Friday, April 13, 2018

Still Stuck

Whatever technical glitch locked up my longstanding account at Ancestry, I'm not sure, but I do knowat least after ninety minutes of phone conversationthat it is a problem which will take at least another day to resolve, if not more. I can guess about the source of my difficulties, but hey, I'm not the tech expert.

So I wait.

Meanwhile, Thirza's father Thomas Browne continues to elude me. It didn't help, of course, that he didn't quite make it to the 1900 census. But it wouldn't have hurt, either, if those other census records could have provided a consistent report. Right now, I'm not sure which one to believe.

I already knew something was suspect with the 1880 census. Granted, the Brownes were nearly newlyweds, with their daughter Thirza only one year of age, as reported in that census year. And yes, their home in Weld County, Colorado was home to a townGreeleywhich had been established only eleven years earlier as an experimental utopian society and didn't gain official city status until 1886. With a history like that, it would not be surprising to learn that residents had come from all over.

Thomas Browne's entry, however, seems to have been left blank in the original. The handwriting for the report of his place of birthas well as that for each of his parentsseems to be quite different from that of the rest of the enumeration sheet. All three blanks were entered in a different hand than the rest of the form, with the abbreviation "Ill." Yet, for both his daughters, the spot for their father's birthplace was left blank. One wonders what the case actually was for this scenario.

Waiting to verify with the next census does us no good, as we've already discovered Thomas' likely demise by 1892. And trying to find him in the previous census, as a single man with the oft-bemoaned common surname Brown would be next to impossible. Even taking the presumptive move of searching for a Thomas Brown with parents Timothy and Caroline brought up nothing of use.

There was one other solution, thoughand one I'd already begun exploring. Remember the 1885 Colorado state census? The one where I got baited by the 1880 discovery of next-door neighbors Harvey and "Baby" Pollock and went off on a rabbit trail to discover whether "Baby" was Ralph? Well, I forgot to go back and see if I could find Thirza's family whereabouts in 1885.

So now's the time to check that out.

With this one document, I now have the only other resource upon which I can pin the birth location of our specific Thomas Browne. Hopefully, this one was a more accurate report. Whether it was or not, though, one thing is certain: neither Thomas' father nor mother were reported born in Michigan. The verdict on this pursuit, according to the 1885 tally?

Thomas was from Ohio, and both his parents from Pennsylvania.

While it doesn't cement any connections between the younger Browne and his (potential) parents in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this 1885 record at least provides us a picture of the entire Browne familysans the one child lost in infancyin one place.

Above: Excerpt of 1885 Colorado state census for the city of Denver in Arapahoe County, showing Thirza Browne Cole's childhood household. Image courtesy


  1. Hope you get Ancestry to get on the ball, frustrating to spend so much time on a phone call with no results:(

    1. Sometimes, those tech problems just take time. Happily, it has resolved itself within the promised 24 hours. And Ancestry was quite gracious about my loss of service, too, for which I'm thankful.


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