Eliza Smith – Leads or Rabbit Holes?

So, I was reviewing and organizing some old correspondence (part of the source citation project) as I am now working on the Cobe’s WikiTree entries.  During my review of her notes, I noticed something that cousin Sue mentioned back in 2016.  She was following the property trail on our immigrant Richard and Eliza (Smith) Cobe.

Because I only have one source (Frederick Cobe) that names his mother as Eliza Smith, and he created said record long after her death, I question the accuracy of his knowledge.  Well, back in 2016 Sue’s property research uncovered land transactions between Richard Cobe and Ezra & Matilda Smith.

Richard was first found living in Napoleon Township, Henry County in 1840.  His family is only represented by tick-marks by age.  There are two or three mysterious minors that may have come with him from Canada.  I have yet to identify these children.

By 15 December 1848, Richard has entered into an indenture for $75 with Ezra & Matilda Smith of Paulding County for 23 acres in the NE ¼ of NE ¼ Section 19, Township 2 North of Range 4 (green square on the map).

On 1 November 1850, Richard received a deed for lots 137 through 192 in the “Ridenours Addition to the town of Canal Port” which is no longer a town (red circle on the map – note Peter McKevitt would later own all the lots formerly known as Canal Port and ran a saloon there. He and Richard Jr. were good friends and he was Richard Jr’s 2nd brother-in-law).  These lots were purchased by Ezra Smith from the county in January 1847 for $37.50.

Even though these properties were described differently, cousin Sue thought they could be for the same properties based on the location of the description. But an 1845 and 1847 newspaper entry for the same “NE quarter” property implies they are separate and old plat maps also indicate separate locations in Section 19.

Left image is the 1878 Plat Map for Brown Township, Paulding County and the right image is 1892. These maps were drawn well after Richard Sr. passed away, but Richard Cobe Jr and Margarett Russell Cobe are still shown as property owners on these maps. Canal Port is identified in 1878, but has disappeared by 1892.

  • 1840 – Richard and family appear in Napoleon Township, Henry County, Ohio.  Household members are just tick-marks for ages.

  • 1845 – Richard legally established residency in the United States

  • 1847, January – Ezra Smith buys lots 137 through 192 of the Ridenours Addition of Canal Port ($37.50 – costs of taxes, interests & penalty; appears he bought property that was delinquent on taxes)

    Canal Port was in Brown Township, Paulding County, just south of Charloe (red circle on the map)

  • 1847, November- Shirley Evans is delinquent on taxes for 23 acres described as “All of the NE ¼ of NE ¼ Section 19, Township 2 North of Range 4 not included in the addition to ‘Canal Port’” (green square on map)

    Section 19 was just south and west of Charloe in Brown Township, Paulding County (blue square on the map)

  • 1848 – Richard made his declaration of intent for citizenship in Paulding County

  • 1848, December – Richard enters into indenture to Ezra Smith for 23 acres described as the NE ¼ of NE ¼ Section 19, Township 2 North of Range 4 ($75)

  • 1850, May – Richard files his final U.S. Citizenship in Paulding County

  • 1850, June – Richard and family are enumerated in Brown Township, Paulding County, Ohio

  • 1850, November – The Paulding County Auditor grants Richard a deed for lots 137 through 192 of the Ridenours Addition of Canal Port

  • 1851, June – Richard buys 78.68 acres from James Hoover (a resident of Allen County, OH) described as Lots 3 and 4 of SW ¼ of Section 19, Township 2 North of Range 4 East (yellow square on the map). These could be the east and west northern half of the SW ¼ of Section 19.

  • 1860, June – Eliza is the head of household, Richard is presumed dead based not being enumerated with the family.

The timing of these transactions was leading up to Richard’s naturalization in 1850.  Property rights and citizenship is a confusing topic for me.  While there was a concern for absentee landlords residing in distant countries, Congress appears to have found language to promote broader land ownership to residents regardless of citizenship through a practice of requiring non-citizens to establish residency and file a declaration of intent to become a citizen.  But these are requirements for the purchase of Federal or State land, I have not found anything on the rules of law for the purchase of private lands.

It does appear as though Ezra Smith was acting as “agent” for Richard until his naturalization was finalized.

What caught my attention though was Ezra’s surname as Smith.  It could be nothing given the name’s commonality.  But then, oftentimes people conducted land business with family members related by either blood or marriage.  So, was Ezra Smith a relation to Richard and Eliza Cobe?

I don’t know yet.  I had thought there may be a connection between Ezra Smith and the unnamed mysterious girl who came with Richard and Eliza from Canada.  Here are some other correlations.

I pulled the string on Ezra Smith.  He was married three times.  Matilda, the wife named in the property records, was his first wife and her maiden name was likely Alderidge.  Together they had at least seven children, among them were Maria, John, and Joseph.  Richard and Eliza also had a daughter, Maria, and Richard Jr. named sons John and Joseph.  Not enough for a proof argument, but it’s enough to scratch one’s head over.  Matilda died in 1858 (10 years after Richard enters into an indenture with Ezra) and he married wife number 2 the following year.

His second wife was named Ann Elizabeth Murphy.  Ezra and Ann had no children together because she died within a year of their marriage.  Ann and her father were born in Ohio, her grandparents were married in Pennsylvania, and before that, her paternal grandfather hailed from – Donagal, Ireland.  Ah, but there were a lot of people from Ireland!

He married his third wife, Delila A. probably Winans, in 1860.  Richard is presumed dead by this point.  Richard and Eliza named a daughter Rebecca Delila, and she occasionally used Delila as a given name.  Again, could be nothing as Delila was a popular biblical name and the Cobe’s were “good” Catholics. Delila may have had a son named Frederick H., though I suspect it should have been Shadrack Hudson (both sons of her first marriage, Shadrach H. Carey Sr.)  And of course,  Richard and Eliza had a son named Frederick.  The problem with Delilah is that she was probably born in Ohio in 1827.  If she is Delila Winans originally, her family came to Ohio from New Jersey and has no immediate ties to Ireland or Canada.  Shadrach’s family came from Rhode Island and New Jersey.

Aside from the property transactions, Ezra himself has no other connection to the Cobe’s.  He was a prominent man in Paulding County and left a very precise Will.  This Will does not mention any Cobe’s nor is it witnessed or otherwise annotated with anyone named Cobe.  Ezra’s family came from New Jersey and had been in the United States for several generations. Ironically, Ezra was mis-enumerated in 1860 as Eliza Smith. It’s likely this census image was the clerks copy of the original enumeration. Other errors are present in this household. And while the Cobe’s and the Smith’s both lived in Paulding County, they did not live in the same townships. Ezra’s children were neighbors of Margaret Russell’s siblings.

None of it looks promising really – not without that elusive “more information”.  If Eliza was somehow related to Ezra, I would expect to find him or one of his wives in Canada.  Though the Cobe’s are no longer associating with Canada by the time they come to Ohio, it is only by chance that I may have traced them there. If there is more of a connection, I can see how Frederick Cobe may have mistaken his mother to be named “Smith”.

But then this could all just be a rabbit hole.