Showing posts with label Billion Graves. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Billion Graves. Show all posts

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Family Scandal-That Wasn't

June Walley-Second row, second from the left
This is both a sad and a happy story. It is the story of family lost and family found. When I began researching my Tapply relatives, I knew there were a few "skeletons" in the family closet. I had heard the stories of divorces, misbehavior and one in particular about a baby born out of wedlock and adopted by another family member. When I filled in the original family tree, I plugged in what I knew and hoped I'd find more.

Before 1920, my grandmother's sister Bess Tapply and her husband Samuel Walley were living in Rutland, Vermont where he worked for A T & T. I found a very sad record of a stillborn child early in my research and I knew that her only other child was adopted, so Bess was unable to have children of her own. Bess was one of the loveliest and most loving people I have known.  I could only imagine how long she and Sam tried for children. It made me very happy to find this in the 1920 census:
There is the child they adopted living with the Walleys at 1 1/2 years old. In a later census she is recorded as Eunice Haskins Walley. The story as I heard it was that Bess's brother Harry has gotten a girl "in the family way" and that Bess and Sam had adopted the baby. They always called her June. So I recorded Harry as the father with mother "unknown" and Bess and Sam as the adopted parents.

Clearly there was some trace of her beginnings in the census. Could the mother's name have been Haskins? I looked in Ancestry and FamilySearch and didn't turn up anything. In the meantime, I was also turning up Tapply cousins who were interested in genealogy. One was Holly Jones, Harry Tapply's granddaughter. Did she know the family story? I hoped so. But one day she emailed me and asked "Who is this June?" This is one of the moments in genealogy you don't look forward to. I told her the story I knew and referred her to the family reunion photo. In the close-up above you see June in the second row, second from the left next to her half-sister. Did they know? Probably not. Holly had never heard this story from her mother Beryl or her aunts Fern and Janice.

Holly felt sure there was more to this story-the 1920 census showed Harry living with his parents and listed as a widower. I began to suspect so as well. I think it was BillionGraves that turned up the record that made us sure. Gertrude L. Tapply showed up in a search, buried in Westminster, Massachusetts in the Haskins family plot.

 Unlikely that she'd be buried as a Tapply if they hadn't married. Next we found the death record:
So we know she died in February of 1918, that she was married at the time, and that June was born in late 1917 or very early 1918. The cause of death doesn't seem like a death in childbirth.
Finally we located the marriage record:
So clearly Gertrude was pregnant when they married and Harry was in the Army fighting in WW I. Was he even around when the baby was born? When his wife died? Perhaps not. Even so, he'd be hard-pressed to care for an infant by himself and there was his sister longing for a child. So June lost her mother and her father early in her life and became the very loved child of Bess and Sam Walley. Bess and Sam had a large house in Newburyport, Massachusetts and went on to raise June's son, Ted as well. Family lost, family found. And another family myth dispelled!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

FINDAGRAVE

Early in my research I read that graveyards can be a fine source of information for your family tree.
Because I knew so little about my father's family, I went back to the one document I had that might
be of some use. It was an old envelope that once held a deed to a cemetery plot at Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden, Massachusetts and on the front was the address of the plot. Most cemeteries are very cooperative, and for a small fee will send you particulars about a cemetery plot. What I got back from Holy Cross was a list of the Cook relatives buried there and the ages at death and internment dates. This gave me some great clues to go on to solve the mystery of Mary Feely, my great grandmother who seemed to vanish after the 1930 census. Eventually, when the 1940 census was released I found her in a rest home in Roxbury. From there it was a matter of sending for a death certificate and THAT gave me the names of two great-great grandparents in Ireland.

After I'd been doing this a while, I discovered FindaGrave. This is an effort to catalog online all the cemeteries and the folks buried there. If you have a city or better yet the name of a graveyard, a volunteer may have made an entry for your family member or may have taken a photograph of a gravestone. I found LOTS of my Rogers relatives this way. I joined and made a few entries of my own. Through the kindness of a member of the local historical society, I now have this photo for my Civil War ancestor, Winslow Brainard Rogers.


This is the memorial stone put up for him by the Civil War Veterans society. Another kind person went to the town hall and added a photo of the inscription there which includes his name.

You can also put in a photo request. The chances of getting to Malden anytime soon are slim so when I got to the Fitzgerald side of the tree I turned to this service. I knew my grandmother, grandfather and probably my great grandparents were also in Holy Cross. I put in a photo request and crossed my fingers... I had to go back and give the volunteer a little more information, but an 800 number call to Holy Cross gave up the Avenue and Plot. And now I have this memorial at FindaGrave.
Turns out that family finances were tight in 1896/97, so the grandparents and great grandparents are apparently under one stone. 

The blue links are a way to link one family member to another. So once you find one relation, you can often get information for an entire family. Be careful however, I have frequently found that these entries have differences in dates and other information from the official records. The cemetery often got information from family members and the FindaGrave entries are done by volunteers or family members as well. The happy news is  finding an entry with lots of biographical information: what he did for a living, who he married and in what order, military service, etc.

There is another somewhat newer site called BillionGraves. I haven't explored their site extensively, but it seems to work in very much the same way. Both places rely on volunteers to put up memorials and take photographs that have been requested. The polite thing to do would be to fill a request with a trip to the local cemetery. When it gets a little cooler, I'll go over to Hollywood Cemetery and see what I can do to pay it forward.