You might think that genealogy is easy these days. Just go online and find all your ancestors and add them to your family tree. It sounds a lot easier than it actually is.
Admittedly it is easier and faster than in the days when my mom and grandmother visited courthouses and cemeteries to track down relatives. My subscription to ancestry.com is worth every penny in the time it saves me and the names and dates that I’d never find otherwise.
Despite that, finding your roots is a laborious, consuming project. Here’s an example:
I’m tracking the descendants of my great-great-grandfather, Abraham Bates Tower who was born in 1837. Don’t confuse him with the other Abraham Bates Tower who happens to be his uncle and who lived in the same county in Indiana.
One of Abraham’s grandsons is Theodore Homer Tower, son of Erastus Laban Tower. To complicate the search, both Theodore and Erastus went by their middle names. I noted that Homer’s wife was Ilena or maybe Ina Ilena but had no idea on her maiden name.
She is the wife of my 1st cousin 2x removed.
As I added more details for Homer from various census and the marriage record, I found more variations of Ilena’s name. Ilenna, Ilean, Ilene and Ina I. I’ve assembled the evidence here.
►1900 census – Ilenna Parr, age 6, was listed as the granddaughter of Sarah and Ruffus Parr. Also in the household are the couple’s daughters, Ruth Parr age 21 and Lisia Ann Parr. age 12. I’d guess that Ruth Parr was Ilenna’s mother, but she could be the daughter of a brother or sister of Ruth’s. If Ruth is the mother, was she unmarried?
►1910 census – Ilean Riddle, age 16 is living with grandparents, Sarah and Rufus Parr. Also in the household are Ruth Riddle and Luke Riddle, ages 39 and 43. There’s a younger child, Chester Riddle, age 4. My deduction from this is that Ruth is Ilean’s mother and she has married Luke, probably in 1905 or 1906. Chester is Ilean’s half-brother. Maybe/maybe not. Ruth and Luke may have adopted Ilean or just gave his last name for the child to the census taker.
►1914 Marriage Certificate – Ilean Parr and spouse, Homer Tower. Very curious, what happened to the Riddle last name? Ilean’s birthdate is given as 25 January 1893. She is 21.
►1920 census – Ilene Tower, age 25 is listed with husband Theodore H. Tower and daughter Hilda. The neighbor on one side is Erastus Laban Tower, wife and also son, Dorris. This is Homer’s parents and younger brother. Next to them is a family of Riddles.
On the other side in the census is Ruth and Abraham Riddle with Abraham’s mother-in-law, the widowed Sarah Parr. It took some further sleuthing to discover that Luke was the middle name for Abraham, so not a separate person or new spouse for Ruth.
►1930 census – Ina I Tower, age 35 lives with Theodore H Tower and their 15-year-old daughter Hilda Marie. Homer’s widowed mother-in-law, Ruth P. Riddle, age 59 now lives with them. This verifies that Ruth is Ilean’s mother.
►1940 census – Ilean and husband Homer Tower, ages 46 and 47, now live alone. It would take further research to find out what happened to Ruth (probably died) and Hilda (probably married).
I can’t even begin to tell you how much time I spent verifyng Ilean’s name. Unfortunately, I’m still not sure but have listed her on the tree as Ina Ilean Parr Riddle.