A Quick Look Back



A road on the interior portion of Mackinac Island, Michigan

A road on the interior portion of Mackinac Island, Michigan

‘Travelling down the road, I look back’ – opening line of a poem I wrote several years ago

I just thought I’d share the 2012 Annual Report with some comments by me.

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

I’m impressed, especially after taking such a long hiatus (darn writer’s block).

In 2012, there were 32 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 93 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 534 MB. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

I’d be more impressed with the post total if they had been consistently posted.  For a while I was posting like a mad woman, and then I posted a little less often, and then I started running out of ideas and then…nothing for months. 😦

My writing resolution this year is to post at least twice a month.  If I find inspiration to do more, that’s fine, but I want to focus on having a blog that is updated regularly with quality content.  Even if it’s just a photo, I want you to know why that photo was so special.  What image did it capture, and why is it important in our family history?

The busiest day of the year was June 11th with 76 views. The most popular post that day was In Search of…Baby Taylor.

That particular post was a favorite of mine, and I’m glad it was well received.  Thank you for all those who took time to read it.

These are the posts that got the most views in 2012. You can see all of the year’s most-viewed posts in your Site Stats.

I really liked the combination in this top five.  The first deals with family trees in general, and my reflection upon them.  The second deals with my father’s side of the family.  The third is about my own branch of the family tree, my husband and I.  The fourth talks about my mother’s side of the family.  The final item in the top five gives me a chance to highlight Bill’s side of the family tree.  It was a very well-rounded collection, and gives a good summary of what this blog is all about.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for tree branchesoak tree branches,tree with brancheshappy anniversary poems, and mike sabados jr.

Wow…other than the family member name, these are not the search terms I would have expected.

Thank you very much for all the referrals, especially to Sheryl!  I’ve been a big fan ever since I discovered her blog, and I hope she gets lots of referrals through me as well. 🙂

Most visitors came from The United States. The United Kingdom & Canada were not far behind.

There were visitors from over 60 countries in the world.  I’m glad you stopped by!




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It is appropriate that I began writing this post on December 30th, and I will complete it on December 31st (or just after).  Those two dates mark the lifespan of my Mom.

My Mom was born Billie Sue Newell on December 31st, 1940.  She was born in Letcher County, Kentucky, the second born daughter of my grandparents.

This is a picture of my grandparents from back in the 1940's.

This is a picture of my grandparents from back in the 1940’s.

My grandparents and my Mom and her older sister Anna Mae lived in Kentucky for a few more years, long enough for one more sister to be added to the Newell clan.  According to my mother’s cousin, Bobbie, Anna Mae would have died about two weeks before this aunt was born.

Whether it was the promise of a better life, a chance for a better job, or possibly to get away from the memories, my grandparents left Kentucky and moved to Michigan sometime between the death of Anna Mae (and birth of her sister), to the birth of another sister in the late 40’s.  In the early 1950’s, the only boy of the family was born.

Even in this 7th grade photo, you can see Mom's hair is dark.

Even in this 7th grade photo, you can see Mom’s hair is dark.

My Mom went to school at Northgate Elementary.  It was the very same Northgate Elementary that both my brother and I attended as children.  I do not have a copy of it (I hope my brother does), but there is a picture of my mother standing on the steps of the school with her classmates.  I can remember my mother showing me that picture, and I can recall not really believing it was her at first.  The girl in the picture had blonde hair; my mother was a brunette.  However, there was no mistaking the features, so I knew it had to be her.

Mom's Senior Picture

Mom’s Senior Picture

Mom attended Mount Morris High School.  She graduated in 1960.  A year later, she was married and was starting her own family.

As far as I know, the births of my brother and I went smoothly.  The birth of my brother Michael though, was anything but.  Michael had problems right from the start.  My father told me that he had several procedures done within hours of being born.  Meanwhile, my mother was fighting a battle of her own.  What complications there were, I do not know, but my mother was able to survive the ordeal.  My little brother though, was not strong enough, and he died when he was only a few days old.

My parents did try to have a child again, and I’m told that she had a daughter that was stillborn.  I was also told at one point she had a miscarriage.  My brother and I never had another sister or brother that we grew up with.  We have each other though, and trust me, one brother is enough! 😉

Though Mom had held jobs prior to marriage, once she started having kids, she was a stay-at-home mom.  A few years after both of us started school though, a program started in our district that allowed Mom to stay at home and work.

It was called “Cottage Nursery” and it was a cross between in-home daycare and preschool.  I remember having two little tables in our dining room where the kids did their activities.  I can also remember a few times being home sick and straying out of my bedroom and into the hallway so I could peek into the living room and dining room to see what the little kids were doing.

The Cottage Nursery program only existed for a couple of years, but my mother found that the work was very fulfilling.  She started working as a teacher’s aide in the district, and later worked for the Head Start program.  By the time she retired, she was teaching a few grandkids of people that she had taught as a teacher’s aide.

Mom might have retired, but she never stopped being active.  She took up golf, and was on a few regular leagues.  She had a regular Bunco group that she had played with since I was in my teens.  She got involved with the Red Hat Society.

At least two of the members of this Red Hat group were folks that my Mom knew through work.

At least two of the members of this Red Hat group were folks that my Mom knew through work.

Mom had a lot of spirit and perseverance.  She started working on an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education when I was in my teens.  She had a lot of delays due to many things, including a divorce from my Dad, financial issues, and even a medical issue or two along the way.  She made it through though, and they even did a write-up about it in our local paper.

Mom was a fighter.  She was a five plus year breast cancer survivor.  Some people think that it was the cancer that brought her life to an early close, but it was something much more unexpected.

On Christmas Day, 2008, my mother was having family over for dinner.  When my brother and his family came over, Mom had mentioned falling from her step-ladder as she was trying to get something from over the refrigerator.  She seemed fine at first, however, after dinner she started complaining of not feeling well.  She wound up vomiting, and was having complaints of her head bothering her.  They took her to ER, where her condition worsened.  She was having more and more difficulty, and becoming less coherent.

The diagnosis was a neural hematoma.  While there was no exterior signs of trauma, it was likely that the fall had shaken something loose, and my mother was bleeding in her brain.  They wanted to operate…but they couldn’t.  You see, my mother was on a blood thinner (Coumadin) for blood clots in her legs, and they could not safely operate until she was weaned off the medicine.  By that time, she was in a coma, and the prognosis was not good for recovery.  After discussing it with all the family, the decision was made to take Mom off life support.

The last time I talked to my Mom on the phone, it was a few days before Christmas.  As usual, we talked of little things.  We talked of food we were going to cook, and the family we were going to see.  As was usual, we signed off saying “I love you.”  At that point, I didn’t know I would return from Christmas with my husband’s family to an urgent message from my brother to call.

I think one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life was to fly from California back to Michigan to say good-bye to my Mom.  My brother said he would not take Mom off life support until I had a chance to say my good-byes.  I remember going in the room and seeing Mom laying there, hooked up to the machines that were keeping her breathing.  My Grandma was there, my Mom’s mom.  This woman had already lost her oldest child in the 1940’s, and then in the 90’s she had lost her youngest, her only son, to cancer.  She was clinging to the hope that my mother would wake.  Each small movement brought such hope to her.

The family left for a short time so I could have some time to myself with Mom, to be able to talk to her.  I hoped as I told her I loved her, and whispered to her to let her know I was OK with her leaving this world, that she could hear me, and that she was ready to cross over from this life to the next.  When my family returned, I could tell that Grandma knew of their decision.  The hope was gone, and she wept, knowing that another of her babies was leaving her for a time.

Mom's Headstone

Mom’s Headstone

I try not to dwell on the tragedy surrounding Mom’s death.  Instead, I try to focus on the wonderful life my Mom lived, and the legacy she left to us, her family.

This is a four generation shot.  In the front is my Grandmother Newell.  Behind her is my Aunt Faye and her husband.  My brother Tim and his wife flank my Aunt and Uncle.  The young man in the back and the young lady graduating are my niece and nephew, my Mom's two grandkids.

This is a four generation shot. In the front is my Grandma Newell. Behind her is my Aunt Faye (one of Mom’s two living sisters) and her husband John. My brother Tim and his wife Laurie flank my Aunt and Uncle. The young man in the back and the young lady graduating are my nephew Tim and my niece Tiffany, my Mom’s two grandkids.

My Mom and I when we took her to see the Redwoods.

My Mom and I when we took her to see the Redwoods  We had taken her specifically to have the experience of driving through this tree.  When we got there, we started to go through.  She hollers at us to stop, goes out, takes a picture of US going through the tree, and then proceeds to wave us through.  We should have known!  A few days before this, we had taken her to San Francisco to give her the experience of being driven down Lombard Street.  She says she wants to get out and take pictures from the top of the hill, so we let her out as we’re in the car line waiting our turn.  We get to the top…no Mom.  We can’t sit there forever, so we have to go.  Mom’s nowhere in sight until we get down to the bottom of the hill.  She was taking pictures of US coming down! Grrrrrr….

A favorite photo of mine.  I took this of Mom when she visited us in 2000.  This was taken at the Luther Burbank Gardens in Santa Rosa, California.

A favorite photo of mine. I took this of Mom when she visited us in 2000. This was taken at the Luther Burbank Gardens in Santa Rosa, California.

One side note:  I know my Mom well enough that I think I can say she would have been amused by the fact that the obituary had to put her age at 67 and not 68 because she was a day short of her birthday.  Talk about shaving points, Mom…. 😉



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Sometimes, on a journey, you veer off the path you had chosen to take.  Perhaps you saw a sign offering you a chance to see some great local sight.  Maybe you just happened to look over and see something to the side of the road, and you wanted to check it out.

In one instance, my husband and I, while on our honeymoon trip, were enticed by a tape.


Though the Polaroid I took was slightly damaged, it still shows the “Sky Blue Journal” set of tapes that offered us insight into history and sites as we traveled through Minnesota. In the background, you can see one of those sites. You can also see our travelling companion, Blue. That’s another story. 😉

The tape happened to mention there was a statue of the Jolly Green Giant just a few miles away from where we were travelling.  Of course, I wanted to see it.  So, we went, and sure enough, there he was!  You almost expected to hear the “Ho, ho, ho!” from the massive, 55 foot tall guy.  We didn’t stay long, but we got pictures and enjoyed a quick break from our cross-country trip.

Lately, with my research, I’ve felt pretty much the same way.  I try to focus in on one person, but I might catch a glimpse of something that leads me off my path.

For instance, I started researching my great-grandmother, Bessie Mae Layne Newell Massey.  I was hoping to find some additional records about Herbert Newell, her first husband and my great-grandfather.  Instead, I wound up getting more information about George Massey, her second husband.  While interesting, it was not what I was looking for.

I did find one item today on one of these side trips that gave me some additional information on my grandmother’s family.  I was looking for information on another great-grandfather, Manford Lawson, and came upon a death certificate for one of his sons:


You can see that James died of whooping-cough. This is just about the time that the whooping-cough vaccine was developed. Too bad it didn’t save him.

James was another of the family’s “One Hit Wonders”.  He made his one and only appearance in 1920 on the US Census.

James in the 1920 Census.

Sometimes, being sidetracked can be fun, but at other times, it can be frustrating.  I’ve had a particular post in mind, and it just seems like every time I start the research for it, I find myself on tangents.  Even fruitful moments like finding the death record for James don’t make up for the fact that, right now, I should be finding other records for other family members.

Have you ever been sidetracked like this?  If so, how do you break away from the side trips and get back to your genealogical path?

A Milestone and Some News


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In my email today, I received a note from FamilySearch Indexing.  Apparently, last night, I indexed my 50th batch of information.  Most of the batches that I’ve indexed have been for the 1940 US Census.  I’ve indexed over 1,700 names since I started.  It’s probably not all that much, but every bit counts.

If you don’t believe that, check out the numbers from a few weeks ago on July 2nd:

Over 46,000 people indexed and arbitrated over 10 million records in one day!  Pretty impressive, especially considering that they had set the goal at 5 million.  In 16 hours, we had surpassed that goal.  Yes, I participated that day, and I was able to post 400 names that day, all from the 1940 Census.  So far, I’ve indexed records in 11 states, as well as in the District of Columbia.  Most of the states I have indexed are those in which ancestors of myself or my husband have lived.

If you’re a regular visitor, you may see that the picture of my header has changed.  The person that took the photo is Bobbie Creech, my first cousin, once removed.  He has been a wonderful ally in my genealogical journey.  We have shared many pieces of information back and forth, primarily on the Newell and Whittaker lines.  In an email the other night, he said, “I think all this Genealogy should be open to all and you do have my permission to reproduce any and all of the photos I send to you.”  I am very excited about this!  I really don’t have any of the family photos myself, other than what my Dad or others have sent to me via email.  Bobbie allowing me to share photos he has shared with me allows me to introduce other family members to you in both words and pictures.

The cemetery above is Henry Cemetery, located in Putnam County, Tennessee.  Many of my relatives are buried there, including two of my great-great-grandparents, and several of their family members.  It sounds like it’s not an easy place to get to.  According to Bobbie, “It was so far back in the woods they had to pipe sunlight in…”  It looks like such a wonderful place though; I’d love to visit it one day.

I’m going to post a Wordless Wednesday this week.  I plan to introduce you to my Mom’s oldest sister, whom I’ve mentioned a few times before.  So get ready to meet Anna Mae shortly.

The Nature of Trees


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I’ve been home getting over a stomach bug the last couple of days, so I’ve been able to keep up with my blog reading (love that Google Reader allows me one easy place to keep up with all of them).  I was reading today’s post of “Barking Up the Wrong Tree“.  There were several quotes collected from various sites, each making claims of famous ancestry, being able to trace their lineage to Adam and Eve; in other words, people who have probably not done a lot of research on their own, and have taken at face value trees other people have created.

One quote in particular stood out:

I don’t need ancestry at the moment because my tree is complete.

This sparked a comment from Lianne Lavoie, who wrote:

Also, people who say their trees are “complete” are hilarious. I’ve never understood quite what they mean. I guess if they don’t care at all about “sideways” genealogy, and every one of their direct lines has reached a point where you can’t reasonably go back any further (eg. with Acadian ancestors, you usually can’t go further than the original immigrants)? I guess there’s a point at which I would call my tree “complete”, but I doubt I’ll get there in a lifetime.

This got me thinking of the nature of trees, and how trees and family trees share many of the same traits.  To LLG70 and LinnaeLavoie, my thanks for inspiring this rare midweek post.

I think one can never call a tree “complete”.  A tree is a living thing.  It has roots that go down deep into the earth, drawing from it water and nutrients to sustain it.   From its sturdy trunk, branches come forth, sprouting new growth each season.  It is the nature of a tree to grow.  A tree without growth will eventually die.

In the same way, a family tree is a living thing.  Its roots are our ancestors.  They go down through the ages.  They are the foundation of the family.  Our ancestors, like roots, provide through their lives and histories sustenance, maintaining our place in this world.  Their descendants spread out through the years, each generation providing new branches, new leaves, and new growth.

I think that only when the life cycle ends could a tree ever be called “complete”.  However, a dead tree will eventually decay; its roots will shrivel, its leaves and branches will fall.  It will become nothing more than a stump which will in time be reclaimed by the earth, all trace of it vanishing.

My family tree I hope will never be “complete”.  Even if I in my lifetime could ever hope to discover every last root, and find the story for each of my ancestors, the story still would not be complete.  For the true story of any family tree lies not only in its past, but in its future as well.  The branches of my family tree spread wide, and there are many leaves among those branches.

My own branch will go no further; when my leaf falls, my part of the story ends.  However, the branches of my brother and my cousins will go on.  Many of their branches have new growth; branches that have forked and started leaves of their own.  While my own branch may vanish into history, I can only hope that what I’ve learned keeps the roots of our family tree strong to nourish generations of new branches to come.


A Tale of Two Irons


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I had been struggling today to decide on what to write about.  Not having any particular thing in mind, I turned my attention to my Google Reader, to catch up on the genealogy blogs I follow.  In doing so, I came across a post made earlier this month by Sheryl Lazarus on her blog “A Hundred Years Ago” about ironing.  It brought to mind two pieces of family lore about irons and ironing.

The first story is about my Aunt Georgia and my Grandma Taylor.  When the ironing had to be done, Aunt Georgia told me that to pass the time, she and my grandmother would read poetry to one another.  They would take turns, one of them ironing, and the other reading aloud, until all the clothes were pressed.  My Aunt Georgia’s favorite was “The Fool’s Prayer” by Edward Rowland Sill:


by: Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)

The royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: “Sir Fool,
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!”
The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.
He bowed his head, and bent his knee
Upon the Monarch’s silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: “O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!
“No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool;
The rod must heal the sin: but Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!
“‘T is not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
‘T is by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.
“These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.
“The ill-timed truth we might have kept–
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say–
Who knows how grandly it had rung!
“Our faults no tenderness should ask.
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders — oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.
“Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!”
The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
“Be merciful to me, a fool!”
“The Fool’s Prayer” is reprinted from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.

The second story of ironing is about my brother, Tim.  At one point in his young age, Tim liked to iron when he would visit my Grandma Newell’s house.  For hours I’m told, he would pretend to iron, using a container of baby powder as his iron of choice.  Back and forth his little arm would go, smoothing out the wrinkles of imaginary pieces of fabric.

At some point, the family decided that since he liked to iron so much, they would get him a toy iron so he could play with a “real” iron.  The gift was given, and the family waited to watch Tim with his new toy.  From what I’m told, he picked it up, set it aside, and went right on “ironing” with his baby powder box!

The toy iron did get some use though; when I was old enough, I played with it. 🙂

Thanks, Sheryl, for inspiring me to share these stories!

A Father is to…

In May, I shared a book I had written in about second or third grade (about 40 years or so ago) about my Mother.  Today being Father’s Day, I wanted to share the book I wrote for my Dad.  I don’t know how long it’s been since he’s seen this.

Again, the cover still looks good, despite its age.

The book formula is the same as the book I wrote for my Mom.  Each page starts with “A father is to”, and then the illustration and words relate to what I felt a father was supposed to do.

It is interesting looking at them side by side to see the differences in what I wrote about.  The roles of Mom and Dad are very different in the eyes of my younger self.

As I did with my post in May, I’m going to present the book page by page.  If you scroll over the picture, there will be my comments as an adult looking back on what I wrote.

A Father is to Let You Bat
Pam Taylor

A father is to give you an allowance.

A father is to let you bat.

A father is to watch you when your mother is gone to the store for some groceries.

A father is to wear a necktie to work and on special occasions.

A father is to hold your hand when a lion roars at a zoo.

A father is to let you play baseball with your brothers.

A father is to take you to the Detroit Zoo.

A father is to cook breakfast when your mother isn’t up yet. He is in an apron.

A father is to tell jokes as he gets home from work.

A father is to get a raise from his boss at work.

A father is to get a job is his workshop is on strike. He got a job at Hank’s and Herman’s

Though distance separates us, my Dad is always close in my heart.  Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  I love you!

Lines To My Wife


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I was having a bit of writer’s block tonight, so rather than trying to force some new thoughts to come together, I thought I’d share a piece of family history.

“Poppa”, my great-grandfather Joseph McCombs, wrote a poem after his first wife died.  A copy of the poem was made for my Aunt Jeanette, one of his daughters, and given to her as a gift.  After her death, it was given to my Aunt Georgia who then passed it on to me.

A scan of the copy I have is below:

On the cardboard backing the parchment, the inscription reads “To Aunt Jeanette–Christmas, 1983”. James Ray Slaughter, who copied this poem was the son of Jessie Rae McCombs, Jeanette’s sister. My great-grandfather, Joseph Jeremiah McCombs, wrote this poem some time after the death of his first wife, Georgia Almeda Brazal (referred to as Meda in these lines).  After Aunt Jeanette passed away, my Aunt Georgia (daughter of Mattie Beatrice, another sister) kept this poem. One day, when I was visiting her at her home in Lapeer, she passed it on to me.

‎–Lines by Joseph Jeremiah McCombs–

“Lines to My Wife”

Oh, Meda Dear; Thy Toil Is Done
Thy Work on Earth is O’er;
That Gentle Word, That Pleasant Smile
Will Greet Us Here No More.

I Gaze into That Marble Face,
In Life so Dear To Me;
Yet Dearer Still in Death Thou Art,
With All Thy Purity.

Of Soul, That Shines Upon Thy Face–
The Celestial Light of Heaven
The Smile Upon Thy Coral Lips–
Sweet Token of Thy Welcome.

Our Little Girls, Thy Tender Care
Will Forever Be Denied.
By Other Hands, Less Fond Than Thine,
Their Wants Must Be Supplied.

Our Pathway Here was Sometimes Rough–
Strewn With More Thorns Than Flowers,
But Thou Wert Ever By My Side
To Beguile My Lonely Hours.

But Now Thou’rt Gone To Thy Reward,
We’ll See Thee Here No More.
Those Loving Smiles And Tender Words,
We’ll Miss Foverevermore.

Forever, Did I Say? Well No,
When My Here is O’er,
That Beauteous Form Again I’ll Clasp,
Upon The Other Shore.

Together Then, We’ll Ever Roam
The Fields of Paradise,
Our Dear Ones All Be With Us There,
Oh Won’t That Be So Nice.

I Wonder if Thou Cans’t Look Down
From Portals in The Sky,
And See And Know Our Deeds And Thoughts
As Time Rolls Swiftly By.

I Only Hope Thou Cans’t, Dear Love
Look Down on All We Do,
Our Deeds Shall Thy Approval Meet,
Our Thoughts, of You of You.

J J McCombs

(Copied 1983 by his respectful & devoted grandson – James Ray Slaughter)

The first time I read it, I was struck by several things.  I could see how very much Poppa had loved Meda.  I could see that he was dealing with how he would be able to raise their girls.  And, I could see his faith through these words, knowing that while they were parted in this life, they would meet again in Heaven.
The other thing that struck me was that the rhyming pattern and format was very familiar to me.  I knew that many traits could be passed on through the generations, but I did not know poetry style was one of those traits.
Here is a poem I wrote almost twenty-six years ago.  It is a summary of my faith, and it ties me to Poppa in a way I never imagined.

Little Lambs

I often think of little lambs
So gentle, meek, and frail;
Their little voices – how they bleat!
Their coats so curled and pale.

Always bounding off somewhere
In search of pastures green;
Looking for something better
That ever remains unseen.

Then I think of one Little Lamb
So gentle, meek, and mild,
Who came into this world for us;
Our God’s most holy Child.

This holy, sacrificial Lamb,
His sinless life He gave;
For all of us–HIS little lambs–
He went into the grave.

Then rose again on Easter morn,
And reigns with God on high.
I gave my life to this holy Lamb;
His little lamb am I.

©Pamela J. Sabados 30 July 1986

In Search of…Baby Taylor


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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 Grandfather and His Family

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
gender: Female
birth: 15 Dec 1883
,, WV
death: 11 Aug 1885
afn: 6WK2-VK

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.