ancestor story, puzzling

Who is Maggie Douglas? Part Two

Clydebank Townhall.  Photo Credit: Darrin Antrobus - From, CC BY-SA 2.0
Clydebank Townhall.  Photo Credit: Darrin Antrobus – From, CC BY-SA 2.0.

In Part One of the Maggie Douglas tale, I discovered Maggie’s existence.  Here’s a recap:

My great grandmother Mary Brown Young traveled from Scotland to Montana with her mother and siblings at the age of 7.  The first travel record I found was a border crossing record based on a ship manifest.  Along with Mary and her immediate family, Maggie Douglas was listed on the same ship.  She gave Mary’s father, James Young, as the person she was joining in the United States.  She claimed he was her cousin.

I had never come across a Maggie Douglas in my research.  Not even the surname of Douglas.  The record had quite a bit of information but I was really scratching my head about who Maggie was and how I was going to track her down.

I knew that Maggie last lived in Clydebank and that she claimed James was her cousin.

Okay, but what did she mean by cousin?  First cousin, second cousin, third cousin?  And then of course there is the whole removed business.  Because Douglas is not a surname in my tree I looked at the female relatives of James Young, his aunts in a few generations.  I checked for women that I had not fully researched and didn’t yet know the names of their spouses.  The trouble was, Young is a terribly common last name in Scotland.  Added to that is the fact that my Young family followed the naming tradition and the women are named: Mary, Elizabeth, Margaret, Janet, Jessie, Agnes, and Isabella.  Nothing else.  Talk about a needle in a haystack.  There is a good reason most of them lack spouses in my tree.  Trying to hypothesize Maggie’s parents was getting nowhere pretty quickly.  I moved on.

I knew that Maggie claimed her intention to join James in Montana.  I even had an address.  I started searching for a trail in the United States after the date of the border crossing record.  I knew that James and his family left Montana for Washington State before 1920.  I searched for a Maggie/Margaret Douglas born 1884 in Scotland with residences in Montana and Washington.

I found one possible census record:

  • Margaret Douglas
  • age: 40
  • Born about 1880 in Scotland
  • Home in 1920: Spokane, Spokane, Washington
  • Address:  109 S. Wall Street
  • White, Female
  • Year of Immigration: 1906
  • Head of household
  • Divorced
  • Parents both born in Scotland
  • She rented
  • Alien status, able to read, able to write
  • Occupation:  Housekeeper in a club

Close.  Definitely possible.  Flaws?

  • Her age was off by four years.  But, it was listed as 40.  A nice round number if you live in her building and don’t know her exact age.
  • Divorced.  Maybe?  I don’t know.
  • Year of immigration should be 1910 not 1906 but again, what if she wasn’t the one giving the information?

This address is 3.1 miles from where James and his family were living in Spokane in 1920.  That definitely seems like a point in favor of this being my Maggie.  The problem is that there was no way to know for sure.  No family members listed with her.

Working on the assumption that it was possible this was my Maggie, I looked for additional records.  I searched the Washington State Digital Archives for a death or marriage record.  I searched for the 1930 and 1940 census.  I searched findagrave and billiongraves.  Nothing.  No continuing trail.

I was not okay with giving up.  I decided to try my luck at finding her birth record in Scotland.  I’ll sum this part up really fast – plenty of time and pennies, no luck.

I wasn’t sure why, but I REALLY wanted to know who Maggie Douglas was.  I wanted to know if I was related to her and if I was, how?  But I was out of leads.  Nothing to go on.  With great reluctance I stopped my search.  I made a few notes for myself and closed the research file.

Do you feel sad?  I did.  Walking away from a genealogy puzzle is not something I like to do.  But all I had was one piece of a many pieced puzzle.  One piece is not usually enough.  This time it really wasn’t enough.  Not yet anyway.


To be continued…



15 thoughts on “Who is Maggie Douglas? Part Two”

  1. That happens so many times to me. I sometimes have to leave a “thread” in order to pursue other threads. What’s cool is that sometimes I revisit those threads and find that new information has been transcribed or uploaded which explains things. She could be the help who could not enter without being family. All kinds of things. Keep curious!

    1. Hi Alison, thanks for your comment. 🙂 Walking away from a genealogy puzzle for a while is often the perfect thing isn’t it? A rest, and then re-tackling with fresh eyes, new collections and so on are often just the ticket.

  2. Ach– you left me in suspense! When are you writing up the next part!!?? I have one like this that drives me crazy. Actually, I have several. Relatives who just disappeared. whose stories remain unfinished. It makes me crazy!

    1. Hi Amy! Those make me crazy too!! But, if it weren’t for those ones we wouldn’t be nearly as good at researching and if everything came easily it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting. 🙂

            1. Darn, maybe you’ll get one yet. I have written several posts about dead-ends or puzzling things. Usually the most helpful responses come much later when someone is googling and comes across my post. You sent it out into the world, hopefully it comes back to you with more details!

        1. Not yet, I’m hoping to get to it in the next few weeks. It’s going to take at least two more posts so I’m not going to post Part 3 until I have them all written. 😉

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