A Young Widow with One Child

In genealogy and family history work, one does not often think of things in terms of young. Often we find ourselves looking at old records and documents, old cemeteries and churches, old photographs and journals. But this week’s topic for 52 ancestors is Youngest.

Initially, I thought about my 5 year-old son who loves to dictate stories to me about grandparents (posts I save in my blog drafts), visiting cemeteries, and helping me load old photographs into FamilySearch. Surely, he is our family’s youngest genealogist. But, as I turned different ideas in my head, I thought of a 6th great-aunt, who was between 6 to 18 months old (born in 1809) when her family immigrated to America in 1810, perhaps the youngest in our tree to immigrate. Then I remembered that her sister, my 5th great-grandmother, was widowed at a young age, probably the youngest age that I have come across.

Jane Bones Holden was born in County Antrim, Ireland to James and Mary (Adams) Bones in July 1808. She joined siblings John, Thomas, James, Eliza, William, Robert, and Samuel and was followed by Martha.

Her father had participated in the failed rebellion in 1798 and things were difficult for him after that. The family left Ireland in 1810 when Jane was about 2 years old arriving in Savannah, Georgia before the 4th of July.

From Savannah, the Bones family went to Fairfield County, South Carolina, arriving there by August according to the 1810 census. Jane’s paternal grandmother, as well as some of her paternal aunts and uncles, had previously settled there. James worked as a farmer.


Cedar Grove

By the 1820 census, James and Mary had moved to Edgefield, South Carolina with the five youngest children. They moved into a home called Cedar Grove in 1825, which was purchased for them by their eldest son, John Bones.

If Jane moved with her parents to Cedar Grove, she would have only been there a short time. That same year, she married John Holden. Almost nothing is known about John. A family history states that Jane was “left [a] young widow with one child, Eliza Bones Holden.”

Eliza was born in July 1827. Since there are no other children for Jane and John, and John doesn’t appear in the 1830 census, his death most likely occurred between 1827 and 1830. If so, Jane would have been between 19 and 22 years old when she became a widow. She never remarried.

It’s unclear where Jane lived while she raised Eliza. In the 1840 census, it is possible that she is living with her father, James, along with another couple with 2 children (her mother died in 1835). James passed away the following year. Jane inherited half her father’s estate.

At the age of 15, Eliza married James Lodwick Hill in 1842. They would have 8 children. The census records for 1850, 1860, and 1870 record Jane living in Edgefield, South Carolina with Eliza, James, and their children.


In 1870, her eldest brother, John, died. After $10,000 was given to his adopted daughter, who was also his first wife’s niece, his estate was divided into six parts. Jane received one of those six parts.

Jane died 20 March 1873 in Edgefield, Edgefield County, South Carolina at the age of 64. She was buried in the Blocker family cemetery in Edgefield. Eliza died just a few months later on 18 July and was buried in the same cemetery.

7 thoughts on “A Young Widow with One Child

    • julie says:

      Yes! He also seems to have been very generous. In addition to the niece mentioned, he helped raise some of the nieces and nephews of his 2nd wife. They also were left a part of his estate. He is such an interesting man.

      As an aside, I’m related to him 2 ways: he is the brother of my 5th great-grandmother (Jane) and he is the brother-in-law to two of my 4th great-grandmothers: sisters Martha (Eve) Longstreet, whose daughter he adopted, and Mary (Eve) Carmichael.

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