Monday, March 21, 2011

Mystery Monday - Great Grandmother Mary

I sometimes think I will never be able to figure out who my great grandmother Mary was ... she is definitely a mystery! One would think that a great grandmother would not be all that hard to figure out. I mean, it wasn't that long ago, was it, that she was walking this earth. Well, I guess it was a long time ago as she probably died in 1885.

I've always bemoaned the fact that so many of my ancestors were born late to each ones' parents. And even I was born later in my father's life. My dad was 41 years old when I was born. My great grandfather was 36 years old when my grandfather was born. And my great, great grandfather was 50 years old when my great grandfather was born. That does not give one any chance of having known a great grandparent. I did not even know my grandfathers (yes, same thing is true on my Mom's side of the family). Of course I followed tradition and had my first child at 32 years of age, and my last child at 40 years of age!

Back to Mary. She was born about 1853, supposedly in Ohio. The only census record that I've found in which she appears is the 1880 federal census. She is listed as being 27 years old, born in Ohio, both parents born in Pennsylvania.

She appears in the birth records of Knox County, Ohio three times, once for her first-born son, John, another time for my grandfather Harry, and another for her daughter Mary Rosilla Porter. She is listed as Mary Taylor in the son's two birth records. She is listed as Mary Martin on Mary Rosilla's birth record; however, her father is listed as Leander Martin so this is a case of mis-information. On her daughter Ida May Porter's marriage certificate to Edward G. Warman it states that her mother was Rosanna Montoon. On Grandpa Harry's marriage to his first wife, Rose Ellen Linn, it states his mother's name as Mary Taylor. On her son John's death certificate she is listed as Mary ?umptune. She is listed in a couple of her other children's death certificates as being Mary Huntoon. Her son Fred lists her name as Mary Sparks on his Social Security application form. I've seen on some online family trees that her maiden name was Stiger or some variation of that.

Looking at the marriage records I find a Leander Porter who married a Mary Hepner on 20 Mar 1871 in Knox County, Ohio. Leander and Mary's firstborn son was John. He was born 5 Feb 1872, so this marriage date fits. Another record a few months before 5 Feb 1872 shows a Leander Porter marrying a Sydney Ellen Simpson. Is this my Leander? There is also another Leander Porter in the area with about the same birth date. This adds to the confusion.

I've looked into the surname Taylor. In the 1880 federal census I find a Taylor family living very close to the Leander and Mary Porter family. The mother's name is Mary and there are a John and a Harry in this family, both names of two of Leander & Mary's children. In this census my Mary Porter is 27 years old which would fit for this Taylor family (she would be the oldest). I do not see my Mary Taylor listed in the 1870 Federal Census with this family though, which I would have thought that she would be at the age of about 17. I also noticed that Emanuel (head of family), Mary A. (wife), John W., Hamilton, and Harry were born in Maryland. As stated previously in the 1880 Federal Census my Mary states that she was born in Ohio and both parents were born in Pennsylvania. So I decided to look for Emanuel and family in Maryland. First I found a record of an Emanuel being married to Mary Ann Durst with the birth years being the same as the ones listed in the 1880 Federal Census. Next I found their entry in the 1860 Federal Census in Maryland. Again there is no child with the name of Mary. So this is most definitely not my Mary's family.

Why so many different surnames for Mary? The family lore handed down was that she was an American Indian from an Ohio tribe with the surname Huntoon. Looking at the origin of the surname Huntoon I found that it is of Scottish origin. Most Huntoons living in America can trace their lineage through one man who immigrated from Scotland. I also found on a Rootsweb message board that others have been told that their ancestor with the surname Huntoon was an American Indian. Is this just folklore? Where does this story originate?

I'm assuming that the Mary R. Porter who died Mary 27 Apr 1885 in Pleasant Township, Knox, Ohio is my Mary. She died when all of her children were young. My grandfather was only four years old when she died. I would imagine that most of her children did not even remember her. But how did her surname get so confusing? Did she actually have American Indian blood? I doubt her surname was Huntoon. Was the surname Hepner mangled through the years?

I found a very brief death notice in the local newspaper, but no mention of family in it.

I haven't exhausted my search for either Hepner or Taylor surnames. These two research items remain on my to-do list.

At this writing my great grandmother Mary remains very much a mystery! My brother has agreed to a DNA test that would show if there is any American Indian in our lineage. If anyone has any ideas on what I might add to my research plan for Mary I would appreciate hearing from you!

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