Favorite Discovery

Week 7 of 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks and behind a couple of weeks but really wanted to post on this topic.

I have so many favorite discoveries but this one takes the serendipity cake!

My second great grandfather, Dennis Holden, was born about 1839 in Ohio. He was the son of Moore Holden but no record proved that relationship. In 1850 and 1860 he lived in Moore’s household in Lawrenceburg, Dearborn County, IN, but the relationship was not stated and those was the only times and records where the two were found together.

1850 US census, Dearborn County, Indiana, population schedule, Lawrenceburg, p. 285A (stamped), family 1046, Moore Holden household including Jotham Belden; digital images, ( : accessed 22 September 2014); citing NARA microfilm M432, roll 141.

Several years ago while in Lawrenceburg doing brick and mortar research on my Holden ancestors, I learned from the genealogy librarian that the man who performed the 1852 marriage for my 2g grandfather Dennis Holden’s sister Margaret and her husband (Jotham Belden, found in their household in 1850) was the minister of the ME Church across the street from the public library. The church, built in 1847, was still standing. She suggested that I visit its loft where “artifacts” were stored.

I almost didn’t; after all, what could possibly be there? And I had only a day and a half in Lawrenceburg. Luckily, I did call and set up a time to visit.

In the loft, I discovered several ME Church Record Books with entries as early as 1839.

Hamline Chapel, United Methodist Church (Lawrenceburg, Indiana), Record Book (1839-1886); privately held by Hamline Chapel, 102 W High St, Lawrenceburg, IN 47025. Note: On the upper part of the spine is “[Rec]ord,” and lower is “Methodist Church.” There is no title or copyright page. The first entry is dated 23 March 1839.

These Church Minutes contained almost no vital records BUT there was an 1844 entry for the baptisms of Margaret Eliza, William Weston and Dennis, “children of Moore Holden.” These were the three oldest children in the 1850 census.

Hamline Chapel, UM Church (Lawrenceburg, Indiana), Record Book (1839-1886), unnumbered pages, chronologically arranged, 29 June 1844, baptisms of Margaret, William and Dennis Holden, 30 June 1844.

This is the only record that proves kinship between them. There were no land, probate, court or vital records that link the two men.

Also among the treasures was a list of contributors to the church building fund that included Moore Holden.

List of persons who pledged money for the building of the ME Church, 2 March 1846, [original manuscript framed under glass], Hamline Chapel, Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

Included are Moore Holden, Cyrus Clark (a fourth great grandfather, and grandfather of Dennis’s wife), and Joseph Groff, husband of Moore’s sister.

Proving kinship in early records is always a challenge especially when records don’t exist or contain no information. We always hope to find that lost or obscure source and rarely succeed.

This time it happened!