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!