Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Unusual Naming Practice

   You learn something new every day... so they say.  Today is proving true in that regard....

I have been flailing against the brick wall of my maternal grandmother's maternal grandmother; Mary Knox Paul. That was her maiden name.  I was so perplexed by it.  If that was her maiden name then I assumed maybe Knox was her mother's maiden name.  It wasn't uncommon for children to carry their mother's maiden name as a middle name.  In fact that tradition helped me find one of my paternal great grandfather's ancestry because of his middle name of Jones.  I felt sure it must be his mother's family name and it was.  So I expected the same with Mary Knox Paul; until I saw her death certificate.

"Mother's maiden name: Unknown Cunningham."  Cunningham?  Then where did she pick up "Knox" as a middle name?  Was she married previously?  I just couldn't figure it out.

Then I found a reference to one of her daughters and her name was just as mysteriously Virginia Thomas Osborn.  Oh brother; another family name?  Where did that one come from?  I just seem to be going in circles with these people...

Today I emailed the wife of my first cousin once removed.  (If there's an easier way to say that, someone tell me what it is!)  She has also researched this line and I told her of a tiny new discovery.  She sent me scanned copies of pension applications and other things she had collected over the years.  One was a handwritten note from another person who had been researching them as well.  Regarding the daughters' names she wrote,

"They were all named for the Dr.'s who delivered them as their mother was."  EUREKA!!!!!!!!!  I have never heard of that of a family tradition but now everything makes sense.

No more trying to see if there are records for Mary under the name of Knox.  No more looking for another family connection to the Thomas name.  I can search Philadelphia more thoroughly for families named Cunningham and Paul.  Oh joyous day when the lights came on!

The tide begins to turn...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Breakthrough?

   A predicted 4th cousin on the genome sharing site 23andme challenged me today by asking more about my maternal grandmother's maternal grandmother.  Or more easily stated, my great great grandmother Mary Knox Paul Osborn.

   Once again I started searching the internet for more information about her, but I didn't have high hopes.  For some reason tonight I found something I have never come across before--a Kansas State Census from 1895!  Finding that fills in a huge gap from the elusive 1890's, and in fact a bigger gap because I haven't ever been able to find records showing this family in Pennyslvania before they moved West.

   The Kansas State Census of 1895 has given me something pretty exciting: 3 more children of Mary Knox Paul Osborn!  What's more, they're MALE, Albert, Harry and Frank.  My hope is that knowing these names of my grandma's uncles will help me find more of their living descendants or anyone who might know something about this family.  It also explains a lot.  My great grandmother had a son named Albert and my own grandmother named her oldest son Harry, one after a brother and the other after an uncle.  It's kind of a Eureka moment!  And I hope it leads to exciting things.