In my last post I mentioned I was waiting for the results from a researcher I hired to do local research in a geographical area (Cayuga County, NY) where I was unlikely to spend time. I received an email this past weekend that the research was complete, that she hoped to mail it to me this week and that she hadn’t expected to find anything new for me, but that she “might have a surprise that [I] haven't considered. If it turns out to be true, it may open new avenues of research...”
I haven’t been able to focus since.
I’ve been spending my time flailing about, occasionally trying new search techniques, hoping to hit on a nugget here or there, just to keep myself occupied. Mostly, I’ve been using sibling research to locate parent information I haven’t been able to locate through my direct ancestors. So far, I’ve only had one success, but it was the distraction I needed.
My great-great-grandfather, James Gaskill, was married to Elizabeth (also known as Betsey in one census). I hadn’t been able to track down a maiden name, even with the help of the Tioga County Historical Society. Using my great-grandfather’s name, Everett, hadn’t gotten me anywhere either. On Family Search, I used his brother’s first name only (Sylvanus), his father’s full name and his mother’s first name. Just like that I had a death certificate from Washington State with both parents’ full names. My great-great-grandmother was Elizabeth Brown.
That ties in to a family legend told to me by my mom—that we were related to John Brown, the abolitionist. I already knew John Brown would be at most a distant cousin because I’d already investigated his immediate family tree. I haven’t had much success finding the link and I probably won’t spend too much time on it. I know my mom would like to know if the story is true, but I’m more interested in finding out who Elizabeth’s parents were.
Since Elizabeth lived her married life in Tioga County, NY, I started with local history books that I already had for my Gaskill ancestors. I discovered some Browns from Berkshire, MA who were early settlers and established Brown’s Settlement. Interestingly, there was a John Brown who would have been about the right age for Elizabeth’s father. So maybe we are related to John Brown…just not THE John Brown. I haven’t found any specifics on her parents, but I’m continuing to look. Eventually I’ll make an inquiry at the Tioga County Historical Society, but their facility is recovering from the serious floods of last fall and they currently aren’t able to handle any requests.
Meanwhile, I think I’ll spend some time organizing files. That should keep me busy until…oh is that the mailman?