Why is it that some names always seem to be paired with specific other names? Is Romeo just coupled with Juliet in the play? Or are real life Romeos doomed to face life with a wife named Juliet?
Yes, I actually did look that up. We do, after all, have the technology. I headed to Ancestry, set up a search for an exact match with first name Romeo and spouse with exact name Juliet.
Really, who names their kid Romeo? But there are some out there. According to Ancestry, enough to fuel about 278,621 hits. And yes, at least for the first few matches served up, the Romeo in the document had a wife named Juliet.
Considering that, it probably would come as no surprise to you to learn that, at least in a good Catholic family, the name to couple with a groom named Joseph would be...a wife named Mary.
That's how it was in the case I'm currently examining—a Joseph Flowers who married a Mary. As luck would have it, Mary's last name is not revealed at this point—at least until I can locate a marriage record.
But I'm not looking for just one Joseph Flowers who married a Mary. I'm chasing after two such gentlemen.
So let's take a look at more details in this puzzle. Here are some facts on the setting.
Joseph Flowers number one was part of a Flowers family which had settled in central Ohio in the early 1800s. The Flowers family had immigrated to that pioneer area from Pennsylvania, and had settled in what became Perry County.
The only problem was: that was the same story for the other Joseph Flowers.
Where I encountered each of them was when I was determining whether their son—yes, each of them had a son named Charles—was a duplicate of the other entry. For one Charles, I had no date of birth. The other Charles was born in November, 1923.
Eventually, each family had moved from their home in Perry County. The family into which Charles with the birth date had arrived now lived in Akron, Ohio. The other family had moved to Dayton. At least the geographic distance would, I knew, eventually help me distinguish between them.
I discovered that the Dayton Joseph had a middle initial—C—but that victory was short lived when I uncovered the middle initial for the other Joseph. Yep, it was also C.
Trying to focus on each Joseph's wife was not easy. Though I knew that each Joseph had married a woman named Mary, I couldn't find a marriage record to tell me what that bride's maiden name might have been. Fortunately, I uncovered a middle initial for each of the Marys. One, belonging to the Joseph in Dayton, was Mary A. The other, wife of Joseph in Akron, was Mary B.
With this, I was now left with the case of Mary A versus Mary B. While I have yet to locate a marriage record for Joseph C. and Mary A., I did find one for Joseph C. and Mary B. Thankfully, it was after the era in Ohio when only the names of the bride and groom were recorded, which awarded me the opportunity to learn their parents' names.
Thus, Mary B. became Mary B. Sutton, bride-to-be of Joseph C. Flowers, son of Marion J. Flowers and Millie Bennett. This couple eventually went on to be proud parents of at least six children, including a son named Charles.
The other Mary and Joseph also eventually had a son Charles, but not only was his parents' marriage record evading me, but so was Charles' own records. And this Charles was the only child I had been told about for this set of parents.
Could I have been mistaken about this Charles? After all, even in the 1940 census, there was no record of the couple having any children. I couldn't locate them in the 1930 census, and in 1920, that Joseph was single...if I had located the right Joseph back in Perry County. Perhaps my earlier entry was a mistaken one and this wasn't even a case of a duplicate entry, but of a misplaced child linked to the wrong set of parents.
If not for an old newspaper record, I might have left it all as that last conclusion suggested: erasing Charles from Joseph C. and Mary A's record, and leaving the other couple's Charles as the only one. But just double checking in the newspaper records included at Ancestry—yes, there are still some there, though the search mechanism is clunky—I was fortunate that the Dayton Joseph had some to mourn his passing in 1952, back in his old hometown in Perry County, location of one of the newspapers included in the collection at Ancestry.
Joseph C. Flowers, 62, formerly of New Lexington, died at 10 o'clock Friday night at his home in Dayton. He left this community 20 years ago.
The obituary went on to mention the survivors. In addition to his wife, Mary, the only other household member mentioned was "a son, Charles, of the home," besides Joseph's siblings back home in Perry County.
So, there was a Charles Flowers—different than the son of the other Mary and Joseph Flowers in Akron. This one was, indeed, the son of the Mary and Joseph living in Dayton. There was no duplicate. It's nice to have a way to sort out these relatives, even if there was no documentation to provide guidance.
Above: Excerpt of the obituary for Joseph C. Flowers of Dayton, Ohio, published in the Zanesville (Ohio) Signal on Monday, November 17, 1952, on page 2; record courtesy of Ancestry.com.