Friday, May 26, 2023

One Person or Two?


There comes a time when a genealogist may run into an identity crisis—not the kind when we become plagued with doubts about who we are, but a question of whether we are researching one person or two. I've been grappling with such a question all week.

It all started when I began identifying the grandsons of Lyman Jackson, my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandfather. Because I was having trouble tracing his life story through documents, I had taken the approach of working on the collateral lines of Lyman's son, my mother-in-law's third great-grandfather John Jay Jackson.

The problem was, apparently John Jackson had at least nine other brothers. And I knew absolutely nothing about these men, other than that they were likely born before 1800, either somewhere in New England, or possibly New York, before the family settled in Pennsylvania. I didn't even know their names.

The beauty of researching collateral lines is that while our direct ancestor might be a "brick wall" puzzle, researching one of the siblings could lead us to a treasure chest full of family information. I've been adding the names of Lyman's sons, one by one as I learn of them. But what's been key in this process is discovering that not only the collateral lines are leading to additional family information, but the grandchildren are, as well.

Thus, while researching the "Uncle Abner" whom we found from one grandchild's biographical sketch published during his lifetime, I discovered that in his old age, Abner actually lived with one of his sons in Ohio. The only problem was, I couldn't figure out the son's name. His census entry for that year of 1880 gave his name only by his initials: C. H. Jackson.

Well, that wasn't helpful. I had to do a lot more digging to discover what those initials actually stood for: Cornelius H. Jackson.

But wait! I already had found Lyman's grandson Cornelius in a different census record in Ohio. Had I found the same man listed in two different locations? Though it's rare, I have seen that happen before. And this second entry showed Cornelius and his wife Mary in the household of a son-in-law. Perhaps they were visiting their daughter after being enumerated at their own home earlier that month.

It didn't help that each entry included a wife named Mary. Or that each entry was for an Ohio resident born in Pennsylvania. I had to do a lot of searching to locate further information which would help confirm whether I had uncovered duplicate entries or two different men with the same name.

As it turned out, I found enough details to determine that these were indeed two separate men. One man had the middle name Hendryx. I still haven't discovered what the middle initial for the other man represents.

Though each man was about the same age, and was married to a woman named Mary, one Cornelius had two daughters named Anna and Lucy, while the other had three daughters—Mary, Rebecca, and Kate—plus a son named William. One was the son of Michael, who was son of Lyman. The other was the son of Abner, again a son of Lyman.

And that middle initial H? While I still can't figure out what the H might represent for Michael's son Cornelius, I did notice one curious detail: Michael's wife's maiden name was Hendryx. 

Here's the kicker: the other Cornelius also had a mother whose maiden name was Hendryx. Abner married a woman whose name was Tryphosa Jane Hendryx—Phosa for short.

This, of course, got me wondering about those two moms, especially noting such an unusual spelling for the surname. What are the chances that the two moms were related?

For that question, let's take a look tomorrow at the book we found at the online book collection. After all, we do have a family history manuscript drawn up on the Jackson family. It might be helpful to take a look at what the Jacksons themselves might have passed down about their ancestral stories—especially about those two cousins named Cornelius H. Jackson.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...