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Confusion over marriages and possibly illegitimate children

Confusion over marriages and possibly illegitimate children

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 4:02AM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 27 Nov 2012 4:15AM GMT
Surnames: Smith, Sherman, Pierce
I hope to refocus on finding my great-grandmother's father, but her mother's records and his name give me a lot of difficulty. If anyone has some advice or has faced a similar issue, I would be really interested to know about it. I'm afraid this will be a long post but I want to give all the details I know.

Maude Sherman was born 6 January 1878 in Clyde, Sandusky, Ohio. Her mother was Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" Smith. I am familiar with her maternal grandparents. I have searched the birth indexes published by Sandusky County genealogists but have not found any children born on this date.

Maude's death certificate stated that her father's name was Charles Sherman. Her Social Security Application also lists him as Charles Sherman. However, the earliest mention I have of him is Maude's marriage record, where he is "Frank Sherman". She used the surname Sherman at her marriage and it is used in her husband's obituary.

The earliest record I have of Maude is the 1880 census for York, Sandusky, Ohio. She is living with her mother's parents and has the implied surname Smith (it is written for her grandfather and not the others in the house).

Elizabeth was living at her workplace in the same town. She is listed with the surname Smith and is marked as single. She married Edward Pierce on 20 October 1883 and was listed as "Miss Lizzie Smith". I knew they had a son named Clyde, and his marriage record listed his father as Edward.

At this point it seemed to me that Lizzie had had a child with Charles (Frank) Sherman while she was unmarried, then married Edward Pierce, the father of her son Clyde.

Edward's obituary stated that "he was married...to Mrs. Elizabeth Sherman". It did not mention his son Clyde or Maude. I did more research on Clyde and noticed that he was born 2 January 1882, a year and ten months before Elizabeth married Edward.

I think the large gap between his birth and his parents' marriage is a little unusual for that era and am puzzled by his absence from Edward's obituary, but I don't think it necessarily means that Clyde was not Edward's son.

In Elizabeth's father's civil war pension file, there is a listing of his children dated in July 1883, three months before the married Edward. Elizabeth is listed as "Mary E. Sherman". She signed her name "Lizzie Sherman".

I think that the evidence is in favor of her not having been married to Sherman, but honestly I am a little exasperated by the timeline of her life. I would appreciate any suggestions. I have requested searches for two churches in Clyde which did not turn up any of these names. I am making listings for more potential churches in the Clyde and York areas.

The 1900, 1910, and 1930 censuses list Ohio as Maude's father's birthplace. 1920 lists Indiana, which was Edward Pierce's birthplace.

Finally, Elizabeth first moved to Sandusky with her parents from Marion or Morrow County, Ohio, between 1876 and 1877. The exact date is hard to pin down, but these two years were mentioned by over eight witnesses in the pension file. If it were 1877, it is conceivable that Maude's father could have lived in Marion or Morrow rather than Sandusky County.

Thank you for reading!

Re: Confusion over marriages and possibly illegitimate children

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 2:37AM GMT
Classification: Query
I recently had a confusing situation - in my case it was a family that had children born in the 1860s who did not appear on any of the United States censuses. I eventually found them on a census in England with birthplaces noted as the United States. Later the family moved back to the United States in the 1890s.

It was helpful to me to use a timeline. For instance:
1876-1877 Event: Move from Marion or Morrow County, Ohio Elizabeth Smith and parents. Place: Sandusky, Ohio

1878 Jan 6 Event: Birth of Maude Sherman Place: Clyde, Sandusky, Ohio

1880 Event: United States Census as Maude Smith, age XX, born XXXX. Place: York, Sandusky, Ohio

Once it is all listed out (and you can put in the mother and grandparents information also) you can get a better sense of what is missing. Put in any newspaper transcriptions, the dates of the witness statements, etc. Very often the witness statements are done decades later and might be suspect. Civil War pension files are full of information, but much of it is recalled after the passing of 20+ years. Ask yourself what you remember of neighbors from 20 some years ago!

The beta city directories might also be helpful.

I have used this technique several times and each time have been able to move on to the next step.

It is quite possible that the children were born out of wedlock. You will most likely never know for certain. I admit it does seem odd for the time era, but take a look at the education levels, professions, etc. Was the move in 1876 to 1877 the result of Elizabeth's pregnancy? You can add this speculation to the timeline. I usually write afte the event: Speculation: move may have been due to pregnancy of daughter, Elizabeth.

Who does Clyde list as his father on his Social Security application form? You might find that information helpful. Have you been able to connect with any of Clyde's descendants?

I usually use a Word document for a basic timeline.

Good luck!
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