According to the War of 1812 pension file of Thomas Asher, who died in TX in 1885, he was drafted in Anderson County, Tennessee, in October 1814 and was discharged at Anderson County Tennessee in May 1815. He married Mary McGee in Anderson County on 6 May 1817. And he was a widower residing in Dewitt County, Texas on 10 January 1872. There are several Internet family trees that say this Thomas resided for a period in Indiana, married Polly Asher in Wayne County Indiana and perhaps sojourned in Illinois and/or Missouri on his way to Texas. In light of the sworn testimony of his pension file, let’s examine the Federal Census evidence working backwards from the 1880 census (with a small detour into tax and land records.)
1880 Kerr County, TX – Thomas Asher, age 83 born in TN, is residing in the household of his married son John H Asher, age 38 born TX. No other children of Thomas Asher are resident in the household.
1870 there is no discernible entry for this Thomas Asher in TX. Not with his son and not on his own. There is also no entry for John H Asher although several of their 1880 neighbors can be found in Kerr County. Perhaps they were missed by the census taker.
1860 Gonzales County, TX – Thos (sic) Asher born c. 1795 is living with a household that appears to include 2 adults sons, a married adult daughter and an unmarried daughter all of whom are either born in Tennessee or Texas. Their ages and places of birth – Frank age 22 and Nancy age 20 born TN and John age 19 and Lousa age 14 born TX – don’t appear to leave room for a sojourn in Indiana and Illinois.
1850 Dewitt County, TX – Thomas Asher (indexed as Ashen) age 53 born Tennessee. The household’s children are born in TN, IL and TX. The ages of the children indicate that the family was in TN until about 1820 and then in IL to about 1828.
So now we can be more confident in stating that Thomas Asher of Texas, resided in Tennessee from at least 1814 – about 1820, he then moved to Illinois until at least 1828 and probably later and he was resident in Texas by 1836 when son John was born there.
Backtracking to 1840 is impossible given the lack of 1840 TX census. However the DeWitt County 1846 tax list (on Ancestry.com) shows a Thomas Asher who is exactly where we would expect him to be. There is also no 1830 TX census and given the historical context it is unlikely that Thomas would have been in Texas in 1830.
1830 Green County, Illinois – There is only 1 Thomas Asher household in Illinois in 1830. He is of the correct age bracket. His household composition is what we would expect working from the 1850 census. In 1836, a Thomas Adams completed a purchase of Federal Land in Adams County, Illinois. He had begun the purchase in 1834. I have been unable to correlate this land purchaser with the Thomas Asher of interest. There is also a Thomas Asher purchasing federal land in 1818 but he is a different veteran of the War of 1812 who served in the 4th Rifle Regiment.
1820 Bond County, Illinois – Again there is only 1 Thomas Asher household in Illinois in 1820. Thomas Asher and a Robinson Asher are enumerated side by side. The ages and household composition are what we would expect for the household of the Thomas Asher who died in Texas.
These census migrations appear to leave little room for Thomas Asher to have spent time in Indiana. Being complete however, and checking Indiana census for 1820 and 1830 shows that – There is only 1 Thomas Asher in Indiana in 1820 and he is too old to be our man (not to mention the fact that this is the man whose family we are trying to connect with the Texas Thomas!) There are 3 Thomas Asher heads of household in the Indiana 1830 Federal Census, but none of them are old enough to be this Thomas Asher. In 1840 in Clinton County, a Thomas Asher is enumerated but he is too young to be our Thomas. In October 1834, a Thomas Asher completed his purchase of two pieces of Federal land in Clinton County, Indiana and he was listed as being a resident of Fayette County, Indiana.
Although stranger things have happened than someone moving back and forth between Illinois, Indiana and Texas within these tight timespans, my review of the evidence indicates that despite the Internet, his Tennessee birth and his birth year of 1797, this Thomas is not closely connected to the Indiana Asher families under consideration. The balance of the evidence indicates that this Thomas spent no or very little time in Indiana. The land purchases and the census listing in Indiana belong to a different as yet unidentified Thomas Asher.