I am not one for the whole bucket list idea, but as we pass from one year to the next I recognize there are some genealogical mysteries I would like to solve in my lifetime. Here is an incomplete list in no particular order. Some are things that are likely never to be answered. Some are only a matter of time.
1. The disinheriting of Charles H. Ware. In his will, Uriah Ware very explicitly excluded his son Charles. For the longest time, I was unable to prove the whereabouts of Charles after he left home. I have since discovered him in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania which seems a long way from Camden County, New Jersey. How did he end up there and why did his father disown him? I may never know.
2. What happened to Frances Funston? Joseph Funston was married twice according to his Civil War pension file. His first marriage to Frances ended in divorce. She was the mother of his children and according to what was found in the pension file, did not appear to contest the divorce. Joseph remarried right away. I have never found Frances in any record after the divorce in 1872, not alone or with any of her children who were by then grown. She likely remarried, but to whom I have no idea. (Update 7/17/14: I found her!)
3. May Whitaker? When talking about her family, my grandmother always said there was a Whitaker in there somewhere. On death and marriage records for her uncles and mother, it was their mother who was listed as May (or Mary) Whitaker. I have her on the 1880 census with her husband Joseph and children, and with a Mary Partington who is identified as Joseph’s Mother-In-Law. Then she died in 1886. Did her mother remarry a man named Partington? Was the family wrong and May’s last name was really Partington? I have found no other records of her or her mother, under Whitaker or Partington. May was born in England around 1852. I have no immigration date so I do not know if she came over as a child or adult. Based on the ages of their children, she and Joseph married around 1871. There is still a lot more searching to be done on this one.
4. What ethnicity and religion were the Carmans? There are several Carman lines in the eastern United States. There was an Englishman who settled in Long Island and his ancestors stretched south into New Jersey and east into Pennsylvania. There was a German who landed in Philadelphia whose name became anglicized as Carman. My Carmans have been in the Philadelphia area a long time. My latest research suggests they were in Montgomery County in the late eighteenth century and likely well before that. Are they connected to the Germans, the English or some other Carman line? My 3rd great-grandparents were Catholic and their church was set on fire during the Riots of 1844. From what I read, it was the two Irish churches which were targeted while the nearby German church was left untouched. Were they Irish? My 2nd great-grandfather married a German Protestant. Was this when the Carmans became Protestant? The more I learn about this family, the more questions I have.
5. French! My grandmother had no idea where her Carmans came from and she knew there was a Whitaker but not who it was. Another thing she always used to say was that she had French in her, but she did not know from which line. My family ethnicity is fairly boring: lots of German, English, Irish, Scottish and way back on my father’s side a bit of Scandinavian But mostly just lots and lots of Germany and British Isles. What I am trying to say is that French would be exotic. Ironically, the closest I have come to finding it has been through the only ancestors I have traced back to Germany: the Hornefs. The area of Germany they lived in was near the border which by the little I have read moved around a bit. There was also the movement of people as Protestants sought safe havens. I have found church record indexes with their names in German and French. (Georg Peter/George Pierre) Is this the French my grandmother heard about? Since most of my grandmother’s ancestry has brick walls in the United States I may never know for sure.
6. The princess in the hogshead. I’ll end on this one, because it’s a bit silly. In the seventeenth century a young Swedish princess had to flee her home due to political troubles. She stowed away on a ship by hiding in a hogshead. The ship wrecked off the New Jersey coast and she washed up alive but destitute. A trapper, John Garrison, found her and eventually married her. And thus, all Garrisons in Southern New Jersey are descended from Swedish royalty. Or, so we claim. Who is ever going to prove otherwise? 🙂