Barking up the Wrong Family Tree!

The Whittle Family Tree

I can’t let those darn Whittles go – so I’m going to see what I can figure out in collaboration with Ruth. While Samuel N. Whittle’s father remains a mystery, we know who some of his siblings are, and I’ll explore the family group to see if we can find anything that will assist us with our search for the name of Samuel’s father. Between Ruth and me, we had compiled the following family group:1

Jeremiah Whittle born about 1775, location unknown, married Elizabeth Eyle on 5 Dec 18182, in Baltimore County, Maryland. Elizabeth was born 12 Oct 1785, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, died 19 Jun 1877, Towson, Baltimore, Maryland, and is buried in Govans Presbyterian Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland. Their children as we had them:

Unknown 1 – This is the father of our Samuel Whittle
Thomas – born 1820, Baltimore, Maryland
Susan Ann – born about 1821, Baltimore Maryland
Jeremiah A. – Whittle, born about 1824, Baltimore, Maryland
John Whittle – born about 1829, Baltimore, Maryland

It’s a great family group, but it has a potential glaring error staring me in the face. I have been operating under the assumption (yeah, yeah, yeah – it’s a bad thing to do, but it looked good at the time) that Elizabeth, because she lived with Eliza and Samuel is Samuel’s grandmother. She probably is, but she may not be his biological grandmother. My stunning revelation hit me while working back in the 1820 and 1830 census records and trying to apply what we knew of this family group to the people listed on them.

The first clue came when I did a search on Ancestry for Jeremiah Whittle, born about 1775. The 1820 Census for District 2, Baltimore, Maryland3 was my first stop.

2 males under 10 years of age (probably Thomas and Unknown 1)
2 males between 10 and 16 years of age (Unknowns)
1 male 45 years or more (probably Jeremiah)
2 females under 10 years of age (Unknowns)
1 female 45 years or more (probably Elizabeth)

What a mess! Jeremiah would have been 45, Elizabeth would have only been 35, but that could have just been an error. Who are all these kids? Jeremiah and Elizabeth were married Dec 1818 and it is probable that Thomas (born about 1820) is one of the males under 10. Then I remembered the information that Ruth had provided earlier. Jeremiah had a previous marriage to Nancy Best 16 Jun 18044(Ancestry has her indexed as Pest). If they followed the usual cycle of children, and the children survived there would have been 6 or 7 children in that time period. 2-3 between 10 and 16 and 3-4 under 10. All these other children are probably the children of Jeremiah and Nancy.

The 1830 Census for District 2, Baltimore, Maryland5 shows:

1 male under 5 years of age (probably John)
1 male between 5 and 9 (probably Jeremiah A.)
1 male between 10 and 14 (probably Thomas)
1 male between 15 and 19 (possibly Unknown 1)
2 males between 20 and 30 (Unknowns)
1 male between 50 and 60 (probably Jeremiah)
1 female between 5 and 9 (probably Susan born 1822)
1 female between 10 and 14 (Unknown)
1 female between 40 and 50 (probably Elizabeth)

This was where the “Er-Duh Moment” occurred. IF Samuel’s father, Unknown 1, is the same age or older than his wife, he would have been born about 1815 or prior. Jeremiah did not marry Elizabeth until 1818. Unknown 1 could have (and probably was) the son of Nancy Best who apparently died about 1817. Elizabeth would have raised him and for all intents and purposes was his mother as she was the only one he would have known.

IF all the members of the household are actually the children of Jeremiah – there’s that dangerous “IF” word – then the family group based on the 1820 and 1830 Census records would now look like this:

Jeremiah Whittle b. abt 1775
Nancy Best b. abt 1775 m. 1804 d. bef Dec 1818
Unknown Male 2 b. bef 1810
Unknown Male 3 b. bef 1810
Unknown Female 1 b. bef 1815
Unknown 1 (Samuel’s father) b. abt 1815
Unknown Female 2 b. bef 1820

Elizabeth Eyle b. 1785 m. 1818 d. 1877
Thomas b. abt 1820
Susan b. 1822
Jeremiah A. b. abt 1824
John b. abt 1829

Have I been barking up the wrong family tree?

1. See post dated 19 Oct 2008.
2. Dodd, Jordan, Liahona Research, “Maryland Marriages, 1655-1850,” database, Ancestry ( : accessed 6 Nov 2008), Marriage of Jeremiah Whittle and Elizabeth Eyle.
3. 1820 U.S. census, Baltimore County, Maryland, population schedule, District 2, p. 215, Jerrimiah Whittle; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 6 Nov 2008); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M33, roll 41.
4. Dodd, Jordan, Liahona Research, “Maryland Marriages, 1655-1850,” database, Ancestry ( : accessed 6 Nov 2008), Jeremiah Whittle and Nancy Pest.
5. 1830 U.S. census, Baltimore County, Maryland, District 2, p. 72, Jeremiah Whittle; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 6 Nov 2008); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M29, roll 55.

2 thoughts on “Barking up the Wrong Family Tree!”

  1. Census is important work to do, but there is more to see, and census is not always accurate. We don’t know who answered the questions. When examining records we need to remember why they were created, and census was created to count people, without undue emphasis on ages or even names. Keep looking! There are so many more records you need to see before discarding this as the “wrong tree” to be barking up, and these records are certainly not all online. Check the FHL catalog, look at the Presbyterian church records (as Betsy’s buried in their cemetery). Get acquainted with probate and land records. City directories, too.

  2. Hi Emily,
    Thanks for the comments. You are absolutely correct in all your statements and your suggestions are excellent for doing genealogy. However, if you refer back to the Administrivia category, you will find one post – that we are about working with what is available only online or provided by the family – if they find us. I have not discarded the Elizabeth Eyle tree – what I have done is point out that she may not be the biological grandmother of Samuel and I also need to look for things involving Nancy Best. I have the cemetery records (they are online) and I know Betsy is in their plot – I pointed it out when I wrapped up the Whittle plot itself. However, being buried in the family plot does not mean you are a biological relation – this will be the subject of a future post. As for the probate and land records – it would be really nice if Maryland had more records up, but we deal with only what is available to everyone online, provided to us by family or volunteers, and without incurring cost. Thanks again. I do appreciate comments and suggestions – it’s good to know someone is reading the posts. Sharon


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