Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Go West Young Man And Woman!

I signed-up with ancestry.com last month and have been digging into my past again. I usually sign-up for a month, work frantically, and then wait another six months to sign-up again. This time I only waited about four months and signed-up for a three month stretch. I hit them at a good time as they have added a great amount of new records to their site. I had reached a dead end on my mother's side but was delighted to fine that baptismal and death records for New Jersey had been added and that other family trees had posted additional information which led me to other records.

What has been most interesting for me is finding the links between seemingly unsubstantiated bits of information. For example, I managed to track my father's grandfather's (Samuel L. Ramsey) migration westward from where he was born to Illinois using the 1850, 1860, and 1870 census. In 1860 he was 16 years-old, still living in West Virgina and working on the family farm. Sometime between 1860 and 1870 he, his parents, and his siblings, moved to Illinois and the census for 1870 shows the family still farming. In 1873 he married Alice Virgin and by 1880 they had two daughter and were living in Wichita, Kansas where he worked as a dray driver.

While searching the Illinois State Archives Death Records I discovered the family had moved back to Illinois by 1844 1884 as that is where and when Alice Virgin Ramsey died at age twenty-eight. In 1889, at age 45, Samuel married my great-grandmother, Lela Mick, in Murrayville, Illinois. The 1900 census shows both, along with their three children and Lela's sister, living in Murrayville and Samuel either owning or working in a livery stable. In 1910 the Ramsey family, minus Lela's sister, is still living in Murrayville where Samuel owns a Livery and Feed Barn, Lela works as a telephone operator, and my grandmother works as a bookkeeper in a bank.

By 1920 my great-grandfather is no longer living with his family but living with his great-niece in West Virgina. My great-grandmother was still living in Murrayville with her youngest child and has been promoted to a telephone manger at the telephone company. The last piece of information I had on my great-grandfather was from other family trees. According to the other trees my great-grandfather died in 1931 at age 88 in Devils Lake, North Dakota but is this true? If so, how in the world did he end up dying in North Dakota?

This is where I left off back in July as I could not find anything that connected any family to North Dakota. For some reason I had never looked up records for any of my great-grandfather's daughters from his first marriage. Tracking women relatives is always frustrating if you do not have their married names but if the women you are looking for has an unusual first name it becomes easier. My great-aunt's name was Zella May and on Sunday I finally got around to searching for her. Imagine my excitement when I found a 1930 census record for a Zella May Cunningham who lived with her husband Edgar in Devils Lake, North Dakota. But was it my Zella May? I then found other family trees that confirmed Zella was my great-grandfather's daughter.

At this point I thought I was done with Zella May but something told me to type her name into the Google search box. I don't usually do this because I've found in the past that it turns up nothing. This time I was surprised to find that doing so led me to books.google and a book called Women's Who's Who In America from 1914-1915. There on page 222 was a listing for my great-aunt:

CUNNINGHAM, Zella May (Mrs. Edgar Wright Cunningham), Larimore, N. Dak. Club pres.; b. Fairbury, Ill., Aug. 9, 1875; dau. Samuel Lazzell and Alice (Vergin) Ramsey; ed. Jacksonville (Ill.) Female Coll., '93; m. Jacksonville, Ill., Dec. 30, 1896, Edgar Wright Cunningham; one son: Emory Lazzell. Identified with Presbyterian church work. Favors woman suffrage. Republican. Mem. Order of Eastern Star. Pres. Tuesday Club, Larimore, N.D.; chairman Conservation Com., N.D. Federation of Women's Clubs. Mem. Civic League of Larimore. Resident of N.D. from 1905.
(Woman's Who's Who of America (1914-1915). New York: American Commonwealth Co., 1914.)
I like the fact that my great-aunt was a lady suffragette and that she may have been the one whispering in my ear. I also find it amusing that her mother's maiden name is spelled wrong,  it should be Virgin and not Vergin.  Typo or deliberate?


Ally Bean said...

When I first got online in the late 1990s I did some research like what you described here.  I discovered all sorts of odds-n-ends about my ancestors.  

Does anyone in your family care about your findings?  Mine were politely indifferent to all that I discovered.  

Blue Witch said...

Gosh, you have been busy!

How exciting to have a suffragette relative!

Is the 1844 date at the beginning of the 3rd para correct?  From other info you give, should it be 1874?  Just wondering as Google might bring other people searching here.

la peregrina said...

All my siblings are very interested in what I've found.  Growing up it was just we five and our mother.  She was no longer in contact with her family and what was left of our father's family had nothing to do with us.  We thought were on a raft drifting alone at sea but are discovering that the raft had been attached to an island all along.  It's a good feeling.

la peregrina said...

Good catch, the 1844 date is the year my great-grandfather was born.  I evidently was thinking of him as I wrote that, I will correct it.