Thursday, August 12, 2010

Characters in the Old Family Tree

An extensive family tree is mostly a collection of names, dates and places. Sometimes this scant evidence is enough to put together the skeleton of a person's story. Sometimes you can piece together a lot about the person from the records.

My great grandmother on my father's side of the family is the most intriguing person in my family tree. Ida Rupard was born in 1866 in Madison County, KY. Far as I can tell, she's the fifth of six children and the oldest girl. She was living with her parents (Laban and Elizabeth), Laban's mother, and siblings in 1870.

In 1880, Ida was 14 and the live-in servant of a family in Paris, Kentucky. The family included three boys, 18, 22 and 24 years old. I believe one of these boys is my great grandfather, born in 1885. It's a theory I can never prove. Would help to have the 1890 census but it was lost in a fire.

In 1900 Ida was the live-in servant of a family in Richmond, KY who had two teen-aged girls and an infant son. That same year, her son (my grandfather) is listed as an 8 year-old boarder living with a widow, her daughter, and her son and daughter-in-law in Foxtown in Madison County.

Ida was a cougar. By 1910 she had married Alex, ten years younger than her and was living with him, his three daughters, his stepdaughter (another child of Ida's?) and a boarder in Duncanon in Madison County. Alex's last name is either Hobbs, Keabler, or Keebler as each appears in the records.

In 1910 my grandfather was a laborer in Jessamine County living with a family who still has close ties to my family. Addie Saint John lived next door. My grandfather and Addie had two children (Clare and Grover). I can find no record of their marriage.

In 1920 my grandfather had a wife (Amanda) and was still living and working on the farm in Jessamine County. I can't find Amanda's maiden name or anything else about her--including marriage records. That same year my Aunt Clare and Uncle Grover were living with Great Grandma Ida and her husband, Alex, in Boston, Indiana.

By 1930, my grandfather had married Callie, the woman I knew as my grandmother. Ida was living with Alex in Dixon, OH. I think she died in 1938 but there's so little info on the death certificate I can't be certain it's her. What an interesting life she lived. I wish someone in my family knew something more about her.

My great grandmother on my mother's side of the family, Susan Douglass, became a widow at a very young age. Her sister, Mary, never married. The two lived together until they died and must have been quite a pair.

Susan Douglass (born 1877) claimed to be 19 in 1900 (vs 23), 30 (not 33) in 1910, only 37 (vs 43) in 1920 and 46 (vs 53) in 1930. Mary (born 1874) claimed to be 25 in 1900 (instead of 26), 32 (36) in 1910, 40 (not 46) in 1920, and in 1930, only 49 (vs 56). Isn't that a riot?

Susan must have been responsible for her sister's death certificate as it contains Mary's real age of 71. When Susan died in 1951 she was 74. Nobody knew her actual age but guessed her to be 71.

I wish my Mom's siblings were alive. They'd love to hear the truth about Great Grandma Sue and her sister. I'm sure they're laughing about it in heaven.


jg said...

Michael--SO thrilled you're peeking back into way-back-when.
I had totally forgotten the 'old' name was Douglass, not Glass; but from reading your post I recall my Dad saying it WAS Douglass. Wow.
Amazing times; how did they do it?!

CathyB said...

How impressive! You're finding out all sorts of interesting things. I guess the most interesting thing I've learned recently about my ancestors is that my great-great grandfather lived in Ireland during the potato famine. There was no work and no money, so he stowed away in the cargo hold of a ship in order to come to America. I sure wish my grandma was still here. So many things I'd love to ask her!!

TheBrucer said...

Hello Michael,
I found your blog after seeing your family tree on and wondering why you think my great-grandfather is your great-grandfather. Just FYI (you might want to look at my tree on ancestry), the family your great-grandmother Ida lived with in 1880 was actually Robinson, not Roberson as misspelled in that census (unless I've got the wrong family, but all the first names match...). My great-grandfather Enoch Robinson was in Tennessee from at least 1886 to the early 1890s (he married there in 1886). Both of his brothers were married in KY in 1884. None of which rules out that one of them fathered your grandfather, but makes it less likely that they were living under the same roof as their parents and Ida at the critical time. Obviously it would help to know whether your grandfather was born in '85 or '91. Maybe Enoch had a reason to get out of KY and go to TN!
Yes it's a lot of fun to wade through this stuff, but the old records can be a mess with misspellings and inconsistent dates.
-Bruce (who might be your cousin but probably isn't)

Toodles said...

Bruce, I'm delighted to hear from you and hope you check back to see my response! I didn't suspect your grandfather per se, so much as him or one of his brothers. Still, it's entirely circumstantial and just a shot in the dark. While the info you shared doesn't rule it out, I think it certainly decreases the possibilities. The identify of my grandfather's real father has always been a family mystery and I guess that will not change.

And if we're not cousins via that connection, we're quite likely related another way. Most of my family has been in central KY for at least 300 years.

Thanks for saying hello!

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