28 November 2011

Mystery Monday - Where'd You Come From?

It seems that the more I look at my mom's line, the more holes I find. Or, rather, in one particular line: RICHARDS. Randolph Richards is my 'one guy'; the one I've only found meager records on and can't verify. Through Mr. Richards, my family opens into a rich array of families with names such as PENN, SARGENT and TAYLOR. But until I can prove him to his parents, he's my brick wall.

So I thought it would be a good idea to look at his children to see if I could glean anything from their records. Having started this so many years ago, I'm trying to be very careful about what information I enter into my new database: if it doesn't have a primary document, it stays blank. What I found while comparing my two databases is that I don't have a birth record for my namesake, Laura Louise Richards. Huh.

So, I did a quick search through Ancestry.com (yes, I'm a convert) and then through Heritage Quest. I like to compare the two, because I've found several instances where a record's been indexed on one and not the other, or vice versa. In the 1880 Census, Laura is the 17 year old daughter of Randolph and Laura Richards working at the telephone office. She's reported as being born in Wisconsin, c. 1864. In the 1900 Census, she's Laura Richards Wersel, living with her husband Henry (they were married in 1890) and their children. Oddly, she's reported as being born in Michigan. Was this a mistake? In 1910, she's once again reported as being born in Wisconsin. 

I have to presume that her mother provided the information to the enumerator in 1880, and that she did it herself in 1900 and 1910, although it is a presumption. After a second look, the 1880 Census showed Laura's younger brother Randolph was also born in Wisconsin c. 1866 although the youngest of them, Charles was born in Cincinnati in 1868. Why were Laura and Randolph born in Wisconsin? Where did the Richards' live while they were there? I suspect they moved temporarily to safer territory during the Civil War, and may have stayed into 1866 since Laura was pregnant, but Randolph was a merchant with a good business. To leave it for that length of time seems a bit strange.

The challenge is that the State of Wisconsin did not require registration of births prior to 1907. According to the State website, less than 50% of events were documented. So, I would have to drive up to Madison, Wisconsin to Wisconsin State Archives to find out whether or not the births of Laura and her brother Randolph were registered. Road trip anyone?

1 comment:

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