One of my husband’s collateral line ancestors is Pleasant Mahon, born in the 1770s and died in Pittsylvania County, Virginia About October 1861, when probate began on his estate. I started tracking the Mahon family because Pleasant’s wife, Mary, Polly Williams, daughter of Dave’s ancestor, Revolutionary War soldier Matthias Williams.
Pleas and Polly had eleven children and child number 7 was their son, Williamson, born in 1820, probably in Pittsylvania County. Other than his marriage record, Williamson Mahon left a scant paper trail. He married Martha Ann Bullington on 20 May 1844 in Pittsylvania County and the young family was enumerated there in 1850:
Williamson Mahon, 1850 Census
After their May 1844 marriage, Williamson and his wife had three children in quick succession – Louisa, born about 1845, Angelina, born about 1847 and Jeduthan, born about 1859.
This is the one and only family record I have uncovered for the Mahons. For quite a while, I was totally stumped about what happened to them. By 1860, they were on the eve of the Civil War. I thought that Williamson and Martha might both have died, perhaps one of more of the children had been taken in by relatives, or they might have been mis-indexed.
Even with less common names like Williamson, Angelina and Jeduthan, no trace of any of them could be found.
Thankfully, more and more data is coming online every day and on one of those days, I tried again to find a clue about Williamson Mahon. This item popped up on Ancestry:
Here was a Williamson Mahon, born on 15 June 1820, in Virginia, living in Quincy, Adams County, Illinois on 9 July 1864. Quite a few Mahon relatives migrated to Illinois, mostly to the Coles and Fayette Counties area. Adams County is on the western central border of Illinois, but that certainly wouldn’t rule out that this Williamson was mysteriously MIA Williamson from Pittsylvania County.
However, I also found proof that Williamson did settle in Fayette County for an extended time. The BLM.gov site has two land entries for Williamson, on 20 July 1853 and 10 February 1858.
Fayette County, Illinois
Given that many other friends and relatives were in Fayette County, it is very likely that Williamson lived there, too, for at least the five year span from 1853-1858. However, neither he nor his wife or children are found in the 1860 census in Illinois or anywhere else for that matter.
Even more annoying is that Williamson Mahon can’t be found anywhere in 1870, either, and wife Martha is still among the missing. However, Adams County, Illinois was a totally new place to look and the 1870 census included two Mahons, living together in Quincy, the same city where Williamson was living in 1864.
Lulu was a 22 year old dressmaker and John J. was an 18 year old pressman in a printing shop. Both were born in Virginia. The ages were off slightly, but could Lulu be Louisa, born in 1845 and John J. be Jeduthan, born in 1849? It was certainly possible. If so, Williamson might have died before 1870 and, unless Williamson and Martha separated or divorced, she might also have died.
Next, I checked IRAD for Mahon marriages in Adams County, Illinois. The grooms’ list had only two men and one, Herbert, was way too late – 1898, but the other was John J. Mahon.
John J. Mahon married Elizabeth P. Whipple on 4 May 1875.
The brides’ index also had only two Mahon entries, but one was more than intriguing – that of Angeline Mahon on 4 June 1868 to Warren Lyons.
This is looking very promising because there are three young Mahons in Adams County who are close matches for the three known children of Williamson and Martha Mahon. Although the 1870 census ages are a bit off, it is possible that neither Lulu nor John were home when the census taker came around and a neighbor gave the information, guessing at their ages.
After a lot of further searching, a few more details were found concerning the Mahon children. John J. and his wife had one surviving son, Herbert, who was the other groom listed in the IRAD marriages above.
Angeline Mahon who married Warren Lyons had three daughters, Lillie L. who married John Kirby in Pike County, Illinois; Cora Lena, who married (1) Owen Harvey (divorced) and (2) Louis F. Bright, but had no children and Angie, who is found in the 1900 census, but no further record has been found for her. She is not living with her mother in 1910 and no marriage record has been found for her in Illinois.
Williamson’s and Martha’s oldest child, Louisa, also known as Lulu, married Cyrus E. Hunt on 9 July 1871 in Wapello County, Iowa. What she was doing there, I have no idea. The Hunts moved to Kay County, Oklahoma, where Cyrus died in 1903 and Lulu in 1906. They had no children.
So, who exactly is Pennsylvania Lily Mahon? Like the rest of this family, she has been difficult to track. One day, I decided to use FamilySearch to look for Louisa, Angeline and Jeduthan, searching just by their parents’ surnames. Just one hit came up:
Pennsylvania Lily Mahon Marriage, 1918 Marriage
There is an actual image of the original marriage record, which is cropped in two pieces because the entry is on two pages:
Marriage entry in Ottawa County, Michigan
Here we have a marriage entry for “Pensylvania Lily Mahon,” aged 57, born in 1861 in Virginia to “Wm. Mahon” and Martha Bullington marrying teamster Henry Robinson, aged 53, born in New York to “H. Robinson” and Lulu Whitman on 7 May 1918 in Grand Haven, Ottawa County, New York. Each had been married once before.
There are a lot of Mahons around, but in my research, I’ve only ever come across one who married a woman named Martha Bullington in Virginia and that is Williamson Mahon.
It sure looks like this Pennsylvania Lily Mahon is a child of Williamson and Martha Bullington Mahon. However, if she was born in 1861 in Virginia (and not in Illinois), the family must have moved back to Virginia for a while. It’s also possible that she was actually born in Illinois and the marriage information is incorrect.
A bigger issue is where was this Pennsylvania Lily Mahon for all the rest of the years of her life? If she was a child of Williamson Mahon and was actually born in 1861 (or even in the later 1850s), she wouldn’t have been living on her own in 1870. She wasn’t living with Lulu and John or married sister, Angie Lyons. Where was she?
I can’t find anyone who remotely resembles her in any record before this Michigan marriage or in any record after the marriage. And, what was she even doing in Grand Haven, Michigan? Could Martha have died giving birth to her and a relative raised her?
The discovery of Pennsylvania Lily Mahon has created many more questions than have been answered.
2 thoughts on “Who Is Pennsylvania Lily Mahon and Where Is Her Family?”
I’ve always heard that a family financially needed to stay in one place for a time because it was expensive to move, but like you, my family was all over the place. It makes it tricky to track them. And once again—new info equals new questions—it’s never ending!
Interesting there were other IL Mahons on the west side of the state. I’m descended from William Pope Mahon who left Fayette County, IL and settled near Linn, MO.