Saturday, January 3, 2015

Anna Stebbins and Ellen Parker, part 2

And so we begin part 2 on Anna Stebbins and Ellen Parker!

Ellen Parker, from the start, presented the greater challenge.  There were no dates provided, no husband given, only the clues presented in the type of photo, her dress, her name, and the fact that she was at Camp Dix at some point.

As I learned through my research, Camp Dix (now Fort Dix) is near Trenton, New Jersey, and was built in 1917-1918.  Trenton was certainly quite a ways from Chautauqua, New York.  389 miles according to google maps, or 6 hours and 18 minutes driving today.  In the 1920s though this would have certainly taken much longer.

Based on the photo, my best guess was that this was taken while on vacation.  Since I knew none of Anna and Harvey's children were named Ellen, my first step was to check the 1930 census to see if there was an Ellen Parker in Chautauqua Co, NY.  Perhaps she was a daughter-in-law.  And if I came up empty-handed, maybe she was a cousin who had moved away.

As luck would have it there was an Ellen Parker in the 1930 census in Chautauqua!  Aged 41, she was married to a Bert Parker, also 41.  Living with them was their son, William, aged 8.

Age-wise she seemed to fit.  I had guessed the photo had been taken in the 1920s of a woman aged in her 40s or 50s.  She would have turned 40 in 1929, which meant if this was a picture of her, it was probably taken in the 1930s sometime.  But if it was her, how was she related to Anna?

I searched much longer than I care to admit to find out who this "Bert" was.  At first I thought he was from Cattaraugus county initially, until I realized that Bert was Bert B. Parker, and this was Bert E. Parker.  It wasn't until I took a second look at the historical writeup for Harvey Parker that I realized Bert was indeed the son of Harvey and Anna.

The age was another item that had thrown me off.  In the 1900 census, their son Albert E. Parker was listed as aged 14.  This would have made him older than Ellen's husband Bert who, based on his later attributed age, should have only been 11.  Yet another lesson in not taking ages too exactly in census records.

In 1920 Bert and Ellen were living with her father, Frank Lundquist.  He was an immigrant from Sweden as was his late wife.  Like her husband Bert, Ellen had lost her mother by this time.  Her mother Matilda had died in 1917 when Ellen was about 29.  Matilda and Frank had immigrated to the US in 1880 and had 2 other children in addition to Ellen.  They were Theodore and Carl.

Ellen died in 1966 at the age of 78.  Her husband Bert died in 1980, at the age of 92!  Their only child William died in 2010.  There is a very nice writeup attached to his FindaGrave record if you are interested.

Before putting this set of photographs to rest, I wanted to see if I could decipher the meaning of the wording on the back.  In addition to "Camp Dix", there was also "Ephesians, 5-23", "Page 467", and "Can you beat it?".  The last seems to be a challenge to someone to take a better photo in a more distant place!  

As for the Ephesians reference, that passage is here,

 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

I am certainly no scholar of the bible so if anyone has any ideas as to why this particular passage was referenced, I would definitely be interested!

Anna Stubbins and Ellen Parker, part 1

Writer's note: this ended up being a much longer article than I had anticipated.  Please let me know whether it is too detailed, and I will adjust future posts accordingly.

This set of photos came to me in a slightly interesting manner.  Most photos I pick up at auctions or antique stores.  This one however was purchased for me by my parents after mentioning that I was interested in old picture frames.  The frame that held these two photos was smaller than I had wanted, but it certainly provided me with a new family to explore!

These photos were both tucked inside the same frame with names, and in the case of Anna Stebbins, her birth date, the name of her husband and marriage date, and her death date on the back.

Anna is in the photo in the top left, Ellen the top right.  Ellen's photo was behind Anna's and is obviously newer.
 First, before any actual research was done, I studied the two photos.  Anna Stebbins' photo appears to be a CDV, which was most popular between the 1850s and 1870s.  Based on her marriage date and apparent age, my best guess is that this photo was probably taken for her wedding or near it.

Ellen Parker's photo on the other hand is a snapshot from a personal camera.  You can even see the shadow of the person taking the picture.  It's hard to tell whether the photographer was male or female based on just the shadow though.

My initial impressions of Ellen was that she was probably in her 40s or 50s, and the photo was likely taken in the 1920s.  Based on that, I felt it was possible she was Harvey W. Parker's second wife, sister, sister-in-law, or possibly daughter or daughter-in-law (though that seemed a bit less likely).

Now to the research!

First, I started with Anna since the photo had already provided me with all the essential data.  Parker is a common name but I thought, how many Anna Stebbins could there be!  As it turned out, more than I thought.  There was even one almost exactly the right age in the 1860 census in Michigan.  I entertained the idea for a while that she could have been from Michigan, but moved past it.  I knew my parents had not purchased the photo anywhere near  Michigan so I decided to do what I don't always like to do.  I checked the public tree database at Ancestry.

Now, for anyone who has looked for people there, there are two absolutes,
(1) Pretty much anyone you search for pre-1880 will be there in at least name
(2) Many trees are created by overusing the copy/paste function without proper verification

As for the second point, I will admit I was guilty of this myself early on in my search.  I remember spending many nights adding in "relatives" to my tree from other researchers trees, presuming they had done their due diligence.  What a mess that created!  In some ways I was lucky.  I have very few colonial lines and most of the errors I had added were along those lines.  Where I was not lucky though?  Several of the large trees I had added through "download".  I am not sure if Ancestry still allows this, but back in the day you could say "link to this person in my tree" and then it would ask if you wanted to download just ancestors/descendants/or both.  In many cases I chose both.  This has left me to the unpleasant task of weeding out these now unconnected descendants after deleting our "common" ancestors.

Now, I will generally trust any information post 1850.  Not enough to add to my tree, but enough to contact the owner and/or use as a reference for my own research.  Anything before that is highly suspect since this is where most of the errors lie.  That is my long two cents on the public trees!  Now back to Anna!

As it turned out from the public trees, I was correct.  The Anna Stebbins from Michigan was in fact not the Anna Stebbins I had pictured.  The real Anna Stebbins was the daughter of George W. Stebbins and his wife Jerusha.  I had been unable to locate them in the 1860 census originally because Anna's name was incorrectly recorded as "Adda".

In 1860 her parents were both 32 years old.  The family was living in Portland, Chautauqua Co, NY.  George was a farmer, and his wife was a housekeeper.  Anna was recorded as six months old and their only child.  In actuality though, she would have been seven months and nearly eight.  Born December 13th 1859, the census was recorded on the 10th of August 1860.  I cannot explain this discrepancy but can only say that inaccuracies in age are not uncommon, especially in census records.

Next up was the 1870 census.  Now here is one instance where public trees are not correct on post-1850 data.  Every tree I clicked on had both of Anna's parents dying in 1865.  So I was anticipating I would find an orphaned girl living with a relative of one of her parents.  Instead I found she was living with both parents who were still very much alive!

In 1870 the family was still living in Portland, her parents now 42, and her father George still a farmer.  Anna was listed a 10 years old and she now had a younger brother John aged 8.  All born in New York.

The 1880 census was when I knew for a fact I had the right Anna Stebbins.  In 1880, her parents George and Jerusha were now listed as living in Chautauqua, Chautauqua Co, NY.  Her brother John E. was 17 and still living at home.  It was here that I learned that although both George and Jerusha were born in New York, George's parents were from Massachusetts, and Jerusha's were from Vermont (or at least her father was, her mother's place of birth was blank).  

Anna Stebbins Parker and her husband Harvey were also recorded in Chautauqua, Chautauqua Co, NY in 1880.  Anna aged 20 and Harvey 25 were recorded 4 pages away from her parents, and were at the time living with Harvey's parents, William Parker aged 68 and his wife Sarah aged 63.  Both were born in England.  In addition, Harvey's older brother Edwin W. aged 31 and his wife Eva, aged 20, were living next door.  And coincidentally or not, Harvey's other brother Ellis was living two doors down from Anna's parents with his own family.

Skipping to the 1900 census, we can essentially seen Anna and Harvey's entire marriage.  They are still living in Chautauqua, and on the surface very little appears to have changed except that they now have seven children living with them.  Anna is recorded as having given birth to eight however, so we know one died young.  Their children are Frederick age 19, Grace 16, Albert 14, Grant 12, Edna 9, George 4, and Ruth 2.  All in all they appear to be living a very happy, stable life.  Based on the photo though we know that is about to change shortly.

In 1903, Anna dies leaving Harvey a widower.  With their youngest child Ruth only 4, this must have been a terrible shock.  Harvey never remarried after her death.  He also outlived Anna by 47 years, dying in 1950.  Throughout his life it appears his daughter Edna stayed with him, taking care of him and never marrying herself.

I finally found an article on Harvey in the history of Chautauqua county, which I have posted below for anyone interested.  Please excuse the sizing issues, I cannot figure out how to set them correctly at the moment!

Since this is a long enough post already, Ellen Parker will have to wait for part 2!

Long Time No Post!

It has been a long time since my last post.  I'm hoping to change that though going forward.  I will be posting a new entry soon, and my hope is to post a few times a month.

I also wanted to say, if anyone has any photos they'd like me to research or they've researched themselves, please feel free to message me with details and I would be happy to research them and/or add your self-written post to my blog!

All for now,