Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Call to Regroup

While stumbling upon an ooh-shiny diversion is ever so fun, when it comes to genealogy, there’s got to be a time to stop and re-gather the facts and assess the next step.

I’ve been wandering around the Murdock family history as a way to place exactly when Eliza Murdock—or, more correctly, the now-widowed Eliza Murdock Clark—married widower John Stevens in Lafayette, Indiana. That, in itself, seems relatively easy to answer, now (they were married in December of 1860—so John couldn't have been too far away, right?). It’s when the sum total of the two families actually qualified as officially “blended” that has me searching for more documentation.

You see, there seems to be a few missing children on either side of this marriage. Let’s recap:
  • In the 1860 census, Eliza was still listed as a Clark and appeared in her brother Samuel Murdock’s household, along with her daughter “Ellen”
  • In the 1860 census, John Stevens was nowhere to be found; neither were his three sons, James, John Kelly and William
  • In the 1870 census, John and Eliza were listed in the same household with some of their children
  • Missing from the 1870 census were John’s youngest son, William, and Eliza’s oldest daughter, Ellen.
Of course, this isn’t the first I’ve noticed this discrepancy. It happens to be one of those details that has bothered me for years.

You can see how much progress being bothered has gained me.

In the back of my mind, I keep hoping that the discoveries will lead me to some until-now unknown relatives—or at least some other kind-hearted soul who was willing to take in these children after their respective losses of a parent. I know that, every day, large numbers of newly-digitized documents get uploaded to online resources such as and I know that large numbers of documents are indexed to facilitate easier searching every day, too.

Somehow, though, the precise explanation I keep hoping for does not manage to materialize. I cringe to think of what that might mean: if I can’t perfect my advanced-search techniques sufficiently enough to isolate the family cluster of those three sons for 1860, or Ellen-Helen-Nellie in 1870, I might just have to sequester myself away some dull, dreary rainy day next fall and crank through those Tippecanoe County census records, page by page.

As a good friend of mine used to say, “Oh, groan…”


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