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Jersey County GenWeb Success Story, John Ross

Note: This success story was the result of just one small sentence in a newspaper transcription! Read the story and the results below.

I wanted to thank you for providing so much transcribed data on your GenWeb site. I just found out something major concerning my Jersey County ancestors and it was all because of your page. It’s amazing to me since I’ve been doing genealogy for almost 30 years and never uncovered this!

My great-great-great grandfather was John Ross (b. 1829). Previously, I had found him in the 1850, 1860 and 1870 censuses living in Jersey County, and then he disappeared after that. There was plenty of mention of his two younger brothers in town histories and records, but John didn’t seem to be as successful and owned no property. Then in the newspaper transcriptions on your page, I found this:

“January 17, 1868 PARDONED – Oglesby upon petition numerously signed, and upon favorable report of the Warden has pardoned John Ross.”

I didn’t know what this meant, so I sent for the record of the petition from the Illinos State Archives. And I received a thick file of letters and documents telling the story of how in 1866 my ancestor burglarized a grocery store and was sentenced to three years in prison. A year later, James C. Ross organized an petition to get his brother John pardoned. It sounds like my ancestor was the black sheep of the family!

I have transcribed the file and was wondering if you might want to put it on your GenWeb page. There are letters written by prominent people in Jerseyville and the petition itself was signed by 162 men. There was also an interesting letter included from ten men who didn’t want my ancestor pardoned! I have included my transcription below. As a side note, the 14 year-old son of John Ross who was involved in the crime was my great-great grandfather, James Ross. He would marry his first cousin Mary E. Luckey in 1872 and move to Labette County, Kansas in 1878. He had five children, but died of pneumonia in 1884 after trying to repair his roof in a sleet storm.

Thanks again for the great GenWeb site!

Laura Mitchell, Brooklyn, NY, [email protected]