How Documents Help

September 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

There’s a saying among genealogists:  Genealogy without documentation is Mythology.  When I was in high school, I had to study Greek mythology.  It was interesting, but I couldn’t figure out how it would be relevant to my adult life.  It seemed so random!  Turns out it’s been a great help for me when building my family tree.

I have been blessed with distant cousins who I met while doing genealogy.  Two of them live in Indiana and we’re all three descended from John Penrod and his wife, Elizabeth Hodges.  Elizabeth was a very interesting woman.  She was born to Alexander McDowell and Celia Oxley’s daughter, Lucina McDowell Hodges.  Alexander and Celia divorced in Posey, Switzerland County, Indiana in 1844.

Now come the parties by their solicitors and the cause now coming and to be heard as bill answers and the testimony of sworn witnesses and the court having heard the testimony and all things concerning the cause and being fully advised therof do now here finally order as judge and decree as follows to wit:

1st: That the bonds of matrimony existing between Celia McDowell and Alexander McDowell be and the same is hereby dissolved and rendered absolutely null and void.

2nd.That, the sheriff of the county of Switzerland, Indiana and he is hereby appointed a commissioner to set apart to the said Celia, the complainant, one third part of the part of land owned by Alexander McDowell, the defendant, in Posey township in said county being the same tract which was the laters residence of said Alexander McDowell and the premises mentioned in the bill of complaint herein, having reference to the quality and quantity of the same to have use and occupy the same for her maintenance and support until which time, this cause is continued to trial matter.

Thereupon court adjourned until to-morrow morning at 8 o’clock. Signed April 17th 1844 Copy delivered to the Sheriff 29 June 1844

Alexander fought in the War of 1812 and received a land bounty for his service.  In 1848, Alexander remarried a woman named Lucinda Wilson Gibbons, a widow with small children.  Together they had a daughter, Anna Marie McDowell.

One of my cousins has doubts about Lucinda Wilson Gibbons McDowell’s maiden name and the name of her first husband.  I was able to prove both with documents:

Marriage record of Lucinda and John Gibbons

Death certificate of Alexander and Lucinda’s daughter:

Anna M McDowell Cochran








Death certificate of Lucinda and John Gibbons’ daughter:

Sarah Gibbons Bayne









While not primary evidence, like the marriage record,  these last two documents are very good secondary proof of Lucinda’s maiden name and the name of her first husband.