Monday, October 19, 2015

The McCaskey Family in Mid-19th Century

The McCaskeys start turning up again in the 1850 Pennsylvania Census. In Beaver County, Franklin Township (which adjoins Butler County to the east), the family matriarch, Nancy Little McCaskey, is still alive, living on the family farm at age 90. I assume she died sometime thereafter, but there is no record.

In the North Sewickley Cemetery, where I would have expected her to be buried, I found a detached stone, propped up precariously against the back of another family marker.  It contained only one word: NANCY. The cemetery records have no mention of that stone, and it has now disappeared.
GAH! Family graves are beginning to seem very impermanent. In my more romantic views, I think that Nancy was such a force of nature that everyone would have known who  was meant.  No need for dates for this timeless pioneer woman who came across the Atlantic in steerage with eight children in tow to start a new life in the backwoods of western Pennsylvania.

In the household with her were two of her sons -- Andrew, now 55, seems never to have married and is listed as a farmhand. John, age 52, is married to Jane, age 40, and is listed as head of household. He and Jane have four children: Sarah Jane, age 17 and probably already hanging out in Fisher's barn (For the full story behind that phrase, see:; James, 11; Eunice, 8; and John 3.

In 1860, the family roster has changed. Both Nancy and Andrew are gone, and so is Sarah Jane, missing along with Simon P. Fisher, the oldest son of neighbor Conrad Fisher.  I presume they are married but cannot find a record of that.  Balancing out the missing persons, however, are James, 21; Eunice, 18: and John, 13; along with two new sons, Theodore, age 8 and Joseph, age 6.

And then the Civil War changed everything.

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