Jane Baldwin, my 3rd great-grandmother, is the end-of-the-line, dead-end, Brick Wall in the Baldwin family research. Over the last thirty years, I have spent countless hours researching Jane in major libraries, local libraries, court houses, Texas State Archives, online databases, and anywhere else I could think of. I have hired researchers, written letters, cold-called Baldwins out of phone books, posted queries online, and anything else I could think of. A number of years ago, Kevin (4th cousin once removed, I think) and I collaborated our research efforts. He, then, wrote the following article about our Jane Baldwin. Since Kevin did such a great job writing a research report, I am just re-posting his article. Enjoy.
The article posted below is courtesy of the Thompson Family Genealogy Blog: Leaf, Stem, Branch, and Root.
The Mystery of Jane
by Kevin Thompson
by Kevin Thompson
There are probably three significant mysteries in our family that I would like to solve. The mystery described below is the current blocking point in research of the Baldwin line.
In the 1850 United States census, a woman named Jane Baldwin appears as a head of household in Walker County, Texas with 12 other individuals aged 20 and under . The 14 year old child named Frankin (Franklin) is my 3rd great-grandfather. Presumably, Jane Baldwin is my 4th great grandmother. But, who is her husband and where is he?
Jane is one of the most mysterious figures in the family tree. Her story is, on the surface, one with a lot of missing pieces. We might begin with her appearance in the 1850 United States Census. She is an illiterate widow, born in Ohio, with (apparently) 12 children (two sets of twins). By the birth dates of her youngest children, her husband died between 1847 and 1850. By the birth dates and places of her children, she and her husband emigrated with their children from Illinois to the Republic of Texas between 1836 and 1838 (making Jane and her son Benjamin Franklin citizens of the Republic of Texas). Very little is known about many of the children, but at least 5 of them have well-traced family trees.
It is my belief that a man named William D. Baldwin is a likely candidate for her husband. William D. Baldwin first appears in the 1830 United States Census in Illinois. He appears to be married and has 1 son and 2 daughters. We next find him fighting in the Black Hawk War in 1831-1832 [5, 6].
|Signature of William D. Baldwin|
On 04 Jul 1842, William D. Baldwin receives the unconditional certificate for his 640 acre land grant in Washington County[7, 11]. The primary signer of the certificate is a man named J. C. Thomas. The certificate states that William has been in the Republic of Texas for at least 3 years.
William next appears in Washington County, Texas on the 1843 tax roll . Then on 04 Sep 1843 he makes the unusual move of giving a power of attorney to a man names James H. Holt concerning his land grant . Mr. Holt is given full authority to sell the land. Since we find William in Grimes County next in 1846 [14, 15, 16], presumably he was leaving the area and left someone in charge to eventually dispose of the land for him. Note the mention of J. C. Thomas (and a Pheba Baldwin) in this power of attorney document as being present before the land commissioners with William on 04 Jul 1842 when he received the unconditional certificate.
In 1844, William Baldwin was a founding member of the Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Grimes County, Texas. In the Minutes of Organization of the Rocky Creek Baptist Church, those being present were: J. C. Thomas, Louisa Thomas, William Baldwin, etc.
Sometime in this period, William is a witness to a John C. Thomas land sale.
On 27 Jul 1847, William's land grant is surveyed and placed in Nueces County .
From 1846 to 1848 William D. Baldwin appears on the Grimes County tax rolls [14, 15, 16]. None of them indicate he had much of anything, and no deed records for William have been found in Grimes or Montgomery County (from which Grimes was formed in 1846). He is always seen paying a small tax with no land, horses, cattle, etc. It is not known why he is in Grimes County now, why he is not living on his land in Nueces County, and where he is living or who he is living with in Grimes County. (Is he living with John C. Thomas?)
During the 1846 to 1848 period William also appears on the Nueces County tax rolls [18, 19, 20]. This is probably solely due to the fact that he is a land owner in the county. Since he is paying a poll tax in Grimes County in these years, he is likely living in Grimes County.
The next we see of William he has died in Grimes County. His estate is in probate in June 1849 . John C. Thomas is requesting and receives Letters of Administration at the request of the unnamed widow (remember Jane was illiterate and likely would not have been able to represent herself). No other mention of the estate probate has been found. The location of William's grave is not known. It should also be noted here that J. C. Thomas does indeed appear in the 1850 United States Census in Grimes County . He is with a woman named Louisa.
And so picks up the story of Jane. She appears in the 1850 United States Census in Walker County as an illiterate widow with 12 children . Jane's family starts at the bottom of page 11 and continues on page 12.
|1850 Walker County, Texas Census, page 12|
It is the subsequent events in her life that bear this out.
The land she is living on in 1850 is the one labor of land bought from Daniel B. McMahon (granted to him via Certificate #22, 1st Class, 14 Mar 14 1839) on 21 Dec 1849 . The land was 14 miles N 64°W of Huntsville, Texas. Note that this is quite close to the Grimes County line. It is not known where in Texas the family was living prior to this. Importantly, note that John C. Thomas is a witness to this land purchase.
Jane Baldwin is seen on the 1851 and 1852 Walker County tax rolls living on the land purchased from McMahon[24, 25]. She does not appear on the 1853 tax roll.
William D. Baldwin's 640 acre land grant in Nueces County is sold on 28 Mar 1853 in Washington County, Texas. The land is sold by his attorney James H. Holt (via the 04 Sep 1843 Power of Attorney) to George W. Gentry. Since we see Jane on the move shortly after this (see below), it is possible the income from this sale allowed her some freedom.
In 1854, Jane Baldwin is seen in Leon County (near the Limestone County line) as a founding member of the Little Flock Baptist Church . How do we know this is our Jane? In the 1860 United States Census the Jane Baldwin family is living on the edge of Limestone County near the Leon County line (her children Franklin  and Arminda  are living nearby, separately) . Three other founders of the church are living near her (Cothern, Lamb, and Stapleton). And, the church and cemetery are also in this area. So, surely this is Jane. Note also that J. C. and Louisa Thomas are also founding members of the church. In the 1860 census they are found living in Bear Grass, Texas in Leon County near the Limestone County line in the general area of the Little Flock Baptist Church .
On 05 Aug 1854 the future buyer of Jane's Walker County land (William Robinson) writes a letter concerning the patent for the land to "Mr. Tomas" . On the back of the letter the words "Favor of Franklin Baldwin" can be seen. (Benjamin Franklin Baldwin, Sr. , who went by the name Franklin, is Jane's son.) Again we see Mr. Thomas connected to Jane Baldwin. And, it appears that a deal to sell Jane's Walker County land was in the works as early as 1854.
On 23 Nov 1858 Jane receives a patent for the Walker County land bought from (and originally granted to) D. B. McMahon [31, 32]. She finally sells this land on 13 Oct 1859 , almost exactly a decade after she bought it. It is important to note here that John C. Thomas is the notary public for this sale (in Bear Grass, Texas where he resides in the 1860 census).
The last we see of Jane Baldwin she is living with her son Francis Marion Baldwin in Limestone County in the 1870 United States census , which was enumerated on 1 Jun 1870. Jane is sixty-five years old.
By 1870, only TWO of Jane's thirteen children are known to still be living: James M. and Francis Marion. Jane's other eleven children were already deceased or their whereabouts unknown in 1870.
It is not known when Jane died or where she is buried.
The constant theme of this story is John C. Thomas. The theory, which is strongly supported by many of the facts, is that his wife Louisa is the eldest child of William and Jane Baldwin (so he is a son-in-law). According to the 1850 and 1860 United States censuses, Louisa was born in Illinois in 1826. This is the right time and the right place. She would be one of the two girls under 5 in the 1830 census (the son is probably Allen M. and the other daughter could very well be Mary if her and Allen's birth dates are slightly off in the 1850 census).
The Thomas' repeated presence with William and/or Jane from 1842 to at least 1859 (and through a move from Grimes to the Leon/Limestone County area) is a strong indicator of family ties.
The only other documented Baldwin that arrived in Texas in time to have a child by 1838 is a James R. Baldwin. However, his conditional and unconditional land grants are in Bexar County, Texas which would place the family far from the eventual location of Walker County, Texas. This decreases the likelihood that this is the right man to be Mr. Baldwin.
The best I can conclude is that William D. Baldwin is indeed the husband of the Jane Baldwin seen in the 1850 United States census in Walker County, Texas.
Janeʼs maiden name and parentage are unknown. With her sudden appearance on the scene in the 1850 census, little can be gathered of her early life and family.
Jane had 13 children (including Louisa) and two sets of twins.
The children of Jane (Baldwin), and presumably William D. Baldwin:
1) Louisa Baldwin was born about 1826 in Illinois [22, 28]. She married John Covington Thomas.
2) Allen M. Baldwin  was born about 1830 in Illinois . He married Charles Frances Amanda Guerrant (sister of his brother Benjamin's wife) on 31 Aug 1854 in Walker County, Texas . He and Amanda both died before Nov 1869 , presumably in Walker County, Texas.
3) Mary Baldwin  was born about 1831 in Illinois .
4) Martha Baldwin  was born about 1834 in Illinois . She married James Jutson on 03 Feb 1853 in Walker County, Texas .
5) Benjamin Franklin Baldwin, Sr. [1, 37] was born on 12 Jan 1836 [38, 39] in Illinois . He married Magdellen Moseley Guerrant on 10 Feb 1859  presumably in Limestone County, Texas. He was Sheriff of Walker County, Texas shortly before his mysterious death on 22 Mar 1869 [38, 40]. He was buried in McAdams Cemetery .
6) Arminda Baldwin  was born about 1838 in the Republic of Texas . She married James J. Rose on 07 Feb 1856 in Walker County, Texas . She died before Sep 1863 when James is seen remarrying.
12) Harriet Baldwin [1, 2], twin to Jane, was born about 1849 in Texas [1, 2].
 1850 United States Census. Walker County, Texas, Pages 256 A and 256 B.
 1860 United States Census. Limestone County, Texas, Page 335 A.
 1870 United States Census. Limestone County, Texas, Page 198 B.
 Ibid. Page 190.
 White, Gifford, 1840 Citizens of Texas, Volume 1, Land Grants, Austin, Texas, 1983. Page 12.
 Texas State Archives: Records of the Texas General Land Office. File 85, San Patricio, 3rd Class, William D. Baldwin. James H. Holt Deposition. Front Back.
 White, Gifford, 1840 Citizens of Texas, Volume 2, Tax Rolls, Austin, Texas, 1984. Page 87.
 Texas State Archives: Records of the Texas General Land Office. File 85, San Patricio, 3rd Class, William D. Baldwin. Unconditional Certificate (#25). Front Back.
 1860 United States Census. Leon County, Texas, Page 283 B.
 1860 United States Census. Limestone County, Texas, Page 335 B.
 Walker County, Texas Deed Records. Book P, Page 273.
 Marriage Records of Walker County, Texas. Volume 5, Page 246.
 Marriage Records of Walker County, Texas. Volume 2, Page 767.