Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Gravestones don't lie? When did Bela die?

The gravestone for Bela Goodrich, my 5th Great Grandfather, is located in Adams Cemetery, Troy Township, Whitley County, Indiana and has the inscription "1776-1845" and "War of 1812". Neither the year of his birth nor the year of his death is correct!
This is not the original marker. Another researcher, a descendant of Price Goodrich, Bela's son, says she was told by an uncle that the original marker was illegible and in bad condition when some family members decided to erect a new marker. Apparently they didn't know his year of death or, perhaps, that is how they interpreted the remaining transcription on the original marker. At any rate, a new stone was set with the incorrect dates. So when was Bela born and when did he die? Stick with me, and we'll see, maybe.

Wethersfield, Connecticut Vital Records 1634 - 1868, from the Barbour Collection online at Rays' Place (and elsewhere) show that Bela Goodrich, son of John 3rd & Abigail, was born February 4, 1777. Those records also show that his parents John Goodrich and Abigail Price were married on October 1, 1776, just four months prior to Bela's birth! John and Bela moved with their families to Franklin County, Ohio about 1807 and 31 years later, in 1838, Bela along with some of his grown children came to Whitley County, Indiana. Bela is not listed in the 1840 census for Whitley County but his son Price and son-in-law, James Joslin, are both listed.

On May 6, 1852, Bela, aged 75, applied for Bounty Land based on his service in the War of 1812 while living in Franklin County, Ohio. He also applied again on May 31, 1855. This time he was 78 years old.

Bela is enumerated in both the 1850 and 1860 Whitley County, Indiana census records. In 1850 he is age 74, in the household with his daughter Abigail and her husband Jonas Joslin (my 4th Great Grandparents). In 1860, Bela is listed as being age 83 and is living with his grandson, Silas Goodrich.

So, we know he was still living in 1860 because he's listed in the census, right? Well, I have found instances where deceased people were listed in the census records, but another clue was found in the Columbia City News. The item below first appeared March 25, 1862 and ran almost weekly, with the last "testimonials" for the Scandinavian Remedies being June 2, 1863.
"Home Testimony. Huntsville. Whitley Co., Ind.
"Dr. C. W. Robeck: Sir. This is to certify that I was very much reduced in strength, and was confined to bed rom [sic] general debility and disease and being advised to try your Scandinavian Remedies, I did so with the most satisfactory result. I have since had several attacks of the sam [sic] character, which have always been removed by these remedies and can conscientiously recommend them to the afflicted. Yours truly, BELLA [sic] GOODRICH."
We're getting a little closer... chances are, if he was giving a testimony for a "remedy" he'd still be alive. I think we would be safe in assuming he was living in June of 1863.

An article that was published in the Columbia City Post on February 24, 1892 gave bits of information regarding early settlers and current residents. Of particular interest was this one-liner... "Bela Goodrich was a soldier and died at the age of 87 years. He was the father of Price Goodrich and grandfather to Fletcher Goodrich of Richland township."

We have no way of knowing if this article is accurate, but if it is, and if he was born in 1777 and died when he was 87 years old, that puts his year of death at 1864 or possibly early 1865.

There would not be any "official" record of Bela’s death since Whitley County didn't start recording deaths until about 1882, and that is hit-or-miss until about 1900 when the state required them.

So, when did Bela die? What say you?

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