John Rhodes, part 1

There is so much to share about John that I may bore the reader who is not as interested in the mechanics of genealogy. For this, I apologize in advance, feel free to wait for part 2 and the genealogical summary.

As I mentioned in my post for Daniel Rhoads, his parents were clearly named John and Mary. You may have noticed that the surname is spelled several different ways between Ken, Daniel, and John. The story we understand on how we spell our name is only a partial story. Apparently, Dee Jay Rhodes, son of Daniel and brother to our Ken added the “a” to get Rhoades, our modern spelling. Ken, being in business with Dee Jay, went along with the change. The reason behind Dee Jay’s desire to update the name is not clear. I have heard two possible theories, either it was to differentiate from another Rhodes family living nearby or it was to make a new start after an embarrassing business venture.

Daniel and John are recorded under several spelling variations of Rhodes, to include Rhoades (long before Dee Jay legally changed it), but I don’t know why. Most likely this is the way clerks and census takers spelled it and Daniel nor his father ever voiced a preference. Something I have learned (and is taught in Genealogy studies) is that the spelling of names, or exact birth dates, was not as important to our ancestors as it is to us today. In fact, it is a relatively new phenomenon of the 20th century. So, it is not unusual to find variations of spellings and we should not rule out a record when the spelling is not the same or the birth date is slightly off.

Daniel and John RHOADES, recorded in Will records of Allen County, Indiana, 1831 to 1869,  A transcript of this will can be found here.

John Rhodes left Pennsylvania with his wife, Mary Wible/Weigle. and their eldest child, Elizabeth, between 1838 and 1840. They lived in Wayne County, Ohio (though Daniel says he was born in Stark County, Ohio – these are neighboring counties). In 1850, they moved further west to Aboite Twp, Allen County, Indiana (west of Fort Wayne), and settled on a farm there. This is the farm that passed to Daniel and then to his oldest son, Clarence. It is now a sub-division.

1840 Map of Ohio counties.  Wayne County is shown as green and Stark County as yellow. 
An 1845 map of Ohio Counties with Sugar Creek Twp. shown as the red square in Wayne County, bordering Stark County.

In 1850 John and his family were enumerated in both Wayne County, Ohio and Allen County, Indiana. John may have also been recorded in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania in his father’s household. This is not uncommon. Census were conducted by people traveling to each home on foot or horseback. They were given a large window of time to complete their enumeration; also they didn’t always get their information directly from members of the household, but from the neighbors with outdated knowledge and who sometimes lived miles away (common in outlying farms). Based on the dates of enumeration, the census provides the following pattern of movement:

  • before 9 August – John and family are living in Ohio, perhaps preparing for their journey to Indiana
  • around 28 September – John makes a solo trip to Pennsylvania from Ohio (1 week by foot/wagon, 1 day by train) [1]
  • by 3 December – the family has established their homestead in Indiana (3 weeks by foot/wagon from Stark Co., OH to Allen Co., IN and 1-2 weeks by train/canals) [2]
1850 census showing John ROADS/RHOADS in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, images.

The time it takes a person to walk the distance from Ohio to Indiana can be accomplished well within the time-lapse recorded between the Indiana and Ohio census. John and his family would most likely have traveled by wagons.

It is also possible that there was another John Rhodes born about the same time as our John, as there were, in fact, others in this Pennsylvania family. I am not 100% certain that John Rhodes of Fort Wayne, Indiana is the same John Rhoads of South Huntington Twp (Smithton), Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. I base my theory on several things in this order:

Our AncestorsConnection
John was born in
Pennsylvania in 1812.
There is a record of baptismal for a
John Roth in the same year, son of
Henry Roth and wife Catherine of
Westmoreland Co., PA (I will write
more about the Roth’s vs Rhodes in a later post).
Mary Wible/Weigle was born in
There is a family of Weigle’s(sp) in
Westmoreland County, also. This
family lived near related Rhoads’
Smith’s in Westmoreland and some
also moved to Wayne/Stark County
Cluster research: a likely connection
to another Rhodes family in
Fort Wayne, Indiana.
See more about Joseph Rhodes and his son, Henry, in part 2.
Name association.The Westmoreland family has a
plethora of John’s, Daniel’s, Henry’s, Catherine’s, and other names
similar to both Indiana families.
DNA results.I will cover this more in part 2.

[1] Travel by wagon was about 15-20 miles a day.  The distance between Sugar Creek Twp, Wayne County, Ohio to Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana is about 200 miles, making the trip roughly 10 days barring any delays.  Travel by horse was also about 20 miles a day.  The distance between Sugar Creek Twp, Wayne County, Ohio to Smithton, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania is about 45 miles, making the trip roughly 2 days by foot/horse.  The DeJeans documented their trek from Jamestown, NY to Rutland, WI (600 miles) around 1840; taking them 30 days (~20 miles per day).  History of Dane County, Wisconsin, Joseph De Jean, p 1199.
[2] There were rail lines between Greensburg, PA and Canton, OH – the nearest cities to our places of interests.  This is only a probability for John’s visit to PA, however, I feel it is more likely he traveled by horse or wagon, being a hard working and likely frugal farmer.   Library of Congress, 1850 map of railroads.