One Name Place Study: Townsends Series Begins

Howdy Folks! I'm going to get genealogy crazy. I'm trying to crack through a brick wall for my Civil War ancestor William James Townsend. Starting in January of last year, I shared William's pension file and the things I learned and the questions I still had.

William Townsend Pension Declaration

The pension file gave me a few new pieces of information and the story of how William became blind. Unfortunately, no siblings or parental information was found. How can I find these pieces of information?

Start with What You Know

William James Townsend
  • born abt 1842 in Ohio1,2,
    • Birth records don't become available until 1867
  • 1860 resides in Madison Township, Franklin County, Ohio3
    • Single, farm laborer, boarding in home of Robert Henderson
  • June 1863.. Madison Township, Franklin County, Ohio4
    • Civil War Draft Registration
    • Single, farm laborer
    • Recorded same time as John Townsend, married, age 27 of Madison
  • May 1864 - August 1864 Serves in Co K 133 Regt Ohio Infantry Volunteers5
  • 10 Nov 1864 marries Mary Claybaugh (1846 - 1916 of Franklin County, Ohio)6
  • 1870  resides Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio1
    • William is listed as a 26 year-old farm laborer. Mary is 22 and a house keeper. They have four children living with them. (Nancy, Ida, William, Mary Ella)
  • 1880 resides Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio2
    • William is listed as a 36 year-old farm laborer. Mary is 32 and a house keeper. They have four children living with them. (William, John, Harry, Emma)
  • 13 Nov 1889  died in Edward's Station, Franklin, Ohio, United States7
    • Edward's Station was a railroad town in Madison Township
  • 1889 buried in Obetz Cemetery in Obetz, Franklin, Ohio, United States8
    • Mary also buried in Obetz but does not have a stone
Gravestone for William James Townsend
Gravestone for William James Townsend
Obetz Cemetery, Franklin County, Ohio
Photo by Chad Graham

I know that William and Mary Townsend (or Townson) had the following children:
  1. Nancy Elizabeth Townsend Miller (1865-1925)
  2. Ida Jane Townsend Sanborn (1864-1941)
  3. William James Townsend (1868-1929)
  4. Mary Ella (or Etta) Townsend (1869-1874)
  5. John Edward Townsend (1873-1950)
  6. Louisa D Townsend (1875 -?)
  7. Harry Augustus Townsend (1877-1918)
  8. Emma Virginia Townsend (1880-1943)
  9. Samuel Leroy Townsend (1884-?)
  10. Ethel May Townsend Anthony (1887-1956)
All of the children were born in Franklin County. Most state they were born in Hamilton with a few exceptions. Ida Jane and Emma say they were born in Valley Crossing. Valley Crossing was a  railroad junction town, located north of Williams Road on Groveport Road within the Hamilton Township. Louisa and Ethel's birth town is listed as Madison. 

After marrying, Samuel out of the state of Ohio. Ethel moved to Toledo, Ohio. The remaining family members lived within Franklin County. Most of the children, as well as the parents, are buried in Obetz Cemetery. John and Mary Ella don't appear to have been buried in this cemetery, however their burial location has not been determined. 

Much of the children vital dates are found in the census and vital records, although some records have not been located. According to Mary's Widow Pension in 1890, the  family was not part of a church and no baptism records should be found.

Now What? 

I believe that William purchased land, Mary sold it upon his death and acquired a smaller property in Madison Township. I am having trouble finding land and probate records for the Townson/Townsend name that would be my family.

I have not attempted newspaper research because many Columbus, Ohio papers that I believe I need are not online and I don't currently have time to do 'old school' newspaper research. Perhaps there will be obituaries and other tidbits around the 1840s for Townsend births. Perhaps there will be an obituary around Nov 1889 for William's death. Perhaps there will be a marriage announcement in 1864 for William and Mary's marriage. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

So what can I do to attempt to piece together William's lineage and other relatives? The answer comes as a result of asking the question Where's Ida in the 1880 US Census?

Additional Reading:
Who Else is in 1880?
That's Everyone Now What?

1. 1870  US Census:, 1870 United States Federal Census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: M593_1200; Page: 509A; Image: 229; Family History Library Film: 552699.
2. 1880 US Census: and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1880 United States Federal Census, Year: 1880; Census Place: Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: 1015; Family History Film: 1255015; Page: 188A; Enumeration District: 9; Image: 0479.
3. 1860 US Census: "U.S. Census Population Schedule, 1860" database, FamilySearch; (http:/ Madison, Franklin, Ohio, , 66, 262, Robert Henderson, Head of Household; NARA microfilm publication 803962, .
4. U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.
5. Union Regimental Histories, The Civil War Archive (, taken from Source - "A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion" by Frederick H. Dyer (Part 3), 133rd Regiment Infantry; Historical Data Systems, comp., American Civil War Regiments, Source: The Union Army, vol. 2. 
6 Family Search, "Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958" database, (http:/ : Entry for William Townsend, 10 November 1864; Civil War Pension file for William James Townson Col K  Reg 133rd
 Civil War Pension file for William James Townson Col K  Reg 133rd; Franklin County Chapter of The Ohio Genealogical Society, compiled, Franklin County, Ohio Cemeteries: Vol I - XI (N.p.: n.p., 1980-1987, 1997), IX :70, William James Townsend. 
8 Find A Grave Memorial #98018586


  1. This is going to help me figure out to answer some questions on one of my brick walls. My Great Great Grandfather Elliott. Supposedly born in North Carolina, I’m not entirely sure I’ve been pointed to the right parents, but DNA seems to be bearing this out. (I’m going to make the surname table as soon as I watch the video.) Thanks!


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