Sunday’s Obituary: Matthew Johns (1817-1899)

Matthew JOHNS, obituary. Indianapolis Journal, March 5, 1899, part 1, page 7, column 5, via

ROBERTS Family, HONTS Family (Click for Family Tree)


If you are a descendant of Edith (ROBERTS) [McMURRAY] LUCK, or of Mary Magdalene “Polly” HONTS or her father, Henry HONTS/JOHNS, then you are related to Matthew. Matthew was the half-brother of Mary, who was the great-grandmother of Edith on the side of her father, George A. ROBERTS.

Matthew was the second known child of Henry Honts/Johns and his mistress, Elizabeth FIRESTONE LAMPERT. Henry and Elizabeth did eventually marry and have more children, but theirs is another story that is soon to come on this blog. In the meantime, we know that Matthew lived a good, respectable life as a blacksmith and farmer, and raised 10 children with his wife Elizabeth MAGGART/MAGGARD.

The obituary tells us a few things we did not know. Only one son and four daughters survived him- just half of his children. Additionally, we did not know of a second marriage- the obituary states his second wife survived him. We do know that first wife Elizabeth died in 1886, so a second marriage is very possible, however we have not found a record of that marriage or her name. The name of his second wife would have been listed on the 1890 US Federal Census, but that did not survive for us to view today. There are a number of women with the surname Johns listed in Hancock County, Indiana, in the 1900 US Federal Census, and at least 1 is listed as a widow, but that research is for another cousin who is more closely related to complete.

One very interesting part of the obituary is that his memorial service was held at the Friends Church in Wilkinson, Indiana. That tells us that Matthew had become a Quaker. Was that something that happened after he married his second wife, or was Elizabeth also a Quaker and they practiced the faith throughout their married life? Or had Matthew become a Quaker on his own as an adult, or possibly as a child? We have seen nothing about Matthew’s parents being Quakers, but that would be very interesting, due to their past “indiscretions” and flaunting of society’s morals. The Quakers were forgiving people, however, so it might be possible.

This obituary provides us with one more avenue of research, important since Matthew’s father, Henry Honts/Johns, is one of our direct ancestors. The Quakers kept very good records and although there is no longer a Friends church in Wilkinson, there are two Friends churches within about 10 miles today, and they may have the records of Matthew’s family. One more item for the To-Do List now…


More to come on the Honts/Johns family…


Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Matthew JOHNS, obituary. Indianapolis Journal, March 5, 1899, part 1, page 7, column 5, via


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