Casefile Clues

27 February 2014

Revisiting Montevelli and My Conclusions

An "adopted" son lived with my ancestors James and Elizabeth Rampley from 1860 through 1880. This was one of my early "discoveries" about the family and about someone no one knew anything about. In summary:
  • 1860--a 14 year old, Montevelli (or something like that) Lobb is listed--no relationship
  • 1870--a 13 year old Montevelli Harness is listed--no relationship.
  • 1880--a 22 year old Montevelli Rampley is listed as an adopted son.


1860 US Census, Hancock County, Illinois, Walker Township, page 602,
entry for James Rampley household

1870 US Census, Hancock County, Illinois, Township 3-8 [Walker Township], page 10,
[James Rampley household is on two pages, this is last entry of interest on second page of entry.]

1880 US Census, Hancock County, Illinois, Walker Township, page 27,
James Rampley household
I first discovered "Montevelli" thirty years ago in the very early stages of my research. The entries for him did not seem all that consistent, but I decided they were after reading some research guide that discussed errors in the census, how things were inconsistent, etc. That had to explain the differences. After all, the research guide said there were many errors in the census.

But as I went back and looked at the entries, I realized that the 1860 entry was significantly different from the last two and there was not just one inconsistency. The 1860 person was aged 14 and born in Hanover and had the last name of "Lobb." The 1870 and 1880 Montevelli would have been 3 or 4 in 1860--listing him as 14 is quite a stretch. And the 1870 and 1880 Montevelli indicated he was born in Illinois. That is significantly different as well. It is always possible that the place of birth was given as Illinois to "make it fit," but the name difference and 1860 birthplace seemed off in a way that was more than reasonable.

And as I looked more at that first name in 1860, I began to wonder if it really was Montevelli at all. If it was a Germanic name, the English speaking census taker could easily have rendered it in a way that makes it difficult to interpret 150 years later. 

I decided to take a more detailed look at the 1865 census for James and Elizabeth. And I'm very glad I did. The 1865 Illinois state census (Walker Township) for James Rampley indicated the following numbers of household members:

  • 1 male under 10
  • 1 male 10-20
  • 1 female 10-20
  • 2 males 20-30
  • 1 male 30-40
  • 1 female 50-60
  • 1 male 60-70
  • 1 female 60-70
To be honest, I never really analyzed this entry as I didn't think I needed to. Originally located early in my research, it confirmed James was where he was supposed to be. But now I realize there are people in this entry who are unknown to me.


  • 1 male under 10--??
  • 1 male 10-20--probably James Rampley (the son)
  • 1 female 10-20--??
  • 2 males 20-30--Riley and John Rampley
  • 1 male 30-40--probably Thomas Rampley
  • 1 female 50-60--??
  • 1 male 60-70-James Rampley
  • 1 female 60-70--Elizabeth Rampley
I don't have an answer to the question marks at this point. However, I am inclined to believe that the Lobb person in 1860 is not living with the Rampleys later and that there are others living with the family in 1865 of whom I was unaware. The male under 10 could be Montevelli Harness Rampley. 

At this point, I know less than I did before. The 1870 and 1880 Montevelli has been traced to Oklahoma and New Mexico through 1910. The trail on him dries up after 1910 and I'm assuming he died. At this point, it is not known if he left any descendants or not.

Sometimes a researcher doesn't even realize they are confused until they go back and review everything.