Does anyone else remember the television show “In Search of…”? I used to love watching it. My Dad turned me onto it at first. It was in the late 70’s and early 80’s; about the time I was in high school. The show was hosted by Leonard Nimoy, and was done documentary style.
The focus of the show was to explain mysteries and phenomena. Some shows dealt with natural occurences like tornadoes. Others delved into things like ESP or UFOs. Several shows dealt with mysteries of historical significance as well, like Jack the Ripper, the lost colony of Roanoke, Virginia, or even Dracula (Vlad the Impaler, but of course, they did touch upon the vampire as well).
“In Search of…” never claimed to have the correct answer. It gave the facts, provided some possibilities, but ultimately, it left it up to the viewer to make up their minds as to what the explanation really was.
In going through my family history, I have a few mysteries. One that keeps drawing my attention is a child without a name. So today on my genealogical journey, I’m going ‘In Search of…’ Baby Taylor.
I’ve actually mentioned this baby before. I first discovered information about this child on the 1900 US Census when tracing my great-grandparents’ travels from their native West Virginia.
My great-grandmother has eight living children, but had nine children in total. The ninth child, Baby Taylor, is our mystery. When and where was the baby born? Was it a boy or a girl? How long did the child live? When and where did it die?
Assuming the child was not born out-of-wedlock, the date of birth would be some time after my great-grandparents were married. My great-grandfather’s obituary stated:
He was married on March 15, 1883 to miss Georgia Chrisman and to this union nine children were born….
I was able to confirm the date of the marriage using data from a vital records search at the West Virgina Division of Culture and History site (West Virginia has been probably one of the easiest places I’ve found to search for such information, and if you have family members that are from West Virginia, I would recommend searching there).
The date of the 1900 US Census was the 29th of June. So, I was looking at a window of birth somewhere between March 15, 1883 and June 29, 1900 (about a 17 year window).
Looking further into my great-grandfather’s obituary, it provided me with more information:
He moved with his family to Nebraska in 1884 and for nine years resided in that state. In 1893, he moved to Gallatin, Mo., where he made his home for sixteen years, moving from there to Arkansas, where he lived for three years.
So, unless born on the move from West Virginia to Nebraska in some state between those places, the baby would have been born in West Virginia, Nebraska, or Missouri. Those were the three states the family lived in within that 17 year window.
The birth months and years on the census of the 8 children known are:
- Millard D. – October 1885
- Oscar R. – March 1887
- Boyd – July 1888
- Lucy D. – April 1891
- Ethel – November 1892
- Anna M. – February 1894
- Hazel – May 1896
- Floyd R. – April 1900
I decided to look at the gaps between events:
- From Marriage until birth of Millard D. – 31 months
- Between Millard D. and Oscar R. – 17 months
- Between Oscar R. and Boyd – 16 months
- Between Boyd and Lucy D. – 33 months
- Between Lucy D. and Ethel – 19 months
- Between Ethel and Anna M. – 15 months
- Between Anna M. and Hazel – 27 months
- Between Hazel and Floyd R. – 47 months
I excluded any gap that would be too small for another baby to be born (assuming a normal term of 9 months for each baby, that would mean less than 18 months).
So, that left me with the following possibilities for Baby Taylor’s birthday (assuming the baby was not a twin of a sibling):
- Between March 1883 and January 1885
- Between April 1889 and July 1890
- Between January 1892 and February 1892
- Between November 1894 and August 1895
- Between February 1897 and July 1899
The third one I found highly unlikely. My great-grandmother would have been almost constantly pregnant!
One day on familysearch.org, I was searching for more information on my great-grandparents, and I got a suggestion for an ancestral file. I went to look at it, and it showed the names of both my great-grandparents, and there were correct dates, including the date of their marriage. Underneath that it said “Show Children (9)”.
I figured that perhaps when I clicked on it, I would get eight names and then some “?” type entry for Baby Taylor. Instead, I got a name:
|name:||Amy C TALOR|
|birth:||15 Dec 1883
|death:||11 Aug 1885|
AFN stands for Ancestral File Number, and is a unique indicator for that file.
Whoa! Not only a name, but a birth date and a death date too! The birth date and place listed was plausible; it was exactly nine months after my great-grandparents were married (that must have been some wedding night)!
But, before getting too excited, I wanted to check this out. Could I find the records that matched the information? Was Amy C. Talor (not sure why the different spelling) truly Baby Taylor?
So, back I went to my favorite vital research page in West Virginia, typed in Amy C. Taylor (figuring the Talor was a misspelling), Lewis County (last residence place of my great-grandparents), 1883, female, and hit search. I got back…nothing.
I started playing around with it. I changed the search to All Counties. Nothing. I changed the spelling to Talor. Nothing. I changed it back and just tried Amy. Still nothing.
Finally, out of frustration, I decided just to search just the last name. Show me all female Taylor babies born in West Virginia in 1883. That time, I got a list. Two results on the list of 25 caught my eye:
|7||Annie C Taylor||1883||Lewis||1390 Kb|
|23||Taylor||13 Dec 1883||Upshur||856 Kb|
My great-grandparents were also born in Upshur county, and the date was two days off from the date given on the AFN record. While record 7 said Annie C. instead of Amy C., it was the same initials, and Lewis county was a possibility as well.
The unnamed Taylor girl did not turn out to be the right one. While the father’s name was listed as Wm., the mother was Idella M. and not Georgianna. Would I fare any better with Annie? See what you think:
The father’s name is hard to read here. It looks like a W and another letter. On the opposite page is listed the mother’s name, and the name of the person who reported the birth. The mother’s name is listed as “Georgie”. I wondered…would someone have heard the name Georgianna and thought it was two names instead of one (Georgie Anna)? I looked over to the name of the person that reported the birth. It happened to be the father, and he was listed as W. H. Taylor. The birth date was December 15th, an exact match to the record for Amy C.!
I thought of what that would mean that my great-grandparents had a child in 1883. They would have traveled miles with the baby in a wagon across several states to reach Nebraska. Where was she when she first started to crawl? In which state would she have taken her first steps? How would she have been kept occupied while her father worked on building their home?
Of course, I thought too about the death date that was listed. Annie would not have been quite two before she died. What happened? A sickness? An accident? Where would I find confirmation of the death date and would that provide other information?
Unfortunately, answers to those questions have yet to be answered. I have yet to confirm the death date, but I’m working on trying to reach the submitter of the AFN to see if I can get more details. I’m still looking for any other data on the family. I was hoping the 1885 Nebraska State Census would be helpful, but it hasn’t. I haven’t found any record of my family in it, even though I know they were there for Millard D.’s birth in 1885. They were supposed to have moved to Nebraska a year before that. Had something delayed them on the journey?
If I find out more information, I’ll share it when we go ‘In Search of…’
Baby Taylor Annie C. Taylor.