The Importance of Revisiting Sources

It pays to go back and search a source again. Some time ago, Ancestry introduced its Pennsylvania and New Jersey Church and Town Records database. When it first came out, I searched it for all of my Pennsylvania and New Jersey ancestors. I found baptisms and marriages and burials. It has been a great source for my genealogy.

I think they must continue to work on the index because lately new hits have been turning up in that database. For example, I recently found the marriage of Joseph Funston to Frances Miller. I mentioned my third great-grandmother Frances “Fanny” Funston  in my January bucket post as a big mystery. I knew Joseph divorced her, but then, to me, she disappeared. I was excited to find this marriage record and to at least be able to put a tentative surname to her.

Then, I found a marriage record of a George W. Bieber and Frances Funstone in 1865. Five years before the divorce of Joseph and Frances, but stranger things have happened. I looked for George and Frances Bieber in the census to try to confirm this was my Frances, but came up empty.

And there it stood, until an unrelated Funston researcher came across my bucket list and mentioned the Bieber-Funstone marriage and an 1870 census record I had found and filed years ago:

Image of 1870 census
George & Fanny Beaver above Joseph & Sarah Funston, 1870 census

 At the time I had not noticed Frances Beaver directly above Joseph and Sarah Funston (her children). And thanks to a certain young pop star I know that the pronunciation of Bieber is similar to Beaver. So, it also pays to review sources you saved and filed years ago. Now that I was certain this was my third great-grandmother I felt energized to search GenealogyBank, another database that has been of immeasurable help to my research.

And I found this:

Image of obituary
Fanny Bieber obituary, Philadelphia Inquirer 27 Sep 1873

BIEBER — On the 24th inst., FANNY, wife of Geo. W. Bieber, and daughter of the late John and Mary Miller, in the 44th year of her age.
The relatives and friends of the family are respectfully invited to attend the funeral, from her late residence, No. 1938 Trenton avenue, on Sunday afternoon at 1 o’clock. To proceed to Palmer Street Ground.

Fanny Bieber, formerly Frances Funston(e), was the daughter of John and Mary Miller,
and thus was Frances Miller when she married Joseph Funston. It all ties together and I feel confident that I have found my previously lost ancestor.

By appearances, Fanny did not have an easy life. She was only about fifteen when she married Joseph, a man ten years her senior. She remarried in 1865 while still legally married to Joseph, for reasons unknown. I do know that Joseph joined the military in 1861 at age forty-two and served four years, leaving Fanny to raise four children, ages 5-14, alone. I still need to review his pension file to see if I can glean some more information about this time period, but I have transcribed some of it here. According to court records, Fanny did not respond to Joseph’s 1870 petition for divorce and it was therefore granted in 1871. She was married to George Bieber for eight years and was only 44 when she died in 1873.

FUNSTON (PA) Census 1850-1930

1850 Census: PA Phila
5th Wd, Kensington, p807/403
Date 23 Jul 1850

Funston, Joseph 31 M Carter Penn
        Frances 21 F        Penn
         Hannah  3 F        Penn
         Joseph  1 M        Penn
Haggerty, Catherine 65 F    Penn
1860 Census: PA Phila
18th Wd, p206
Date 26 Jun 1860

1310 1469 Joseph Funston 40 M Carman 100(personal) Penna
          Fanny          31 F                      Penna
          Hannah         13 F                      Penna
          Jos.           12 M                      Penna
          Sarah           9 F                      Penna 
               (attending school)
          John            4 M                      Penna
1870 Census: PA Phila
11th Wd, p58
Date Jun 1870

762 992 West, John 49 M W Iron Moulder     NJ
         Elizabeth 50 F W Keeping House    NJ
            Lillie 17 F W [indecipherable] PA
   Funston, Joseph 57 M W Foreman, C&A RR  PA 
                      (father of foreign birth)
  Rhinehardt, John 45 M W Shipsmith        NJ
     Vanaman, Mary 18 F W Corset maker     NJ
           Rachael 16 F W Corset maker     NJ
1880 Census: PA Phila
T9-1189, p325A

  Joseph Fonson Self    M M 33 PA PA PA    Boxmaker
    Mary Fonson Wife    M F 28 ENG ENG ENG Housekeeper
 William Fonson Son     S M  8 PA PA ENG   At school
    John Fonson Son     S M  6 PA PA ENG   At school
Annie M. Fonson Dau     S F  4 PA PA ENG
Mary Partington MotherL W F 58 ENG ENG ENG Nurse
1900 Census: PA Phila
ED784, p2B
Date 2 & 6 Jun 1900
1910 Firth St.
117 118 Funston Joseph Head W M Nov 1849 50 M        PA PA PA  
                            Foreman Box Factory R H
                  Mary Wife W F May 1862 38 M 18 2/2 MD CA GER
1910 Census: PA Phila
ED320, p3B-4A
Date 19 Apr 1910

2422 Fifth Street
Funston, John H. Head    M W 36 M1 12     PA PA ENG  Boxmaker Wood W
       Josephine Wife    F W 33 M1 12 2/2 PA GER GER None
     John Joseph Son     M W 11           PA PA PA   None
Walter Frederick Son     M W  7           PA PA PA   None
          Joseph Father  M W 62 Wd        PA PA PA   Boxmaker Wood W
         William Brother M W 37 S         PA PA PA   Cloth [ ... ]
1920 Census: PA Phila
ED1557, p3B
Date 7 Jan 1920

4619 A Street
73 75 Funston, John H. Head     O M M W 46 M PA PA PA  
             Josephine Wife         F W 44 M PA PA GER 
               John J. Son          M W 21 S PA PA PA  
             Walter F. Son          M W 16 S PA PA PA  
                    Salesman/Jewelry (attending school)
            Mildred E. Daughter     F W  8 S PA PA PA  
                    None (attending school)
               William Brother      M W 47 S PA PA PA  
1920 Census: PA Phila
ED940, p4B
Date 7 Jan 1920

2314 [National?] Street
73 74 Funston, Joseph H. Head O M M W 39 M PA PA PA 
                    [work indecipherable]
         Funston, Amelia Wife     F W 32 M PA PA PA 
            Funston, Ira Son      M W 13 S PA PA PA 
                     None (Attending School)
         Funston, Eugene Son      M W 12 S PA PA PA 
                     None (Attending School)
1930 Census: PA Phila
ED28, p38B
Date 15-16 Apr 1930

6414 [Argyle?]
501 560 Funston, Josephine P. Head       O $6500 R No F W 52 Wd 
                          PA GER GER None
                      John J. Son                     M W 31 S  
                          PA PA PA   Clerk Railway
                      William Bro-in-Law              M W 57 S  
                          PA PA ENG  [indecipherable] Cloth
1930 Census: PA Phila
ED28, p14B
Date 17 Apr 1930

1819 [street indecipherable]
145 146 Funston, Joseph Head O $7650 R No M W 50 M 24  PA PA PA 
                     Assembler Electric Power
                 Amelia Wife              F W 42 M 17  PA PA PA 
                 Ira D. Son               M W 24 S    PA PA PA 
                     Foreman Electric Power
                 Eugene Son               M W 23 S    PA PA PA 
                     Assembler Electric Power