Discover your inside story with AncestryDNA®

January 26, 2016

Solving a Challenging Genealogy Puzzle: Finding Rachel Part 2

As a reminder, here is the challenge I have been working on - Jess intrigued me with this email she sent to Olive Tree Genealogy
my great great grandmother was a Rachel Ann Van Slyke born 1/23/1850 Joplin Missouri. d. 2//1931. she married Alfred E bridges 11/1/1868. I've hit a dead end as to who her parents might be and am trying to establish a direct link to either Cornelius or Peter.

any ideas of any descendants of peter or cornelius who may have had a daughter named Rachel Ann Van Slyke and who lived in Missouri in 1850?
The start of this genealogy research journey can be found at Solving a Challenging Genealogy Puzzle: Finding Rachel Part 1

After putting together a fairly good timeline of Rachel during her lifetime, and analyzing the census records I found for further clues, I decided to look for any Van Slyke individuals in or near her locations. This was not such a stab in the dark as it might seem. There were very few Van Slyke names of any variation found in any of the census records for Missouri! That was very helpful because we can theorize that it is very possible they are all related. Remember - this is a theory only so I had to prove or disprove it.

Marriage 12 April 1841
I had no results in the 1850 and 1860 census on but found one very intriguing marriage record dated 12 April 1841 in Henry Missouri for James Vanslyke and Sarah Ann Mccready. The record stated that both James and Sarah resided in Van Buren County at the time of their marriage.

These looked like good candidates to be Rachel's parents so I then focused my research on this couple.  In a nutshell here is what I found (please note that this was not quick and easy, my findings are the result of many hours of diligent and creative research techniques)

Bates Co. Missouri Almost 150 land patents were issued in April and May, 1843. Below are the names of the original patentees, and the land they received.

VANSLYKE, JAMES M     17867     Twp. 41N - Range 29W, the NE¼SW¼ of Section 26 - 40 acres
VANSLYKE, JAMES M     17868     Twp. 41N - Range 29W, the NW¼NW¼ of Section 25 - 40 acres
VANSLYKE, JAMES M     17869     Twp. 41N - Range 29W, the SW¼NE¼ of Section 26

The image on for each of these patents states that James M. Van Slyke was living in Van Buren Co. at the time. But when the image is enlarged that middle initial "M" could be an "H". Keep this in mind as it relates to my next find.
Image from
The next item I found was dated 10 March 1856 when James "H" Vanslack (sic) of Jasper Co. Missouri purchases 40 acres of land

It seems very clear in this 1856 image that the middle initial is "H". In the 1843 image, it could be H which has been mistranscribed as an "M"

I feel confident that this is land being purchased by James Van Slyke who married Sarah Ann McCready. I did not find any other records for James Van Slyke but I did find a second marriage record for Sarah Ann McCready. I suggest we can theorize her husband was deceased or had deserted the family because in Joplin, Jasper Missouri on 28 July 1859 we find Sarah Ann Vanslyke marrying James Wilkerson.

Before I leave this article to move on to Part 3 of Finding Rachel, let's take a look at that surname Wilkerson. Remember 9 year old Rachel "Vansback" living with Levina Wilkerson in 1860? The 1850 census for Jasper finds Levina/Lavina Wilkerson (misindexed as Wilkenson) with her husband Morgan and family including son James Wilkerson age 18.

I suggest that Sarah Ann McCready married first James H. Van Slyke in 1843. She had at least one daughter, Rachel Ann McCready. Then her husband died or deserted the family some time between purchasing land in Jasper in 1856 and Sarah Ann's second married in 1859 to James Wilkerson. For an unknown reason, little 9 year old Rachel went to live with her step-father James' mother Levina Wilkerson by 1860. Did Sarah Ann and James die? Did they move away? Were they simply on an extended honyemoon?

My next research investigates those questions and more (for example does Rachel have siblings?) and will be found in Part 3 of this series.


Anna Matthews said...

Can't wait to read the rest.

T said...

My 2nd great grandmother raised her daughter's two children by her first marriage. Her daughter, my great grandmother, married again and had 6 more children. The more I dig into this mess, the lower my opinion of my great grandmother and since I wasn't there I should not be so judgmental. Maybe it was her husband who didn't want the kids. That family was a soap opera!

Leslie said...

Haven't read the whole story yet, but I'm tending to believe the "M" in the 1843 image wasn't mis-transcribed as it appears very much as the "M" in Missouri at the bottom of the document. However, that's not to say it wasn't wrong to start with, in the image. Just a thought.

Wendy Callahan said...

I'm binge-reading these now! :D