Brickwall: The parents of George E HILLIS

In the last post, I wrote about trying to track down my grandmother’s maternal line. Her mother, Alice Susan HILLIS’ parents were George E HILLIS and Mary Susan WASHBURN. I was able to track find the parents of Mary through the help of a family history on But I still have a problem with George.

Here’s what I know about George:
  • George was born May 1857 in Indiana (1900 and 1910 census).
  • George was born in Rising Sun, Ohio county, Indiana. (death certificate of still born child Willard)
  • George married Mary WASHBURN on 05 Sep 1886 in Hamilton county, Ohio. They were married by John Rush who was a minister at 6th Presbyterian, 508 & 510 Eastern Ave near Vance. (IGI and Hamilton county marriage index)
  • Mary died 19 Apr 1919 in Cincinnati. Her death certificate states that she is a widow and was buried in Rising Sun, Ohio county, Indiana (no record of her burial has been found).

George and Mary had at least 12 children (11 children to Mary in 1910 census, 7 living, stillborn child Willard born in 1912).
(all data taken from census, SSDI, death certificates, cemetery transcriptions):
  • Joseph M – born Dec 1887 in Ohio
  • Francis Marion – born 13 Dec 1888 in Cincinnati, Ohio; died 12 Oct 1977 (This is also the name of Mary’s father, Francis Marion WASHBURN).
  • Sylvia C – born Aug 1892 (Mary had a sister Sylvia)
  • Alice Susan – born 01 Apr 1896 in Rabbit Hash, Boone County, Kentucky (according to my grandmother’s birth certificate), died 31 Jul 1979
  • Vallie I – born 16 Nov 1898 in Indiana; died 14 Jan 1994 in Rising Sun, Ohio county, Indiana
  • George – born about 1901 in Indiana (my grandmother says that he left for the circus and was never heard from again, I haven’t tracked him down yet.)
  • Barrett Guy – born 30 Dec 1906 in Indiana, died 15 Jul 1995 in Montgomery, Hamilton county, Ohio.
  • Unnamed child – born May 1909,died 07 Jul 1909 in Ohio county, Indiana
  • Willard – stillborn child 29 Feb 1912 in Cincinnati, Hamilton county, Indiana
From the death of Mary and Willard, I can estimate that George died between 1911 and 1919. I believe that he would have died in Rising Sun or at least been buried there because Mary’s death certificate states that she was buried there.

Here is what I have found and am analyzing:
My tree on Ancestry gave me a hint about George’s family. It directed me to an 1880 census record in Carlton, Boone county, Kentucky. This George HILLIS is living with Stephen and Sarah MAUCK and is listed as a farm laborer. Looking at the census page, I found the family of Joseph and Susan HILLIS, with their children Valorous, Mary and Lizzie. Could this be George’s family? (George’s oldest son is named Joseph.)

The age of this George is the same as my George would have been in 1880. I found that Carlton, Kentucky is the township where Rabbit Hash, Kentucky resides. This connects to my great grandmother saying that she was born in Rabbit Hash (where they have elected dogs for mayor). I have found no other evidence of the family in Rabbit Hash. It would make sense that they might have lived there if they had family in the area. The census records put them in Cincinnati and Rising Sun, Indiana. All in the general area.

I have used Google to try to track down this family, but it appears that no one else is researching this family. On Ancestry’s trees, the only other tree with information on my HILLIS family has just taken my research and is most likely not interested in the HILLIS family because it appears that they are not related, one of George’s children married an indirect relation in this other person’s tree.

If this is my HILLIS family, then I have found Susan’s death certificate in Kentucky which gives her maiden names as MORSE and her parents as Valorous MORSE and Mary R WORKS. Was George’s daughter Vallie been named after her great-grandfather?

There are definitely some connection to places and names with these two families. But I still need to figure out if they are related.

Here is what I know I need to do:
Find George’s death certificate (should be in Indiana, no mention in Ohio or Kentucky death indexes)
Find George and Mary’s marriage certificate (research about the court’s marriage holdings says that the records will most likely not contain the names of the parents at that time period. Need to try church records.)
What else am I missing?

The Family of Mary Washburn

I have had a hard time locating the family and ancestors of my grandmother’s mother. My first problem was locating Alice’s maiden name. My grandmother thought that it was HILLIS, but wasn’t sure. Over the summer, she showed me her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary announcement in the newspaper. It stated that Alice’s parents were George HILLIS and Mary WASHBURN.

I located the HILLIS family living in Rising Sun, Ohio, Indiana in the 1910 census, but could not find them in 1920 or 1900. In 1920, the youngest child Barrett was living with his unmarried sister Vallie in Rising Sun. This made me think that the parents were both deceased. I could not find them in any transcriptions of cemeteries in Ohio County though. I also did not locate them in the marriage transcriptions for Indiana.

In the fall I decided to search the IGI for George and Mary. I was able to find an entry for them that referred to a batch made from the Hamilton County, Ohio marriages. They were married 05 Sep 1886. I wondered if Mary was from the Cincinnati area and I searched for Mary WASHBURNs in Hamilton county in the 1880 census along with her birth year. I found a Mary WASHBURN living with her father Francis/Frank M WASHBURN in Hamilton county in 1880 and 1870. In 1860 I found the family living in Gallia county, Ohio. I still needed to link this Mary to my Mary.

I searched on Ancestry for more information about Francis WASHBURN. I found that he had served in the civil war for the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The most important and interesting find about him was in The Genealogy of the Cleveland and Cleaveland Families by Edmund James Cleveland (1899). An entry for Francis WASHBURN listed that he had married Lavina MATHEWS and had 4 daughters (Mary Susan, Lizzie Gertrude, Myrtl and Sylvia). It was looking more and more like I had found the correct family for Mary, but I still needed more proof.

I went on Family Search’s pilot record search and searched the Ohio death records for Francis WASHBURN. I found his death certificate that said that he was born in Gallia county, Ohio, but his parents were not listed. He died 18 Feb 1912 of hepititis. I also found the death certificates of his daughters Sylvia (who never married and died in 1934) and Myrtle (married to Silas Barrett WATERS and died in 1951). Lizzie had died as a child in Gallia county. Lavina had died before Ohio death certificates started.

I also searched for the surname HILLIS. First, I found a stillborn child, Willard, of Mary and George HILLIS in 1912.

Then I hit the jackpot. I also found a death certificate for Mary HILLIS in Hamilton County, Ohio. She died 19 Apr 1919. It listed her as the widow of George HILLIS and daughter of Francis WASHBURN and Lavina MATHEWS. This was the link that I needed to connect my Mary Washburn to the family in the Cleveland genealogy book and other records that I had found.

After finding that Mary was from the Cincinnati area, I searched in Hamilton county for her with George and her family in the 1900 census. I was able to find them indexed under the surname HOLIS in Anderson Township. I can’t tell you how many surnames I had already search under to find that family, but I must have only been looking in Indiana and not Ohio for them all.

I still need to find more evidence to prove my case once and for all, but I think that I am on the right path. I need to get a hold of George and Mary’s marriage certificate to see what information it can give me. What I have read about marriages at the time tells me that there won’t be much to gather from it. I’ll also search church records for it. I also need to figure out when and where George died. It should be between the death of their stillborn child and Mary’s death, since she was a widow. Since Mary was buried in Rising Sun, I think that is where George probably died. But I have not been able to find them in any cemetery transcriptions. I wish Indiana death certificates were available online.