A Mystery Solved? (Part 6)

Digging even further back in time and place reveals some interesting findings. So far, the family of Joseph Laughead has been pieced together by circumstantial evidence. The discovery of two documents from early Pennsylvania court records adds more weight to the evidence.

Conclusions from the Circumstantial Evidence

  • Joseph’s parents were likely James and Bathsheba Laughead.
  • Joseph had several siblings, of which Susannah (Lawhead) Glover and Ruth (Laughead) Coen, are likely candidates.
  • James Laughead likely had siblings as well, namely William and Elisha, who lived in physical proximity to James in Ohio.
  • James Laughead moved his family from Pennsylvania to Ohio between the years 1817-1820.

Jumping back to the 1810 census of Pennsylvania reveals thirteen Laughead households:

Laughead Families in Pennsylvania – 1810
Adam Laughead Salem, Westmoreland, Pennsylvania
B Laughead Warriors Mark, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
James Laughead Menallen, Fayette, Pennsylvania
James Laughead Menallen, Fayette, Pennsylvania
John Laughead Cumberland, Adams, Pennsylvania
John Laughead Union, Fayette, Pennsylvania
John Laugheed Union, Fayette, Pennsylvania
Nathan Lawhead Salisbury, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Thomas Laughead West Salem, Mercer, Pennsylvania
Thos Laughead New London, Chester, Pennsylvania
William Laughead Versailles, Allegheny, Pennsylvania
William Lawhead Hopewell, Washington, Pennsylvania
William Laugheed Union, Fayette, Pennsylvania

These thirteen Laughead families are spread out over nine Pennsylvania counties. The 67 Pennsylvania counties have now been narrowed down to 9. The adjoining counties of Allegheny, Westmoreland, Fayette and Washington are in the southwestern section of the state. They are located south of Pittsburgh and are physically very close to West Virginia.

Pennsylvania county map

Original map courtesy of the United States Census Bureau

Looking at the census table, two James Laugheads were located in Menallen, Fayette, Pennsylvania. James and Bathsheba were likely married around 1810, but it is possible that James had not established his own household when the census was taken. He might have been enumerated in his father’s household. Pennsylvania does not have easily accessible vital records from the early part of the 19th century. Unlike its neighbor Ohio, there are no online county marriage records currently available for Pennsylvania.  Finding a marriage record for James and Bathsheba has thus far been unsuccessful. However, focusing on the two James from Menallen Township, is a good place to start.

The elder of the two James had a household of six individuals: one male over 45, one male aged 16-25, one male under ten, one female over 45, one female aged 16-25, and one female aged 10-15.

Lawhead, James, Sr. - 1810 census

1810 Census Menallen Township Fayette County Pennsylvania (Image courtesy of Ancestry.com)

The younger of the two James had a household of two individuals: one male aged 16-25 and one other free person (no age or sex is indicated). Coincidentally, this James matches the age range for James of Ohio. A 16-25 year old male in 1810 would have been born between 1785 and 1794.

Laughead, James, Jr. - 1810 Census

1810 Census Menallen Township Fayette County Pennsylvania (Image courtesy of Ancestry.com)

Family Search has recently begun the push for digitizing county records across the country, focusing on wills and probates. The “Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994” database has some records available from Fayette County. The majority of the records are Orphans’ Court documents from 1783-1950. The elder of the two James Laugheads died intestate in 1814. His youngest son was not of legal age at the time of his father’s death and was assigned a legal guardian. An older daughter also chose her own guardian at the same time.

Laughead, Elisha & Mary - Guardians appointed, November 1814

Image courtesy of Family Search

“At the Orphan’s Court held in Union Town in and for the county of Fayette, the third Monday of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fourteen before the Honourable Samuel Roberts and his associate Justices of the same court –

Elizabeth Martin…[omitted in transcription]

Ellis Baily being chosen guardian of the person and estate of Mary Laughead minor daughter of James Laughead deceased, above the age of fourteen years, is appointed accordingly by the court.

Ellis Baily is appointed, by the court, guardian of the person and estate of Elisha Laughed, a minor son of James Laughead, Decᵈ, until he arrives at the age of fourteen years.”

Prior to the appointment of Elisha and Mary’s guardian, their brother James petitioned the court in regards to the partitioning of James Sr.’s estate:

Laughead, James - Petition, Aug 1814

Image courtesy of Family Search

“On the petition of James Laughead, representing, that his father James Laughead lately died intestate seized at the time of his death in his demesne [?] of fee of and in eighty eight acres  of land situate in Menallen Township aforesaid, leaving his widow Mary and nine children, surviving him, to wit, Hannah, married to James McHarry, John Laughead, William Laughead, James the petitioner, Martha married to William Wells, Benjamin Laughead, Richard Laughead, Mary Laughead and Elisha Laughead – That he is of full age and is desirous that the said estate should be divided to and amongst the heirs and representatives of the said Intestate if such partition can be made without injuring and spoiling the whole, but if not that a just and conscionable appraisement thereof be made and to this end prays the court to award an Inquest, agreeably to the acts of Assembly in such case made and provided – The court thereupon award an Inquest agreeably to the prayer of the said petitioner – writ ifs & not paid [?]”

Conclusion:

James Laughead of Belmont County, Ohio, was formerly of Menallen Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. He was the third son of James Laughead, Sr. and his wife Mary. James Jr.’s older brothers, John and William, may have already migrated west to Ohio, leaving James Jr. to handle the affairs of their father’s estate. The children of James and Mary Laughead were: Hannah (wife of James McHarry), John, William, James, Martha (wife of William Wells), Benjamin, Richard, Mary and Elisha.

Sources:

1810 U. S. census, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, Menallen Township, p. 1004 (penned), line 1, James Lawhead; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 April 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication M252, roll 54.

1810 U. S. census, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, Menallen Township, p. 1000 (penned), line 9, James Logshead; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 April 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication M252, roll 54.

“Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994,” digital image, Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 24 April 2014), November 1814 Orphans’ Court, guardianship appointments of Mary and Elisha Laughead; citing Fayette County, Orphans’ Court Records 1783-1844, v. 1: 152.

“Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994,” digital image, Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 24 April 2014), August 1814 Orphans’ Court, petition of James Laughead, Jr.; citing Fayette County, Orphans’ Court Records 1783-1844, v. 1: 149.

© Deborah Sweeney, 2014.
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2014/04/24/a-mystery-solved-part-6/

5 thoughts on “A Mystery Solved? (Part 6)

    1. Genealogy Lady Post author

      I would like to know as well. But I haven’t found any evidence or documents myself to illuminate their story. If I was able to travel to Pennsylvania or Ohio and do research at the local courthouses or archives, we might have answers. Unfortunately this is not something I can do right now.

      Reply
  1. davidmadison1942

    Very fascinating detective work! I found this a surprise: “The majority of the records are Orphans’ Court documents from 1783-1950.”

    You’re building quite a resume/portfolio !!

    Reply

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