Friday, June 4, 2010

Hannah (Wilson) Whitson

Birth:   1823

Died:    Mar. 11, 1851
            Either Schuyler or McDonough County, Illinois

According to Duane Lester's, Rural Cemeteries of McDonough County, Illinois, Volume II, Bethel-Industry, the stone reads that she was the "wife of B. F." and she died at age 28. I was not able to locate this stone in November of 2007 nor March 2008.

There are a number of Wilson family connections in this cemetery, but no established link between this Hannah (Wilson) Whitson and any of them. However, there are any number of cemeteries nearer to Rushville in neighboring Schuyler County where she could have been interred. Because she is not buried closer to the place she resided with her husband, it is reasonable to suspect a connection with the Wilsons interred here.

Hannah Willson [sic] and Benjamin F. Whitson were married in Schuyler County, Illinois, on January 11, 1848. He was born in Pennsylvania around 1824.  He was a 26-year-old constable in the 1850 census, residing with his wife Hannah (then age 24), their one-year-old son Burt and an un-named 3-month-old daughter (who is also interred in this cemetery). The family resided in Rushville, in Schuyler County, which borders McDonough County, and Hannah may have died in Schuyler County.

Hannah Whitson's husband Benjamin was from a well-to-do family.  His father owned a great deal of land and was engaged in agricultural pursuits related to apple-orcharding. Benjamin's brother, George T. Whitson, was the sheriff in Schulyer Co. in 1872, but he also was engaged in the plastering trade and he would occasionally venture to the west coast to pan for gold. Another brother, Wilbur, gained wealth in Schuyler County from his excellent livestock: Jersey cattle and Poland-China hogs.

After the death of Hannah, Benjamin Whitson married Mary Ellen Goldsbury (or Gooldsbury) on October 5, 1854. She was born in Ohio. It is likely that she was a widow. She had a 10-year-old son and other younger children already in the 1860 census. All of her children including the 10-year-old, Bradley, used the Whitson surname. In the 1870 census this couple lived in Macomb with their many children. Son Burt at age 21 was still in the household and working with his father, both as plasterers. However, Benjamin Whitson was absent from the household in 1860 and 1880. It is clear that Burt the head of household in 1880, still unmarried, living at home and providing an income working as a laborer with only his step-mother and some of his younger step-siblings in the home. It's unclear what became of Benjamin Whitson, but some historical records indicate he may have moved to Will County where his father had established another farm . . . or perhaps he was absent with his brother panning for gold on the Pacific Coast.

Biographical information comes from census records, vital statistics, and marriage records from and the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index.

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