Henry "Harry" Billups, Pittsburgh, 1890

 checklist

Note: This article has been updated over the years, as I found more information. The current list of places I have looked for Henry "Harry" Billups' death is at the end of the article.

Introduction

First of all, I have good reason to believe that Harry died by September 1892. Our family had a note written by Harry's son-in-law which said that Harry died at age 46. He was born in September 1845, so he would have turned 47 in September 1892. All the other information in that note was accurate, so I think the information about Harry is correct also.

Separate from that note, we were told by older family members that Henry and his wife died in a carriage accident. Agnes, we have come to learn, died of breast cancer. But did Henry die in a carriage accident himself?

Last seen alive

Henry Billups was last known to be alive in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in January and February 1890. According to the Pittsburgh Dispatch of January 8, Harry was accused of "alienating the affection" of a Mrs. Acor. Harry was said to have left Pittsburgh for an unknown destination.

On February 1, the Dispatch carried an article in which Mr. Acor said he had located Harry Billups in Youngstown, Ohio. Harry denied knowing the whereabouts of Mrs. Acor, but her husband said he believed she was still in Youngstown.

September 2018

In September 2018, I posted a request on the United States forum at rootschat.com, hoping that someone could find a reference to either Henry Billups or James Acor in Youngstown in the years 1890 to 1892. That thread is at Newspaper lookup, Youngstown, Ohio, 1890 - 1892.

One of the replies pointed out that Henry is not found on the Mahoning County Coroners Inquests, 1883-1908, which are online. So the good news is that he didn't die under suspicious circumstances in Youngstown, and probably didn't die there at all.

Mrs Acor

The response to the rootschat post also turned up this interesting information about Mrs Acor:


The Pittsburgh Press - 30 September 1893
Applications for divorce.
Alice Amelia Acor charges her husband James Acor with cruelty.

and


Pittsburgh Daily Post - 20 March 1895 - page 4 -
Divorce was granted to Amelia Alice Acor from James Acor. Testimony related to a horrible story of the life of an unhappily married couple.
Married 23 January 1873 and lived a miserable existence until July 19 1893.
When married the libellant lived on South Diamond Street but at the time of the suit was entered she lived with her children in the rear of 25 Goodrich Street Allegheny.
The last heard of Acor was when he worked in the workhouse in September 1893. Several witness corroborated Mrs Acor's testimony.

Another rootschatter pointed me to the Youngstown Examiner of 1891 to 1893, at Google News archives. A search for Henry Billups, with various spellings of his surname, found nothing.

So, did Henry Billups return to Pittsburgh from Youngstown? If so, did he die there? His brother Thomas didn't move to Jeannette Borough until about 1899, so there is no reason to think Henry went to Jeanette from Youngstown.

Did he remarry in Logan, PA?

March 2019

Further research turned up this marriage record in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, where Henry had lived with his wife until her death in March 1880:

Marriage
December 5, 1886
Henry Billups of Logan
Martha Thompson of Mifflin County

That came from the United Methodist Records, Burnham Charge, Burnham (Freedom Forge), Pennsylvania.

There were no other Billups families in the Logan, Pa., area in the 1880s–at least I haven't seen one. So that groom looks an awful lot like "our" Henry.

Then there is this death information for Martha Thompson, from findagrave:

Martha M Thompson
Birth 1850
Death 28 Mar 1892
Burial Maitland Brethren Cemetery, Maitland, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, USA
Gravesite Details 42y 2m 12d Wife of Wm Thompson

Note that Mrs Thompson died in 1892, the year that we think Henry died.

So did Henry remarry? Did he then leave his second wife and go to Pittsburgh, and Youngstown? Did he return to Logan, Mifflin County, and die in a carriage accident with his wife? Then did her family bury her as "Thompson" with her first husband? And did the county bury Henry? The search goes on.

A lookup request for Henry Billups in Cemeteries of Mifflin County, volumes 1 and 2, by Bob and Mary Closson, returned no listing for him. The two Billups in Mifflin County were:

Church Hill Cemetery, Section B reads "M12 Mary E. Billups 1887-1955"
St Mark's Episcopal Cemetery, Oldest Section Lot 97 1
(2 graves) Billups, Agnes 1846-1880
2 Lake, William Civil War Veteran

William Lake doesn't seem to have any connection to the Billups, other than living in Mifflin County. One question though is: his wife Elizabeth is a widow in 1880, so he died before Agnes. Maybe Henry only purchased one plot. But at least we know Henry is not buried in the same lot as his wife.

A Brief Timeline

March 3, 1880, Agnes (Gratton) Billups dies in Logan.
June 1, 1880, Henry and sons John and James William, on census of Derry, Mifflin County.
April 27, 1882, son James William dies in Philadelphia.
December 5, 1886, Henry weds Mrs Martha Thompson, in Logan, Pennsylvania?
before 1890: Henry's nose is broken in a fight with a policeman in Philadelphia, according to Mr James Acor of Pittsburgh.
January and February 1890, Henry is charged with alienating the affection of Amelia (Mrs James) Acor, in Pittsburgh.
?? 1892 Henry returns to Logan and dies in a carriage accident with his second wife ??

The Records

Here is where I have looked for Harry so far, without success:

  • I'm almost certain I asked St Mark's Episcopal Church in Lewistown if Henry was buried in their cemetery. Agnes is, but Henry's name is not on the stone
  • Philadelphia City Directories  for 1881, 1887, 1889, 1891.
  • Death records for Mifflin county
  • Death records for Montgomery County, including Norristown, which begin in 1893
  • The City Directories of Norristown for 1888, 1890, or 1892
  • 1891-92 Youngstown City Directory at ancestry.com
  • Allegheny County Deaths. A letter dated July 18, 2005 from the Office of the Register of Wills, said they were unable to find any records of Henry Billups. Prior to 1905 immediate registration of deaths was not required, so many pre-1905 deaths are not officially recorded.
  • the Knights of Pythias (Greenwood) Cemetery in Philadelphia. In an email of Feb 21, 2009, the Friends of Greenwood Director said that Henry was not found. His son James was.
  • There doesn't seem to be a Knights of Pythias cemetery in Pittsburgh. Henry's sister, Naomi Jackson, was a Daughter of Pythias.
  • Deaths in Salem, New Jersey from Jul 1891 to Jun 1893. A letter from the State of New Jersey received by a relative in 2010 said Henry's death was not on the records of Salem City/County for that time period.
  • New Jersey Deaths online, through 1885, searched in December 2009 at: https://wwwnet1.state.nj.us/DOS/Admin/ArchivesDBPortal/DeathIndex.aspx.
  • An online search of cemeteries in Philadelphia, Delaware, and Montgomery counties, searched in February 2009 at http://usgwarchives.net/nj/salem.
  • The Records of Homewood Cemetery, Pittsburgh
  • the extant death records of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
  • Westmoreland County Death Records begin in 1893. I did not request a search.
  • Youngstown Examiner, 1891 to 1893.
  • "The St. John’s [Episcopal Church] record does not include an mention of a Henry or Harry Billups, or any other Billups for that matter." -- reply from Administrator for Property and Archivist, Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh
  • "Please note that I could not find any information regarding deaths from 1892 in the following church records deposited in our holdings ... Eleventh United Presbyterian Church (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Register, 1847-1925 (2 vols.)" -- reply from Reference Archivist, Presbyterian Historical Society
  • the death records at Ohio Genealogical Society - Mahoning Chapter.
  • the Mahoning County Coroners Inquests, 1883-1908 at Ohio Genealogical Society - Mahoning Chapter.
  • The Allegheny County, Pa. Coroner's Office Records, 1884-1976.
  • He was not found in Obituaries of Mifflin County Vol. 2 1880-1896, by Dan McClenahan.
  • He was not found in Cemeteries of Mifflin County, volumes 1 and 2, by by Bob and Mary Closson.
  • There are no Billups on the Membership records or Baptism records of the United Methodist Records, Burnham Charge, Burnham (Freedom Forge), Pennsylvania. Database found at ancestry.com as part of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records.

Credits

Image courtesy of digitalart at freedigitalphotos.net.

My Old Ohio Home
Most of the information here is about my family or my wife’s, or about families with ties to Cleveland, Ohio, or the area near Rostrevor and Kilkeel in County Down, Ireland. There are also some unrelated families included that I came across. Whatever the case, I hope the material is helpful in your own research.
-- Ed Hamilton