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.1
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.