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Andrew Van Dorn Research Notes

ContentsBackground  |  The Problem  |  A Second Wife for John D.?  |  Summary

Background  Unless otherwise stated, the events mentioned occurred in Monroe Co. in Western New York State's northern tier.  Its northern boundary is Lake Ontario.

The Problem  Who is Andrew's mother?  The 1865 census for John D. Van Dorn indicates that John D. had been married twice, but Lovina only once.  The record also indicates that Lovina was the mother of 5 children, yet John D. had 7 known children (his obituary mentions 8.  There are gaps before and after the 6th child.)

A Second Wife for John D.?  The question of an earlier wife for Andrew's father, John D. Van Dorn, is made more difficult by the lack of birth, marriage, and death records in Western New York around 1835.

Andrew, the oldest son of John D., was said to have been born 11 Jul 1836 in Hamlin , Monroe Co., New York.  In 1830 and 1836 Andrew's father was living in the town of Sweden, so that is probably the correct location of his birth.  John D. was "of Sweden" on 1 Apr 1836 when he purchased land in Clarkson [Monroe44_103-104].  Sweden, Clarkson and Hamlin are on the county line between Monroe Co. and Orleans Co. ("stacked" in that order from south to north).  No land records for a Dorn or Van Dorn were found in Orleans Co. Land Indexes.

There are several clues suggesting that Lovina Leonard might not be Andrew's mother:

  • In his will, John D. leaves Andrew the farm in Hamlin where Andrew was residing.  It appears to be the same property which John D. sold to Andrew in 1865 and then Andrew sold back to his father in 1867.  Andrew is not referred to again in the will.  Later John D. refers to "my three sons", John B, Jerome D, and Arthur Adelbert.  They all receive land and shares in his personal estate, and are responsible for payments to the two daughters.

  • Possible explanations for Andrew's middle name, Lewis.
    • It is the given name of Lovina's father.
    • John D.'s father, Nicholas Dorn (1762-1796) had at least four sons: Isaac, John, Lewis, and Peter (see John D. Van Dorn Research Notes).  Thus, Lewis Van Dorn is John D.'s uncle.
    • There is a Lewis family in Northumberland, Saratoga Co., New York.

Other clues indicate that Lovina is probably Andrew's mother:

  • Andrew was about eight years older than the next oldest son and eighteen years older than the youngest son.  With the demands of farming and living at a distance he might not have had much contact with his birth family.  That might explain his father's will where Andrew is excluded from John D.'s personal estate, and the payments to Andrew's sisters.

  • Since, unlike all other censuses, both John D. and Lovina's names are incorrect (John T. and Malvina) in the 1865 census, it is probable that neither of them was the informant.  Perhaps it was the daughter in law (who is incorrectly listed as a child of John D.).  Only her husband and two other children of John D. and Lovina were still living at home.

    Perhaps the informant was confusing John D. and Lovina with Lovina's parents.  Her father, who died in 1851, had been married twice.  His second wife was Melita.

  • The earliest record that includes Lovina's name is an 16 Jan 1837 land record Monroe50_341.  If Andrew's birth date is correct, there is only a 4 month gap between his birth and the land record.  While not impossible, that seems an unlikely short period of time between the death of one wife and the marriage to another.  The grantor acknowledgement did not occur until July of that year, and the deed was not recorded until 1840, so there is a possibility of some error in the January date.

    The 1837 land record does rule out the possibility that the second child was not the daughter of Lovina.  Laura Van Dorn was born in 1838 (date on gravestone - Find-A-Grave; Jan 1938 in 1900 census).

Summary  There are too many problems with the 1865 census record to rely on it too heavily.  The weight of other evidence indicates that Lovina is Andrew's mother - particularly the land record that indicates that John D. and Lorinda were married before 16 Jan 1837, less that six months after Andrew was born.

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© 2016 Shirley York Anderson