(52 Ancestors #30 – Challenging)
A challenging ancestor to research has been Fred L. Moore, my great-great grandfather. The challenge came from a combination of misinformation and my own assumptions.
I first discovered his name from my great-grandmother Mae’s birth certificate. Then I found him in her marriage records. From there, I discovered his 1885 marriage certificate and the 1900 census in Plymouth, Michigan. After that came the confusion!
In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, as mentioned in the previous post, Fred’s wife Mina was boarding with her daughter Mae at a place in Detroit. She was listed as married. In the 1910 Detroit City Directory, Mina was listed as a widow. This made me think that Fred had died in 1909ish. In 1918, she was listed as Bert Thompson’s wife on his WWI Draft Registration. However, I have Mina and Bert’s marriage certificate and it lists their marriage date as November 24, 1924 in Toledo, Ohio. Hmm. 6 years after she is first mentioned as Bert’s wife and in Ohio?
So I went another direction. I researched Mae’s brother, Glenn Bolt Moore. He was also called Fred and worked on the railroad like his father. He lived in New Buffalo, Michigan. Poking around on SeekingMichigan.org, I found Fred Moore’s death certificate with Glenn B. Moore listed as the informant. Fred didn’t die in 1909. In fact, he didn’t die until November 4, 1924. Which explains why his estranged wife didn’t remarry until late November 1924. They were, for lack of a better term, waiting for him to die.
Now that I knew Fred was living in Berrien County, I could narrow my searching. I found a few interesting newspaper articles detailing what he was up to in the 1910s and 1920s.
According to the March 22, 1923 issue of the Benton Harbor News-Palladium, Fred was a resident of the Berrien County Poor Home (also called the Berrien County Infirmary). According to Deanna West, “Through the years the farm became a colony within itself with orchards, vegetable gardens, corn and grain fields, barns, cows, chickens and pigs. Everyone who was physically capable did chores that they could manage. One couple that managed the farm in 1924 and several years after, were Mr. & Mrs. Edward Israel, who became very well known in the area.” On his death certificate, it notes that Fred died at the Berrien County Infirmary at the age of 61 of “chronic paresis” which is defined as “a condition typified by a weakness of voluntary movement” including limbs, eyes, stomach, or vocal cords. To add to the confusion, it says he is widowed, even though Mina didn’t die until 1942.
So I guess the moral of the story is don’t assume someone is dead just because a city directory says his wife is a widow!
“20 Years Ago.” The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan). 12 Nov 1940, Tue. Page 2.
Death Certificate for Fred Moore, Berrien County. http://seekingmichigan.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/
“For Sale – Grapes.” The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan). 10 Sep 1919, Wed. Page 3.
“Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NQ3P-Z54 : 15 May 2018), Fred L. Moore and Minnie A. Bolt, 1885.
“Society.” The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan). 28 Jul 1921, Thu. Page 4.
“Township and City Poor Supported at the County House.” The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan). 22 Mar 1923, Thu. Page 9.
West, Deanna. (2010). “Berrien County Poor House aka Poor Farm — or — County Infirmary, Berrien County, Michigan.” http://berrien.migenweb.org/Infirmary/Infirmaryhistory.htm.
Wikipedia contributors. (2018, March 23). Paresis. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Paresis&oldid=832006290.