The first time I encountered John Pemberton was when I was searching for my great-great-grandfather, Lovell Hugh Pemberton, in the 1880 U.S. Census. From my great-grandfather's death record, I knew his father was Lovell Pemberton .
In the 1880 U.S. Census, I found Lovel Pemberton, age 2, living with his parents, John and Mary Pemberton, in Armada, Macomb, Michigan. John was a blacksmith born in Canada. His father was born in New York and his mother was born in Ireland . Woohoo! I could now add another generation to my family tree, and I even had possible birth places for an even earlier generation.
The 1900 U.S. Census gave John's parents' birthplaces as Canada, and the 1910 U.S. Census gave his parents' birthplaces as Pennsylvania and Ireland . Therefore, it appeared that John's father was either born in New York , Pennsylvania, or Canada, and his mother was born in either Canada or Ireland. According to the 1880, 1900, and 1910 U.S. census records, John was born between 1835 and 1839, possibly in April 1839. As I was searching the 1880 U.S. Census on Ancestry.com, I noticed that there was a Jeremiah and Susanna Pemberton living in Clay Township, St. Clair, Michigan, only 30 miles from Armada, where John and Mary were livng in 1880 .
Jeremiah was also a blacksmith, like John. He was 68 years old, therefore old enough to be the father of the 44-year-old John in the 1880 U.S. census, and was born in New York. His wife, Susanna, was 60 years old and was born in England. She was also just old enough to be John's mother if he was born in 1835-1836, like the 1880 U.S. census suggested. She was definitely old enough to be his mother is he was born in 1838-1839, like the 1900 and 1910 U.S. census records suggested. This was the only Pemberton couple found in the surrounding area in the 1880 U.S. Census that could possibly be the parents of John, based on their ages. At least I now had a clue!
I decided to start looking for Jeremiah and Susanna in the 1870 and 1860 U.S. census records. I knew John would not be living with them in 1870 because I had already found him and Mary living in Washington, Macomb, Michigan. John was 31 years old (again suggesting a birth date of 1838-1839) and a blacksmith, and his birthplace was given as Canada . A fellow researcher had told me John Pemberton and Mary Ann Coombs were married 30 Dec 1865 in Ashley Village (now New Baltimore), Macomb, Michigan . Of course, the 1870 U.S. Census does not ask for parents' birthplaces, therefore it did not help me in connecting John with Jeremiah and Susanna, as the 1880, 1900, and 1910 census records had done.
I found Jeremiah and Susanna living in Algonac, St. Clair, Michigan, in 1870.
Jeremiah was 65 years old, worked as a blacksmith, and was born in New York. Susanna was 50 years old and was born in Ireland. There were what appeared to be at least 5 children living with them: Samuel, William, Sarah M., Ella, and Charles. There was also a David Finkle and Eliza J. Finkle with 3 Finkle children in the household of Jeremiah and Susanna. Based on her age, it appeared that Eliza may be a daughter and David a son-in-law . Now I had potential siblings for John.
Since John had not married Mary Ann Coombs until 1865, it was likely I would find him living with his parents in 1860. Sure enough, I found a Jeremiah and Susan Pemberton living in Brownstown, Wayne, Michigan, in 1860. Jeremiah was 48 years old, a blacksmith, and was born in New York. Susan was 40 years old and was born in England. John, who appeared to be the oldest child in the household, was 21 years old and born in Canada. This suggested an approximate birth date of 1838-1839 again. The others in the household were Stephen, Eliza, Agnes, Samuel, William, Maria, Almira, and Charles . More possible siblings for John! And further evidence that his parents were likely Jeremiah and Susanna!
A search of the 1860 U.S. Census records in Michigan did, however, reveal another close match for my John Pemberton. There was a John Pemberton, age 23 (b. abt 1836-1837), also born in Canada, living at the State Prison in Jackson, Jackson, Michigan . This John Pemberton was not found again in the 1870 or 1880 U.S. Census records by doing a search of all John Pemberton's born in Canada on Ancestry.com. It is in the back of my mind that this could have been my John Pemberton, considering the census at the prison was taken in June 1860, while the census at Brownstown was taken in July 1860. Perhaps John got out of prison in June or July and returned home. This would be interesting research, considering a prison is involved, so it is on my to-do list to pursue this further at a later date.
Taking a break from John's parents, I decided to find the census records of John and Mary's children. I found two daughters, Elva and Myrtle, living in Cleveland, Ohio in the 1910 U.S. Census. They were living in the household of none other than Hayes Finkle, and Myrtle was the wife of Hayes . Elva was listed as sister-in-law. Also in the household was Jerry Finkle and Roy Finkle, both listed as brothers of Hayes. All had been born in Michigan. Hayes was age 33, and Jerry was age 37.
I immediately recognized the Finkle name as the married name of John's possible sister, Eliza. Since examining that 1870 census record in which Eliza and David Finkle lived in Jeremiah Pemberton's household, I had found a marriage record for a David Fincle and Eliza Pemberton in 1865 . While this record did not mention Eliza's parents, it at least confirmed my original theory that Eliza was a Pemberton. Was Hayes a son or a nephew of David Finkle? If he was a son of David and Eliza, and Myrtle was the daughter of John Pemberton, then wouldn't that make Myrtle and Hayes first cousins? I had to step back into time and realize that the marriage of first cousins was not as uncommon as it is today in the early 1900s, especially if they grew up in small, isolated communities.
Armed with this new theory that Hayes may be a son of Eliza's, I looked for David and Eliza in the 1880 U.S. Census. Given Jerry's and Hayes' ages in the 1910 census record, they should have been born by 1880. Sure enough, I found David and Eliza living in Clay Township, St. Clair, Michigan, in 1880, and their household included two sons, Jeremiah and Hays, ages 7 and 3, respectively .
While this find did make me do the genealogy happy dance, it still did not prove that John was necessarily a son of Jeremiah's, but at least it proved John's family and Eliza's family were at least connected through the marriage of their children, Hayes and Myrtle.
I continued on looking for John's daughter, Elva, in the 1930 U.S. Census. In Toledo, Lucas, Ohio, I found an Elva Harriman, closely matching my Elva's age, who was born in Michigan and was boarding with a widower named George P. Lerch, his mother, and his children . At first, I assumed no connection between Elva and George, and was not entirely sure this was even my Elva. The only slight connection I noticed was that George's children's mother's birthplace was given as Michigan. But something in the back of my mind kept telling me to check out George Lerch and see who he was. I did a search on Rootsweb's "WorldConnect" database, and to my surprise, found an entry that stated George P. Lerch was married to Cordelia May Fink, who was born 22 May 1887 in Michigan. Prior to this, I had found a marriage record for Jacob E. Fink and Elmira Pemberton, stating that Elmira was the daughter of Jerimiah Pemberton . I figured this must be the Almira and Ella Pemberton listed in Jeremiah's households in 1860 and 1870. (Srangely enough, the marriage did not take place until 1894, though Jacob and Elmira were found married in the 1880 U.S. Census and had 9 children before 1894).
To prove that Cordelia May Fink was the daughter of Jacob and Elmira, and the granddaughter of Jeremiah and Susanna, I looked for Jacob and Elmira in the 1900 U.S. Census. I found Jacob and Ella Fink in Toledo, with a daughter, Delia, age 13, born in May 1887 in Michigan .
Now I could connect John's family to Elmira's family as well! John's daughter, Elva, was living with the widowed husband and children of Cordelia May Fink, who was the daughter of Jacob Fink and Elmira Pemberton, making Cordelia the potential first cousin of Elva. I also later found a marriage record for George Lerch and Cordelia Fink, stating Cordelia was the daughter of Jacob and Ellen Fink . Of course, I knew there was still some happy dancing to do, because I had not directly linked John Pemberton to Jeremiah and Susanna.
When I traveled to St. Clair County, Michigan, in the summer of 2007, I did some research at the county clerk's office, and found a death record for Eliza Finkle, stating her parents were John Pemberton and Susanna German . This rang a bell because two years earlier, a fellow researcher had found an online transcription of a marriage record from Toronto in 1836 for a Jeremiah Pemberton and Susannah Jermyn . Perhaps the informant on Eliza's death record confused her father's name, Jeremiah, with that of her older brother, John. Well, another happy dance for the maiden name of Susanna. Now I was still hoping that I would be able to directly connect John with Jeremiah and Susanna.
You may ask why I didn't just order the death record of John Pemberton, since death records often list the parents of the deceased. Well, years before, a distant cousin and fellow genealogist had told me that he had seen the death record and that it did not list John's parents. This was in my early years as a genealogist, and I took his word for it. I laugh at myself now. But, lucky for me, that cousin had also told me that John had fought in the Civil War on the Union side. I searched for John Pemberton in the Ancestry.com database, "Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934," and found a John Pemberton, with a widow, Mary A. Pemberton, from Michigan who filed for a pension. I had read in a beginner's genealogy book that pension records often do not list parents, but that they do often list children and spouse information. However, the book also stated that you really never know what you are going to find in a pension record. There is always a chance, so I decided to take it. I ordered his pension records online through the National Archives and waited about two months.
The pension records came in around Labor Day in 2007. As I browsed through the file (over 100 pages), I realized that this was a gold mine of information. I was just about ready to do my happy dance and really delve into the papers when my fiance reminded me that we had friends comng over to visit. Darn! They stayed about 2 or 3 hours, and as soon as they left, I rushed back to the bedroom where the pension file awaited. My fiance came back there and laughed, saying, "You couldn't wait for them to leave, could you?" I just said "No comment," and gave him a look. The first thing that caught my eye in all those papers was a death record of John Pemberton, which Mary had to submit to prove she was widowed and therefore eligible to receive his pension, stating his parents as Jeremiah Pemberton and Susanna Jermyn !!! Alas!!!! My direct connection. As I studied the files more, I realized there was a 20 page deposition by John stating his experiences in the military and much of his life story. He had to give the deposition in order to receive a pension based on injuries received during the War. He was rejected many times, which explains why there were over 100 pages in the file. The deposition mentioned his mother, Susanna, and his father, Jeremiah. There were also many short statements from many of John's sisters and brother-in-laws and his mother testifying to his character. WoW! The connection I had been looking for, and even the bonus of his 20-page deposition and all those statements from friends and family!!! I still do a genealogy happy dance just thinking about it!!!
 Michigan Department of Community Health, death certificate 8103-16510 (1950), Jack V. Pemberton; Vital Records Office, Lansing.
 1880 U.S. census, Macomb County, Michigan, population schedule, Armada, enumeration district (ED) 198, p. 8, dwelling 83, family 87, John Pemberton household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/search : accessed 10 Dec 2007); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 592.
 1900 U.S. census, Macomb County, Michigan, population schedule, New Haven, enumeration district (ED) 57, sheet 11B, dwelling 286, family 288, John Pemberton household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/search : accessed 10 Dec 2007); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 727. See also 1910 U.S. census, Macomb County, Michigan, population schedule, New Haven, enumeration district (ED) 66, sheet 1A, dwelling 14, family 14, John Pemberton household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/search : accessed 10 Dec 2007); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T624, roll 659.
 1880 U.S. census, St. Clair County, Michigan, population schedule, Clay, enumeration district (ED) 370, p. 14, dwelling 84, family 84, Jeremiah Pemberton household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/search : accessed 23 Dec 2007); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 604.
 1870 U.S. census, Macomb County, Michigan, population schedule, Washington, p. 12, dwelling 88, family 88, John Pemperton; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/search : accessed 12 Dec 2007); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M593, roll 688.
 David Carnahan II, to author, "RE: Lesperance genealogy," email, 16 September 2000.
 1870 U.S. census, St. Clair County, Michigan, population schedule, Algonac, p. 12, dwelling 94, family 94, Jeremiah Pemberton household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/search : accessed 23 Dec 2007); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M593, roll 698.
 1860 U.S. census, Wayne County, Michigan, population schedule, Brownstown, p. 115, dwelling 1017, family 947, Jeremiah Pemberton household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/search : accessed 23 Dec 2007); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll 564.
 1860 U.S. Census, Jackson County, Michigan, population schedule, Jackson (Ward 4), p. 121, State Prison, John Pemberton; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/search : accessed 23 Dec 2007); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll 564.
 1910 U.S. census, Cuyahoga County, Ohio population schedule, Cleveland (Ward 6), enumeration district (ED) 126, sheet 18A, dwelling 278, family 327, Hayes Finkle; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/search : accessed 14 Dec 2007); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T624, roll 1168.
 St. Clair County, Michigan, Marriage Book 2: 476, Fincle-Pemberton (1865); FHL microfilm 976,870.
 1880 U.S. census, St. Clair County, Michigan, population schedule, Clay, enumeration district (ED) 370, p. 17, dwelling 98, family 98, David Finkle household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/search : accessed 27 Dec 2007); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 604.
 1930 U.S. census, Lucas County, Ohio, population schedule, Toledo (Ward 16), enumeration district (ED) 126, sheet 4A, dwelling 70, family 72, George P. Lerch household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/search : accessed 30 Jul 2008); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 1838.
 Michigan Department of Vital Records, Marriage Registrations, 1894, 4: 18, no. 3318, Fink-Pemberton; digital image, "Michigan Marriages 1868-1925," FamilySearch Labs (http://search.labs.familysearch.org/recordsearch : accessed 26 Jul 2008).
 1900 U.S. census, Lucas County, Ohio population schedule, Toledo (Ward 10), enumeration district (ED) 83, sheet 13A, dwelling 267, family 278, Jacob Fink household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/search : accessed 29 Jul 2008); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 1298.
 Michigan Department of Vital Records, Marriage Registrations, 1905, Monroe County, p. 85, no. 886, Lerch-Fink; digital image, "Michigan Marriages 1868-1925," FamilySearch Labs (http://search.labs.familysearch.org/recordsearch : accessed 27 Jul 2008).
 St. Clair County, Michigan, Death Book 6: 195, Eliza Finkle; County Clerk, Port Huron.
 "Marriages at St. James Cathedral, Toronto Aug 1836-1841," Marriages in Ontario 1800-1925 (http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~maryc/old4.htm: accessed 23 December 2007). Original data published John Ross Robertson, Landmarks of Toronto, 3: 395 ff.
 Michigan Department of State, death certificate (no number given), 1912, John Pemberton; Division of Vital Statistics, Lansing; widow's pension application no. 998,000, certificate no. 759,851; service of John Pemberton (Pvt., Co. C, 1st Michigan Vol. Cav., Civil War); Case Files of Approved Pension Applications..., 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.