Saturday, May 23, 2015

Two Mysteries Solved

I have been busy working on my lineage society application after my podcast partner Amy Lay challenged me, and I her, to fill one out before our Podcast on lineage societies and pioneer applications. Mine is coming along really well thanks to some fantastic online tools such as Seeking Michigan where I found many death certificates and Family Search where I found the documents to solve my mystery, with a bit of help from a very helpful librarian.

I was sending of requests to the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library in Findlay, Ohio for some obituaries I needed to help prove death dates and relationships. The line I was working on was the Burks who married into the Curtis(s) family.

                                                               Curtiss Family

My biggest brick wall is John J. Burke who married Ellen P. Hill. Still my biggest brick wall, no mystery solved there yet but I have hope. However, John and Ellen had three sons. Elroy who died under age one, Calvin, my 2nd Great Grandfather and William. Now John and Ellen both died young. Ellen in 1871 and John a year later in 1872 leaving two young boys, Calvin and William in the guardianship of the their uncle Edward Chapman Hill. I had found the guardianship papers online at Family Search but no mention of what happened to the boys as they are not with Uncle Edward in the 1880 census.

After requesting an obit from the library for Calvin I received an email from the librarian in the genealogy department telling me the obit was on its way and included a link to Family Search for the guardianship papers. Well I thought I already had that but clicked on it anyway and low and behold it was a different set of paper. This set was dated 1874 but found in the 1865-1869 records where I did not bother to look as the dates didn't match up. This record was Edward Hill signing Calvin over to William P. Shuck as a farm apprentice at the age of 8. We was bound there until 1887, thirteen years. I had previously found Calvin in the 1880 census as a farm laborer in this household but had no idea how or why he ended up there and not with his mothers family per the guardianship papers. So that was on mystery solved but what happened to William?

My next thought was that William being the younger brother was too young to apprentice but not to young for adoption. With a bit more sleuthing through the records I landed upon William Henry Burk's adoption to William and Caroline Ramsay. BINGO! From there I found him in the 1880 census but then he was gone. My next thought was a date my grandmother gave me for William's death. She had written down 1887, the same year Calvin was finished with his apprenticeship (and he got married that year too). But how would she know that if he was adopted so long ago and this was not even her family but her husbands. Why not check? Sure enough I found his grave on Find A Grave stating he died in 1887 at the age of 18. The headstone states he was born in 1870 but all the other papers I have have his birth date of 1869, not sure why that was different. But YAHOO! Nailed it! Found him! DONE with that mystery.
So I am ever hopeful I will eventually find out something about his fathers parents, the elusive Burks.