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Confusion about James, son of Levi Sherman of New York

Updated: Feb 2, 2021

While researching my ancestor James Sherman, the father of 2nd great-grandmother, Cora (Sherman) Leonard, I came across this record. It shows James M. Sherman, born May 20, 1842, in Butler, Wayne County, New York. He was a son of Levi Sherman & Ann Palmer. He had a brother named William who fought in the same regiment during the Civil War, but died in service.

On the opposite page, each of these entries continues, first 4 lines for William, Lines 5-8 for James:

From the records, we learn that both William and James were sons of Levi Sherman and Ann Palmer. William P. Sherman, born Sept. 1840, in Butler, Wayne, New York, was a Private in NY 9th Artillery Co. G. He enlisted in August of 1862, at Red Creek, New York, and served in the defense of Washington nearly two years. He died on November 27, 1863. "Remains sent home." James M. Sherman, born May 20, 1842, was a Sergeant in the same regiment. He was born in South Butler, Wayne County, New York. He was in battles of Cold Harbor, Cedar Creek, 2nd Petersburg, Sailors Creek, and was at the surrender of General Lee. Mustered out July 6, 1865, present address, Westbury (?), New York.

At first glance, this appears to be my ancestor, James Sherman. Here's why:

  1. Butler is only about 21 miles from Sennett, where my Sherman family lived.

  2. My ancestors in this branch of my tree lived in both Wayne and Cayuga Counties.

  3. My ancestor James Sherman was born about 1842. This one was born May 20, 1842.

  4. My ancestor's father's name was Levi Sherman, the same as this one.

  5. My ancestor, Levi Sherman, was born abt. 1815. A look at the 1850 census of Butler shows Levi Sherman, age 35 - another match.

To be sure this was the same family, though, I searched the 1850 Census on FamilySearch to see if there were other men named Levi Sherman in New York. The results were surprising, yet conclusive:

There were actually several men named Levi Sherman living in New York in 1850. The two shown here are the only two born between 1815 and 1816. Notice the similarities highlighted in the image above?

Normally I would scrap the day's work and move on, but I'm sharing my findings here to avert future time wasted on this confusing coincidence. I'm sure the similarities have caused much confusion when searching local records, newspaper clippings, etc. It's definitely important for anyone researching the family to be aware of. The two families may be related somehow, but they are definitely two distinct men named James Sherman. I believe my ancestor did join in the Civil War, perhaps not with the high honor of these Shermans of Butler, but a debt of gratitude we owe them all.

Stay tuned as I continue my research on the Sherman family and more! Subscribe for updates!


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