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Monday, September 5, 2011

The Orphans of John Nelson Erwin

I suppose it is in the history of all families we find the stories of children facing the death of a parent. We see this recorded in my families and notably on this blog several times in the stories of Rufina Vincent and Nancy Street.  It is through the 'Robert Woodley Family History Web Site' that I was able to find record of the death of John Nelson Erwin (1789 - 1841) and how his large family was placed under the care of another. As it is with genealogy, many of our discoveries are found from the detailed work of our far distant cousins. Though I found some collected data in this source that may not be correct (namely, the history of the family in America before John Erwin), the recorded documents by the courts speak for themselves.

John, a young farmer of Pennsylvania, was married to Susan Bailey (1796-1885) on December 4, 1814.  Peter Erwin, their first born in 1817 (and my great-great grandfather), would later lead his own family westward to settle near Tecumseh, Nebraska. In the years after the birth of Peter, Julia Ann, Rebecca, Hannah, Else, Susanah, Jacob, Christiana, Charles, and John, Jr. came along before the elder John Erwin died in 1841.  

The following was recorded.

"Book D, page 211, Orphan’s Court January Term AD 1842

A summary of the minor heirs of John Erwin:

Minor children under the age of 14:

Jacob Erwin
Christiana Erwin
Else Erwin
Charles Erwin
John Erwin

Minor children over the age of 14:

Hannah Erwin
Julian Erwin
Susanah Erwin

Children, not minors, mentioned in this or in other Court documents:

Peter Erwin, listed as their next friend
Rebecca Erwin, listed as the wife of George Richart in signing off on a deed.

Note that Jacob Bailey, named as guardian, was probably the brother of Susan Bailey, the mother of the children and widow of John Erwin.

Petition of Peter Erwin for Guardian for the Minor Children of John Erwin Deceased
The Petition of Jacob Erwin, Christiana Erwin, Else Erwin, Charles Erwin & John Erwin by their next friend Peter Erwin 
Humbly showeth that the said Jacob Erwin, Christiana Erwin Else Erwin, Charles Erwin & John Erwin otherwise late of said County Decd. all under the age of fourteen Plead That the said Minors have no person legally authorized to take charge of their persons and Estates, therefore the said Peter Erwin, in behalf of the said Minors, prays the Court to appoint some suitable person as Guardian for the purposes written mentioned and he will ever pray the etc. - Peter Erwin July 5th AD 1842.

Petition made and the Court appoint Jacob Bailey Guardian for the Minor Children as set forth in said petition etc. direct him to give bail in the sum of $500 each Samuel Bellman approved as bail.
by the Court, E. Youngman, Clk

Petition of Hannah Erwin, Julian Erwin, Susan Erwin for Guardian
The Petition of Hannah Erwin, Julian Erwin & Susanah Erwin 
Respectfully represents That your Petitioners are Minors Children of John Erwin late of said County Decd. that they are above the age of fourteen years state they have no person legally authorized to take care of their persons and Estates and they pray the Court state they may be permitted to make choice of a Suitable Guardian for that purpose and they will pray etc. - Hannah Erwin, Julian Erwin, Peter Erwin for Susanna Erwin.
July 5th AD 1842. 
by the Court E. Youngman Clk
Petition read and the Court give leave to choose whereupon the Minors Choose Jacob Bailey and the Court approve & direct him to give bail in the sum of $500 for each Minor. Samuel Bellman approved as bail."

It appears that Susan Bailey received assistance from her brother(?), Jacob Bailey for a period of years after John's death. However, a later recording indicates that Jacob Bailey would pass away and a new person was appointed to care for the young Erwin children. Peter Erwin, the eldest brother, was nearby to support his mother and his siblings.

"Book E pg 25, Nov term 1846
Susan Erwin widow of John Erwin comes to the court and says that Jacob Bailey is now deceased. Needs a new guardian for children. Charles Tallman is appointed."

All of the children would eventually grow up and find themselves married to raise their families in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, or move on to distant places.  Peter had married Mary Goodlander in 1838.  He, with his family, would go west with his young brother Charles, to Jo Daviess County, Illinois and eventually Nebraska.  Peter's eldest son William, who was just two years of age when John Erwin passed on, would be killed at Missionary Ridge, Tennessee in 1863.  Having successfully raised her children with the support of the family and local community, Susan Bailey died in 1885 in Jo Daviess County.

Note:  I found a record of a Charles Tallman in the Lycoming Co. area, but it is unclear if this would be the same person. There are connections of the Tallman and Bailey families in Pennsylvania and this may be a Charles Tallman cousin.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. It is nice that there seemed to be a good outcome for the orphaned siblings.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)