Monday, March 14, 2016

Boston Livingston - Leave No Stone Unturned Pt I

When I first started this blog post, I had hoped to shed some light on the life of my 3x great-grandfather. Over the last two months, I have been doing some research on who I had hoped was my ancestor, Boston Livingston. My goal was to knock down another brick wall. Some come down in one fell swoop, others piece by piece. This is one of those stories where I have been chipping away at it for years.

I know some of you feel that it seems impossible to get over that "brick wall" when it comes to tracing the lives of certain ancestors. You really do have to put the time in to doing the research and examine all the possibilities.  Just like the title says, the idiom "to leave no stone unturned" means to do everything possible to find something or solve a problem.

Years ago, I initially thought my 3x great-grandfather was Boston Livingston.
The only document about him that I found through the Ancestry website was the record of his death.

Boston Livingston, a married black male farm laborer aged 70, died in an accident involving gravel during April 1880 Willow Township, Orangeburg, South Carolina.

Recently,  I checked for updates of any of my DNA cousins within the Ancestry website that shared a Livingston surname. I found a relative who descended from Marcilla Livingston b. 1872 Orangeburg. Marcilla's death certificate stated her mother's name was Lucy. I also found another relative who descended from Irena Livingston-Phelps b. 1878 Orangeburg. Irena's death certificate stated her parents were Boston and Lucy Livingston. Lucy lived in Hebron Township, Orangeburg during the 1880 census with her children Eliza b. 1862, Luckey b. 1867, Maryanne b. 1870, Marcella b. 1872 (married Donald Livingston), Irena b. 1874 (married William Phelps), Martha b. 1877 (married Govan Millhouse) and Eugene b. 1879. Lucy lived adjacent to white Livingston families.

These DNA cousins who descend from Boston and Lucy Livingston are my 5th cousins. That means we share one or both 4x great-grandparents.

This meant that Boston Livingston my 3x great-granduncle. I was disappointed at first.  I was between a rock and a hard place but then I realized Boston gave me a clue already. If I find more records of him then maybe I can find the names of his brothers, sisters and parents.

Since no one was found in the 1870 census, I had to find alternate records within other websites that might include names of my relatives. On the FamilySearch website, I discovered Freedmen Office Records - Orangeburg Hospital Register of Sick and Wounded 1866 to 1868. The Freedmen's Bureau was established by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865. They were responsible for all matters relating to refugees, freedmen, and all lands seized or abandoned during the Civil War. Bureau officials operated hospitals such as Orangburg Hospital in South Carolina. Within these files, I found several individuals with the variation of the Livingston surname.

  • Boston Levingston b. 1817 (age 49) July 2-29, 1866 and (age 51) August 25, 1868 - Retention of urine cytosis.
  • Adam Levinston b. 1821 (age 45) June 28-July 3, 1866 - Ulcer of the leg.
  • Jerry Livingston b. 1825 (age 43) August 23, 1868 - Jaundice.
  • Charles Levingston b. 1826 (age 40) July 9, 1866 - Lost his leg 20 years ago. Charles was a brother of Jerry. Jerry had a grandson named Charlie b. 1883.
  • Rachel Levingston b. 1844 (age 24) August 29, 1868 - Amputation of little toe.
  • John Levinston b. 1846 (age 20) June 28-July 28, 1866 - Fever and dropsy.

Is it morbid to be glad that your ancestors were sick enough to go to a hospital? I am thankful that they did receive medical attention and survived during the post Civil War period of Reconstruction. As luck would have it, there were multiple records of their illnesses. I underlined a few of their medical visits below.

I compared the names from the hospital records to the 1880 Orangeburg census.

  • Boston Livingston was married to Lucy b. 1832 in the 1880 Hebron, Orangeburg area.
  • Adam Livingston was single in the 1880 Liberty, Orangeburg area. He was not the same Adam Livingston that was married to Clarisa in the 1870-1880 Clarendon censuses.
  • Dick (Richard) Livingston b. 1825 was married to Eliza b. 1830 in the 1880 Liberty, Orangeburg area. They would later divorce.
  • Jerry Livingston b. 1820 was married to Katie b. 1825 in the 1880 Liberty, Orangeburg area. Their daughter Salina b. 1862 married Jim Zeigler b. 1839. 
  • Rachel Livingston b. 1844 was a widow in the 1880 Liberty, Orangeburg area. Her daughter Chloe b. 1864 married Enoch Pou (Pough) b. 1858. Rachel was a neighbor of Jerry. 
  • Charles Livingston was not found in Orangeburg the 1880 census. He might have been the same person as C. Livingston b. 1830 married to Liza b. 1835 in the 1880 Williamsburg, SC census.
  • John Livingston was also missing from the 1880 census. He might have died or relocated somewhere else. He might have been Jerry's son and Rachel's husband.
My 2x great-grandparents Jace b. 1854 and Dorcas Livingston b. 1852 lived in Liberty, Orangeburg during 1880. I couldn't find my 3x great-grandmother Idella Livingston b. 1830 in that census. I did find others though. Clinch Livingston b. 1830 was married to Clarinda b. 1830 in the 1880 Liberty, Orangeburg area. They also named a daughter Chloe b. 1855. Satira (Satirya) Jenkins-Livingston-Jackson b. 1835 married her 2nd husband Samuel Jackson b. 1840 around 1866 in the Hebron, Orangeburg area. Her first husband was a Livingston (first name unknown). One of her daughters Louvenia Livingston b. 1857 married January Hart b. 1850. I thought Louvenia was Jace's sister but now I know she was not. 

So who was my 3x great-grandfather? I am not sure yet. Adam looks promising however I cannot confirm anything yet. My DNA did point out that Boston was related to one of my 3x great-grandparents so at least I have that to go forward. I made enough mistakes by assuming relationships without proof.

As I said earlier, I have a huge brick wall with the Livingston Family. Boston's DNA provided the first chip I needed to whittle away at the problem.

Next time, I will show you what that brick wall was "made" of! 


  1. It is not morbid to wish that your ancestors were sick enough to go to a hospital. I have wished to find clues like this too. You just want to find your people. You are on your way. Keep chipping. The DNA is pointing you in the right direction.

    1. Thanks Andrea! Wait till part II, you will be pleased.

  2. Thank you for sharing all these details...I'm facing a similar brick wall with my paternal grandfather Mose/s Sampson born abt 1895, GA. Your story gives me the incentive to keep searching. And, I am more confident than ever that with help of the Most High Creator YAH these brick walls will be broken down; just like the walls of Jericho...

    1. THank you very much. Dont rely on just census records. Get out of your comfort zone like I did and all will be revealed.

  3. You are SO VERY THOROUGH, and a great investigator. I've enjoyed reading your narratives, and look forward to more.
    Your search and subsequent findings give me hope.

    1. Keep hope alive! I have been researching for over 10 years and I am always finding something new. sometimes you have to go over your old work with fresh eyes (like I did here). Stay tuned!

  4. Great research and so nice to see DNA coming in as a real help. Any way we can find their names and, like you said, at least they got to the hospital for help.

    1. I always assumed the Freedmens Bureau was just about bank records. I was pleasantly surprised at the data within the Hospital Records. I wish it were indexed as well as the census records but Familysearch did a good job posting them.

  5. This is a really great story of your research process. It's a tedious task, but so rewarding when you find even a single new piece of information!

    I wouldn't put a lot of weight on the Ancestry DNA approximation of how you're related to some of your DNA matches. They continue to work on and perfect the science, and are far from being 100%. So, who knows...maybe your original hypothesis was correct!

    Good luck!

    1. yeah that may be true as well Nia. I did have an ancestor actually have a wife, mistress and 2 sets of families at the same time. But I may have more clues in my next post. Stay Tuned!

    2. The "multi-relationships" were not that unusual. They are often buried as family secrets. This is why we run into so.e of our brick walls. Sending children off to far away places to "pass for white" also presents genealogical challenges. I know this occurred in my branch of the Livingston Family. My father was able to tell me some of the stories before he passed in 1991.

    3. The "multi-relationships" were not that unusual. They are often buried as family secrets. This is why we run into so.e of our brick walls. Sending children off to far away places to "pass for white" also presents genealogical challenges. I know this occurred in my branch of the Livingston Family. My father was able to tell me some of the stories before he passed in 1991.

  6. Wayne,

    I want to let you know that your blog is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  7. Well researched Wayne. I'm spending my sunday catching up on what I've missed.

  8. Jace and Dorcas Livingston are my 2nd great-grandparents too!