Monday, August 12, 2019

Clinching the Connection

There's just something about pushing one's genealogical research out toward that doubtful edge: how do we know we are headed in the right direction? If we are researching our own family line, we might have the help of a research partner in the family, who can rein us in when we choose the wrong path towards a person with what sounds like the right name. But when researching strangers, who's to say we're headed on the wrong track?

That's why I rely so heavily on documentation. I want to see the document—or at least an electronic facsimile of the form—for myself. I want to compare all the details on the record, including those extra lines of information that never seem to be included in transcriptions or indexed collections.

As we pursue the trail leading us back to the true identity of the Tucker family featured in the portrait I found in an antique store in Sonora, California, I crave these double- and triple-checks of this step-by-step research process. True, we first found the Tucker family in a tiny place called Wahoo, Nebraska, where the picture was taken. But then, no subsequent sign of them in Wahoo. No sign of them in the entire county where Wahoo is located. There was, however, another Tucker family with all the same given names as those in the photograph. Only problem was, they were not living in Nebraska; they were in Oregon.

The hunt for any record to connect this family with familiar details indicated on the photograph has been on for a while now. We've talked about the son, Frank, who was killed in action during World War I. We've also explored the whereabouts of his sister Maud, and that, as Frank's obituary asserted, she lived in Pocatello, Idaho—and that she eventually gave birth to a daughter who grew up to become a possibility for the "Mom B." mentioned on the back of the photograph.

So, forgive me for a little bit of overkill, while I mention yet another connection to documentation for this branch of the Samuel Tucker family of Oregon, formerly from Nebraska. Maud, as we've already mentioned, married a man in Idaho named Burt Purkey. The youngest of their daughters, Corinne, married a man whose surname qualified her to be known as "Mom B." Maud was born near the end of December in 1888 in a place referred to in her death certificate as Yuan, Nebraska—probably a slight error in reporting, actually signifying the town in the same county as Wahoo, known as Yutan, the very place where we've already learned her brother Frank had been born.

Maud probably lived her entire married life in Pocatello, Idaho. At least, that was where she was living as recently as the 1940 census, and where we find her, a short while after that, when she died in 1944.

Maud's death certificate shows us some details that provide that extra little bit of support I am always looking for. Remember those three daughters? Apparently, daughter Dorothy—the one who married someone named Smith, not Mr. B.—was the informant signing the death certificate. Of course, the record also mentioned that Maud's husband's name was Burt, confirming that we had the right person yet again. And the certificate provided those two bonus details we always look for in such documents: the names and places of birth of her parents.

As we expected, those names would be Samuel and Annie Tucker—but we learn something additional about them. For one thing, we see that Samuel was listed as born in Alton, Illinois, and that Annie's maiden name was Goodman. Annie, as it turned out, came from Nashville, Tennessee.

The more we delve into this Tucker family, the more these details call to mind a number of research pathways we've already trod. As it turns out, we have already worked on these family lines, only from a different direction. As we'll begin reviewing tomorrow, they are people we've already come to know through other photographs found in that same antique shop in Sonora, California. And there's a reason for that.


  1. Oh boy! I can't wait to hear!

    I am the same way about documentation. I subscribed to Ancestory in the past year. I don't have someone to bounce ideas from, but I do yell in to the air - "Are you Nuts". I look at trees and wonder who thinks that a woman has a baby every other year in two different states. And curse that every other generation in my family uses the same first name - and has common surnames. But if you PRINT the census and READ the census, you can match up family members. (hopefully)

    My latest wall will need all the leaves of my dining room table to spread out all the documents and make sure who is who. And who is not who.

    1. For some of these trees, Miss Merry, it seems it takes a lot of yelling into the air, doesn't it?! Hope your latest brick wall leaves you plenty of clues to sort everyone out. It's a frustrating process...but what a relief to know you've got it all sorted out afterwards!


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