Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hiding in Plain Sight

Why do we sometimes make research so doggone difficult?  Brick walls are one thing, but answers sometimes can found so easily that we glide right by them.  Here are two of my embarrassing examples.

The first concerns the marriage of Francis F. Hackett and Evelyn Mae Thompson.  He was from Taunton, MA, while she grew up in Nova Scotia.  Francis had been married previously for about a year and a half to Mary E. Jennings, until her death on 15 Nov 1882.  Francis and Evelyn, along with at least one of Evelyn's brothers, ended up in Taunton.  But where and when were the couple married?

I found no success looking for Francis and Evelyn's marriage record in Taunton or anywhere else in Massachusetts, so I finally noodled around the Nova Scotia marriage records.  Bingo!  Francis and Evelyn were married 3 Aug 1886 at Pugwash River, NS.

Why hadn't I thought of looking in Canadian records years ago?  Dunno.  Of course, because genealogists are always asking questions,
  • What drew him to Nova Scotia?
  • How did they meet?
  • How did he convince her to return to Taunton?
Ralph Leslie Hackett, son of George Leslie Hackett and Elsie Evelyn Jones (and a grandson of Francis and Evelyn) "hid" in the second example.  Family mumblings had mentioned a child who died young after drinking tainted water.  But I had never heard anything definitive about him.

Part of the answer came from taking the time to study the other nine offspring of George and Elsie.  Beginning in 1910, a new child was born about every year or two.  EXCEPT - there was a gap between 1912 and 1916.  This was before I realized so many records were available online; instead, I contacted the Taunton City Clerk's office, sent the appropriate money and asked them to look for a child born between the birth of a daughter in March 1912 and another daughter in January 1916.  There he was, born 23 Jun 1913.  The certified copy of his birth record is shown below.


Then, not having a clue as to when this baby died, I went back to thinking - for a few years.  This summer I (finally) looked in FamilySearch and there he was.  Poor little guy was just two and a half months old when he died from enteritis 7 Sep 1913.  He was buried in Oakland Cemetery, in western Taunton, not far from the Tremont Street home where he had lived.  When TRAEA's Grandma visited the cemetery most recently she found no obvious marker to commemorate this all-too-brief life.

Ralph's birth and death records are available on FamilySearch.com under Massachusetts Births, 1841 - 1915 and Massachusetts Deaths, 1841 - 1915.

When closing my mom's house after her death, I decided that sometimes "it's the dumb stuff" that can hold the most meaning for us.  There is a corollary - sometimes "it's the simple answer."  Memo to self:  start with the simple answer.

Tree links:
Francis Hackett is the son of William Hackett and Maria Wilbur
George Leslie Hackett is the grandson of William Hackett and Maria Wilbur
Ralph Leslie Hackett is the great grandson of William Hackett and Maria Wilbur
Evelyn Thompson is the 2nd great granddaughter of John Thompson and Mary Sunley
Elsie Jones may be the 2nd great granddaughter of Jonathan Jones and Abigail Paul

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