Tuesday, September 4, 2018
When all the Details Fall Into Place
When working on old photographs I've rescued from antique shops, it's always gratifying to quickly come to the conclusion about the subject's identity. In finding the Chicago photograph of Rachel Webb—handily labeled with not only her full name, but also her address—we get a head start on learning more about this woman with the captivating gaze.
After quickly finding her in the 1900 and 1910 census records, we're already able to glean some details. First of all, we learned that her husband's name was Francis, and that the elderly couple lived in Chicago with their unmarried daughter Clara. Furthermore, it was easy to determine that Francis Webb was born in Ohio, and that his wife, Rachel, was born in Indiana. Though we've found them in Chicago, since their daughter, like her mother, was also born in Indiana, my guess is that Francis met Rachel in Indiana, and that they lived there until at least the year of Clara's birth in 1857.
That date gives us an extended range of census records which, once located, may paint a clearer picture of this Webb family we've found on Turner Avenue in Chicago.
And so, the search is on. With not much difficulty at all, we locate Rachel and her husband Francis in Indiana by the time of the 1880 census. At that point, Francis Webb worked as an engineer in a sawmill and the family lived in the town of Argos in Marshall County, Indiana, a small community now counting less than two thousand in population. Back then, when Francis and Rachel lived there, Argos was a tiny place of barely over six hundred people.
By 1880, the Webb family consisted of Francis and Rachel plus their four daughters. Besides Clara, there were her three younger sisters: Rosa, Eva, and Lula. When we locate the 1870 census, we realize there had been another daughter, Edith, who had been born in 1860.
Reaching back to that 1860 census, we are fortunate to find the Webbs listed in the household of the man we can presume is actually Rachel's father, Joseph Lewis. There, Edith, having just been born a few months previously, is listed only as "Baby."
Since the family was still in Marshall County at the time of the 1860 census, it is likely no surprise to find the marriage record for Francis and Rachel in that same county. There, on July 3, 1856, Rachel Lewis appeared with her intended before a Justice of the Peace to exchange vows.
It wasn't just in governmental documentation that records of Francis and Rachel Webb and their family could be found. As it turns out, almost at the start of my search for Rachel, I stumbled upon another of her photographs—this one, as it turns out, of a Rachel much younger than the woman whose likeness I rescued from an antique store in northern California.
Someone, as it turns out, has cared greatly for her family's history.
Images above from the 1870 census and the Marshall County, Indiana, marriage records courtesy Ancestry.com.