I’ve been working on a bit of a puzzle this past year. Let’s start with the straightforward part.
Orin Maffit was born 5 January 1906 in Chicago to Emma Jerrain and Seth Maffit. He was the second child born to Emma and the only child currently living at the time of his birth. Orin and his family were living at 2896 Archer Avenue. The informant of his birth was his uncle William T Maffit who was a doctor living about 3 1/2 miles away.
A short 2 months and 18 days later, Orrin Seth Maffit died 23 March 1906 in Chicago. He was buried the following day in St. Anne, Illinois. The Maffit family was still living at the same address. Once again the informant was Uncle William. The cause of death was acute fermental diarrhea with a contributing complication of convulsions.
A sadly short life with very straightforward records.
Except, no one in my family has ever heard of Orrin.
Orrin is my great grand uncle, older brother to my great grandma Estelle the photographer. Orrin has several living nieces and nephews, none of whom know anything about his existence.
Now you may be thinking to yourself that it’s pretty common for families to refrain from speaking about deceased children. True. But how about I muddy up the waters a bit?
Emma Jerrain, mother of Orrin and Estelle, liked family history. She liked to keep records. Her daughter carried on the tradition. I have found about half a dozen typed documents that are essentially a collection of family group records created by Emma & Estelle. They seemed to care a great deal about accuracy as there are many notations and they used their own version of a genealogical numbering system. Among these records are listed the children of Emma Jerrain and Seth Maffit. Each list is almost identical. The children are listed as:
- Honor Marie Maffit, b. 14 April 1904, d. 17 April 1904
- Chesterfield Jerrain Maffit, b. 5 January 1905, d. 20 January 1905 OR 21 March 1905
- Maynard Seth Maffit
- Hilan Thorne Maffit
- Orville Maffit, b. 12 May 1910, d. 8 October 1926
- Hope Estelle Maffit
- Everard Wayne Maffit
- Lorado Shorman Maffit
- Dale Gilbert Maffit
- Marjorie Irene Maffit
- Jacquelin Unity Maffit
- Seth Maffit
Never, not once, is Orrin listed.
To complicate matters nicely, Chesterfield has two death dates listed on different sets of records. On top of that, I can find no records for a Chesterfield Jerrain Maffit. His birth date is identical to Orrin’s just one year earlier. One of his death dates is one year and two days earlier than Orrin’s death date. The 1910 census for the Maffit family lists Seth, Emma, Maynard, & Hilan. Emma is listed as a mother of 4 with 2 living. Orrin’s birth record lists his birth as the second birth for Emma. If there is both a Chesterfield and an Orrin, then both the census and Orrin’s birth record are inaccurate.
So here is the question of the day – Are Orrin Seth Maffit and Chesterfield Jerrain Maffit actually the same person?
Did they name him Orrin Seth and then at some point after his death decide to call him Chesterfield Jerrain? Do people do that? Or is there another child born to Seth and Emma that Emma did not include in her many family group sheets?
What I know for sure is that a male child was born to Seth and Emma, they named him Orin Maffit and when he died 2 1/2 months later they listed his name as Orrin Seth Maffit. I know when and where he was born and died. I can prove that much. Now what do I do about Chesterfield?
It seems I need to spend a little time paging through the Chicago birth and death records for 1905 to see if I can’t find something about Chesterfield. I also need to get to know the folks at the cemetery in St. Anne where Honor and Orrin are buried. If Chesterfield is in fact a separate person from Orrin maybe he is buried there as well.
I think this puzzle may be one without a perfectly complete answer, but I am going to do my best to find every piece I can. For now, my tree has an Orrin Seth and a Chesterfield Jerrain.
note: I only included the birth and death dates for the children who died before reaching adulthood to make the list more manageable for the reader.