Sunday, January 22, 2017

GPS Study Group Week 4: Where Was James Baldwin Born? (Revisited)

Genealogical Proof Standard Study Group
Chapter Four – Case Studies
Marceline Beem

Christine Rose, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, 4th Edition Revised. San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2014.

Where was James Baldwin born?

James Baldwin was a wealthy farmer and pioneer in North Florida, settling here shortly after statehood.1 He lived in several places in North Central Florida, finally settling in Putnam County in the 1860’s.2 He died in Melrose on June 12, 1884 and is buried at Eliam Cemetery.3 He had eight known children, seven surviving to adulthood. All of them remained in the Melrose, Florida area.

James lived in North Carolina and Florida at a time when neither state issued birth certificates. Some areas of Florida began recording deaths in 1877, but compliance was inconsistent, especially in rural areas. No local or state-level death records have been found for James Baldwin. To answer the question of where James Baldwin was born, a variety of documents were analyzed and correlated to determine that he was born in Columbus County, North Carolina.

James Baldwin is enumerated in the 1850-1880 census records in North Florida: 1850 in Duval County (36 years old)4; 1860 in Alachua County (49 years old)5; 1870 (60 years old)6 and 1880 (68 years old)7 in Putnam County. Although there are slight variations in the age, which is not unusual in census records, the census does consistently point to a birth location of North Carolina.

Other records were used to narrow down a more precise birth location. James Baldwin’s tombstone states he was born on April 14, 1812 in Columbus County, North Carolina (Figure 1).8 From a receipt in his probate packet, we know the tombstone was purchased by his heirs (most likely his son, Leonard) shortly after his death on June 12, 1884.9 None of the family remaining in Florida at his death would have had first-hand knowledge that James was born in Columbus County, but his older children were born there and were old enough to have their own memories of where they lived before coming to Florida in the late 1840’s.10,11

Going back to the 1840 census, a James Baldwin Jun., aged 20-29, is enumerated in Columbus County.12 There is only one other James Baldwin Columbus County in 1840, aged 50-59. Leonard Baldwin consistently gave his birthplace as Columbus County, North Carolina, providing evidence that James Baldwin, Florida pioneer, is the same person known as James Baldwin, Jr. in Columbus County.13,14

The only record that gives a different place of birth for James Baldwin is the 1940 death certificate of his daughter, Caroline Baldwin Price (Figure 2).15 The informant, her son Russell Price, gave the birth location of Nichols, South Carolina. Russell was born in 1892 (Figure 3) – eight years after James Baldwin died - and did not know either of his maternal grandparents.16 His paternal grandmother, Sarah Price, though, was born in Nichols, which is just over the state line from Columbus County.17 Russell would have known Sarah well, as she lived in the same community and died after he was married and had his own child. Perhaps in the stress and grief of losing his mother, he mixed up the birth locations of his grandparents. An earlier record, a newspaper article noting the 50th wedding anniversary of Allen and Caroline (Baldwin) Price, identifies her father by name and gives Columbus County as the family’s previous residence.18

Only the tombstone located in Eliam Cemetery (Melrose, Florida) directly identifies James Baldwin’s birth place as Columbus County, North Carolina. A variety of records link this James Baldwin to James Baldwin, Junior of Columbus County, North Carolina. Only one document, created fifty-five years after James’ death, with information provided by a family member who did not know him personally, provides conflicting information. With the evidence currently available, there is no reason to doubt the veracity of the birth location etched on James Baldwin’s tombstone.


1. 1850 U.S. census, Duval County, Florida, population schedule, Thomasville District, page 118 (stamped), line 6, James Baldwin; digital image, ( : accessed 24 Sep 2016), Florida > Duval > Duval county > image 57 of 62; citing NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.) [The page is hard to read because of faded ink, even when using viewing aids at Ancestry and FamilySearch. In the citation, the line item is used because the dwelling and family numbers are partially illegible.]

2. 1870 U.S. census, Putnam County, Florida, population schedule, Orange Springs, page 46 (penned), 535 (stamped), dwelling 128, family 122, James Baldwin; digital image, ( : accessed 24 Sep 2016), citing National Archives microfilm publication M593, roll 133.

3. Eliam Cemetery (Melrose, Florida), James Baldwin tombstone; photographed by Marceline R. Beem, 24 Sep 2016.

4. 1850 U.S. census, Duval Co., Fla., pop. sch., Thomasville District, page 118 (stamped), line 6, James Baldwin.

5. 1860 U.S. census, Alachua County, Florida, population schedule, Division 17 (Waldo Post Office), page 5 (penned and stamped), dwelling 31, family 31, James Baldwin; digital image, ( : accessed 24 Sep 2016), image 5 of 77, citing National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 106.

6. 1870 U.S. census, Putnam Co., Fla., pop. sch., Orange Springs, page 46 (penned), 535 (stamped), dwelling 128, family 122, James Baldwin.

7. 1880 U.S. census, Putnam County, Florida, population schedule, Precinct 11, Enumeration District (ED) 134, pages 17-18 (penned), 89A-B (stamped), dwelling 112, family 112, James Baldwin; digital image, ( : accessed 24 Sep 2016), citing National Archives microfilm publication T9, roll 131.

8. Eliam Cemetery (Melrose, Florida), James Baldwin tombstone.

9. Putnam County, Florida, probate file no. 274, James Baldwin (1884), receipt for limestone from James S. Clark & Co., 11 December 1884; “Florida Wills and Probate Records, 1810-1974,” digital images, ( : accessed 23 September 2016); the petition is imaged as p. 839 of Putnam County Probate Packets 236-277.

10. “Confederate Pension Records”, database and images, Florida Memory ( : accessed 24 Sep 2016); Form A, Soldier’s Pension Claim Under the Act of 1909, affidavit taken 25 July 1909 for Leonard Baldwin, application no. A07843, (Bradford County, 1907), for service in 2nd Regt Cav, image 3 of 17.

11. “Florida Deaths, 1877-1939,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 Sep 2016), entry for Lenard Baldwin (1917); citing Melrose, Putnam, Florida, reference cn 851; FHL microfilm 2,116,887.

12. 1840 U.S. census, Columbus County, North Carolina, population schedule, p. 12 (penned), p. 65 (stamped), line 7, James Baldwin, Jun; digital image, ( : accessed 28 August 2016), citing National Archives microfilm publication M704. The roll number is not specified on FamilySearch, but Ancestry cites roll 365.

13. “Confederate Pension Records”, database and images, Florida Memory;  Form A for Leonard Baldwin.

14. “Florida Deaths, 1877-1939,” database, FamilySearch, entry for Lenard Baldwin (1917).

15. Caroline Price, death certificate, state file no. 5308, certificate dated 19 Mar 1940, State of Florida, State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Alachua County, Gainesville, Florida.

16. 1900 U.S. census, Putnam County, Florida, population schedule, Precinct 18, Enumeration District (ED) 149, page 8B (penned), dwelling 123, family 123, Allen Price; digital image, ( : accessed 24 Sep 2016), citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 176.

17. Florida Deaths, 1877-1939," database, FamilySearch ( : 24 December 2014), Sarah A. Price, 04 Dec 1917; citing Melrose, Putnam, Florida, reference cn 12891; FHL microfilm 2,116,891.

18. “Mr. and Mrs. Allen Price Celebrate Golden Wedding on Thanksgiving”. [Note: a copy of this newspaper article was provided to the researcher by a family member. There is no indication of the name of the newspaper or the date of publication. Allen Price and Caroline Baldwin were married 27 November 1879, so the article should have been published in 1939. An inquiry to the Alachua County (Florida) Library, which has microfilm copies of the Gainesville Sun for the time period, yielded no results. The records for the Palatka Daily News (Florida) need to be searched to determine if the article was published in that newspaper.] Note: The article identifies Caroline’s parents as “Mr. and Mrs. James Baldwin,” who came to Florida from Columbus County, North Carolina. The article also states that Caroline came to Florida with her parents from North Carolina in 1848. While the relocation date is corroborated with census records (her sister Polly was born in 1848 in Florida), Caroline could not have been part of the party since she was not born until 1851.

Appendix 1
Summary of Findings

Birth Place
1850-1880 Census
North Carolina
Columbus County, North Carolina
Death Certificate for Caroline Price
Nichols, SC
Death Certificate for Leonard Baldwin
North Carolina
Confederate Pension Application for Leonard Baldwin
Does not directly address this research question, but gives Leonard’s birthplace as Columbus County, NC, tying James Baldwin of North Florida to James Baldwin of Columbus County, North Carolina
Newspaper Article for Allen & Caroline Price’s 50th Anniversary Celebration
Baldwin family came to Florida from Columbus County, NC

Appendix 2
Images of Selected Documents

Figure 1, Photograph of James Baldwin's Tombstone, Eliam Cemetery, Melrose, Florida



Columbus Co. N.C.

April 14, 1812


June 12, 1884

Figure 2, Death Certificate for Caroline Baldwin Price, 1940
Partial Transcript
Mrs. Carolina Price
Date of death: March 19, 1940

Father: James Baldwin
Birthplace: Nichols S.C.

Mother: Mary Nichols
Birthplace: Nichols S.C.

Informant: R.A. Price, Gainesville, FL

Figure 3, Allen Price Family, 1900 Census of Putnam County, Florida

Partial Transcript:

Price, Allen, Head, W, M, b. Dec 1850, 49, married for 20 years
Caroline, wife, W, F, b. Jan 1851, 49, married for 20 years, 5 children (5 living)
Eunice, daughter, W, F, b. September 1882, 17, single
Candasie, daughter, W, F, b. Dec 1884, 15, single
Henry, son, W, M, Nov 1886, 12, single
James, son, W, M, Aug 1888, 11, single
Russel, son, W, M, July 1892, 7, single

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