A Genealogy of the Barnum, Barnam and Barnham Family

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A One-Name Study for the BARNUM/BARNHAM Surname



Notes for Lois DEMING


In the 1850 US Census for Otisco, Onondaga County, New York Virginia Lois (Deming) Barnum and several of her children were living with her brother, Levi Deming, as follows:
Dwelling #329; Family #345
Levi Deming, 53, Male, Farmer; Real property $3,700; b. Connecticut
Lois Barnum, 50, Female, b. Connecticut
Isaac D. Barnum, 21, Male, b. New York
Harmon S. Barnum, 19, Male, b. New York, Attended school within the census year
Levi Barnum, 17, Male, b. new York, Attended school within the census year
Eunice Barnum, 14, Female, b. New York, Attended school within the census year

In the 1870 US Census for Falls Church, Fairfax County, Virginia Lois (Deming) Barnum and several of her children were living with her brother, Levi Deming, as follows:
Deming, Levi; 73; M; W; Farmer; Real property $3,600; Personal property $500; b. Connecticut; Male citizen of the US of 21 years of age and upwards
Barnum, Louis [sic]; 71; F; W; Keeping house; Personal property $500; b. Connecticut
Barnum, Harmon S.; 39; M; W; Farmer; Personal property $500; b. New York; Male citizen of the US of 21 years of age and upwards
Barnum, Eunice; 34; F; W; At home; Personal property $100; b. New York
Barnum, Cora A.; 10; F; W; At home; b. New York; Attended school within the census year
Casey, John; 58; M; B; Farmhand; b. Virginia; Cannot read or write; Male citizen of the US of 21 years of age and upwards
Jackson, Lavinia; 19; F; B; Domestic service; b. Virginia; Cannot write

In the 1880 US Census for District 37, Falls Church, Fairfax County, Virginia the family of Lois (Deming) Barnum was enumerated as follows:
Dwelling #49; Family #49
Barnum, Lois; W; F; 81; Widowed; Keeping house; b. Connecticut; Both parents b. Connecticut
Barnum, Hiram S. [N.B. s/b Harmon]; W; M; 49; Son; Widowed; Farmer; b. New York; Father b. New York; Mother b. Connecticut
Barnum, Eunice; W; F; 44; Daughter; Single; At home; b. New York; Father b. New York; Mother b. Connecticut
Thropp, Isiah; W; M; 48; Friend; Single; No occupation; b. Pennsylvania; Both parents b. Pennsylvania

After her brother Levi died intestate in 1874, Lois filed an order for administering his estate. She state that as his sister she was his only living nest of kin, having been associated with Levi Deming "during the past thirty-eight years as sister and house-keeper and intimate friend. He lived and died unmarried and single, without issue of offspring. Father, mother, brother and sisters all dead". Harmon S. Barnum, Lois' son, tried to defraud his mother of part of her inheritance by means of a false, pre-dated paper supposedly signed by Levi and granting to Harmon one-half of the property known as Cottage Farm. The Supreme Court of Virginia found this to be an incredible claim, since Levi Deming "barely endured his nephew".

Harmon then filed a false deed to the property in the name of George A. Mushbach, an attorney and a comparative stranger, who deeded the property back to Harmon on 3 June 1874 for a payment of $5 and Harmon took up residence on Cottage Farm.

On 14 June Lois made her will, leaving everything to her daughter Eunice, ignoring her other three children. On August 14 she filed an order to administer Levi Deming's estate and on 13 February 1878 she filed suit in Fairfax Circuit Court seeking to void the previous illegal property division. Over the next few years the case passed through several suits, counter suits and appeals until finally, on 28 April 1887, the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals brought a conclusion to the case by finding in favor of Lois. The Court stated in its final opinion that the record, "discloses a case of as gross and transparent a purpose on the part of Harmon S. Barnum to defraud his mother, as we have ever seen".

The full details of this case may be found in The Fireside Sentinel, Vol. VIII, No. 3, May/June 1994.
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