Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Finding Another Mary
I'm still checking to see if I can locate any sign of the unfortunate Mary A. Charles, whom legend had dying in her own front yard at the hand of a native who didn't spot the agreed-upon sign of the red scarf. That, of course, means every time I spot a Mary A. anyone associated with the Charles family's relatives after 1850, I wonder if that Mary might be the right Mary.
We saw yesterday that, while the Mary in question didn't turn out to be Mary A. Charles of the red scarf, she did lead me to an entirely new branch of my ancestors' line. I can handle stumbling across a mistaken identity like that.
Besides yesterday's Mary, there was another Mary I ran across who also caused me to wonder. If you'll remember Drucilla Charles, the sister of my direct line's Andrew Jackson Charles, for a period of time, she needed to leave her daughters in the care of others. While I have yet to discover the reason for this, during the time of the 1870 census, she had left her surviving daughter from her first marriage—also named Mary—and her daughter Mabel from her second marriage in the care of someone else near home in Suwannee County, Florida.
Normally, I would have been more concerned about what happened to Drucilla than to the person with whom her girls were boarding—except for one thing: the woman's name happened to be Mary A.
With a clue like that, it merits immediately putting on the research brakes and bringing all other progress to a screeching halt. Never mind that this woman was not named Mary A. Charles but Mary A. McLeran. Disregard the fact that her age wasn't quite old enough to qualify her as our Mary A. Charles—besides, what woman of that era told the truth about her age?
This was a lead I definitely had to check out.
There was something else arresting about this discovery. Something in the back of my mind told me there was a McLeran in my family tree already. But when I went to search my research database, nothing came up. The memory was taunting me—insisting that surname was part of my family history—but the tools I had at hand wouldn't let me figure out how.
I decided to take a different approach to seeing how this Mary A. McLeran connected to my family. In the area near where the Charles family once operated their ferry and trading post in territorial Florida—a place called Luraville—there was also the property of another related family, that of George Edmund McClellan. It so happens that the McClellan property includes the family burial grounds, which, thankfully, are still well-kept. I decided to take a look at the McClellan cemetery entry on Find A Grave.
Sure enough, once I pulled up the listing for all the memorials associated with that cemetery on Find A Grave—there are, by the way, 213 of them added so far, with ninety eight percent photographed—there were several McLerans buried there.
Only problem: of the eight McLerans buried at the McClellan family cemetery, none of them was named Mary A.
Who was this woman? Obviously, this is going to take a bit more research than serendipitously scoring a find at the family's own cemetery. After the year in which she took care of Drucilla Charles' two daughters, she seemed to have vanished from the family connections—if she was family at all.
Somehow, though, there was a connection between the McLerans, the Charleses and the McClellans. The cemetery on the McClellan property shows that clearly. It's just the paperwork which isn't supporting my contention.
If it weren't for my quest to confirm whether Mary A. Charles had indeed died, just as the legend had it, I probably would just scratch my head and go back to building my pedigree. She isn't, after all, part of my direct line; that honor goes to her brother Andrew. I don't suppose, however, that a family history researcher who has stayed on the trail this long can bear to just walk away from a mystery, even if it isn't part of the direct line. We are just too curious to set such things aside and stick to the main points.