Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Another Messy Possibility

Sometimes, finding one handy clue in tracing a family’s descendants only leads to other puzzles. I had found it quite serendipitous, locating the true identity of Michael Creahan’s first wife, Bridget—a heretofore unknown sibling of our family’s Catherine Kelly of Lafayette, Indiana—but now that I’ve delved into the lines of the Creahan children, I’m beginning to weary at the twists and turns.

After having located the obituary for Michael Creahan’s second wife—thus, step-mom to his four young children who had lost their mother in 1869—I began tracing the clues to their whereabouts through time. We’ve already discussed one daughter, Anna Creahan Quinlisk, bringing us up to the present day with some findings that wandered all the way from Indiana to deposit themselves nearly at my own doorstep.

Next, we began the search for another daughter, Ellen—or Ella, as she evidently preferred to be called. While we were able to locate Ella and her husband, Homer Fulk, in Bloomington, Indiana, in the 1880 census, I hadn’t found any other census possibilities. Discovering her grave, via Find A Grave, back in her hometown of Lafayette, Indiana, I began wondering whether she had died childless.

That supposition may turn out to be a premature conjecture on my part. Apparently—though spelling variations still continue to plague this quest—Ella may have had at least one son. Granted, my census discovery is still liable to the pitfalls of mistaken identity, so I hesitate to bring this up. But let’s say that tentatively Ella had a son named Lyman. At least, it sure looks that way in this 1920 census record showing an Ella Fulk in the household of her son, Lyman Fulk of Bloomington, Indiana.

There are some promising details here. Ella, age fifty nine at the time of this enumeration, was just the right age to corroborate the finding of one year old Ellen in Michael and Bridget Creahan’s 1860 census record. Then, the family lived in Bloomington, where I had last found Ella in the 1880 census.

Granted, that record was obtained forty years prior to this 1920 census, but it did give us a working start to reconstructing the family backwards through time.

That’s when I ran into the sticky parts. My next move was to search for a 1910 census with both Lyman and Ella—possibly even with Ella’s husband Homer in the picture. It didn’t turn out quite so nicely packaged.

What I found for 1900 brought me back to Lafayette, Indiana, where Ella was born and where she had married Homer. Only this time, Ella and her son Lyman were in the household of a man by the name of Scott Timmuns—at least, I’m presuming the Ella in this household was Ella Fulk. Ella was actually listed as wife of Scott Timmuns, and Lyman was said to be Scott’s stepson.

Fifteen year old Lyman evidently had two siblings in the household with him: eighteen year old sister Marie and seventeen year old brother Robert. A little more spelling magic had occurred in 1910 as well, for the surname was now magically transformed to be Faulk instead of Fulk.

In addition to the three Faulk children, Scott Timmuns had three children of his own: thirteen year old Elmer, eleven year old Flora, and five year old Bessie. It is hard to determine, from this document alone, whether any of the children were also Ella’s. My presumption at this point, based on the gap between the ages of the two Timmuns girls, is that Scott was a widower with two children, and Bessie drew up the “ours” portion for the blended family.

Before I can come to that conclusion definitively, though, I’ll need to seek out several other sources of documentation—likely some marriage information, a death record for a former wife for Scott and a former husband for Ella, and even some documentation for the children, themselves.

Of course, that obituary for Ella—sent for this past weekend—would come in handy if it contained as much detail as the last obituary I received from the Monroe County Public Library. But I’m still waiting on that.

In the meantime, we now have several names to trace in census records and other resources online. One way or another, we’ll hopefully discover why—or if—Ella Creahan ever was the wife of Homer Fulk of Bloomington, and later married Scott Timmuns back in Lafayette, Indiana.

I keep reminding myself: if I were attempting to negotiate this puzzle a few decades ago, I’d still be waiting for a government agency to stuff a Xeroxed copy of a document in my stamped, self-addressed envelope within their allotted six to eight weeks time frame.

Patience has certainly been redefined for another generation of genealogical researchers.


  1. "Bloomington (IN) Republican Progress, April 27, 1892, p. 2

    At the request of Mrs. Homer Fulk the remains of her husband were deposited in the cemetery at Lafayette, beside their children."
    Source - http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/INMONROE/2003-07/1059563480

    "Bloomington (IN) Republican Progress, April 27, 1892, p. 3

    The many warm friends of Senator Fulk will deeply sympathize with him and his excellent wife in their last bereavement, the death of their son Homer, which occurred at Lafayette on Thursday night last after an illness of one week with congestion of the stomach. Homer Fulk was well known in Monroe county, having served under his father four years as deputy while Senator Fulk was Auditor of Monroe county. Since that time he has held a responsible position with the W.U. Telegraph Co. at Lafayette, where he resided with his wife and two children. Homer Fulk was one of three sons that at one time comprised the family, with Mrs. Lula Smith, the only daughter. The sons have all died after very short periods of illness, leaving only the daughter surviving. The remains were interred at Lafayette."
    Source - http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/INMONROE/2003-07/1059449333

    "Mrs. Senator Richard A. Fulk is the guest of her daugiiter-in-law Mrs. Homer Fulk, of Lafayette."


    1. Thanks so much for finding that, Iggy. There are so many genealogical resources salted away in the far-flung corners of the Internet. If anyone would know how to access them, it would be you!

      This also reminds me to check a few of my subscription-based newspaper archives accounts. I hadn't thought to verify whether a town the size of Bloomington might have more than one newspaper publication. Apparently, Newspaper Archive has this resource in its collection--opening up an entire new playground for me to explore :)

  2. 1900 - http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?rank=1&new=1&MSAV=0&gss=angs-g&gsfn=scott&gsln=timmuns&mswpn__ftp=Bloomington%2c+Monroe%2c+Indiana%2c+USA&mswpn=40213&mswpn_PInfo=8-|0|1652393|0|2|3247|17|0|2057|40213|0|&uidh=6l5&pcat=ROOT_CATEGORY&h=23019884&db=1900usfedcen&indiv=1&ml_rpos=1

    Shows Ella married to Scott 8 years after Homer died with "Faulk" children.

    1. Iggy, thanks for sending this link, but unfortunately, Ancestry must still be having some access problems, because I wasn't able to get the link to fully work. I believe it is the same one I located through FamilySearch, though, and it does provide that supporting documentation.

      I'll be delving into this one a bit further for Wednesday's post.

  3. As frustrating as it sometimes is to find one clue and come up with still more questions than answers, I remind myself how much I love the mystery and the chase. You will find the answers and I will be eagerly watching to see what you come up with.

    1. You've got that right, Michelle: if it weren't for the thrill of the hunt, I suppose I would have given up a long time ago!


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