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A Woodington Conundrum

September 30, 2017

I had a question from one of my Woodington cousins, Amy, asking if we had the correct date for Jonathan Woodington’s death. She and I both had his life span from 13 April 1812 to 12 April 1876. But, Amy caught something I had not.

In the 1 June 1905 Wisconsin Census, my 2nd great-grandfather, Moses Woodington, was living in Cassville, Grant County, Wisconsin with his half-brother, Charles Boyt [sic]. They rented a house; Moses worked as a stone mason, Charles was a bartender. Moses’ father was born in Pennsylvania and Charles’ father was born in Canada. Moses was widowed (Henrietta died in 1882) and Charles was single, “never married” as we say now. Moses had been employed the previous 8 months, Charles the previous 10.

The 1905 Wisconsin Census:

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So, Moses had a “half bro” as the census-taker wrote it. This was new information to me and it really messed up the straight-forward history I thought I had. I’m pretty sure it also brings me closer to the truth, even while it leaves me with many questions. Having done several hours of research through the records, I have learned a little bit, but am left with too much missing data.

This is my working theory as of today:

I think I have the wrong death date for our Jonathan Woodington. There were two boys, both named Jonathan Woodington, born on 13 April 1812 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. This we know. I am thinking the death date I have been using probably isn’t for our Jonathan, but for the other Jonathan Woodington.

I checked the 1850 US Census and Sarah Ann had married Joseph Boyd by then and lived in Grant County, Wisconsin (District 24) with her youngest son, Jonathan. This is conjecture based on the surrounding information. I do not have a marriage certificate for Joseph Boyd and Sara Ann Woodington. Their son, Jonathan, was born in 1842 and was recorded as being 8 years old in the 1850 census. Both Sarah Ann and son Jonathan (called “Boyd” in the census) were born in Pennsylvania (see image below).

This census also tells us Sarah did not know how to read in Column 12 and that young Jonathan was attending school (Column 11).

Inline image 1

Moses and his older brothers would have been teenagers in 1850, so I do not know why they were not living in the same household. This is a problem. I do not find Moses anywhere in the 1850 census. Although, he married Henrietta Munson in 1859 in Cassville, Grant County, Wisconsin, so he obviously moved “west” with his family at some time.

Another point of interest is we know from the notarized family Bible that Jonathan and Sarah Woodington had a son, Charles, born on 29 Aug 1840. I would expect him to be living with his mother and younger brother in Grant County in 1850 if he was still alive at 10 years old. Maybe he died as a child? According to the 1860 US Census, Sarah Ann had a son with Joseph Boyd and she also named him Charles. He was born about 1854. I do not find a death record for a Charles Woodington, born in 1840, in either PA or WI, so this, too, is conjecture. And who is 10-year old Sarah Parsons? I do not know.

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So, what am I left with?

  • I have changed my data for the father Jonathan Woodington’s death date to be questionable, likely in the 1840s. Jonathan’s youngest son, Jonathan Alton, was born in 1842. The evidence suggests his wife, Sarah Ann, had moved to Grant County, Wisconsin and married Joseph Boyd by 1850. I would like to find their marriage license, though, to confirm this. It is the 1905 Wisconsin census calling Charles Boyd a “half brother” to Moses Woodington that opens up this whole conversation.
  • It is possible Jonathan and Sarah divorced in the 1840s, but less likely.
  • What brought Sarah Ann Woodington to Grant County, Wisconsin with her sons?
  • I had not noticed Sarah Ann moved to Grant County except for Amy pointing out the 1905 Wisconsin Census showing Moses living with his step-brother, Charles Boyd.
  • Where is 13-year old Moses Woodington in 1850?
  • Did Charles Woodington, born in 1840, die as a child?
  • What relationship is young Sarah Parsons to the family? The US Censuses ask different questions each time. Sometimes, they ask what the relationships are to the head of house of all those living in that house. Unfortunately, the 1860 census didn’t have a column for this question.
  • How long did Joseph Boyd live? I do not know this either.

There is much more to discover about Sarah Ann’s life!




  1. One thought is that young Moses was out at work at a farm and could show up in that family’s census as someone with their last name. Happened all the time – boys 10+ would go out to work to earn money for the family with another family.

  2. Kurt Schlanker permalink

    How can one get access to the notarized family bible?

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