Monday, March 21, 2011

Logic or No Logic

Okay, I think I may have deciphered not only my John Robinson but also his wife, M.E. also known as (possibly) Mary Elizabeth WILKINS and her PARENTS. Believe it or not it comes from that marriage record I found recently that had my 2nd great-grandfather's sister and brother as witnesses.

Here's where logic comes into play, though it might be only my logic. I recently discovered a Harriet Socket FRANCIS, but I also discovered a Mary Talbot HARDING. Okay, you're thinking 'So what?' I had been going on the assumption that Harriet's MAIDEN name was Socket, but couldn't find any information on anyone with that name, which is when I found the Harriet Socket FRANCIS, daughter of David Francis. So, it stands to reason that if Socket wasn't Harriet's maiden name then TALBOT wasn't Mary Robinson's maiden name. And it turns out that it ISN'T.

The Mary Talbot Robinson in the marriage record who married John Robinson (apologies if it gets confusing) is actually Mary Talbot HARDING. Harding is her MAIDEN name and she's the daughter of Philip Patterson Harding and Esther TALBOT. So if Mary Talbot Harding wife of John Robinson and mother of Mary (Minnie) Talbot Robinson, and Harding is her maiden name, the logical assumption would be that Harriet Wilkins' maiden name is FRANCIS.

If you're confused I apologize, but the simple way to explain it is, the middle names that were listed for the mothers on the marriage record are just that MIDDLE names and not maiden name added instead of middle names. It also bears saying that the witnesses, St. George John WILKINS Robinson and Harriet Annie Mary Robinson would be natural choices because David Francis Henry Wilkins is their uncle, IF my logic is correct. Not only that but look at his name, David Francis; that is Harriet's father's name. Second, Mary Elizabeth Wilkins, daughter of John Wilkins and Harriet Sockett Francis, was christened at the same location as her mother. Third, after another look at the Canadian census records if you look at the religion of both the Wilkins and M.E. Robinson they are the same and her children also share it with the exception of John Robinson. But those too change in the 1861 census as they all have 'Church of England listed'.

I also happened to find a family tree at Ancestry for Mary (Minnie) Talbot Robinson, her parents, grandparents etc. Unfortunately it only had for her mother's side and not much for her father's. I thought if I found something on that John Robinson it would somehow connect back to my OWN John Robinson. But that John was born in Ireland so there can't be any connection except to when his daughter married David Francis Henry Wilkins. The only thing I haven't been able to figure out is WHY David was born in OHIO of all places. The other children of John Wilkins and Harriet Francis were born in England, only David was born in the US. The marriage record claims Charleston, Ohio, which is probably West Virginia, yet his death record from 1892 claims Cleveland. Either way, it seems the Wilkins were in the US between 1845-1850 before they appear in Canada for the 1851 census.

Once again more research is definitely needed but the pieces seem to be falling into place for all the parties except my John Robinson, which is unfortunate. I'm holding off on adding this recent info to my family tree (on my computer anyway) until I find something on him because if any of it turns out to be wrong I'll have to take it out and that is more time consuming on the computer than it is on paper.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hot on the trail of John Robinson

Well, I think I may have cracked the case of MY John Robinson and I can honestly say I probably should've thought of this sooner. I went through the Canadian census records again and noticed something that I didn't really pay attention to when I first found Edmund. For each of the census records in 1851, 1861 and 1871, as well as the 1881, John Robinson and his family, as it grows is living with a Harriet WILKINS.

The first census, 1851 has the Robinsons living with John Wilkins, his wife, whose name I can't read and three children and much like the Robinson family they are listed under initials, which makes it that much harder to figure out what their names are, and all the more so when the handwriting is poor. John Wilkins is only listed in the 1851 census and I would assume he dies between then and the next census in 1861 because Harriet is the head of household (so to speak).

But the kicker is this, I was doing some digging on the Wilkins just to see if I could find some kind of connection and I still don't know what to make of what I found except that what I did find helps to explain why the Robinson children have so many initials. I found a marriage record and between FamilySearch and Ancestry (at the library) I managed to find an image. The index at FamilySearch only shows the bride, groom and their parents. But the IMAGE shows much more. Not only does it show the couple and their parents but also WITNESSES to the marriage itself. And those two are what have me thinking that the Robinsons and Wilkins are connected in more ways than just living in the same household during the census records.

One witness is St. George John Wilkins Robinson. That's right, that's his ENTIRE name. Believe it or not, that helps make sense of the initials for George in the 1861 Canadian census. Although they are very hard to read, I could make out G J W and the first one could be an S or even 'St.' The other witness is a name I'd seen before, Harriet Annie Mary Robinson, George's sister. That is the name listed in her OWN marriage record. But this particular marriage record the bride's name is Minnie TALBOT Robinson, her father's name is John (go figure) but her mother's name is Mary TALBOT Robinson. Minnie was born about 1858, so its entirely possible that she is Harriet and George's sister, but I'm still not sure about that.

The fact that both Minnie AND Mary have the middle name (possible maiden name for Mary) Talbot, tells me that they are connected, and obviously from the marriage record they are mother and daughter, but how are the witnesses connected to Minnie, John and Mary. Its also strange that the groom, David Francis Henry Wilkins was born, at least according to the marriage record in West Virginia of all places. David and Minnie were married in 1881 but David dies 3 July 1892, 11 days shy of their 11th anniversary. I haven't found any children yet but then I haven't located them in the 1891 Canadian census either.

Harriet's own marriage record, which I also got a printout of, shows her mother's name as Mary Eliza, but there is no maiden name listed. Then again there's no maiden name listed for the groom's mother either.

I really don't know what to make of the information on the marriage records and its unfortunate that the handwriting on the census records is so lousy AND that everyone is listed with initials instead of actual names. I have never liked initials especially when that's all you have to work with. It seems that Minnie is NOT a sibling of Harriet and George because then she would've been listed in the 1881 census with them. I guess all I can do is keep digging and go back to the library on Monday.

More later.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Robinson Mystery solved...sort of.

Well I think I may have solved the mystery of the two John Robinsons, believe it or not there were TWO of them. That's right two John Robinsons who both happened to be born in 1819 (although one could possibly have been born in 1811). And two that just happened to marry women named Mary, except one has a maiden name, Shrimpton.

Unfortunately, Mary Shrimpton is NOT my John's wife. After a little more digging and some help from a cousin who has Ancestry (though not the World Deluxe) I found John, Mary (Shrimpton) Robinson and their children, INCLUDING William Hamilton. The key to determining which John was which lies in their occupations. I knew that my John was a 'Tinsmith' by trade and that is how I tracked him to New Mexico. But the other John Robinson was a FARMER and his wife Mary was still ALIVE in the 1881 census when my John's wife wasn't. John #2's occupation also makes sense given what Chuck (the guy who e-mailed me yesterday) had a picture of. He sent me photos of a water pitcher that had 'John Robinson' and '1811' on it. So never one to turn down a mystery, I did some digging on the writing that was on the pitcher. It had two banners one said 'The Farmers Arms' and the other said 'In God Is Our Trust' I found one similar with the same pictures on it but didn't find much else on it except that The Farmers Arms is a poem of some kind for you guess it, farmers.

So, I offered to track John, Mary and their children as far forward as I could, since I didn't know how much research he had done with the exception of William Hamilton who is his ancestor. I figured it was the least I could do since I claimed his William as the brother of my Edmund. It also means I'm going to have to wipe out his William's information from my family tree but I really don't mind. I still have to wait until Tuesday to view the Canadian census records at the library but now that I solved the mystery, I don't mind waiting. At least I don't have to start completely over, I just have to track a different William. I'm also glad that I found Edmund and my John Robinson.

I guess I learned a good lesson that I should've known but didn't take heed to. NEVER assume. In the end at least I get to do some digging whether its my John or Chuck's and that's the fun part of genealogy research.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Case of the two John Robinsons

Okay, my curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to see if I could find anything on Richard and Frederick Robinsons, two brothers that Charles the one I got the e-mail from, said were William's brothers. And at first I got very excited because I found their birth records, or at least Richard's. I found marriage records for both as well, but then that's when the mystery skewed.

The parents of Richard H. Robinson and Frederick Robinson are John Robinson and Mary Shrimpton. The problem is that both of them were born in Sophiasburgh, Prince Edward, Ontario, Canada and NOT Hamilton like William and my Edmund. Its discouraging to say the least but it gets worse. In an attempt to find them in Canadian census records I came across ANOTHER potential sibling, Mary Eliza, born about 1853, at least according to the 1871 Canadian census.

It would seem that there are TWO John Robinsons and they both married a Mary (with possible Eliza for a middle name). But could both of them be Mary Eliza SHRIMPTON? The only thing I DO know is that my Edmund (L.C.) Robinson IS listed with John and Mary and William in the 1871 census in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I also know that John and Mary Shrimpton are the parents of William Hamilton Robinson because of his death record. So if I could find the birth records or some other record for the other kids (the ones born in Hamilton that is) and prove that Mary Shrimpton is their mother it wouldn't be as frustrating as it is turning out to be. I haven't heard back from Charles yet and I can't use Ancestry till Tuesday (the library is closed Monday for Pulaski Day here in Chicago). Its going to drive me crazy till then but I'm going to keep digging using FamilySearch. I have to find a way to separate the two John and Mary Robinsons.

A lead in the Robinson/Canadian mystery

You would not believe what happened this afternoon. I was watching the UK version of Who Do You Think You Are on YouTube and I went to check my e-mail and I find a message from someone who is the great-grandson of William Hamilton Robinson, my great-great grandfather's BROTHER! I could not believe it, he tracked William much like I did and thought that he had two brothers, Richard and Frederick. He also has a water pitcher with the name John Robinson and 1811 on it but he can't figure out the significance.

I think that the date could possibly be 1819. I wrote him back and gave him what information I had on the siblings and Edmund. I'm guessing because his last name is still Robinson that he's linked through William's son Charles (Charles Arthur). I didn't trace any of them forward past the 1920 census. I also forgot to tell him that I found the death certificate of Alfred's son Edward Leo Robinson. I can't find the census records I printed out or the book that Edmund's mother gave him which was the only clue I had to work with. I am hoping that Charles takes a picture of the water pitcher so that I can look at the date. But just to see it would be really neat.

More later.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A long journey that has a long way to go

Would you believe that I've been researching my family history for 20 years? Its true, I started in 1991 but of course, I didn't have a computer then, unless you count the Apple IIc my brother gave me and the Internet was something no one had ever heard of, unless you were using the really early form of it.

Twenty years is a long time and with genealogy, its not something that's going to have a forgone conclusion like when you read a book and you realize you're getting to the end. Genealogy is something that doesn't have an ending, at least not your standard one like a book or a television show. I didn't really start getting into the research part of it until about 1998, when FamilySearch first launched their fledging website that crashed within the first few hours. But it was that website where I discovered that my paternal grandfather, who had started researching his family when I was a little girl, had been wrong and yet had held the key to the family tree but never realized it.

A page on Facebook recently posed a question, if you could walk in one of your ancestor's shoes who would you pick? I picked a great-grandfather on my mother's side because he was raised by his mother and step-father and I would like to know what happened to his natural father. But I don't think anyone could pick just one ancestor, at least I can't. I'd also like to walk in my paternal grandfather's shoes because maybe I could see just why he followed the direction of his research that he did and understand his theory for thinking his great-grandparents were of foreign birth. Then again, I may never find out just why except that he picked a name out of a book that allegedly was about every 'Fry' in the world.

So here's my tip as we start a new month. Never think that a brick wall is the end of the line. And never think that once you get to the most recent generation of any branch that that's the end of the line either, because it isn't. If you can't go forward, try going backwards or even sideways. And if you can't go those directions try going forward because you never know what you'll come across when it comes to genealogy research.