Thursday, January 27, 2011

New project has some issues

While I'm waiting for some microfilm on an unrelated project to arrive at my local Family History Center, I decided to revisit some stopping points I left with my Mother-in-Law's side of the family. While I figured out a plan of attack for furthering the research on some of these people, I got attached to a mystery man in the family tree and now I'm determined to find out more about him.

Isaac "Will" Atkinson married Emma Batchelor in Randolph County, Indiana in 1885. The record of their marriage gives no information regarding his date or place of birth and no Isaac Atkinson is found living in Randolph County in 1880. Without this crucial information there are a few pieces of information that are causing some issues-

1.) Considering the geography of Randolph County, an Indiana-Ohio border county, Isaac could have come from either side which expands the search into two states.

2.) Two names; Isaac's marriage record gives his name as Isaac W. Atkinson while the marriage records for his daughter, Esther Atkinson Philips, give his name as "Will" Atkinson. This tells me that William was likely his middle name, but one that he must have gone by which means when I try to find him in census records, I'll have to expand it to include both Isaac and William and any derivations of the two.

3.)Missing 1890 census and remarriage of his wife. Since Isaac and Emma's marriage occurred in 1885, the first census showing their household should have been 1890, which is lost to us. To make matters more complicated, by 1900 his daughter Esther is living in the household of his former wife, Emma, who is remarried. So either Isaac and Emma got divorced or Isaac died in the 1890s which means that the only census I would have to help identify the correct family is the lost 1890 enumeration. That's it. Prior to Isaac and Emma's marriage, without knowing his origins or age, I won't be able to EASILY pick out which person may be correct in the various census enumerations. It may be necessary to make a list of each Isaac and William Atkinson in IN and OH and track them which could be extremely time consuming and not necessarily bring positive results since there is always a possibility that he was skipped or his name was indexed incorrectly or maybe he wasn't even living in either of those states at the time of the enumeration.

So what's happening so far is an expansion of places to look and things to do, rather than a narrowing of possibilities. I need more records and the to-do list is getting pretty big. I decided to start out for the most obvious places and did a check for "Isaac Atkinson" in Randolph County in 1880 but no matches were found. Then I checked the same year and place for "William Atkinson" and found one possibility only. Unfortunately, the William Atkinson found in 1880 in Randolph County wasn't living with his parents. He was working as a farm hand for the Smith family and living in a different township than his future wife, Emma. However, the census does tell us that this William was born about 1856 in Ohio, as were his parents. Attempting to track this person, I searched the 1900 census for William Atkinson (soundex) living in Randolph County, born about 1856 (+/- 5 yrs) and received no matches. Though not definitive, it appears that the William Atkinson from 1880 either left the county or died and death is the more likely answer since when I expanded the search of the 1900 census to include the whole of Indiana, I only found 2 other William Atkinsons; one from a different county who had been married at least twice making a marriage to Emma in 1885 impossible, and the other in a nearby county who looks like he can be traced back to Ohio in 1880, not to Indiana.

After all this poking around with the census records without finding much of a definitive answer, I felt like I needed more information and fortunately, I found it from a lone message board post. Someone was searching for information on Isaac's wife, Emma, and had posted a date range for Isaac of 1857-1892. She didn't say where but her date range fit in nicely with the preliminary search notes that I had taken down. I contacted her to ask where she got these dates from and if she had any further info on Isaac but the post was from many years ago so I'm not holding my breath that she'll receive it. Even if she doesn't though, a proposed 1857 birth date is only a year off from the "abt 1856" birth date of the William living in Randolph County in 1880 with the Smith family, and the 1892 death date fits in well with the remarriage of his wife prior to 1900.

Fortunately, there is a volunteer on Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness who does lookups in Randolph County so I'm hoping that maybe she will be able to take a look for an 1892 death record for Isaac/William. Death records for the county begin in 1882 so hopefully his record of death will be included and may give me some additional info to go on.

If a death record can be found, then it may also be able to order copies of his probate packet. Indiana probate packets can really be goldmines of information so it would be wonderful to have that available for Isaac, who I know so little about. But first, I'm waiting to hear about a death record. Hopefully I'll get good news back from the volunteer soon.

1 comment:

  1. I love these kinds of mysteries....I am sure you looked ofr Issac Atkinson living in Ohio as a child, did you find any? I llokesd just for're right this could take you awhile....:):) Sandy