Tuesday, April 27, 2021

One Small Problem . . .


After all the effort, over this past month, to confirm the father of Mary Carroll Gordon, my mother-in-law's third great-grandmother, I'm still left with one nagging thought. It may turn out to be a matter of one small problem, but it is a sticking point, nonetheless: why would a woman who had been dead for over a decade be named as an heir in her father's will?

If that father was indeed the Anthony Carroll of Monongalia County whom we've been studying this past month, he certainly did name someone in his will whom we can presume was our Mary—well, if we assume that the "Polly Gorden" in Anthony's will was nickname for Mary, that is. And I count it as an assuring sign that a hundred year old history book in nearby Preston County, West Virginia, explained that Anthony Carroll was married four times, including to the woman who was listed as mother of a daughter the couple named Mary.

On the bright side, that book—A History of Preston County, West Virginia—also mentioned that Mary Carroll, daughter of Anthony, married a local man by the name of William Gordon, which she did before the couple left Monongalia County for nearby Greene County, Pennsylvania. Another positive indicator was that William and Mary named one of their sons Anthony, presumably after her own father.

However, depending on which account we follow—either the Howard Leckey book, The Tenmile Country and its Pioneer Families, or the headstone pictured at Mary's Find A Grave memorial—Mary died in either 1814 or 1812. Anthony—if he was her father—died in 1830. He drew up his will at the end of the previous August. Surely by that time, he would have gotten word of his daughter's death, wouldn't he?

Knowing how many errors I've been able to spot in the various local history books which were the offerings of a nostalgic previous century, that one thought keeps nagging at me. What if "Polly Gorden" was an entirely different person? Why aren't there other tokens of our Mary's connection to the Carroll family?

I'm beginning to draw up a mental list of documents to look up, once we are all able to get back to traveling and researching family history in person. I may as well commit that list to paper—or at least file it virtually as a future to-do list. I can't quite yet hit the road to visit any repositories in Monongalia County, or even in southwest Pennsylvania, but it wouldn't hurt to prepare for the eventuality that someday, we will be back to researching family history on site where that family once lived. 


  1. Gosh, that illusive record is out there somewhere!!!

    1. Oh, you know it is, Miss Merry! It's just a matter of getting to it. Someday...

  2. I take it you are still working from a typed copy of Anthony's will? When the FHCs reopen, you really need to check the original will and the probate records. You could hope that the typed copy is a barebones transcript with an error - the original will names the children of his deceased daughter Mary and not just his daughter Mary that is in the transcript. The probate might help clear up if she was deceased or not.

    If the transcript is not in error, then maybe he did not know Mary was deceased. They might have been estranged!

    Have you checked the guardianship records in the county where Mary died? If her children were their grandfather's heirs, then William Gordon might have taken the extra precaution of having himself made their guardian so that he could present their interests in their grandfather's estate.

    1. That is definitely on my "shopping" list for documents to locate, once we are able to get back to research the way we used to do it. However, I don't have much hopes for missing portions of Anthony's will. While there is obviously one executor's name missing from the will, as for Mary's motherless children, Mary's husband long outlived her, and married again within a few years of her passing, so I doubt there would be any guardianship issues.

      However, depending on the laws of that state when Anthony died, there may have been some requirements for her portion to be passed on to her own heirs, and that is something I'll definitely want to check out. There's always something else.


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