Monday, September 9, 2013

Matrilineal Monday - Eliza Johnston

Eliza Johnston is my third great grandmother on my father's paternal side. I have written a little about Eliza before due in most part to the fact that I'm not positive that she is actually my third great-grandmother. However, I'll call her mine for now.

Eliza was born November 8, 1844 in Chicago, Illinois to James Johnston and Jane Montgomery. I have not be able to find any documentation on her family around this time and can not find them on any census record, therefore, I do not know if she had any siblings.
Eliza married William Moulton Butler and they had ten children.
Eliza with her granddaughter, Isabel Roper, circa 1912

In a documentary sense, Eliza's life is a mystery until 1880. That is the first time I find a record of her and it is on the 1880 census.
Here she is listed in Hobart, Indiana with her husband and seven children. Rewind 10 years and in the 1870 census, there is a woman named Elizabeth Brown living in William M. Butler's household.
I believe that Elizabeth Brown the housekeeper, listed above, and Eliza Johnston my grandmother are one in the same. I have several pieces of evidence to point to this. First, William M. Butler owned a plot in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois. Among those buried in the plot is Charles E. Brown, an infant, interred August 16, 1866.

In the George Thomas Little book, The Descendants of George Little who came to Newbury, Mass. in 1640, Little supplies a list of children born to William Butler and "Mrs. Eliza Brown." Among those is a Charles Edward Butler, born October 16, 1865 and died August 26, 1866. Though the death dates vary by 10 days, I believe that the two children are one and the same.

I believe that Eliza was married to a man named Brown and following his death or an estrangement, she took work as a housekeeper in the Butler household. I believe that William fell in love with Eliza and they had several children out of wedlock. Because they lived in a time when that was unacceptable, when their young child Charles died he was given his mother's last name. Although quite a bit of documentation states that Eliza and William were married in 1861, this can not be true because he was still married to his first wife Celia. I found the following marriage which I believe is the correct marriage for the couple.
The marriage date is listed as April 10, 1872. The couple already had five children by this point and Eliza would have been two months along with the sixth child when they were married. I have no idea why they would have waited so long to get married, as William's first wife died in 1864.

Whew, that sums that issue up. Sometime in the 1870s the family moved from Chicago to Hobart, Indiana. Eliza appears to be a homemaker throughout her life and was a member of the Presbyterian Church in Hobart. William died in 1895 and Eliza lived near or with her children until her death on December 31, 1918. She is buried in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois.
The inscriptions for both William and Eliza are incorrect on their headstones. Nothing like getting things right.
Due outs for Eliza:
1. On a couple of censuses, her birth place is listed as Wisconsin. It could be that her family lived there prior to moving to Chicago. I need to look for possible marriages and deaths in that state for the Johnstons and the Browns.
2. Search for siblings of Eliza. Look at the Hobart newspaper for any reference to visitors to Eliza or the Butler family.

Other posts about Eliza:
Exploring the Common: Johnston and Montgomery

1880 United States Federal Census; Census Place: Ross, Lake, Indiana; Roll: 291; Family History Film: 1254291; Page: 537B; Enumeration District: 069; Image: 0488; Description ED: 069; Description: Ross. and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA.

Little, George Thomas. The Descendants of George Little who came to Newbury, Massachusetts in 1640. Rachel Little genealogy, pp. 171-172. Published by the author. Auburn, Maine. 1882.


Elizabeth H. said...

Have you contacted Graceland Cemetery to obtain a digital image of the plot card? If you haven't, it costs $5 and might give you some information you don't have. I wrote about getting one at Tombstone Tuesday ~ Greeley Plot Card.

Wendy said...

Some of this sounds like what I'd be saying. I have information about really old ancestors who don't show up in the census records, and I'm wondering how I came to know their names in the first place.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Yes, I have gotten that file from Graceland. It was definitely a great help!

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Yep, I'm in the same boat.