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Misadventures of a Genealogist

Not a Brick Wall but a Brain Wall

Just last week, I wrote about how my thinking has changed over the 13 years I’ve researched my family history. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past two weeks watching videos and reading genealogy books. It’s very funny how much my thinking has changed over just the last few weeks. The more I learn, the more I realize that I didn’t have brick walls before but brain walls.

lightbulbmoment

The reason I say brain walls is because what used to seem insurmountable, just isn’t anymore. Things are challenging, or they test my knowledge but never does it feel like I’m stuck. Okay, George Thorward sometimes makes me feel stuck. That’s only because I need to get access to more records or learn more about something. It feels like something finally switched in my head. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m analyzing the data better or because I’m becoming more knowledgeable about how to do things. I don’t have a college educated background in research and things, so I didn’t start with all this knowledge on how to write-up reports or do huge research projects. I’m just trying to learn the best I can. Really that’s all any of us can do I guess.

Have you ever had something just click in your head? I’m sorry for all the rambling posts lately, I am just being very contemplative as I get ready for my Genealogy Do-Over.

Credit: Lightbulb image is a free stock photo.

William Harmon Mays

timelinefriday

This weeks timeline focus is my great-grandfather, William Harmon Mays. Lets see what I can find to do next with him. 🙂

June 2, 1872

William Harmon Mays is born to John Mays and Celia Slusher in Elliott County, Kentucky. He is their second child and first son. 1

June 1880

William is counted in the 1880 United States Census. He is 8 years old and lives with his parents and older sister in Elliott County, Kentucky. John and Celia tell the census taker they are unable to read and write. John is also sick with dysentary.

Mays Family, 1880
1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Elliott County, Kentucky. Martinsburg township, enumeration district (ED) 20, p. 579-C, dwelling 117, family 117, John Mays; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Apr 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 412.

June 1900

William is going by his middle name of Harmon on the 1900 United States Census. He is working as a farm laborer for Andrew Fraley in Elliott County, Kentucky.

William H Mays, 1900
1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Elliott County, Kentucky. Devils Fork township, enumeration district (ED) 17, sheet 06-A, dwelling 98, family 98, Andrew Fraley; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 May 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 518.

October 19, 1905

William marries Sarah Elizabeth McDaniels in Rowan County, Kentucky. The wedding takes place at her father’s residence. This is the first marriage for 33 year old William and 17 year old Sarah.

William Mays, Sarah McDaniels
Rowan County, Kentucky, Marriage Register 1880-1954, 5, 1904-1906: 327, Mays-McDaniel, 19 Oct 1905; digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 18 Mar 2016)

September 1, 1906

William’s first child, Mary Jane Mays is born in Morehead, Rowan, Kentucky. William is 34 years old and Sarah is 18 years old. 2

January-May 1910

Family Lore: I believe sometimes in this time period Sarah dies. The rumor in the family was that she was sick with tuberculosis. We have no records to indicate that.

May 1910

William is counted with his wife Elizabeth and young daughter Mary in the 1910 United States Census. They are living in Rowan County, Kentucky next to his parents. He owns his own farm. Elizabeth is crossed out of the census, but all her information is there.

William H Mays, 1910
1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Rowan County, Kentucky. Hogtown township, enumeration district (ED) 156, sheet 14-A, dwelling 226, family 227, William H. Maize; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 May 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T624, roll 498.

November 11, 1914

William‘s mother, Celia Slusher-Mays, dies at the age of 73 in Tate township, Clermont, Ohio. She suffered from Mitral insufficiency and senility for 6 months. The informant for her death is Harmon Mays. 3

April 27, 1918

William marries Iva Belle Moyer in Clermont County, Ohio. William lists his parents as John Mays and Celia Slusser. He states he has been married once before. Iva had never been married before.

Family Lore: My grandmother told me that Iva Belle started off taking care of Mary Jane (Janie), and William married her later. She gave the impression is was a year or more after Iva began caring for Janie.

William H Mays, Iva Moyer
Clermont County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1800-2013 285, Mays-Moyer, 1918; digital images, Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 17 Mar 2016)

January 1920

William is now living in Monroe township, Clermont County, Ohio. He is now renting the farm he lives on with his second wife, Iva Belle Moyer. His daughter, Mary Jane Mays, is now thirteen years old. William’s father, John is living with the family and he is now able to read and write.

Observation: It’s very cool to me that John learned to read and write between 1880 and 1920. It looks as if he could write in 1910, but not read. Just very awesome and shows you it is never too late to learn things.

William H. Mays, 1920
1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Clermont County, Ohio. Monroe township, enumeration district (ED) 60, sheet 03-A, dwelling 52, family 52, William H. Mays; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 May 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T625, roll 1355

January 21, 1923

My grandfather, Stanley Mays, is born to William and Iva Belle Mays in Tate township, Ohio. He is their first child. His birth was originally falsely recorded as being in 1913 but it was corrected in April of 1923. This isn’t a false correction. The birth certificate was pre-printed with 191__ and it was corrected to be sure that 1923 was given as the correct year of birth. 4

May 3, 1924

William and Iva’s second child, Ralph Dallas Mays is born in Tate township, Ohio. This is their last child. His birth certificate doesn’t show his name but the details all match him. 5

January 20, 1927

William‘s father, John Mays, dies in Tate township, Ohio at the age of 84. He had internal injuries after falling. No other details were given at the time of his death. Harmon Mays is the informant for his death. John’s name on his death certificate is listed as Harmon Mays and the cemetery office also lists him as Harmon. These are the only two times I have heard of John referenced to as Harmon. 6

January 11, 1928

William‘s oldest child, Mary Jane Mays marries George Jegley in Clermont, Ohio. She lists her parents as Harmon Mays and Elizabeth McDaniel. She lists her birthplace as Morehead, Kentucky. 2

May 1930

William is 57 years old in the 1930 United States Census. He is now living in Tate township with his wife Iva and two sons, Stanley (my grandfather) and Ralph.

William Mays, 1930
1930 U.S. census, population schedule, Clermont County, Ohio. Tate township, enumeration district (ED) 19, sheet 07-A, dwelling 178, family 186, Harmon Mays; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 May 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 1758.

May 1940

William is now shown as living in Monroe township. It should be noted that he is probably living in the same area and not moving around. This is a rural area and these townships are usually all near each other. William and his sons are grain and tobacco farmers. Tobacco was big for this area and our family is even kind of known for it.

William Mays, 1940
1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Clermont County, Ohio. Monroe township, enumeration district (ED) 15, sheet 17-B, household 367, William H. Mays; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 May 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T627, roll 3041.

May 3, 1947

William’s son, Stanley (my grandfather), marries his wife Emogene Taylor.

Family Lore: Some members of the family say they married in Kentucky, and some say Ohio. I am still looking for their marriage certificate.

October 2, 1949

William‘s second wife Iva, died after a year long illness at the age of 55. Her cause of death was heart disease. The informant on her death certificate is William Harmon Mays. 8

January 19, 1952

William‘s second son, Ralph, dies in Tate township, Ohio at the age of 27. The informant on his death certificate is my grandfather, Stanley Mays. 9

March 7, 1952

William dies at the age of 79 in Monroe township, Ohio. It says on his death certificate that he had arteriosclerosis for many years before his death. His parents are listed as John Mays and Cecelia Gray. His daughter Mrs. George Jegley is the informant on his death certificate.

William H. Mays death certificate
Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, death certificate 14438 (1952), William Harmon Mays; digital image, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 18 Sep 2010)

Records to Find:

  • I am still looking for some kind of birth record for William. There should be a county birth record, I just have to locate it.
  • Stanley and Emogene’s marriage certificate. Might be in Campbell County, Kentucky.
  • There is a 20 year gap between 1880 and 1900. I need to fill this space in with alternate records.
  • I will probably look into Andrew Fraley’s family also. Since William lived and worked on his farm, it might help me to find more information on William.

Records to Order:

  • I can’t think of any records to order at this time. Everything else for William will most likely have to be done in person. I will need to research which records are available.

Note: There are more events but I didn’t put them to protect the privacy of living individuals. 🙂

  1. Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, death certificate 14438 (1952), William Harmon Mays; digital image,   FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 18 Sep 2010)
  2. Clermont County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1800-2013, 35, 1926-1930: 228, Jegley-Mays, 1928; digital images, Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 24 Mar 2016).
  3. Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, death certificate 59028 (1914), Cela Mays; Ohio Department of Health, Columbus.
  4. Ohio Bureau of Vital Statistics, returned 910 (1923), Stanley Lee Mays; Ohio Department of Health, Columbus.
  5. Ohio Bureau of Vital Statistics,  43991 (1924), blank; Ohio Department of Health, Columbus.
  6. Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, death certificate 639 (1927), Harmon Mays; digital image,   FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 26 Sep 2010)
  7. Clermont County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1800-2013, 35, 1926-1930: 228, Jegley-Mays, 1928; digital images, Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 24 Mar 2016).
  8. Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, death certificate 61919 (1949), Iva Belle Mays; digital image,   FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 18 May 2016)
  9. Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, death certificate 07293 (1952), Ralph Dallas Mays; Ohio Department of Health, Columbus

The Genealogy Breakthrough that Made Me Cry

I don’t usually do blog posts this close together, but I just had to share my latest break through. I was attending one of Legacy Family Tree’s webinars (Mining Uber-sites for Germany Ancestors by James Beidler) and using one of the tips, broke down my not-so brick wall. This brick wall has stumped us all for years. I’ve talked about George Thorward before.

  1. Wordless Wednesday: George Thorward – 1st Car
  2. Tombstone Tuesday: Thorwards – Tombstone pictures for George and his wife Josephine, plus an extra one of them outside their house.
  3. Did I Find Him? – An entry where I first wonder about the George Thorward/George Yohn question.
  4. Surname Saturday: Thorward – A very brief glimpse of what I knew of the Thorwards in July of 2010
  5. An Unexpected, Yet Expected Turn – George shows up in his marriage record as George Yohn and I end the entry with the question: Who are you George?
  6. Mysterious Ancestors: I tried to examine this George Yohn/George Thorward thing yet again.
  7. George Yohn… Again: I got Josephine and George’s marriage record in the mail
  8. Timeline: George Thorward: Again, I use a timeline strategy to sort out what I know about George Thorward/Yohn. Note: Eagle eye readers will notice I state at the beginning that I lost the article that showed where he came from in Germany. Then post that same article at the bottom of the post. Talk about losing things right in front of your face!

That brings us all up to date except for the recent revelations. I’ve been blocked when it comes to George for a long time. Until about a week ago that is. On Facebook, a conversation between some Thorward cousins popped up. My 2nd cousin 2x removed (haha, I love that), happened to mention that her father (grandson to George Thorward) used to tell a story about George. According to her father, the story is that George and his brother came to Newark, New Jersey in 1866 from Wüerttemberg to escape serving under the King of Bismark. According to him, George was 12 at the time. They came to Newark to stay with their sister whose last name was Gantz and she had a hat factory. The family lore also says their last name was originally Weigel but that the brothers made up the name Thorward. George then got a job on a farm in Towaco, New Jersey. There he met and married the farmer’s daughter, Josephine Doremus. My 2nd cousin also believed that George’s brother was Benjamin and he went west to the Chicago area. I will dissect this family lore in another entry on another day. There is going to have to be another timeline soon I think. 🙂

Now I had always heard about George and a brother who came with him, but I could never find the brother to substantiate anything having to do with a brother. George and his descendants were the only Thorward ever in New Jersey that I could find. There was one other Thorward family that pops up in the mid-west but I never had any connection to them. I know I should have been a good genealogist and researched them also. I mean if you think about it, there was only that one other family so they had to be related somehow. I just never got around to it with all my other things going on. Note to myself, a to do list will help with this in the future, haha. This other family was headed by Benjamin Thorward and he did say he was from Wüerttemberg. So now I will definitely be adding that family to my to-do list!

Fast forward to today’s Germany webinar and I got one little tip that sparked in my head. I was watching when I saw a database pop up as an example. It was called the Wüerttemberg, Germany Emigration Index. All I put into the search box was George Weigel. I didn’t add anything else.

capture_001_18052016_143219

This was the very first search result. I’m not going to lie to you, I might have blacked out for the second half of the webinar. I will definitely be re-watching it because it was full of such good tips. I just can’t remember any of them at the moment. If this turns out to be a match, it would also explain where the Yohn/John comes from in the earlier records for George.

johanngeorgweigelI am very excited about this for a lot of reasons. I know this still has a long way to go to be a stronger connection. I have plenty of records I still want to get my hands on for both of my candidates here. I believe the next record I will get is George’s New Jersey death record and see what that says. It was on my to do list anyway. Plus I want to learn a lot more about this section of Germany and what was happening at the time.

So all of this is very exciting for me but I know there is still tons of work ahead. I’m sorry if I come across a little scattered but my brain is moving 500 miles per hour! Never fear though, I am taking a cooling off period and slowing down. I will be examining lots more records before I determine if this is my guy or not. I am so much closer than I ever was before though!

Records to Order:

  • George Thorward’s death certificate from New Jersey. The issues that kept George from stating his real name in the beginning of his America journey, probably wasn’t shared by whoever filled out his death certificate. His wife was still alive, maybe she was aware of his family history. I might not ever be able to 100% prove the Weigel connection, but it won’t be from lack of trying.

Records to Find:

  • An immigration record for either George Thorward, George Yohn, or Johann Georg Weigel.
  • I am going to try and track down the sister by the name of Gantz.
  • City directories – George showed up in many directories once his name was Thorward but maybe he used one of his A.K.A.’s in Newark before moving to the more rural area.
  • Maybe a naturalization record would give some great information. As early as 1900 George stated on the censuses that he was naturalized. If he was telling the truth, that should give me something!
  • I want to look for a will for George in New Jersey. It could be he might mention a brother or nephews/nieces in his will.
  • The land records for George’s house on Central Avenue.
  • Any more newspaper mentions of my George to see if it gives anymore about his German history or family.
  • Research the other Thorward family that shows up in the mid-west. This is allegedly George’s brother. Maybe I will find records to help me, by researching them.

You can be sure you’ll be hearing more about this in the future!

When I Started

Over the past few years, I have become the go-to person in my family for family information. I gladly overwhelm everyone who asks me with tons of information. I answer any questions about the family or just genealogy in general. I find lots of ways to bring up my ancestors in a fun way. It didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t just say, hey this family tree thing is cool. I’m going to do that for the rest of my natural life.

What I Knew
This is all I knew when I started. With a privacy blur, for privacy sake.

Everyone can research their family tree. It’s something we are all capable of. I always tell people though, don’t get yourself bogged down in a “have to finish” scenario. Let’s be honest, none of us will ever really “finish”. There is always more to find. You might find the dates and places quickly, but that isn’t the story behind your ancestor. That isn’t telling their story. Some people aren’t interested in that part at first, and I think that’s just fine. I was a name and date collector at first, and I kind of still am. I look for the stories too but I had an experience at a repository that changed my view of genealogy.

I’ve talked about it before. My first visit to the Nabb Research Center in Salisbury, Maryland. When I got started, I was given a family tree by my Grandma. I didn’t pursue it right away but it was always there in my mind. After I graduated high school, I was working with my Mom in a video store (R.I.P Blairs Video of Leonardtown, MD). She would start to chat about wanting to research the family tree and she even got the first Ancestry membership in the house. It wasn’t long before we broke out Grandma’s family tree to see where to go. We saw that the Taylor Family had first lived in Somerset County, Maryland. What? Who sells hundreds of acres on the Eastern Shore of Maryland? My ancestors do of course. We got in the car one weekend, and we went to the Nabb Research Center to search for our ancestors. Armed with our family tree knowledge. Not the tree, but the knowledge. Oh boy, we were newbies.

We walked in, and the very, very helpful staff asked what family we were researching. We proudly stated, “The Taylor Family!” Words can not explain the way the helpful gentleman’s face changed. It went from, “Nice to see you, glad to help you” to “Oh”. I’m not joking, just “Oh”. He gave us a tour of the small center and a rundown of the documents we might want to use. Then gently let us know that searching the Taylor family in Somerset County might be a little overwhelming because it was kind of like searching for John Smith in Virginia. About that time I was saying, “Oh”.

ohIt was a great first day in a repository, I looked up plenty. Mom looked up plenty. There was just so much! Then you realize there are pages of just land patents with the name Taylor in them. Not the owner name, the name of the land. Taylors Chance, Taylors Hill, Taylors Addition, Taylors Advice, Taylors Bog, Taylors Adventure, Taylors Delight. You get the point. 🙂 Then you see the same names, William Taylor, James Taylor, John Taylor. There were so many Taylor resources there, I can’t even remember them all. Oh my, to a new genealogist, this was intimidating. The thing you don’t see, is my family tree, because that wasn’t in the collection. I mean, I knew William Taylor who had a wife Sarah, but I didn’t know William Taylor by himself, because I was only thinking about my direct guy and what I saw on my tree. The problem with that is I have 23 William Taylors in my family tree. Some of those can be sorted off the list due to the year of birth being too recent. I couldn’t do that though, because I was only armed with my memory. I had no working knowledge of the tree.

Once I got home and licked my wounds. I decided I was going to become the expert on the Taylor family. I was going to know every William Taylor and every James Taylor. I wasn’t going to feel so adrift at the research center the next time. The problem was, even after going back a second time, I was still adrift. It was at that point I realized that I know nothing Jon Snow… Sorry, the really bad humor Kathleen showed up for a minute there. What I really realized was that it was okay to be a name and date collector for the time, because without the names and dates, I wasn’t going to have any way of finding the stories of my ancestors.

What I Know
What I know

Which is why, when my people ask me now how to get started, I tell them to start with what they know. Without going through the same process, how else will they be able to go on this 13+ year journey of really knowing where they come from. They might not be interested in spending 13 years on the family tree. Maybe they just want a basic knowledge without all the thousands of details. I have no way of knowing, and honestly I don’t think they do either. It wasn’t until I was feeling dejected after two wonderful days of researching that I realized how far I really wanted to take this crazy genealogy journey. So until they know, I’ll just be sitting over here on my hands trying not to overwhelm them. There is one thing I can’t help but tell them. WRITE DOWN YOUR SOURCES. PLEASE. Mom found a book where it said one of the Taylors sold all his land and followed his son to Kentucky because the son was absconding from justice and we didn’t write it down. We were new, we didn’t know, but now we want to know what happened! Don’t we all wish we had done that in the beginning. Oy vey.

Thank you for listening to my nostalgic rambling. I just can’t believe I’ve been researching for over 13 years now and I still don’t know where Horatio Taylor fits in to everything. That just goes to show, there is always more research to do.

P.S. I know I threw Horatio in there at the end. I was looking at our photocopies of the land patents and I remembered that I never did find him.

71 Years of Wedded Bliss!

Elkhart Weekly Review - 05 May 1906 All this rain has left us with some plumbing issues and I don’t want to think about it anymore. We got it fixed on a weekend thanks to a very generous local company. It really makes you thankful for people when they go out of their way to help, without charging you an arm and a leg. After all the stress and worry, I decided to use one of the newspaper websites to search and I came across the article to the left! Last week, I talked about what a small world it was and I thought I’d also share this gem about that very same person.

It appeared in the May 5th, 1906 edition of the Elkhart Weekly Review. It talks about Reuben and Anna Webb, my 3x great uncle and aunt. For some reason, I’ve always loved these two. I don’t know why, maybe it’s just their stability and longevity. I am still trying to track down their descendants. I know their wedding anniversary was a big deal, because they frequently appear in the paper as a celebration. Not only that but it seems as if they had a big shindig every year to celebrate! I’m pretty sure if I had been married 71 years, I’d be throwing parties too! That’s a big deal.

One of the things in the article that struck me because I had never heard it before, was that “soon after their marriage they went westward to Indiana with their parents”. I know that they went from Brown County, Ohio to Tippecanoe County, Indiana but I had no idea their parents came with them. In fact, I was pretty sure Reuben’s dad, Reuben, lived in Ohio for the rest of his life. Not that I have any records stating that, it’s just what I assumed! It could just mean Anna’s parents but it didn’t sound like that.

I also love that it mentions Reuben’s time in the Civil War, I had already known that, but I love the more personal recollection about it. Sadly, a few months after this article and their 71st wedding anniversary Anna died.

Tomorrow will be the 181st anniversary of their marriage. According to records, they got their license on the 4th of May, and then were married on the 16th. I say Happy Anniversary for any day they wanted to celebrate on. 🙂

181weddinganniversary

Sources:

“Wedded Many Years,” Elkhart Weekly Review, 5 May 1906, p. 8, col. 3; digital images, Genealogy Bank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 15 May 2016), This entire product and/or portions thereof are copyrighted by NewsBank and/or the American Antiquarian Society.

Brown County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1818-1939, 4: 136, Webb-Sidwell, 4 May 1835; digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 15 May 2016).

Definitely a Small World

Like all genealogists, I am always searching things for familiar names. It could be newspapers and obituaries or even my families Facebook pages. When I finally got my Grandpa Moore to clear out his closet in Columbus, I was absolutely ecstatic. I was even happier when he let me confiscate what was in it. Police Chief’s granddaughter humor there. There were boxes of things in that closet. More than I thought I would ever be able to go through. I even thought I would have to weed some of it out. I had heard stories of grandparents saving things that weren’t exactly important. I haven’t thrown anything out though, because apparently my great-grandparents were amateur genealogists. They saved all the right things at all the right times. I have so many amazing records, I could just cry thinking about it. It makes me wish I had known them. Technically I knew Grandma Llewellyn, but I don’t remember her since I was so young when she died. I know I would have loved her though because through these objects she kept, I know that I would have spent a lot of time talking about the past with her. I am just so grateful that my Aunt Lori loves talking about it so much, because it is the next best thing.

Imagine my surprise when I’m going through all these things that have sat in a closet for over 30 years, and I find the most amazing thing. Not even something for my father’s side of the family, but my mothers.

smallworld

You see, my great-grandpa William was an accountant for AT&T in New York City for over 30 years. This man loved to keep records of everything, from bibles to various kinds of account booklets. I can even tell you what my parents telephone number was in 1977 because Great-Grandpa had everyone’s addresses and phone numbers in a book. The pictured book is basically a calendar book with these testimonials on the other page. What you see above is Mrs. R. T. Webb talking about her ailments. My Great-Grandpa didn’t know Mrs. R. T. Webb but I sure do. She’s my 3x Great Aunt on my mother’s side of the tree. She is the sister-in-law of my 3x Great-Grandfather George Washington Webb.

smallworld02It really is a small world folks.

When to Change the Spelling on a Name?

One of the problems I still struggle with is when to change a spelling for one of my families. Usually it’s not an issue. 90% of my families stay pretty consistent. There is that other 10% though. My latest example being the Featherson/Featherston family.

I first became aware of the Feathersons on my great-grandparents marriage certificate.

0284-CliffordHerbertRedford-MR
New Jersey Office of Vital Statistics & Registry, marriage certificate 4422 (1923), Redford-Parkin; New Jersey Department of Health, Trenton

My 2x great-grandmother’s maiden name on this record shows Jennie Featherson. Now in indexes, it usually comes up as Peatherson just like Sutcliffe usually comes up as Putcliffe. I really believe that is an F on this record.

Once I had her maiden name, I tried searching for her in a census. I knew then that Jane Parkin was born in 1896 and since the 1890 census is gone I have to go father back than I would normally like. I tried searching in the 1885 New Jersey State Census and came up with nothing after trying many spellings.  That leaves the 1880 Census. I should also note that I found John Walter Parkin, his wife Jennie, and their 4 children in the 1900 census. That means I have an estimated birth date of Jan/June 1875 in Pennsylvania.

William Featherston, 1880 Census
1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Baltimore County, Maryland. Baltimore city, enumeration district (ED) 33, p. 546-A, dwelling 94, family 106, William Featherston; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Apr 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 498.

I was a little surprised to find my closest match living in Baltimore, Maryland in 1880. It might seem like a jump, but putting together the evidence, maybe not so much. Jennie Featherston is about 5 years old and born in Pennsylvania. Her mother was born in New Jersey as were her parents. This is a nice fit, but how can I prove this is my Jennie? Featherston and Featherson are close enough. Then I got an idea to check a city directory. I thought maybe if I found William Featherston/Featherson in the city directory and his name was spelled without the T, then that would help my case.

William Featherston, 1882
John W. Woods, Baltimore City Directory, 1882: 289; digital images, Ancestry http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 Apr 2016.

Strange enough, I couldn’t find him in 1880, but kept checking and finally found him in an 1882 Baltimore City Directory. It looks like the T is still sticking to his name though. This means I need more records, and more instances to compare. So I sent away for the marriage certificate of Jennie Featherson and John Walter Parkin.

0310-JohnWParkin-MR
New Jersey State Archives, marriage certificate (1891), Parkin-Featherson; New Jersey Division of Archives & Records Management.

Well, this 1891 marriage certificate just confuses me more. Here I have Jennie Featherson, born in Philadelphia, USA (NEW CLUE!), her father is listed as William Featherson and her mother as Jennie with no maiden name. That doesn’t exactly help my case either, since the 1880 Census of William Featherston has a wife named Anna. I just have more questions. Are these the same families? Are they different families? Is Anna a second wife and Jennie a first wife? There is a gap between William Featherston’s second and third child, plus a change in location. That could be a gap where his wife died. It was about this time where I remembered that I had Jennie and John Parkin in 1900 with their four children and it should list the birthplaces of her parents.

John Parkin, 1900
1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Essex County, New Jersey. Newark Ward 11, enumeration district (ED) 113, sheet 12-A, p. 12-A, dwelling 172, family 248, John Walter; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 Apr 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 966.

Please forgive the surname on this record, the family is listed as having a surname of Walter, which is John’s middle name. If I pay attention to just Jennie though, I notice her father was born in England and her mother in New Jersey. Okay, so my 1880 Census couple the Featherston’s might still be a fit. Also notice that Jennie named her first-born daughter Anna.

It’s at this point that I realized I’m going to need more records than what I now have. Really, I could always use more records. Before I could decide to add this couple into my tree as Jennie’s parents, I just needed a little more. I went to FamilySearch.org and checked their catalog. They’ve had so much added recently, I thought I might try to see what they have.

Anne Featherston, 1875It turns out they have a Philadelphia City Births collection! Just what I needed… I guess. There is a perfect fit for Featherston, if my 2x great grandmother’s name was Anne. However, if you look over my previous records, they could use Anne or Jennie as a nickname of the other name. Or maybe they are still 2 different families.

It also doesn’t help that between 1900 and the 1905 New Jersey State Census, I lose my 2x great grandmother Jennie. I am assuming she died because John is living with his mother and their children are living in what looks like a children’s home. By 1910, John is also gone and the kids bounce around a lot. The Featherstons and Feathersons both disappear as well. It is obvious more research is needed.

If this turns out to be the right family it is surely enough evidence to change the name in my database from Featherson to Featherston. The question I have though, is how much evidence do you wait for before changing the spelling of a name in your database? Except for the two marriage records, all other spellings of the family name is Featherston. Yet, the more solid resources, vital records, give the name as Featherson.

William Richard Parkin

October 9, 1841

William Richard Parkin was born in Sheffield, England to parents, John and Mary Parkin.

December 19, 1841

William was baptized at St. Peter & St. Paul Cathedral in Sheffield, England.

Note: I know this only from a parish index, so I need to see the actual record for more information.

March 30, 1851

John Parkin‘s household was recorded in the 1851 England census. The family is living in Ashton Under Lyne. John Parkin is record as being a brushmaker and  33 years old. His birthplace is listed as Sheffield. John’s wife Mary is recorded as being 34 years old and her birthplace it Retford, Nottinghamshire, England.  William Richard Parkin is recorded as being 9 years old and going to school. This census also lists his birth place as Sheffield.

Note: It is a little funny that William Richard Parkin’s mother might be born in Retford, England and then his grand-daughter will marry a man with the last name Redford.

about 1860

William Richard Parkin joins the British Army. I counted back from his discharge papers. It listed his time of service as 11 years and 70 days at least.

April 24, 1864

William Richard Parkin marries Ann Maltis in Hampton parish, Middlesex county, England. W. Ballard and Ellen Geary are witnesses. William lists his residence as Hampton Court and Ann lists hers as Surbiton. His father is listed as John Parkins, brushmaker and hers is listed as William Maltis, carter. Marriage Record

0318-WilliamRParkin-MR

between 1863 and 1865

My 2nd great grandfather, John Walter Parkin, is born in Cheshire, England. I am still tracking down his birth registration. The only reason I know it might be in Cheshire is because of the 1871 England Census. I will just have to pony up and get each record that is close until I find the right one. 😉

April 1870

William‘s second child and only daughter, Mary Ann Parkin, is born in Kingston, Surrey, England.

April 2, 1871

The 1871 England Census is taken. Ann Maltis-Parkin is recorded living with her parents and her twin sister Elizabeth in Kingston, Surrey, England.  Her children John Walter Parkin and Mary Ann Parkin are also living there. William is not listed in the household.

3846-WilliamMaltis-1871

May 16, 1872

William is discharged from the 12th Lancers. I don’t quite understand the record I found in the Chelsea Pensioner Discharge book, but I know he was a private, and most likely in the 244th Regiment. His date of application was May 6, 1872, and date of authority May 9, 1872. His character is listed as Fair. His amount of service towards G.C. Pay and Pension is 6 years, 9 days. His amount of service towards completion of limited engagement was 11 years, 70 days. I will be researching what all this means in the future.

October 4, 1872

William‘s third child, William Maltis Parkin, is born. His birth is registered in Chorlton district, Lancashire, England. John and Mary Parkin were living in Chorlton at the time.

December 29, 1872

William and Ann’s son William is baptized in the Cathedral and Parish Church of Manchester, England.

0321-WilliamMParkin-BR

October 6, 1874

William, aboard The Republic, arrives in New York City at Castle Garden. He lists his age as 33 and his occupation as laborer. Passenger List

December 1874

William‘s fourth child, Joseph B. Parkin, is born in England. There are too many Joseph Parkin birth registrations for me to know which one is his. For this purpose, I used his estimated birth from the 1900 United States Census.

July 26, 1875

Ann Maltis-Parkin, John Walter Parkin, Mary Ann Parkin, William Maltis Parkin, and Joseph Parkin arrive in New York City at Castle Garden. They arrived on The Republic, the same ship William arrived on the previous year..

June 14, 1880

William R Parkin and his wife Ann are counted in the 1880 United States Census. They are living in East Orange, Essex County, New Jersey on Sterling Street. William is working in a sand paper factory. Living in the house are 4 children, John Walter Parkin, Mary A Parkin, William M Parkin, and Joseph Parkin. All kids are listed as being born in England.

August 2, 1881

William Richard Parkin dies in Bloomfield, New Jersey at the age of 39. According to his death certificate he was sick for about a year. He was also sick with bronchitis, but his cause of death is listed as phthisis pulmonalis or Tuberculosis. He was buried in Rosedale Cemetery.

1885

In 1885 New Jersey took a state census. This is the first census of any kind since William’s death. In Newark’s 11th Ward, we find Ann and the four children with a bit of a surprise.

1885njstatecensus

In this record we have Ann and the four children I am sure about. The surprise though is the two girls at the bottom. Mary Parkin and Jane Parkin. When I click on them it gives their age as four and under. I think I’m going to have to take some serious time to analyze this record, maybe even see if I can order it from the Archives. Ann always gave her number of children as 4 living, 4 born, so these two girls are a mystery to me, especially since it didn’t seem that William Richard Parkin had any siblings.

Records to Find:

  • William Richard Parkin‘s birth and baptismal records. Sheffield has an index online, but I need to see the real record.
  • John Walter Parkin‘s birth record, maybe baptismal too.
  • William in 1861 and 1871. He could have traveled with the military, so I will have to look deeper into those records.
  • Joseph Parkin birth record.
  • Any birth, marriage or death records for Mary and Jane Parkin to see who their parents are.

Records to Order:

  • Mary Ann Parkin‘s birth record. Kingston, Surrey, England.
  • William Maltis Parkin‘s birth record. Chorlton, Lancashire, England.
  • The 1885 New Jersey State Census record for Ann Parkin.

William R Parkin and Ann Maltis marriage

William R Parkin, Ann Maltis marriage

Since I will be posting a timeline of William Richard Parkin on Friday, I thought I should post his marriage certificate on here as a little teaser. I recently got this in the mail from England and was very excited to jump back another generation. This record taught me a couple of things I didn’t know and confirmed some things I suspected.

  1. I had suspected that a John Parkin, brushmaker, from Sheffield, England was his father and I think this helps sway me in that direction.
  2. I was absolutely surprised when the certificate came in and it was for Middlesex county, Hampton parish. As you can tell it was registered in Kingston, Surrey, England where Ann’s family lived.
  3. William’s occupation of being a private in the 12th Lancers was another surprise. Where I know him from in America, he was a stone cutter and worked in a sand paper factory.

That’s all for now! I don’t want to give too much away before Friday. 😉 Plus I need to update my database website with the new info.

Brief Website Makeover

Hello all, just dropping in quickly this morning to say I’ve refreshed my database website with a new look. I am recovering from a 3 day migraine and just could not take the bright colors I used to love.

websitescreenshotI made sure to leave in links to everything that had links before. Now I just need to keep updating it so it has more current research on it. The only major re-design that would happen to either this section or the database section is when I learn more coding. 🙂 That’s going to take a little time though, so this design will probably be around a while.

I will hopefully be back later today with an actual genealogy update or record at least. Then Friday, I will be posting another time. This time for William Richard Parkin.

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