Breaking Through a Brick Wall

Finding the Family of Libby Sharp

Part 5

This is the fifth in a a series of blog posts based on a presentation I did for my local genealogy group in 2018. Using some techniques for evaluating indirect and negative evidence, I was finally able to break through a 20+ year old brick wall in my husband’s family. This is a summary of the research and my process of working through the information.

After reviewing the information I had already collected in Part 1, I was able to move past Harriet “Libby”Sharp’s known family and try to move back in time to find her family of origin in Part 2. In Part 3, I looked at some interesting twists in this family tree and tried to piece a fractured family back together. Part 4 focused on the 2 wives of Henry Sharp and trying to determine marriages and deaths with no direct evidence. I had just established that Henry had a daughter named Lydia Ann (#1) who was born in 1847 to his first wife, Susan Gordon, and also had a second wife named Lydia Ann (#2).

I now need to start sorting out Lydia #2’s family and find her on some census records with Henry’s youngest children.


1850 – Henry & Susan with Jane, Lydia A #1, Harriet E in Rutland

1853 – Susan Gordon Sharp dies

1855 – Henry with Harriet E living with Stevens family in Rutland (married, no spouse)

1855– Lydia Ann #1 living with grandfather Thomas Gordon in Philadelphia, NY

1860 – Henry & Lydia Ann #2 with (Harriet) Elizabeth, Anna A, John M, Benjamin A in Rutland

1860– Lydia Ann #1 living with Wilbur Gordon next to grandparents in Wilna, NY

1865 – Henry dies in Civil War

Henry Sharp was listed as Married in the 1855 NY census but no wife was listed in the same, or neighboring, homes on that census. Daughter Harriet is living in the home with him at that time, and presumed daughter Lydia A is living with Thomas Gordon and family in a neighboring township listed as grandchild to Thomas (assume Susan was his daughter).

If Henry WAS married in 1855 as stated in his entry on the 1855 census, then Lydia Ann Sharp should be found in that census (she was listed in Henry Sharp family in 1860).

1855 New York, State Census: LeRay, Jefferson County

Lydia Ann Sharpe age 18 is listed in the home of Asher Croan.

Asher Croan                       age 58   born PA                Married                48yr resident of LeRay

Amanda Croan  wife       age 34   born Jefferson  Married                11yr resident of LeRay

Joseph Croan     child       age 20 born Jefferson                                    20yr resident of LeRay

Lydia Ann Sharpe             child       age 18   born Jefferson  Married                18yr resident of LeRay

Lucy Ann Croan child       age 16   born Jefferson                                  16yr resident of LeRay

Martha J Croan child       age 7     born Jefferson                                  7yr resident of LeRay

Warren Croan    wifes son             age 15   born Jefferson                  15yr resident of LeRay

1855 New York State Census

Lydia Ann appears to be the daughter of Asher Croan/Crone and married Henry Sharp in about 1855.

1850 US Census: LeRay, Jefferson County, New York

Asher Crone       age 50                   born PA

Joseph Crone    age 14                   born NY

Warren Crone   age 10                   born NY

Amanda Crone  age 29                   born NY

Lydia Ann Crone age 13                 born NY

Lucy Ann Crone age 11                  born NY

Martha Jane Crone age 2              born NY

This appears to be the same Croan/Crone family as was listed in 1855 New York Census. The 1855 Census showed us just what we expected to find: a married Lydia living in a different home from her husband Henry Sharp. If all continues as expected, in the 1865 census, Lydia Ann should be listed as a widow.

1865 New York, State Census: LeRay, Jefferson County

Lydia Sharp         F              age 32                   born Jefferson  mother of 4 children       married 1x          widow

A. Sharp               F              age 8     child       born Jefferson

M. Sharp              M            age 6     child       born Jefferson

B. Sharp               M            age 5     child       born Jefferson

R. Sharp               F              age 4     child       born Jefferson

Lydia is here listed as a widow which is consistent with Henry dying in service in the Civil War earlier in 1865. Assuming these are 4 of his children (Anna A, John M, and Benjamin listed in the 1860 census also) and Jane, Lydia A, and Harriet are 3 children from Henry’s first wife Susan, we are still missing 1 child and do not know the full name of R. Sharp – a daughter born in 1861.

Since all the dates are lining up, I now feel confident enough to order Henry Sharp’s service record from the National Archives.

Civil War Service Record for Henry Sharp ordered from NARA. Burial and Interment page lists “Mrs Lydia Sharp of LeRay, Jefferson County, New York” as his wife. Henry was literate as he signed his own name and appears to have filled out his enlistment form himself.  He lists himself as “aged 43 years and 6 months” in February of 1864 at his enlistment. It would appear that he lied about his age to make himself young enough to serve – he was 47 at the time of enlistment. The hospital record lists his actual age as 48 upon his death in March of 1865.

Henry lied about his age to enlist in the Union Army. He was married and over 45 years of age so he was not eligible for the draft according to the Draft Act of 1863. Henry volunteered to serve, probably for the bounty money. Unfortunately he left a widow and 8 children behind. Henry was laid to rest in Prospect Hill Cemetery, York, PA, in the Soldiers Circle.

So what happened to Lydia and the children after Henry’s death? We now know what happened to Henry, Susan, Lydia Ann #1, and Harriet, but what about the missing children?

1870 US Census: LeRay, Jefferson County, NY (family no. 611)

Sharp, Lydia        age 33   born NY

Anna                     age 15   born NY

Benjamin             age 11   born NY

Rosette                age 9     born NY

*Rosette = Rose = R. Sharp, youngest child of Henry Sharp and Lydia Ann Croan.

John M. Sharp is missing from this census. He would have been approx. 12 years old at this time. Another example of negative evidence – we would expect to find John living in the home with his other siblings but he is not there.

Schedule 2 of the 1870 US Census New York

1870 US Census Schedule 2: Persons Who Died during the year ending June 1, 1870, in LeRay

John M Sharp    age 13   born NY                died March         Typhoid Fever  (family no. 611)

In 1872 a Guardianship for minors under 14 years document was filed in Jefferson County, NY for Lydia A. Cory to retain guardianship of Benjamin A Sharp and Rosetta Sharp. Lydia is listed as “mother of said infants”.  Anna would have been about 17 years old at this time.

1875 New York, State Census: LeRay, Jefferson County, NY

Anna A Sharp age 19, born Jefferson, is listed as a servant living with the Joseph Child family. This family is next door to the CW Cory family and 2 doors down from the Daniel Cory family.

The Will of Asher Croan filed on 9 July 1883 in Watertown, Jefferson County, NY states that “Rose Woodrow of Antwerp, Benjamin Sharp and Belle Cory of LeRay all of said county of Jefferson children of Lydia Sharp Cory a deceased daughter of said testator all of 21 years of age…”

Therefore Lydia Ann Croan predeceased her father Asher Croan. Rose Woodrow is most likely Rosette Sharp’s married name.

*Lydia is here listed as Lydia Sharp Cory. Lydia must have remarried between 1870 and died before 1883. Who is Belle Cory?

The Jefferson County GenWeb page offers the following information from Child’s Gazetteer of Jefferson County Town of LeRay Family Sketches:

“Joseph Cory came from Keene, N.H., and settled in Jefferson County in 1809 when he was 22 years old. He served in the War of 1812, and participated in the battle of Ogdensburg. About 1816 he married Jane McMullen, of Rodman, by whom he had seven sons and two daughters, namely: George C., Curtis W., Sarah W., Mary Charles B., Josiah C., Henry S., Albert P., and Daniel M. The latter was born January 7, 1828, and has been married three times. His first wife, Angeline C. Kennedy, bore him three children, viz.: Angie C. (Mrs Holland Whitney), of Le Ray; Fred D., who married Ella L. Phelps, of Sackets Harbor; and Charles Lincoln, who married Carrie B. Clark, and now resides in Pinckney, Lewis County. For his second wife Daniel M. married Cornelia Deaker, of Ellisburgh, in 1867, and she bore him one son, Orin P. In 1872 he married Mrs. Lydia A. Sharp, of Black River, who died May 11, 1878. His son Orin P. lives at home with his father. Curtis W. Cory was born in Jefferson County, and for many years resided on the “Limekiln” farm, on road 111, in this town, where he died. He married Charlotte Waters, and they had three sons and three daughters, two of who died in infancy, and four attained mature years, viz.: Caroline, Oscar E., George F., and Emma S. Oscar was reared upon a farm, and was educated at the common schools. At the age of 27 years he married Anna A., daughter of Henry Sharp, of Antwerp, and they have one son and two daughters, viz.: Edith C., Frank C., and Maud E. They reside on road 111, in this town.”

So Lydia did remarry in 1872 to Daniel Cory. I could not find a death record for Lydia or a grave. She is not listed on the 1875 NY State Census in Daniel Cory’s household although Daniel is listed as married. I could not find Lydia on the 1875 census in any other household.

Her daughter Anna married into the Cory family as well. This family sketch states that Anna was the daughter of Henry Sharp. In another gazetteer entry, Oscar is listed as having married “Della a daughter of Henry Sharp”. 

Census records show Oscar E Cory was born about 1848 so he would have married Anna in about 1875.

1880 US Census: LeRay, Jefferson County, NY

Cory, Oscar         age 32   Married                born NY                father born NY  mother born NY

Anna     wife       age 24   Married                born NY                father born NY  mother born NY

Edith      dau        age 3                                    born NY                father born NY  mother born NY

Frank     son         age 2m                 born March 1880 NY       father born NY  mother born NY

*2 doors down is BA Sharp family (Benjamin A. and wife Jenny)

In every census from 1880 to 1920, Oscar E and Anna are living in Jefferson County, NY.

Find A Grave website lists Anna Ardella Sharp Cory wife of Oscar E Cory at Sanford Corners Cemetery in Calcium, Jefferson County, NY.

1875 State Census, New York:Benjamin Sharp, age 16, is listed as a servant in the home of Lawton Cole in Pamelia, Jefferson County.

The Jefferson County GenWeb site has vital records that were published in the Re-Union, a semi-weekly newspaper published in Watertown, NY from 1866-1918. An excerpt from the Nov 28, 1878 issue lists the following in marriages:

“At the residence of Oscar Cary [Cory], November 23d, 1878, by Rev. M. Holbrook, Mr. BENJAMIN SHARP to Miss JENNY PORTER, all of LeRay, Jeff. Co., NY”.

Benjamin and Jenny are listed together in every census from 1880 to 1930 in Jefferson County, NY.

Find A Grave lists Benjamin and Jenny Porter Sharp are buried in the Sanford Corners cemetery in Jefferson County, NY

Rose Sharp is variously listed as Rosette, Roseltha, and Rose L. Sharp. In the 1875 New York State Census, she is living with the family of Charles H. Brown and listed as the sister in law. In 1880, she is also listed as living with the Brown family, this time as a servant.

1875 New York State Census

*If Rose is the sister in law of Charles, does that mean that she is the sister to his wife Martha? Who is Martha Brown?

The Jefferson County GenWeb listed the following marriage in the excerpts from the Re-Union paper:

“In Philadelphia, NY, December 29, 1880, by Rev. D. D. Dean, Mr. SPENCER B. WOODWARD of Antwerp, and Miss ROSE L. SHARP of Philadelphia, NY”.

Unfortunately, I cannot find this family in any census until 1905 in LeRay, Jefferson County NY. Only Spencer B and Rosetta L Woodward are listed.

Find A Grave lists Roseltha buried in the Black River Cemetery in Jefferson County, NY. The memorial states,” Woodward Roseltha 1860 1907 Spencer… news papers report her being very “low” at the end of September 1907”

Spencer’s death occurred on 23 Feb 1925 in Ohio. He shares a headstone with Roseltha, but his death date is not carved into the stone. His death certificate from Michigan states that he was buried in Black River NY on 28 Feb 1925.

At this point, I have accounted for the 4 children of Henry and Lydia: Anna Ardella, John M., Benjamin A., and Roseltha. I also have found information regarding Harriet and Lydia Ann, 2 of the children of Henry and first wife Susan. According to his death recorded in his papers from his Civil War service, he had 8 children at the time of his death. The only other child mentioned in a census record is Jane mentioned on the 1850 US census age 7 years. In Part 6, I will search for the 2 missing children of Henry and Susan Sharp.

Tips from today:

Details, details, details! It makes all the difference on the challenging cases.
Collateral research! Look into all the relatives you can find. In the 19th century and before people tended to stick with their families and stay in the same locations. Many people are inter-related in these communities and finding out how can help you with your direct ancestors sometimes.

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