Sometimes, it can give even me a headache.
I recently received an email from one of my cousins who spends more
time researching the family than I do. I know, you probably didn't
think it was possible. This cousin is a doll and we've even
published an article together. By popular demand, this article is
going into a reprint this summer.
This cousin writes and asks, "Who is this?" She was looking at a
census and found a name we've never seen before. So, she sent it to
me. I looked at the census and am not quite sure I agree with the
translation of the name, but nonetheless, there sits another child.
Another child? Who dat?
William HENRY (1789-1849) married Zebiah MIDDLESWARTH (1797-1872) in
the county in which they were both born and raised. They stayed
there and had seven children. Those are known facts. We can
document this. We can document the names of the children, their
dates of birth, their spouses, their dates of death, and their final
resting places. I've visited most of them.
Now, why are we finding another child in the 1850 census? Not only
is he another child, he has a name that, to date, has not been seen
in the family before this time. Kinda unusual in the old Scot-Irish
naming traditions. And, this child, allegedly named Joshua, is not
found in any of the orphans court proceedings when daddy William
dies. All of the other children, who are still minors, have their
uncle, my 3rd great grandfather, named as their guardian in court
records. This alleged Joshua is also not listed in daddy's will.
Curious. Think he would have been.
I have found a Joshua HENRY who lived in the county, but not too
close to the family, who died around 1845 or so. He did leave a son
Joshua, but his named guardian is not someone that I know.
I looked around and noticed one of Zebiah's sisters, Mary, had a
husband who died in 1844. Court records show guardians were named
for six of their nine children. What were the names of the other
three children? Don't know.
Another curious thing about that 1850 census. The handwriting on the
original census is difficult to read. It LOOKS like the head of the
family is Mary HENRY? We know the head of this family is named
Zebiah. However, all the children listed, save the alleged Joshua,
are those known children of William and Zebiah. Could Zebiah have
been gone for a time? Could Zebiah have left her sister, Mary, in
charge of taking care of the younger children? Another clue
surfaces. In the court records for the children of William HENRY,
the children are listed as having very little financial worth. This
leads one to believe that Zebiah didn't get too much when he died.
In the 1850 census, this alleged head of household Mary HENRY has a
net worth of $20,000. Hmmm. Did Zebiah remarry? No. She is buried
with William and most of their children. Note, there is no Joshua
Another thought runs through my head as I try to piece it all
together. William and Zebiah had a son, William, who died in
February 1850 as a result of scarlet fever. Could Zebiah have been
gone for awhile taking care of others? Could she have had a bout of
it and not been able to take care of her own children? Would the
census taker think that Mary's last name was HENRY, the children in
the household had that surname?
I don't know the answers. These are all possibilities for me to
consider. I think I need to find the complete estate file of William
to see if there is any mention of another child in it. I am still
leaning that this Joshua was not a natural born child, but rather one
they took in and cared for upon his parent's demise. Hopefully, I'll
find the proof I need so I can rest easy. I just find it unsettling
when there are unanswered questions lingering around the air.
Who dat? I don't know. I hope to know soon.