One Name Place Study: Elisabeth Townsend in Columbus

Townsends of Franklin County OhioAccording to the Guild of One-Name Studies, "People often start one-name studies when they get stuck on part of their own ancestry, and believe that if they were to collect all references they find to the surname then this will lead to a break-through."

I am in the process of investigating the Townsends of Franklin County, Ohio in an effort to find relatives of William James Townsend who was born around 1842 in Franklin County, Ohio. So far, most Townsends do not seem to be close relations, but I haven't given up yet.

The next individual listed 1880 US Census is Elisabeth  Townsend. Elisabeth indicates in this census that she was born about 1867 in Ohio, with parents also originally from Ohio. At age 13, she's listed as a servant in the home of Wm and Ruth Wildermuth (though the handwriting looks like Wildersmith).

The Wildersmith's have children aged 22-13. Her servant position was certainly not that of a governess based on her young age!

Elisabeth Townsend of Franklin County Ohio in 1880 Census
Elizabeth Townsend in the home of William Wildermuth; Year: 1880; Census Place: Groveport, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: 1015; Family History Film: 1255015; Page: 263C; Enumeration District: 013

William Wildermuth, aged 71, was a farmer with his wife Ruth, 59, keeping house. A daughter Eldora, 22, is still at home. Four sons assist with the farm: Edward, 12,  Milton, 19, Jessie 15, and Frank 13. A school teacher named Asppa Baugher, aged 24, is boarding with the Wildermuth. Milton Jessie, Frank and Elisabeth Townsend attend school at this time. It's possible that Miss Baugher was their teacher.

An interesting discovery was made that William Wildermuth not only died 5 years later, but he was buried in the same cemetery as my Townsend ancestor... William Townsend.

Clapping HandsAfter searching the 1880 Census, I firmly believe that Elisabeth Townsend IS MY RELATIVE! I believe she is the oldest daughter of William James Townsend and Mary Clabaugh and that her name is Nancy Elisabeth Townsend born 15 January 1865 in Hamilton, Franklin County, Ohio. In 1880, her family was very poor. It is likely that she was taken in by this family to work and continue going to school. Thus, this took the pressure of her parents to feed her. I would love to learn more about the Wildermuth family if possible!

Nancy would marry Dorwin Isaiah Miller in 1888 and they would reside in Hamilton, Franklin County, Ohio. They would be buried in Obetz Cemetery as well.

So far, I have found a possible brother by locating William's daughter Ida Townsend in the 1880 Census. I do not recognize the Wildermuth last name, but that doesn't mean I should rule out a possible connection between the Towsend and Wildermuth families as they took in William's daughter Nancy Elisabeth.

Don't you love it when discoveries also provide more questions than answers? Time for a Genealogy Happy Dance!

Previous Posts:
What I Know about William James Townsend

Additional Reading:


  1. A wonderful discovery due to your diligent research!

    1. Thanks Colleen. It was fun to make that connection.

  2. Cool! I think a one name place study is such a great idea when you hit a brick wall. I'd like to try this!!!

  3. Give it a go Nicole! For starters, I picked a Census record that I knew my relative was in. Then, I found all others in that county with the same last name in that same census. I used FamilySearch to create family trees for those individuals and went through the process of finding more census and vital records. Soon, some families became very clearly not likely related. Others are strong possibilities. I could then take these possibilities further by looking for sources beyond those 'low hanging fruit' sources. Best of luck and let me know how yours plays out.


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