Even though it is not Ohio (close, though), I am going to stick with Steuben County this week to cover a topic all serious genealogists should be aware of. That is the FAN Club.
It was Elizabeth Shown Mills who created the acronym a few years ago to describe what Emily Croom called cluster genealogy. In either description, the process involves expanding our outlook to those individuals with whom our ancestors interacted.
The FAN in FAN Club stands for Friends (sometimes Family), Associates and Neighbours. It is based upon the principle that our ancestors did not live in a vacuum. Rather, they interacted with other people on a regular basis. And those with whom they most frequently interacted may be family members who could help provide answers to break through brick walls and assist in extending our lines and learn more about our ancestors.
The latter part of the 19th century was the heyday of County Histories and County Atlases. It seems my ancestors were either too cheap or too modest to pay publishers and writers to appear in the biographies section of county histories, so I find myself more drawn to county atlases. What I particular like is that the landowners and their parcels are shown on the map. Not only does this provide a visual image of the shape of their land, but it also aids in locating these tracts today as many of the roads in the latter part of the 1800s still exist today and these maps from the county atlases can be overlaid on modern road maps to assist in finding exactly where your ancestors lived (more on that another time). Even if your ancestors lived in a given area at a later or earlier time, you can use the legal description from their deeds to pinpoint the location and trace the ownership backwards or forwards.
I have attached the Richland Township map from the Steuben County Atlas of 1880. Richland Township abutted Williams County Ohio on the east and the state line made for a smaller than average township.
I am going to start in the East Half of the Southeast Quarter of Section 29. The owner is listed as G. L. Jones, my second great-grandfather George L. Jones. Just below him in the Northeast Quarter of the Northeast Quarter of Section 32 as well as all of the Northwest Quarter of Section 33 is his brother-in-law Thomas Robinett. George was married to Harriet Buell and Thomas to her older sister Helen. Helen had died in 1872 after giving birth to 10 children in 14 years. Thomas’ second wife, Mary Elizabeth Rosenberry, was the step-daughter of George’s older sister Rebecca who was the second wife of Mary Elizabeth’s father Clement Rosenberry. Thomas’ brother Joseph lived across the road from George with the father Samuel Robinett owning a large parcel of land just to the east.
Just to the south and west of the 40 acres owned by Samuel Robinett in the Southeast Quarter of the Northeast Quarter of Section 32 is land labeled as belonging to the heirs of S. Buell. That would be Samuel Buell, the father-in-law of George L. Jones and Thomas Robinett. Samuel Buell had died intestate in 1877 and his son-in-law Thomas Robinett was named administrator of his estate which had yet to settle by 1880. As he had died intestate, his widow Hannah had her dower set off and that is seen in the West Half of the Southwest Quarter of the Northeast Quarter of Section 32, adjoining the heirs share.
Immediately below the Buell lands is 130 acres owned by J. Chandler. That would Hannah’s brother-in-law John Chandler who was married to Hannah’s younger sister Elizabeth Stevens. The Buells, Chandlers, and the wives’ younger brother Francis moved west from Piermont New Hampshire in the early 1840s. Francis is deceased as of 1880 with his share of the Southwest Quarter of the Southwest Quarter of Section 33 shown across from the Chandler land along with more land split between Hannah and her late husband’s heirs. The greater portion of Francis’ land can be seen northeast of George L. Jones land in three-quarters of the Northeast Quarter of Section 29 as well as the adjacent Northwest Quarter of the Southeast Quarter of the same section. Across the road in Section 28 is the United Brethren Church. Although the Church is long gone (fire in the 1920s), the cemetery remains and the Buells, Robinetts, and Chandlers are all buried there.
The lands of Francis’ wife Melinda Aldrich can be seen in the Southwest Quarter of Section 31 while those of George L. Jones’ third wife Mary Ann Allomong are noticeable in Sections 20 and 21. The Southeast Quarter of Section 17 is almost exclusively the land of John Ferrier, two of whose sons would marry daughters of George L. Jones.
Shifting gears slightly. If Richland Township were full size, it might contain the land just to the west of Section 31. If so, the land of my 3rd great grandfather George Fox would be shown. I bring him in to show some more relatives in Richland Township.
George Fox’s wife was Emeline Gordon. Her brother Horatio E. Gordon has the entirety of the East Half of Section 30 (the Southwest Quarter belongs Melinda Aldrich Stevens’ brother). Horatio was a long time Justice of the Peace in Steuben County. He would move a few years later to Kansas where he died. Their sister Melissa Gordon Cary holds 40 acres in the Northeast Quarter of the Southeast Quarter of Section 19. She also has 20 acres in a narrow tract in the Southeast Quarter of the Northeast Quarter of the same section. Melissa’s husband William S. Cary has been dead for just over a decade which is why the lands are in her name. The West Half of the Northwest Quarter of Section 19 belonged to Marvin B. Gordon, brother to Emeline, Horatio, and Melissa. He also owned the Southwest Quarter of the Southeast Quarter of Section 18 above.
The hamlet of Alvarado (shown at the intersection of Sections 17, 18, 19, and 20) contains a cemetery in the extreme Southwest corner of Section 17. The Foxes, Carys and Marvin Gordon and his second wife are all buried there.