The Search Begins for James Scott

In researching the ‘declared father’ of Zachariah Scott I had hit a bit of a dead end. The only James Scott in Plumcreek Township was quite old by the time Zachariah was born. On the 1850 census James Scott of Plumcreek Township had a declared age of 77 and his wife Ann was 83. At the time of Zachariah’s birth he would have been about 70 – not unheard of for fathering a child.

But if he was the father than why wouldn’t Polly/Mary or her family have applied for support. If you have named a father in the church record, than it would no longer be a secret, so why not demand financial aid. I researched this particular James Scott, but found no will or documents that would lend any support to his being Zachariah’s father. The only thing in his favor was opportunity based solely on location.

There was another James Scott in the region who was younger, but the distance from Elderton did not make him a logical candidate.

On a recent trip to Salt Lake City, I was working my way through a book of extracted materials from the Armstrong Democrat. These extracted births, marriages and deaths are often the only records that document familial relationships pre 1850. As I always do, I scanned the index for the name Scott in hopes of finding another James Scott in Armstrong County. I was very excited to find and entry and then the following item.

The Armstrong Democrat Thursday, May 19, 1842
Death—On Saturday last, the 14th inst. At the residence of his father in Kittanning, Mr. James SCOTT aged 20 yrs, 2 mo, 14 da.

Backing up nine months from Zachariah’s birth would make his conception about March 1842. Two months prior to this man’s death. This James Scott was born 28 February 1822. This fits ever so much nicer than the “old guy next door” which felt more than a little icky. It also would provide the explanation as to why there was no request for support.

While I can build several solid scenarios around this situation, this does not prove that this James is in fact the father of Zachariah. This is merely the start of the search. I’ll now focus my research on the Anthony and Scott families in Kittaning. Papers for that era are not online and information is sketchy at best, but we’ll see what (if anything) we come up with that might tie these families together. The items I will focus on will be land, taxes, and cemetery and church records.

1. Constance Leinweber Mateer, Early Deaths and Marriages in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania from Kittanning Area Newspapers (Apollo, Pennsylvania: Closson Press, 1997), Death 14 May 1842 James Scott: p.73.

Final Conclusions – Zachariah T. Scott

The case for Zachariah Anthony/Smail/Scott.

1. The only Zachariah of the correct age in the area on the 1850 and 1860 censuses is Zachariah Smail.
2. Zachariah Smail disappeared from records at the same time that Zachariah Scott appeared in records.
3. The baptismal record shows that Zacharia [sic] Anthony was born on 2 December 1842, only one day different from Zachariah Scott’s 3 December 1842 tombstone birth date.
4. The baptismal record states, “Declared father James Scott.”
5. Polly/Mary and George Smail had children baptized in the same church as Zachariah Anthony.
6. Zachariah was baptized in the same church Margaret Olinger’s family attended.
7. There are no wills in Armstrong County for James Scott.
8. Bastard bonds were not required by Armstrong or Indiana County, and no records concerning guardianship or contracts for child support were found for the time period from 1842 through 1864.
9. Neither Zachariah Smail nor Zachariah Scott appears in any court records from 1842 through 1864 in either Armstrong County or adjoining Indiana County.
10. No will has been located for George or Mary Smail in Armstrong or Indiana County.
11. No death record exists for Mary Smail that would indicate her parentage.

My basic research indicates that it was not an unusual practice for a father to be declared at the time of a child’s baptism. With no bond required for support of an infant, the church or family would attempt to solicit support from the declared father by publicly naming him. I have not yet found any extant records that indicate support was demanded or paid for Zachariah Anthony.

Initial research on the line of John A. Anthony suggests he remained in the area, but I have not yet located any records that show his death or parentage. The census records for 1840 in the area have many Anthony families with children that would match the ages for John and Polly/Mary and their exact relationship is still unclear.

My next post will detail the search for James Scott.

Finding Zachariah T. Scott

I was in the process of doing a random search on Margaret’s father, Daniel Olinger, when my spelling accident occurred. I typed in “’Daniel Ohlinger’ Armstrong Co. PA” and hit enter for my Google search. As soon as I did it, I realized that I had misspelled Olinger and was ready to start over when a single item came up in the results. The word “GASTOWN” in the description caught my eye. Gastown is less than three miles from Elderton and many of the Olingers are buried in the small cemetery there. The entry was a transcription of records for the Reformed and Lutheran Churches in Gastown with baptismal entries from 24 September 1840 through 26 January 1889. I was pretty excited about the record as it might document the birth or baptism of Margaret who was born in 1842, so I began to skim the pages looking for Olinger/Ohlinger. The pages had been translated from the original German, so I expected some spelling variations and possibly even different names based on the German version. I did not find a record for Margaret, but what I did find on page 3 of the transcript was a baptism record that stunned me:

Zacharia b. 2 Dec. 1842, Bapt. 16 Sept. 1844,
Parents: Polly Anthony,
Declared Father: James Scott,
Sponsor: John Anthony

Could it be as simple as an illegitimate child? The birth date was only a day off from his tombstone and the date listed on his death record. But how many children named Zachariah could have been born in the opening days of December 1842 in the Elderton/Gastown area? More importantly, how many Zachariahs could there be with a declared father named Scott?

According to the index, this was the only Scott listed in the record, but I still went through every page and looked at every name. I marked all the Anthonys and found that John A. Anthony and his wife Phebia had two children baptized in the church in 1848 and 1849 respectively. Based on their ages, it is probable that John was a brother or a cousin to Polly. These were the only baptismal records with the surname of Anthony.

On Ancestry, I did an advanced search for Zachariah, born 1842, Armstrong, Pennsylvania, with a mother named Polly. I was rewarded with Zachariah and Polly Smail on the 1850 census in Plumcreek Township. This was the same family I had looked at previously, but now the possibility that my Zachariah Scott and this Zachariah Smail could be one and the same, had “legs.” The household consisted of:

George Smail, age 25, a farmer born in PA
Polly, age 28, PA
Zachariah, age 10, PA, attending school
Elisa Jane, age 2
Canann, age 6 mo. Female

The 1860 census placed the family in Cowanshannock Township, which abuts the northern end of Plumcreek Township. The family now consisted of:

George Smail, age 40
Mary, 26
Zacharias, 17
Eliza J., 15
Catharine A., 9
Margaret, 8
James, 5
Mary, 4
Sarah, 3

Back in the church records I looked for Smails and quickly found them under the German spelling of Schmehl. There was a baptismal record on page 5 for Elisa Jane, born 27 July 1848, baptized 16 October 1848, parents George Schmehl and wife Polly. This entry is a mere dozen entries below the entry of John A. and Phebia Anthony’s first child, Elisabeth Anna. Catharine’s 11 December 1849 birth and 4 May 1851 baptism are recorded on page 7 with the parents listed as George Schmehl and wife Maria. Since Polly is a pet name for Mary, I had no trouble accepting that this was the same woman using the more mature name of Mary in the census records and being referred to as Maria in the German church record.

I spent the next couple of weeks trying every search method that I could think of to locate records for Zachariah Smail after 1860, but it seems that Zachariah Smail disappeared at the same time Zachariah Scott appeared. I have not found Zachariah Smail on any census record, burial, or cemetery record, nor did he enlist in the military or die in the Civil War. There are no tax or draft records for him in the appropriate places or times. I conducted the same searches for Zachariah Anthony – he does not exist beyond the church record of his baptism.

1. Gastown Reformed and Lutheran Churches (Gastown, Pennsylvania, Armstrong County), Combined Church Records, “Church Book of the Reformed and Lutheran Churches of Plumcreek,” Baptism Zachariah Scott p3; digital images, Candy McCain, U S. GenWeb ( : accessed 10 Jul 2008).
2. 1850 U.S. census, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Plumcreek Twp, p. 354, dwelling 291, family 291, Zachariah Smail; digital images, Ancestry (; citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 749.
3. 1860 U.S. census, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Cowanshannock, p. 124, dwelling 1325, family 1325, Zachariah Smail; digital images, Ancestry (; citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll 1069.

The Scott, Beatty, and Shaffer Page

The basic page with a pedigree chart is up for Scotty’s Scott, Beatty, and Shaffer lines. This family centers in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. His Scott line is a stalled while I try to figure out who James Scott is, and the same is true for his Anthony line. The same is true of his Beatty line. James Beatty appears from Ireland and marries Rebecca Beatty and it is possible they are cousins, but I haven’t gotten that far yet. I am working the Shaffer line because he is the only father that Anna M. Beatty ever knew. After her mother Nancy J. Beatty married him she was listed in his household as Anna M. or Mary A. Shaffer.

About the only line that I have had some real success with is the line of Margaret Olinger. You just have to love those nice solid record keeping Germans! The Olingers and Younts have been in Pennsylvania since before the Revolutionary War and left behind good church records including baptism records. There is still a lot of work to do, but the basics are there.