Will the Real David Jenkins Please Stand Up…

Week 29: #52 Ancestors – Challenging

By Eilene Lyon

David Jenkins is my 4th great-grandfather. Aside from knowing he married Ann Widdifield Zane and fathered Henry Zane Jenkins, facts about this man are hard to come by. Normally the uncertainty wouldn’t be such a big deal.

However, Henry Z. Jenkins is the protagonist in my gold rush book. It seems a bit remiss to know nothing about his father.

I assume that Henry did not feel close to his father – none of his sons were named for David Jenkins. He and Abigail named their first son William Zane (Henry’s mother’s relation), the second, Thomas Bedford (for Abigail’s father), and the third, Barton Bradbury (after a preacher).

In my post about Ann W. Zane Jenkins, I shared some evidence I have for David Jenkins’s existence.

Ann Zane’s mother and step-mother, Mary and Hannah Jenkins, were daughters of Stephen Jenkins, Jr. His father, Stephen Jenkins, Sr., received a Pennsylvania land grant from William Penn. These folks were all Quakers.

I can’t find any connection between David Jenkins and Ann’s relatives, i.e. she did not marry a cousin. And David Jenkins was not a Quaker. After Ann married him September 26, 1790, she was booted from the faith for marrying an outsider.1,2 She did not rejoin the Society of Friends until 1821, when she appears to be a widow.3

1791 Quaker PA Philly North Minutes 1780-1791 img 182 - A 7-29-19
Excerpt from the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, Northern District indicates disapproval about Ann’s marriage, a precursor to disowning her. (Ancestry.com)

Ann’s grandson, William Zane Jenkins, in a history of Jay County, Indiana, provides: “David Jenkins, the grandfather of our subject, was a native of Wales, coming to America with his brother at an early day.”4 Not hugely helpful.

Ann and her son, Henry, in family correspondence, never mention any siblings to Henry. Could he really have been an only child, born more than eleven years into the marriage? Seems rather implausible.

I can find only one David Jenkins living in Philadelphia during the time period in question. He was a brushmaker living on Cherry Street in the South Mulberry Ward.5 (These two facts remain consistent for tax records and censuses up through 1800.)

1788 PA Tax and Exon 1768-1801 PA Mulberry img 1028 - A 7-29-19
1788 Tax record for David Jenkins. (Ancestry.com)

Ann’s father, Jonathan Zane, lived in Chestnut Ward, southeast of Mulberry Ward and closer to the Delaware River.6 That would put David and Ann living as close as three blocks apart.

The earliest record I have for this David Jenkins is a 1786 tax record for his occupation. That suggests he was probably at least 21 that year, though it isn’t a given. Thus I estimate his birth year to be 1765.

1790 PA Philly Water St East img 136 - A 7-29-19
1790 U. S. Census record for David Jenkins, brushmaker at 51 Cherry St. with 6 people in the household. (Ancestry.com)

The first census record for David Jenkins, in 1790, is a puzzler. Was it done before or after his marriage to Ann that year? The household contains one male over 16, one male under 16, and four females – no ages given.7 Who the heck are all these people, if this is the home of a newlywed couple?

The next puzzling document is for a child named Jesse, son of David “Jinkins” who was buried in a Friends cemetery on September 21, 1792, age 14 months.8 The cemetery is in the North District Monthly Meeting area, which is Ann’s home meeting – except she’d been expelled the previous year. She isn’t named as the child’s mother, and David wasn’t a Friend!

1792 Quaker records PA Philly North BandD vol 1 img 31 - A 7-29-19
Burial record for Jesse, son of David Jinkins/Jenkins. (Ancestry.com)

The 1800 Pennsylvania (not Federal) census for David Jenkins, the brushmaker, doesn’t list any information about household members. David, who apparently lived in the back of a building, was nearly missed in the 1790 census, being put into an addendum, so it’s not entirely surprising he was missed by federal census takers in 1800.

In 1810, the David Jenkins household was enumerated in the Lower Delaware Ward. For the first time, David was not in the South Mulberry Ward. But a look at the map makes it clear that he could have literally moved across the street and changed wards.

There is one male 26–44 (I estimate David would have been 45); two females in that age group (Ann would have been 40, the other could be a servant). There are five more people in the household, four under 16 and one 16–25.9 If David and Ann had this many children, why are there no records for any but Henry?

The other odd thing about this census: David is suddenly not a brushmaker, but a tailor! Those are two very different professions. How did that come about?

2019-07-29_200903

The last census record I can find for David Jenkins in Philadelphia, is the 1820 Federal census. But this one is even more problematic. There are no children and only two adults in the household, both 26–44.10 David and Ann would have been 50 or older. The location is Locust Ward in the south part of the city. No profession is listed.

By 1830, Ann was either a widow, or had left David. Since David doesn’t appear in the 1830 census, and Ann rejoined the Society of Friends in 1821, I suspect he died before then.

Despite all these records, which almost certainly must be for Henry Zane Jenkins’s father, I still know next to nothing about the man: no birth date or place; no death date, place or burial; no parents or siblings; no immigration record; no children except Henry.

Just to throw another kink in the works, on January 11, 1796, David Jenkins was admitted as a trial member to the Old St. George Methodist Episcopal Church. Henry was later a Methodist Episcopal member, so it seems like a good fit for his father. But here’s what mucks things up: directly below David in the register, on the same date, is an Elizabeth Jenkins.11 Henry was born in 1801, so David and Ann were presumably still married then. So who the heck is Elizabeth?

1796 PA and NJ Church - Old St. George img 372 - A 7-29-19
Trial membership record for David Jenkins and Elizabeth Jenkins in the Old St. George Methodist Episcopal Church of Philadelphia in 1796. (Ancestry.com)

Feature image: First Baptist Church of Philadelpha – La Grange Place. David Jenkins and Ann Zane were married in this church on September 26, 1790, before the enlargement of the building as shown here. (Public domain)

David Jenkins on Ancestry.com


  1. David Jenkins and Ann Zane. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Compiled Marriage Records, 1700-1821 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011. 
  2. Ann Jenkins (late Zane). Swarthmore College; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Minutes, 1789-1795; Collection: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Minutes; Call Number: MR-Ph 411 – via Ancestry.com. 
  3. Ann W. Jenkins. Swarthmore College; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Minutes, 1816-1855; Collection: Quaker Meeting Records; Call Number: RG2/Ph/G7 3.38 – via Ancestry.com. 
  4. Biographical and Historical Record of Jay and Blackford Counties, Indiana. 1887. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, p. 396. 
  5. David Jenkins, brushmaker. Year: 1790; Census Place: Water Street East Side, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Series: M637; Roll: 9; Page: 236; Image: 532; Family History Library Film: 0568149 – via Ancestry.com. 
  6. Jonathan Zane, Jr. 1769. Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission; Records of the Office of the Comptroller General, RG-4; Tax & Exoneration Lists, 1762-1794; Microfilm Roll: 332 – via Ancestry.com. 
  7. David Jenkins 1790. 
  8. Jesse Jinkins. Swarthmore College; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Certificate of Removal, 1681-1758; Collection: Quaker Meeting Records; Call Number: MR Ph:396 – via Ancestry.com. 
  9. David Jenkins. Year: 1810; Census Place: Philadelphia Lower Delaware Ward, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 55; Page: 411; Image: 00158; Family History Library Film: 0193681 – via Ancestry.com. 
  10. David Jenkins. 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Philadelphia Locust Ward, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 55; NARA Roll: M33_108; Image: 66 – via Ancestry.com. 
  11. David Jenkins. Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 387 – via Ancestry.com. 

22 thoughts on “Will the Real David Jenkins Please Stand Up…

Add yours

  1. So who the heck is Elizabeth?

    Now there’s a title for a book! I love the mystery you’ve presented here and your research is insightful… just not forthcoming with the answer you need. This leaves so much to the imagination.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Considering the method by which information was compiled, that is by a person, it is amazing to me that you can find as much information as you do. But yes, it is confusing.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I’ve begun wondering if David was actually much older than Ann and possibly had children from an earlier marriage, including this Elizabeth. Given that Ann’s mother died when she was a child and her father (a heavy drinker) when she was 15, she may have looked to an older man to provide some stability in her life.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. I think it’s fascinating, albeit a bit frustrating for you.

    It’s like you’re following these train tracks that just break off into nothing, and then a little while later there they are again, only to break off into nothing again!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It does seem to run off the rails. I think it’s good for me to write about these problems, because I end up looking at all the evidence in a new way. See, it just hadn’t ever occurred to me that Ann may have married an older widower with children.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. To me it sounds like you have at least two different Davids; profession, location, number of people in the household, Quaker or not, etc. I hope you find the bits of information you need to crack this nice mystery, EIlene!

    Liked by 2 people

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