Illinois

David Wait Family of Perth Amboy, NJ: Puzzle in the John O. Wait Tree Solved

In the last post, I alluded to a puzzle in the tree of John Oliver Wait, son of David Wait. What I was referring to was the fact that the Wait family Bible lists two children in addition to John’s twelve children with wife Elizabeth Crow: Sarah Augusta Lewis and Charles Smith Lewis. Their dates of birth are such that they could not have been Elizabeth’s children as Elizabeth gave birth to other children around that time. This left me mystified as to whose children the Lewis kids were. It seemed odd that they had a different surname from Wait. I wondered if they belonged to one of John’s oldest daughters, but I dismissed that idea a bit since the eldest daughters were still quite young. Moreover, I would have expected to see a marriage to a Lewis listed for one of the girls. Then I read about the founding of the first Presbyterian Church in Perth Amboy by Capt. John Angus, David Wait, and John Lewis, and it occurred to me that those families and their  descendants were probably pretty intertwined. Perhaps the Lewis children were adopted by the Waits after some tragedy in the Lewis family.

Well, I finally came across some really convincing evidence two nights ago on what the real facts were. I’d often searched for a “Sarah A. Lewis” but had little success. This time I tried “Augusta Lewis” and was amazed to find her listed under the 1850 census at age 14, still in the John and Elizabeth Wait household. That on its own did not provide any revelations as to who her parents were, but I did not see Charles Lewis listed with her, so I thought–why not try to see what happened to him? I’d never searched his name before. Since Charles and Lewis are common names, I decided to throw in the Smith middle name. So I searched under the full name and year & place of birth, and was stunned to find a death record for a Charles Smitt Lewis in Blue Mound, Macon Co., Illinois, who died in 1921 at age 86. Yes, it was him, Sarah Augusta Lewis’s brother, “Smitt” misspelling and all.  Best of all, the record lists the parents: “Juebb Lewis” and “Margaret Waili”, and “Waili” certainly was a misspelling/”mistranscription” of “Waite” (a common and logical misspelling of “Wait”). [Note: Since writing this post, I have seen Juebb listed on a family tree as Jacob; given the crazy spelling of Waili, perhaps Juebb is indeed also a misspelling. ]

So, much like the blog entry Truin and Trewin, Thomas and Thos, this goes to show that it can really pay off to be creative with your searches. Who would ever expect to find Sarah A. Lewis, by using Augusta for her first name? Not me, anyway. (Incidentally, later records for her replace the “Augusta” with “Ann”.) And then for that misspelling to lead to another record with a misspelling of Smith, and then that to lead to Margaret Wait misspelled as Waili.

In summary, my original thought that the Lewis kids were children of one of John and Elizabeth’s daughters was correct. Margaret gave birth at age 16 and then 18. She was still living with John and Elizabeth when she was 34 (as per the 1850 census). Her surname is listed as “Waite,” not “Lewis,” so I don’t know what happened to “Juebb.” The 1850 census does not describe Margaret as a widow, but I assume he may have passed away. Margaret herself passed away in 1851 at the young age of 34.

Charles Smith Lewis married Nancy E. Lewis, an Indiana native. He was already in Macon Co., Illinois, in 1860, at age 25, according to census records. He is listed then as single. By the 1880 census, he is listed with Nancy, 7 years his junior, and three children: Margaret A., Sarah E., and Charles W. (18, 13, and 6, respectively). His occupation is listed as “lumber dealer.” The death record lists Charles Smith Lewis as being buried in Hall Cemetery in Blue Mound, Macon Co., Illinois. I searched Find a Grave’s website for any Lewises in Hall Cemetery and found C.S. Lewis and Nancy E. Lewis.  (I’d never have thought to search for him under “C.S.”–just one more bit of evidence to suggest creativity is vital when searching records.) May they rest in peace.

I’ll keep researching the Waits in Perth Amboy, but at least now, that one big puzzle has finally been solved!

Categories: Blue Mound, Macon Co., Census Records, Lewis, Perth Amboy, US Federal 1850, US Federal 1860, US Federal 1880, Wait | Leave a comment

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