Tag Archives: William Coen

A Mystery Solved? (Part 2)

Focus in on a person or location of interest: 

After constructing a timeline of Joseph’s life, the next step is to focus in on either a geographical area where the person lived or a “person of interest.”

Joseph lived in several locations, beginning in Pennsylvania, then Ohio, and finally Indiana. He lived in at least 6 known areas of interest: Pennsylvania, Belmont County (Ohio), Guernsey County (Ohio), Greene County (Indiana), Daviess County (Indiana) and Knox County (Indiana). Two locations that might provide information regarding his parentage would be – his birth place (Pennsylvania) and his death place (Knox County, Indiana). At this point, his birth place is too broad a location to search. In addition, birth records were not recorded at the county or state level in Pennsylvania during the early part of the 19th century. Information regarding Joseph’s death location is rather sketchy. He is buried in Edwardsport, but evidence that he died or even lived there has not been discovered yet. Bodies are not always buried where they died, and are sometimes disinterred and moved to another location to be closer to living family members. Delving deeper into Knox County’s records is currently on the future “to do” list. In addition, the chance of finding Joseph’s parents listed on a death certificate or other death related record is rather slim based upon the time and place where he died. For one, the state of Indiana did not require official death records until after 1900. The WPA death index of Knox County’s extracted county records does not list Joseph Lawhead. For now, focusing on a location of interest will have to wait until more information is available.

There are a handful of individuals that belong to the “person of interest” category. The first one is Bathsheba Lawhead. Thus far only four records have been found that mention Bathsheba:

  • In 1840, Bathsheba Laughead was living in Seneca Township, Guernsey County, Ohio. She was the head of a household of four persons: one female aged 40-49, one male aged 20-29, and two boys under the age of 5.
  • In 1850, ‘Basheba’ Lawhead was living with the family of Joseph in Guernsey County, Ohio. She was a 60 year old female, born in Pennsylvania. The young family of William and Ruth Coen lived next door.
  • In 1860, ‘Barshaby Lockee’ was living in Seneca, Noble County, Ohio. She was the second family living at dwelling #1268. The first family was that of William and Ruth ‘Cower’.
  • In 1870, Bashaly Laughead was living in the household of William and Ruth Coen in Uhrichsville, Tuscarawas County, Ohio. ‘Bashaly’ was an 80 year old female, born in Ohio.

Until 1880, census records did not record relationships between individuals in a household. Before 1850, only the head of the household was enumerated. The rest of the household was recorded as tally marks in columns designating a person’s age and sex. Using these early census records as a road map, relationships can be established but they cannot be used alone as proof.

Women were very rarely head of households in the 19th century. Two possible reasons why Bathsheba would have been the head of household in 1840 were: she was a widow or a woman of property. Proceeding with the assumption that Bathsheba was a widow, the other members of the family were likely to be her children or grandchildren. The young man in his twenties may have been her son, or a hired hand. The two young boys may have been her grandchildren. Based upon her age in the later census years, Bathsheba was at the far end of the 40-49 age category and close to 50 years old. The boys aged under 5 years were more likely to be her grandchildren, possibly sons of the twenty something male. Perhaps he was a widower, living with his mother, and they were helping each other out as families often do. Of course, the above is all conjecture until any further evidence comes along. The truth remains unknown.

Skip ahead ten years to 1850, Bathsheba now lived with Joseph Lawhead and his family. A likely scenario is that Bathsheba was Joseph’s mother. At 60, she may not have wanted (or been able) to run her own farm or live by herself. Children often took care of their parents then as they do now. Another interesting clue from this census year is that Joseph lived next door to William and Ruth Coen. On 24 March 1844, Ruth Laughead married William Coen in Guernsey County, Ohio.Laughead, Ruth and William Coen - Marriage, 1844 Siblings and in-laws sometimes lived together on adjoining property. Perhaps a bit of land was deeded to a child as a wedding gift or a second house was built on the family property. There are many possible reasons for this proximity. At the very least, an assumption can be made that the families were related due to the shared surname. The 1840 census calls into question why Bathsheba did not have a 15 year old female living in her household. Was Ruth Bathsheba’s daughter or perhaps a niece? Did she live with another relative or work out of the home at that time? There were two Cohen families living nearby Bathsheba and one had a female in the correct age category. Did Ruth live and work on another neighboring farm?

Through the years 1860 and 1870, Bathsheba lived with the Coens. Bathsheba was 80 years old in 1870. She has not been found on the 1880 census, likely dying before then. Between the years 1850-1870, Ruth and her family moved from Guernsey County, to Noble County, and then Tuscarawas County. These three counties are clustered together (and border one another) in the eastern part of Ohio. The Coens lived in Uhrichsville during the time that Bathsheba may have died.

Ruth (Laughead) Coen, Joseph Laughead and Bathsheba Laughead were clearly connected. Bathsheba was born in Pennsylvania, c1790. Joseph was born in Pennsylvania, c1817. Ruth was born in Ohio, c1825. If Joseph and Ruth were two of Bathsheba’s children, their birth dates and locations have helped to narrow down when the family might have moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio. Ruth has become another person of interest because of her geographic proximity to Joseph and their shared connection to Bathsheba.


1840 U. S. census, Guernsey County, Ohio, Seneca Township, p. 3 (penned), line 15, Bathsheba Laughead; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 April 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication M704, roll 397.

1850 U. S. census, Guernsey County, Ohio, population schedule, Seneca Township, p. 474 (penned), dwelling 3045, family 3067, Joseph Lawhead; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 April 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 684.

1860 U. S. census, Noble County, Ohio, population schedule, Seneca Township, p. 483 (stamped), dwelling 1268, family 1220, Barshaby Lockee; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 April 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1020.

1870 U. S. census, Tuscarawas County, Ohio, population schedule, Uhrichsville, Uhrichsville Post Office, p. 20 (penned), dwelling 150, family 150, William Coen; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 April 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1273.

“Indiana Deaths, 1882-1920,” index, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 April 2014).

“Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994,” database and images, Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 6 April 2014) William Coen and Ruth Laughead, 24 March 1844; citing Guernsey County, Marriage records 1844-1864, v. D: 25.

© Deborah Sweeney, 2014.
Post originally found:  https://genealogylady.net/2014/04/06/a-mystery-solved-part-2/