Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Geneasense –Like Spidey sense, it’s that sixth sense, or intuition, indicating you shouldn't ignore a person or piece of information and, ultimately, it will be important and lead to a genealogical breakthrough.

In the case of my research, Loretta Murray triggered my geneasense.  Her role was step-mother to my great-grandfather, so how critical could she be to uncovering the ancestral line?

My great-great-grandfather, Erastus Murray, who I wrote about earlier, this week in my Civil War post, and a month ago in a post introducing the Murray line, is a bit of a mystery.  I know he was in Auburn, NY with his family in 1860, I know he was in Rose, NY in 1864, and I know he was in New York, without his family, in the 1870 and 1880 censuses and I know he died in Rose, NY in 1895.  Seems like I know a lot, right?

Well, I’d been told my great-great-grandfather had died in 1863, not 1895.  And, except for Erastus, the family seemed to disappear by the 1870 census.  I found most of them again by 1880, but not his second wife, Loretta.  The family story is that the kids were sent to an orphanage.  For awhile, I had this hypothesis that Loretta died between 1860 and 1864 and that with the death of another wife (Erastus’ first wife died in 1856), he couldn’t cope with raising 6 kids and he gave them up to an orphanage.  Very Victorian melodrama and all that.  Something nagged at me about Loretta.   I started searching for her obituary, thinking it might mention the family.  I found it alright.  She died in 1884 not the 1860s.  The obit did not mention step-children, but it said she had a son in Utah and she was living with her daughter, Mrs. W.D. Dean in Elkhart, Indiana.  It also mentioned that she was married in Delaware County, NY and that she lost her husband in 1863!  The new insight about the time of her death sent me back for another census search--don't know how I missed her the first gazillion times, but there she was in the locations mentioned in the obit--Michigan in 1870 and Indiana in 1880.  In the 1880 census, she was listed as divorced!

My hypothesis may not be so far off.  After the divorce, Erastus probably did give up his family.  It looks like the year I need to focus on is 1863.  I really want to find out what happened to this family.  Thanks to Loretta, I’m fractionally closer.


  1. Jill - love the reference to Spidey sense :) I enjoy your writing style; it feels like a conversation. Great job!

    Cindy Harris

  2. Thanks! I'm still so new at this, I haven't quite gotten over the fact that anyone outside my family reads this. I appreciate the feedback.