Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Ellusive John Buchanan

John Buchanan (1869-1941)

My great grandfather

me-->Bruce Albert Buchanan-->Robert Amos Buchanan-->John Buchanan

When I was 12 years old, I found out that we didn't know who my great grandfather's parents were.  I decided to find out.  Little did I know what I was in for.

John Buchanan circa 1940
I'll save how I found him for another post. I want to write about who he was and who he became.

Right before John Buchanan died in 1941, he gave a few clues as to who he really was.  These are the only four clues I've had all these years.

1. I was born in Highland, Illinois
2. My mother was from France.
3. My mother's name was Susan "Boo-shan" (never spelled it).
4. My father's name was Nathan.

Well that should be plenty right?  I mean all I should have to do is look in 1870 census records for a little baby named John Buchanan in a household with Nathan and Susan Buchanan, right?  Wrong.

John Buchanan wasn't born John Buchanan.  He was born Joshua Demoulin.  Here's the story.

Nathan, John's father, came to America from Northern France, with his father Martin Joseph.  They bought a farm in Clinton County, Illinois.

He met a girl named Susanne Besin also from France.

They were married soon after, and had their first child.  His name was Nathan Jr. and he was born still.

They had three more children all girls, Evodie, Lydia, and Susanne (Susie).  On October 18, 1869, they had another son.  This time he lived.  They named him Joshua and nicknamed him John.

In November of 1871, Susanne had another little girl.  This time the baby and the mother both died.  Nathan is now left with 4 children, the youngest not even two.

His father, Martin, died 5 years later.

Tombstone of Martin Demoulin in Jamestown Cemetery, Illinois.

Nathan remarried another girl, Fanny Combe from Switzerland.  They had 6 kids.

Evodie married Samuel Noel, then William Thomas.  She died at the age of 51.

Lydia never married and died at the age of 40.

Susie never married and died at the age of 86.

Joshua disappeared in 1905 without a trace.  The family just assumed he died and never had any children.

They were wrong.  He changed his name to John Buchanan, married June Miller, and became my great grandfather.


After 24 years of looking, I finally found him.  Nice to finally meet you Joshua Demoulin.

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