Wednesday, February 5, 2014

52 Ancestors -- Week 5: Leah Wollam

This is week 5 of the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge” by Amy Crow from No Story Too Small.

Leah Wollam was my husband’s 3rd great-grandmother. She was born 9 April 1800 in Maryland to John Jacob Wollam and Sarah Duffield.[1]  Most trees found online do not show Leah as a daughter of John J Wollam and Sarah Duffield. Sons Peter, John Balser and Ratchford are often mentioned. However, with John J and Sarah being married 24 Apr 1797,[2] there is a possibility that they could have had a daughter born in 1800 before the four boys were born.

Columbiana Co OH, Marriage records 1818-1833 vol 2, p 273
She married Amos Gorrell in Columbiana County, Ohio on 24 May 1827.[3]  Between them, they had six children: Sarah, James, Duffield, John, Amos Jr, and Joseph Wollam. Only Amos and Joseph lived to adulthood. My husband is descended through Amos Gorrell Jr.

The four older children died within the month of March in 1841 due to an epidemic.[4]  From research on the Internet, yellow fever was prevalent in 1841 throughout the United States and especially in the south.[5] It must have been very sad to lose four children in such a short time. How did the two younger boys manage to survive? As well as the parents?

Leah lived a long life, dying 20 Nov 1873 at the age of 73. Amos would live another seventeen years, and even married again to Sarah Monroe, who was 43 years younger. Also from the 1870 census, it stated she could not write however there was no record of that on earlier census records.[6]

Leah and Amos are buried in the Denver Cemetery in Ross County, Ohio.[7] Her tombstone reads:
Wife of
Nov 20,
73ys 7mo

It was her death record in Ross County where I discovered the name of her parents: John Wollam and Sarah D. Wollam. 

My next step is to make the parent-child connection to Leah.  My to do list will include:
  • Finding John J Wollam in the 1800, 1810, and 1820 census records. Of course these records did not name every member of the family, only the head of household. However there are tick marks indicating other members of the family. What I will need to do is find every John Wollam (or variation of his last name) and analyze for each census year. I’m thinking a spreadsheet might work well for this.
  • Checking land records. When did John Wollam move from Virginia to Maryland to Columbiana County, Ohio?
  • Checking probate records of John Wollam or Sarah Wollam. Did either name Leah Gorrell?
  • Checking tax records. That might give a clue to time the family moved to Ohio.

[1] Ross County Death Records, Death Record of Leah Wollam, Ross County, Ohio Death Records, Bk B1, p 48, FHL film 0281659.
[2] West Virginia, Division of Culture & History, Marriage Record Search, digital images,, 1797, p 12, Berkeley Co, Wollam-Duffield.
[3] Ohio, "Ohio County Marriages 1789-1994", database & digital images, (, Columbiana Marriages Records 1818-1833 vol 2, p 273, Gorrel-Wollem.
[4] “Questions re Grandfather Amos Gorrell,” probably written by Ada May Gorrell Thomason, date unknown, currently part of the George Gorrell Papers, privately held by Lisa S. Gorrell, [address for private use].
[5] “List of Epidemics,” Wikipedia ( : accessed 4 Feb 2014).
[6] Ohio, Ross Co, 1870 U.S. census,, digital images ( National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), M593, roll 1263; p 708A, household 200, Amous Gorrell.
[7] Tombstone Inscriptions Huntington Township Ross Co, Ohio, compiled by Ross County Genealogical Society, Chillicothe, Ohio, 1993, Denver Cemetery, pg 70.

Copyright © 2014 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past

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