Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Another strike out

So as some of you may know, my ProGen assignment for last month was to create a research plan for a brick wall problem. The problem I chose for the assignment was to find the parents (and siblings too, if possible) of Mary J. Braden Bromagen. I've spent so long working with the Bromagems over the past year or so, and still have small issues to work out, and was hesitant to completely step aside from that subject so choosing to look for the family of James Bromagem's wife seemed to be the right choice. Considering that I had absolutely nothing on her early life, prior to their marriage in Indiana in 1855, I thought it would be a fun subject to get into as well. Fun isn't really the word that I would choose at this point to describe the search.

So I got the research plan together and was really anxious to get started. I was going to continue gathering vital records on Mary's sons, particularly the death record for her eldest son, George, since she was still alive when he died and they had been living together not long before his death-she could potentially have been the informant on his death certificate and would therefore have provided first hand information regarding her maiden name and place and date of birth. However, things got sticky the day after my plan was finished. I received the death record for her daughter, Lillian, and it gave an entirely different maiden name for Mary, Hawkins. The informant was Mary's son-in-law and usually I wouldn't give much credit to information provided by an in-law of all people, but in this case I knew that Charles had a close enough relationship with Mary and dealt with her pension office affairs and would have known personal details of her life. So I thought there might be something to what he wrote on her daughter's death certificate. I entered Mary J. Hawkins into the ancestry.com search and sure enough I got a hit. In 1835 William Hawkins married Mary J. Braden in Harrison Co, IN. The name of the bride and the date of this marriage fit in perfectly with someone who could be related to my subject, possibly even her mother. So now I need to go back and redo a research plan that will include an investigation of this couple to find out if this is indeed a relation.

If it is Mary's mother though, why then would her maiden name not appear on her marriage certificate as Mary Hawkins? Could William Hawkins not be her father? Or was there a divorce and Mary was given her mother's maiden name? These are all premature questions of course. But they are things to keep in mind for the future. I've been scouring census records looking for Bradens with a daughter matching Mary's stats in the 1850 census, and while there are possibilities, none are in the target area of Randolph County, where Mary and James were married in 1855. I also checked the census records for 1840 and 1850 for Mary and William Hawkins' family in Harrison Co. It looks like William had died by 1840, or was at least out of the picture because Mary J. was on her own with a child in Harrison County in the 1840 census. Another thing to keep in mind.

I hit another snag in the road today though. After reading my newest NGS Magazine this morning, I was reminded that sometimes women returned to their parents home to give birth to their first child. The pension paperwork stated that their first child, Eliza, was born in Wells Co, IN in 1856 so I thought I would look for Bradens and Hawkins in Wells Co in the 1850 and 1860 census. I wasn't able to find any leads there though. I thought I had one, but when I followed it in 1860 it turned out not to be correct.

So for now, I just need to keep gathering records on the children and then get everything together and see what I have. Then I'll get a new plan together to investigate my leads. It's a little frustrating being in record limbo now though. I want to keep moving on but once again, the long distance aspect is getting in the way. Very frustrating!


  1. Don't give up!

    My ProGen research plan was about trying to prove two people were the same (like J. Smith and John Smith). The few records I had came from two large cities. It was like having a bunch of puzzle pieces scattered all over the table. I did get some good feedback from my Peer Group, though.

  2. "Having a bunch of puzzle pieces scattered all over the table" sounds so familiar! It's getting frustrating, but at the same time I can't stop picking at it. I'm pretty much spending all day trying different things or looking for other ways to go about it. Unfortunately, no matter how I want to proceed it all hinges on what records that I'm waiting on now will say. I've done the background work and have a few ways to go about finding what I want, but right now I just have to wait. Very annoying. I need to be more patient :)

  3. The puzzle reference is also one that Tom Jones uses in some of his lectures. I often refer back to his advice that if you have searched for all the pieces, your conclusion accounts for all of the pieces, they can't fit together any other way, and there aren't any left over then you hae your solution.

    Just another way to think of the Genealogical Proof Standard.

    Great Blog by the way!
    Christy Fillerup

  4. Hey Christy! That's a good tip, but what is most frustrating right now is just the waiting game. I don't want to proceed too far down the Hawkins road until I get those records and Cook Co, IL is notorious (at least in my book) for turnaround time on death certificates. It's taken 1 1/2 to 2 months on average to get these things back through the mail. They have set up a website ordering system which is supposed to cut that time down a bit, but since not all of the records have been uploaded yet I haven't been able to compare.