For approximately 20 years I have been searching for my paternal 4th great grandparents. So far have no definitive proof but hope this post will be read by someone who can help me connect the dots. I am grateful to all of you who take the time to share your genealogical victories and defeats.
The spelling of my family’s last name has been standardized as Wilbur since at least 1899 when my 2nd great grandfather’s will was written. The will was typed so no ambiguity about the spelling. Prior records were mostly recorded by other people and the spelling of the name in various documents including census records, marriage records and military records varied by the individual who either wrote or transcribed the last name. His will did not spell out his middle name although some family trees have listed it as William but my requests for sources have gone unanswered.
My sources include birth records, death records, wills, marriage records, census records, social security records, newspaper articles, veterans’ records, military records and personal knowledge. Too lengthy to annotate each entry below but I can provide documentation for every statement in the section “What I do know.” DNA testing links me to the Wilborns/Wilburns of Mecklenburg County Va., so my research efforts there are logical.
WHAT I DO KNOW
Jack Pershing Wilbur, b 16 July 1918, Spring Creek, Greeley, Nebraska, d 11 Feb 1946, Temple, Bell, Texas; m Ethel Annette Phillips, 8 Aug 1940, Las Vegas, Clark, Nevada, two living daughters
Edward Frank Wilbur, b 13 Jul 1893, Stanton, Nebraska; d 20 May 1954, Hanford, Kings, Calif., m Mabel May Campbell, 1 Apr 1916, Fullerton, Nance, Nebraska, four sons:
Donald Edward (1916-1998) m Dorothy Barnes
Jack Pershing (see above)
George Campbell (1922-1987) m Elaine UNK and Mary J UNK
Living Wilbur (1930-)
William Turner Wilbur, b 17 Jun 1867, Omaha, Douglas, Nebraska; d 1 May 1921, Spaulding, Greeley, Nebraska; m Della Frances Zabka, 25 Nov 1886; 14 children:
Chance Winfort (Winford?) (1887-1964) m Frederica W Harms
May Emma (1888-1979) m William F Harms
Lula Belle (1890-1988) m William H Barnica
Charles William (1891-1972) m Florence D Thomas
Edward Frank (see above)
Herbert Ralph (1894-1953) m Henrietta Speigel
Elizabeth Edith (1895-aft. 1952) m John Floid
Hellen Lucille (1897-1975) never married
Lee Roy (1899-1976) m Emma Brandt
George W (1901-@1975) No record of a marriage.
Edna Frances (1904-1993) m (1) Myrle Roy Delancey and (2) Glen Ezra Garrison
Esther (1909-1936) No record of a marriage and burial records give last name as Wilbur. Burial records show her being buried in 1952, same day as her mother. Based on Mary Jane Reeves Wilbur’s obituary, Esther’s parents took in “orphaned” grandson in 1936. I suspect Esther is the mother and was re-buried with her mother in 1952. No other children could be the parents of this child.
George W Wilbur, b Sep 1842, Virginia; d 13 Jun 1901, Leigh, Colfax, Nebraska; m Mary Jane Reeves(1848-1937), 29 Apr 1866, Douglas, Nebraska; served in the Civil War with the First Nebraska; 8 children:
William Turner (see above)
Samuel Ernest (1868-1956) m Caroline UNK
Edith Elizabeth (1870-before 1930) m Josef Zabka
Charles M (1872-1963) m (1) Julia C Irwin and (2) Bertha Loretta Lenhard
Rosa B (b 1877 - last documented in probate of father’s will in 1901 – unmarried at the time)
George Raymond (1878 – aft. 1930) m Emma Hoffman
Pearl M (1886 - last certain documentation is probate of father’s will in 1901. However, a Pearl M Wilbur is an “inmate” at state hospital in Spokane, Washington, in 1930. Birth year is correct however her nativity state and that of her parents is only listed as U.S.)
Edwin L. (1889-170. Last certain documentation is probate of father’s will in 1901 and he is listed as “Leroy” but census records identify him as Edwin L. Circumstantial and credible evidence has him moving to California before 1917. World War I draft registration card gives name as Roy Edwin).
1910 and 1920 census records show Mary Jane residing in Omaha with six-year old granddaughter, Vera Adamson. Possible that Rosa or Pearl married between 1901 and 1910.
George W Wilbur, b @1815, Virginia; d @1890*, Nebraska; m Elizabeth Lumpkin(s), 3 Dec 1832, Granville, NC. 9 children:
Ann, b @1833 N.C. Last documented in 1850 census
Jane b @1838 Va. Last documented in 1850 census
James b @1840 Va. Last documented in 1860 census
George W (see above)
Eliza b @1844 Va, last documented in 1850 census
Elizabeth Rebecca b @1848 VA m (1) Henry Slightham, 30 Dec 1862, Omaha, Douglas, Neb. and (2) George W Orwig, 4 Jul 1870, Omaha, Douglas, Neb.
Susan Victoria b @1849 VA, m (1) George W Reeves, 5 Jul 1866, Omaha, Douglas, Neb. and (2) Giacomo Miliani, 21 Jan 1872, Omaha, Douglas, Neb.
Lorinda b @1854 Ill. m William Schroeder, 31 Dec 1872, Omaha, Douglas, Neb.
Mary b @1857, Neb. m Frank R Livingston, 22 Jun 1874, Omaha, Douglas, Neb.
*Evidence suggests that George’s wife, Elizabeth, died in 1887 and her death records state she was married, not widowed, so we may assume George was still living. There is no 1890 census and George cannot be found in the 1900 census. Date of death is 1887-1900.
FOLLWING THE CLUES WITHOUT “PROOF” BUT HAVE I FOUND MY 4TH GREAT GRANDPARENTS?
To simplify things, I will use the spelling Wilburn from here on out although the names may have been recorded or transcribed as Wilburn, Wilbourn, Wilbourne, Welborn, etc.
A major hurdle in my research is that I can find no evidence that my 3rd great grandfather and his family headed west with any family or even close neighbors. I went so far as to compare the families living in Raleigh County, Virginia, in 1850 to families living in Omaha, Douglas, Nebraska, in 1860. I could not find any family other than George’s family in both locations.
Not having a real starting point before getting DNA results provided by my uncle, I looked for clues all over Virginia—census records consistently gave Virginia as his place of birth. Too many possibilities and I never seemed to get close to the answer.
After the DNA results came in and based on the location of George and Elizabeth’s marriage along with a rather large number of Wilburn families in the area, I am confident that George was born and raised in the Halifax/Mecklenburg areas of Virginia. Prior to the marriage, Elizabeth lived in Granville. Her father, according to a newspaper account of the marriage, was “F Lumkin.” I believe this to be Fleming Lumpkin.
With this information as a real starting point, I compared 1820, and 1830 census records in both southern Virginia and northern North Carolina to determine if there was, in fact, a Wilburn family with a male child whose birth would have been consistent with my George.
I found four families in 1820 (William W in Buckingham VA, William in Mecklenburg, Obediah in Halifax and Thomas in Halifax).
In 1830, I could eliminate William from Buckingham and Obediah. I found no Thomas of the right age and family make-up. I was down to only one--William in Halifax. The 1830 Halifax William’s family is consistent with William from 1820 Mecklenburg. Based on other genealogical research and clues I believe that this William is a son of John, who died 1819 in Mecklenburg. (John Wilborn’s will – see post on GenForum: http://genforum.genealogy.com/cgi-bin/pageload.cgi?john,wilborn::wilborn::45.html).
If this was John’s son, William, maybe I can find records to help me put George with this family. According to John’s will, William was married to “Milly.” I found nothing conclusive from 1840, but 1850 provided some intriguing clues. William H appears in 1850 with his family. He is the right age to be the elder William’s son and he has a daughter named Permelia (in some later records, she is enumerated as Milly). Living next door to William is Permelia Wilburn of the right age to be William the elder’s wife/widow, Milly, and three young adults, including George W. Deduction: John’s son, William, and his wife Milly had at least two children – William and George. My George is in Raleigh County in 1850 so I now remove John’s son, William, from my genealogical possibilities. Based on my research it appears that John’s other sons, John and Achilles, did not have sons named George or were not viable suspects. If this is my ancestral family, I am left with the last of John’s four sons, Thomas.
Going back through posts on GenForum, I found a post from Gloria Agee from several years ago. She stated that Thomas (who married Phebe Moore about 1800) had four children--William Robert, George, Mary and Nancy. No birth years provided. Unfortunately, Ms Agee did not cite her source so I must confess that my following deductions are based on this undocumented source. My attempts to contact Ms Agee have failed (if anyone knows her, please ask her to contact me with her source material!). That said, evidence does seem to support a relationship between a Thomas, George, Mary and Nancy Wilburn. There is documentation that Mary Wilborn married Paschal Talley in 1840. Another GenForum poster, Mary Walker, posted that she thought she was a descendent of William Robert. I have also been unable to contact her and maybe compare notes. Again, a plea that if you know Mary Walker, please ask her to contact me.
Clues in the 1840 census:
- Thomas Wilburn is not found in either Virginia or North Carolina.
- George Wilburn (by the way, the only George Wilburn in the “right” geographic area) is living in Wythe County, Virginia. He is listed as head of the household but his age is 15-19 years of age. In the household is an adult female aged 20-29 and three children – a male under 5, a female under 5 and a female 5-9. At the top of the age range, George might be the father of the two children under 5 but unlikely as the father of the 5-9 year old. Of course, George could have married a widow (the female is older). All that said, with the exception of George’s age, the ages for the adult female and all three children are consistent with George’s wife, Elizabeth, daughters Ann and Jane and son, James. SHOCKING FACT: ENUMERATORS AND TRANSCRIBERS MAKE MISTAKES!
Although I found (and noted) this entry several years ago, I could not connect my George with Wythe County so it remained in my “possibles” stack.
1850 census facts:
- Thomas Wilburn is living in Wythe County with Nancy and Jacob Wohlford. He is 68 years old (about right to be John’s son) but no relationship is given. However, remember the Thomas I am researching has a daughter named Nancy. He is rather old to be a laborer but a father-in-law? Nancy and Jacob have no children at the time of the 1850 census so suspect they may have just married. In the 1860 census, their oldest child is 10.
- Mary and Pascal Talley (Mary Wilburn married Pascal in 1840) are also residing in Wythe County.
- I now have a clue as to why George Wilburn was in Wythe County in 1840. There is no George Wilburn in Wythe County or any surrounding area in 1850. If my guess is correct that the George in Wythe County in 1840 is “my” George, he and his family are in Raleigh County VA.
The evidence is consistent that Ms Agee is correct in stating that Thomas Wilburn, son of John Wilburn who died in 1819 and who married Phebe Moore in 1800 had children named George, Mary and Nancy. I have done no research on William Robert but three out of four ain’t bad. Evidence is consistent that Thomas and at least part of his family migrated to Wythe County sometime in the 1830s or 1840s.
Is it possible that my 4th great grandparents are Thomas Wilburn and Phebe Moore? Did my 3rd great grandfather have a brother named William and two sisters, Mary and Nancy?
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