The Trouble with James Walsworth Elmore

I feel confident that James Walsworth (or Walworth) Elmore was born in New York in 1823, some records say in Essex. His older sister Charlotte was born around 1819…or 1821 depending on where you look, also in New York.

In 1840 (given the ages of child records) they appear to be living with Polly Anson in Peru, Clinton, New York. You have to get to that conclusion by back tracking from the 1850 census where they live with Polly and realize that Polly is there in 1840 with a teenage boy and 20 year old girl.

In 1850 James Walsworth Elmore (27) is the head of house, listed with his wife Lydia, son Walworth, sister Charlotte and Mary Anson (age 55). He’s listed as a Clothier, just down the page from Franklin E. Elmore (45) who is listed as a Merchant. Franklin is the son of Asa Elmore who also owned land in Essex NY according to his will. So, James is mixed in there with other Elmores in his extended family and also with some families with familiar names like that of John Cochran and Daniel Irish (James W’s wife Lydia Ann Hicks possibly being related to the Irish family).

In 1860 James W. Elmore now listed as a farmer, his family and his sister Charlotte (now last name Palmer) are still living in Peru New York with Polly Anson.

In 1870 James W. and family are still in Peru Ny and Mary (Polly) is listed as an Elmore. If you imagine starting your tree backwards though, from 1870, it would look like James W. was living with his mother, Mary Elmore in Peru NY in 1870.

In 1880, James W., now 55, has moved to Fulton Illinois and Mary Anson is no longer with them.

It would appear that James W. Elmore’s parents died some time before 1840 and that he and sister Charlotte had a strong bond with Mary Anson who was about roughly 20-30 years older than them.

This all sounds possible, so what is the trouble?

It’s a matter of records. In my family tree you will see James Walsworth Elmore attached to James Elmore and Katherine Cochran as his parents. The only reference I have for that are other family trees and a hint that there was once a family bible.

The only child I can actually associate with James Elmore and Katherine Cochran through a record is their daughter Katherine Elmore who died within the first year of life in 1824 (after James W. Elmore is born).

Katherine Cochran dies in 1825. In 1826 there is a record of a James Elmore in Peru New York marrying a Fanny Bragg which has been associated with our James Elmore on Our James Elmore then dies himself in 1833. Which has led us all to the conclusion that there must be some connection between James Elmore and Mary Anson.

In many trees, Mary Polly Anson and Fanny Bragg have formed what appears to be a composite person..who became Mary Polly Fanny Anson Bragg in order to explain the strong bond between Mary Anson and James W. Elmore. We’re doing these gymnastics to make that connection to James Elmore and complete the line back to Ed Elmer.

James Elmore is alive in 1830, but I cannot find him in the census in Peru Ny. There is a garbled possible Jas Ellmore record in there, but it lists three boys James W. Walsworth’s age. I do find several of the other Elmores. There is a listing for John Elmore who is assumed to be the man aged 60 to 70. He’s the father of James who was married to Katherine Cochran, and if my tree is to be believed, my direct male ancestor.

My trouble is that things don’t seem to add up and I struggle to place James Walsworth Elmore with any Elmore family because I never actually see him living with one. He’s related to them, but living with Polly Anson at every verifiable point. So…who is Polly Anson?

Flipping over to DNA for a minute

I’ve done a lot with Y DNA, first proving Ed Elmer’s Y line and then finding my own place in it. Much of this blog is devoted to that process so I won’t go over it again here. The end of that Y research (at the moment) leaves me with a direct relationship to Hezekiah Elmer born in 1686. I share a Y DNA SNP R-A2284 which only occurs in descendants of his father Edward Elmer (the second) and have a novel (in the family anyway) Y STR at DYS449 that appears to only be shared by descendants of Hezekiah. You can see our results here.

With the amount of triangulation we’ve done on these SNPs and STRS, I feel like I done proved it for my connection Hezekiah.

In the world of Autosomal DNA, I’ve racked up a good group of various cousins at different ranges of centimorgans that are related to several of the children of Halsey Orton Elmore, the son of James Walsworth Elmore. Where possible I’ve done segment mapping to attempt to confirm at least which side of our family these matches are on. As you can read here, I’ve also picked up a good sized (and growing) cluster of relatives related to Maurice Elmore’s mother Imogene Carr, so I feel good about the direction of the branches below James Walsworth Elmore. I should be happy with these results. DNA has done it’s job and jumped the brick walls.

I’ve got the right guy in 1686 and the right guy in 1823 and that is a lot better than a lot of people have gotten, but the squishy nature of the connection between James W. Elmore and James Elmore nags at me and makes me question the connections in the red box below. I don’t have any definitive autosomal or Y DNA matches in that red box to give me any direction on whether it’s right or not.

Put a slightly different way, I don’t have any DNA evidence to say that I’m more closely related to John Elmore than to John’s brother Daniel…or even somehow their brother Asa.

The line of men in the red box is “effectively” genetically correct. You can’t say for certain that it’s not correct, but what if it’s not technically correct beyond a shadow of a doubt?

Hezekiah to me

Paternal line from Hezekiah down to me

A Shadow of a Doubt

The Elmores, particularly Asa Elmore in Peru Ny are doing pretty well. At least they seem to be fairly solid. I imagine that Asa Elmore has some pretty good holdings and is a prominent citizen. James Walsworth Elmore names one of his sons Asa. In my family tree Asa Elmore is James W. Elmore’s great uncle. If the Elmore family is as it appears (fairly well to do), why is James Walsworth Elmore with Polly Anson and not one of his other Elmore relatives? Is Polly Anson in some way a closer relative than the other Elmores in Peru?

If you look at my family tree, James W Elmore does not have a lot of aunts and uncles on the Elmore side. John Elmore 1766 in that line of men above appears to have four children, only one son, and three of them, including the son were dead by 1840. That would leave James W. Elmore one aunt, Euretta who married a Doctor Kane. James W and Charlotte don’t go live with Euretta Elmore Kane even though it would seem like a doctor’s family would be in a position to handle the financial risks of taking on a nephew and niece.

Those early deaths make John Elmore’s family convenient because he has a son James who could be a father to James W. and both he and his wife would be gone in time for James W. to live with Polly Anson, but I have nothing connecting Polly to an Elmore family.

I have to keep returning to Mary Polly Anson because she’s the only adult I can tie James W. to by records and of course I keep returning to my big questions. Who is Polly Anson and what is her relationship with James W. and Charlotte Elmore?

Ties that Bind?

What is the possibility that the children were “bound out”. In my paper trail Thompson family, the Williamsons were bound out when their father died. They were spread around other families in the community in Anderson Indiana. This was the social safety net available when there were no orphanages and families couldn’t absorb the repercussions of a tragedy. Annie Oakley was famously bound out when her father died. It’s a legal contract that seems to have placed children in servitude to or under the care of another local family until a certain age when their contract would expire.

That would offer up a possibility that Polly Anson is unrelated to James W. and Charlotte Elmore which in turn brings me back to the relative prosperity of the Elmores in Peru and back to wondering why they would have their own kin bound out? In the story of the Williamsons, they were isolated and faced what looked like a male line extinction event, leaving several widows. It was easy to see why the family would basically collapse at some point under the weight of the fatherless-ness.

It could be the case that James W and Charlotte were bound out, but it seems more reasonable that Polly Anson is a relative.  To me, it appears that James W. and Charlotte remain with Polly…or that Polly remains with them in Peru until her death, at which point James W. Elmore makes his move to Illinois kicking off the series of events that eventually leads to my existence. James W. is not alone. He appears to move within a group of familiar families from the Peru area like the Hicks and Fuller families.

So James is an Elmore in Peru NY, related on the male line to the other Elmores there, but he is recorded as being born in Essex New York (a bit farther south) and I always see him moving in the context of other local families (Fuller, Hicks, Anson). He’s in proximity to the Elmores but somehow seems distanced.

Polly Anson seems to me to be a relative of some sort or close enough to be preferable as a care giver and then lifelong family member. Charlotte does get married, but ends up back with the core family surrounding James W. Elmore. I can only assume that Polly Anson is a widow in the 1840 census, which would mean her maiden name is likely not Anson.

They head to Illinois where James Walsworth, his wife and several other Elmores are buried in the Elmore Fuller Hicks Cemetery in Harris Township. Oddly there is also a listing for Mary Anson in the same Cemetery which gives her possibly two grave listings as there seems to be one in Peru New York as well. James Orton Fuller is there too which is an interesting name reference for Halsey Orton Elmore. Also found there are Amzi Hicks and his wife Lydia (listed sometimes as Lydia Fuller and sometimes as Lydia Irish) who would be my blood relatives as the parents of James W. Elmore’s wife Lydia Ann Hicks.

It may have meaning for my search that we’re talking about the Elmore Fuller Hicks Cemetery. There do not seem to be any Cochrans there and all of the Elmores seem to be in James W. Elmore’s immediate family. There is only one Anson listed though and that is Polly.

Quick and Dirty Surveys of Indexed Elmores

I’ve noted here that Asa Elmore listed in his will that he owned land in Peru, Clinton County New York and in Essex County farther south where James Walsworth Elmore was born. It makes me wonder if Essex New York was a way point in the Elmore migration to Northern New York. In any case, those two counties are my census counties for Elmores from 1820 and 1830.

In 1830, James Walsworth Elmore would be around 7 years old and sister Charlotte would be about 11.  Assuming the children were together, then we’d be looking for a family with a male 5 to 9 and a female 10 to 14.

Although a page by page census read is the best, I’m going to start with indexes and let do the heavy lifting. In 1830, Peru NY search comes up with:

  • John Elenore (John Elmore assumed to be the male 60 to 70 in the record)
  • Washington H Elmar (Washington Hall Elmore son of Asa Elmore and Maria Hall)
  • Stacia Elmore (probably Selucia Elmore son of Asa Elmore)
  • William H Elmore (probably William Hay Elmore son of Lott Elmore and Mary Hay)

John Elmore the prime suspect

The John Elmore in the index fits with an age of 60 to 70. His listing is misrepresented in the index with what appears to be a bad reporting of the columns. He has one male 30 to 40 which would be correct for his widowed son James Elmore, one female under 5 and one female 50 to 60, which would fit for John’s wife, Elizabeth Hay. The tick marks here are misleading though. The first listing which seems to be for a boy under 5 is suspect because of the other records listed.

1830 census showing John Elmore in Peru NY

You can see John there at the bottom. Note that several records in the first column appear to have back ticks, while others have a clearer number 1. That leads me to believe that the back tick is some other mark and shouldn’t be counted. So that leaves John Elmore, his wife, possibly his widowed son James and a girl under age 5. There is no one the age of James Walsworth or his older sister Charlotte. 

Just for clarity here is the census listing with the rows and columns highlighted showing the age ranges and number of people in John Elmore’s household.

1830 listing for John Elmore with columns highlighted

I wanted to spend some time on John because he’s in my squishy red box zone where things don’t add up. I won’t painfully go through each of the other Elmores listed, none of them have a male 5 to 10 and a female 10 to 15. Although William Hay Elmore comes close with a boy 15 to 20, I think he may be housing some of his siblings after the death of his father Asa. Both William and Selucia show girls the right age to be Charlotte, but neither have the magic boy and girl listing I’m looking for.

I couldn’t find any Elmores in Essex County in the 1830 index.

Dialing back to 1820, in Peru we basically have Asa Elmore and John Elmore with their families (12 and 7 people respectively). I still don’t see any Elmores in Essex. I know there is an Elmore presence in Essex because Asa owns land there in his will in 1822. I just don’t see any Elmore households there.

James Walsworth’s written records are pretty clear about him being born in Essex. It doesn’t appear to be a best guess like the listings I see for his sister Charlotte. I believe it’s on his actual death record that way. I would have to believe that his family is either on the move when he’s born in Essex or that they live in Essex but don’t own any land.

In 1790 John Elmore is in Plattsburgh New York, north of Peru likely moving with his father Daniel Elmer out of Vermont. John seems to be pretty settled in Peru by 1810.

That doesn’t leave me much to go on as far as a paper connection to the other Elmores in Peru NY. I should also point out that in documents and family listings I’ve seen for the Elmores in New York connected to Edward Elmer, James Walsworth Elmore and sister Charlotte do not exist. James Elmore is always listed with no children, John Elmore’s male line dying out with James in 1833. Seeing one of those comprehensive listings is actually what prompted me to take a hard look at that red section of my male line.

Asa Elmore and Selucia Elmore have pretty extensive wills and they specifically don’t list either James Walsworth Elmore or Charlotte Elmore. I cannot find a will for our John Elmore who died in 1840.

I get the feeling I’m chasing my tail with the Elmores and none of James Walsworth’s documents that I’ve found give a smoking gun as to who his parents are.

The Ansons

Back to Polly Anson. In 1830, I don’t find Polly Anson, but she would be about 35.

While the Elmores in Peru are mysterious and seem somehow disconnected. Polly Anson seems to be a constant in James W. Elmore’s life. While I can’t find any Elmores in Essex, Essex New York in 1830, I do find Amos Anson (son of Robert and Phebe) living there. Amos has a pretty large household in Essex NY in 1830. Looking for my magic pair, he comes pretty close. He’s got a boy 5 to 10 and a girl 5 to 10. If the girl was Charlotte, I would expect 10 to 15 so it’s close but not perfect. Amos has two adult women 20 to 30 in his household. Amos himself is the man aged 40 to 50 in the listing.

At a minimum, I have records of Asa Elmore’s land in Essex and members of the Anson family living in Essex. Most of the listings for the Ansons in the area are in Peru, NY.

In Peru in 1830 we have Brenton P Anson, Isaac Anson, William Anson and Phebe Anson.

Brenton Anson has several children listed, but no females Charlotte’s age. One of the women appears to be 30 to 40 years old. I suspect that  is his wife as he’s 40 to 50 years old. Isaac Anson is also missing a girl Charlotte’s age. William Anson misses the age range of the children, but does have two women about Polly Anson’s age in his household.

Phebe Anson could be the 60 to 70 year old person in her census listing. She’s the wife of Robert Anson and Amos Anson’s widowed mother. In her household there is a boy under 5, one 5 to 10, a man 30 to 40, a girl 10 to 15, two women 20 to 30 and one woman 30 to 40. If I assume that my Elmores are connected with the Ansons in the 1830’s then Phebe Anson has the most likely records for them. Her numbers cover James W. Elmore at 5 to 10, Charlotte at 10 to 15 and Polly Anson at 30 to 40.

Phebe is gone in 1840. In 1840, Polly Anson pops up in Peru NY for the first time with children at the right ages for James W. and Charlotte and it’s just the three of them. Amos Anson at this point has moved to Peru, while A Lewis Anson (40 to 50 years old) pops in for the first time in Essex County with a female about 10 years younger than himself.

I have to wonder if the 1840 census and the listings for Lewis Anson and Polly Anson are actually the remnants of Phebe Anson’s family in 1830. The age ranges would seem to work out with the possibility of one extra 20 year old woman somehow lost in the shuffle.

These old census records are not very informative, unless you already have a good idea of the people involved. I can postulate that Phebe Anson’s household contained both Lewis and Polly’s families, but I can’t say for sure.

In 1820, James Walsworth Elmore would not exist, but his sister Charlotte would. Following the theory that my Elmores are tied to the Anson family, I would expect to see a record for a female under 10 years old living with Robert Anson (Phebe’s husband), but I do not.

Brinton P Anson, Robert and William Anson are all in Peru NY in 1820. William has the largest household with 12 people.  In 1830 the William household is still large but the two oldest people are gone, so it appears a younger William became the head of household.

In the 1820 census, Robert Anson and William Anson are brothers, both have apparently died by 1830.

Where the will of Asa Elmore goes on in some detail for multiple pages, the will of Robert Anson is barely a few sentences appointing his executors. There is not much of anything I can see in the way of an actual will, which might list family members. Most of the will book seems to be taken up with the story of how it was signed by Robert and that Phebe had no idea what was in it.

The Dower records are equally sparse when it comes to Phebe’s family. Selucia Elmore is mentioned but in his official capacity as a neutral party to legal mumbo jumbo surrounding Robert Anson’s property.

Although has Guardian Books back to 1830 in Peru NY, the only record in the index page is Janette Elmore (daughter of Asa). Digging for wills for references to Polly Anson…or my Elmores, has been fruitless so far.

I’m not left with much to help explain the Elmore/Anson connection.

Walsworth or Walworth

I’ve seen both listed as James W’s middle name. It seems that it is important enough to maintain at least as an initial because Jame W. is consistantly listed as James W. or J.W.

John and Reuben Hyde Walworth are listed in Plattsburgh, Clinton, New York, just north of Peru New York, in the 1820 census. Reuben moves on to Saratoga Springs New York.

In 1820, there are also Walsworths in Guilford Vermont not too far from Fort Dummer where James Walsworth Elmore’s great grandfather, Daniel Elmer may have served alongside brother Hezekiah.

Daniel Elmer pvt Fort Dummer Vermont

Also there are Walsworths in Westford Vermont (North of Weathersfield where Daniel lives in 1787) across Lake Champlain from Peru New York. There are Walsworth and Walworth family options along Daniel Elmer’s possible path to Peru. Is James W. somehow related to them or maybe like my second great grandfather McKendree Seelye, named after an influential person in his parents lives?

To date, I have not been able to find any documented connection to Polly Anson, any of the Wal(s)worths or even to the other Elmores in his home town. I haven’t actually seen the family bible this information came from. It is nit picky to be sure. The DNA evidence is spot on, but I can’t help feeling like there may be more to it.


  1. I don’t know if she is related or if you are interested in her. My grandparents go back to Amaziah Hicks and Lydia Irish. I am seeking the names of their parents. I was hoping you might know, or could steer me in a direction that might be helpful. You mentioned the name Fuller for Lydia. Do you know in what capacity she may have received this name? How did you come across it? Someone left flowers for Lydia on the page. Perhaps you could talk to them. Hope are two heads can get something going. Till then….

    • Hi Jackie. I don’t have much information on Lydia. I see people list her last name as Irish, Fuller or Fuller-Irish. The Elmore, Hicks and Fuller families are buried in the cemetery together. If I remember right, I couldn’t find the Irish family so I’m not sure if that was a surname or label.

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