I have lost my way . . . in Virginia


In my ongoing journey to discover Marks’ family roots, I have found myself lost somewhere in Virginia.  So instead of just barreling forward as I have done for so long, I thought I would pause and ask for help.  There is no way around it.  The early 1800s are tough.  There isn’t much in terms of records, unless you are lucky.  As researchers, we piece together facts and go on hunches.  For me, those facts and hunches have led me to Virginia.

I am putting this out there as a kind-of running log of what I know about the Marks family of Virginia.  Now, don’t get all excited if you are a Reverend John and Uriah descendant from Loudoun County.  Oh . . . I wish it were that easy.  I don’t have solid evidence of any connection to this well-documented Northern Virginia family.  (It sure would be cool, however, since my in-laws live within a few miles of the Ketocin Baptist Church).  Instead, I am hoping that others, who share this quest with me, can help fill in some pieces, recognize some clues, and eventually piece together how this Marks family came to America.

This is what I know. 

The 1870 Census:  For This Marks Clan, the Journey Starts in Iowa

  • My first definitive Marks progenitor reaches back to James Marks.
  • I picked up James Marks for the first time with his family in the 1870 Census.  I already knew that John C. Marks is my husband’s 2x grandfather from Inland, Cedar County, Iowa.
  • The 1870 Census reveals that John’s father was James Marks, age 44, born in Virginia in approximately 1826.  James Marks is listed as living with his wife Susan J. (Templeton) Marks, age 40, another son Elias Marks (15) born in Indiana; son John C. Marks (13) born in Missouri; and daughter Mary E. Marks (7) born in Missouri.

Family Marks James 1870 Census

  • From this 1870 census, I also picked up a number of clues.
    1. James & Susan have several children born in different states.  Their earliest listed child was born in Indiana, while their next two children were born in Missouri, including my husband’s 2x great grandfather John C.  That meant I knew I needed to look in Missouri for the Marks family during the 1860 census.
    2. Jane Sparks, age 79, born in Pennsylvania is listed on the same page as living with Mary E. Sparks, age 37, born in Ohio.
    3. Another Marks family (Daniel born in Virginia & Jane Marks born in Pennsylvania), is listed as living about 55 miles away from Inland, Iowa in Oxford, Iowa.  Their 1870 census entry is below.

Family Marks Daniel 1860

The 1860 Census:  South to Missouri

  • Based on the clues, I knew I would probably find James and Susan in Missouri for the 1860 Census.  Sure enough.  There, I was able to pick up James and S.J. Marks in Somerset Township, Mercer County, Missouri.  He is listed as 34 years old, again implying a birth date of 1826.  James and Susan are listed as having children who don’t appear on the 1870 Census.  Specifically, child S.C. Marks(12) and J.K. Marks (5/12) appear here, but not in 1870.  This meant I also needed to look at death records in Missouri to get a fuller picture of the family.  More on that later.

Family Marks James 1860 Missouri 1

Family Marks James 1860 Missouri 2

  • Daniel born in Virginia and Jane Marks born in Pennsylvania, whom I noticed close by in Iowa in 1870, are also listed in Mercer County, Missouri for the 1860 census with their numerous children, who are listed as being born in Ohio, Indiana and Missouri.  This implied that Daniel and Jane migrated to Missouri from Ohio by way of Indiana.  Daniel’s and Jane’s migration pattern matched James and Susan’s:  Indiana⇒Missouri⇒Iowa.

Family Marks Daniel 1860 Missouri

  • David and Catherine Templeton, both of whom were born in Ohio, are also listed as living in Mercer County, along with children James Templeton (23); Jacob Templeton (2); A. (Andrew) W. Templeton (21); A. (Ann) M. Templeton (18); David Templeton(12) and Robert Templeton (11).
  • Also I noticed the Bruner family living close by, which has another important connection to the Templeton Family.  Again, more later.

Family Templeton David 1860

The 1850 Census:  Back East to the Ohio River Valley

  • The 1850 Census got me closer to James’ roots.  At this time, James and Susan were in Greene County, Indiana.  They are circled below in red.  He is listed as 24 years old, again implying a birth date of 1826.  Unhelpfully, he is also listed as being born in “O,” which means Ohio and Susan is also listed as being from Ohio.  This census also lists their daughter Sarah Marks, age 2, who was born in Indiana.  Most likely James and Susan married in Indiana.  

Family Marks James 1850 Census

  • From this 1850 census, I also picked up a number of other clues.
    1. Jesse Marks (age 20) married to Pollyann lived nearby.  He appears on the same census page.
    2. The StallcupsJoshua and Ann DobbinsDavid W. and Nancy Sparks, and James Weir also appear on this census.  These names are all important for further research.
    3. David and Catherine Templeton, along with James, Jacob, Andrew, Ann, David and Robert appear on this census.  These match the children on the 1860 census in Missouri.
    4. Daniel Marks (age 37) born in Virginia and married to Jane born in Pennsylvania was also living nearby.  He had a house full of girls–living with children Lena Ann Marks (14); Sarah Marks (12); Polly Marks(10); Phebe Marks(8); Lavina Marks (6); Bianca Marks (4); Rosetta Marks (2); and Samantha Marks (1).  All the girls, except the youngest are listed as being born in Ohio.  They appear on the previous two census pages. Two of these children Sarah and Lavina did not appear on the 1860 census with the family.


Family Marks Daniel 1850 2

Marriage Records:  Looking for the Key to Virginia

As you may know, the federal census trail becomes much harder to follow pre-1850 as enumerators only listed the heads of the family.  So in order to understand more about the relationships of these families and expand my ability to potentially track their movements, I looked for marriage records in both Indiana and Ohio (since Daniel and Jane Marks’ eldest children were born there).  I found a number of records.

Indiana Marriage Records (Indices Only)

  • James Mark [sic] and Susan Templeton:  listed as being married in Greene County, Indiana on March 11, 1847.
  • Mary Marks and Jacob Dobbins:  listed as being married in Greene County on April 7, 1842.
  • Jesse Marks and Mary B. Dobbins (alternately reported as Mary A. Dobbins):  listed as being married in Greene County on February 14, 1850.

Ohio Marriage Records

One thing I knew for sure is that Daniel and Jane Marks followed a similar migration pattern as James and Susan Marks.  There are many possible reasons, but the most likely is that James and Daniel were somehow related.  Because Daniel and Jane were likely married in Ohio, that is where I went next.  Bingo!

  • Daniel Marks and Jane Boice: listed in the Ohio County marriage records for Clark County, Ohio.  Interestingly, their license was noted for December 11, 1834, but they do not have a certified return.
  • I confirmed that this was the Daniel Marks in whom I was interested by verifying more contemporary death and marriage records of Daniel and Jane’s children in Iowa.  For example, son William Marks’ 1891 marriage record to Emma J. Cantonwine lists his parents as Daniel Marks and Jane “Bocee.”

Discovery of Daniel’s marriage location led me do some more looking in Clark County, which is located between Dayton and Columbus.  Here, I found several more marriage records mentioning Markes.

  • Nancy Marks and David Wallace Sparks:  Listed as being married in Clark County Ohio on May 21, 1836 by William Drummond, Justice of the Peace.

Family Marks Nancy MarriageWait!  David W. and Nancy Sparks were known to me.  I saw them first in the 1850 census, living close to the families of David Templeton, James Marks, Joshua Dobbins and Jesse Marks.  Nancy’s maiden name was Nancy Marks, and she and David migrated to the same location as James and Susan Templeton Marks.  Likely another relation, who was also listed as being born in Virginia!

  • Elias Marks and Elizabeth Jane Winget:  Listed as being married in Clark County, Ohio on February 18, 1847.Family Marks Elias Marriage
  • Washington Marks and Elizabeth Boyce:  Listed as being married in Clark County Ohio on April 16, 1835.  Could Elizabeth Boyce be related to Jane Boice who married Daniel Marks?
  • Thornton Marks and Polly Drummond:  Listed as being married in Clark County Ohio on September 29, 1836.
  • Thornton Marks and Elizabeth Wyant: Listed as being married in Clark County Ohio on May 14, 1850.

The 1850 Census:  Doing a Mad River Dive

All of these Marks marriages in Clark County, Ohio left me craving more information about these folks. The most important to me were Daniel Marks and Jane Boice (who migrated to Greene, Indiana) and Nancy Marks and David Wallace Sparks (who also migrated to Greene, Indiana).  Both Daniel and Jane were born in Virginia and thus caused me to wonder whether James Marks or Susan Templeton (married in Greene, Indiana) or both lived in Clark County as well.  I knew Daniel Marks and Nancy Marks Sparks were already in Greene, Indiana, but I wanted to learn more about these other Marks.  So I looked back again to the 1850 Census.  Here is what I learned.

  • Washington Marks, listed as age 40 married to Elizabeth Boice/Boyce, still lived in Mad River in 1850.  Washington’s age implies a birth year of 1810.  Importantly, Washington Marks is also listed as being born in Virginia and his wife Elizabeth Boice, Pennsylvania.  They had numerous children including Charles Marks(14); John Marks (12); Eliza Jane Marks(10); Frederick Marks (6); Ann M. Marks (4); and Phebe E. Marks (2).

Family Marks Washington 1850

  • Elias Marks, listed as age 30, married to Jane Boice/Boyce, also still lived in Mad River in 1850.  Elias is also listed as being born in Virginia and his wife Jane Boice, Pennsylvania.  Elias and Jane don’t have any children in 1850.

Family Marks Elias 1850

  • I did not find Thornton Marks in the 1850 Census, despite the fact that I knew he was married that year in Clark County.

Finally, Back to Virginia

So what I am left with is many connections to Virginia among numerous tightly knitted families with many loose ends and little definitive proof.  Yet, I have much more to write and even more work to do.

  • When did the Markses first show up in Mad River?  What do the 1830 and 1840 censuses show?
  • Where was James Marks in 1840?  Ohio?  Or some place else?
  • What happened to Elias and Washington Marks after Mad River?  Does that provide any clues on whether they are James’s brothers? Or cousins? Or what?
  • Who was Mary Marks who married Jacob Dobbins in 1842 in Indiana?
  • What do DNA matches tell me about how and if these Marks families fit together?  What can they tell me about possible common ancestors from Virginia?

I am sorry that this post is not conclusive.  Instead, it has probably raised more questions than answers!  That is the point of my “Help Please” plea.

Not to leave this totally hanging, DNA has supported my hunches that Virginia likely means Fluvanna and Goochland counties. I will continue to update this as time permits, and with the help of others, hopefully, one day, figure out how this Southern Virginia Marks family came to America.

2 thoughts on “I have lost my way . . . in Virginia

    1. My Great Great Grandfather James Marks moved from Virginia in early 1800s to Tennessee then later to Southern Illinois where he served from 1850 to 1852 as Sheriff of Williamson County Illinois. From Oscar Marks dafuzz100@gmail.com

      My Gret Grandfather


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