Where’s the Horse Thief?

My great grandfather was named Willis Lindsey, and during his lifetime a number of his children and grandchildren began to hold annual Lindsey family reunions. Many of the grandchildren kept track of the various family branches and from that activity we have an almost complete record of all of Willis’ offspring, and some information on other branches and ancestors as well. For example, Willis’ father was Washington Perry Lindsey, and Willis’ grandfather was Eliakim Lindsey, son of Archibald. That’s as far back as we know about the Lindsey’s so far as I am aware.

We do know that Eliakim married a Rachel Scofield, whose family has been well documented for several years, but the relationship to which I only became aware of about four years ago (c2001). After emigrating to America the Scofields settled in and around Stamford, CT, for a few generations and then some started moving west. Our branch settled in Hadley, NY, for a while and then several of them moved farther west, as we shall see.

I was doing a search on the internet and had input some of the more unusual family names such as Archibald and Levi Orson (Perry’s brother) with no results and then tried Eliakim. I got a hit and when I went to the referenced page it showed Rachel Scofield m. Eliakim Lindsey. Since that dovetailed with what I already knew about Eliakim, I was excited. I poked around and found several hundred entries of Scofields dating back to 1595.

Even more exciting at the time was to find a half dozen or so with ties to Chautauqua County, my home town area. I’ll return to that in a moment. Anyway, it seems that Rachel’s parents were Neazer Scofield and Thankful Scofield, and yes, they were 2nd cousins! Neazer and Thankful had 13 children including Rachel as well as a couple of others of interest; Shadrach and Elizabeth.

It seems Shadrach and Eliakim had adjoining properties in Stockton Township (but nearer Dewittville), in the middle of the county. Even more interesting is that Elizabeth’s life was intertwined with them, too. In fact, Elizabeth’s and Eliakim’s graves are adjacent to each other in the cemetery in Corry, PA, which is where Willis lived.

Back to the internet surfing: at about the same time I happened on a webpage by a fellow named Norman Scofield whose nickname was Shad, named after my very own in-law, Shadrach Scofield. What caught my eye was that Norman lives in Hawaii, and the very first thing I thought of was Schofield Barracks, the Army post at Pearl Harbor. However, when I looked up Schofield Barracks, I saw the “h” and decided it was just a happy coincidence.

Recently I was doing some websurfing looking for information on WWII generals (I was trying to find Gen. Fredendall, commander of II Corps in North Africa when we got our butts kicked at Kasserine Pass. Eisenhower relieved him and put Patton in charge, but I digress). I never did find anything on Gen. Fredendall but I did get a hit on a site about Arlington National Cemetery.

There were lots of links to biographies of famous soldiers buried there and I happened across one on Charles Brewster Schofield. Hmm, born in Freeport, IL (about 100 miles from where I lived near Chicago for a number of years). I knew that several Scofields had moved west through MI, WI, and IA, so one in IL wouldn’t be that odd. What else? Aide-de-camp to General Schofield, his brother. So I clicked on the link and came up with John McAllister Schofield.

Here’s an interesting guy; Civil War hero, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Commanding General of the Missouri (all of the West), succeeded Philip Sheridan as Commanding General of the Army (equivalent of today’s Chief of Staff), Secretary of War, the officer who first suggested an Army base in Hawaii, and the person for whom Schofield Barracks is named. But the first thing that hit my eye was: born 29 September, 1831, in Gerry, NY! Gerry is about six or seven miles from my home town and I’ve been through it perhaps hundreds of times. A great uncle had a barber shop there. Another uncle used to take me to the annual rodeo in Gerry.

I started thinking; there couldn’t have been that many Scofields in Chautauqua County in the 1830s to merit two different branches. So I did some more digging. I found census records, burial records, etc., that had even my own Uncle Shadrach’s last name spelled with an “h”. I was starting to feel really good about the possibility of being related to a gen-u-wine famous person.

One of the other sites I found was a genealogy discussion board based on the Schofield name as well as another based on the Scofield name. There I found a link to a Brigham Young University site (the Mormon’s are famous for their huge cache of genealogical information), where I found a 16,000 entry file on the Scofields. I looked through that and found John Mcallister Scofield. It listed his father James Jr, his grandfather James, and his great grandfather Sylvanus.

Well I knew the name Sylvanus from picking through the Scofields several years ago. I checked on his name and found that Thankful, yes the very mother-in-law to Eliakim, was his daughter! If you don’t care for genealogy, you probably can’t imagine how exciting this was to me.

So let me set this up for you. Sylvanus had (among other children, not important to this discussion) James and Thankful, who were brother and sister. James had James Jr; and Thankful had Rachel (as well as Shadrach and Elizabeth); and they would be cousins.

James Jr. had John McAllister (the General) and Rachel had Washington Perry, so Perry and the General were 2nd cousins. Every generation of Lindseys after that are 2nd cousins, x removed; Willis was 2nd cousin, once removed, Claude (my grandfather and his brothers and sisters) was 2nd cousin, twice removed; Mildred (my mother and her sisters), and their cousins are 2nd cousins, thrice removed; and I and all of my generation (15 of us in Claude’s family alone) are 2nd cousins, four times removed. Perhaps you can visualize better here.

Blah, blah, blah you say, but I really am delighted to make this connection. Many people get into genealogy hoping to find Dukes and Earls in their past and wind up finding horse thieves. And although I’m not a direct descendant; we have to go back to Sylvanus, the General’s great grandfather, to find a common ancestor; in our family it looks like we can claim a genuine American hero—but I’m still expecting a horse thief.

By the way, the General wrote a book, called 46 Years in the Army, which may be worthwhile checking for in your library.

January, 2005. Addendum and update. Well, it’s good news and bad news.

The bad news: I was always suspicious of the alleged link between James, Sr, and Sylvanus because Sylvanus’ part of the Scofield family is fairly well documented and James wasn’t included in his family in the material I had. I now believe that although it made for a great family story, the connection is fanciful at best.

The better news: However, I’ve since uncovered other material, and it seems that although we aren’t the 2nd cousins I thought, there is a link but it goes back at least four more generations earlier than Sylvanus to brothers Richard and Daniel who were both born in England. Daniel is from whom Rachel descends.

The good news: Subsequent study has clarified the question of Scofield’s in Chautauqua County. Apparently, from one source I found on the internet, James, Jr. added the "h" after he moved the family to Illinois.

In any event, serious genealogists should not use the information in this page as the basis for any more than speculation as the line I uncovered from Richard to the General is unverified to my knowledge. That's not to say it’s suspicious, as the link between James, Sr. and Sylvanus was—just no supporting documentation.

November, 2010. Another tidbit of interest. Recently, some of the archives from the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) became available and I did a search on the General. I found a biography written by the Army that had a little more information than I had and that was not in Schofield’s autobiography. It seems that after leaving Gerry in 1843, the family settled first in Bristol, Illinois. Holy crap! Bristol is closer to where we lived in Illinois than Gerry is to my home town in New York. There’s a rustic little tavern there called the Bristol Tap that serves some of the best hamburgers anywhere. Our son had a friend from school who lived there (the town is little more than a crossroads on the old stage trail and a couple of modern housing developments). We’ve driven through dozens of times. The Schofields were there two years before they moved out to Freeport.

April, 2016. More information, and probably much more solid data. Genealogy on the internet has changed dramatically since I started plinking around in the last century. It’s probably still not reliable enough for, say, making application to the Daughters of the American Revolution, but it’s still a good starting point for anyone interested in working out their own family tree.

I was able to track back the three families, the General, Thankful, and Neazer (Rachel’s parents) to find a common ancestor, which I did. That, of course, defines the relationship, and I found that the common ancestor appears to be Alexander Scofield, father of Daniel and Richard, the respective patriarchs of the two principal branches of Scofields concerning us.

Details are unimportant, but analysis indicates that Rachel (daughter of Neazer and Thankful) is a 5th cousin of James, Jr, the General’s father. That would make the General and Washington Perry (as well as Amos and Levi) 6th cousins, thus, let the calculations commence—Willis 6th cousin once removed, Claude 6th cousin twice removed, Mildred (and the girls) 6th cousin three times removed, and me (and my 13 1st cousins) 6th cousin four times removed. Some might argue that’s a pretty tenuous claim to kinship and unlikely to net any proceeds of the General’s estate, but since that was likely settled long ago (he died in 1906, coincidentally in St. Augustine, a mere forty miles from me), I won’t wait for the check. On the other hand, I challenge anyone to come up with a Bacon number any better for their particular family.

Last updated: 07 April 2016

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