52 Ancestors #8: The Douglas Brick Wall

Every genealogist has hit a brick wall … that moment when your family tree suddenly quits branching.  You can’t get anywhere because there are no more records, no more proof, and NO CLOSURE! It’s painful. It leaves you wanting. The parents of my 2nd great grandpa, Winfield Scott Douglas … Scott … (1847-1913) have proven to be quite illusive.  I’m not even sure of their full names!

What Scott Douglas’ Records Say

Scott’s parents were JD Douglas and Ferobe Dunn.  JD I’m sure of, Ferobe … not so much. Scott’s marriage certificate to my g-great grandmother lists his parents as Jacob Douglass and Percy Dume or Dunn. 

Scott Douglas Marriage License

Scott’s death certificate lists his father as John Douglass and mother unknown. 


Scott Douglas Death Certificate

What Census Records Say

JD Douglas was born in 1795 in North Carolina or 1800 in Tennessee, depending on what census you look at.  Ferobe Was born in 1808 in Illinois or Tennessee.

I was able to find a John Douglas in the 1830 Census in Hickman County, Kentucky.  The others living in the household match JD’s family.  I also know that Scott returned to Hickman County after the Civil War with his first wife, so it stands to reason this Douglas line lived in Kentucky at this point.  John Douglas is the first name … Sampson Dunn is the third name.  I have often pondered if this Sampson is somehow connected to JD’s wife.  

JD Douglas 1830 Census

Hickman County, KY 1830 Census

JD and family were still in Hickman County, Kentucky in 1840.

JD Douglas 1840 Census

Hickman County, KY 1840 Census

In 1850, I found them in Weakly County, Tennessee.  I love the 1850 census … it tells us SO much more than any previous census records.  Here we have the entire family. The census shows JD born in 1795 in North Carolina. Ferobe born in 1808 in Illinois.  All the children are listed, Scott being second to last at age 6. Take note of Francis (age 8) and George (age 9 months), they come into play later.  I’ve been able to trace Scott’s brother Simeon (Simon) and his descendants. Simeon moved around a lot, but ended up back in Hickman County, Kentucky where his own children stayed.  I believe his descendants still live there.   

1850 JD Douglas Census

Weakly County, TN 1850 Census

The 1860 is the last I have of Scott’s parents.  The census lists John Douglass, born 1800 in Tennessee (the TN is cut off here) with wife Feby, daughter Francis and son Winfield (Scott). George isn’t with them, so I don’t know if he died young, or stayed in Tennessee with a sibling. Family story tells me Scott and his parents did live in Missouri, then his mom came across into Chester, Illinois where she lived the rest of her life.  I’ve lost John and Francis altogether. I suspect Francis married, but I can’t find records.  Scott, of course, came on to Southern Illinois.  I can only speculate that JD and his wife died before the 1870 census, but I can’t find either of them anywhere.  Unfortunately, deaths in Illinois prior to about 1874 weren’t required to be reported. Ferobe is probably buried somewhere in Randolph County, Illinois … I’ll find her someday. 

JD Douglas 1860 Census

Stoddard County, MO 1860 Census

The Douglas Family Bible

There is a Douglas family bible that was kept, I’m assuming, buy Scott’s mother.  I don’t have it. I don’t have any clue where it is now.  It was given to someone in the extended family long before I was born.  I hope it is safe and sound in someone’s home, but I always look for it in our local antique stores. 

I often think about JD and his wife … I’m tied to them well beyond my family tree.  I think about what they looked like and how they lived … why they moved to Tennessee then to Missouri.  The timing is right for a move from south to north based on political beliefs.  My grandpa used to tell me that Scott’s mom left her husband and came into Illinois because they had opposite beliefs on slavery … and that Scott followed for the same reason.  JD may have returned to the south, if that’s the case.  

Scott fought for the North during the Civil War. I’ve found records of his older brothers fighting for the South. It’s a true tale of brother fighting against brother, and a family being torn in half.    




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