A few weeks ago I was at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City for four days and spent some time on Masden research.
Here are some interesting things I discovered regarding the Kentucky Masdens:
1. Jonathan Masden (wife Agnes), said to be brother or father of John Masden, the progenitor of the KY Masdens, doesn't exist.
I wanted to see his probate records to see what info they could tell us about him and his possible relationships to other Masdens. I pulled the film for early Bullitt Co. probate records/wills (FHL no. 482684). I didn't find a Masden in the index, so I decided to search for the date you and other researchers had given me for Jonathan's probate: July 1815. I advanced to that location and started looking. After a bit, I found them: Jonathan and Agnes. But after looking at the surname for a long time, I found that it's not Masden, but Irons. At first, it looked like "Maus den," but this was only after Jonathan's name. Agnes had only "Maus." I thought that was odd. The handwriting isn't the clearest. So I went back to the index and started looking for men named Jonathan. Also, I noted that there are two indexes, one probably copied later and clearer. In the indexes, I found that Jonathan Irons's page numbers match those of the July document I was looking at. His estate is also handled on p. 112, 113, 148, 188, 208, 213, 225, 244, 246, 277, 283, and 313. I started looking at all of those pages and on some pages it's clearer that the name is "Jonathan Irons decd." Together, "Irons" and "decd." do look like "Masden." But if you compare the initial capital to other names that do begin with M, it's clear their not the same. I did trace the "Irons decd" if you want to see it. I can send a scan.
2. Justus Masden is taxed in Nelson Co. (from which Bullitt was formed in Dec 1796) on 13 May 1796. He doesn't own land, he has one horse, and there are no other men over 21 in his household. It would be interesting to know what part of Nelson Co. he was in. Maybe we can figure this out from the other people the tax collector visited on 13 May 1796. I'm sure this Justus Masden is the son of William in Pennsylvania and brother of my John. Justus is an uncommon name and he was named for his maternal Dutch grandfather, Yoost Van Buskirk (Justus sometimes appears as Yost), so it would be highly unlikely there would be another male Masden with this name at this time because of the connection to the maternal line. I was quite surprised to see Justus in Kentucky, but it does help to explain the 1795 Nelson Co. will of Benjamin Brown that mentions money coming from William Masden in Pennsylvania and also Justice Masden of Kentucky. I didn't see a 1795 tax roll index, and he isn't in the Nelson tax indexes before 1795.
*Justus first appears as a freeman (unmarried) in the Cumberland Co., PA, transcript of taxables in 1785, not on 1782 list, which suggests he was 21 by 1785 and born by or before 1764.
*In May 1788, brothers Justus and John Masden bought 278 acres from James Brown for one hundred pounds. It was on the south side of Bald Eagle Creek, opposite Eagleville (aka Blanchard), in what later became Centre County, PA.
*In 1789 Justice Marsden is a resident taxpayer in Bald Eagle Twp.
*Justus is not found in the 1790, 1800, 1810 census; but he is listed as an inhabitant of Howard Twp., Centre Co. in 1810.
*He is the third-named son in William Masdon's 14 March 1796 Mifflin Co. will (probated 13 April 1796).
*Descendants say Justus married Elizabeth in 1802 in Centre Co. Children were Sarah and William A.
*Justus's will was written 26 Oct 1813 and proved 16 Feb 1814 in Centre Co., PA.
3. Bullitt Co. tax rolls (FHL no. 7900) show when males in the household reach 16 and 21, so it's possible to estimate the ages of John Masden's sons.
John's oldest sons appear to be Jonathan and James (not sure what order). The first was born between 1785 and 1788 and the second was born two years later, probably between 1787 and 1790. The third was John, born ca. 1791-2. The youngest two are William and Benjamin, who were born between 1803 and 1810. The 1850 census says William was born 1804-5. I didn't read tax rolls far enough to see Benjamin come on, so I don't have a better date for his birth, but we could get it.
4. Theoretically, John Masden of KY should appear in the 1790 census with at least two sons, unless he's in an area for which the census has been lost (New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia (incl. KY), Georgia). As he doesn't show up in Bullitt Co. or other KY records until 1798, it's reasonable to suggest he came from somewhere else.
There are two John Marsdons who appear two households away from each other in Mifflin Co. in the 1790 census. From the names on this list, it's clear it's in the Bald Eagle area that is now Centre Co. Jr. is consistent with the family of my John Masden. Until today, I believed that Sr. was John's older brother, Jonathan, but several points contradict that. In 1796 and 1800 and 1810, Jonathan is in Wayne Twp., Mifflin Co., which later became Oliver and was the original homesite of William Masden. It wouldn't seem like he would have moved away, then back home. I'm pretty sure this is the son of William Masden, because he buys land with William Wakefield, who was married to a daughter of William Masdon (i.e., his brother-in-law). I believe this Jonathan moved to Huntingdon Co., PA between 1810 and 1818, when he's a overseer of the poor there. This Jonathan died in 1826 and left two sons born between 1794 and 1900 and four girls born between 1976 and 1810. NONE OF THESE CHILDREN WERE BORN BEFORE 1790!
In 1790 John Marsdon Sr. of Bald Eagle, Mifflin Co., PA had one male over 16, two males under 16, and two females. This matches well the John Masdon family of Kentucky, especially if a daughter (Elizabeth?) were born by 1790. Interesting, huh? As Justus owned land with John Jr., this might suggest how John Sr. might have known Justus. Did they go to Kentucky together? Or Justus encouraged John Sr.? There isn't another John Masden in Centre Co. in 1800.
Could this John Sr. *be* Jonathan, son of William, and the one who went to Kentucky? Jonathan son of William was born 1756 and was baptized 1757 in Philadelphia Co. The Kentucky John Masden is reported to be born ca. 1756 (what is the source of this, by the way?). In 1810, he's 45 and over, so born before 1765. Land records in Mifflin Co. may identify if there was a John and wife Mary there. The William Masdon household of 1790 supports the fact that all children are living at home, except for John, unless another male is living there as a servant or whatever. And because there's a Jonathan Masden there in Wayne Twp. through 1810 suggests John Sr. is not Jonathan, son of Wm.
If so, who is the Jonathan Masden who died in Hungtingdon Co. in 1826? He apparently married a Sarah Cunningham, and their were Cunninghams in Mifflin Co., so he seems to have a link to Mifflin Co.
We have a problem of too many Johns and Jonathans and not enough distinguishing features! One has to be a son of someone other than William and Eleanor.
But I think we should look strongly at the fact that John Marsden Sr. of Mifflin Co. in 1790 may be the one who went to Kentucky. A cousin of Wm's children? (And yes, I've seen John Masden of Kentucky's name spelled Marsden in the Kentucky records.)
Food for thought. Tell me what you think!
Linda Masden Vixie
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