Friday, April 12, 2024

Duly Documented


Admittedly, there is nothing to compare with looking at an age-old document and realizing the signature at the bottom of the page—or even the "X" in its place—belonged to one's own ancestor. Conversely, there is nothing quite like the frustration of reading a digitized copy of an 1804 document and getting to that final line, only to realize the surname of that ancestor didn't quite make it into the picture.

So...was it her? Or was that just wishful thinking?

Despite that being the case in the record of Walter Teal's marriage to Mary Ijams, I didn't have to wait long to find my answer. Thankfully, Mary was one of the unnamed daughters in William Ijams' 1815 will who, after awaiting the slow-moving process of probate to duly run its course, had to sign to acknowledge receipt of her inheritance. Better yet, the probate documents identified her not only as the wife of Walter Teal, but listed her specifically as "formerly Mary Ijams."

I had first made that discovery last year, while researching my mother-in-law's matriline for mtDNA purposes. From that point, though, I've yet to discover what became of Mary and her husband, Walter Teal. Granted, their season of raising a family—if that was part of their life's story—would have fallen to the years before census records named each member of a household. The only information those early enumerations provided would be age ranges and genders. Whether those household teenagers called Mary "mom," I'd have no way of knowing.

Still, without exploring the possible lead, I'd have nothing on this other daughter of my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandmother. Considering that, I think it's time to play genealogy guinea pig again, and test possible leads for Walter and Mary Teal.

Fortunately for us, there was an 1830 census record for a man by that same name—Walter Teal—in the same Ohio county where he had married Mary: Fairfield County. Listed in that household was one man between the ages of forty and forty nine, along with one woman in that same age bracket. In addition, the household included two males between the ages of ten and fourteen, plus another one in his twenties. Of particular interest to me, searching for other descendants from the same matriline, was the entry for one young girl between five and nine years of age, plus two others in their later teen years.

Was this the household of our Walter and Mary? Hard to say, not knowing the date at which Mary might have been born. An 1804 wedding might imply Mary was about eighteen to twenty years of age by that point which, extrapolated out to that 1830 census, would make sense to see her fall within the forty to forty nine year bracket. And the couple certainly had remained in the same county where Mary's parents had settled. But we can never just assume—even in a rural county during its early years of settlement—that there wouldn't be more than one man by the same name. And it's the man's name we would have to rely on during a time period like that. Pick the wrong name twin and we'd be led to mistaken conclusions.

Next week, we'll see whether we can follow Walter Teal through the next decade of his life to learn more about this family, especially to see whether we are chasing the right couple.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...