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 1
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. Female2
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
Eliza J., 15
Catharine A., 9
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 (http://files.usgwarchives.org/pa/armstrong/church : 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 (http://www.Ancestry.com); 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 (http://www.Ancestry.com); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll 1069.