Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Closet: part II

Finally I found them all living in Bradford, PA as the family of Robert and Margerite Ford in 1920.  

It was serendipity that found them in the 1920 census.   I had searched years trying multiple combination of names. Finally by searching for an Alberta who was under 10 years old I found them.  Margaret's name had been misspelled and frankly I didn't know under what name they would be listed. It was a hard learned lesson.  We depend on indexing too much.  It honestly would have been quicker for me to search each page in the Bradford, PA 1920 census than the years I wasted on the indexing search.  My lesson...if the indexing isn't working go to the primary resource.  Indexing has so many possible levels of human error that it has limited reliability.

It was a big find locating them living as "Ford's".  From there I located a 1918 WWI draft registration form showing Robert John Ford was married to Margaret Mae Ford.  The ages of Margaret and Robert matched in all of the documents. 

I concluded that they were living under an alias of "Ford" which was Margaret's maiden name according to the SS application..  This matched a family story that Margaret eloped with "someone" because she was Catholic and he Protestant. At this point I spent ALOT of time searching Pennsylvania records for a marriage licence, naturalization's, etc.  More dead ends...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Closet: Part I

Gramma Jones and children

Do you hear that? It is a skeleton slowly opening a closet door. He been hiding for a long time.  

Death is an easy starting point for family secrets to surface.  Genevieve Gell Carrier Stubenrod, died September 1980, in Rochester, NY. My grandmother's sudden death brought family together and created a melancholy atmosphere for sharing memories.  It was clear, when I noticed the sideways looks that darted through the room when I asked about Grandma's father, that I was stirring up a family secret. 

Great Grandma Margaret Jones was somewhat of a family legend.  An Irish immigrant, she had a strong brogue accent and was impish with us great grand kids. But, I  was told, she was a "prevaricator".  Shamefully, they continued, the two oldest daughters (Genevieve and Alberta) each had different fathers.

Genevieve's birth certificate was discreetly given to me to uncover information about her "father".  It listed her father as "Robert Ford" and mother "Margaret Fay". Over the years I collected other records including Margaret Jones' SS application. In 1930 I found the family living with Robert Gell in Rochester, NY. He was Great Grandma Jones' husband, before she married Jones, and the father of all the siblings in the 1930 census.

Genevieve's BC showed that she was born in Bradford, PA to Robert Ford and Margaret Fay in 1913.  In fact, the 1930 census showed 4 out of 7 of the children living with Robert and Margaret Gell, were born in PA. Something about the birthplace of the children didn't fit but I couldn't pull it together.