Saturday, June 14, 2014

More Spelling Woes

She is survived by the following step-children…Mrs. Ella Fulk of Bloomington…

After going as far as I could with the descendants of Michael and Bridget Kelly Creahan’s daughter, Anna M. Creahan Quinlisk, I realized that complaining about being stuck at the brink of discovering living cousins was fruitless—especially considering there were three more children of this Kelly ancestor waiting to be discovered.

I headed back to that long-winded obituary of Michael’s second wife, the former Annie Cunningham, to check the married name of her other step-daughter.

That name, on the obituary, showed, simply enough, as Ella Fulk, but I know that wasn’t "simple enough" to save me from another search fiasco. Right off the bat, I remembered the family’s last census listing—under the spelling “Creham” before her mother’s tragic early death—where the newlyweds’ first child was listed as Ellen. Well, that’s forgivable, I suppose, as I’ve seen others with that given name opting for the shorter—perhaps sweeter—version as Ella. But even in the 1870 census, where she was now the oldest of four children, she was listed as Ellen.

But Fulk? Hadn’t I seen a record insisting her married name was actually spelled Faulk? That’s how it was showing in the marriage index entry for Homer L. Faulk and Ella T. Crahan. Right, blame that on those useless indexed records!

Were there any children added to this September 2, 1879, marriage? Not by the time of the 1880 census, though the household of Homer and Ella Fulk included a sister-in-law by the surname Miers, perhaps providing a hint for future searches. By the time of the next census in 1900, it seemed next to impossible to locate Ella or Ellen, either by Faulk or Fulk.

And yet, I knew she had to be around, at least up until 1917. That’s when her step-mother’s obituary named her as a resident of Bloomington, Indiana. Poking around in both and seemed to show several Ella Fulks (and all the appropriate variants) dying in Indiana before that point—with no possibilities listed past that point. I was running into a brick wall on this line before I even started.

A light bulb went off in my late-night-researcher brain: why not try the same resource which so easily got me the obituary that started this whole chase off? After all, the city of Ella’s residence, once she was married, was Bloomington, part of Monroe, home county of the library with that excellent obituary index service. I may as well support the business ventures which have already proven their success.

I checked out the Monroe County library’s index once more, puzzling over which spelling variation to attempt for my first try. I entered Ella Fulk, and was immediately rewarded with the information I sought: the seventy year old woman’s obituary appeared in the May 29, 1933, edition of the Daily Telephone. Just to make sure I had the right Ella Fulk—after all, there could be others—I pulled up the website for Find A Grave and hoped a volunteer had made the entry.

And there it was: Ella Fulk, buried in the same cemetery in Lafayette, Indiana, as her parents and other members of her childhood family. Her date of death was given as May 28, 1933, just one day off the obituary date given at the Monroe County Public Library.

With Ella's burial occurring back in her childhood hometown, rather than that of her husband, it made me wonder whether she had been long widowed, and possibly childless. I won’t have to wait long to find that out, though, for the handy service provided by the Monroe County Public Library will undoubtedly deliver a digital copy of the obituary to my email address within only a few days.

Hopefully, it will include enough hints to bring me to the next turn in this family trail.


  1. Genealogy demons are no match for you. You are the champ when it comes to finding the back door.

    1. Thanks, Wendy, but I know I have lots of stellar company! I think we all inspire each other with tricks and tips for getting around those brick walls.

  2. Ack a library that emails obits..perfect! How organized is that!:)

    1. Don't you love it?! I thought it was a great operation. Quite streamlined.

  3. You will be getting your own "Donor Recognition" plaque up on that library wall soon!!


    1. Fortunately, Iggy, the one thing that will save me from spending my life savings in Monroe County is the small number of descendants I am able to claim in that area. Now, if a number of other libraries institute this exceptional operation, that will become a different story...


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