©2009-2016 Becky Higgins

Friday, February 6, 2015

Where are Thomas and Elizabeth Stephens in 1870?

This is my writing for today for the February writing challenge. Frustration set in yesterday as I wrote about my husband’s 3rd great-grandparents, Thomas and Elizabeth (Letcher Nankivel) Stephens. My focus has been Elizabeth’s journey in America – her life as the wife of a lead miner.  Thomas came to the U.S. with his father and brother in 1840 and they brought the rest of the family over in 1842. Even though Elizabeth wasn’t accepted by Thomas’s family with open arms because she was a widow with three boys, she followed along with the large family group.

My frustration has set in because I can’t find the Thomas or Elizabeth in the 1870 US census. They are in Grant County, Wisconsin in 1850, Iowa County, Wisconsin in 1860 and Thomas is in Grant County again in 1880. Elizabeth died abt. 1874. Thomas was a lead miner and I know he went off to other regions to mine through the years – in 1865 he is in Michigan’s UP working the Lake Superior mines. There are a couple of extant letters from Elizabeth to him and from him to Elizabeth during that year. Elizabeth was living in Platteville, Grant, Wisconsin at that time.

I’ve tried every variation of the spelling of Stephens I can think of to no avail. I’ve now begun a page by page search of the 1870 census for both Iowa and Grant counties in hopes at least finding Elizabeth. It appears at least three of their children should still be with her – Jane, Agnes, and Thomas. Not luck with them either. She isn’t living with her daughter Elizabeth Ann Rose, Mary Louise Davey, Irene Persons, or her sons Timothy or Henry Nankivel.

I know missing this census shouldn’t inhibit my writing their story but, for some reason, it just ticked me off yesterday and today. I’ll keep looking for them but will also move ahead tomorrow.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Searching for Sarah Stephens

I’ve been doing a little research in preparation for this year’s February Writing Challenge. My focus will be on the Stephens family which immigrated to Platteville, Grant, Wisconsin. The forerunners arrived in 1840 and most of the rest of the “colony”, as they became known, following in 1842.

Working my way through the children of James and Mary (Murrish) Stephens and trying to fill out their lives, I’ve run into a snag – really one of many but this is today’s topic – with daughter, Sarah aka Sally. Sarah went to Platteville from Perranzabuloe, Cornwall, England with her mother in 1842. She married Warner C. Moore in 1847 and they lived together in Muscoda, Grant, Wisconsin through 1880. Warner died before January 9, 1873 when Sarah filed for a military pension as a widow since Warner had served in the Civil War in the Wisconsin Infantry.

I last find Sarah in the 1880 US Federal Census in Muscoda as the head of the household with her sons, James, Frank and Alfred. To date I’ve not uncovered death records or cemetery markers for either Warner or Sarah. Logically, Warner would be buried in Grant County since he and Sarah are in Muscoda before his death and Sarah and sons are there after his death. Sarah, on the other hand, may have moved from there after 1880.

In an effort to find her on the 1900 census, I’ve been tracing the paths of her children, thinking she may be living with one of them. She and Warner had seven children, two girls and five boys. I’ve been able to track down the girl’s married names but so far no luck finding Sarah. Maybe she died before 1900 but I haven’t found a death record either.

Well, at least she’s not a direct ancestor to me husband which means she’s not a deal breaker!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Family History Writing Challenge February 2015

So here I go again. 
I passed on the writers’ challenge last year which was probably a big mistake. Though I did get some work done on my project, I probably would be much closer to the end had I taken advantage of the support and accountability from the group. In fact, I’m still trying to finish a project I started two years ago. Granted it is a large undertaking but really?

I’ve managed to complete the write-ups for Alice’s maternal side and am currently working on her paternal side. What brought me to a halt until recently was my attempt to write Alice’s story. My late mother-in-law left me with plenty with which to work. I have her diary which she kept from about 1929 until near her death – not a “this is how I feel” account, more of a “this is what I did calendar”. In addition, she saved nearly everything from receipts for her wedding to enough memorabilia to overflow her cedar chest. Add to that the fact of our personal relationship. It’s just overwhelming! How do I write her story within inserting my viewpoint?

For now, I’ve put that down and turned to her paternal Cornish (both sides) ancestors for relief. On the one hand, I need lots of historical background for filler; on the other hand, I’ve been wasting valuable time researching distant cousins rather than writing the direct ancestors’ stories. My hope is this February challenge will help me focus on the writing. Writing will come first and only after my daily goal is fulfilled will I allow myself to check on those collateral lines.