May 19, 2017

Newspaper Social Columns Can Provide Great Clues

While researching the only member of my husband’s family to emigrate from Britain to the US, I found some great clues pertaining to those who stayed behind. With the most recently released British census being 1911, it can be quite difficult to trace marriages and children of those born around 1900 (especially if they have a common name or one used over and over in an extended family).

Ann Williams and her husband Stephen Vincent Woodward left Cheshire in 1889 for new opportunities in Missouri bringing their 3 small children. Ann was the oldest sister of my husband’s grandmother, born 17 years after Ann and only shortly before Ann married. We don’t actually know, but assume they never saw each other again after the Woodwards departed. Ann was born Lancashire to Owen Williams and Margaret O’Neill in 1861 followed by 10 younger siblings born 1863 – 1882.

In 1864 Stephen was born in Lancashire to George W Woodward and Ann Frodsham, the youngest of their 3.  His father died when Stephen was only 4 and his mother remarried 2 years later. The 1871 census lists the combined family group in another county with Stephen listed by his middle name and his stepfather’s surname (even though he didn’t change it).  These anomalies can make it confusing to follow a family group. The second husband died in 1873 and his mother remarried again … actually twice more. By the 1881 census, the 3 Woodward children were scattered and working as servants in non-family households. I somewhat gave up on tracing his sister Eliza and his brother George.

So my focus turned to the Woodward clan in the U.S. who started out in Missouri but  soon settled in Kokomo, Indiana where many of them stayed. That’s really helpful !  My goal was to identify all of Ann and Stephen’s children, track their residence and occupation, see if they married and had children. I found much of that information rather quickly, but was a bit  confused about their son Howard, born 1904.

I found a 1979 marriage record for Howard and initially thought (though odd) that perhaps he had married very late … he was 75. I guess I must have overlooked his 1940 census record and made assumptions when he was single in 1930.

I began searching Indiana newspapers to see what I could find about Howard prior to 1979. I was very surprised to find a 1970 social column item regarding cousins visiting Mr and Mrs Howard Woodward – including a photo of Mrs Woodward. The cousins were identified as Ethel Norman of Runcorn, age 80 and her sister Mabel Ellis of Ormskirk, age 76. Who were they???? And were they cousins from the Woodward or the Williams side of the family? And, by the way, what was Mrs Howard Woodward’s name?

After some tedious searching (much of it producing no answers), I eventually was able to identify Ethel and Mabel as the daughters of Eliza Ann Woodward (Stephen’s sister and hence Howard’s aunt)and her husband Frederick Hindley. I also confirmed that Howard had married Madalien Kerlin in Kokomo in 1930, a month after the census. They were together until Madlien’s death in 1977, thus making his remarriage in 1979 more understandable.

Eliza Ann Woodward (1860-1940) had married Frederick Hindley (1861-1937) in Cheshire in 1883 and their 6 children were born between 1886 and 1900. All remained in England, many of them in Cheshire.

Daughter Ethel (1888-1981) married John Hutchinson in 1914 (remember … the most recently released census is 1911). They had 5 children and were together until John’s death in 1950. The following year Ethel married widower Samuel Norton who died in 1957.

Mabel married George Ellis in Cheshire in 1920. I have not yet found death records for either of them but guess that George may have died before Mabel took her month long trip to America.

Hometown newspapers are a wonderful thing!

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