Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Finding Mary Ellen Cook
My 2nd great-grandmother on my Mom's side is one of my brick walls. When I first started doing genealogy, my grandmother told me that her Dad's parents were John MIX and Mary Ellen COOK.
So all these years, I had this Mary Ellen COOK, but it was only from that verbal conversation with my grandmother. The name "Mary Cook" occurred much to frequently in the census records for me to be able to narrow down who her family might be.
Eventually, I got a hold of the death certificate of my great-grandfather, William Homer MIX. In the mother field, the name surprisingly read: Mary WEAVER.
The informant was my grand-uncle Floyd MIX, who was William's eldest child. Hmm! I would have thought that William's eldest would know who his own grandparents were, right? But then again, my grandmother (and her mom) were always pretty much always right when it came to the names they remembered and wrote down.
So I started searching through the census records, trying to find a Mary WEAVER who fit my profile and guess what I found? Yep, here is a Mary WEAVER who in 1850 just so happens to be living with a family named COOK in Dryden, Tompkins County, NY! OMG!
That means that my grand-Uncle and my grandmother could both be right! Unfortunately, she is 9 years old, so I couldn't try to narrow down her family in the 1840 census.
My next confirmation of her name came from the Civil War Pension file for her husband, John Mix. She signed her name several times as "Mary E.". Also, in most of the census records where she was Mary MIX, she provided her name as "Mary E.". And finally, her tombstone lists "Mary E." as well. So it is likely that the "Ellen" my grandmother gave me is correct, but it's not proved 100% yet.
And last, but definitely not least, in my visit to the Broome County Historical Society in New York recently, in their Name Index (a.k.a. the Woodward File), I came across this transcription from the newspaper Union Center News:
her father, Mr. Weaver of Wisc. age 83
came to visit - no one met train - he wandered
around for 36 hrs - fell into culvert. He
had lived Wisc - 40 yrs!
The line breaks and punctuation is from the transcription. No date was listed on the card for the newspaper article, but the transcriber wrote: "prob '87 - '88". The original clipping was noted as being in the Woodward Scrapbook which resides in the town of Maine in Broome County, so I didn't get to see the original for myself.
So! This means her father had been in Wisconsin for decades - that would certainly explain why the 9 year old Mary was living with the COOK family in 1850.
Looks like I found the real name of my 2nd great-grandmother: Mary E. WEAVER. Her family is still a mystery, but I'm one small step closer!