Saturday, October 9, 2010

Is she or isn't she?

Well, I'm back after a long absence.  Life can be a roller coaster ride and I have certainly been on a long, long ride.  This post is a little different from the ones I have posted earlier.  Today I am going to introduce you to one of my own ancestors.  If you have been 'doing' genealogy for any length of time, you probably have at least one 'brick wall' ancestor.  You know the type, they just appear in a community, leave very little, if any documentation as to their family.  These are the family lines I love to research.  So, with no further ado, let me introduce you to my great, great, great grandmother, Sarah Ann Fox.

When I first started researching my family tree many years ago, I would travel to the Library of Michigan with my friend Chris, my mother, and Chris's mother.  The drive was just over an hour each way.  We made this journey just about once a week for some time.  This was the only way we could access the Federal census records.  Now you can access indexed electronic census records 24-7.  This brings me to the point I wish to make.  Times change.  Technologies change.  When trying to resolve a brick wall ancestor, you should always revisit your research.  I can't tell you how many times I have looked at a census image only to see a name or a date I had not noticed before.

The image below is a screen shot of the 1840 census for St. Clair County, Michigan.  Sarah Ann Fox marries William Perry on 2 January 1838 in Algonac, St. Clair County, Michigan.  They have one male living in the household under the age of 5.  This is their son, and my great, great, grandfather, James C. Perry.  Sarah's maiden name of Fox took me almost two years to identify, as the marriage record does not exist in St. Clair County marriage records.  Once I determined Sarah's maiden name I went back to the 1840 census and discovered the household of Henry Fox further down the same census page.  This is where things began to get complex...

I have listed the children of William and Sarah Perry:
  1.  James C. Perry b: 9 JUN 1839 in St. Clair County, MI
  2.  Henry W. Perry b: 21 JAN 1842 in St. Clair County, MI
  3.  William Lester Perry b: 1844
  4.  Joel E. Perry b: 29 OCT 1846 in Wales, St. Clair County, MI
  5.  Mary E. Perry b: 25 DEC 1849
  6.  Alfred E. Perry b: AFT 1850
  7.  Sophia A. Perry b: 5 MAY 1855 in prob St. Clair County, MI
  8.  John E. Perry b: 26 JUL 1858 in Michigan
All of the children were born in St. Clair County, MI.  Henry Fox's father is Joel Fox.  Now if you look at the name's of Sarah's children you will see Henry and Joel.  So my working theory is that Henry Fox is a brother of Sarah Ann Fox.  By extension, that would make Joel Fox the father of Mary Ann Fox.  At this point I should add the caveat - never rush to a conclusion.  Genealogy is not a course in speed reading!  You should always take the time to think things through and, always keep your mind open to alternative interpretations.  

My next post will look a little closer at the 1850 census and what happens when new technology or new databases come online...   

   

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