It’s not fair of me to call Mary contrary. I don’t even know Mary. However, her blood is running through my veins. Maybe that gives me a little wiggle room to be a little cross with her for being so hard to track sometimes. The funny thing about Mary is that before my Genealogy Do-Over, I didn’t even think Mary was that contrary. It’s all these new rules I put in place for myself. They keep me second and third guessing everything!
Records of Mary’s life
Mary E. Johnson is the first time that my Genealogy Do-Over has made me sweat. It would be easy to just add in the family I believe to be hers and continue working off that assumption. The problem with that being, can I prove that is actually her family? The answer to that is nope, not even a little bit. It’s going to be so bad of me to admit what I thought before, but I have to do it. That’s the whole point of starting fresh.
The following record is the first record I am able to use to see into Mary’s life before she married. My great-grandfather’s birth certificate just gives her maiden name, which helped, but doesn’t say anything about her parents.
How I know this is the correct couple
- The names of Robert, his father Wm. H., and mother Mary all match up with what I know. This is the first instance I have of Mary’s maiden name. (Robert’s mother)
- In 1900, my Robert does list his occupation as an Insurance Collector.
- While the address given for Robert’s residence isn’t familiar, his brother’s ran a printing business just down the street at 1567 Broadway. Maybe the brothers decided to move into an apartment together close to work?
- I have found records for Robert’s siblings that also give their mother’s maiden name as Starret.
Where I Went Wrong Before
Previously, when I did a search for Mary I just typed in what I knew and I went with the top result. Not just because it was the top result, but because it was the only result of Arthur, Ann, and Mary Johnson in a household with the right ages. Jackpot, this must be them! Oh boy was I green.
Most of the Mary Johnson’s I was finding didn’t have an Arthur as a father or the parents weren’t born in Ireland. In fact, I was getting a lot of Sweden results when searching for Ireland. Maybe I should reverse that and look for Sweden to see if more Ireland pops up? The family below is the only family living in the New York City or surrounding area to fit the bill. I know Mary was born in New York. The family below was living on Long Island in the village of Babylon. So far there is nothing to connect my Mary Johnson to this family. For now that means not linking this family into my main family line.
The Temporary Solution
I’ve already found this family in the census returns between 1860 through 1880. That includes the 1865 New York State Census. The 1875 State census would be grand but Suffolk County, where this family was living, was lost. What to do with that information? It’s a waste to just throw it out. Technically while there is nothing to say this is my family, there is nothing to say that it isn’t. The dilemma was how to keep track of this family without adding them in and possibly assuming in the future that they belong there.
My solution is to add the family un-linked into my main genealogy file. This allows me to follow all my same procedures and keep things organized. If after researching them, I decide they are the right family I can just merge them into my main line. Carefully of course!
My plan for now is to keep researching this Johnson family. I will try to build the family out from this starting point. If I can rule them out of my search, I will consider moving them to a separate file. Another option is to start a Johnson file where I can research multiple Johnson families and keep track of them. I don’t mind having one orphaned family in my working file, but anymore and I’m afraid it will turn into a mess.
Some of you might be wondering why I didn’t start off with a new Johnson file to begin with. While it would have been better keeping it away from my working file, I didn’t have other families in that area at the time that looked promising. Had I found 2 or 3 families that were living around each other, I probably would have gone that route.
Open to Suggestions!
I am going to be open to suggestions when it comes to the Johnsons! My main priority is still going to be my Do-Over. That means gathering as many documents for my Mary Johnson’s children before spending too much money buying records trying to identify her parents.
For the curious, I’ve included a screenshot of what my plan tab looks like right now in my Research Log. The List tab is the big list of names as I’m verifying them. It’s what tells me who is next to document. This is really working for me! I don’t know how I would keep it all straight otherwise.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to update everyone again soon!