Ancestral Journeys

Genealogical research and thoughts

  • David W. Suddarth

    Welcome to Ancestral Journeys, my genealogy research blog. Researching one's ancestors is like taking a journey back through time. Each of our ancestors have a story and those stories are waiting to be told. I hope to do that, as well as outline research methods and other information relating to genealogy and family history. Even if we do not share the same ancestry, I hope you will find some of the discussion and ideas of benefit. For my complete profile, click on the 'About' tab at the top of the page.

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Is James the Father of Lewis?

Posted by dwsuddarth on 31 October 2009

I have been searching for the parents of my third great-grandfather, Lewis Suddarth, for many years now.  It seems to be one of those problems that just does not want to be solved.  Having run into a dead-end in trying to research Lewis, I have begun researching other Suddarths who lived in southern Indiana at the same time as Lewis, hoping that by doing so, I may learn more about Lewis.

The first person I decided to research who would seem to have a connection to Lewis is James Suddarth, thinking he may be a brother.  Throughout the years that I have been researching the Suddarth family, however, I have heard and found posted online that James is Lewis’ father.  The only reason I have ever seen for making this connection is that James is the only Suddarth in southern Indiana who is old enough to be Lewis’ father.  So, has the solution to my puzzle been right under my nose all the time?  Is James the father of Lewis?

I have written quite a lot about James on this blog.  James was born 22 March 1795 in Virginia.  His wife, Malinda, was born 13 September 1797 in Kentucky.  These dates come from the grave marker for James and Malinda located in the Marengo Cemetery in Marengo, Indiana.  According to all census records for Lewis, he was born about 1812 in Kentucky.  Therefore, when Lewis was born, James would have been 17 years of age and Malinda, 15 years of age.  Although I believe this to be unlikely, it is a definite possibility.

Looking at census records for James, I have found the following:

1820 Crawford County, Indiana -

  • 1 male 26 to 45
  • 2 or 3 females under 10
  • 1 female 16 to 26

There are no males Lewis’ age listed in James’ household in 1820.  If James was the father, we would expect to see at least 1 male under 10 enumerated.

1830 Crawford County, Indiana -

  • 2 males under 5
  • 1 male 30 to 40
  • 1 female under 5
  • 1 female 10 to 15
  • 1 female 30 to 40

Again, there are no males Lewis’ age listed in James’ household in 1830.  If James was the father, we would expect to see at least 1 male 15 to 20 enumerated.  The only male children in the household are under 5, too young for Lewis.
Lewis married in August 1839 and is enumerated as head of household in 1840:

1840 Crawford County, Indiana -

  • 1 male 20 to 30
  • 1 female 20 to 30

Is it possible that the enumerator just put Lewis in the wrong column in 1830?  I believe this to be highly unlikely, but let’s look at the 1850 census for James:

1850 Crawford County, Indiana -

  • James Suddarth, age 55, born Virginia
  • Malinda Suddarth, age 55, born Kentucky
  • David Suddarth, age 19, born Crawford County
  • James Suddarth, age 15, born Crawford County

It is clear from the 1850 census that the 2 males under 5 listed in the 1830 census are David and James and that Lewis was not a member of the household in 1830.

Based on a very simple and brief analysis of census records, I do not believe that James is the father of Lewis.  Of course, there is always the possibility that Lewis was not living in his father’s household, but I have found no records to indicate that this would be the case.  I believe saying that James is the father because he is the only Suddarth in the area who is old enough does not take into consideration evidence readily available in the census records.  Thus, I will continue my search for Lewis’ father.

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