On Medium I recently asked, Who was Cornelia Martin? And in answering that question, I found a good example of the type of loss suffered by families in 19th century America.
While working on an upcoming book on the Lincoln line of Windham, Connecticut, I found the children of Nathaniel Martin listed in his will. I was able to find his daughter Cornelia’s birth record, but then she’s gone.
I couldn’t find any other vital records, though her siblings’ fates were all well documented. But I did find a woman of the same name in an asylum in Vermont. Was that her?
New in GenTales on Medium, I offer a case study in carefully navigating family stories and anecdotal evidence. The myth of Pocahontas’ daughter Ka-okee has been the subject of debate for 20 years. Which is part of the problem. In 400 years of history, we only just now learn about a child? Read more in GenTales.
The Lincoln line of my family had already been documented by the time I was the one doing the research. My grandmother had joined DAR via John Lincoln before I was born. In our passed down notes, his wife was always given as Anna Martin Stowell (or Anna M. Stowell or simply Anna Stowell) and there was a bit of time where it wasn’t clear if it was a middle name (likely from her maternal line) or a previous marriage that gave her the two-barrel moniker. Eventually, it got sorted, and her first marriage came to light. Here’s what we know about her now.
She was a pioneer girl, married off at 14 to suffer through the ill fates of her children and poverty, only to spend her final days asking her neighbors to put her out of her misery. The puzzle pieces of her story don’t make the way things were seem like the Good Ol’ Days
In GenTales today, I offer a few shout-outs to helpful advice on collecting family history. If you get together with family this year, regardless of how you record the information – video, audio, or transcription – the information can be helpful in filling in gaps in vital records.