Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Working on Wednesday: William T. Slater (About 1790? - 1847), Deserter, Farmer, Justice of the Peace

Up until 1818 when William Slater applied for naturalization in Jefferson County, Indiana, all the information we have about this maternal 3rd great grandfather comes from family stories that I haven't been able to verify.*

According to Slater family lore, William first arrived in the United States on a ship that was part of the British invasion fleet that attacked New Orleans in 1814-15, and at some point he went over the side of the ship and never looked back.

It's been presumed that William was a sailor in the Royal Navy but I think it's possible that he could have been a marine or a soldier in the British Army.**

[Painting depicting the Naval Battle of Lake Borgne, Louisiana, between U.K. and U.S. forces in the War of 1812, by Thomas L. Hornbrook (active 1836-1844). (Image Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Maryland.) Found on Naval History Blog. ]

We can't find him in the 1820 U.S. Census but on July 20th of that year he married (Emily) Jane Wilson in Crawford County, Indiana, and the couple's eight oldest children were born in that state. By 1830, they were living in farther west in Pike County.

[1830; Census Place: Jefferson, Pike, Indiana; Series: M19; Roll: 26; Page: 373; Family History Library Film: 0007715. Ancestry.com. 1830 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.  Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: Fifth Census of the United States, 1830. (NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls).
Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.]


But their ninth child, my great great grandfather George W. Slater (1832-1899), was born in Illinois, signalling the family's move to Lawrence County*** where they remained through 1840. (Their last two children were born there also.)


[Year: 1840; Census Place: Lawrence, Illinois; Roll: 63; Page: 171; Image: 345; Family History Library Film: 0007643. Ancestry.com. 1840 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: Sixth Census of the United States, 1840. (NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls).
Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.]


By 1843 the Slaters had moved again, this time in the northeastern corner of South Audubon Township in Montgomery County, Illinois. Three years later William was elected the first Justice of the Peace so he must have been a respected citizen.

[History of Montgomery County, Illinois, Illustrated Atlas Map Of Montgomery County, Ill. Carefully Compiled from Personal Examinations and Surveys. 1874. Published by Brink, McCormick & Co., of Illinois. Duval & Hunter, Lithographers, Philada, Pa.
Source: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.]


William T. Slater died in 1847; his place of burial is unknown.

Family tradition has one more bit of information about William, asserting that he was born in Yorkshire. Unfortunately there are a lot of Slaters in Yorkshire so that hasn't helped locate a birth record for him. As this 1880 U.S. Census record shows, his children list his place of birth as "England."

[Year: 1880; Census Place: Harvel, Montgomery, Illinois; Roll: 237; Family History Film: 1254237; Page: 283D; Enumeration District: 149; Image: 0567. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. 1880 U.S. Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Original data: Tenth Census of the United States, 1880. (NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.]



*Yet. (But not for lack of trying.) And we're assuming that he didn't change his name after his unauthorized departure from the Royal Navy.
**I didn't grow up as a Slater and I've only heard this story once, from my cousin Susan. If the belief that William was a sailor is based on his desertion by "going over the side" that doesn't take into account the fact that all Royal Navy ships had marines on board or that the British Army troops had all arrived by ship too.
***Where William's father-in-law John Wilson had bought land in 1825.


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