thegenealogygirl


20 Comments

52 Ancestors – ALL the Babies of Mary Brown Wood

unknown infant

photo credit: Michelle Jones, used with permission

 

Late last week I began to organize myself to finally write a post about finding the parents of Andrew Brown, my fourth great-grandfather.  But the thing is, I noticed something about his oldest son William that made me wonder if William is actually his son.  That set me off down the rabbit hole.  All of the chasing through twists and turns led to me learning all about William’s daughter Mary Brown.

And that, my friends, led me to set aside Andrew and then William to tell the tale of Mary Brown Wood.

Mary Brown is my 1st cousin, 4 times removed.  Before last week, I knew very little about her.  I can sum that knowledge up in these few paragraphs:

 

Mary Brown was born 17 December 1870 in Carnwath, Lanark, Scotland1 to William Brown & Janet Lorimer Fulton.

By the tender age of 3 months, she was living with her family of four, 15 miles from the place of her birth in Lesmahagow, Lanark, Scotland.2

At the age of ten years, she and her growing family of eight were now living 13 miles from Lesmahagow in Hamilton, Lanark, Scotland where Mary was enrolled in school.3

Then at the age of twenty, Mary is found still living at home with nine of her family members in Bothwell, Lanark, Scotland.  A mere 3 miles from Hamilton.  Mary is simply listed as a coal miner’s daughter on the census.4

 

And that was all that I knew about Mary.

 

Her name is Mary Brown.  That is the female equivalent of the John-Smith-needle-in-a-haystack that we all use as the example of the nearly impossible research problem.  Of course, researching John Smith, or Mary Brown, isn’t actually impossible, but a lot less fun and easy than researching – say – Julius Augustus Caesar Austin (an actual direct line ancestor of mine).  It’s slower and harder and there is a lot more room for error.

Years ago, when I last worked on cousin Mary, I hadn’t been motivated to slug through record after record of Mary Browns, all the while paying for each and every view on ScotlandsPeople.

But last week, when I suddenly wanted desperately to find the death record of Mary’s father William – a record that is still eluding me by the way – I dove into Mary and each and every one of her siblings whose names are oh-so-similar to John Smith.

Along the way, I discovered something that focused me right in.

 

Mary was missing babies.

 

Missing babies are very difficult for me to ignore.  When I know that they are missing, or suspect that they are missing, I CAN NOT let it go.  Such was the case with Mary and her missing babies.

It all started with an Ancestry member tree.  Mary had a hint and one of the trees seemed to be substantive.  You know, there were actual sources and full place names.  😉  In this tree, Mary had a spouse and six children, as well as one new census record.  Mary’s family on that tree looked like this:

  • Spouse:  William Wood, b. 1872, married 2 February 1894 in Bothwell.
  • Son, William Wood, 1895-1915
  • Son, John Wood, 1897-
  • Son, Hugh Brown Wood, 1900-1957
  • Daughter, Annie Wood, 1902-
  • Son, Edward Brown Wood, 1907-1925
  • Son, listed simply as Private to indicate that he is still marked as living.

That is a lot more information than I had.  So I set about using it as a guide as I purchased records on ScotlandsPeople to verify this new-to-me information.

And verify is what I did.

Mary Brown did marry William Wood.5 She did have children named: William, John, Hugh, Annie, Edward, and as it turns out David.

This Ancestry user tree and FamilySearch were in pretty close agreement.

But I still hadn’t answered my William Brown question, so I went looking for Mary Brown Wood on the 1911 census.  It took some work to manipulate the search terms and filters to find what I needed, but eventually, I got it.  And what did I discover?

Mary Brown and her husband William Wood were the parents of William, John, Hugh, Annie, David, and Edward.  But Mary was listed as the mother of 8 with 6 children living.6

 

There were two missing babies!

 

And since I CAN NOT ignore missing babies, I was up late.  I used what I knew about the Scottish naming pattern, I looked at the spacing between the children, I timelined each address from the records I already had.  And then I began the painful, and not-at-all-cost-effective process of tracking down those babies.

{at least it’s a wee bit less needle-in-a-haystack-ish to search for Wood than it is to search for Brown…}

The first missing baby was actually the first born baby.  He wasn’t too hard to imagine because there was a telling two+ year gap between Mary & William’s marriage and the birth of their son William.

Most of my Scottish folks have more like 3-6 months between marriage and the birth of the first baby.  Plus, the first baby I knew about was named William.  William should have been the name of the second son.  They were missing an Alexander – William Wood’s father’s name.

Sure enough, Mary Brown and William Wood had a son named Alexander Wood who was born 17 March 1894 in Bothwell, Lanark, Scotland7 – a respectable 13 whole months after their marriage date, I might add.

Sadly, Alexander lived for only 11 months.  He died of pneumonia on the 26th of February 1895.8

But then I stalled out.  I knew the other missing baby had to have died before 1911, the date Mary was listed as the mother of 8 with 6 children living, but I could not find the other missing baby.

I bought far too many records that did not belong to my Mary and William.

I changed my search terms, places, and dates.

I only had one daughter so far.  Annie.  But Annie is the name of William’s mother.  I was missing a daughter named Janet – for Mary’s mother.

I found one.

Janet Brown Wood died 24 December 1912 of bronchitis and heart failure.  She was only a year old.9

My heart broke for Mary Brown Wood.

Her precious daughter, named for her own mother, died on Christmas Eve.

Worse still, she died in 1912.

That meant there was another baby yet to find.  One who died before 1911.

But that baby eluded me.

Instead, I found Mary Wood, born 29 August 1913 in Cowie, Stirling, Scotland.10 Mary lived a little bit longer than Alexander and Janet, dying at 18 months of meningitis on the 4th of January 1915.11

Oh, Mary.

How many more babies did you lose?

At this point, I went back and looked for babies who were born and died before 1911 and finally found the baby that had pushed me to keep searching and led me to find Janet Brown Wood and Mary Wood.

There was another Alexander Wood.

Alexander was born 16 April 1910 in Cowie, Stirling, Scotland.12.  His life was the shortest.  He didn’t even live a full two months, dying 6 May 1910 in Cowie.13  His cause of death was infant debility.

In the end, although not really the end because there is more to do, I discovered that Mary Brown Wood had 11 children, that I have found so far:

  • Alexander Wood, 1894-1895
  • William Wood, 1896- 1915
  • John Wood, 1897-
  • Hugh Brown Wood, 1900-1957
  • Annie Wood, 1902-
  • David Wood, 1905-
  • Edward Brown Wood, 1907-1925
  • Alexander Wood, 1910-1910
  • Janet Brown Wood, 1911-1912
  • Mary Wood, 1913-1915
  • Mary Wood, 1915-

Four of those children died as infants.  Three of them right in a row.

But are there more?

The firstborn daughter should have been named Janet for Mary’s mother.  Is there another Janet?  Were there any more children after Mary Wood born in 1915?

I have so much more to do!

But Mary, I found those two missing babies, plus three more.

They are no longer forgotten – no longer “unknown infant”.

They are known to me and I have told their story.

 

 

 

 


  1. “Scotland Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FQ95-VLY : accessed 8 December 2014), Mary Brown, 17 Dec 1870; citing Carnwath, Lanark, Scotland, reference , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 6,035,516. 
  2.  1871 Scotland Census, Lanarkshire, Lesmahagow, enumeration district (ED) 13, page 10, household schedule #46, lines 20-23, Townfoot, William Brown Household; database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 January 2017); citing Original data: Scotland. 1871 Scotland Census. Reels 1-191. General Register Office for Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, Roll: CSSCT1871_146. 
  3. 1881 Scotland Census, Lanarkshire, Hamilton, enumeration district (ED) 18, page 43, household schedule #426, lines 10-17, 13 Ann Street, William Brown Household; database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 January 2017); citing Original data: Scotland. 1881 Scotland Census. Reels 1-338. General Register Office for Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, Roll: cssct1881_260. 
  4. 1891 Scotland Census, Lanarkshire, Bothwell, enumberation district (ED) 2, page 44, lines 22-25, page 45, lines 1-6, household schedule #246, 35 Baird’s Sq, William Brown Household; database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 January 2017); citing Original data: Scotland. 1891 Scotland Census. Reels 1-409. General Register Office for Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, Roll: CSSCT1891_224. 
  5. Scotland, “Statutory Marriages 1855-2017,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2018), marriage entry for William Wood and Mary Brown, 1894, Bothwell in Lanark; citing Statutory Registers no. 625/1 4. 
  6. 1911 census of Scotland, Stirling, St Ninians, Bannockburn, Cowie, p. 26 (stamped), No. of schedule 160, lines 16-23, 22 Wallace Row, William Wood Household; image, Scotland, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2018). 
  7. Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2017, ” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2018), birth entry for Alexander Wood, 1894, Bothwell in Lanark; citing Statutory Registers no. 625/1 90. 
  8. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2017,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2019), death entry for Alexander Wood, 1895, Bothwell in Lanark; citing Statutory Registers no. 625/1 41. 
  9.  Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2017,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2019), death entry for Janet Brown Wood, 1912, St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 166. 
  10. Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2017, ” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2018), birth entry for Mary Wood, 1913, St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 356. 
  11. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2017,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2019), death entry for Mary Wood, 1915, St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 2. 
  12.  Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2017, ” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2018), birth entry for Alexander Wood, 1910, St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 134. 
  13.  Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2017,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2019), death entry for Alexander Wood, 1910, St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 53. 


27 Comments

Give Your Precious Photos Source Citations Too

photos need citations too-01

Have you ever found a photo on a public tree or website?  One that MIGHT be a photo of someone in your tree?  A photo you have never seen before, and maybe the only photo you have ever seen of someone?

I have.

In fact, one of my most tantalizing photo finds still vexes me.  Are you wondering why a photo find would vex me?  Let me tell you all about it.

Francis Cyprien & Alice Hyde DUVAL

Francis Cyprien & Alice Hyde DUVAL

That man up there is my 2nd great grandfather, Francis Cyprien Duval.  He was born in Rimouski, Québec to a long line of French folk who had lived in Québec for a few centuries.  He was the first in that direct line to leave Québec.  He settled in Alaska and married Alice and then they moved around a bit before finally settling in Lynn Valley, BC where Francis died.  We have a few scant family notes about his parents and siblings.  I knew his parents names and that they also left Québec and were buried in Blind River, Ontario.  I had a small handful of first names of some of his siblings and just a few other facts.  Because he is one of my immigrant ancestors, I feel very fortunate to have a small collection of photographs of him.  Enough in fact, that his image is well established in my family history.  Plenty of the photos are labeled and were labeled by his children.  That means that I trust that I know what he looks like and that those labels are accurate.

There is one other important reality because he was an immigrant – I have no photos, stories, and other artifacts for the family he left behind and never saw again.

So imagine my sheer delight when I came across this photo on Ancestry.com:

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 6.01.34 PM

This photo is tagged to the parents, sister, niece, and grand-nephew of my 2nd great grandfather Francis Cyprien Duval as he appears in another Ancestry.com user tree.  You will notice that the original poster included the names of each person in the description of the photo – bonus points for that.  You will also notice that it has been saved to several trees (including mine).

So why does this photo vex me?

Well, I have never seen a photo of Alexis/Alexander Duval & Marie Louise Demers anywhere else.  I have nothing to compare this image to.  When I came across it, I messaged the person who posted the photo and asked about the provenance of the photo.  Who had it, how she got it, how she knew for sure that it was a picture of who she said it was a picture of.  Before I basked in the deliciousness of finding a photo of ancestors for whom I do not have a photo, I wanted to make sure this photo was really a picture of my 3rd great grandparents.  I wanted to be as certain as was possible before I called it good and saved it to my tree.

The poster of said photo was very kind, and busy, and said she would get back to me after she returned from a trip.  Totally understandable.  Despite some communication after the trip, I have been unable to acquire the information I am seeking.

I look at this photo and want so much for it to be what it is proclaimed to be.  I see features of my Grandma in their faces.  I really want to call it good.  I want to tell everyone in my family about this cool find.  But it vexes me.  I don’t completely trust it.

You have probably come across a few photos that you hoped were labeled correctly too.  For me, it mostly happens when I am researching collateral relatives – siblings of ancestors, siblings-in-law of ancestors, cousins, etc.  Often I am researching these extended family members to help me take my tree further back.  But in doing this research, I can’t help but feel connected to these aunts, uncles, and cousins.  So when I come across an image of them – I love it!  It feels like a little treat at the end of the journey of learning about their life and how they were connected to my other family members.

But just like the possible photo of my 3rd great grandparents, I don’t completely trust a photo that isn’t labeled well.

 

So how can you give a photograph a good citation?  How can you help extended family members know that this photo you have shared is attributed to the right people?

 

 

I know that Evidence Explained contains a model for citing a photograph.  I’m sure the instructions are excellent and accurate.  I should really buy that book, but I haven’t.  So here are my tips for giving a photo a good citation based on my experience dealing with thousands of photos I have inherited from both sides of my family.  Let’s use an actual photo of my grandparents to help us.

 

Ronald & Margaret - darker

Your photo deserves a descriptive title.  It doesn’t have to be long, it just needs to be somewhat descriptive.  A good title should includes names and a date or event name.  i.e. “Ronald Peterson and Margaret Ellis, photo when Ronald had leave”.  If I have lots of photos of Ronald and Margaret – which I do – I want the title to be unique to the photo.

Your photo also deserves a detailed description.  You may not know every detail, but include anything you do know.  There are several important details to try to include:

  • Who is in the photo.  Use the “front row, l-r: and back row, l-r:” style to help make sure everyone is identified.  For this photo, I can stick with the names – Ronald Peterson and Margaret Ellis – since they are the only people in the photo.
  • When the photo was taken.  List the date or approximate date of the photo.  If you don’t know the date, you probably know a date range or time period, include that.  The next generation will know even less than you do, so help them out.  I don’t know the exact date of the photo, but I know it was taken while my Grandpa was serving in the Marine Corps.  He served from 1944-1946.
  • Where the photo was taken.  This can be trickier if the photo predates you.  In the case of my photo, I know that this photo would most likely have been taken in front of one of their homes because his leave was short – 24 or 48 hours long – and he hitchhiked from Colorado to Ogden, Utah.  He was only able to be there for a few hours before he had to start back.  I know what the front of Ronald’s family home looked like and this home is not a match.  I know that I have photos of Margaret’s family home somewhere that I could compare the photo to, I’m just not sure where they are (remember, I have thousands and I’m still working on scanning and organizing).  So I would probably note this photo as possibly being taken in front of the Ellis family home.
  • The provenance of the photo.  How did the photo make it to you?  How do you know the facts of the photo?  Who labeled it?  Why would they have known who is in the photo?  This can be simple or detailed, but this part is probably the most important part of your description.  In my case, this photo was part of my Grandmother’s collection.  The photo itself was not labeled, but there are hundreds of other photos of both Ronald and Margaret that are labeled in her collection.  The details surrounding this photo were told to me by my dad.  That is an important piece of information because someone else may remember the details differently and question my description.  Knowing who gave portions of the description helps other family members weigh the differences between my description and their memory or the memory of other relatives.

 

So, what would my title and description be for this photo?

 

Title:  Ronald Peterson and Margaret Ellis, photo when Ronald had leave

Description:  Ronald Peterson and Margaret Ellis.  Photo taken in Ogden, Utah, possibly in front of the Ellis family home (more work needed to establish location) when Ronald was home on leave.  Ronald served in the Marine Corps from 1944-1946.  Their son Kent shared the following details – “Ronald was given a short 24 or 48 hour leave.  He wanted to go home and see his family and his girlfriend.  He hitchhiked and only had a few hours to spend with loved ones before he had to head back to Colorado.”  This photo comes from the collection of Margaret Ellis that is in the current care of her granddaughter Amberly Peterson Beck.

 

This photo is a family favorite, so taking time to be a bit more detailed is important to me.  However, our time as genealogists is precious and limited.  We can’t spend this much time on every single photo ever taken of all of our loved ones.

 

So, when should you be this precise?

 

  • When a photo is the only one or one of just a few of a person.  The more rare a photo, the more details we want to include – especially about the provenance.
  • When the photo has special significance like the photo of my Grandma and Grandpa from the example.  My Grandparents treasured this photo and we have all in turn treasured it.  The next generation of my family deserves to know the special details of the photo.  What makes a photo special is up to you.  Is the event special?  Is the combination of people in the photo special?  Is it just a favorite photo?  Whatever the reason it is special to you, make sure the description reflects the import of the photo for future generations.

 

Let’s look at one more example of a photo I added to FamilySearch:

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 7.13.49 PM

This photo was in an album my Grandmother created.  She labeled it with only the names, Beth Christensen and Margaret.

(Hmmm… I would like to point out that the home looks an awful lot like the home in the background of the photo of my Grandparents.  I think I was onto something in guessing it was taken in front of the Ellis home.)

It took a little bit of work for me to figure out who Beth Christensen was.  There were no photos of Beth in FamilySearch at the time, so I added this and two others.  My title and description are pretty simple.  I did them quickly, but because there were no other public photos of Beth, I wanted anyone who viewed the photo to know enough about where the photo came from, to trust that the image was really of Beth.  I chose to include the detail of who Beth and Margaret’s common ancestors are because they are not in the same generation.  They are 1st cousins, once removed.

My title and description aren’t quite as good for this photo – but I felt like they covered what was most important, based on what I knew.

 

So next time you post a photo to a public tree or website, spend an extra minute giving your photo a good citation.  Help your extended family members out.  Tell them who, when, where, the provenance of the photo, and any other special or important details surrounding the photo or people in the photo.  Your family members will thank you!

 

photo descriptions-01