Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Trying to Solve Family Mysteries

Some of the biggest brick wall-type difficulties I have run into in my fifteen years of genealogical searching are those of children either adopted or informally placed with families. 

The first case that I ran into was that of my grandfather’s “sister”.  The family story was that she was adopted by Moses and Lydia Bullard Adamson, my great grandparents.  What I found odd, however, was that Moses and Lydia were in their late 60’s when they “adopted” Edna.  They had already had twelve children.  And the Civil War had effectively comprised Moses’ ability to earn a living.  He was incapacitated both physically and mentally ever since he returned from his War service.  He never worked upon his return.  Why would this family adopt an infant given these circumstances?

Edna was born in 1897 and was living with Moses and Lydia and family in the 1900 census.   She was listed as age two.  Edna lived until 1982 and died at the age of eighty-five.  She had married and had one child.  (Picture is from 1922 of Edna and her son). Edna was always considered to be one of my grandfather’s sisters and the family was very close to her.  She even seemed to look and act like the other family members.

Upon Edna’s death, it was found that she had not been adopted formally and her son found some documentation that indicated that her real name had been Edna Norris.  This meant nothing to the family and it wasn’t until ten years later, when I became interested (a nice work for obsessed) with genealogy that the mystery was possibly resolved.  By that time, all of Edna’s adopted family had died, leaving no siblings to answer the question of who Edna really was.  But almost one hundred years after Edna’s birth, I may have found the answer.

What I learned was that Mary Etta Bullard, one of Lydia’s first cousins, had been married to Oliver Norris.  Mary and Oliver had a daughter, Elmira Norris, born in 1879.  My speculation is that Elmira became pregnant, had the baby, and Lydia Bullard Adamson agreed to take the infant in.  In the 1900 census, Elmira Norris is listed, as age twenty, with her mother and step-father in the same area as Moses and Lydia.  It appears that perhaps Lydia raised her first cousin’s granddaughter.

Two other cases involve people who are (probably) still living and who would be around sixty years old.  But people aren’t talking.  And some of the involved persons are not living.  One involves a child given up for adoption; the other appears to be a case of the child not being raised by the mother.  

All of these types of cases take extreme patience.  In my experience, nothing is ever a secret.  There are always people who have information and someday I hope to solve the last two cases that have plagued me!

1 comment:

  1. A fascinating mystery, and I think your solution is spot on. A great story!