Mid-Century Kids

Week 26: #52 Ancestors – Middle

By Eilene Lyon

This brief tale is about two cousins (to each other, as well as to me), who were both born in the year 1850, but whose lives turned out very differently. Both lived in the north and their early teen years were marred by the devastation of the Civil War. Their fathers were brothers who chose divergent paths.

Their paternal grandparents were Thomas Bedford, an English immigrant, and his wife, Jane (my 4th great-grandparents).

Thomas and Jane Bedford belonged to the Society of Friends (Quakers) and all their children were members, at least for a time. The Bedfords lived in Philadelphia for many years, eventually moving to Springboro, Warren County, Ohio.

Most of their children also relocated to Ohio and beyond, but a couple of them remained in the Philadelphia area. All the male Bedfords were skilled laborers, generally in the construction trades.

Margaret Eleanor Bedford was the daughter of Samuel Bedford and Mary Ann Murray. She was born July 24, 1850 in Bath, Allen County, Ohio.1 She had older and younger siblings, making her a middle child. Her father worked as a blacksmith and farmer.

At age 20, Margaret married Chancellor “Chancy” Lewis Brentlinger.2 Chancy was born in Auglaize County, Ohio, and farmed, like Margaret’s father. The first four of their six children were born in Allen County, Ohio. Then the family moved to Adams County, Indiana, where their last two children were born.

480px-Map_of_Adams_County,_Indiana.svg
Map of Adams County, Indiana, showing Kirkland Township west of Decatur. (Wikimedia Commons)

Margaret and Chancy bought a farm in Kirkland Township which they improved through hard work, and where they lived out the remainder of their lives. One of their daughters, Minnie, died fairly young, but the other five outlived the parents.

At the age of 71, Margaret passed away of cancer.3 She was survived by 24 grandchildren, a sizeable clan to mourn her passing. Chancy lived six years more.

Margaret death cert
Margaret E. (Bedford) Brentlinger’s death certificate via Ancestry.com. See citation below.

Margaret may have never met her first cousin, Thomas L. Bedford, who was born November 10, 1850.4 Thomas’s parents were Isaac T. Bedford and Sarah Paxson. Unlike his parents and most of his siblings, Isaac Bedford remained in Philadelphia.

Whereas Margaret had grown up on a 75-acre farm, Thomas L. was a city boy. She attended a one-room country school; he, a large, urban school. Like Margaret, though, he had older and younger siblings, so was also a middle child.

As a teen, Thomas learned the bricklaying trade, probably working with his father, who was also a bricklayer.5 Thomas’s career – and his life – was cut short by illness. He did not live long enough to marry, have children and grandchildren, like his cousin. Sadly, Thomas L. Bedford succumbed to consumption (tuberculosis) on April 22, 1870.6 He had not even reached his 20th birthday.

Thomas death
Burial record for Thomas L. Bedford via Ancestry.com. See citation below.

Feature image: The Quaker Fair Hill Burial Ground in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Thomas L. Bedford was laid to rest in April 1870. (Wikimedia Commons)


  1. Margaret E. Brentlinger death certificate: Indiana Archives and Records Administration; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Death Certificates; Year: 1922; Roll: 05 – via Ancestry.com. The family was enumerated in Bath Township in the 1850 census within a few days of Margaret’s birth, giving the presumptive location. However, she may have been born elsewhere, possibly at the home of her maternal grandparents. 
  2. Chancy L B[r]entlinger. Year: 1900; Census Place: Kirkland, Adams, Indiana; Page: 10; Enumeration District: 0005; FHL microfilm: 1240357 – via Ancestry.com. 
  3. See note 1. 
  4. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/34047932 Birth date is supported by death records giving death date and age at death. 
  5. Isaac T. Bedford. Year: 1860; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 12 Division 1, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 116; Family History Library Film: 805162 – via Ancestry.com. 
  6. Thomas L. Bedford. Swarthmore College; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Deaths Not Ascertained; Collection: Quaker Meeting Records; Call Number: RG2/Ph/G7 3.4 – via Ancestry.com – gives death date and burial information. Thomas Bedford. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Non-Population Census Schedules for Pennsylvania, 1850-1880: Mortality; Archive Collection: M1838; Archive Roll Number: 6; Census Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 1 – via Ancestry.com – gives occupation. 

24 thoughts on “Mid-Century Kids

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  1. Back then moving about meant that you most likely would not see your family again or meet some of your family. Even if Thomas had lived longer, they may still never have met.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do think my 3rd great-grandfather likely met Thomas when he was a toddler. Henry Jenkins made a point of visiting his in-laws when he passed through Philadelphia on his way home to Indiana after leaving California in 1853. He specifically mentioned visiting Isaac Bedford.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. So many families were affected by TB, hard to find a family that didn’t lose someone from it. I didn’t realize that it’s still an issue in many areas, too. (As if we don’t have enough to worry about!)

    Once again, the amount of details you’re able to uncover is impressive!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Now Allen County I have heard of, because of the Allen County Museum, which is meant to be quite weird and contain a collection of objects swallowed by the patients of a local doctor. I’ve wanted to visit for ages, but Lima…ugh. Sad about the TB, which was so common back then, though I find its impact on society endlessly fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

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