Sunday, June 26, 2011

Someone flunked penmanship and Someone is remembered

One of the things I read regularly in genealogy blogs is that an exhaustive search should be conducted—that the researcher should gather all evidence available.  There are many good reasons, beyond just the scholarly aspect, to engage in this practice.   But did I do this from the outset when I started researching a little over a year ago?  Nope.

I’ve also read regularly in genealogy blogs about the wishful thinking and regrets for not having done something or followed a certain procedure in the early stages of research.  To be honest, I could have done some things better—could still do things better—but I don’t regret my past actions at all.  I’ve accomplished a lot and I’m actually looking forward to going back over all the names I’ve researched refining my research and adding information I missed.

But I am chuckling a little over the fact that I didn’t think I needed any official records or documents on my parents.  After all, I knew they existed, when they were born and married.  Once I decided to correct those omissions, I discovered some unexpected reasons to broaden my thinking.

  • Submitting corrections to the various databases.
On ancestry.com, I discovered an uncle, Byron, born in 1918, transcribed as Bapton born in 1869.  And while I was in the neighborhood, I happened to notice the Narby family listed as Nasbry.  If I hadn’t been looking for my dad’s 1930 census record, undoubtedly at some point there would be someone trying to figure out who the heck Bapton was.  And wondering where Byron was in 1930.

  • Unexpected stories
So, I was looking up my mom’s 1930 census record and right below her name was Honor Stockton and the relationship was Servant.  Wha??  I’ve never thought of my family as the type to have servants.  So, I called a primary source—my mom.  Even though she was young, my mom remembered Honor and knew she was from England.  She thought maybe the term servant came from Honor because she felt the term housekeeper was more accurate.  My mom remembered little else, except that Honor used to take glass jars to the store and get them filled with candy for my mom and her brother.  And my mom remembered that she felt a kind of awe or amazement when Honor washed the steps leading from the kitchen to the basement—my mom had never seen anyone do that before.  My mom then made a rather poignant comment, “There’s not anyone left I can ask about her.”

So, as a little gift to my mom, I did a quick search of the likely spots. In 1901 Honor lived in Staffordshire, England with her husband William and sons, Arthur and William. The family emigrated from England in 1907 and the children were listed as Arthur, Howard, Eva and Horace, but no William.  By 1910, the family was in Pennsylvania, but now there was no Howard, so it looks like they lost two children.  By 1920, their son Arthur had moved out on his own, but there was now a son Clarence.  In 1925, Honor and Clarence made a 2-month trip to England (maybe so family could meet Clarence who had been born in the US?).   Then 1930 is when Honor is without her family and is a housekeeper for my mom’s family.  Eva had married, moved to NY with her husband and Clarence was living with them.  No sign of William Stockton, Honor’s husband. 

I went no further in my search, but I have to admit, I am really curious about what happened to Honor and want to know if any of her grandchildren are still alive.  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to tell my mom there is actually someone she can ask about Honor?

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