thegenealogygirl


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Does baby Dorothy belong in my tree?

gg - george eliot quote

Francis Cyprien Duval & Alice Hyde are my 2nd great grandparents.  They are pictured above with four of their five children who survived birth and infancy.  Their oldest son, Francis Henry (back left), is my great grandfather.

I have known about 5 of their children for years.  Slowly I have been finding little tid-bits that indicate there were additional children.

These are the five children who are well known to me:

  • Annie Marie Elvera Duval, 1899-1979
  • Francis Henry Duval, 1901-1996
  • Leon Howard Duval, 1907-1941
  • Dolores Lenore Duval, 1909-2005
  • Alexander Valmore Duval, 1916-1997

Notice the gaps?  Six years between Frank and Leon, and seven years between Dolores and Valmore.  Those are pretty big gaps for a Roman Catholic like Francis Cyprien Duval.

For a few years now I have known of two other children.  The first is a baby boy who was not named.  He was born and died on 15 February 1915 in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The second child is referenced in the 1910 census for the family while they are living in Fairbanks, Alaska.  Alice is listed as the mother of 5, with 4 living.  That means that there is a child who was born and died prior to 10 February 1910.

So my revised list of children looks like this:

  • Annie Marie Elvera Duval, 1899-1979
  • Francis Henry Duval, 1901-1996
  • Unknown Duval, born and died prior to February 10, 1910
  • Leon Howard Duval, 1907-1941
  • Dolores Lenore Duval, 1909-2005
  • Baby Boy Duval, 1915-1915
  • Alexander Valmore Duval, 1916-1997

It seems likely that the child I learned of from the 1910 census belongs between Frank and Leon in that 6 year gap, but that is just speculation.

It now appears there may be an additional child.

 

A baby girl named Dorothy.

The Western Call, a BC newspaper, has a death and funeral announcement found in their 14 October 1910 issue that reads:

DUVAL

The death took place Wednesday morning of Dorothy, the infant daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Duval, corner of Twenty-sixth avenue and Martha street.  The funeral was held Thursday morning at 9.30 o’clock from the residence, Rev. G. A. Wilson Officiating.

Could this Mr. and Mrs. Frank Duval be my Frank & Alice Duval?

Most likely.

 

I know from an interview of their son Frank in the late 1970s/early 1980s that Frank and Alice left Alaska sometime after Alice’s father Henry died in 1907.  They were still in Fairbanks when the 1910 census was taken in February of that year.  I know that after they left Fairbanks they lived in Vancouver for a short time before moving to Lynn Valley, BC where they all lived until sometime after Francis Cyprien Duval’s death in 1919.

So once again, I revise my list of children for Frank and Alice:

  • Annie Marie Elvera Duval, 1899-1979
  • Francis Henry Duval, 1901-1996
  • Unknown Duval, born and died prior to February 10, 1910
  • Leon Howard Duval, 1907-1941
  • Dolores Lenore Duval, 1909-2005
  • Dorothy Duval, died 12 (or 11th) October 1910
  • Baby Boy Duval, 1915-1915
  • Alexander Valmore Duval, 1916-1997

Does baby Dorothy belong in my tree?

 

I think so.  I need more records to be sure.

But now I am wondering… how many other children are missing?

 

 

Note:  THANK YOU to Teresa from writing my past for suggesting I check out this BC newspaper site where I found the obit for baby Dorothy.  Of course that led me to additional searching including this site for BC City Directories.  I love the genealogy blogging community.  Our collective knowledge and sharing make genealogy SO MUCH better.  Thank you Teresa!

 

 


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Unraveling the John Boles Mystery – Conclusion

BOLES, John Thompson & Christina, headstone

John Thompson Boles & Christina Montgomery Boles headstone, Stellawood Cemetery, Durban, Kwazulu-Natal.  Photograph by Maureen Kruger for the Gravestones in South Africa project on the eGGSA website.

John Boles is my 3rd great granduncle.  The disappearance of his entire family from Scotland in 1890 has been a mystery to me for several years.  With the discovery of the existence of his possible estate file, and the microfilm containing that file, I ordered the film from BYU and looked forward to learning new details that might finally answer my two big questions:

When did John Boles leave Scotland for South Africa?

and

Why did John Boles move his entire family of 9 to South Africa?

 

After ordering the microfilm containing his possible estate file, life got busy and I didn’t make it over to BYU to view the file before RootsTech.  So, I decided to look up the file while in Salt Lake City at the FHL.

To my utter delight, I found both John’s 27 page file and Christina’s 2 page file very quickly and made several discoveries.  The important first discovery was that they contained information that confirmed these estate files were about my John and Christina Boles.

MONTGOMERY, Christina, 1927 Estate File

Christina Montgomery Boles’ death notice.

The biggest discovery was that John and Christina had two children after they settled in South Africa – Alice and John.  They are listed as children numbered 10 and 11 on Christina’s death notice.  Child number 12, Isabella Miller, belongs in position 3.

I also learned that John owned land, several pieces of very nice land.

durban-bay-map

1930 map of Durban Harbour, from the collection of Allan Jackson.  Used with permission.

At the time of his death in 1935, John owned land that was part of the Farm Sea View.  This development is found west of Durban Bay just north of the sizable Clairmont Estate.

In addition to the land, John owned shares in several different mines.

He also had quite a list of movable property, nice furnishings, a piano, and many other possessions acquired during the years he lived in South Africa.

John and Christina’s estate files did not enlighten me on when they came to South Africa, but they did open my eyes as to why they came.

In Scotland, John was a coal miner.  This was not a life that afforded opportunity.  He would never own land.  His daily existence was hard and his earnings were meager.  His children would work from a young age and live a similar life.

In studying the estate files of John, Christina, and their children, I discovered that the entire family experienced a much better life, financially, in South Africa than they ever would have experienced in Scotland.  They helped manage mines and stores.  They owned land and homes and movable property of value, as well as shares in several mines.

This knowledge is bittersweet for me.  They went from being the poor workers to managing the poor workers.  My understanding of South African history and apartheid is limited, but it’s broad enough to know that my Boles family benefited from this cruel system.  I am happy that they were able to experience more comfort and safety in their new life but I am also saddened to know that it came at the expense of others.  History is complicated.

When they came is still a bit of a mystery.  I reviewed the documents I currently hold for this family and have this timeline:

  • 4 July 1889, Agnes Smellie Boles is born in Holytown, Lanark, Scotland and her father John is the informant.
  • 18 February 1890, John Boles dies in Holytown, Lanark, Scotland.  The informant is not his father John Boles, but his uncle Alexander Boles.  It is possible that John has already left Scotland for South Africa at this point.
  • 5 November 1890, the 7 living Boles children travel to Natal, South Africa aboard the Methven Castle, traveling with Chas M Boles.  A recently found record indicates that their father John Boles, residing in Dundee, was the surety name for the children.

John left Scotland sometime after 4 July 1889 and before 5 November 1890.  While I haven’t found an immigration record for John or his wife Christina, I know that neither of them traveled to South Africa with the children.  Did they come together?

My original goal in learning more about John Boles was to hopefully learn more about his parents, my 4th great grandparents.  Unfortunately, learning the end of John Boles’ life did not add new information about his parents.  I did learn more about John, Christina, and their children.  I do feel a sense of closure for their family, but as is the case with most research, I now have more questions than when I started.  Fortunately the questions are not essential to my research so I will be able to put them away and move on to other members of the Boles family.

It was a fitting end to find an image of John and Christina’s headstone pictured at the top of this post.

This research journey from Scotland to South Africa that John and Christina took me on deserves two follow-up posts – one about FamilySearch records and one about South African records found in various places online.

Happy Thursday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery today!

 


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Who is Patricia?

mission035

Recently we spent our family night looking at photos of my Grandpa while he was serving an LDS mission in New Zealand.  We also looked at a shoe box of letters he kept from this time and everyone read one.  I read a letter written by his Grandpa & Grandma Skeen.  There was one thing that jumped right out at me:

"Patricia"

“The welfare man came and took Patricia to a couple who have’nt any children.  Well it just made me sick still I think it is better for her she would’nt have half a chanch ove[r] to Ethels”

Do you know how many Ethels are related to Grandma Skeen?!  A lot.  I have been going through my tree trying to figure out the most likely prospects and every one I have considered has been ruled out so far with one exception.  Grandma Skeen has a sister-in-law named Ethel.  I know a little bit about her.  I am beginning to wonder if Patricia is her grandchild or something like that.  This letter was written in 1947, Ethel would have been 68 – maybe age and health would have prevented her from caring for Patricia?  But that seems unlikely too.  Ethel and her husband seemed very stable.  He was an attorney, they lived in the same place for decades.

So now I’m asking myself if:

  • I’ve missed an Ethel I should be looking at?
  • If Ethel wasn’t a relative but a mother of a child who is a relative – girlfriend of someone?
  • If Ethel is a neighbor?
  • Who might be alive that would remember what happened?

I think I’ve been watching too many episodes of Long, Lost Family because I’m just wondering if Patricia has been searching for her birth family and I have this little clue buried in a letter in a shoe box.

I love the thought process that leads to a discovery as much as I love the discovery itself!

Now how am I going to discover Patricia’s story…?


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Disappointing Death Record

MAFFIT, Seth Potter, 1904 Death Record

I recently wrote about the unusual death of my 3rd great grandfather.  I had hoped the death record might add some helpful information.  I was able to find it on microfilm at the BYU Family History Library last week.  Unfortunately, it was a bit of a let down.  I suppose this record confirms that his cause of death was a skull fracture, that he died in the hospital and that he was buried in Momence.  But, I already knew those details.  I wonder if a record of ANY kind exists that might shed some light on the unusual circumstances surrounding Seth’s death?  It looks like I have more stones to turn over!


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Who is Maggie Douglas? Part Four – Conclusion

The Hesperian - the ship that Maggie Douglas, Catherine, Catherine, Mary, Alexander, & George Young sailed on from Scotland to America in 1910.  Image found here.

The Hesperian – the ship that Maggie Douglas, Catherine, Catherine, Mary, Alexander, & George Young sailed on from Scotland to America in 1910. Image found here.

You can catch up on my search for Maggie Douglas in parts one, two, and three.

 

I felt so tantalizingly close!

I knew Maggie was somehow connected to the Douglas family.  One strong possibility was that Maggie had married one of the sons of Alexander Marshall Douglas and Margaret Young.  With this in mind I started researching each of those boys.  I purchased their birth records first to get a precise birth date and full name.  Then with this information I looked for death records for the boys knowing that the death records would list their spouses.

Slowly I was building the details of this family when I found this death record.

Alexander Marshall Douglas, deathSo what does this record tell me?

Alexander Marshall Douglas, son of Alexander Marshall Douglas and Margaret Young, brother of Barclay Douglas who lived on Dock Street in Yoker, died 2 February 1910.  His cause of death was a comminuted fracture of the skull.  He died in Western Infirmary in Glasgow and his usual residence was 19 Trafalgar Street in Dalmuir.  He was 31 and a Journeyman Ship Plater at the time of his death.  But the big deal, the cause for excitement, is that he was married to a Margaret Tait!

Margaret Tait just might be my Maggie Douglas!

My next step was to get Alexander and Margaret’s marriage record to compare her age to my Maggie Douglas.

Alexander and Maggie, MarriageHot dog!  Margaret was 20 at the time of her marriage in 1905 giving her an approximate birth year of 1885.  Based on the travel document that started it all, Maggie Douglas has an approximate birth year of 1884.  An excellently close match.

The last fact I could confirm was Maggie Douglas’ place of birth.  On the travel document she listed her birthplace as Clydebank, Scotland.  The record I needed to confirm that Margaret Leckie McPherson Dempster and Maggie Douglas were the same person was Margaret Leckie McPherson Dempster’s birth record.

It was pretty easy to find with that big old name.  Margaret was in fact born in Clydebank.  She was the illegitimate daughter of Robina Dempster and Archibald McPherson.

I found Maggie!

 

Maggie was born to unmarried farm servants.  At the age of 20 she was working as a Machinist in Yoker when she married Alexander Marshall Douglas.  She was married for 4 1/2 years before she was widowed.  Her husband died in February of 1910 and in October of 1910 she left Scotland for America.  She traveled with my great grandmother Mary Brown Young, Mary’s mother Catherine and other siblings.  Maggie was traveling to her cousin James Young in Montana.  James is actually the 1st cousin, once removed of Maggie’s husband.  James is my 2nd great grandfather.  Maggie’s husband Alexander is my 1st cousin 5 times removed.

So why all the fuss about Maggie?

She’s not one of my ancestors.  She’s not even one of my relatives.  She married into my family.  Why does she matter?

She matters because I could feel her story.  I didn’t know what that story was but I could feel it.

Here was a young woman who left the country of her birth bound for America in 1910.  She traveled with my great grandmother who was 7 years old.  Can’t you just see Maggie holding Mary’s little hand, helping her board the ship?  Can’t you just see the little lot of them – Maggie, Catherine and the children – saying goodbye to their homeland, standing on the deck of a large ship watching the shore fade into the mist?  I can see them.  Maggie was part of Mary & Catherine’s story.  Maggie helped my ancestors make it to America.  Maggie matters to my story.

Since beginning my series on Maggie Douglas, a cousin of mine read my first post and sent me an email with the following details:

“When I was showing Mary [my great grandmother] one of the photos of the my grandmother [my 2nd great grandmother Catherine] and family, there was a lady dressed in a kilt.  I had asked Mary Costello about her
and Mary said that was probably Maggie Douglas.  She said that “she was always around”.  She said the kilt (uniform) was her dad’s and that Maggie was wearing it.  She said that Maggie moved to southern Idaho.

Attached is the back of a postcard from Maggie to my grandmother.  Notice the post mark of Idaho and the date of 1914.  I know my dad was interested in contacting Maggie as well and it seems to me that Hamer was mentioned.”

And here is the post card:

Maggie Douglas postcardIt is addressed to my 2nd great grandmother Katie Young, 812 South Jackson St, Butte.  The postmark is 1914 in Idaho.  The card reads:

“Dear Katie,  I have not time to write you  I am so busy  tell all the folks I was asking for them  having nice weather  hoping to see you soon  Alex & Walter send their…”

Oh boy!  Alex & Walter?  I’m thinking Maggie may have remarried and had a child.  I may have figured out who Maggie Douglas is, how she fits into my tree, when and where she was born and a rough idea of why she traveled with my family to America, but I don’t know the end of her story.

Maybe my cousin can dig up a few more clues for me from the family archive.  Maybe the names Alex & Walter and Idaho will be enough for me to find an ending.

I have more research to do!

Maggie’s story definitely has more.

But for now I am so delighted that I finally know the answer to the question Who is Maggie Douglas?

 

 

Thank you to pastsmith who prompted me to write this series with her question:  “Have you ever had to start midstream, so to speak, in research?

 


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Who is Maggie Douglas? Part Three

Aerial view of Yoker - with Dock Street visible.  Image from Googlemaps.

Aerial view of Yoker – with Dock Street visible.  Image from Googlemaps.

Maggie Douglas first appeared on a travel record for my great grandmother.  She claimed to be the cousin of my 2nd great grandfather.  That record began a research journey that has been both fascinating and frustrating.

In part one, I wrote about the travel record and the details I learned about Maggie.  In part two I shared the search strategies I tried based on the information I had from the travel record.  Sadly I found nothing and had to walk away from the Maggie Douglas puzzle.  Today’s portion of the story is full of unexpected discoveries that bring me right to the brink of finding Maggie Douglas.

 

Time had passed.  I wasn’t thinking about or working on figuring out who Maggie Douglas was.  She had slipped to the back of the research files.  Her puzzle had become silent in my mind.

And then, last Mother’s Day I enjoyed some quiet research time – heavenly.  Even better were the results of that time.  I stumbled across a mess in Family Tree on familysearch.org.  A mess created by someone else.  A mess that prompted me to fully source my, at that time, current end of line individual – James Young.  In sourcing and sorting out the tangle, I ended up searching once again for his death record and I found it.  This added another generation to my tree, another James Young and his wife Janet Robertson – my 5th great grandparents.

After pushing back a generation I did what I always do, I worked on searching for their descendants.  I have identified 8 children.  So far I have found spouses for 4 of those children, children for 3 of them, and spouses for several of those children.  Among the children of James Young and Janet Robertson is a daughter named Margaret Young.

Margaret was born in 1845 in Renfrew, Renfrew, Scotland.  In 1869, she married Alexander Marshall Douglas in Renfrew.  The name Douglas caused a little niggle in the back of my mind.  A niggle that wasn’t enough to bring to mind why that name mattered but a niggle none-the-less.  I spent several days working on learning about Alexander and Margaret.  Slowly I identified their children – 9 in all.  I discovered that Alexander died at the age of 41 leaving behind Margaret and several living children.  She lived 7 more years.  At the time of her death none of her children were married.

I focused my research on their oldest son Barclay Douglas because of his less common name.  I found a 1915 marriage record to a Mary Cameron Muir.  Again with the niggling, Muir – not a name in my direct line anywhere but I have a few Muirs that married into my tree, I wondered if that was what I was thinking of…?  I didn’t know so I returned my attention to Barclay.  I found him on the 1901 Scottish census as the head of household with 4 of his siblings and a housekeeper.  In 1911 I found him living with his younger brother William in the household of David & Isabella Muir.

There was that Muir name again.  I wondered if David was brother to Mary Cameron Muir, Barclay’s future wife.  After several records I was able to prove that David and Mary were in fact siblings.  The proving also established that David’s wife Isabella was Barclay’s sister.  A brother and sister from my Douglas family had married a brother and sister from a Muir family.

I went back to the 1911 census and studied it more carefully to see if I could identify any other siblings living on that street.  First thing I checked was the name of the street – Dock Street, in Yoker.

And then all of those nigglings came crashing together.  Douglas, Muir, Dock Street, Yoker.  Maggie Douglas?  Oh yeah, Maggie Douglas!

I started clicking like a mad woman opening up all sorts of tabs so I could compare documents and facts.  I suddenly wondered if Maggie Douglas was the youngest child of Alexander Marshall Douglas and Margaret Young.  Alexander and Margaret had a daughter named Margaret Young Douglas born 1877, died 1878.  Maybe they had one more child at the end that they named Margaret?  Maybe she was so young when her mother died she didn’t stay with her older siblings?  I scoured the 1901 census looking for a Maggie/Margaret Douglas that matched the facts I had about Maggie Douglas from the travel record.  No good matches!

And then after a feverish 45 minutes or so I more carefully reviewed that travel document again and saw that it said Maggie Douglas was married.  Married?!  Darn it, I missed something important again?  Married.  Douglas?  Not her maiden name?  I knew Maggie was somehow tied to this family.  The Douglas family, the Muir family, and the Young family.  But I didn’t yet know how.  I was so close.  So incredibly close.

Who is Maggie Douglas?

 

to be continued…

 


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Who is Maggie Douglas? Part Two

Clydebank Townhall.  Photo Credit: Darrin Antrobus - From geograph.org.uk, CC BY-SA 2.0

Clydebank Townhall.  Photo Credit: Darrin Antrobus – From geograph.org.uk, 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…