Thomas Merrill Johnson was born about 1849 in Rutland, VT, the son of William Johnson and Lorette Proctor. The family moved to the mid-west. His first wife was Sarah Catherine “Kate” Dolan. They were married in 1876 in Nebraska. They had four children, but Kate died in 1883. Thomas’ second wife was Hattie Ellen Duggan. They were married in 1883, and had nine children. Thomas and Hattie divorced in 1901 in Illinois.
Thomas Johnson is in the 1910 census, age 60, occupation house carpenter. His wife was Jennie, and years of current marriage was “0” meaning they had been married some time shortly before 26 April, the date of the census. Jennie was born in Virginia, with her father and mother being born in Virginia and Pennsylvania. Also in the household was Bertha Miller, listed as step-daughter, age 16. Bertha was born in Pennsylvania, with her father’s birth place being listed as “Ger (Yiddish)” and her mother being born in Virginia. They lived at 11 ½ Mt Vernon Avenue in Uniontown, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. I have not yet found the marriage record for Thomas and Jennie, but am guessing that her first married name was Miller, based on Bertha’s last name. This record says she has had nine children, with six still living.
In 1920, Tom and Jennie are back living in Rock Falls, Whiteside County, Illinois. Bertha is still living with them, and has a daughter of her own, Charlotte, who is listed as 1 year and 3 months old. Since the census was taken in early January, Charlotte was probably born about October 1918. The census says she was born in Illinois, with her father born in California (he’s not in the household) and her mother born in Pennsylvania. Tom was working as a house carpenter, and the family owned their house at 301 East 8th Street.
Thomas died in 1923. The death index lists his wife as Jennie Johnson. Who was Jennie? What happened to her after Thomas died?
I searched for a Bertha Miller, born about 1894 in Pennsylvania, with a mother Jennie Miller born about 1850. I located the household of Meyer W Miller in the 1900 census in Uniontown PA. He and Jennie had been married 33 years (so about 1867) and she was the mother of nine children, six still living. Bertha was six. Meyer was born in Germany, and this all matched Bertha’s information from the later census when she lived with her stepfather Thomas. In the 1900 census, the census takers were supposed to record the month and year of birth. This census taker took an extra step, recording the day of birth as well. Jennie was born 30 Aug 1849, and Bertha was born 14 Aug 1893. They lived at 45 Pittsburg Street.
I found the death record for Meyer W Miller. He died in 1908 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was listed as married, although the wife was not named. This indicates that Jennie was widowed so was free to marry in 1909 or early 1910, as indicated in the 1910 census with Thomas. I have not yet found the marriage record for Meyer and Jennie. Meyer is buried at Sylvan Heights, in Uniontown, and shares a headstone with children Moses and Rebecca, who died as toddlers.
In the 1880 census, Meyer and Jennie lived in Uniontown with children Julia, Fanny, Sarah, Louis, and Frederick. Included in the household was Catharine Stouffer, age 65, listed as Meyer’s mother-in-law. This indicates that Jennie’s maiden name was probably Stouffer, providing that her mother didn’t remarry at some point.
In the 1870 census, Meyer W Miller was living in Coldwater, Branch County, Michigan. His wife was listed as Lydia, and daughter Julia was 2, born in Michigan. It occurred to me that Lydia might be a first wife for Meyer, although the 1900 census record says that Meyer and Jennie have been married for 33 years. Perhaps Lydia used “Jennie” as a nickname. She is the same age as Jennie, and also born in Virginia as Jennie’s records indicate.
After Thomas Johnson’s death, Jennie was listed in the 1930 census in Rock Falls, living in the same house as in 1920, with her widowed daughter Sadie Meir and her granddaughter Charlotte.
I searched for records relating to Jennie Stauffer/Stouffer, and found a death record for Mrs. Jennie Collier. She died 2 April 1932 in Uniontown, PA. Her father was Peter Stauffer, her mother Catherine Schupp. Most importantly, her birthdate is listed as 31 Aug 1849 in Virginia, which matches the 1900 census, and the 1880 census which names her mother as Catherine Stouffer. Jennie’s spouse was listed as I.B. Collier, but I have not yet identified him. Jennie’s death certificate says was buried at the Jewish Cemetery in Hopgood PA. However, Billion Graves also lists her, as Jennie W Miller, at Sylvan Heights, Uniontown, PA.
In the 1850 census, I found Peter Stouffer age 45 and Catharine Stouffer age 28, and the household included Andrew 7, Mary 5, and Lydia 2, which is consistent with the ages of Jennie and her mother as found in later records. In 1860, I found Peter, Catherine, Mary, Lydia, and Sarah in East Huntingdon, Westmoreland, Pennsylvania. In 1870, I found Catherine and daughter Sarah in Tyrone, Fayette, Pennsylvania. Without Jennie’s (or Lydia’s) birth record, and a marriage record for the marriage to Thomas Johnson, it is not absolutely proven that this is the right woman, but there is a pretty good circumstantial case that this Jennie is the widow of Thomas.
I don’t know how they met, but I did find some other Stouffers living in Thomas’ home town in Illinois. Perhaps after she was widowed, Jennie was visiting relatives there and met Thomas. Having her extended family still living in Uniontown would explain why she and Thomas moved there, away from his extended family in Illinois. My guess is that her third husband, I.B. Collier was from the Uniontown area, as Collier is a common name in that area.
Jennie’s children were
1. Julia b 1868 in Michigan, still living in 1881 when she was involved in an accident – the family sued the local railway company for damages. She apparently died before 1900 as Jennie’s record says nine children born, six still living in 1900. Rebecca and Moses died in the 1880s. The other children are accounted for well after 1900.
2. Fannie b 1872 in Michigan – married Frederick Pilkey, she died in 1932. Her death certificate says that her mother, Jennie Stauffer, was born in Mt. Pleasant, PA. (Fred was a doctor of electro-therapy – he died in 1943.) She is buried at Sylvan Heights.
3. Sarah W b 1874 in Pennsylvania – apparently the Sadie Meir who was with Jennie in the 1930 census in Rock Falls
4. Louis/Lewis W b 6 June 1877 in Pennsylvania – he died 5 May 1962 and is buried in Sylvan Heights Cemetery, Uniontown, PA.
5. Fred Win b 20 Sep 1879 died in 1945, spouse was Elizabeth Dugan. He is buried at Sylvan Heights.
6. Alex W b 11 May 1882 – wife Flora. They named their children Julia, Alex, Ian, Florence, Jennie, Bertha, and Lewis. He was a barber. He died in 1972 and is buried at Sylvan Heights Cemetery in Uniontown.
7. Moses b 1885 d 1886 buried at Sylvan Heights
8. Rebecca b 1888 d 1889 buried at Sylvan Heights
9. Bertha b 14 Aug 1893 – in 1930 was living with brother Fred and family.