Saturday, October 11, 2008

My Mystery Ancestor: Irene Havens - Part 3

In my previous post on my mysterious ancestor, Irene Havens, I wrote about discovering a possible sister (or half-sister or step-sister). In this post, I want to continue writing about this sibling, and my continued research into my ancestor, Irene. Plus, I want to make other beginning genealogists aware of some of the mistakes one can make when one makes assumptions without looking at records that might give an answer.

After discovering that Philip Lang was Mary (Stout) Albright's uncle and was married to a Rhoda Havens, I decided to look for Rhoda (Havens) Lang in the censuses. Of course, from the existing 1870 to 1900 censuses I was able to find her living with her husband in Saint Joseph County, Michigan. One of things that I did not due at that time (and should have) was to try to view Rhoda's death registration. If I had, I probably would not have wasted the time I did digging into another Havens family. (A family, of which I will mention later.)

So after finding Rhoda listed in the surviving censuses from 1870 to 1900 under her married name, I decided to look for her in the censuses prior to 1870. Of course, when I did an online search for a Rhoda Havens in the 1860 census, I came across a listing for a Rhoda Havens listed in the household of Guerdon Havens in Plattsburgh, New York. My first mistake was to assume that I had found the right Rhoda Havens. My ancestor, Irene Havens, was not listed in this household, but since I had already found her in Michigan, I figured that was why. So, to try to confirm my assumption, I tried to look for Guerdon's family in the 1850 census, but I was unable to find him. (This should have been my first clue that I might have the wrong family.) Even though, I could not find a Rhoda Havens of the right age living in Plattsburgh, I did find a Rhoda Havens living with a Clarissa Havens and Hirena Haves in Rochester, New York; however, I disregarded this census as I thought I had found the right family. (That was my second mistake.)

So, to find out as much as I could about Guerdon Havens and his wife Salinda, whom I believed might be my ancestor and step-mother (I'll explain in a moment), I started to follow them forward in the censuses. In the 1870 and 1880 censuses, I found them living in Shelburne, Vermont, and I began tracing their sons forward in the censuses as well. I also began looking for a possible marriage record for Guerdon and Salinda, and on the familySearch website, I found some information that suggested that they were married about 1844. Since I knew my ancestor, Irene, had been between 1840 and 1842, I assumed that Salinda must have been Gurdon's second wife. (Again, I was making a big mistake.) So, I tried to look and see if I could find a possible first marriage for Gurdon, but I was unsuccessful. (Of course, looking back now, I realize that what I was doing at the time was trying to make my hypothesis work. Instead of waiting until I had viewed Rhoda's death registration before I tried to move backwards, I made an assumption that I could try and find Rhoda's family in the censuses without that vital record. Unfortunately, I probably made more of a mess by just jumping to a conclusion without some solid information.)

As I stated before, I made several mistakes up above, and although I was trying to make my assumption work, I was still trying to find out as much information as I could about Guerdon and Celinda Havens and their family. In short, I was still trying to figure out if my assumption was workable since I knew I still needed to look at that death registration before I could confirm my hunch. I figured that Rhoda's death record would confirm my beliefs. (I did not know it then, but I was in for a big surprise.)

In my next post, I will continue on with my research into Rhoda and conclude with my who I think are actually Irene and Rhoda's family. I will also include my list of my sources. (Also, as a note: I had used different spelling variations of Guerdona and Salinda Havens' names in this post since I found their names spelled in multiple ways. The two I used just happen to be the ones I can recall off the top of my head at the moment.) Stay tuned ...

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