EDIT 23 July 2016: When I published this article, my website CoonWEB located at RootsWeb was still in existence. I have since removed it and am in the process of transitioning the contents to a Coon Family specific blog at http://coongenealogy.wordpress.com.
A long time ago (circa 1999) in a farmhouse not so far away (about 20 miles), I gathered scores of photocopies and printouts of microfiche of deeds that I had acquired from the Hancock and Henry County courthouses (Indiana) for land owned by Coonrod and Barbara (RADABAUGH) COON, spread them all out on a big desk, underlined, drew pictures, transcribed, abstracted, scanned, and tried to sort out the children of this couple.
This is going to take two posts to write up. I’ll begin with the background and continue in a few days with the final analysis. As I was writing it, two things happened. First, I noticed that I am missing deeds. Second, Word Press lost a bunch of changes I had made.
Let’s begin with Coonrod’s will from Book 1, pp. 183-184, Hancock County Clerk, Greenfield, Indiana.
Transcribed as follows, by me, with names in bold:
Know all men by these presents that I Coonrod S. Coon of the County of Hancock and State of Indiana being of sound mind and memory, and considering the uncertainty of this life do declare and publish this my last will and testament. First I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Barbary Coon the entire use benefits and control of my whole estate both personal and real to hold the same as long as she remain widow it is my desire that my sons Joseph, James, and Joshua should have the preference of Cultivating the farm by paying rent for the same as long as they conform to there mothers wishes then after the death of my wife I direct that my estate should be divided in the following manner. First I give to my son Joseph Coon the sum of Eight hundred dollars in money to be made out my estate I also direct that my son Joshua shall have Three hundred dollars also to be made out of my estate after the death or marriage of my wife. Then the aboved named amounts of money shall have been paid I direct the remainder of my whole estate should be equally divided among my heirs. In testimony whereof I have to this my last will and Testament, subscribed my name and set my seal this the sixth day of February one thousand eight hundred and sixty one-
Coonrod S. (his X mark) Coon
Signed sealed declared and published by the said Coonrod S. Coon as and for his last will and testament in presence of us who at his request and in his presence and in presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses
(signed) Cicero Wilkinson
( ” ) Hezekiah Wilkinson –
The State of Indiana Hancock County. SS-
Be it remembered That on the 11th day of November 1861. Cicero Wilkinson & Hezekiah Wilkinson the subscribing witnesses to the within and foregoing last will and testament of Coonrod S. Coon late of said County, deceased, personally appeared before Morgan Chandler Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas of Hancock County, in the state of Indiana, and being duly sworn by the Clerk of said Court, upon their oaths declared and testified as follows that is to say that on the sixth day of February in the year AD 1861 they saw the said Coonrod S. Coon sign his name to said instrument in writing as and for his last will and testament and that the deponents at the same time heard the said Coonrod S. Coon declare the said Instrument in writing to be his last will and testament and that the said instrument in writing was at the same time at the request of the said Coonrod S. Coon and with their consent attested and subscribed by the said Cicero Wilkinson & Hezekiah Wilkinson in the presence of the said testator and in the presence of each other as subscribing witnesses thereto and that the said Coonrod S. Coon was at the time of signing and subscribing of the said instrument in writing as aforesaid of full age (that is more than twenty one years of age) and of sound and disposing mind and memory and not under any coercion or restraint, as the said deponents verily believe, and further deponents say not
(signed) Cicero Wilkinson
( ” ) Hezekiah Wilkinson
Sworn to and subscribed by the said Cicero Wilkinson & Hezekiah Wilkinson before me M. Chandler Clerk of said Court at Greenfield, the 11th day of November 1861 In attestation whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed the seal of said court.
Morgan Chandler Clerk
By Jno T. Sebastian Dpty-
When I began my COON research, I had the following list of children of Coonrod and Barbara COON as written in a manuscript entitled “History of Conrad and Barbara Coon” by their great granddaughter Myrtle (KUHN) LARMORE, written 12 October 1975 when she was 84. Myrtle said that there were 9 boys and one girl. The rest of the information was pretty sparse.
- George COON, 29 May 1830 – 9 November 1901
- Marion COON, 17 September 1832 – 9 April 1872
- Abslom COON
- Harrison COON, second wife and 6 children in Virginia
- Jonathan COON
- Mark COON, lived near Kennard, Indiana
- James COON
- Joe COON, lived in Mohawk, Indiana
- Joshua COON
- Jane COON, married SHELTON
Myrtle did not say where she got her information. It is my understanding that she wrote down what she and/or the family just knew. I used it as a springboard to continue the research and come up with these children (showing only the years of birth and death here).
- Jonathan, 1824 – 1914, married Matilda SHELTON (sister of John SHELTON in #8, below),
- Abner, circa 1825 – before 1902, married twice: Rebecca CAMERON and Mary W. PICKERING.
- Harrison H, 1828 – 1886, married twice: Lucinda COOK in Indiana, who died in January 1877, after which Harrison moved back to West Virginia, married Martha Druzilla RIGHTER, and had at least four children. I have found no record of children in his first marriage. Ultimately spelled his surname KOON.
- George W., 1830 – 1901, married Sarah JOHNSON (these are my great, great grandparents). The family began spelling the surname as KUHN between 1885 and 1900. We were the fancy-pants.
- Mark, 1832 – 1899, married Catherine SHERRY.
- Marion, 1833 – 1872, married Mahala COOK.
- Unknown girl, born circa 1835 based on the 1840 census. No matching girl in the 1850 census.
- Jane, 1837 – 1878, married John SHELTON, brother of Matilda SHELTON from #1, above.
- Joseph, 1838 – before 1902, married Elvira WINSER.
- James K. Polk, circa 1842 – before 1900, married three times: Nancy A. RAPER, Sarah BAKER, and Sarah HALL.
- Joshua, circa 1846 – before 1899, married Mahala SMITH. Joshua ended up spelling his surname KOON, and his children spelled it KOONS.
Ten boys and two girls. Barbara must have had her hands full! I do not know what happened to the unknown girl from the 1840 census, but Marion and Jane died before Barbara did.
Coonrod only names his sons Joseph, James, and Joshua in his will. None of those three is my ancestor George. Now, I knew that Coonrod was George’s father. George was still alive until 1901 and was able to relate that information to his children and grandchildren. Additionally, the 1850 US census showed a George COON in Coonrod and Barbara’s household – but I didn’t have enough evidence to satisfy any inquiries, and my family had inquiries.
Not only that, but there were (and most likely still are) several misconceptions about the lives of Coonrod COON and Barbara (RADABAUGH) COON which have been perpetuated by a microfilmed manuscript held by the Family History Library which was compiled by Cline Morgan Koon in 1970, AND to top it all off, there are several Georges who have gotten all mixed up, and people have left them that way. In this article, I’m not going down the path of solving all the COON identity problems. But once I discovered all of the inaccuracies, there was no turning back. I was on a mission. It was down and dirty work, but it had to be done.
The Deed Analysis
After Coonrod died in 1861, Barbara did not remarry and did not die until 1882. In 1870, her son Joshua and his wife lived with her. I’m not sure where she is in 1880 (yet), but she died at her son’s (although I’m not sure which one) on “Duck Creek,” which is in Greensboro, Henry County, Indiana.
Quite a few land transfers of Coonrod S. and/or Barbara (RADABAUGH) COON are record in Hancock and Henry counties, Indiana. But, let’s begin at the beginning.
Coonrod COON and Barbara RADABAUGH were both from the Harrison County, Virginia, in the area that later became Marion County, West Virginia. Those COONs were all from “Coon’s Fort” and “Coon’s Run.” They are said to have all descended from Philip COON and his son Joseph. I do not have enough evidence to confirm the parentage of either Coonrod or Barbara, although DNA has brought me much closer to Barbara’s parentage than I was a few months ago. But I won’t go into that here.
Coonrod and Barbara married on 9 May 1822, in Harrison County, Virginia. Coonrod was still in the 1830 census in Harrison County, but by 1833 and 1835, he obtained land grants in Indiana, as shown here.
1) 40 acres on 13 Nov 1833 located in SE 1/4 of SE Qtr, Sct 23, Twp 17N, Rng 8E, Brown township, Hancock county, Indiana.
2) 40 acres of land on 11 May 1835 located in NW 1/4 of SW Qtr, Sct 24, Twp 17N, Rng 8E, Greensboro township, Henry county, Indiana.
These parcels of land were diagonally across the road from each other. They are located north of Shirley, Indiana, at the intersection of the present-day Highway 234 and Shirley Road, as shown in Figure 1.
On 11 August 1845, Coonrod and Barbara COON mortgaged the 40 acres in Hancock county for $38 at seven percent interest, due 12 August 1850.
Then, on 4 September 1845, Coonrod purchased from Lemuel WILKINSON the southwest quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 24 for $200, which was the forty acres directly below the land he already owned in Henry county, and directly across the road from the land he had just mortgaged in Hancock county. He now owned 120 acres of land on what is now Shirley Road (see Figure 2).
On 25 December 1851, Coonrod purchased from Harvey DILLEE for $175 the northeast quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 24, making his total known land ownership 160 acres (see Figure 3).
On 15 October 1860, Coonrod COON and Cicero WILKINSON exchanged parcels of land in Section 23 of Hancock county. Coonrod and Barbara granted Cicero WILKINSON 20 acres of land described as the west half of the southeast quarter of the southeast quarter, and Cicero and Jane WILKINSON granted Coonrod COON 20 acres of land described as the east half of the southeast quarter of the southeast quarter. Coonrod now owned the 40 acres on the east boundary of Section 23, which was directly across the road from his land in Henry county. See Figure 4 which shows this land.
Coonrod died on 31 October 1861, at the age of 58. He directed that after the death or remarriage of his wife, his property that remained after all other distributions was to be equally divided among all of his heirs. The distribution of his property was handled through quit claim deeds that were filed by his heirs in both Hancock and Henry counties, Indiana, between 1862 and 1876.
There is not a lot of information in Coonrod’s will. I don’t remember checking for probate records, but I do find it hard to believe I would have missed them. This I will have to check again.
In Coonrod’s will, he states the following:
- “I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Barbary Coon the entire use benefits and control of my whole estate both personal and real to hold the same as long as she remain [my] widow.”
- Sons Joseph, James, and Joshua get preference of farming the land and paying rent, as long as they do what their mother says.
- After Barbara’s death (or remarriage, of which there was none), estate division as follows:
- Son Joseph $800 in money;
- Son Joshua $300; and,
- After Joseph and Joshua receive their money, the remainder of the whole estate should be equally divided among his heirs.
There were a lot of deeds involved in this research. It probably seemed like more than it was. I don’t have a complete count (maybe a gabajillion). Probably the best way to approach writing this up is parcel by parcel, which I will label A, B, C, D, and E.
So, the five parcels were as follows:
A. Brown Township, Hancock County, Indiana. Range 8E; Township 17N. The East 1/2 of the Northeast 1/4 of the Southeast 1/4 of Section 23. 20 acres.
NOTE: There was 1/2 acre in the Southeast corner of this parcel that was treated separately.
B. Brown Township, Hancock County, Indiana. Range 8E; Township 17N. The East 1/2 of the Southeast 1/4 of the Southeast 1/4 of Section 23. 20 acres.
C. Greensboro Township, Henry County, Indiana. Range 8E; Township 17N. The Northwest 1/4 of the Southwest 1/4 of Section 24. 40 acres.
D. Greensboro Township, Henry County, Indiana. Range 8E; Township 17N. The Southwest 1/4 of the Southwest 1/4 of Section 24. 40 acres.
E. Greensboro Township, Henry County, Indiana. Range 8E; Township 17N. The Northeast 1/4 of the Southwest 1/4 of Section 24. 40 acres.
Here is the Google Earth image of this land today.
What I will do next time is analyze the transfers of the land after Coonrod’s death.
But let me say this. In the late 1990s, I was content with the research I had done on Coonrod, Barbara, and their descendants. I believed, and still do, that it was for the most part correct. Of course, in the name of exhausting all resources, studying all of the deeds makes sense anyway. But here’s what happened that made me have to do it. This story may not be very popular with my family, but I am in search of the truth – facts not wishful thinking – so I have to do this.
I may have written this before: that my family had an Indian ancestry legend. Ours was that Tecumseh was our ancestor or relative or something or other. Myrtle had written that Tecumseh had a daughter named Narcissus who married a man named Johnson. That’s all she wrote – no details about whether or not he was our actual ancestor. I do not know where the story originated. My mother said she had been told that he was either her 7th great grandfather or that he was 7 generations back, but she was not sure which.
I will not go into the whole Tecumseh theory. I’ll save that for another time. What I will say is that in the 1990s, I became super frustrated when the link to Tecumseh was “found” on the COON side. And it was all pretty much riding on our ancestor George KUHN (or George COON before he started using KUHN) being a “half-breed” and his parents being neither Coonrod nor Barbara (RADABAUGH) COON.
Oh, Lord. You should have heard me. I was livid. Not livid because he was now said to be a “half-breed,” but that the information I was reading was just so conjectured, yet it was passed as fact to the rest of the family! My poor mother, having to listen to my ranting. Eventually, I calmed down, wrote a letter to the primary relative who did this, and thanked her for all of her hard work.
(As an aside, if it were true that Barbara RADABAUGH were not our ancestor, then we would not have DNA matches with RADABAUGH cousins – and we do. I have more analysis to do with the COON and the RADABAUGH DNA matches.)
(Before I go further, I would also like to say that we do have Native American [and related] DNA in our admixture, so it is there somewhere. But there is no “Tecumseh” flag in the DNA.)
(Furthermore, I want to emphasize that I do not care what the truth is, as long as we have the truth!)
Remember earlier when I said that I was satisfied that Coonrod and Barbara were the parents of our George, but that I didn’t have enough evidence to satisfy any inquiries? This is what I was talking about. “Now, Myrtle didn’t get everything right,” I was told. No, I don’t suppose anyone can get everything right, but what I did know was that Coonrod and Barbara were George’s parents. Ugh.
Incidentally, my research fell on a few deaf ears, so I decided to give up (not the research, but trying to fall on ears). Everyone wanted to believe the story that had been written in the 1990s, and who was I [except a somewhat experienced genealogist, albeit by hobby] to mess with that? But now, those who were involved with that have passed on, and I have to continue my quest.
With the existence of the Internet and of DNA testing for genealogy, I’ll have more evidence to share, should anybody care to read it.
I really digressed down the Indian Story lane, and that is not the purpose of this article. This article is a precursor to that.
With this anticlimactic ending, I will leave you.