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52 Ancestors – The Duval Triplets – Three Babies with Four Names

DUVAL, twins

Two of the Duval Triplets born to Leon Howard Duval & Annabel Freda Yock, 10 August 1932

 

The Birth & Death Story

 

Wednesday, the 10th of August 1932, triplets were born to Leon Howard Duval and Annabel Freda Yock in the new Columbus Hospital in Great Falls, Montana.1  This hospital opened in 19302 and the Duval babies were the first triplets3 to be born in that hospital.  All three babies were boys and were the third, fourth, and fifth sons born to Leon and Annabel.

Prior to the birth of the triplets, Leon and Annabel were living in Playwood, Washington where Leon was a harbor employee4.  Annabel traveled to Great Falls to stay with her mother-in-law, Alice Duval (my 2nd great-grandmother) at 708 3rd Avenue SW for the express purpose of giving birth to her children in Great Falls.5  She had arrived shortly before the children were born.

On that Wednesday morning, the first baby was born at 11:37 am and weighed 2 lbs. 10 1/2 oz.6  Baby number two was born at 12:07 pm and weighed 3 lbs. 1 1/2 oz.7  The last baby was born at 12:10 pm and weighed in at 3 lbs. 6 1/2 oz.8  A newspaper report claims that all three boys had blue eyes and that two of them had dark hair while the other was fair.9

It is interesting – and overwhelming – to note that Leon and Annabel’s other sons were just three and two years old at the time the triplets were born.10  This may explain why Annabel would travel such a great distance to give birth.  Her mother-in-law was not the only Duval family member living in Great Falls at the time.  All of Leon’s living siblings and their spouses were living in Great Falls in both 1931 and 1932 – Vera and Bill Hunter,11 12 Frank and Estelle – my great-grandparents,13 14 Dolores and Fred Cleveland,15 16 and Valmore who was 15 and 16 in 1931 and 1932.

Just two hours and twenty minutes after the final triplet was born, one of them passed away at 2:30 pm on Wednesday, 10 August 1932.17

On Thursday, 11 August 1932, another triplet died.  The final living triplet was reported to be doing well.18

Saturday, 13 August 1932, private funeral services were held for two of the Duval triplets at O’Connor Chapel and then the babies were buried in Highland Cemetery.19

 

Family Records

 

The birth and death of the triplets were recorded by my great-grandmother in numerous hand-typed family records as seen here:

 

francis-duane-duval-book-page-four022

Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.

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Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.

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Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.  note – The last of Leon and Annabel’s children passed away in September 2017.

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Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.  note – The last of Leon and Annabel’s children passed away in September 2017.

 

Grandma Duval was inconsistent in her names for the triplets.  She used four names for three babies – James, Joseph, John, and Stanley John.

When I first began working with her records, there was not an online collection of Montana birth or death records I could use to verify and clarify her notes.  I was stuck with a bit of a mystery.

The two facts she consistently identified were that James died 10 August 1932, and that John died 11 August 1932.  I felt confident about adding dates, but I struggled to identify the correct names for each baby.  I wondered if Leon and Annabel would name one boy John and another Stanley John.  I was leaning toward James and Joseph being the correct names for the two triplets who did not live.

 

Records to the Rescue

 

The Montana Birth Index, 1870-1986 includes three Duval babies born in 1932 in Great Falls.  Two were listed simply as ‘Duval’ without first names, born 10 August 1932.20 21  And the third baby is actually my grandmother, Deane Alice Duval, born 27 June 1932.22

One triplet is missing from the birth index.

The Montana Death Index, 1907-2015 includes two Duval deaths in Cascade County in 1932.  John Duval who died 10 August 1932,23 and Joseph Duval who died 11 August 1932.24

So how does that compare to Grandma Duval’s notes?  She listed:

  • Stanley John Duval, born 10 August 1932 – correct – verified with other records not mentioned in this post.
  • James Duval, born 10 August 1932, died 10 August 1932 – there is no triplet named James, but these dates are correct for the triplet named John.
  • John Duval, born 10 August 1932, died 11 August 1932one of the triplets was named John Duval, but these are the dates for Joseph Duval.
  • Joseph Duval, born and died within 1 1/2 days of birth – correct

All in all, Grandma Duval didn’t do too bad.  She added an extra name in there and listed the wrong death date for John Duval.  But the important thing she did is create a record.  She gave me a starting place from which I could search for records to verify and clarify her record.  This is particularly important because the birth and death records in the indexes DO NOT list parent names.  I would not have stumbled upon them accidentally.  Her records pointed the way for me to correctly add John & Joseph to their family group.

I am still a bit surprised that Leon and Annabel named one triplet John and another Stanley John.  John is not a family name among the Duvals and it is not the name of Annabel’s father.  Because I do not have the birth record for Stanley John I suppose it is possible that his middle name was not given at birth but was added later.

Years ago, my own grandmother shared a story with me, one that I cannot possibly verify, about what led to the triplets’ early birth.  It is not a pleasant story.  I will simply state that based on that story and other tid-bits Grandma shared with me, it appears that Leon and Annabel had a rather tumultuous relationship.  That supposition seems to be backed up by the fact that Leon’s oldest son, who was 13 at the time of his father’s death, took the name of his step-father and went by Leon Revel for the remainder of his life.  Only his youngest sister did the same.

 

Details of an Unusual Photograph

 

Let’s have another look at that photograph from the beginning of this post, shall we?  I’ll make it a touch bigger.

DUVAL, twins

John & Joseph Duval, 13 August 1932, Highland Cemetery, Great Falls, Montana

 

This photograph has always fascinated me.  It’s terribly sad to see two small babies side by side in a casket but there is so much more in this picture.  Let’s break it down.

Two babies in one very small, open casket.  A large headstone when there are several visible graves with only placards.  The open hole that doesn’t look nearly deep enough with the shovel visible under the casket.  The old 2x4s supporting the casket.  The unkempt grounds. The car in the background that is so close to other graves.  The shadow of the head that is definitely a Duval head.  (Definitely may be too strong a word here, but I’m going with it anyway.  Heather, do you see it too?)  Is it Leon?  I think it looks more like my great-grandfather’s shadow.

I have two other photos in my collection of bodies in open caskets.  One is my granduncle Darrell Skeen Peterson, the other is my 2nd great-grandmother, Emma Esther Jerrain.  What makes this photo unique is that it is the only open casket photo in my collection that is at the gravesite.  Not just at the gravesite, but literally on top of the open grave.

 

Last Thoughts

 

My impression of Leon and Annabel colors my view of not only the birth, but also the deaths of John & Joseph.  I feel less sorrow than usual as I write about their early deaths.  I actually feel some relief for them.  That isn’t fair.  My usual tears for a mother who buried her babies did not flow as I typed.  I hope my impressions of Leon and Annabel are unjust and biased.  What I do know for certain is that John & Joseph’s lives were incredibly short, unfairly short.

Stanley went on to live a full life that unfortunately ended in his death in a house fire in 1991.  He was an army veteran who raised four daughters.  I have corresponded with one of those daughters.  I shared photographs with her.  She had never before seen a photo of her grandfather Leon.  She didn’t know anything about Leon.  He was her brick wall.  I helped her with that.  She is a lovely person and I am so glad to call her cousin.

Whatever prejudice I may hold for Leon & Annabel, in the end, they are part of my family.  I love my family.  All of them, warts and all.  I hope I have honored the memory of their triplets today.

 

 

 

Note – There are three interesting tid-bits I need to add.  1 – Annabel spells her name inconsistently as Annabel and Annabelle.  As in her own signature is seen spelled both ways.  2 – John Duval’s grave shows up in FindAGrave, but Joseph’s grave does not.  3 – The certificate numbers for the two ‘Duval’ birth records are G F 10413 and G F 10415.  I wonder if the missing record is G F 10414 and it somehow didn’t make it into the online index?

 

 

 


  1. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  2. LaPorte, Margaret, Columbus Hospital : One Hundred Years, (Seattle, Washington: Providence Archives, 1992), photo p. between pp. 23-24; PDF download, www.providence.org (https://www.providence.org/-/media/files/providence/about/history/columbus-hospital-one-hundred-yearsweb.pdf?la=en : accessed 21 Mar 2018). 
  3. “Triplets Are Born to Mrs. L. H. Duval; One of Them Dies,” Great Falls Tribune, 11 August 1932, p. 9, col. 6; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015792/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  4. “Triplets Are Born to Mrs. L. H. Duval; One of Them Dies,” Great Falls Tribune, 11 August 1932, p. 9, col. 6; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015792/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  5. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  6. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  7. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  8. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  9. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  10. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  11. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1931), p. 101, entry for Hunter, Wm A (Alvera); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1931. 
  12. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1932), p. 91, entry for Hunter, Wm A (Elvera M); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1932. 
  13. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1931), p. 67, entry for Duval, Frank H (Estelle H); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1931. 
  14. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1932), p. 60, entry for Duval, Frank H (Estelle H); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1932. 
  15. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1931), p. 54, entry for Cleveland, Deleres Mrs.; digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1931. 
  16. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1932), p. 48, entry for Cleveland, Fred D (Dolores); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1932. 
  17. “Triplets Are Born to Mrs. L. H. Duval; One of Them Dies,” Great Falls Tribune, 11 August 1932, p. 9, col. 6; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015792/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  18. “Second of Triplets Dies at Hospital,” Great Falls Tribune, 12 August 1932, p. 2, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18016405/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  19. “Private Funeral Services to Be Held for Duval Infants,” Great Falls Tribune, 13 August 1932, p. 7, col. 1; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015465/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  20. “Montana, Birth Index, 1870-1986,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Duval, 10 August 1932, Great Falls, Cascade, Montana, certificate no. G F 10413; citing “Montana, Birth Index, 1920-1986,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  21. “Montana, Birth Index, 1870-1986,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Duval, 10 August 1932, Great Falls, Cascade, Montana, certificate no. G F 10415; citing “Montana, Birth Index, 1920-1986,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  22. “Montana, Birth Index, 1870-1986,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Deane Alice Duval, 27 June 1932, Great Falls, Cascade, Montana, certificate no. G F 10325; citing “Montana, Birth Index, 1920-1986,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  23. “Montana, Death Index, 1907-2015,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for John Duval, 10 August 1932, Cascade, Montana; citing “Montana, Death Index, 1868-2015,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  24. “Montana, Death Index, 1907-2015,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Joseph Duval, 10 August 1932, Cascade, Montana; citing “Montana, Death Index, 1868-2015,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 


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A Cautionary Tale of Digital Loss

 

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Daniel Ramon Costello & Barbara Ann Deno Costello, my granduncle & grandaunt at their home in Spokane, Washington.

 

 

I am sick.

Heartsick.

Like, really, really heartsick.

Almost four years ago I went on a trip to Spokane, Washington to visit my Grandma and interview her.  I saw, and also interviewed, other family members including my Uncle Dan & Aunt Barbara, and my fabulous Auntie V.  It was a fantastic trip.  My sister and Mom drove up to be there too.  I had brought along a digital audio recorder to capture all of the conversations.

Grandma told me stories I had never heard.  She talked about being a single mom in the 60s.  She described being a rescue diver for years and the moment she decided she couldn’t do it anymore.  She answered questions about family members who she knew, but my Mom and I did not.  She described people and places.  She went over photos with me identifying people and adding details about those people and the events in the photos.  She talked about how hard it was when her father went to prison for a year.  We talked and talked and talked.  I captured it all on my little digital audio recorder.

Uncle Dan and Aunt Barbara told me about John Costello and Mary Brown Young, my great grandparents.  I knew Mary, but John died when my mother was a child.  They shared how sorry they were in later years that they hadn’t asked Grandpa Costello more questions about his family in Spain before he passed.  Uncle Dan talked about his time in the service during WWII.  Aunt Barbara started to tell us about how sad my biological grandfather was when he and my Grandma divorced before my Mom and aunt cut her off.

My Auntie V shared some insights, when we were alone, about various family members from the past.  Her “unvarnished truth” to balance what Grandma had shared.

My Grandpa told me detailed stories from Viet Nam that are so fascinating.  I’ll leave it at that since he is still living.

All of these gems and much more were recorded on my handy little digital audio recorder.

I returned home from my trip and was immediately swept back up in daily life with my children who were 16, 13, and 2.  I was able to process some new data and information, but my trusty little audio recorder didn’t make the cut.

More than a year passed and one of my uncles from my dad’s side of the family needed to borrow my audio recorder for a family reunion I wasn’t able to attend.  I wrote up a short list of instructions and stood holding that recorder, struggling with whether or not to leave the micro sd card inside.  It has an internal memory that was more than sufficient, but what if the contents on the sd card were somehow erased?  After going back and forth I popped that oh-so-tiny micro sd card out and set it on my dresser.

I think.

Here is the moment in the book where you want to scream at the character, “No!  Don’t do it!!”

The recorder was used by my uncle at that reunion and then returned and placed on top of my dresser.

I think.

This week I am going back up to Spokane to help with an archiving project, among other things.  I will see Aunt Barbara, my Mom, Auntie V, and Grandpa.  Grandma and Uncle Dan have both passed away.

I need to be able to record and I debated – do I use my digital audio recorder or do I use my phone?

I pulled out that recorder and thought I had better pull the audio files off of it.  I plugged it into my computer and searched the files.

There were five.

Four nonsense practice files that last just a few seconds and a 33-minute file from the reunion.

That is all.

I must have checked the micro sd card slot at least 15 times hoping for something to appear that simply wasn’t there.  I even used a flashlight just to be certain.  I went through the folders on the internal memory over and over hoping to find something more but coming up empty every single time.

Panic set in.

I started tearing apart every place in my house I could imagine myself considering “a safe place” for that teeny-tiny-little micro sd card.  (Carefully, of course, but definitely fervently.)  All the while I was racking my brain and praying for a memory to pop to the surface.  Did I really just set that invaluable sd card on my dresser?  That miniscule, but more precious than gold, fragile tiny card on the edge of a dresser?!

That seems like a terrible decision.  And the thing is, I don’t know for sure what I did.  I just know that there is not a micro sd card inside of that digital audio recorder.

So far I have found one micro sd card – but not the one I need – but seriously, where did that come from? – and one regular sd card.  What is happening here?  Why aren’t these properly stored?  Why is my organizational system falling apart?!  What on earth?

Why didn’t I transfer those files immediately after my trip?!

Why didn’t I transfer those files while I was still on my trip?!!!!!  I had my laptop with me.

And this is the point where I could ramble on and on about my laptop being super full and being a busy mom with big and tiny children and being the Relief Society President in my ward and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

You know that moment I mentioned, the one where we all want to scream at the character, “No!!  Don’t do it!!”?  Well, I didn’t listen.  If I could have even had a tiny glimpse of my present anguish, I would have moved mountains to get those files transferred to AT LEAST two other places.

But I didn’t.

And now I am heartsick.

So terribly heartsick.

Real tears have been shed several times now as I continue to search and continue to come up with nothing.

 

There are two very small glimmers of hope.

One, my Mom interviewed my Grandma about 2 years ago and still has that recording – that I will immediately move heaven and earth to transfer to AT LEAST two places the minute it gets into my hot little hand.  There are two major disappointments with this – one, I love you Mom, but I ask better questions 😳 – and two, my Mom says it’s all fiction.  But let’s be real, would I know the difference?  And is my Mom’s opinion of Grandma’s stories accurate or fair?  I don’t know.

Two, I just might still find that micro sd card.  I believe in miracles.  I’ve experienced miracles plenty of times.  I don’t know if I actually need a miracle this time or just more time searching, but I’ll take that treasure anyway it comes to me.  So I’ll hold out hope that somehow, someway, those hours of audio files will make their way back to me.  And no matter the path it takes, I will consider it a miracle.  But I have learned a VERY BIG lesson.

NO MATTER HOW BUSY I AM, THERE ARE SOME TASKS THAT NEED TO BE DONE IMMEDIATELY.

Good preservation requires having multiple copies in multiple places.  So guess what I will be doing over the next month?  Assessing and addressing my current level of preservation of family photos, home movies, and priceless papers and artifacts.

 

But I still really, really, really want to have that oh-so-precious and oh-so-tiny micro sd card back.  Please.

 

I’ll take any good vibes, happy successful treasure hunting thoughts, or prayers you want to send my way.  I could definitely use them.

 

And friends, I hope you will learn from my mistake and avoid a similar bout of sorrow and loss.  What do you need to digitize, duplicate, or store in another place today?  Don’t wait.  Please, don’t wait.

Good luck.

xoxo

 


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52 Ancestors – Mary Brown Wood, Part 2 – So Much Death

deans-2470174_1920

 

A few weeks ago I wrote about my cousin Mary Brown.  She had missing babies.  I can’t ignore missing babies.  I dug and dug and in the end, I found that she had four children who died as infants.  It felt so good to find them and add them to my tree with the details of their short but precious lives.

At one point in my post I wrote:

“Oh, Mary.

How many more babies did you lose?”

That was when I had found three and knew there was still at least one missing.  Four babies lost feels like an overwhelming amount of sorrow for one mother.

I noted that there was more work to do on Mary’s family.  I just didn’t expect that I would write another post about my cousin Mary.  I certainly wasn’t planning on it.

But last week, something kept nagging at me to look at Mary’s family some more.  A few hours in, I was unbelievably heartbroken.  For two days, I dug and scratched, and felt sick to my stomach.  I created a timeline for the entire family and felt even more distressed.

Mary’s story is one of the saddest I have ever uncovered.

 

Her first taste of death.

 

When Mary was just a few months shy of her eleventh birthday, her only older sibling, Andrew Brown, died.  His cause of death was 1 – strumous abscess, 2 – phthisis.  In other words, he died of a cold that originated from tuberculosis, and tuberculosis.1

I am sure that was terribly sad for Mary.  But, she had nine other siblings, both of her parents were alive, and I imagine that life probably moved along okay after some grieving.

 

Mary & William

 

A little more than twelve years later, Mary Brown and William Wood were married.2  Forty-three days later, their first child, Alexander Wood was born, 17 March 1894.3

living child count: 1

Just a few weeks before his first birthday, Alexander died of acute pneumonia.4

living child count: 0

Mary was already expecting her second child when Alexander was buried.  That child, William Wood was born 31 October 1895.5

living child count: 1

A little more than two years later, John Wood was born 20 November 1897.6

living child count: 2

Fifteen months after John’s birth, Mary would say goodbye to her own mother, Janet Lorimer Fulton.  Janet succumbed to uterine cancer after a two year battle on 16 February 1899.7  She was just 48 years old.  Mary was only a few months past her twenty-eighth birthday.

But Mary was about to enter a period of her life that included a presumably welcome respite from loss.  Her next five children would be born without the sorrow of death touching their young family.  First, Hugh Brown Wood in 1900.8  Then Annie Wood in 1902.9  David Wood in 1904.10  Edward Brown Wood in 1907.11  And Alexander Wood in 1910.12

living child count: 7

Alexander only lived for twenty days.  6 May 1910, Alexander Wood died of infantile debility.13  In our day, we call this failure to thrive.  Alexander was not able to absorb nutrition from his food.

living child count: 6

Mary went on to give birth to her second known daughter, Janet Brown Wood, 19 June 1911.14

living child count: 7

At eighteen months of age, Janet died on Christmas Eve 1912 of capillary bronchitis and cardiac failure.15  My marvelous middle boy contracted RSV as an infant.  It was so painful to watch him struggle to breathe.  But I had the wonders of modern medicine to assist me in keeping him breathing.  Mary had to hold her baby, watch her struggle for every breath and see her die in her arms.  At least, that is how I imagine it happening.  Such a heartbreaking picture.

living child count: 6

Eight months later, on 29 August 1913, Mary Wood was born.16

living child count: 7

Mary would only live for seven months.  4 January 1915, Mary died of meningitis.17

living child count: 6

Eight months later another daughter, also named Mary, was born 18 September 1915.18

living child count: 7

Seven short days after Mary’s birth, William Wood, William & Mary’s second born child, perished in the Battle of Loos just before his twentieth birthday on 25 September 1915.19

living child count: 6

Almost two years after William’s death, John Wood, third-born child, was married 8 August 1917.20  I hope the thought of future grandchildren cheered Mary’s heart.

At least for a minute.  Sadly, those grandchildren did not manifest.  John’s wife Ellison went on to marry again on 25 November 1921.21  She was listed as a widow on the marriage record.  Despite extensive efforts to find John’s death record, so far, that record has not been located.  I wonder if he may have decided to join the war efforts after his marriage and perished like his brother.  There are plenty of WWI death records that could be him, but they sadly lack enough detail to be certain.

living child count: 5

A little more than a month after Ellison’s remarriage, Hugh Brown Wood & Martha Blair Dean Boyd were married 31 December 1921.22

Sometime during 1922, Hugh & Martha gave Mary her first grandchild, Agnes Blair Boyd Wood.23

living child count: 5

living grandchild count: 1

 

The beginning of the end

 

The following year, on 22 November 1923,24 Annie Wood lost her life at the age of 21 in the Fever Hospital of Bannockburn.25  Her cause of death?  Phthisis pulmonalis.  Today we would call that pulmonary tuberculosis.  I wonder if Annie’s death reminded Mary of her older brother’s death?  They would have been so similar.

living child count: 4

living grandchild count: 1

Sometime after Annie’s death, Hugh & Martha would have a child named William.  He would later serve as the informant on his own father’s death record,26 but his birth falls in the period where records are not publicly available to view.  I’m hoping his birth brought some joy for Mary.

living child count: 4

living grandchild count: 2

That joy would be interrupted when Edward Brown Wood, just seventeen years old, died in Ochil Hills Sanatorium after a two year battle with pulmonary tuberculosis on 15 February 1925.27

living child count: 3

living grandchild count: 2

For nearly six years, Mary would enjoy another respite from loss.  Until on 14 December 1930, David, at the age of twenty-six, would die of phthisis pulmonalis at home.28  Another death caused by tuberculosis.  If you are counting, this one makes four – three children, one sibling.

living child count: 2

living grandchild count: 2

In early May of 1934, Mary’s youngest daughter would give birth to an illegitimate son named Hugh Brown Wood.

living child count: 2

living grandchild count: 3

Hugh would live for two short weeks before dying of: 1 – prematurity, 2 – congenital debility, and worst of all 3 – pemphigus, on 17 May 1934 at the Royal Infirmary in Stirling.29  Pemphigus is a horrible disease where watery blisters form on the skin.

living child count: 2

living grandchild count: 2

A mere twelve days after the horrors of Hugh’s death, his mother, Mary Wood, youngest child of William & Mary, would also die of phthisis – or tuberculosis – in the home of her parents at the age of 18 on 29 May 1934.30

living child count: 1

living grandchild count: 2

Five deaths to tuberculosis, four of them Mary’s children, one a brother.  Four infant deaths.  One death in battle.  And one unknown cause of death.  At least eleven children were born to Mary Brown & William Wood.  Mary & William would lose ten – TEN! – of those children during their lifetimes.  Only two of their children would marry.  They would have only three known grandchildren.  I feel so numb when I consider the sheer number of deaths Mary experienced.  Horrible, painful deaths.

There would again be a rest from death for a time.  There would even be a few bright spots in Mary’s family despite the fact that WWII was raging.  24 April 1942, Mary’s granddaughter Agnes Blair Boyd Wood & Andrew Wilson were married very near Mary’s home.31  Two years later, Agnes & Andrew would welcome their first child, a girl.  A girl who is now an older woman.  A LIVING, older woman.

living child count: 1

living grandchild count: 2

living great-grandchild count: 1

 

One last death

 

Four years later, Mary would lose her husband of fifty-four years, William Wood, on 31 July 1948.32  His cause of death was listed as “senile changes”.  Merciful?  Possibly.

Mary Brown would live for nearly seven years without her husband.  Seven years with only ONE of her eleven children.  But seven years with the hope of a future for her posterity as those 3 precious grand, and great-grandchildren continued to LIVE.

1955 began in sorrow for Hugh Brown Wood as his mother Mary died on 1 January in his home.33  Just like her husband William, Mary’s cause of death is listed as “senile changes”.  Merciful?  I hope so.  I would not normally feel peace about the indignity of death to Alzheimers/dementia, but in Mary’s case, I hope she was transported back to that decade of joy when her family only grew and she had 7 children living.  I hope that on her bad days, Hugh & Martha never reminded her of the tragedies she experienced over and over and over again.  I hope they let her live blissfully in any happy memories she found in those last days.

A little more than two years after Mary’s death, her only child to outlive her, Hugh, would die of coronary thrombosis on 11 April 1957.34  I am so glad for Mary’s sake, that Hugh’s heart held out until after Mary had passed.

 

Grappling to understand

 

How did one woman survive so much loss?

I cannot begin to imagine what that was like.

I feel raw.  The realization of the sorrows of Mary’s life is new for me.  Her pain ended more than 62 years ago, but I discovered one horrifying record after another in very quick succession.  Every part of me aches for Mary.  I will probably ache for a while.  But I imagine she made peace with it all either near the end of her life or in her joyous – and LARGE – reunion after her death.

I don’t want Mary to feel even a moment more of the pains of her life, but I hope that she knows I am feeling pain for her suffering.  I hope she knows that I discovered not only her missing babies, but also the immense sorrow of her many, many losses.  I don’t know what it feels like to be in Heaven, but if my telling of her story brings anything to her today – I hope it is a sense of being loved, understood, honored, respected, and revered.

Mary now holds a very special place in my heart.  I will carry her with me for all of my days.

 

My very dear cousin Mary, I hope you are experiencing peace and joy you could never have anticipated during your painful journey through mortality.

 

 

 

note: It is possible that William and Mary had additional children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  They have been carefully searched for and not found.  Grandchildren and great-grandchildren are more difficult to identify without the help of living descendants.  If you are a descendant of Mary, I welcome your input and contact – amberlysfamilyhistory {@} yahoo {dot} com.

 

 


  1. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 14 July 2009), death entry for Andrew Brown, 25 September 1881, Hamilton in Lanark; citing Statutory Registers no. 647/00 0351. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2017,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 31 January 2018), birth entry for William Wood, 31 October 1895, Bothwell in Lanark; citing Statutory Registers no. 625/1 393. 
  6. Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2017,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 31 January 2018), birth entry for John Wood, 20 November 1897, Cowie near Bannockburn in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/02 0151. 
  7. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 14 July 2009), death entry for Janet Brown, 16 February 1899, Bothwell in Lanark; citing Statutory Registers no. 625/01 0050. 
  8. Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2017,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 31 January 2018), birth entry for Hugh Brown Wood, 14 July 1900, Cowie, near Bannockburn in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/2 114. 
  9. Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 8 January 2018), birth entry for Annie Wood, 1 September 1902, Cowie in Bannockburn in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/2 171. 
  10. Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 30 January 2018), birth entry for David Wood, 27 October 1904, Cowie near Bannockburn in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/2 219. 
  11. Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2017,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 31 January 2018), birth entry for Edward Brown Wood, 20 September 1907, Cowie, near Bannockburn in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/2 285. 
  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. 
  14. Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2017,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2019), birth entry for Janet Wood, 1911, St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 252. 
  15. 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. 
  16. 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. 
  17. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2017,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2018), death entry for Mary Wood, 1915, St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 2. 
  18. Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2017,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2019), birth entry for Mary Wood, 1915, St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 347. 
  19. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/737696/wood,-william/ 
  20. Scotland, “Statutory Marriages 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 27 January 2018), marriage entry for John Wood and Ellison Lough, 18 August 1917, Plean near St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/01 0039. 
  21. Scotland, “Statutory Marriages 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 27 January 2018), marriage entry for Peter Wilson Lister and Ellison Hutchison Wood, 25 November 1921, Cowie near St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/01 0076. 
  22. Scotland, “Statutory Marriages 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 31 January 2018), marriage entry for Hugh Brown Wood and Martha Blair Dean Boyd, 31 December 1921, Falkirk in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 479/ 13. 
  23. The actual record for this birth is too recent to purchase and view, but the item is easily located on Scotlands People because of the uniqueness of the name: WOOD AGNES B BOYD F 1922 488/1 186 St Ninians. 
  24. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2017,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 28 January 2018), death entry for Annie Wood, 22 November 1923, Bannockburn near St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 108. 
  25. http://www.scottish-places.info/features/featurefirst89859.html 
  26. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 31 January 2018), death entry for Hugh Brown Wood, 11 April 1957, Bannockburn, near St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 30. 
  27. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 31 January 2018), death entry for Edward Brown Wood, 15 February 1925, Orwell in Kinross; citing Statutory Registers no. 463/ 5. 
  28. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 30 January 2018), death entry for David Wood, 14 December 1930, Plean in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 104. 
  29. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 31 January 2018), death entry for Hugh Brown Wood, 17 May 1934, Stirling in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 490/ 161. 
  30. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 31 January 2018), death entry for Mary Wood, 29 May 1934, Fallin near St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 77. 
  31. Scotland, “Statutory Marriages 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 31 January 2018), marriage entry for Andrew Wilson and Agnes Blair Boyd Wood, 24 April 1942, Stirling in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 490/ 108. 
  32. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 31 January 2018), death entry for William Wood, 31 July 1948, Fallin near St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 69. 
  33. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2017,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 7 January 2019), birth entry for Mary Wood, 1955, St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 1. 
  34. Scotland, “Statutory Deaths 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 31 January 2018), death entry for Hugh Brown Wood, 11 April 1957, Bannockburn, near St Ninians in Stirling; citing Statutory Registers no. 488/1 30. 


27 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 1855-2016,” 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 1855-2016, ” 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 1855-2016,” 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 1855-2016,” 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 1855-2016, ” 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 1855-2016,” 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 1855-2016, ” 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 1855-2016,” 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. 


18 Comments

Happy New Year! 2017 Review & 2018 Goals

Eleanor Brownn Quote

Happy New Year!

 

2017 was packed with amazing genealogy experiences, milestones of both the personal and genealogical kind, the sorrow of loss, and the joys of life.  When I reflect back over the year, these are some of the biggest moments:

 

Digging into the story of Rosey, my 2nd great-grandaunt, has been a fascinating adventure.  I’m still finding tidbits scattered across the world.  Just last week I found a big one I wasn’t expecting.  The story that is unfolding is so enthralling that I think it is worthy of its own book.  Here are the 2017 posts about Rosey:

 

John Costello continues to elude me.  He is my great-grandfather and my most challenging brick wall.  Despite his continued brick wall status, I have had some major breakthroughs this year.  I discovered seven seconds of color video of him with my great grandma and my mom as a baby!  I added to my collection of photos of him including the first one of him looking at the camera and smiling!!  I learned that he was ethnically Jewish.  He is still a brick wall, but I feel like I am making some meaningful progress for my own sense of connection to him, and preserving details for future generations to know something about him.

 

I finished organizing and filing all of the letters my grandparents wrote to each other during WWII and their LDS missions.  TEN Hollinger boxes worth.  I have also begun the process of digitizing and transcribing those precious letters.

 

I made enough progress in my Young surname study of Renfrew, Renfrew, Scotland to untangle my 5th great-grandparents James Young and Janet Robertson in the Family Tree on FamilySearch.

 

In my DNA efforts to learn about John Costello, I discovered a first cousin who was adopted at birth.  Together we went on an amazing journey to identify his father and mother.  I still can’t get over what a cool experience that was!  You can read about that journey here:

 

Still on a DNA high, I watched a Legacy Family Tree webinar on DNA and heard a tip from Diahan Southard that led me to solve my Priority 2 brick wall!!!

 

In September, I rushed to the bedside of my grandmother to be with her in her final days.  She was diagnosed with leukemia on a Thursday and passed away on Sunday.  I deeply miss her and the genealogy experiences we shared.  But I am so grateful that I started my genealogy adventures in my very early twenties.  That meant I got 20 precious years of asking her questions.

 

In October I finally held in my hands a long sought after, precious, and very rare book because of a cousin connection I made on Ancestry.com.  It confirmed my previous research efforts and added a richness of story to a family line that had been lost to time and young deaths.

 

I ended the year with a bang! when I helped my friend end her 50 year-long search for her paternal grandparents using her DNA results.  What a joyful experience!

 

As I consider 2018, I am struggling to put my finger on my top three goals.  I know that I want to continue to learn, research, digitize, archive, solve, teach, share, help, write, and answer questions I have.  But those are the things I do all of the time.  The one thing that often eludes me is a very important word – FINISH.

So I am pondering on what three things I want to FINISH this year.

The list of projects I am considering is long enough for a lifetime of effort.  I’m never short on projects.  But which three are the most important, the most pressing, the most meaningful?

I’m still pondering that and will be for a bit.

For now, I am grateful for the progress and experiences of 2017.  I hope 2018 will be just as richly rewarding.

 

How about you?  What do you hope to accomplish in 2018?

 

 

ps – The moment I am looking forward to the most in 2018 is standing in the baggage claim area of the Salt Lake Airport in August and wrapping my arms around my precious first-born, missionary son for the first time in two years and 5 days.  That will be a big milestone moment right there!  ❤️

 

 


18 Comments

My Maternal Ancestor Count

My Maternal Ancestor Count

Last week, my genealogy efforts felt aimless.

It’s understandable.  My Grandma just died.  She was a big part of my genealogy life.  She got me started.  She loved my updates.  She called me with questions.  I called her with discoveries and the resulting questions.  She was never far from my thoughts.

Last week I spent some time writing about her final two days of life.  I included every detail I could recall.  It is something that I hope will be important to my family now and in the future.

Pondering on those two days, on Grandma’s last 85 years, and on the questions I have asked her over the years, I was struck by one thought.

A good genealogist always runs out of time before they run out of questions.

Lest you worry, let me clarify.  I don’t have any genealogy regrets in regards to my Grandma.  I tested her DNA, she tested her DNA.  I interviewed her and recorded it.  I made lots of notes.  I asked her many, many questions over 20 years.  We hit the high points over and over again.  I even started keeping track of her verbiage on certain answers so that I could make a judgment call on how clear her memory of certain events was.  She was getting older after all.

Despite all of that time and all of that information, I still have questions.  Of course, I do.  Everything a genealogist does starts with a question.  If we run out of questions, we are doing it wrong.

So now that I can no longer ask my Grandma questions, a portion of my genealogy process is broken.

And that’s okay.

But I find myself feeling a bit aimless.

I need to get my feet solidly back under myself.

So in an effort to bring some more focus to my genealogy, I decided to create an ancestor count.  Except, I decided to leave my dad’s side of the tree out of it.  It’s not because I care about them less.  It’s simply because his side is a tangled mess of many LDS pioneers being worked on by many hundreds, dare I say thousands?, of descendants.  But on my mom’s side, that is all my Grandma, my sister, and me.  We did every bit of that work, the three of us, and only us.  There is still lots to do, and I will keep on doing it.  But looking at the numbers did something for my mental focus.

I think I am feeling my internal sense of direction coming back.

Here is my maternal ancestor count as of the 27th of September 2017:

Maternal Ancestor Count, 27 September 2017

 

If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know that my great-grandfather John Costello is my biggest brick wall.  The missing 25% for my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th great grandparents is all because of that brick wall.  From there, I start to have missing pieces scattered throughout my tree.  To really help me track my progress, I added that last column so that I know which branches of my tree those ancestors come from.

Looking at the numbers this way has put an energy into my thoughts.  I know that goals will follow, but they aren’t solid yet.  For now, I’m just comforted by having a new yardstick to measure my progress.  My old yardstick was printing a new fanchart for Grandma every so often and seeing the differences.  And now?  Now, I will update my ancestor count every so often to measure my progress.  Maybe I can get my Mom excited about it.

Maybe.

 

Have you ever created an ancestor count?

 

 

 

I wish I could take credit for the idea of an ancestor count, but I can’t.  I have no idea who thought it up first.  But I first heard the idea from my friend Cathy at Opening Doors in Brick Walls, so I’ll send you her way.