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The Jane Baldwin Family of Walker County, Texas

The story of Jane Baldwin (maiden name unknown) is, on the surface, one with a lot of missing pieces. We might begin with her appearance in the 1850 United States Census in Walker County, Texas on Page 256 A. She is an illiterate widow, born in Ohio, with 12 children (two sets of twins). By the birth dates of her youngest children, her husband died between 1847 and 1850. By the birth dates and places of her children, she and her husband immigrated with their children from Illinois to the Republic of Texas between 1836 and 1838. Very little is known about many of the children, but at least 5 of them have well-traced family trees.

It is my belief that a man named William D. Baldwin is her husband. William D. Baldwin first appears in the 1830 United States Census in Illinois. He appears to be married and has 1 son and 2 daughters. We next find him fighting in the Black Hawk War in 1831-1832.

William D. Baldwin next appears in Texas receiving a 3rd class conditional land grant for 640 acres (meaning he is married) in Jasper County on 03 Jan 1840. Information shows he immigrated to the Republic of Texas in Jan 1838. He also appears on the Jasper County 1840 tax roll paying a $1.00 poll tax.

On 04 Jul 1842, William D. Baldwin receives the unconditional certificate for his 640 acre land grant in Washington County. The primary signer of the certificate is a man named J. C. Thomas. The certificate states that William has been in the Republic of Texas for at least 3 years.

William next appears in Washington County, Texas on the 1843 tax roll. Then on 04 Sep 1843 he makes the unusual move of giving a power of attorney to a man names James H. Holt concerning his land grant. Mr. Holt is given full authority to sell the land. Since we find William in Grimes County next in 1846, presumably he was leaving the area and left someone in charge to eventually dispose of the land for him. Note the mention of J. C. Thomas (and a Pheba Baldwin) in this power of attorney document as being present before the land commissioners with William on 04 Jul 1842 when he received the unconditional certificate.

Some time in this period, William is a witness to a John C. Thomas land sale.

On 27 Jul 1847, William's land grant in surveyed and placed in Nueces County.

From 1846 to 1848 William D. Baldwin appears on the Grimes County tax rolls. None of them indicate he had much of anything, and no deed records for William have been found in Grimes or Montgomery County (from which Grimes was formed in 1846). He is always seen paying a small tax with no land, horses, cattle, etc. It is not known why he is in Grimes County now, why he is not living on his land in Nueces County, and where he is living or who he is living with in Grimes County. (Is he living with John C. Thomas?)

During the 1846 to 1848 period William also appears on the Nueces County tax rolls. This is probably solely due to the fact that he a land owner in the county. Since he is paying a poll tax in Grimes County in these years, he is likely living in Grimes County.

The next we see of William he has died in Grimes County. His estate is in probate in June 1849. John C. Thomas is requesting and receives Letters of Administration at the request of the unnamed widow (remember Jane was illiterate and likely would not have been able to represent herself). No other mention of the estate probate has been found. The location of William's grave is not known. It should also be noted here that J. C. Thomas does indeed appear in the 1850 United States Census in Grimes County. He is with a woman named Louisa.

And so picks up the story of Jane. She appears in the 1850 United States Census in Walker County as an illiterate widow with 12 children. Why would she be connected to William? It is the subsequent events in her life that bear this out.

The land she is living on in 1850 is the one labor of land bought from Daniel B. McMahon (granted to him via Certificate #22, 1st Class, 14 Mar 14 1839) on December 21, 1849. The land was 14 miles N 64W of Huntsville, Texas. Note that this is quite close to the Grimes County line. It is not known where in Texas the family was living prior to this. Also note that John C. Thomas is a witness to this land purchase.

Jane Baldwin is seen on the 1851 and 1852 Walker County tax rolls living on the land purchased from McMahon. She does not appear on the 1853 tax roll.

William D. Baldwin's 640 acre land grant in Nueces County is sold on 28 Mar 1853 in Washington County, Texas. The land is sold by his attorney James H. Holt (via the 04 Sep 1843 Power of Attorney) to George W. Gentry. Since we see Jane on the move shortly after this (see below), it is possible the income from this sale allowed her some freedom.

In 1854, Jane Baldwin is seen in Leon County (near the Limestone County line) as a founding member of the Little Flock Baptist Church. How do we know this is our Jane? In the 1860 United States Census the Jane Baldwin family is living on the edge of Limestone County near the Leon County line (her children Franklin and Arminda are living nearby, separately). Three other founders of the church are living near her (Cothern, Lamb, and Stapleton). And, the church and cemetery are also in this area. So, surely this is Jane. Note also that J. C. and Louisa Thomas are also founding members of the church. In the 1860 census they are found living in Bear Grass, Texas in Leon County near the Limestone County line in the general area of the Little Flock Baptist Church.

On 05 Aug 1854 the future buyer of Jane's Walker County land (William Robinson) writes a letter concerning the patent for the land to "Mr. Tomas". On the back of the letter the words "Favor of Franklin Baldwin" can be seen. (Benjamin Franklin Baldwin, Sr. is Jane's son.) Again we see Mr. Thomas connected to Jane Baldwin. And, it appears that a deal to sell Jane's Walker County land was in the works as early as 1854.

On 23 Nov 1858 Jane receives a patent for the Walker County land bought from (and originally granted to) D. B. McMahon. She finally sells this land on 13 Oct 1859, almost exactly a decade after she bought it. It is important to note here that John C. Thomas is the notary public for this sale (in Bear Grass, Texas where he resides in the 1860 census).

The last we see of Jane Baldwin she is living with her son Francis Marion Baldwin in Limestone County in the 1870 United States census. It is not known when she died or where she is buried.

The constant theme of this story is John C. Thomas. The theory, which is strongly supported by many of the facts, is that his wife Louisa is the eldest child of William and Jane Baldwin (so he is a son-in-law). According to the 1850 and 1860 United States censuses, Louisa was born in Illinois in 1826. This is the right time and the right place. She would be one of the two girls under 5 in the 1830 census (the son is probably Allen M. and the other daughter could very well be Mary if her and Allen's birth dates are slightly off in the 1850 census).

The Thomas' repeated presence with William and/or Jane from 1842 to at least 1859 (and through a move from Grimes to the Leon/Limestone County area) is a strong indicator of family ties.

The only other documented Baldwin that arrived in Texas in time to have a child by 1838 is a James R. Baldwin. However, his conditional and unconditional land grants are in Bexar County, Texas which would place the family far from the eventual location of Walker County, Texas. This decreases the likelihood that this is the right man to be Mr. Baldwin.

The best I can conclude is that William D. Baldwin is indeed the husband of the Jane Baldwin seen in the 1850 United States census in Walker County, Texas.

The William D. and Jane Baldwin Family: (Much of this knowledge is due to the efforts and contributions of Cathy Magleby. I am grateful for her work and willingness to share.)