Brick Wall Ancestor Series #17: Identifying a Pennsylvania woman's family without a document that names her parents

No document had been located that named Sarah's parents. Could her family be identified?

Have a brick wall you would like us to solve? Send a request for us to research your ancestor and we may feature your brick wall ancestor in a future article.

What We Knew

  • Sarah Love married George Hackett on 8 February 1825 in a Prebyterian Church in Turbett Township, Juniata County, Pennsylvania. The marriage record didn't name her parents.
  • George Hackett was listed in the 1830 census in Richland County, Ohio. Only the head of household is named, but he had a wife and some children listed with him in the tally marks.
  • Sarah's tombstone had been located in a cemetery in Richland County, Ohio, and she died in 1839.
  • The 8 children of George and Sarah had been identified.
  • After Sarah's death, George remarried and the children of George and Sarah were listed with him in the census records.
  • There was a James Love living in Mifflin County in the 1820 census. There was a William Love and a John Love living in Turbett Township, Mifflin County, in the 1821 tax lists. Though these seems to be potentially family members since they were living in the same place as Sarah, no firm connection had been made between these families and Sarah.

Records We Located

  • We first looked at the Newberry Historical Atlas of County Boundaries to identify where Turbett Township was located. Turbett was in Mifflin County until 1831 until it became part of Juniata County. It was also close to the Perry County line. So it seemed very likely that Sarah's family was from Mifflin or Perry County and would likely be listed in the 1820 census since she married in 1824.
  • We looked for Love families living in the 1820 census in Mifflin and Perry counties. We found just one Love family and that was James Love of Milford, Mifflin County. Sarah and George named their first son after George's father. They named their second James, so the second son could have been after Sarah's father.
  • We examined the 1821 tax lists for Mifflin County. Only William Love and John Love were listed. James Love was not listed however. It appeared to be a possibility that James Love died between the 1820 census and the 1821 tax list, and then his 2 sons William and John were listed in the 1821 tax list. In the 1820 census he is over 45 years old and has 4 males living with him that are ages 16 through 25, 2 of these could potentially be John and William. He also has 3 white females living with him who are ages 16 through 25, one of these could potentially be Sarah Love. There were no families living in the area in the 1830 census.
  • We located marriage records for William Love and for John Love in Mifflintown in a Presbyterian church. John was married in that church in 1823 and William in 1824. This seems to match the theory that William and John were younger men and potentially sons of James.
  • We located what looked like the same James Love in the 1810 census in Cumberland County who had children of the same ages.
  • We examined the probate records for Cumberland County and found some probate records pertaining to a John Love of South Middleton, Cumberland County, that wrote a will in 1814. In his will, John named several of his family members, including a son James and James's son John, and his daughter Rachel Johnson wife of Samuel Johnson. John Love left some land to his son James that was located in Westphalia.
  • We located a probate record for John Love in 1820 where he was given permission to administer the property of deceased John Love.
  • We located a land deed of John Love selling land located in Westphalia. The deed said that John Love was selling land that had been granted in a will from another John Love. John Love had left a will (the one previously located from 1814) where he deeded some land to his son James. James hadn't disposed of the property beore his death, and so now James's son, John, was selling the land. This connected that James Love did appear to die in about 1820, and then he had a son John who sold his land.
  • We located a marriage record for Rachel Love to Samuel Johnson in a Presbyterian Church of Carlisle. In these church records at about the same time, James Love married Mary Passel. Since they married in the same church around the same time, they are likely siblings.
  • DNA testing is in progress to find more proof that Sarah Love belonged to this Love family group.


Sarah's parents appear to have been James Love and Mary Passel of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. The documents and sources we gathered are found on the person page of Sarah Love and her family members in the FamilySearch Family Tree, ID G9BL-BLJ.

Have a brick wall you would like us to solve? Send a request for us to research your ancestor and we may feature your brick wall ancestor in a future article.

Need help finding more records? Try our genealogical records directory which has more than 850,000 sources to help you more easily locate the available records.

Related Topics