Did He Really Die?

Virtually every published source on Clark Sargent indicates that he died in 1847 or 1848 in Winnebago County, Illinois. The date appears in numerous online trees. It’s difficult to tell what late nineteenth century source is the “original” one that first published that date, but it seems reasonable that it was copied and repeated. It has made its way into numerous online trees.

Clark owned a small piece of property that’s sold in the early 1850s by his wife and her second husband. There is no estate settlement for him. There’s no guardianship for his children. It’s too early for a death record in Illinois. There is no extant tombstone. It is almost as he didn’t die in the late 1840s.

His daughter Emmar (Sargent) Osenbaugh indicated in a 1918  Civil War pension affidavit that her father left the family without ever being heard from again and that a few years later her mother married again.  She would have been old enough to have remembered him not coming back and lying about it would have served no purpose in the affidavit. So maybe he really did just run off.

At least it gives me something to think about.



4 thoughts on “Did He Really Die?

  1. Jade

    There could be a court record affirming Emmar’s mother’s right to sell that land. There is usually a statutory time period of absence after which a presumptive death is declared. While the owner was legally assumed to be alive, his presumptive spouse cannot legally dispose of property by such means as deed or will.

    1. michaeljohnneill Post author

      That’s possible. I need to check again as I looked through probates and guardianships for Emmar’s father, her, and her siblings. I did look for a divorce for her parents and didn’t see one either. However I need to make certain I’ve searched all appropriate court records. The deed of sale for Clark’s property by the widow and her second husband make no mention of them acting in any legal capacity other than in their own name.

    1. michaeljohnneill Post author

      That’s what I thought, too. It partly depends upon when, if he left, when he “really” left.


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