NAMES: DeWitt, Gifford, Lear, Ransom, Taylor, Whited

This rather long answer will be a combination of both your requests, 1st for the Lear/Whited information, then the Benjamin & Elizabeth DeWitt.


I have a marriage license for George W. Lear and Mary "Gifford", married in Brown County, IL on 22 Jan 1857. There is no record of George's marriage to a Mary Whited because her maiden name was Gifford, and she was apparently the widow of a Whited/Whitehead (or divorced), who must have died in or stayed behind in Pennsylvania. In 1860 George appears in the census with Mary and two children, one a 1 year old female named M. E. (Elizabeth in 1870, Maria E. in 1880), and the second is a 7 year old female A. E. Whitehead (Ann Lear in 1870, Annie E. Lear in 1880 and possibly Anna Ransom in 1900.

My husband is related to both the Whited and Gifford families by the marriage of Emanual Whited and Jemima Gifford (his 2nd gg parents). From several years of research we have come to believe that Mary C. (Gifford) Whitehead Lear is the daughter of William Gifford and Jane Gardner. William (by then a widower) come out of Huntingdon and Armstrong Co's, PA, accompanying 3 married daughters 1) Rebecca (1820) wife of Daniel Whitehead, 2) Mary (1824) wife of _?__ Whitehead, and 3) Eliza (1829) wife of John Thomas Whitehead. Another of his daughters perished in a house fire in PA - she was probably born about 1826. We know that Daniel and John Thomas Whitehead were sons of John A. Whitehead and Mary Sheckler, but we don't know which of their brothers was the husband of Mary C., or whether she married a cousin of these brothers (my husband's line). Since it may help you get a better picture of Mary, I have included census listings up until her death in 1902, along with the cemetery listing you requested.

From p. 40-41, Cross Roads Cemetery, Cooperstown:

George W. Lear (12 July 1829 - 16 Oct 1898
Mary C. Whited, wife of George W. Lear (6 Oct 1822 - 6 Sep 1902)

Further listings on this couple come from the censuses of Brown County, as follows:

1860 Fed Census, Cooperstown, Brown Co, IL 512/594 (Note the Whitehead child with this family - a definite connection to the Whited family)

G. W. Lear 30, farmer, b. PA
Mrs. M. Lear 35, b. PA
M. E. Lear (female) 1, b. IL
A. E. Whitehead (female) 7, b. PA (This is the Anna Whitehead who is married to Robert Ransom)

1870 Federal Census, Cooperstown, Brown Co, IL 246/246 (note that the children's names are confusing when compared wiuth 1860, and ages are off when compared with 1860):

George Lear 41, farmer, b. PA
Mary Lear 42, b. PA
Ann Lear 16, b. PA (A. E. / Anna Whitehead in 1860 - now using the name Lear)
Elizabeth Lear 16, b. IL (this is probably their daughter (M. E.) from 1860, age should be 11)

1880 Fed Census, Cooperstown, Brown Co, IL 132/132:

George Lear 48, minister, b. PA, both parents b. PA
Mary Lear 55, b. PA, both parents b. PA
Annie E. Lear, daughter, 25, b. PA (once again using the name Lear rather than Whitehead)
Maria E. Lear, daughter, 21, b. PA (place of birth is definitely wrong)

1900 Fed Census, Cooperstown, Brown Co, IL 139/141:

Robert I. Ransom, b. Jan 1873, married 3 yrs, b. IL, parents b. KY
Anna Ransom, b. Feb 1877, 1 child born, 1 child living, b. IL, parents b. IL (doesn't match with Anna Whitehead)
Homer A. Ransom, b. Apr 1899, b. Il, parents b. IL
Mary Lear, b. Oct 1833, age 76, widow, 5 children born, 3 children living, b. PA, parents b. PA

Please keep in mind that all these dates are "secondary sources", at best, and are often as much as ten years off. This Mary Lear may not even be the wife of George W. Lear, but she comes closest, and so we have tentatively identified her as the same one, in spite of the many variations in age, etc. She does not appear again in the 1910 census. It would pay to send for a marriage license for Robert Ransom and Anna _____, about 1898 from the Brown County Clerk. This would identify her maiden name and give her parent's names.



There are two B. F. DeWitt entires in the Cemeteries of Brown County:

West Side Cemetery, Versailles twp, p. 364:

B. F. DeWitt (1862-1935)
Elizabeth, wife of B. F. DeWitt (1859-1931)
their sons:
James M. DeWitt (1886-1950) and his wife Dora Ritter (1899-1968)
C. E. DeWitt (1884-1923)
Homer De Witt (1894-1953

DeWitt Cemetery, Cooperstown twp, p. 42:

Americus DeWitt, son of B.F. DeWitt & Elizabeth DeWitt (d. 1847, age 1 month)

Clearly we are talking about 2 different B. F. DeWitts in these listings, and both married to Elizabeths. The first couple (Cooperstown listing) is having children in the 1840's and 1850's. This is Benjamin Franklin DeWitt Sr. and Elizabeth Taylor. The second couple, Benjamin Franklin DeWitt Jr. and Elizabeth (Lear?) are having children in the 1880's.

I found a family biographical history for the oldest couple in History of Brown Co, IL. I have typed only the genealogical portions of it here.

History of Brown Co, IL, p. 260:

"The DeWitt House"

Benjamin F. DeWitt was born 1810, probably in Ohio and settled on sections 34 and 35 in Cooperstown Township. On April 11, 1839, he was married to Elizabeth Taylor, and they lived in the old house which formerly stood on the corner southeast of the Brick (DeWitt) Schoolhouse.

Mr. & Mrs. DeWitt had sixteen children: Sylvester, born Jan. 23, 1840; Annice, born Aug. 24, 1841; Filena, born June 15, 1843; Jane, born Mar. 6, 1845; Americus, born Dec. 11, 1846, died 1847; Edward, born Dec. 21, 1847; Hellen, born July 4, 1850; John Franklin, born Aug. 31, 1852; LeAnn, born May 19, 1854, married Knowles, died Aug. 1922; George W., born Dec 12, 1855; Joseph P., born 4 June 1858; Andrew J., born May 23, 1860; Benjamin Franklin, born June 21, 1862. three infants were stillborn.

In order to verify the name of of the wife of Benjamin Franklin DeWitt Jr. (Elizabeth Lear?), I recommend ordering the marriage certificate from the Brown County clerk.

I know this is a lot of information to digest, but I felt it better to send it all now that a piece at a time. I hope some of it will be of help to you. Please don't hesitate to contact us with questions. We'll do our best to answer.

Laurie Huffman
Brown County Lookups