thegenealogygirl


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52 Ancestors – ALL the Babies of Mary Brown Wood

unknown infant

photo credit: Michelle Jones, used with permission

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

And that was all that I knew about Mary.

 

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

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

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

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

 

Mary was missing babies.

 

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

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

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

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

And verify is what I did.

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

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

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

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

 

There were two missing babies!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I changed my search terms, places, and dates.

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

I found one.

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

My heart broke for Mary Brown Wood.

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

Worse still, she died in 1912.

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

But that baby eluded me.

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

Oh, Mary.

How many more babies did you lose?

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

There was another Alexander Wood.

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

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

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

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

But are there more?

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

I have so much more to do!

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

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

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

 

 

 

 


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


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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!  ❤️

 

 


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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.