Friday, October 8, 2021

Why you don't do Genealogy in the Middle of the Night.

We have a house full tonight. My youngest son's children have a day off tomorrow so they are spending the night. I have a five year old and six year old sleeping in my guest room and a two year old asleep in a pack and play in my bedroom. Tomorrow morning a first grader and a third grader will be here at 7:00 a.m. for breakfast before they get on the bus and another two year old will drop by around 7:20 a.m. to spend the rest of the day while mom is at work. 

What am I doing? Staying up all night chasing those leaves on Ancestry. 

My great grandmother is one of a large family of semi literate farmers. The inconsistent spelling of all their names is a challenge. When I began doing genealogy, my favorite thing was that every single piece of paper or document I found for my great grandmother had a different spelling of her unique name.  I have branched out into her brothers and sisters. 

To further complicate matters, the handwriting and spelling on our county records prior to 1900 is pretty interesting, too. 

There were at least six daughters in this family that I have found county birth records (this was before birth certificates). The four I am struggling with are Ella (1863), Ida (1864), Eda (1868) and Edith (1869). It isn't just me that is confused by the similar names. The website and other subscribers are mixing them up or combining them, too.  I am positive these are four sisters with different birth years. They are listed on census records together as children and I have found marriages for Ella, Ida, and Edith. But what happened to Eda (sometimes Ada)?

Eda was 12 years old on the 1880 census. Unfortunately the 1890 census is the one that burned. She may have already been married by then. Or deceased. I have spent the night reading her sister's obituaries for clues. They mention three other siblings (all leave out the baby boy who was born in 1867 that must have died shortly after birth) and information on the other sisters, but not Eda.  Eda must have proceeded them in death.  I cannot find a marriage record in our county for her - but boy, I came close!  I have been searching for Eda for a while. 

Tonight I thought I found her! Unfortunately I made several mistakes, the first being that I am up too late for this type of investigation.  I found a marriage record for "Ada" to a Mr. Smiley.  My Eda would have only been 12 years old, but that could have happened in this family (my great grandmother married at 15). Her father did sign the license that she was underage. Mr. Smiley did not have a first name, only initials, C. A.  I looked for him everywhere. I did find two references in Ohio newspapers around this time period, but they were quite the distance from here. I also looked in nearby states. Where did he come from and where did he go? I searched obituary lists for him. Nothing. 

Finally I got out the paper and pencil (why do I try to use the internet for everything? I do not have an internet brain).  And, wait.  The wedding month and year are the same as her older sister Ida's. And Ida's husband's name is Charles A.  And his last name does start with an S.  And, I guess if you were sounding it out and mumbling and spitting, you could turn it into Smiley.   

So my marriage register for Ada and C. A. Smiley was actually the marriage registration for Ida and Charles S*****y. In my defense, because this is such a dumb mistake and time waster, all the other trees I have seen for Ada and Charles have them marrying in a nearby county, not this county.  My brain is just fried. And I still don't know what ever happened to poor Eda. 

Now it is 1 a.m. and in six hours I need to feed breakfast to six children and a grandfather and then spend nine hours trying to entertain four grandchildren aged 6 and under. 

I guess I will do what I should have done a few hours back and go to bed. 

* Have I gone to bed? Of course not. I suddenly remembered the gravestone transcriptions for our county which are online. I went through all the spellings of the last name (5) and found a stone in a small country cemetery with a few of these family members. And I am keeping in mind that this family is scattered across a few of these small cemeteries in that area. There is a small stone that says "E. T."  which would be her initials as well as a ton of other people's initials. There is no date or any other inscription at all. I do not believe there are any records for this cemetery either.  I sure hope this isn't all I can find. And I hope that I will really give up for now and go to bed. 


  1. Oh, I hope too, that you gave up for the night and went to bed. You have a BIG day tomorrow. :-) My best friend Jenny is VERY into geneology. So is our middle son Jamie. When we were in England at one of the castles, we found the place where The Black Knight is buried. He is her great-something uncle! She found her records take her back to King Henry VIII so far. I don't think I would want to be related to him!
    It's never really interested me, maybe because our older generation died so young it was next to impossible to even find out the beginning information. For example, my maternal grandmother & grandfather died before I was born. I don't know when or where.
    Dennis, on the other hand, has a Mom and aunts and uncles who were very interested and have traced his family back many, many generations.
    I hope you are able to find the missing links when you come back to it AFTER a good nights sleep.
    Blessings and hugs,

  2. Genealogy can be very addictive. It is also hard work, and time consuming. So, if you're alone in this, you don't get any encouragement from descendants, then I'm afraid that just to come up with a tree is not enough reward for your efforts.

  3. I hope you find her! I know how frustrating it can be. Hope you survived your busy day with your Grands! Oh I just love those two year fav age!

  4. I'm exhausted just reading your post! I've spent a little time on ancestry, but have been completely baffled by the very issue you mention -- the different spellings, to the point where I wonder if they're even talking about the same person. I envy you all those wonderful people in your house!

  5. I am with you! One can really get so deep in this and one thing leads to always another. I have found that the plot cards at cemeteries are not always accurate. I know with the German name Bach on Moms Mothers side was spelled Baugh in lots of areas and pronounced with that "G" sound and not the "k". I had my DNA done and that was interesting. Have you done that?

  6. You are determined! I don't know how you do it all...I can barely stay awake during the day after getting 9 hours of sleep! LOL! I hope you find the information you are looking for.

  7. WOW!! What a night!!I am not into genealogy....I did have a friend look a few things up. I know a few things about my paternal grandparents and that they came from Poland. I do not know much about my mother's side of the family...I do know she was a second generation American as her grandparents came from Poland. The documents that my friend found were funny in that my Dad's last name was spelled a different way on everyone as it happened so many times with Eastern European immigrants. The Polish spelling is Kolodziejczak. By the time I was born, my Dad and his siblings were spelling it Kolojejchick...Thanks so much for always stopping by as I do know how busy you are caring for all those grandchildren. I hope that your kids appreciate all that you do for them!!

  8. Oh.... what a heart for investigation and research... I hope you find what you seek and have strength to spare for today's world, too! I admire you! I'm afraid I've messed up my leaves by clicking some wrong turns! .... gayla


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