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Almost everybody who has spent any length of time doing genealogical research has at least one elusive branch of the family. Try as you might, you simply can't get beyond a certain point. For a few among us, that point may be only a generation or two in the past. For another few -- the more fortunate -- all of the the dead ends may be nine, ten or more generations back. Most of us find a road block or two in between those extremes.

This page is devoted to my genealogical road blocks. If you see somebody about whom you have information, please let me know at

John LANE and Hannah Elizabeth MOFFETT
John McCULLOUGH (1808-1863) and Elizabeth BELL (1809-1886)

I have been chasing my great-great grandparents, John and Hannah Elizabeth LANE, since I began my genealogical research in late 1985. I made a breakthrough on Hannah in 2004 and at the end of 2013 am making progress on sorting out John's children, but have many unanswered questions remaining on John's life and his ancestry.

Hannah E. Moffett married John A. Lane on 18 Dec. 1855 in Kent County, Md. It was John's second marriage. He had previously married Henrietta Miller on 15 July 1850 in Kent County. From the 1850 Kent County, Md., census and other sources, I know Hannah is a daughter of Enoch A. Moffett and Martha A. Griffin and that the Moffett family of Kent County can be traced back to Scotland, arriving in Maryland in the 1600s.

In 2010, I received pictures of Hannah's grave in Chesterville, Md., showing that she died 10 May 1866. John married for a third time, either before or after moving to Clinton County, Ill., in time for the 1870 census.

These findings are consistent with a note that came into my possession in mid 1998, although my interpretation of the name of the first wife in that note missed the mark. The note was apparently written by my mother based on information supplied by her mother. I do not know when it was written but it was probably in the 1940s or early 1950s. My mother died in 1959. Her mother died in 1945. What follows are the information in that note and my questions.

John LANE was born at sea between England and America (census information suggests about 1820). His father (name unknown) had died in England and his mother (name unknown) was on her way to her brother, who lived in Wilmington, Del. John's mother died when he was a baby and he and a sister (name unknown) grew up in Wilmington.

When a young man, John LANE moved to Maryland where he farmed and married first Etha MILLON (the note is hard to read at that point but if Henrietta was known as Etta, the last name could be a sloppy Miller). His second marriage was to my ancestor Hannah Elizabeth MOFFETT. According to my mother's note, their daughter and my great-grandmother, Martha Elizabeth or Mattie, had one step brother, one step sister, one half sister and one brother.

In December 2013, I found information that combined with earlier information indicates Mattie's siblings are half-sister Sarah Matilda Lane, daughter of Henrietta Miller, brother James Alfred Lane, step brother William and step sister Emma. The latter two are probably children of John's third wife, Susan. I do not know her maiden name or the name of her first husband. So far, I have not traced James Alfred, William or Emma beyond the 1870 census. Sarah married first Albert L. Prescott in 1872 in Marion County, Ill. She married second James Gilley in Marion County in 1893. She had children with both husbands, although I do not know how many.

According to the note, in 1868, John LANE and his family moved to Illinois seeking cheaper and better land. They first settled in Fayette County where acquaintences from Maryland lived. After one year, they moved to Marion County, Ill. [this information does not quite fit what I have found, although John's daughter, Martha, did live in Marion County in 1880.]

While there is a lot of information available on the Moffetts, I have found far too little about John Lane. Does any of this information fit into your family tree? If so, please contact me at

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John McCULLOUGH's life is well documented after the mid 1830s. My problem is in getting back another generation. The best leads relate to his wife, Elizabeth M. BELL, whose ancestory has been discovered through some joint research by myself and some cousins. But first something about John.

John was born in either Pennsylvania or Ohio 22 June 1809. The conflict in location is in successive census records, although if we are correct in our theory about his parents, the family lived close to the Pennsylvania-Ohio state line. He married Elizabeth M. BELL 17 July 1831, in Pittsburgh, Penn., according to family records. Shortly thereafter they apparently moved to New Orleans where their oldest son, Sharon W., was born 16 Aug. 1833. In 1836, the family moved to Boonesville, Mo. and then in 1840 to Sullivan County, Mo., where John was among the early settlers. John was a carpenter and a farmer. He is credited with designing and building some of the early bridges in Sullivan County.

John was also active in political life. He and his friends, including Joel DeWITT, father-in-law to a few of John's children, were instrumental in sending a pro-union delegation to the state convention that was called to have Missouri join the Confederacy. John was a major in the 23rd Missouri Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War and second in command of the unit at the Battle of Shiloh. The 23rd was an unassigned unit that was attached to Gen. Prentiss when it arrived during the first day of the battle and was among the units that held the Hornet's Nest until late in the day, preventing a Confederate victory. After surrendering with his unit, John was a POW in Macon, Ga., for six months before being exchanged. He returned to the 23rd and was serving as commanding officer when he died of disease at Rolla. Mo. 7 Oct. 1863. At the time he was also a state senator.

There is reason to believe that John is a son of Charles McCULLEY, who was born in Ulster, Ireland. and came to Pennsylvania with his parents, Francis McCulley and Jane Bingham. However, my McCullough cousins and myself have yet to find solid proof.

Charles and his parents originally settled in Chester County, Penn., but later moved to Mercer County, Penn. Charles' land actually touched the state line with Ohio. Charles moved to Ross County, Ohio, around 1818 and died there in 1821. He does not appear to have left a will.

We can account for most of Charle's children, including a daughter, Marie, who married John Proudfoot, and some sons for whom his brother-in-law, Dr. France J. LeMoyne of Washington County, Penn., became guardian. But no document has been found saying Charles had a son named John. The change from McCulley to McCullough is not remarkable -- as best I can tell the pronunciation of the two names was once much closer than it is now.

We know from family tradition that long predates our discovery of Charles McCulley that a niece named Elizabeth PROUDFIT once visited the McCulloughs in Missouri. Until we discovered Charles McCulley, it had been assumed she was a niece of John's wife, Elizabeth BELL, now we believe she was a niece of John.

As for Elizabeth BELL, it has been discovered in "The Bell Family of Mifflin County, Pennsylvania," a 1941 book written by Raymond Martin Bell, that Elizabeth BELL's parents are Thomas BELL (1775-1825) and Mary McALLISTER (1786-1834). The Bell line can be traced back to her great-grandfather, William BELL, who apparently came to this country from Northern Ireland before 1738. Unfortunately, the now deceased Raymond M. Bell told a cousin and fellow researcher that he had not done detailed research on our branch of the Bell line, much less John McCullough.

What we do know of Elizabeth's family are her siblings names and further details about some of them. She was the second of eight children.

Her older brother was John B. Bell, born 1804. He married Mary McFARLAND.

Elizabeth was born 10 August1810, apparently in Pittsburgh. She died 30 April1886 in Sullivan County, Mo.

Sarah Bell married James MARSHALL.

William McAllister Bell was born 1813 and died 1893. He married Elizabeth Stuart McFADDEN. Based on family information that accounted for only two of Elizabeth Bell McCullough's brothers, it is assumed that William and Elizabeth S. Bell had at least two children: Emma M. Bell, who was the executor and trustee of her uncle Thompson's estate, and James M. Bell.

Thompson Bell was born 1815 and died 9 Sept. 1886. He never married. He was an official with the Merchants and Manufacturers' National Bank in Pittsburgh. He visited the McCulloughs in Missouri.

Robert Boyd Bell was born 1817 and died 5 Aug. 1870. He never married.

Thomas Sharon Bell was born 1820 and died 1856. He never married.

Mary Jane Bell was born 1824 and died 1889. She married Archibald MARSHALL. They had a daughter who married Rev. Greenley and at least one son, Marshall Bell, although no explanation of his name has been found.

If you have information about John McCullough or about this Bell family, I would like to hear from you at

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Created by Karl Seitz

Rev 12/14/2013