In my last journey into records, I had used information from Fold3 to discover the identity of the father of my great-grandmother, Georgianna Chrisman. Georgianna was named after her father, George Chrisman, who died of Typhoid Fever about six months after joining the Union Army in 1862.
After learning of his fate, I searched the muster records to see if George may have seen some battle prior to his illness. Other than him being present at muster, the only entry prior to his death noted that he was in the hospital due to illness in August. I further looked into it, and Typhoid Fever is usually due to contaminated food or water, though people can also contract it from an infected person. It does not sound like an easy way to die, especially since it appears he was ill for three to four weeks before succumbing to the disease.
I also wanted to fill one gap I had in records from the life of my great-grandmother. I had found census records available for every decade she had been alive except one: the 1880 US Census (since 1890 records were demolished by fire, 1890 would remain a mystery unless I could find state census records). Since she did not marry until 1883, I felt it likely to find her living with her mother and her step-father, Henry Oldaker. I did a search for the Oldakers, and this is what I found:
So, we have a Henry and Levisa Oldacre listed with several children, but none of them are my great-grandmother. We know Georgianna is alive at this time, and she has a few years before marrying my great-grandfather, so where is she? Was this even the right Henry and Luviza Oldaker?
My searches were turning up nothing regarding my great-grandmother in 1880, so I decided to look into confirming the 1880 US Census record I found really was her mother and stepfather, and then to see if I could trace Luviza’s line back further. Since I could not find out about her daughter Georgianna, maybe I could find out about Luviza’s parents.
I wanted to see if I could find birth records for children born to Henry and Luvisa, to confirm that I had the right group of people for 1880. I ran through my known facts:
- This Henry and Luviza were living in Lewis County, West Virginia in 1880.
- My Henry and Luviza were married in 1872 in Lewis County, West Virginia.
- If this was a correct match, the three older children (Grandison, Mary L., and Sarah M.) would have been Henry’s with another woman or women.
- If this was a correct match, the two youngest children (Lucy Alice and Wm. Marion) would be children Henry and Luviza had together.
I have a great deal of luck with vital records available through the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, so I went in search of birth records for Lucy Alice and William Marion. I did the search first for Lucy Alice looking for a female with the last name Olda*, using the wildcard search so that both results for “Oldaker” and “Oldacre” would show up. Searching in Lewis County turned up nothing, so I expanded the result to all counties, restricting it to birth records within three years either way of 1875. This time, I got a hit, but not where I expected:
Where was Braxton at? And did they give Louisa’s married name, or her maiden name?
This was not the first time that I had seen a variation of “Louisa” for Luviza. I also knew it was possible that they had used the mother’s married name instead of her maiden name. Braxton County had never hit my radar before. While it was possible Henry and Luviza could have married in Lewis County in 1872, moved to Braxton County, had Lucy Alice in 1874, and then moved back to Lewis County by the time of the 1880 Census, how likely was it? When I looked at a map showing the area around Braxton County, it made a bit more sense.
Braxton County is adjacent to Lewis county. This might mean it wasn’t the Oldakers that moved; it was the border. Even if the people moved, it could have been a short distance, and would be a more likely move back and forth than moving across the state and back.
My next step was to see if I could find a birth record for William Marion Oldaker, and see if it might allow me to match the 1880 US Census record without question to my great-great-grandmother and her second husband.
I turned once again to the West Virginia vital records search.
Back in Lewis County, but the record is still inconclusive. What’s my next step?
The birth records for both children showed as likely matches to each other, but there was still nothing I felt tied them with certainty to my great-great-grandmother. So, the birth records didn’t pan out; what about marriage or death records?
This time, I started with William’s death record. The death record had the date of birth as November 21, 1876 in Lewis County. This was slightly different from the birth date I had found of November 22, 1875. I re-checked the West Virginia records to make sure I hadn’t missed something; there was no male Oldaker (or variation of Oldaker) with any first name born in November of 1876 in Lewis County. This made me believe once again, a secondary record had a slight error on it.
The parents’ names gave me some hope:
Not only do we have parents both born in Lewis County, but we have the correct spelling of Luviza, and Goechnaur vs. Gochenour. How would we fare with Lucy Alice?
At first, I thought I would have to look for a marriage record for Lucy Alice, but I searched once with her maiden name in case she never married. I found something:
My only question – Did Lucy Alice marry another Oldaker, or did she revert to her maiden name after her husband died?
This is from the death record for Lucy Alice Oldaker. The date and county of birth are a match to the birth record found in Braxton County (note that someone did correct the year of birth, but it’s still a year off). We now have a middle name for Henry, and while poor Luviza’s name has once again been mangled, Gochner/Gochenour is similar enough, and since both William and Lucy have death records that point to what appear to be the same set of parents, I feel the evidence points to the fact that they are not only brother and sister, but that their mother is my great-great-grandmother, and they are the group I discovered in the 1880 US Census.
So, I started working backwards again. Luviza’s estimated date of birth was about 1840. I already had records for 1880 and 1870. In 1860, I found Luviza and George “Christman” living in Lewis County. In 1840, the census only shows the head of household and then shows the gender and age of others in the household. My last chance to tie Luviza to her parents would be the 1850 US Census.
It was not easy at first. Searching with Luviza specifically did not turn up any match that seemed plausible. I started playing with spellings, and still did not get what I was looking for. I then decided to strip back information. I looked specifically in the 1850 US Census for someone with the last name of Gouchenour born about 1840 (Luviza’s estimated birth year) in the state of Virginia (this because it was prior to the formation of the state of West Virginia). This time, I got a record that seemed interesting; it was for a Louisa E Geochenour born about 1840 in Lewis County Virginia. The record showed the following family members:
Adam Neff was listed as part of this household. Who was he? A family member? A farm hand?
The Geochenour family:
- Samuel Geochenour – 45 – Male – Farmer
- Rachael Geochenour – 36 – Female
- Mary C Geochenour – 17 – Female
- Caroline Geochenour – 14 – Female
- Elihu H Geochenour – 12 – Male
- Louisa E Geochenour – 10 – Female
- William A Geochenour – 7 – Male
- Angeline Geochenour – 4 – Female
- John W Geochenour – 11 months – Male
Could I now confirm that Samuel and Rachael were my third great-grandparents? Would I be able to make the link back one more generation on my family tree?
I have so far been unable to find a death record for Luviza. While I found a marriage license from 1856 for her and my two times great-grandfather, George Chrisman, it unfortunately did not list either set of parents. I thought I had struck out, and then I thought of something. Luviza had remarried after George’s death. Would the marriage record for her and Henry Oldaker yield the information I sought?
Again, it wasn’t easy. Searches with both names did not show anything. Searches under the estimated year (between 1870 and 1880) had no results. Once again I stripped back the search, deciding to search marriage records for Henry Olda* as the groom, omitting any name for the bride, and searching for any date in Lewis County. If this did not pan out, I planned to search all counties before setting it aside. Luckily, I got a result, though at first glance, I wasn’t sure if it was right.
The good news was that it showed Henry Oldaker and a bride with the last name of Chrisman. Her first name was listed as *iza. This likely meant that the transcriber had not been able to read the name, so they only put the portion they could make out clearly. At least *iza and Luviza made this a likely match, so this was more good news.
The bad news was that it showed that the marriage record was from 1892, a full twenty years after the wedding was supposed to take place. There was only one way to know for sure; I selected the option to view the record.
When I looked at the record, I breathed a sigh of relief. The clerk who had made entries in the book would sometimes make a squiggle at the top of some numbers (it looked like it might be a method of writing two numbers without lifting the writing instrument). What someone had transcribed as a nine looked to me like a crazy seven; the year listed looked to me to be 1872, a more likely year for the marriage.
When I got to the bride’s name, I started to smile: Luviza E Chrisman. I’m not sure why the person was unsure of the name. I just knew that this was the correct record. So I went to the next page, where the parents’ information would be listed.
The first portion showed both Henry and Luviza were widowed; this confirmed that Henry had been married previously. Henry was born in Lewis County; Luviza in Hardy County (a new piece of information). Henry’s parents were Anthony and Sarah Oldaker. And Luviza’s?
Yep! You got it! Saml and Rachel Gochenour! I looked at these names and realized I had just made a trek into the next generation! When I started my journey a few years ago, I didn’t know much beyond my great-grandparents, and in some cases, I didn’t know much beyond my grandparents. Now, here I was, about 200 years back in my family history, back before the Civil War. Could I now use this information and work forward and maybe see if I could find my great-grandmother?
I tried to find an 1860 US Census record for the family, but I was unable to do so. I was mainly looking for this to see which family members might have died, moved out of the home, etc.. I then went to 1870, and found Samuel and Rachel with several of their children. The family list:
- Samuel Gochenour – 66 – Male – Farmer
- Rachel Gochenour – 59 – Female – Keeping House
- Caroline Gochenour – 35 – Female
- William Gochenour – 25 – Male – Farm Laborer
- John Gochenour – 21 – Male – Farm Laborer
- Silas E Gochenour – 18 – Male – Farm Laborer
- James J Gochenour – 15 – Male – Farm Laborer
- Mary C Neff – 39 – Female
- Columbia Neff – 19 – Female
- Lavina C Crisman – 30 – Female
- Gorgia A Crisman – 8 – Female
Wait a minute…Lavina and Gorgia Crisman? Haven’t I seen this record somewhere before?
Adam Neff is no longer in the household, but Mary and Columbia Neff now show up. I may want to investigate the Neff family further to see if there is any tie-in to my family.
In the second installment of Off the Beaten Path, I had listed this to show where Luviza and Georgianna were living after the death of George Chrisman. Where are Samuel, Rachel, and Caroline you say? They are at the bottom of the previous page of the 1870 US Census, a page I had neglected to add to the previous post. This shows I had already determined Samuel and Rachel were Luviza’s parents (DOH!). However, having more records confirming that fact just adds to the confidence in my findings.
After some additional searching, I was able to find what I had set out on a quest for at the beginning of this entry: where my great-grandmother was at the time of the 1880 US Census.
So, “Georieanna Christman” (once again misspelling made things difficult to locate) was not living with her mother. Instead, she was living with an uncle, who seems to be the person supporting his older, spinster sister and his widowed mother (Samuel died in 1878), as well as his niece. Did Georgianna continue to be supported by the pension for which her step-father was the guardian? I would hope so.
By searching for the gap in census data for my great-grandmother, I not only was able to fill in her whereabouts, I was able to learn more about the early life of my great-great-grandmother, and in turn, discover and confirm information about my three times great-grandparents as well. When I started this particular trek, I did not know it would lead me to the next generation.