Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Marriage and Sisters

The challenge for family history researchers has always been to discover what has become of the sisters in a family. That maiden name so often gets swallowed up in the minutiae of day to day life for the married woman—even wiped out of those all-important life documents at times. Fortunately, out of all the daughters of Thomas and Bridget Dolan Kelly, second daughter Rosa—or Rose, as she was listed in later documents—was the easiest to find. That discovery was aided by the decision to have her burial information engraved on the reverse of the headstone marking the Kelly family plot at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Lafayette, Indiana.

I can thank Find A Grave volunteer Amy H. for not only posting the photo of the front of the Kelly headstone, but walking around to the back to clearly capture this message:
Rose Miller
Daughter of
Thomas & Bridget Kelly
Died May 24, 1955

At first, I thought Rose was buried in the family plot, as had been some of her brothers, as well as her namesake aunt and uncle. But checking the plot location, I noticed that, rather than the family’s Block 101, Lot A, Rose’s actual burial location was at Block 102, Lot C, Grave 2.

Of course, I thought, she must have been buried with her husband, likely in the plot directly behind her parents’ location.

I tried looking for a Miller entry with the same plot location in Saint Mary’s Cemetery, but—at least on Find A Grave—the only workable entry that came up was for Rose, herself. That, unfortunately, would not be the route to provide hints as to Rose’s husband’s name.

Lest you think, “Why not look it up on FamilySearch?” let me advise you that no such entries came up—at least when I tried that as recently as yesterday. If I was to discover Rose’s husband’s name, there would have to be another way.

There was. Thankful, once again, for whoever that Joan Rodenberger was who posted the Lafayette Journal and Courier index on the Tippecanoe County Indiana GenWeb site, I scrolled through the “K” listings to find one for Rose. With the added bonus of gleaning her middle initial—“G”—I found the line item providing Rose’s wedding date (May 20, 1918) and the name of her husband: Clarence. Just in case I was the victim of a mis-transcribed entry, I cross checked that with the alphabetical listing for the "M" surnames. Yep, Clarence Miller.

I should have taken it as an ominous sign that not only was Clarence Miller missing from the cemetery entries for Saint Mary’s—where his beloved was laid to rest—but that I couldn’t locate the couple in subsequent census records after their wedding day.

What I should have done was pay attention to the listings I had found in the newspaper index for all the Millers. There were actually three Clarence Miller weddings mentioned in that index. Apparently, our Clarence was not the only Clarence Miller in town.

It took scrolling through the World War I Draft Registration Cards to locate any evidence of which Clarence Miller this mysterious groom might have been. This became one of those page-by-page projects, but thankfully yielded a result not long after I began the process. Found: one Clarence Miller. Occupation: fireman. Born November 2, 1884, he was residing at 730 South Fourth Street—along with his wife, Rose G. Miller.

So, with a research journey that began with the aid of a photograph at Find A Grave, I was able to eventually conclude who Rose Kelly Miller had married. Whether she and Clarence had a happy life together, had any children, or experienced anything else of note, I cannot yet tell. But that’s a start.

With that discovery, I could now add Rose to my list of found Kelly children. Gleaning the names from the family’s 1880 census entry, in addition, I could check off her name as well as her siblings, James and William.

Though I hadn't yet found Rose’s brothers John and Thomas, more than with those missing brothers, I knew I would experience difficulty in attempting to find Rose's sisters Mary Ann and Bridget—but thanks to a fluke when floundering around in, I did encounter a possibility for Mary Ann. It was only thanks to entering her parents’ names in the search bar that the suggestion came up: a marriage entry for a Kelley daughter. The other names on the entry were somehow mangled, so I was going to dismiss it out of hand and trudge on through the listings. How can I make sense of the index entry to a document over which even the transcriber is stumped?

Though the record might have been misread by the transcriber, there was something familiar about one of those names. I had to take a second look.



    I wonder what happened to Clarence!!

    1. Fireman might mean the railroad kind, that shoveled coal into the steam locomotive, not the kind that put fires out.

    2. Iggy, who knows at this point. I'm gathering all the names I'll need obituaries for, in preparation for seeking someone local who can do lookups. That may be the only way to find out.

      Thanks for the link! And for the reminder about that other kind of fireman ;)


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