Arvin that were listed as descendants on other patriots. I put the project on the backburner.
In December, I decided to try again. What were the chances that if I spent a few minutes (okay, possibly a few hours) going through the lists on that database I might find a name that jumped off the page at me? It only took 30 minutes. I found a listing for a John Leonard Arvin who was married to Julia Ann Cannon from Daviess County Indiana. She was listed as a descendent of a James Cannon who fought in the Revolution while living in South Carolina. Frantically pulling out my records, I found the name Bethena Cannon on my maternal grandmother’s line. I have no parents listed for her and have done nothing more than a cursory look for her up until then. I began to wonder if there were a link.
First, I went out to Fold3 to look for James Cannon’s pension record, and crossed my fingers that there would be one. I got lucky. If you want to go and read his pension record, with the sworn testimony of what he did during the Revolution, you can find it there under James Cannon, 96th District, South Carolina, record S32166. It did not list his children or wife, unfortunately. Thinking I could get some leads from Ancestry.com, I searched for Julia Ann Cannon Arvin. Several online family trees I found with her listed went back to James Cannon, but I wasn’t able to find sources listed that I could go and look at. I added the names to my research notebook and began to scour the Census records.
To be continued…
Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Shannon Bennett of Locust Grove, Va.
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