Monday, April 19, 2010

The wrong maiden name leads to the right one

Collateral genealogy is a funny thing sometimes. Finding information on a great-grandparent's siblings can sometimes be a challenge but finding anything on their spouses can be more of a challenge. Today I was going through my Fry file to see if I could find any new information on siblings of my great-grandfather or great-great grandfather. FamilySearchLabs is a 'pilot' site, meaning they are still trying things out but the databases they have online are incredible and most of all its FREE, which is of course the best part for genealogists that can't afford the ridiculous prices states charge for vital records.

The one database I use the most at the site is Ohio Death records because you can save and then print the records later on. So I go looking for relatives and have been surprised every once in a while when I find a name I didn't expect and even when I don't find a name. Some databases contain errors (let's face it most of them do, no one's perfect) especially the ones on Rootsweb, that's why its always a good idea when you find information online to do your own investigating to see if what you've found is actually accurate.

That's exactly what I did with Willard Grant Fry's wife, Rose. I haven't been able to find not only when she died but anything about her parents and so I thought I would try again. I tried the Ohio death records at FamilySearch with no luck, though I found her husband easily, but in listing his widow it didn't mention her maiden name, which I had thought was HUEBNER. Turns out it was partly right. I noticed that I'd found their marriage information at another site, Stark County Probate records (google it). And there her maiden name was listed as EBNER. Now sometimes there are errors in the probate records (which also have marriage records not just wills and estate files). So I went to the other FamilySearch site, the one that I started at in 1998, and put Rosa Ebner in just to see what would come up.

BINGO, she was listed in the 1880 census with her parents and siblings. I returned to the other site and found five of her siblings and her mother listed in the Ohio death records. But the one thing that gave me proof I was now on the right track and it hadn't been an error was the name of the informant for her mother, Josephine Ebner, nee Miller. It was 'Mrs. Wm. Fry' aka Rosa! That's the one piece of information (and sometimes the undertaker or funeral director) that can knock a brick wall down, the informant on a death certificate. It can sometimes be the only thing that can convince you that you found the right person, especially if you are researching John Smith. Always look over everything contained on a record like a death certificate, you never know when it will give you a clue to solve a mystery.

Happy Monday!

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