Archive for January, 2014

The story of James Agnew (1808-1880) and Mary Freeman Agnew (1828-1883)

January 12, 2014

The story of James Agnew (1808-1880) and Mary Freeman Agnew (1828-1883)

        James was born in 1808; in every census account, he says he is from PA. In 1850, he is living in the Cincinnati area. There is a William Agnew, born in 1806, also in Hamilton County, Ohio, who could be his brother.

         James marries Mary Ann Freeman on Jan.2, 1848. They have a baby boy, Alfred, in Sept. 1848. By August 1850, James is living in Fulton Township, Hamilton County, Ohio. He is a ship carpenter. Other locomotive engineers and house carpenters are listed living nearby. His wife Mary, born in Pennsylvania, and little Alfred live there with him. There is a Samuel Agnew, age 72, from Pennsylvania, with him at that time as well. The census record has an asterisk * by Samuel’s name which leads to the bottom of the page and James Agnew age 8. The census says this James Jr. was born in Ohio. Mary is only 22 and was not married to James Sr. at the time of his birth. I do not think Mary is James Jr’s mother. Why is James Jr. listed at the bottom of the census page? What does this mean? Samuel is the last one listed in the Agnew household. The asterisk by Samuel’s name then links to James age 8, at the bottom of the page. Their last name is incorrectly transcribed as Agnewe on

         James and Mary have more children. Mary E. is born in 1851; Lizzie in 1854; Herman in 1855; Sarah B. “Sallie” in 1859; and Hellen is born in 1872 and adopted by the 1880 census.

In 1860, James Jr. is living with William Agnew in the same Hamilton County area. (This is my best guess, as the James here is now 18 years old.) James Sr. and Mary Ann seem to drop off the census map in 1860. In 1870, James, age 61 is a farmer, Mary Ann, age 42,“keeps house” & they are living in Sycamore Township, Hamilton County, P.O. Montgomery. Alfred is 21 and “at home” – was he sickly? Mary E., 19, is a school teacher; Elizabeth, 16; Herman 15; and Sarah B. or D. age 10; all attend school. Mary Ann confirms she was born in PA. & the rest of the family in Ohio.

         By June 1st, 1880, the family is in Sycamore Twp., Hamilton County. Daughters Mary age 29, Lizzie age 26, Sallie age 20, and adopted daughter Hellen age 8, all live at home. James lists both his mother and father as being born in PA but himself in Ohio. Mary Ann lists herself and both her parents as born in PA. Hellen’s father was born in Ohio but her mother in Indiana. She was born in Indiana as well.

         Signs linking them to being Shakers are that all the daughters live at home and are not married? In 1880, to be 29, 26, 20 and not married would not be the norm. The fact that all of them are seems unusual? However, assuming they are not ALL adopted, then James & Mary Ann had a lot of kids. This is another mystery.

         Sallie dies 29 days after the census taker came to their door in 1880. She is buried in IOOF Laurel cemetery, Montgomery, Hamilton County, Ohio, near Cincinnati. Six months later, James Sr. dies here as well, on Dec. 28, 1880 and is buried in though we have not yet confirmed the stone. Mary Ann lives 3 more years and dies Feb.11, 1883. They are all said to be buried together in this cemetery. Their son Alfred lives to age 87, had 2 wives and at least 3 children in his lifetime, and is buried in Ontario, California. His middle initial F. (for his mother’s maiden name of Freeman) is on the gravestone.

         This story now seems to lead back to Pennsylvania. The next generation back, for both James Agnew Sr. and Mary Ann Freeman, begins in Pennsylvania where all their parents were said to be born. Perhaps one is Samuel Agnew, b. 1778, who was visiting them in 1850. There may possibly be an older sibling to James named William, born in 1806, and they both end up in Ohio, Hamilton County. Another important question is, who is James Jr’s mother and what happened to her? Was she Indian? Was she James Sr’s first wife and from PA as well?



James Agnew 1808-1880

January 1, 2014

My husband & I stopped at a cemetery on the east side of Cincinnati on the way home. We did not find the gravestones, but it turns out, the elder JAMES AGNEW was, in fact, buried here in Feb. 1881. However, he died on Christmas day 1880.

His daughter, Sarah B. Agnew died 6 mos. prior to him, at age 21 & is buried there also.
Then his wife MARY dies 2 years later, in Feb. 1883, almost 2 years to the day of when James was buried there.
I have found out they are buried in “section H”. Someone else found this out for me (below).
This information did confirm to me their birthdates, because in old cemetery records & on old stones, they tell how old the person was at death. This is the father of my great-grandfather James who lived in New Albany; or, if he was adopted then it is his adoptive father.
Now we may be able to find out if he was in the Shakers, & if so, there is a good chance that our GGrandfather James was adopted. Now I have to find out if there are adoption records. Wouldn’t that be exciting.
———- Forwarded message ———- From: <> Date: Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 12:26 AM Subject: Find A Grave Photo Request Problem – James Agnew To:
Greetings from Find A Grave,

There are several books on the occupants of the Laurel Cemetery and one of them shows the three Agnews in Section H.  I walked the section and could not find anything, but there are some older headstones that are hard to read and some open spaces.  It was cold, so it wasn’t a stone by stone search.  Here is the information on the three Agnews from the books.

James Agnew, D. Dec 25, 1880, Age 72 years, Occupation – Farmer, B, Ohio; Res. Montgomery, Ohio, Int, Sunday, Feb 13, 1881. Mary Agnew, D. Feb 11 1883, Age 55 years, Res. Montgomery, Ohio, Int, Wed, March 14, 1883. Sarah B Agnew, D. June 30, 1880, Age 21 years,  B, Ohio, Res, Montgomery, Ohio, Int, Wed, July 7, 1880.
You may want to update the three records with Section H and somebody else might be able to get out there sometime soon to do a more through search.