Friday, November 20, 2009

The Adam Grim Confusion

The Grim line of my family tree has been one that has been difficult to untangle almost from the beginning. The search engines to sift through census records require a minimum of three letters to function. Grim is only four letters long and depending on accents, was evidently hard to spell. I have seen it spelled Green, Grein, Guin, Grimm, Grime and Glen in various census records. Even worse, the web is rampant with misinformation from people who have combined families, combined generations, etc. until what it out there is hard to believe. But this is what I do know for sure or at least think I do.

My Grim line starts with my fifth great grandfather Adam Grim who was born around the time of the Revolutionary War. I don't know who his parents were or where he was born but in 1824, he was in Beaver County, Pennsylvania and three years later he was in Mercer county, Pennsylvania just a stones throw from Lawrence county with his wife Mary where he died. Mary would die in 1871 at the ripe old age of 94. I know this only because one of his sons Balser Grim has short biographies written about him in a couple different books and this is what they have stated. Adam Grim had nine children and third oldest was Adam Jr., my 4th great grandfather. By the time the biography on Balser was published in 1888, both my Adam Grim ancestors were deceased.

Adam Jr. was born sometime between 1807 and 1812. I don't have better dates because in the 1850 census he is listed as being born around 1812 and in the 1880 census around 1807. In 1850, he and his wife Elizabeth are living in the Springfield township of Mercer county Pennsylvania with eight children including my third great grandfather John Grim. Despite lots of searching, I have been unable to locate him in the 1860 or 1870 census though I can find him at age 73 in the 1880 census living with his daughter Elizabeth named after her mother. I can find one reference on Adam Jr. in a book that lists him at a "good natured ne're do well, who like to play the fiddle and chop cordwood when the notion struck him, and brag about the bad things he could do. He moved to Lawrence County. Adam never had any home or land for he was too lazy and doless to be bothered with it." (Grim Family Tree, p.8)

On the web, people often confuse these two Adams and list him as just one Adam Grim born 1812 and died in 1844. Although the census lists Adam Grim Jr's wife as Elizabeth along with my 3rd great grandfather John listing his mother as Elizabeth, many sites lists his wife as Mary Rickle Ryhill. Again, I suspect they are confusing him with his father who was married to someone named Mary with a last name I haven't figured out yet. Finally, there is an Adam German born in Lehigh County clear on the other side of the state at about the same time so many people lump my Adam Grim in with the German family.

I can locate many of Adam Jr's kids in the 1860 and 1870 census. Those that didn't get married and whom I can positively locate in the census are always listed as servants in Mercer or Lawrence counties. I'm guessing Adam Jr's wife Elizabeth died leaving him with a large family to take care of and no income, and they split up. This theory is further reinforced by Adam's son Adam III who is living with older sister Elizabeth at age 11 in the 1860 census, the same sister who would take Adam Jr. in 20 years later. Whatever the case, the family disappeared as a family unit sometime after the 1850 census and went their separate ways, all but one that I can tell, staying in western Pennsylvania two county area. The one who left and my 3rd great grandfather John Grim, would show up in the 1870 census near the town of Morning Sun in Louisa county Iowa where a couple generations would live before migrating to the Davis county area not to far from where I grew up.

11 comments:

R. Sherman said...

Was the surname "Grim" anglicized when they came here by removing an "m?" That's what happened to us: we lost a "C" and an "N" thanks to some official in Boston.

Cheers.

Ed said...

R. Sherman - I would suspect so since two m's is more common but I haven't got back beyond Adam Grim senior to the original immigrant to find that answer.

Anonymous said...

From what I've read Pittsburg or rather Beaver Co. was one of those crossroads places until the advent of the railways. You could have a real headache with your Grim, for he could have arrived from any direction including from the west up the Ohio.

Bye Vince

Ed said...

Vince - I've heard that too about Pittsburgh. But it may not matter as I've had an extremely hard time with this family and have spent a lot of time at this point on my tree with little to show for it. Since I've had some luck posting other parts of my tree, I thought I would give this branch a shot and hope I find someone who knows more about it or at least lives closer to Pennsylvania than I do in Iowa and can do some of the necessary legwork.

sage said...

Certainly a lot of folks moved through the Pittsburgh area with its access to the rivers... with all the name variations, you could write a poem (or, like the other Grimms, a fairytale)

Anonymous said...

I was thinking last night about the time and place. And in a arc around Pittsburg they went a bit nuts building Canals. Where the reality would have been greater re. population than both the Suez and Panama combined, given they were built by shovel.
For your project, the records of the Canal companies, both employment and the records for buying of goods. These Works would have a population way larger than anything nearby, and they would have acted as a giant magnet for every spare ounce of food, iron, horse and man in the greater district.

Bye Vince

Three Score and Ten or more said...

Grim news indeed. Sounds like the canal company records might give you a break.

Ed said...

Sage - Although many people have my Grim in their family tree related to the famous Grimm brothers, I haven't seen any evidence. I think people are just quick to try to find someone famous among their midst.

Vince - I have a feeling I could spend a year out in that area and only scrape the surface. I was out there a couple years ago with about six hours to do research one day albeit on another part of my family tree and after racing around, only barely scratched what I hoped to accomplish. Genealogy can sure be a big time drain.

Three Score - That reminds me. Has anyone ever tried searching for obituaries for a family with the name of Grim? I don't know how many tens of thousands of hits I get for the Grim Reaper or grim news for every one I get of someone with the last name of Grim.

Beau said...

Lots of Pittsburgh history in my family as well. I haven't begun the geneology journey quite yet, and the more I read of your exploits the more daunting it seems!

PhilippinesPhil said...

Seems like most family trees going back at least 200 years ago pass through Pennsylvannia, including mine.

Ed said...

Beau and Phil - I guess it isn't too surprising since 200 years ago, Pennsylvania was about as far west as man safely settled. I think I have found at least a half dozen different branches of my tree, that are from a three county area near Pittsburgh. They lived close enough to each other that they may have even known the other and yet had no idea that their grandkids would meet and marry in Iowa many years later.