Land Records Showed the Way

One of the first stumbling blocks I encountered in my research was the family of my great-great-great-grandfather Peter Andrews (1814-1882), father of my great-great-grandmother Rebecca (Andrews) Whetstone, who married Absalom K. Whetstone of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

A handy county-history biography of one of Rebecca and Absalom’s sons-in-law revealed the identity of Rebecca’s parents as Peter and Phoebe (Houser) Andrews.[1. Adolf W. Schalck and David C. Henning, History of Schuylkill County Pennsylvania (n.p.: State Historical Association, 1907), vol. II, 477; digitized book, Google Books ( : accessed 4 April 2018).] I found Peter in the 1850 and 1860 censuses,[2. 1850 U.S. census, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, East Brunswick township, p. 186A (stamped), dwelling 114, family 124, Peter Andrews household; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 4 April 2018), citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 826. 1860 U.S. census, Schuylkill Co., Pa., pop. sched., East Brunswick twp., p. 288 (stamped), dwell. 786, fam. 770, Peter Andrews household; digital image, Ancestry, citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1,180.] but what a difference there was between the two census entries! A household of eight headed by two adults became a household of eight mostly different children headed by one adult. Of the six children in the 1850 household, only two remained in the 1860 household. Peter’s occupation changed from sawyer to day labor, and his real estate holdings evaporated, leaving only a small personal estate. Clearly, something big happened. I was able to find real estate transactions and lawsuits explaining the changes in land holdings, but no burials to explain the disappearances of the 1850 family members.

I did locate Peter and the two youngest children in the 1880 census (having moved to Lycoming County in central Pennsylvania),[3. 1880 U.S. census, Lycoming Co., Pa., pop. sch., Clinton twp., enumeration district (ED) 45, p. 48A (stamped), dwell. 231, fam. 237, Peter Andrews household; digital image, Ancestry, citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1152.] and I found an 1860 marriage that might have belonged to the oldest son,[4. Dalice Fadden, contributor, “Church: Marriages and Burials 1832-1872, Rev. Shellhammer: Reformed Minister: Luzerne, Columbia, and Schuylkill Counties, PA,” USGenWeb Archives ( : accessed 10 April 2018), marriage entry for Wilhelm Andreas and Abilona Haldeman, 1860.] but I couldn’t find the family in 1870, and, for a long period, my research was stuck. Ultimately, what got me unstuck was reading Lycoming County newspapers and finding clues that it wasn’t only Peter and the two youngest children who settled there. A trip to Lycoming County allowed me to access unmicrofilmed probate, marriage, and land records, solving the apparent disappearances of all the 1850 family members except for Peter’s wife (whose fate remains undocumented).

Peter owned land in Lycoming County, and it was the records of the disposal of that land[5. Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, Deeds, 99:80-81, Joshua Andrews and wife to Lewis P. Andrews, quit claim deed, 8 December 1883; Register of Deeds, Williamsport. Lycoming Co., Pa., Deeds, 99:82-84, Sarah Lindermuth et al to Lewis P. Andrews, quit claim deed, 8 December 1883. Lycoming Co., Pa., Deeds, 99:84-86, Michael Sechler and wife and Nathan B. Kimble and wife to Lewis P. Andrews, warrantee deed, 8 December 1883.] that finally showed that all the 1850 children were still living. Before I found the land records, newspaper clues had led me to eight of Peter’s eleven children. The land records gave the married name of the oldest daughter, who was living in Lycoming County, along with the locations of the other two missing children. The oldest daughter’s married name also led me to that elusive 1870 census record, which showed Peter, miraculously recovered in finances and transformed into a farmer, along with seven of his children, living in Union County, just south of the Lycoming County line.[6. 1870 U.S. census, Union Co., Pa., pop. sch., Gregg twp., p. 539A (stamped), dwell. 27, fam. 28, Peter Anders household; digital image, Ancestry, citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1458.]

After I followed up the bonanza of information from the Lycoming County land records, the life stories of two of Peter’s children, Mary, born about 1854, and Joshua, born about 1853, remained incomplete. The first Lycoming County quit claim deed showed that Joshua was married to someone named Elva, and that in 1883 the couple lived in Kootenai County, Idaho Territory.[7. Lycoming Co., PA., Deeds, 99:80-81.] Searches for census and vital records were unproductive, but a visit to the Bureau of Land Management’s General Land Office records website revealed that Joshua Andrews received a homestead patent for a quarter-section of land in Kootenai County in 1891.[8. Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” database General Land Office Records ( : accessed 15 December 2012), entry for Joshua Andrews, Kootenai County, Idaho, homestead patent no. 48.] Naturally, I ordered the serial patent file, which told me that Joshua, his wife, and two children settled on the land 14 March 1884 and lived there continuously until the completion of the patent filing in 1890.[9. Testimony of Joshua Andrews, 24 May 1890, in Joshua Andrews (Kootenai County) homestead file bearing final certificate no. 48, 24 January 1891, Coeur d’Alene Land Office; Land Entry Papers, 1800-1908; Record Group 49: Records of the Bureau of Land Management; National Archives, Washington, D.C.]

Despite the patent information, Joshua and his family continued to be elusive. Researchers at the Kootenai County Genealogical Society searched their research library without uncovering their traces.[10. KCGS researcher (name redacted for privacy), Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to Lois Abromitis Mackin, e-mail, 19 March 2018, “Request for Andrews Info”; Andrews research files; privately held by Mackin, Plymouth, Minnesota.] However, FamilySearch’s digitized microfilm of Kootenai County deed indexes, contained an entry a sale of land by “Josusha” Andrews in 1902, and I ordered the deed. When the deed arrived, it showed that “Josua” Andrews and Elva Andrews his wife of Jefferson County, Montana, sold their Kootenai County homestead land on 17 May 1902.[11. Kootenai County, Idaho, Deeds, 7:469; Recorder’s Office, Coeur d’Alene.]’

This deed showed the way to Joshua’s entry in the 1900 census (ultimately located by searching for women named Elva in Jefferson County, Montana). The census record shows John (not Joshua) Andrew, born May 1854 in Pennsylvania, section foreman, in Township 7, Jefferson County, Montana. In his household were wife Elva Andrew, born in Illinois in May 1855, mother of two living children, and daughter Ruby B. Andrew, born March 1886 in Idaho.[12. 1900 U.S. census, Jefferson Co., Mont., pop. sch., ED 49, sheet 4-B, Township 7, dwell. 99, fam. 101, John Andrew household; digital image, Ancestry, citing NARA microfilm publication T623, unspecified roll.] This looked like the right household, but verification was needed because of the name discrepancy. I built a census history for the family and identified the second child, a son named Arthur Ray Andrews.[13. 1910 U.S. census, Jefferson Co., Mont., pop. sch., Whitehall, p. 151-B (stamped), ED 42, sheet 6-B, dwell. 90, fam. 103, John Andrews household; digital image, Ancestry, citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 832.] 1910 was Joshua’s last census appearance. By 1930, the two Andrews children, now married, had moved on, Ruby to Klamath County, Oregon, and Arthur to Park County, Montana.[14. “Montana, County Marriage Records, 1865-1993,” database and images, Ancestry, entries for Ruby B. Andrews and David T. Moore (1905) and Arthur R. Andrews and Margaret E. Deheck (1915). 1930 U.S. census, Klamath Co., Ore., pop. sch., Klamath Falls, p. 267-A (stamped), ED 36, sheet 11-A, dwell. 219, fam. 236, David T. Moore household; digital image, Ancestry, citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll not specified. 1930 U.S. census, Park Co., Mont., pop. sch., Livingston, p. 31-A (stamped), ED 5, sheet 5-A, dwell. 114, fam. 121, Arthur R. Andrews household; digital image, Ancestry, citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll not specified.] Inexplicably, in the Montana census and marriage records, Joshua Andrews appeared as John.

Newspapers and Find A Grave completed Joshua and Elva’s story. Joshua died 4 May 1913 in Jefferson County. According to the Anaconda Standard, “John Andrews, one of Whitehall’s oldest and most respected citizens, died Sunday… Mr. Andrews was born in Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania, May 1, 1854, and in 1881 moved to Spokane, Wash., where he was employed in railroad work. While in Spokane he married Miss Elva Strickler, after which he moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and ranched a short time, afterward going back to railroad work. From there they moved to Whitehall in 1895 and had since been a resident of this city, employed by the Northern Pacific as a section foreman. There are two children in the family, Mrs. Ruby R. Moore of Spirit Lake, Idaho… and Ray Andrews of Livingston, an engineer on the Northern Pacific.”[15. “Old Whitehall Resident Dies of Heart Disease, Anaconda (Montana) Standard, 7 May 1913, p. 11, col. 3; digital image, ( : accessed 4 April 2018).] Joshua is buried in Whitehall Cemetery, under the name of John.[16. Find A Grave, database with images ( : accessed 4 April 2018), image gravestone for “John Andrews,” Whitehall Cemetery, Whitehall, Jefferson County, Montana.] Elva died 2 May 1924 in Klamath Falls, where she is buried in Linkville Pioneer Cemetery.[17. “Oregon Death Index,” database with images, Ancestry, entry for Elva Andrews, Klamath. Find A Grave, database with images ( : accessed 4 April 2018), image gravestone for “Elva Strickler Andrews,” Linkville Pioneer Cemetery, Klamath Falls, Klamath County, Oregon.]