Let’s take a break from the music posts for today and take a look at my genealogy again. Yes, I did say some time ago that I was not going to pursue this much longer, but my subscriptions haven’t expired yet – so I’m still at it. It may also be due to that fact that I’ve been reading a series of novels about a forensic genealogist that has kept me interested.
The novels by Nathan Dylan Goodwin take place in England mostly. The main character, Morton Ferrier, has more interesting cases than I expect any real genealogist would have. His house is blown up, he’s kidnapped (more than once) for example. If you like mysteries and want to read about specific events in British history, then I recommend these books. There are a total of 10 stories, but they do not have to be read in any order. I’m currently about a third of the way through the 10th in the series.
But here’s the thing. His cases all seem to take place within a few hours drive from his home in the southeast of England. I don’t have that luxury. Morton can visit local libraries, the national archives, and even churches to find records that are not online. Me? I’m still stuck in Pennsylvania. That’s more than a few hours away even if travel wasn’t impacted by this virus. As I have more than one “high risk” category staring me in the face, I don’t even like going to grocery store – much less getting on a packed airplane with folks like Ted Cruz not wearing a mask.
I did have a genealogist in Pennsylvania do some research for me. Sadly, she couldn’t give me much that I didn’t already know. Between her recommendations and, surprisingly, some tips I picked up from the novels, I’m carrying on with some new searches.
Let’s recap, shall we? I’m looking for my 2x great grandparents, James Campbell and his wife Ann Elizabeth McCauley. Here’s my tree back to the individuals in question;
Looking at this image you would think that it looks rather complete. Sadly, it isn’t. There are many blanks in the next generations that aren’t in that image. I have many matches on my paternal grandmother’s side (Josephine Melinda Bodle or “Nanny”) and quite a few on my maternal grandfather’s side (Talmadge Whitaker Hicks). I haven’t really started into my maternal grandmother’s (Dora Calder) side all the much, yet. It’s that damnable Campbell line that’s killing me.
Check here for information on James’ middle name, the junior and possibile parents. I won’t repeat it all here.
My great grandfather, Samuel W. Campbell, had as far as I know, only three children. His eldest was my grandfather, Herbert J. Campbell (I still don’t know what the “J” is for, nor Samuel’s middle initial “W”). Next was a daughter, Florence I., then another son Lester Lyman Campbell (Oh look! A middle name!).
Most of my genealogy is on Ancestry. I do also have trees and DNA at other places around the web, but Ancestry is my main holding place. I had an account there for over 20 years now, and it’s too much trouble to move to a new web server.
Ancestry has a service called ThruLines. It can be helpful, or it can be trouble. What is does is take your DNA results (you must have an Ancestry DNA test – they do not allow uploads of DNA results from other companies), and your family tree and tries to match you with other folks that may have common ancestors. My Heritage has a similar service called “Theory of Relativity”.
The problem with any online tree is that not everyone takes the time to verify the names that are added to their respective trees. Some folks refuse to believe any findings that don’t match family stories. So that child born out of wedlock, or that family member that went to jail are either completely left out or added even if the data doesn’t match the story simply because “it can’t be true – (insert family member that’s telling the story) said that wasn’t how it happened.” I really enjoy seeing trees that link back to “royalty” from folks primarily here in the USA. It seems that while our country’s founding fathers wanted nothing to do with the British aristocracy, now everyone want’s to be related to some prince or princess. I even saw one tree go back to King Arthur! Sigh.. And I have gone off on another tangent, haven’t I?
Let’s get back to Samuel for a moment. Using the ThruLines I mentioned above, the only DNA matches I have from Sam ,ueland his wife, are my siblings and a niece and nephew. I knew that we would be the only matches from Herbert and Josephine, as our dad was an only child. But this lack of first cousins severely hampers my search.
Let’s look at census records for a moment, as these are a good way to follow the family over time. Starting with Samuel, here’s what I can find;
- 1870: Snyder, Blair, PA
- 1880: Boggs, Centre, PA
- 1890: Boggs, Centre, PA (from Centre Lines – first record with wife and two oldest children)
- 1900: Boggs, Centre, PA
- 1910: Milesburg, Centre, PA
- 1920: Milesburg, Centre, PA
From Samuel’s death certificate (the ONLY documentation I can find for him), I find his father is James Campbell, no middle initial or “Junior” that seems to pop up on some trees. His mother is listed as Ann Colley or Calley, it’s hard to read. I have not found any birth or baptism records for Samuel. I will have to go to Pennsylvania for research. I have asked several of the regional libraries and genealogy societies for help, but they couldn’t find anything either.
The 1870 and 1880 census show Samuel, at the approximately correct age with James as the father, and the mother is an Anna or Annie E. However, the 1870 census is troublesome. It has children that don’t seem to fit with the rest of the family. Since the 1880 census is the first to list the relationship to the head of the household, I’m thinking that these names that are listed on the 1850 – 1870 censuses are not full brothers and sisters, but maybe cousins that are living with my 2x great grandparents. This is quite possible as the death certificate for two of the problematic names lists parents as W.R. Campbell and Fleita Benjamin as parents, and their gravesite is not very far from Samuel’s.
However, on ThruLines I have a DNA match with someone claiming to be from one of the troublesome names. This is where not doing good research comes in. Whoever it was that started their family tree from this Lloyd Campbell and seeing him listed in the census records under James & Anna just assumed that they were his parents. Hey – it’s a very common issue. I’ve done it as well.
Samuel’s obituary lists two siblings, same as I have them (Hiram J. and Florence) and my grandmother as surviving. If this Lloyd was a brother (not likely) he would have already passed by the time Samuel died. The other male listed that I don’t believe is a brother, Martin, would have still been alive so he should have been listed in the obituary as well. I believe that the reason that Samuel’s mother is listed as Ann Colley or Calley on his death certificate is due to fact that his wife, as the informant, had suffered a stroke some time prior to Samuel’s passing and either could not recall the full name of McCauley, or couldn’t pronounce it clearly. Samuel’s brother, listed in his obituary and found on the census records, Hiram, lists Ann McCauley as his mother. This is why I feel that the census records I have are the correct ones for this family. There is a Henry McCauley listed in 1850 and 1860 as living with them, which I believe is Ann Eliza’s father.
But James! Just who the hell are you? All I can tell is he worked in the various iron mills in central Pennsylvania. I have possible records for service in the Civil War, but I can’t say for sure which one is his record. You have to imagine just how many James Campbells were in Pennsylvania during the 1800’s. If I run a search on Ancestry for James Campbell with a birth about 1827 in Pennsylvania, I get 192,101 records back. Not helpful at all.
The 1890 census was mostly destroyed in a fire, so I can’t search that time frame. Fortunately, Centre County Pennsylvania used that census (before it was destroyed of course) and created a document called the “1890 Centre Co., PA. Business Directory”. From that another document “Centre Lines” was created. This lists a basic census of the county for 1890. I can find my grandfather, Herbert, with his parents, Samuel and Ada and his sister Florence, in Boggs Township. His mother, Anna E. with his brother Hiram and a Catherine S. (one of those troublesome names from the census records) in Milesburg. But not James. Was he dead, did he run away, was he working elsewhere in the state or out of state? I have no idea.
I believe that this Catherine S. is who I have listed as Sara Catherine in my tree. Her death certificate lists a James Campbell as father, but the mother is Ann Storey. I can find a gravestone for this couple (he’s listed as James Ray Campbell). So, is this another cousin that my ancestors took in? Maybe, maybe not. In the 1880 census she is shown as a daughter. She should have been alive when Samuel died but she is not mentioned in his obituary. The informant on her death certificate is her son, so maybe he just got her mother’s name wrong?
Interestingly, I find a James Campbell in the 1900 census in Allegheny County (near Pittsburgh) in the Western Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane. Naturally, there is no other information on this record other than the name. No place of birth, parental information, or occupation. Only that he can speak English. Is this him? Could very well be. See what I said above about things not being entered due to not fitting a family story. But it could just as well not be him. I have no clue. See for yourself;
There are also many death records for James Campbell with dates between 1880 and 1890. Most are in the Philadelphia area, and I have no reason to think that he would have been in that area, but I can’t discard it either.
I guess that once this virus stuff is beat down enough that travel can happen, I will need to make a trip to central Pennsylvania. In the meantime, I will see if I can find out just those troublesome names in the census records belong to.
Remember, genealogy isn’t rocket science. It’s much more difficult than that!