Rosey’s Girls – A Crazy Trip Down the Rabbit Hole

marrying mess

There’s that chart again – edited to include Rosey’s marriages and children.

There are some family puzzles that take years to solve.  You gather bits here and there that don’t always make sense.  Slowly, you learn more, but the core questions remain.  Then more records become available and you add those to the bits you already have and suddenly you are able to tie things together in a way you couldn’t before.  That is exactly the meandering path that Aunt Rosey has sent me on.  And what a journey it has been!

Almost two years ago I wrote about all of the matrimonial connections in this part of my tree.  Then, nearly a month ago now, I wrote about the Robert Hyde – Rosey Hyde marriage and child.  The questions that post brought up led me to spend time on a serious review of my sources and follow up on every single lead I had.  That process led me to find a tiny little hint of Norma.


Finding Norma meant that I discovered Rose Elvera Hyde wasn’t new to me.  I had just forgotten about her.

In fairness though, I had first known her as Elvira Kingham.

Let’s take a little journey down the rabbit hole together, shall we?


Many moons ago, the first record I found about Rosey Hyde – that I knew FOR SURE was about Rosey – was this marriage record to Harry Grant Kingham in 1914.


Rose Hyde & Harry Kingham, 1914 marriage record

“British Columbia Marriage Registrations, 1859-1932; 1937-1938,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 21 January 2016), Harry Kingham and Rosey Hyde, 19 Apr 1914; citing Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, British Columbia Archives film number B11378, Vital Statistics Agency, Victoria; FHL microfilm 1,983,706.


Rosey is listed as a spinster, which I had no reason to question.  I figured the record was accurate and thought I had found her first marriage.  The natural next step was to try to learn everything I could about Harry Grant Kingham.  I didn’t find much.  But I did find this US Consular Record.


KINGHAM, Harry Grant, 1915 US Consular Record U.S., Consular Registration Certificates, 1907-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.

I hadn’t yet become savvy about how complicated this family was when I first found this document.  It lists two daughters for Harry that were born prior to his marriage to Rosey.  I tried to research them and just couldn’t find anything about a Grace Kingham or an Elvira Kingham.  I made the natural assumption that they were his daughters prior to his marriage to Rosey.  I tried to find a first wife for him – even though he was listed as a bachelor on his marriage record to Rosey – no luck.

So what did I do?

I added two daughters to Harry Grant Kingham with an unknown mother.  The girls were not attached to Rosey in my tree.

Now, fast forward to a few weeks ago…

When I found Rosey’s death record and discovered she had a daughter named Rose Elvera Hyde Williamson, I had forgotten all about Elvira Kingham.

Thank goodness for that pesky little travel record that was generated when Rose Elvera Hyde Williamson went to visit her sister Mrs. Norma ?rance in 1945.  That record led me to revisit every source attached to every person connected to Rosey Hyde.

So there I was, suddenly staring at two different Elveras in my tree – Elvira Kingham and Rose Elvera Hyde Williamson.  But they were really the same person.  So I merged them.

I quit taking any parent child relationships for granted at this point and used every combo of names for each girl.  I also quit considering Rosey’s husbands as minor character actors in her life.  The girls used Harry’s last name so I needed to know everything about Harry that I could find.

The next notable stop down the rabbit hole was Harry’s WWI Canadian Expeditionary Forces Personnel File.  There were plenty of facts about Harry but there were two pages that were especially enlightening about Rosey’s girls.


HYDE, Muriel Grace, record

Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; CEF Personnel Files; Reference: RG 150; Volume: Box 5181 – 42;


This particular image was page 38 of Harry’s file and it told me that Grace was actually named Muriel Grace.


KINGHAM, Norma Robertine, record

Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; CEF Personnel Files; Reference: RG 150; Volume: Box 5181 – 42;


This image was page 50 of Harry’s file and is the second mention of Norma – Norma Robertine Kingham – to be exact.

Suddenly, Rosey’s three girls began to make more sense to me.  I updated Grace in my tree with the name Muriel Grace Hyde, added Norma, and away I went. very quickly added a few hints to Muriel, including this Washington State Application for License to Wed.


HYDE, Muriel Grace and Walter E Groome, 1924 application for license to wed

Washington State Archives; Olympia, Washington; Marriage Affidavits;


It certainly matched the few details I had about Muriel Grace.  The fact that the witness was a Robert Hyde was intriguing, but even more interesting to me was this line in the application: “…I further swear that there is no legal impediment to their marriage…and [they] are not nearer of kin to each other than second cousins.”

Hmmmmm… if that Muriel Grace was my Muriel Grace, and if that Robert Hyde was my Robert Hyde, did he feel sheepish signing that form and remembering that Muriel’s parentage was himself and his niece Rosey?

That is some genealogical irony right there.

Next, I pulled up the actual marriage certificate.


HYDE, Muriel G and Walter E Groome, 1924 Marriage Record

Washington State Archives; Olympia, Washington; Marriage Certificates;


Muriel listed her parents as Robert Hyde, born in Sheffield, Eng and Alice Whiteley, born in Sheffield, Eng.  Robert and Alice are the two witnesses to this union.



Quick recap – Alice Whiteley Hyde is the aunt turned step-mom of Rosey Hyde.  At the time of Muriel Grace Hyde’s birth, Alice Whiteley Hyde was married to Henry Hyde – her first marriage and his second.  If she was ever married to Robert Hyde is was after she was widowed first by Henry, then by his brother Arthur.  She was the informant on Robert’s death record and listed him as the divorced spouse of Rosey, not as her husband.

So, was Muriel the daughter of Alice or Rosey?

If it was Alice, then Alice had a child with her husband Henry’s brother while she was still married to Henry, then after Henry’s death proceeded to marry a different brother – Arthur, before finally settling down to live with the third brother Robert when she was once again widowed.

That seems too crazy, even for this family.

Did Muriel list Alice as her mother – because Alice was there, conveniently had the last name of Hyde as if she was married to Robert, and had a different maiden name – in an effort to avoid an uncomfortable conversation about why her mother’s maiden name matched her father’s name?  Especially when the license required that bride and groom not be more closely related than second cousins?  Was that little question putting Muriel on the spot mentally?  Was it highlighting her uncomfortable past?  Was Muriel lying to save face?  Was she lying because she was embarrassed?

And, why was Robert at the wedding but not Rosey?  In 1924 Rosey was a widowed single mom with two girls at home.  Maybe she couldn’t afford to travel from Vancouver, BC to Vancouver, Washington?

I hoped that Muriel’s death record might reveal something, anything, but unfortunately it is an index only record on both the BC Archives and FamilySearch.  FamilySearch does hold the microfilm on which the record exists, but it is stored in the Granite Mountain Vault.  {I will probably take a little trip up to Salt Lake to view the film, I just have to remember how to request a film from the vault… That is, if that film is allowed to be viewed…}

But I digress, the index to Muriel’s death lists this:


Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 3.55.32 PM

“British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986; 1992-1993”, database, FamilySearch ( : 13 April 2017), Muriel Grace Groome, 1936.


Muriel is listed as having a father named Robert Hyde.  I find no record of any children born to Muriel and Walter during their 12 years of marriage.

At this point I reviewed a few old family notes and letters.  Now be careful not to get lost here.  I found a letter written by Vera, daughter of Alice Hyde Duval who is the sister of Rosey Hyde.  Yes that’s right, both sisters named a daughter Elvera.  This letter written by Vera to my Grandma, mentions an old scrapbook that Vera kept.  She asked my Grandma if she wanted to have it.

I had a lightbulb moment and remembered that my mom’s cousin Heather had emailed me a few scans of an old scrapbook she had.  I dug through my emails and found those scans.  Among them was this page.


valmore 4


When Heather sent this to me all those years ago, I had NO EARTHLY IDEA who Mr. and Mrs. Peter Williamson were.  I did some basic searching but came up empty.  I figured they were important to someone in my family so I went ahead and added them to FamilySearch and uploaded the announcement.  But now?  The minute that image opened, I knew exactly who they were – this was a marriage invitation for the daughter of Rose Elvera Hyde and Peter Williamson.

Rosey was a Grandma!

This union of Carole Rose Williamson and Gordon David Zilke produced at least four children.  Of those four children, at least one has died.  But the other three may be living.  I did a little Facebook digging and found a small cluster of living descendants.  Because this whole thing started from the position of thinking that Rosey was a gay barber who had no children, I was completely shocked to discover that Rosey has living descendants.  I was not expecting that at all.  I wonder if any of them know anything about Rosey?  I wonder if any of them have pictures of Rosey?

Because I think I do.

Duval - mystery marriage

I think this photo is of Rosey Hyde & Harry Grant Kingham at the time of their marriage in 1914.

I’m getting sidetracked again…

At the time of Rose Elvera Hyde’s Marriage to Peter Williamson, she listed her parents as Robert Hyde, born in England, and Rose Hyde, born in Golden, BC.


HYDE, Rose Elvera and Peter Williamson, 1927 Marriage Record

“British Columbia Marriage Registrations, 1859-1932; 1937-1938,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 21 January 2016), Peter Williamson and Rose Elvera Hyde, 04 Jul 1927; citing Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, British Columbia Archives film number B13753, Vital Statistics Agency, Victoria; FHL microfilm 2,074,506.


At the time of Rose Elvera Hyde’s death, her parents are listed as Robert Hyde, born in Sheffield, England, and Rose Whitely, born in Golden, BC.



The records for both Muriel Grace and Rose Elvera Hyde are inconsistent in identifying their parentage.  But they are clearly describing the same grouping of people.  Were these inaccuracies intentional or accidental?  Were they hiding something?  It seems like it.

This leaves one more daughter – Norma.  The daughter that is definitely not a child of Robert Hyde.  Norma, the daughter of Rosey Hyde, and Harry Grant Kingham.  Norma, who led me deep into the rabbit hole.  Norma, who changed her name to Barbara.  Norma, who deserves her own post.

So here I am stuck in this mental loop where I just can’t seem to reconcile everything.  Part of me wants to believe that Rosey’s birth is the key.  That Rosey isn’t really the daughter of Henry Hyde and Ann Whiteley.  That maybe, just maybe, Rosey is the child of another couple, but that Ann and Henry took her in for some reason.  That reason wouldn’t be hard to come up with.  They were living in the extreme west in a very tiny little speck of a town.  So maybe Rosey is my adopted 2nd great grand aunt.  And just when I think I have myself good and convinced that this might be the case, I talk myself back out of it because there is no baby girl born in Golden, BC on the date that Rosey claims as her birthdate.  No baby girl of ANY name born in the entire year of 1883 in Golden, BC.

Where does this all leave me?

I’m not sure.

There is a story here – that is for certain.  It’s not a traditional story.  But man is it intriguing.  I have a few more records I am trying to scrounge up that I hope will shed some light on the core question – were Rosey Hyde and Robert Hyde both husband and wife AND uncle and niece?

  • I have reached out to the appropriate agency to try to get a copy of Robert and Rosey’s divorce decree – if it exists.
  • I have requested a copy of Alice Whiteley Hyde’s probate record.
  • I have ordered the Homestead File for Alice Whiteley Hyde and Henry Hyde’s homestead in Alaska.
  • I have requested any records about this whole lot from the church in Alaska that Alice Hyde Duval’s oldest son was baptized in – maybe there will be another event for that family in that church.
  • I need to get my hands on the image of Muriel Grace Hyde Groome’s death record if I can.
  • And lastly, I am currently building a spreadsheet with everyone’s entries in the City Directories to help me understand the timeline even better.  It is very enlightening.


And that, my friends, is where I am at.  Still undecided.  Still searching.  My core question is most likely unanswerable.  But I am so glad that I asked the question because I have learned so much more about this part of my family.  I have learned so much more about Rosey.

Rosey has become a very different person to me.  The picture of her life in my heart is very delicate and intricate.  There are details that come from the nuances of the records that lead me to believe that Harry was the great love of her life, that Neil was a loving old age companion, and that Robert, well, Robert seems to be the villain.  I don’t know if that’s fair, but that is who he is becoming in my mind.

Thank you for journeying down the rabbit hole with me.  Don’t get lost, it can be scary down here.  Head back up to light if you can.  😉


Happy Wednesday, I hope you make a fascinating genealogy discovery today!



ps – Despite all of the records that I included, there are so many that I did not include.  Among those are a few international travel records for Robert, Rosey, and the two older girls.  Hmmmm…  


pps – If you happen to be one of Rosey’s living descendants, email me – amberlysfamilyhistory {at} yahoo {dot} com.  Let’s put our tid-bits together and make this picture as clear as we can.  That is, if you can forgive me.




Incest?! – An Update: ALWAYS Go To The Next Image!

Whiteley - Hyde

Yep, it’s that image again.

Last week I begged for your help to disprove my theory of incest.  My friend Cathy commented, “The biggest sore thumb I noticed was – who is Norma?”

Exactly?!  Who is Norma.  I had already tried a bunch of things and just couldn’t find her.  But after Cathy asked the same question I was asking, I decided I really needed to find her.  I rededicated myself and used all of my fancy, sneaky, super-smart search strategies and I got a whole lotta nothin’.

But give me a puzzle and I just can’t stop.  So I revisited everyone in that matrimonial mess.  I found a lot more info – but nothing that answered my core question: Were Robert & Rosey Hyde husband and wife, AND uncle and niece?

The one thing I did find was a hint of Norma.  And I found it in an unlikely place.  A WWI Canadian Expeditionary Forces Personnel File.

But the really important part…

The absolutely CRITICAL part…

The it-would-have-been-super-easy-to-miss-Norma-completely part…

Norma showed up on page 50 of the file.

That’s right – page number FIVE-OH.

After a whole lotta nothin’, suddenly, there was Norma.

Thankfully I learned the lesson many years ago that many records have more than one page.  Some records have more than two pages.  And occasionally you will find a record that is a whopping 67 pages long – like the one that gave me a hint of Norma.

Now you probably want to know what exactly I learned about Norma.

And you probably want to know what else I learned about that mess up there.

Here’s the thing – it’s so complicated that my poor brain is still trying to sort it all out.  My poor brain is trying to figure out how to even begin to explain what I have learned.

So for now, let me just say that Norma exists.  She appears to be a sister of Rose Elvera Hyde Williamson.  I know her approximate birthdate.  And I know who two of her possible parents are.

The rest is going to have to wait until I can find the words.  And it’s going to take more than one post.  Because that family up there is a whole mess of crazy.

But my dear friends, this is what I want to leave you with today:

When you are looking at an image on any website – always click to the next image.  And then keep right on clicking until you come to an image that is about someone else.  The longest record I have ever found was 137 pages.  It was also a WWI record.

This WWI Canadian Expeditionary Forces Personnel File was BORRRRRRING!  And I like LOVE old records.  But it just kept saying the same things over and over and over.

Until it didn’t.

Until it told me that Norma exists.  That she is part of my family.

So whatever you do today in your genealogical endeavors, PLEASE, for the love of Norma, CLICK TO THE NEXT PAGE!

More updates on Incest?! coming next week.


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:


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!




Ancestor Story – Prudent Therien – 52 Ancestors

U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 - Iroquois, Illinois 1884.  The two grey boxes on the right side of the map are for a P. Therien and P. Theren.

U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 – Iroquois, Illinois 1884. The two grey boxes on the right side of the map are for a P. Therien and P. Theren.  Possibly my Prudent Therien?  Map accessed on

Last week I sat down to my computer and felt like a change.  It’s not that I was bored.  I just wanted to tackle a genealogy task that was completely new and fresh for me.

So, I dove into a line that years ago my sister and I decided would be the line she would work on.  She worked on it extensively for a few years.  Over the last several years she has not had much time for family history.  In the spring she was laid up recovering from surgery.  During those weeks, she was able to dig back in to this line and research.  She told me she had made a few awesome discoveries here.  I decided to check it out.

I went to my current end of line individual – Prudent Therien.

Prudent is my 4th great grandfather.  We knew about the latter half of his life.  He settled in Illinois with his wife and children.  They had more children there.  He lived many years in Illinois.  From the census we knew he was born in Canada, as was his wife and oldest children.  One of my sister’s discoveries was his marriage record.

Prudent married Adeline Perrault in Lachenaie, L’Assomption, Québec, Canada on 11 August 1846.  I was really excited when I saw that she had found this certificate.  I am quite familiar with French, Catholic records from Québec.  I know that in this time period they list the names of the parents of the bride and groom.  I opened the document thinking I was a few keystrokes away from adding another generation to my tree.

Are you sensing a ‘but…’?  Because there is one.

That marriage record held a few surprises.  First of all, Prudent was listed as ‘Prudent’.  No last name.  What now?  I had never seen that before.  Second, he was listed as a ‘middling boy’.  It was explained to me that this likely means, “I think in this sense, he was average and was probably under the usual age of marriage.  It is unusual that the marriage did not name his parents, it may be possible he was abandoned as an infant and left as an orphan but sometimes, priests did omit parents.”  Third, no parents for Prudent.

Hmmm.  Head-scratcher.

I decided to look for a possible baptism record.  I began in the same parish in which the marriage occurred.  I used the birth information from the 1900 US Census as a guide – January 1820.  I began looking in 1819, nothing there.  Then I checked 1820, nothing there.  I was a bit worried.  I checked 1821 – finally some luck!

I found a baptism record for a child listed as ‘Prudent – Illegm’.  It follows what I know of Prudent.  No last name, born in January, one year different from the 1900 census.  Born in the same parish in which he was married.  There were no other Prudents born in the previous two years.  Unfortunately the record does not list parents.  It does list god-parents, godfather – Amable Dupont, godmother – Hypolite Garispy.

Now I was wondering where the last name Therien came from.  Out of the air?

I still don’t know the answer to that.  I know that Prudent and Adeline’s first child was a boy whom they named Prudent Terrien.  He was born and died in 1847.  His baptism and burial records list his parents as Prudent, again no last name, and Adeline Perrault.

Prudent and Adeline’s next child was Marie Anne Terrien.  She was born in 1848.  Her baptism record lists her parents just like her older brother’s, father Prudent, no last name, mother Adeline Perrault.

The third child was Louis Ludger Therrien, born and died in 1850.  Louis’ baptism record is the first record in which Prudent has a last name.  His name is listed as Prudent Therrien, a name he uses on the remaining documents of his life.

I am still working on this family.  I have so many questions.

  • Where did the last name Terrien/Therrien/Therien come from?
  • Who raised Prudent?
  • Who were his parents?
  • Are there any records that will help me solve the mystery of his parentage or is Prudent a true BRICK WALL?  That would be a serious bummer.
  • Nine children have been identified for Prudent and Adeline.  The 1900 and 1910 census list Adeline as the mother of 11 with 6 children living.  Who are the two missing children?
  • When exactly did Prudent immigrate to the US?
  • When and where did he die?
  • What is the history of illegitimacy in this area?  Was he abandoned?
  • How do I properly list Prudent in my tree?  With no last name?  With the last name of Therien with a note?  This is new territory for me.
  • Who are Prudent’s god-parents?  I know their names, but why were they chosen?  Who chose them?

My work with Prudent is far from over.  As always, one answer leads to SEVERAL more questions.  I’m glad I decided to wander over to this section of my tree.  I’m really enjoying my digging.



John Costello – Alien File Update

Young and CostellosYoung & Costello Families
Left to right: John & Mary Costello, Andrew Young, Catherine and James Young, Alexander (Sandy) Young, George Young. Front row: Mary & John’s three children – Virginia, Dan and Vince.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my great grandfather John Costello who is currently a brick wall.  Brick wall?!  More like a steel reinforced concrete wall surrounded by razor wire.  Well, maybe not really.  But it feels like it somedays.

Last Saturday a copy of his Alien File arrived from the National Archives in Kansas.  I was soooo excited – giddy really.

And then I opened it.

The slender, four page file had seemed like such a wonderful possibility.  And as I looked at each page my giddiness slowly faded until at last it sputtered out completely.

The slender file of possibilities in fact held very little.

There was a physical description – Height – 5’9″,  weight – 165 lbs., Black hair, & Brown eyes.  This was new-ish.  I knew some of it and could have guessed at some of it.

It does say that he arrived in Philadelphia in the winter of 1914 – different from what his children have shared with me.

I did learn that he claims he was a passenger on the ship but can’t remember the name of the ship.  Okay.

He claims that he entered the US under the name John Costello and has used that name all of his life.  Interesting – some of his children claim his name was Juan Castilla and that he changed his name to John Costello.  The file itself has two documents that he signed.  Look at these John Hancocks – what do you see?

COSTELLO, John, Signature, 1COSTELLO, John, Signature, 2

Is it just me?  Does that second signature look like it says ‘Juan’?

Well, the Alien File was not what I had hoped – not at all.  I still have a few ideas I plan to try out.  I hope one day to knock down, blow up, utterly demolish the brick wall that is John Costello.  While of course not damaging the memory of the man or his family.  🙂

Below are the images from the four pages of his file.

COSTELLO, John, Alien File, 1 COSTELLO, John, Alien File, 2 COSTELLO, John, Alien File, 3 COSTELLO, John, Alien File, 4

I guess the bottom line is that I turned over another stone.  I may not have found what I was looking for – but I have one less stone to turn over.  And that, well it’s something at least.


Ancestor Story – John Costello, Man of Mystery – 52 Ancestors

Scanned Image 101200097John Costello is the patriarch of the family, front and center, looking away – Christmas 1950

I find it frustrating, strange, and utterly ridiculous that John Costello, my great grandfather is a brick wall.  But he is.  My mom knew him.  His three children are still living.  He is just right there – one generation away from my oldest living ancestors and yet I can’t seem to grasp his story.  I have tried many things.  I am in the process of trying a few things.  I am happily taking suggestions if you have them.

This is an outline of John’s life.  Some items have been proven, others have not.  Italicized items are so far, unproven:

  • John Costello
  • Born:  14 February 1893, Barcelona, Spain
  • Parents:  Vincenzo Costello/Castilla and Amelia Pallina
  • Immigration to US:  1915
  • Marriage:  1 January 1919, Spokane, Washington, to Mary Brown Young
  • Residence:  1920 – Spokane, WA, 1930 – Mead, WA, 1940 – Mead, WA
  • Death:  30 May 1966, Spokane, Washington
  • Burial:  Holy Cross Cemetery in Spokane, Washington

Here are the records I have been able to find:

COSTELLO, John & Mary Brown Young, Marriage RecordMarriage Record – This record puzzles me a bit.  The record lists the marriage date as 1 January 1918 and the filing date as 4 January 1919.  Family records list the marriage date in 1919.  I believe 1919 is correct and the Officiant hadn’t gotten used to writing 1919 yet as it was the first day of the year.

COSTELLO, John 1920 Census1920 Census – John’s father’s birthplace is listed as Italy and his mother’s birthplace is listed as Spain.   His year of immigration is listed as 1915, status – Alien.  His occupation is listed as Junkman in his own shop.

COSTELLO, John 1930 Census1930 Census – John lists both of his parent’s birthplaces as Spain.  He lists his year of immigration as 1914, status – Alien.   He lists his occupation as Express Driver of a Proprietor Wagon.

COSTELLO, John 1940 Census1940 Census – His occupation is listed as Operator of a Retail Tire Shop.

COSTELLO, John, Selective Service Card - frontCOSTELLO, John, Selective Service - backThis card was given to my mom by John’s daughter.  She said it is the only document she has about him.

COSTELLO, John, ObituaryObituary clipping found among family records – no date or paper name included.

COSTELLO, John - Funeral NoticeThe Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington), Wednesday, 1 June 1966, page 9

John Costello, headstoneHeadstone photograph

Family Lore about John gathered from his three living children:

John was born in Barcelona and raised on a farm.  His parents may have raised bulls.  It is believed that he had three sisters – no names are known.  When John was a young man he decided to go to America for a better life and to escape farming.  His family was happy for him and had a big party to celebrate his future.  His two uncles each gave him a ring at the party.  He and his family were not literate and had not had the opportunity to attend school.  John left for America and apparently came through Boston {can’t find a record for this}.  Upon arrival he may have changed his name from Juan Castilla to John Costello.  His children disagree on this point.  John worked his way across the United States.  Somewhere around Ohio he spent some time working on a farm.  The farmer taught him the basics of reading and writing – his first experience with literacy.  Eventually he made it to Spokane where he lived out the remainder of his life.  No one is aware of any contact with his family back in Spain.  None of his children seem to have any more information and no helpful records.  The only document of any kind kept by the family is the above card.

Possible Leads:

COSTELLO, John, Alien File Number

I am hopeful that this Alien File is in fact John’s Alien File and I have begun the process of requesting a copy.  Hopefully it is filled with good details, the most important being the name of the Parish in which he was born and raised.

Catholic Church Records – John was raised Catholic.  He and Mary were married in a Lutheran Church.  He was buried in a Catholic Cemetery.  At some point Mary joined the Catholic Church so she could be buried by John.  I am trying to find the record of her baptism.  I am hopeful that their marriage was blessed in a Catholic Church and that part of that record may contain the name of the church in which John was baptized.  I am also seeking any Catholic Church records regarding John & Mary’s children with the same hope.

Church Record from Marriage – I have contacted the Lutheran Church where John & Mary were married to request any record the church has for their marriage and subsequent membership in the parish.  I had a nice phone conversation with someone but I have not received a reply and need to make contact again.

Possible DNA Tests – John has two living sons and two living grandsons {of his sons}.  I am considering having all four men take DNA tests to help me identify some cousins and possibly narrow down a more specific location in Spain in which to search.

And that is John Costello, my great grandfather – a man of mystery.

Do you have any recent brick walls like this one?  Do you have any ideas for me?


Ancestor Story – Helen Boles – 52 Ancestors

LanarkRoadCarlukeCarluke is the setting for parts of this tale.  Image found here.

On one of my very first visits to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City I found a record that started my journey of learning Helen Boles Muir’s fascinating story.  Helen is my 3rd great grand aunt.  I attribute many of my genealogical detective skills to her – her story forced me to gain some tricks in a hurry.

This is the story of Helen Boles.

Helen Boles is the daughter of James Thomson Boles & Isabella McLaren, my 4th great grandparents.  I first discovered Helen in the 1851 Census of Carluke, Lanark, Scotland.  She was 3 years old at the time of the census.

BOLES, James Thomson & Isabella McLaren, 1851 Census

Helen is not listed with her family on the 1861 Census.  When I discovered this, I wondered if she had died before 1861.  While searching for birth and death records in Carluke for any children of James & Isabella Boles, I came across this death record for Janet Boles.

BOLES, Janet, 1869 Death Record

Janet Boles is the illegitimate daughter of a Helen Boles.  The informant is a James Boles who is the father of Helen Boles.  When I found this record I thought it was very likely that this was my Helen but I needed to find more information.

The next record I found was the 1871 Census of Carluke, Lanark, Scotland.  The household members include James & Isabella, four of their children, and a grandson named James B. McLauchlan age 6.  The family is living at the same address that Janet Boles died at.  Maybe Janet is indeed the child of Helen.   But who is James B. McLauchlan?

James & Isabella Boles, 1871 Census

I was very curious about this James B. McLauchlan.  I went searching for a birth record.  What I found was a birth for a James Boles.

BOLES, James, 1865 Birth Record

James Boles is the illegitimate son of a Helen Boles.  I wondered if this could possibly be my Helen and the James B. McLauchlan of the 1871 Census.

Next I found the 1881 Census of Dalserf, Lanark, Scotland.  The household members include James & Isabella and their grandson listed as James Boles.  His age and birthplace match both the possible birth record and the 1871 Census.

James & Isabella Boles, 1881 Census

Let’s go back to Helen for a minute.  I began using the scotlandspeople website so I could search from home.  {Incidentally, this is my favorite website.}  I looked for a death record for Helen Boles.  I found this record {bottom entry}.

Helen Boles Muir, 1935 Death Record

Hot dog!  Helen lived to ripe old age of 87.  She had been married to a man named John Muir who died before she did and she must have had a child because the informant on her death record was James T. Boles, grandson.

This record sent me hunting for Helen’s marriage record.  Found it {second entry}.

Screen shot 2014-01-24 at 5.30.21 PM

Helen was married to John Muir on 1 December 1882 in Dalserf, Lanark, Scotland.  She is listed as a Dairymaid with her usual residence at Ashgillhead in Dalserf.  This is the occupation listed on Janet’s birth record and the address of James & Isabella on the 1881 Census.

I decided to make a loose assumption that the James Boles from the birth record & census record, and the James B. McLauchlan from the other census record were all the same person and that he was the son of my Helen.  Assuming all of this, I went looking for a marriage record for James Boles and this is what I found.

James T Boles & Isabella Crow Macdonald, 1891 Marriage Record

James T. Boles married Isabella Crow Macdonald on 31 December 1891 in Dalziel, Lanark, Scotland.  He lists his father as James Thomson Boles, coachman, deceased and his mother as Helen Boles, maiden surname McLaren.  This path was getting rather twisty for me.  I know that illegitimacy was a big deal during this time period and something to be covered up.  Knowing this I looked at this record and wondered if James was hiding his illegitimacy in a few twisted truths by listing his maternal grandfather as his own father and his mother as his mother but with her mother’s maiden name – so that she would have one.

I wondered if James’ death record might clear anything up.  I found this.

James Thomson Boles, 1937 Death Record

James Thomson Boles died on 13 January 1937 in Dalserf, Lanark, Scotland.  The informant on the record is his son James who is living at the same address that Helen was living at when she died 2 years earlier.  On the record he lists no father and as mother Helen Boles, domestic servant, deceased.  When I read through this record I felt a tremendous sense of completion and connection.  Finally at his death his family was able to be honest about his parentage – at least the part that they knew.

I found several more records for Helen, John, & James.  The most important to this story being the 1861 Census of Culter, Lanark, Scotland.

Helen Boles, 1861 Census

Helen Boles is a domestic servant.  Among the other servants we find Mary & Agnes Muir.  Possibly sisters of Helen’s future husband John?

After assembling these and other records this is the timeline of Helen’s life:

  • Helen Boles
  • Born – 1 June 1847 in Cambusbarron, St. Ninians, Scotland.
  • Baptized – 27 June 1847 in Gargunnock, Stirling, Scotland.
  • 1851 Census – Resides with parents in Carluke, Lanark, Scotland.
  • 1861 Census – Domestic Servant for William & Marion Aitken in Culter, Lanark, Scotland at the age of 13.
  • 1865 – Helen gives birth to James Boles in Carluke, Lanark, Scotland.  Helen is an 18 year old Farm Servant at the time.  No father is listed on James’ birth record.  James is illegitimate.  We learn from this record that Helen is illiterate as she signs the record with an x as her mark.
  • 1868 – Helen gives birth to Janet Boles in Carluke, Lanark, Scotland.  Helen is a 21 year old Farm Servant at the time.  No father is listed on Janet’s birth record.  Janet is illegitimate.  She is likely named for Helen’s younger sister who was born and died ten years previously.  We learn from this record that Helen can now sign her name.
  • 1869 – Helen’s daughter Janet dies in Carluke, Lanark, Scotland at the age of 14 months.  Cause of death is listed as Epilepsy, 3 weeks.  The informant is Helen’s father James Boles.
  • 1871 Census – Cook for Thomas & Margaret Stodart in Walston, Lanark, Scotland.  Her son James is living with her parents in Carluke.
  • 1881 Census – Dairymaid at the Mauldslie Dairy, living as the head of household with another Dairymaid named Elizabeth Noble.  Her son James is living with her parents in Dalserf.
  • Married John Muir – 1882 in Dalserf, Lanark, Scotland at the age of 32.  John was 10 years her junior.  This is important to note as he could not have been the father of her two children.
  • 1891 – her son James married Isabella Crow Macdonald.
  • 1891 Census – Living in Lesmahagow with her husband with no occupation listed.  Her son James is living in Bothwell with his new wife.
  • 1901 Census – Living in Lesmahagow with her husband with no occupation listed.  Her son James is living in Dalziel with his wife and their four living children.
  • Widowed sometime between 1901 and 1935.  I have been unable to find John’s death record or an entry for John or Helen in the 1911 Census.
  • Died – 1935 at the age of 87 in Dalserf, Lanark, Scotland at the same address listed on several records of this time period for her grandchildren and her son James.  This leads me to believe that Helen may have lived with James and his family or one of his adult children after the death of her husband John.  Helen was the grandmother of 9, 6 were still living at the time of her death.



My heart goes out to Helen.  She began working outside her home as a servant by the tender age of 13.  She had two illegitimate children at a time when illegitimacy was a big deal.  She suffered the death of her infant daughter.  She eventually marries at the age of 32.  She has no more children that I can find.  By the end of her son’s life, the sting of his illegitimacy no longer prevents the informant from being truthful about his parentage.  Helen’s story had come full circle.

I have a very tender place in my heart for Helen and her life.  While researching her life and the lives of her descendants, I felt her influence many times.  I had a distinct feeling that she wanted her story told and told accurately.  When I had pieced everything together, I remember re-reading through all of the records.  As I read Janet’s death record and was reminded that Helen’s father James Thomson Boles was the informant of Janet’s death and that he had registered her death the very day she died, I had a clear image in my mind’s eye of a grandfather walking down the road, head down in sorrow.  By image I do not mean that I was able to imagine this happening.  For just the briefest of moments I saw a heartbroken grandfather walking to the registrars office.  This family is very real to me.  They have my heart.

Note: In order to streamline this story for the reader I left out many records that helped me reach my conclusions.  Also it is interesting to note that so far in my research, every individual with the surname of Boles from Lanark County in Scotland is related to this family.  With such an uncommon surname for this location, researching has been especially easy enjoyable.  Okay, both.