Friday, January 4, 2008

Finding Minerva Marcum

I guess the thing I love most about researching a large number of families is that when I get bored or frustrated or tired of trying to find information on one, I can go on to another.  And that's what I was doing today.  

It's been bothering me a lot since I found Minerva Marcum Stevens' death certificate that I haven't been able to document through census records her residence in Henshaw, Kentucky in 1910.  She had to be there.  Don't ask me how I knew she had to be, but I knew it.  So I started doing a page-by-page search of Union County, Kentucky for 1910.  But Henshaw isn't listed as one of the places you can search.  No, that would be too easy.  Instead you have to hunt and peck until you find Magisterial District #3.  These are areas that are outside of towns and have funky descriptions like this:

Magisterial District No. 3 Raleigh (part of) incl Henshaw town All south of the Morganfield and Shawneetown Road and Spring Grove and Grove Center Road, beginning at Blackburn and running southwest to the "Rocks", thence east over Bald Hill to where Grove Center Road leaves the Morganfield and Shawneetown Road; thence to the Blue Ridge.

This is the area from whence my ancestors sprung.  It sounds almost poetic, but I bet it was a biotch to farm.  But they did farm it.  They raised food to feed their children because they didn't exactly have Burger Kings and Walmart stores nearby.  Do you ever wonder just what it took to live in the 1800's?  I do.  And I feel spoiled.  It's no wonder so much of America is now suffering from obesity;  who really works for food these days?  How many people still have to cut and haul wood to stay warm in the winter?  

So I found Minerva in her final years, still working a farm with two of her children:  Walter, who was in his 30's at that time, and Blanche, who was 23.  Why was Blanche still home, I wonder?  Most women her age were already married 8 or 10 years and had a number of children.  Was there something wrong with her?  I'll never know, which is the curse of genealogy.  So many stories I'll never know!  If I had a time machine, I'd set it for the 1800's and visit every single ancestor I've recorded and learn their stories from their own mouths.  

I feel a sense of relief having finally found Minerva in her latter years, but I'm still anxious to find her in her youth.  Where in Ohio was she born?  Why can't I find her in the 1850 census if she was born between 1845 and 1849?  

I've figured out that I can't find some ancestors because the census is too light to read or the names are transcribed incorrectly.  


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