Daniel Dinkle Lightner and Polly Seward (sitting). Elvira Lightner (Hull) Allen and her daughter Mary Florence Hull Johnson. Taken 1879. Courtesy Bertha F. Johnson Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.
I knew that Daniel was born in Virginia in 1810 and lived the bulk of his life in Ohio, where he died in 1888. I also was aware that he was involved in politics, but like so many ancestors I didn't know anything about the real Daniel Lightner. So I turned to my good friend Google. My first hit for Daniel was a biography in the Biographical Sketches of the Members of the Forty-First General Assembly of the State of Indiana, printed in 1861. The biography stated that Daniel was born May 21, 1810 in Rockingham County, Virginia. He moved to Indiana with his family when he was 15 and spent his adult life as a preacher, farmer, merchant, mason, Freemason, school teacher, post master and state representative. There was also a listing for a biography of Daniel's son, Seward, that gave more information.
To learn more about Daniel I decided to research his other children in an attempt to "backdoor" my research.
I started with his oldest child, Elvira Lightner. A Google search revealed that Elvira married Moses Hull, a prominent minister and spiritualist. It also revealed a lucky find: The Bertha F. Johnson Papers, an archival collection located in the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass. Dr. Bertha Johnson was Elvira's granddaughter and she donated a photo (seen above) and the story of her grandparents and great-grandparents to the College. What Bertha shared was a letter, written by her mother Elvira, that recalls her memories of her parents' role as abolitionists. Does it get any better than a find like this?
Stay tuned for Daniel's story in the next installment.
- Sutherland, James. Biographical sketches of the members of the forty-first general assembly of the State of Indiana with that of the State officers and judiciary. Indianapolis Journal Co., 1861. Daniel D. Lightner Biography, pages 137-138. Original: The New York Public Library, digitized Feb 7, 2008.
- Goodspeed (Firm), publishers. Pictorial and Biographical Record of La Porte, Porter, Lake and Starke Counties, Indiana: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Records of Leading Men, Women and Prominent Families of the Counties Named, and Other Portions of the State. Seward Lightner biography, pgs. 472-473, 1894. Original: The New York Public Library, digitized Feb. 7, 2008.