Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Unknown Sowder

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Ancestor #2
Amy Johnson Crow has posted a challenge on her blog "No Story Too Small".

(Unknown) Sowder

Well, I walked slap-dab into a giant brick wall !!! 

I have no idea who my paternal 4th great grandparents are. You would think with a surname like Sowders that the family would be easy to find. It probably would be except for a major problem - surname spellings.

Known spellings: Sowder, Sowders, Souder, Souders, Souter, Suter, Souttar, Sutter, Soder, Sodders, Sonders, Sowter, Sanders, Saunders....just to name a few.

My third great grandfather is David Sowder ca. 1750-60 and died 23 Nov 1831 in Washington County, Indiana. His birth date is not proven. There is only one census record dated 1830 that shows his age to 70-80. The census records of his children show his birth place as Pennsylvania.

According to family tradition he has two known brothers:

Michael Sowder b. 1766 Pennsylvania (aka Mich, Mike)
Peter H. Sowder b. 1769 - Jul 1854 Pleasant Run, Lawrence, Indiana  His birth place varies on the records - sometimes Pennsylvania and sometimes Virginia. He is on the 1850 census and it shows his birth place as Virginia which may be correct.

I'm certain the three are brothers as I have DNA matches to the descendants of Michael and Peter. There are not enough DNA contributors with available information to determine who their parents may be.

The earliest records we have of the brothers are in Lincoln County, Kentucky. This county was once known as Lincoln County, Virginia but we don't know if they moved there before or after Kentucky became a state. They are next found in Rock Castle County, Kentucky where the last record is found for Michael in 1820. We don't know if Michael died or if he just moved and we can't locate him. David and Peter moved from Rock Castle to Indiana.


I made a very critical error when I first started researching about 1992. I wrote in my notes: "Sowder family showed up in England court wanting to change their name. They had changed their name to Johnston during one of the wars and now want to go to the colony [America] and wished to change their name back to Sowder before traveling".

Now that I have much more researching experience I ask city? and most importantly....the SOURCE?  Yup...I failed to source it !!!

I have not been able to find that record again. Now you know that missing brick in the wall is not progress being made. It was from me banging my head against the wall shouting ...

Family tradition from most Sowder(s) has always been that our family came from GERMANY which is probably true but after finding the above mentioned record I try to keep an open mind. My grandmother was a Johnston. My Dad said the family may have left Germany to go to the British Isles and may have been part of the Johnston clan at one time. Maybe they were from the British Isles. I do have the Johnston family from Scotland in my direct line.

OTHER RESEARCH: I have gone through many of the wills in Pennsylvania but so far have had no luck. Records for very early Kentucky are hard to find. I have found no records for the spelling Sowder in Virginia but have found some for "Souder". None of those seem to fit into our family. There are too many Sanders and Saunders to research them without some type of lead.

There were some "Sowder" families transported to Virginia in 1733. There was a quarrel between Governor's over who owned the land and the rights to sell the land was delayed. Some of the Sowder families stayed and others moved on. Those who were transported may have been double listed since some of the names are repeated:

     Henry Sowder                                      Stapher Sowder
     Catherine Sowder                                 Peter Sowder
     Henry Sowder                                      Joseph Sowder
     John Sowder                                        Jacob Sowder
     Isaac Sowder                                       David Sowder
     Catherine Sowder                                Jane Sowder
     Anna Sowder                                       Dorothy Sowder
     Rachel Sowder                                    Christiana Sowder
     Jacob Sowder                                      Susannah Sowder
     Trina Sowder                                       Rachel Sowder
     Christian Sowder                                 Rudy Sowder
     John Sowder                                        Matthew Sowder
     Isaac Sowder

Does anyone have a sledge hammer I can borrow?

Beam me up Cathy --(back to top)

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