Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Who ARE they?

Annabelle Cain
Genealogy is all about tracking down relatives, living and dead, though mostly dead. We all know that. But then there are the ones who perch out on the edges of our family tree --  clinging there by reason of a previous marriage, informal adoption, or some other situation. And while they may not be the main focus of our research, they ARE there … sometimes just pleading for recognition.  

A couple of my puzzles were not really on the margins, but did remain elusive for a long time. Franklin Lee Parkison, my grandmother’s cousin, was one of what I call the 
“lost boys,” single, with no fixed address. His widowed mother remarried and it appears they barely kept in touch.  I finally found him through a death certificate which had mispelled his surname.

Another was Albert Kelsey Thompson, also a cousin, also single and also on the move. I THINK I’ve found him, in the potter’s field section of a Sacramento, California, cemetery.

Then there are the youngsters taken in by families, for whatever reason. Often they are given their adopting/fostering family’s surname and their own biological past is virtually erased. While I am not so concerned about delving into that past, I am quite interested in learning what became of them in later life.

Recently I rediscovered a girl named Jessie in our Indiana Cain clan, one of at least three children who had been adopted, informally or otherwise, by Sarah Cain and her husband, Orlando Hamilton. Although obviously quite young in an 1886 family photo, she was identified as the wife of another adoptee in the same family.  Though my proof is not rock-solid, I now feel sure she not only  grew up in the same household as this fellow adoptee, but later did become his second wife. Of course I’ll keep checking for any new evidence that might prove (or disprove) the matter.

But now I’m turning my attention to another young woman, Annabelle, who was found in the 1900 census for Middlesex County, New Jersey, as part of the Albert Cain family. That record states she was an adopted daughter, born January 1886 in England. After that -- nothing.  Family members I queried long ago (all gone now) remember nothing more of her, but I can’t let it go.  Is she the Annabel, also spelled “Anna B.” who is shown as the wife of Jack/John Coffey in subsequent NJ census records? The birth year is close, the birthplace is England, the year of immigration close enough.  This Annabelle is buried in Groveville Cemetery, according to FindaGrave, with a stone that simply shows her years of birth and death.  Without a more specific date I cannot get a death certificate, and searches for obituaries have so far come up empty. No NJ marriage records online -- as far as I can tell, and no children’s birth records which might show the mother’s pre-marriage name.

Well, it is a work in progress. 

Who are you looking for these days?

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