Connecting Generations: When one document isn’t enough.


The above image is the inside front cover of a book owned by Don Workman, with his notations, who was an expert on the Workman line. You can see the lineage Don penned out from Dirck Jans Woertman (bottom of the right hand page, left corner) who came to New Amsterdam in 1647 up to himself. A fine book, Workman Family History was written in 1962 by Thelma Chidester Anderson. She was diligent in her research and traveled from England to Brooklyn and New Jersey and then to points west in search of material, relationships and answers. “Knowing” the lineage is one thing but “proving” it is another thing entirely. Thelma researched well and left good clues in her book about where to look but mistakes and omissions were made, as anyone would. It’s proof that we now seek.

Look there at the lineage and see the red oval at Nancy Ann Troutman who married Elisha Workman. Yup, there she is. That’s all the proof we need, right? Don copied this line from the book so it’s got to be right? Thelma said so and Don corroborated it and he was an expert on the  Workman line in Allegany County, Maryland. And he knew who they married and when too: 20 June 1845. But when I searched, trying to locate documentation that proved that Nancy Ann Workman was the same person as Anna Troutman, daughter of Benjamin Franklin Troutman, no one document was to be found.

A marriage record of some sort – church or civil – would have been perfect but there was none. Civil records from the 1840s in Somerset County, PA where her family resided are scarce and civil record losses from fires in 1833 and 1872 present a challenge. To better set the stage, here are some dates. Somerset Co, PA was formed from Bedford Co, PA in 1795. Birth records began in 1893, marriage records in 1885, death records in 1893, so no help there. Because civil records of marriages in the county began in 1885 which is after the 1845 date of the marriage of Nancy Ann Troutman and Elisha Workman, church records were vigorously sought.

The family church was easily identified as Comps Church, located at Comps Crossroads near Wellersburg, Somerset County, PA. Nancy Troutman’s father, Benjamin F. Troutman, and his family were members of this small Lutheran congregation. He’s mentioned in the earliest records of the church, hosting services at his house and donating land for the church building. After an exhaustive search, those early church records have not been found and therefore no birth, marriage, and deaths records of this family have been found other than tombstones in the church yard. Unfortunately, Nancy Troutman and her husband Elisha Workman are not buried there.

For this reason, other records besides marriage records were sought, and the first to be looked for were probate files. Nancy Ann’s father left a will but it only mentions his wife Catherine and “all of my children,” so the probate papers were consulted.

Somerset County, Pennsylvania, Probate Court Records, Probate Packet File Number 8-1856, Benjamin Franklin Troutman, accessed 2014; Somerset County Courthouse, Somerset, Pennsylvania.

As you can see from above, these two pages from the probate file are confusing. On one, Benjamin’s daughter is listed as Nancy Troutman and on the other she’s Nancy Workman. That would indicate that daughter Nancy Troutman married a man surnamed Workman.

Land and probate records have the longest history in Somerset County and began in 1795. No land records were found that indicate purchase or gift from Benjamin F. Troutman to Nancy Troutman, Anna Workman or her husband Elisha Workman. Also, it is useful to consider that Benjamin F. Troutman had five sons to whom gifts of property might be made.

Newspapers records were also sought. The only relevant newspaper that could be checked is the Somerset Herald, published Dec 1845-1847, then 1872 and on, which was reviewed for a marriage record but nothing was found. Another negative finding.

Additionally, census records from 1850 and 1860 were closely examined to see if there were any other women by the names under consideration. By 1850 Nancy Ann was married and living with her husband Elisha Workman in Maryland. No Nancy Troutman or Workman was found in Pennsylvania during those years. If there was one found it would cast a negative shadow over the results and this conflict would need to be resolved. Here she is under two different given names in the Maryland 1850 and 1860 Census for Allegany County.

Year: 1850; Census Place: District 5, Allegany, Maryland; Roll: M432_277; Page: 86B; Image:178.

Above, Elisha is on the previous page.

Year: 1860; Census Place: Mont Savage, Allegany, Maryland; Roll: M653_456; Page: 515; Image:515; Family History Library Film: 803456.

Angeline? She’s gone from Ann to Angeline in 10 years. However, children Cass and Amanda do appear and are the appropriate ages.

Also checked was the use of nicknames for given names in the 18th and 19th centuries. While Ann and Anna were nicknames for Nancy, Angeline was not.

However, what was found was the death certificate of John F. Workman, son of Nancy Ann Troutman and Elisha Workman, clearly showing the name of his mother and father.

Certificate of Death: John F. Workman. Filed 23 Sep 1930. State of Maryland, Registration District #9, File #16674. Informant Estella W. Griffith [Nee Workman, daughter of the deceased.] Frostburg, Allegany County, Maryland.
John F. Workman is not in my direct line but his sister Moretta is and below is her death certificate by comparison. Notice Moretta’s mother’s name: Anna Troutman

Certificate of Death: Moretta Zeller. Filed 27 Mar 1946. State of Maryland, District 9, File #02289. Informant: Mrs. Lee Kelly [Nee Zeller, daughter of the deceased.] Frostburg, Allegany County, Maryland.
As you can imagine, a lot of research time went into the above! But where are we? Does any of this strung together prove that Nancy Troutman is Anna/ Angeline/ Ann Workman? Yes.

  1. The connection from Moretta Workman in my line to Elisha Workman and his wife Anna Troutman is proven by Moretta’s death certificate.
  2. The connection between John Workman and his sister Moretta is proven by the 1860 census. As a double-check, no other siblings named John and Moretta Workman were found in Allegany County, MD.
  3. Both death certificates show that their mother’s name was Anna or Nancy Ann Troutman indicating that Elisha Workman’s wife’s maiden name was Troutman and she was known by Nancy as well as Nancy Ann.
  4. The probate records of Benjamin Franklin Troutman show that he had a daughter named Nancy Troutman and then Nancy Workman.
  5. Review of census records for 1850 and 1860 for both Somerset County, PA and Allegany County, MD shows only one woman named Ann / Angeline Workman and no woman named Nancy Troutman. Therefore there are not two or more women of the same name in the area. Yes, a different Ann Troutman, daughter of Benjamin F Troutman but not the wife of Elisha Workman, could have married a different man surnamed Workman but none were found.
  6. Research shows that the nickname for Nancy commonly used in the 19th Century was Anna or Ann.
  7. Therefore it can be concluded that Nancy Troutman and Ann Workman are the same person.

Take away:

  1. When no one direct document proves a relationship then look to using multiple documents to prove it.
  2. Assemble all of the documents in hand and either spread them out on a table or floor, then make a spreadsheet or a mind map so that the relationships can more easily be seen. Record each document and what it offers. This is the time to record specifics that might help illuminate the solution. More is more. Then see if you can piece them together to make a case.
  3. Write it up. You are not done until you can write it all up, put it on paper. With an array of documents and data points, it will be easy to later forget how you arrived at the solution!
Nancy Ann Troutman Workman (1826-1882)

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