In my last entry, I was using information found at Newspapers.com, discovering new facts about some relatives on my father’s maternal side. Newspapers.com is not one of my normal sites for research; I chose to move off the beaten path of sites I had researched over and over again to see if I could pick up new leads on my ancestors.
While it was rewarding to get some insight into the travels of the McCombs and Slaughter families, and somewhat heartbreaking to view the information regarding the deaths of two Slaughter children, I really wanted to see if I could find information about someone I was directly descended from.
I decided to try to find my way a bit farther back on the line of Georgianna, one of my great-grandmothers. I had a little bit of confusing and conflicting information on her from a few different sources.
First off, there is her name. I have seen it as both Georgianna and Georgia Anna. I tend to prefer Georgianna, and in either case, her name was probably the basis for naming my father’s sister, my aunt Georgia.
Secondly, there was some conflicting information in two records I had found. The first was the death certificate of my great-grandmother, where her parent’s names were given:
So, her father’s first name was not listed, but the last name was shown as Chrisman or Christman. Her mother’s name was listed as Eliza Gouchnour. I tried several times unsuccessfully to find a marriage record to get my great-great-grandfather’s first name, but had no success.
This however, did not match up with some information I found in the 1910 US Census:
So, here we have the mother-in-law of William, which would be Georgianna’s mother, listed as Luveza. The last name of Olaker didn’t phase me as much as it was possible she could have remarried. Luveza to me seemed to be a bit distant from Eliza; only the -za at the end of the name was similar. So, which record was right? Or, was it possible they were both wrong? These are secondary records, after all. It is possible that either the person reporting the information, or the person recording it, could have made a mistake
One more record gave me a bit of a hint about the name. This time, it was from the marriage record for William and Georgianna:
So, Eliza was actually William’s mother, not Georgianna’s. The person reporting the information on the death certificate probably got confused, and who could blame them? A death can be a stressful event, especially for those closest to the person passing.
I had a hard time deciphering the initial for Georgianna’s father, but the mother is listed as L. Chrisman. This tended to confirm Luveza was more likely the correct name for Georgianna’s mother.
However, I will admit that just like some maps, I had neglected to update a change in information, so there was an error on my family tree. I had left Eliza in as the first name for Georgianna’s mother, and so every search I did for quite some time resulted in a dead end. It took a look at a hint given at FamilySearch.org to get me to make the correction. It was this hint that gave me the idea that it might be time to venture off the beaten path once more.
The hint was for the names of both of Georgianna’s parents. They were listed as George W. Chrisman and Louisa E. Gochenour. Here was another deviation; they listed the name as Louisa, whereas the one record I had found so far listed the name as Luveza. I could at least see more similarity between Louisa/Luveza than I did with Luveza/Eliza.
I could also understand Georgianna’s name a bit more. She was named after her dad. I don’t see girls named after their dads as often, but it does happen. Though my mother went by her middle name, her first name was Billie, and she was named after her dad, Bill (William). I decided to click on George’s record on FamilySearch, to see if there was any other information I could see.
I actually found a piece of information that sparked my interest. They listed military service for George. The record indicated that he had served in 1862 in Company D of the 10th West Virginia Voluntary Infantry. I noticed the fact that only one year was listed. That made me wonder. Did something happen to George in the Civil War? Had he been badly injured, and discharged? Had he been killed in battle?
I decided my first course of action would be to try and find George and Luveza in both the 1860 and the 1870 US Census. This would tell me whether George and Luveza had been married prior to 1860, and whether George had survived the war years long enough to hit another census.
Sure enough, I found George and Luveza in 1860, living in Lewis County, West Virginia:
Of course, the spelling is slightly different, It’s hard to tell if this is Louisa or Luvisa in this case. A case could be made for either.
So, now on to Lewis County, West Virginia in 1870 (the image was light, so I inverted it because I felt it was easier to read):
Once again, the name is Luvisa, and daughter Georgianna is listed as Gorgia A.. Sadly, they are not living with George. Instead, it appears that they are living with a male family member (Luvisa’s father, perhaps?), along with several other male relatives. There also seems to be another married (or widowed) female relative with a daughter.
At this point, I started operating on the theory that George died in the Civil War. That meant that Luveza/Luvisa/Louisa was a war widow and entitled to a pension. To search for it, my off the beaten path search went to a resource specializing in military records, Fold3.com.
Again, Fold3 is not one of my usual places to search. It has been helpful though. I found information about a cousin of my father’s that was a Prisoner of War in World War II. I also found information about my husband’s great-grandfather, who fought in the Spanish-American War. Up to this point however, I had nothing confirming that any member of my family had served on either side during the Civl War. Family lore says my great-grandfather Taylor was a Confederate soldier, so this would be interesting to confirm that his father-in-law was on the opposing side, since the 10th West Virginia Voluntary Infantry fought for the Union.
In the past, I had tried looking under the name of the soldier, and then wading through piles and piles of documents. This time, I decided that, like my efforts with Newspapers.com, I would focus on a specific set of records first. In this case, it was the Widows’ Pension records. I decided to focus only on the last name of ‘Chrisman’ and the search showed 401 records. I saw that I could filter by state as well. I asked it to show me only results from West Virginia, and of the 11 results that popped up, the top one was for George W. Chrisman, Company D, 10th Regiment. I held my breath as I clicked to bring up the record. What would I find?
This was the first page that came up. It was from the middle of the over 100-page document that comprised the application, but this one paragraph spoke volumes:
At first, I had wondered if Luviza had died also, since I did not understand why Georgianna would need a guardian if her mother were alive. However, other later searches confirmed that Henry became Luviza’s 2nd husband, which would also have made him Georgianna’s step-father. Remember in 1910 how Luviza was under the name Olaker? That was likely a misspelling of Oldaker, her new married name.
As to George’s military service, it was summed up in a single sentence:
So, less than 6 months after joining the Union Army, my great-great-grandfather died of Typhoid. I have yet to see anything that shows whether he saw any battle action.
I have yet to go through all of the pages of the widow’s pension, and I will have to see if Fold3 will have additional service records for George. I did see one thing in the record that I felt I should share, my great-great-grandmother’s signature (witnessed by two people on the records), which puts to rest how she spelled her name.
So, as you can see, it’s Luviza E. Oldaker.
When researching, you may find that branching off from your usual sources of gathering information may help you in fleshing out research you have already done. Perhaps you may even find new information that, like in this case, gets you farther back into your family tree.