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Page content last modified: January 10, 2007, added tombstone photos, revised text.
March 14, 2006, amended spelling of the surname from Oaks to Oakes.
December 30, 2005, added complete obituary for Mary Berthena Oakes; several text changes.
August 16, 2004, expanded text, family links, census transcriptions.

FRIENDSHIP   CEMETERY
McDONOUGH  COUNTY,  ILLINOIS

 

LABAN OAKES 1802-1888
MARY BERTHENA OAKES 1796-1883

 

LABAN OAKES
DIED
DEC. 1, 1888
Aged
86 Ys. 9 Ms.

BERTHENA OAKES
DIED
DEC. 26, 1883.
Aged
87 Ys. 11 M. 17 D.

 

Author - Marcia Farina


Laban Oakes was born March 01, 1802 (calculated from the tombstone inscription) in Tennessee, died December 1, 1888.  Mary Berthena Oakes, maiden name undetermined, was born in North Carolina on January 9, 1796, died December 26, 1883, in Hire Township, McDonough County, at the home of her only surviving child - out of eleven.

Macomb Journal
January 3, 1884

Death of an Old Citizen.

At the residence of her daughter, Mary A. Nelson, in Hire township, McDonough co., Ill., died on Dec. 26 1883, Mrs. Bethena Oakes, aged 87 yrs., 11 mos., and 14 days.  Deceased was born in North Carolina, January 9, 1796.  She has been a cripple for the past four years, although her general health has been good until within the past month, she has suffered extreme pain; she bore her sufferings with a christian fortitude, always declaring herself willing to meet her Savior at any time. She with her husband, have resided with her daughter above named for the last four years.  She made a profession of religion 60 years ago, and united with the M. E. church; since that time until her death she has lived a faithful christian.  The funeral took place from the M. E. church at 2 o'clock. Rev. Car conducting the funeral service, after which the remains were buried in Friendship Cemetery.  She leaves a husband and one daughter, ten children having preceded her to the grave.

M. E. Fundenberger


The SOUVENIR and Historical Sketch Of The MAJORVILLE CHURCH compiled by Fay Day circa 1935, contains several references to Mr. and Mrs. Laban "Oaks", one of the young married couples who settled in the 1830s in Hancock County, in what eventually became known as the Majorville neighborhood.  They were charter members of Majorville Church, and Laban was named as being instrumental in the founding and construction of the church.

He is also mentioned in an article regarding the founding of the Majorville Cemetery Association, written by E. W. Huston in the early 1920s.

The 1830 census listing, below, may or may not be for the same family group although it seems highly likely; the lack of documentation and the early deaths of so many of the Oakes children makes irrefutable identification problematic.  There's also a likely connection between Laban Oakes and Rebecca Oakes Trowell, wife of Charles Washington Parker.  Rebecca, whose middle name is found as both Oakes and Oaks (as is Laban's surname), was also born in Tennessee and the Parker and Oakes families were enumerated one after the other in 1850, with but one household between them in 1860.  In addition, the name of Charles and Rebecca's sixth son was Laban Oakes (or Oaks) Parker; their second daughter was named Ada Bethena; Mary Berthena's name appears in her obituary and two census years as Bethina.  This could indicate a family relationship or perhaps Charles and Rebecca were simply following the custom of naming children after friends or good neighbors.

There is a question regarding the identity of one individual who lived for many years with Laban and Berthena.  In 1850 he was named as "Vinson Terrell".  Note that the name of James Oaks, who followed "Vinson" in the listing, was written in full, which usually would indicate that his surname was different than the surname on the preceding line.

In 1860 we see Vincen Oakes; in 1870, the name John V. Farrell appears; in 1880 we find Vintcent and Vcnt Oaks.  Based on age and description, it seems that these listings were for the same individual.

Perhaps his full name was John Vincent (Terrell or Farrell) Oakes, but our -hunch- is that his name was John Vincent Terrell or John Vincent Farrell and that he was Berthena's son by a previous marriage.  (Perhaps the name Vincent is a link to Berthina's family.)  To support this, in 1880 he was identified as a brother-in-law to Enos Nelson (husband of Laban and Berthina's daughter, Mary Ann), although we hasten to acknowledge that the term inlaw was used more loosely in that era.

A pitiable fate awaited Laban and Mary Berthena's male children.  It seems they were all stricken by the age of 30 with - what?  An insidious, genetically borne weakness?  It was passed on to Mary Ann Oakes Nelson's male children.  John Vincent was also, apparently, afflicted.

Of Berthena Oakes' eleven children, we offer the following:

i. Mary Ann Oakes, born in 1826.  With the exception of 1910, her birth state was shown as Tennessee.  She died October 28, 1919, the only sibling to survive her mother, and was buried at Friendship Cemetery.
 
ii. Nolan Oakes, birth state probably Tennessee, birth year unclear.  In 1860 shown as 35 (born about 1825); in 1880, two listings, ages 43 (born about 1837) and 48 (born about 1832). He died before December 26, 1883, probably in Illinois.
 
iii. James N. Oakes, probably born in Illinois; like Nolan, James' birth year is uncertain.  In 1850 shown at age 18 (born about 1832); in 1860, age 25 (born about 1835); 1870, age 39 (born about 1831).  James died before December 26, 1883, probably in Illinois.
 
iv. Elizabeth D. Oakes, born about 1835 in Illinois.  She died before December 26, 1883.
 
v. Sarah Ellen Oakes, born about 1841 in Illinois.  She died between June 1, 1880, and December 26, 1883, burial at Argyle Cemetery, McDonough County, Illinois.
 
  This leaves six children unaccounted for, five if Vincent was also Berthena's son, all of whom died before December 26, 1883.
 

1830 Illinois Census, Pike County, page 464 or 235, line #2

Household of Laban Oaks
Males 0 thru 4 - 1
Males 5 thru 9 - 1
Males 20 thru 29 - 1
Females 5 thru 9 - 2
Females 30 thru 39 - 1
Total - 6

Also on the same census page, line #1

Household of Isaac Oaks
Males 20 thru 29 - 2
Females 0 thru 4 - 1
Females 30 thru 39 - 1
Total - 4

1840 Illinois Census, Hancock County, page 213, line 11

Household of Laban Okes
Males 5 thru 9 - 1
Males 10 thru 14 - 1
Males 20 thru 29 - 1
Males 30 thru 39 - 1
Females 5 thru 9 - 1
Females 10 thru 14 - 1
Females 30 thru 39 - 1
Total - 7
Persons employed in agriculture - 1

 

1850 Illinois Census, Hancock County, page 299a
enumerated September 19, 1850, dwelling #413
[immediately preceding the household of
Charles Washington Parker and wife Rebecca Oakes Trowell]

Laban Oaks, 48, male, farmer, value of real estate 500, born TN
Bethena, 53, female, born NC
Vinson Terrell, 30, male, born TN, idiotic
James N Oaks, 18, male, born IL
Elizabeth D, 16, female, born IL
Sarah E, 9, female, born IL
John Messicar, 6, male, born IL

 

1860 Illinois Census, Hancock County, Hancock Township, page 723
enumerated July 24, 1860, dwelling #3272
[in proximity to Charles Washington Parker and wife Rebecca Oakes Trowell]

Labon Oakes, 58, male, farmer, born TN
Mary, 66, female, born IL
Vincen, 42, male, born IL, idiotic
Nolan, 35, male, born IL, idiotic
James, 25, male, farmer, born IL
John Miller, 23, male, farmer, born OH, married within the year
Sarah, 19, female, born OH, married within the year

 

1870 Illinois Census, McDonough County, Emmet Township, page 448B
enumerated June 25, 1870, dwelling #120

Oaks, Laban, 68, male, white, farmer, value of real estate 2500, value of personal estate 500, born TN, male citizen of the U.S. aged 21 or more
Barthinia, 74, female, white, keep house, born NC
James N, 39, male, white, born TN, idiot, male citizen of the U.S. aged 21 or more, male citizen of the U.S. of 21 years and upwards "where rights to vote is denied on other grounds than rebellion or other crime"
Ida B, 6, female, white, born IL
[continued on next page]
Farrell, John V, 51, male, white, born TN, idiot, male citizen of the U.S. aged 21 or more, male citizen of the U.S. of 21 years and upwards "where rights to vote is denied on other grounds than rebellion or other crime"

1880 Illinois Census, McDonough County, Hire Township, page 403C
enumerated June 15, 1880, dwelling #221

Nelson, Enos, white, male, 55, married, farmer, could not read or write, born KY, both parents born NC
Mary A, white, female, 53, wife, married, keeps house, born TN, both parents born TN
Bethena, white, female, 25, daughter, single, at home, born IL, father born KY, mother born TN
Emma, white, female, 21, daughter, single, at home, born IL, father born KY, mother born TN
Carrie, white, female, 16, daughter, single, at home, born IL, father born KY, mother born TN
Alvis, white, male, 35, son, single, at home, idiotic, born IL, father born KY, mother born TN
Tinsley, white, male, 19, son, single, at home, idiotic, born IL, father born KY, mother born TN
Austin, white, male, 10, son, single, at school, born IL, father born KY, mother born TN
Weslay, white, male, 8, son, single, at school, born IL, father born KY, mother born TN
Oaks, Laban, white, male, 79, father-in-law, married, at home, born TN, both parents born VA
Bethena, white, female, 84, mother-in-law, married, at home, born NC, both parents born NC

Both of the following entries are crossed out with the notations, respectively:
Duplication of #163-3/Ill P 11, L 38
Duplication of #163-3/Ill P 11, L 39

Nolan, white, male, 48, brother-in-law, single, at poor house, born IL, father born TN, mother
born NC
Vintcent [sic], white, male, 62, brother-in-law, single, at poor house, born IL, father born TN, mother born NC

The entries transcribed below appeared on a census page that was hand numbered 11, which was superceded by the stamped page number placed upon completion of the enumeration of all townships.

1880 Illinois Census, McDonough Co., Macomb Twp. ED 163, page 439C
enumerated June 22, 1880, dwelling #102 County Poor House

line #38: Oakes, Nolen, white, male, 43, pauper, single, idiotic, could not read or write, born TN, both parents born TN
line #39: Oakes, Vcnt, white, male, 48, pauper, single, idiotic, could not read or write, born TN, both parents born TN

 

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