Thursday, January 14, 2016

Third Time Charm

By my calculations, the five sons of John Summers of Sussex, New Jersey, namely George, John Jr., William, David, and Jacob, had 40 children between them, and the majority of those (34-35) came to Michigan. Given the scarcity of records at the time - oh those darned pioneers, not stopping to record every little thing! - it's no wonder that piecing together which children belonged to which families has been a seemingly endless challenge.

So this post is about one of those many children, Jacob Summers 1808-1885, referred to during his lifetime as Jacob 2d. Which of the five Summers brothers was his father? Here is the history of me trying to find the connection:
  1. First, I believed, like many, that Jacob Summers 1787-1864 was the father of Jacob 2d. The death record of Jacob 2d stated that his parents were Jacob and Mary Summers, so that's clear enough. The problem is that a) we don't know who reported that information, and b) Jacob and Mary Summers were married in 1811 while Jacob 2d was born in 1808. Of course Jacob 2d could have been born out of wedlock, but there seemed to be cause to look more closely. Who else might have been the father of Jacob 2d? 
  2. Next, I considered that John Summers Jr. 1784-1843 was the father of Jacob 2d. John Jr. was my next choice because:
    • I came up with the bright idea that the older Jacob Summers was called "Uncle Jake" because he was truly the uncle of Jacob 2d 
    • besides Jacob, John Jr. was the only other brother to live long enough to migrate to MI (this particular thought was, it turns out, flawed - it doesn't matter if the father of Jacob 2d lived to migrate to MI....)
    • John Jr. and his wife Jane were married in 1807, and the first child who we believe belongs to this couple was born in 1810 - so there was room for Jacob 2d to fit into this family group. But the more time we've spent looking at probate records and deeds associated with John Jr., the less and less likely it seems that Jacob 2d was his son. Now what? 
  3. Now I am concluding that David Summers 1782-1825 was the father of Jacob 2d. David was one of three brothers who died in New Jersey before the family migration to MI. He married Mary Horn in 1806, and again, the first child who we believe belongs to this couple was born in 1810, so again, there is room for Jacob 2d to fit into this family group. And what other evidence do I have to support this idea? The process of elimination. If not Jacob and not John Jr., then of the brothers who died in NJ, I can make a case for why Jacob 2d was not the son of George or William. That leaves David. To read more details about this latest and greatest theory, click here
So there is my third swing at determining the parentage of Jacob Summers 2d, having already two strikes against me. If this one is a swing and a miss, I shall have to say I Tried. If it's a hit but a fly ball or a throw-out on first, I shall have to say Oh Well. If it's a hit that's headed past the outfielders, then I'll join the spectators in cheering for the home team. For all we know, perhaps one of those spectators is Jacob 2d himself.

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