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There are different emotions that arise when I work with the different families in my history. There is pride that I feel with my PARRISH ancestors, and there is a sense of determination with my HULBERT ancestors. I imagine this all comes from researching and trying to learn more about who they were as people and not just the names on my family tree. With my MEDLEY ancestors, it’s just a certain level of sadness. Maybe loneliness too? I can’t quite put my finger on it, even now as I’ve been sitting on this blog post for a number of days, I can’t find the joy in their lives.

Well, actually I can’t even find where Joseph Medley Sr (My 3rd greatgrandfather) was born, or even where he came from before he appeared in Belmont County, Ohio. Initially I was told of the possibility of Virginia, but then I located a reference for his son’s birth in Maryland – and I did locate a Joseph Medley there. Whether he’s MY Joseph Medley or not is a project for another day.

There is a rumor floating about that Joseph may have been married first to a Cherokee woman and had 4 children from that marriage. (Because isn’t there an “Indian princess” story buried somewhere in everyone’s family history?) It’s a story that continually pops up in Medley family circles and yet there is no evidence for truth of the tale…except that there were four children prior to Joseph’s marriage to Jemima Browning. Richard, Joseph, Francis, and Reason are all named in his will as his children. They certainly had a mother. Who she was continues to be a mystery to me.

We can find Joseph in Belmont County, Ohio on the tax records as early as 1816, and he is still there for the U.S. Census in 1820 with a woman and young girl in his household at the time. Is this still his first wife and a young child who either died or disappeared with the first wife (Cherokee or not)? There was no need for a caretaker for any younger children as his first 4 boys were already out on their own and accounted for their own families on the census. Perhaps as a bachelor he had a need for a housekeeper and did the housekeeper have a daughter of her own that lived in the house as well? AND did this housekeeper win the heart of Joseph Medley and he married her a year later (Being Jemima Browning, my 3rd great-grandmother)? It’s a lot of speculation, and I just. don’t. know. I hate it when I don’t know. Let me just throw one more thought out there…IF the female in his household was a housekeeper with a child who turned out to be Jemima…who was the father of this child? In his will, Joseph had made provisions for a Sarah Jones after his four oldest sons. Is this young child in 1820 that Sarah Jones? …Always more questions.

Whomever his first wife was, and whomever these two people were who appeared with him in that census are, we do know that Joseph married Jemima Browning on 4 October 1821 in Belmont County, Ohio and together they had five children.

Transcription of the marriage record for Joseph and Jemima (Browning) Medley.

The only other piece of information we have for Joseph is his will. As mentioned previously, it tells us the name of all of his children, but does not tell us anything in regards to either of his wives’ names or what happened to them. Although he had spent a number of years and raised his family in Belmont County, he was living in Guernesey County at the time his will was written 12 August 1835, and it was proven in court in July of 1837, his death occurring sometime during that time period. In his will, he notes that his oldest children had already “received the balance allowed for them.”, and to his youngest children was given the sum of $500 dollars divided equally among them which was left in the hands of Abner Moore in Belmont County (hmmm…note the J/P in the above marriage record.). We have no record of Joseph’s exact death, or where he was buried.

This is a bit of the sadness that I feel from this family. The unknown. The forgotten. A mother never known (to me). The death of the patriarch. When? Where? A look at a map of Ohio revealed to me that Belmont County is along the Ohio River….perhaps one day, when I make a long overdue trip to Southern Ohio to research my dad’s side of the family some more, I will stop and work my way around the surrounding counties where my Medley family members once lived and hopefully then I can learn a bit more of the details surrounding Joseph and his days spent there.

~C.

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