Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Dearest Daniel and Mary

We all have those ancestors that just seem to vanish. Their stories are passed down but no one really knows where they came from and if they are true- my grandmother told me so it must be, right?

The stories that we were left with for Daniel were that he sold his youngest son as a white slave after coming home from the war to "find an extra mouth to feed" and that he "threw Mary out of the house". It is believed that Daniel filed for a divorce shortly after.


With these stories and a copy of Theory of War (a book written from the journals of my ggg grandfather – Daniel's son) in hand, I set out to find out exactly what had happened to Daniel. Census records came up and Mary was gone by 1870. Daniel was not marked as a widow. No signs of Mary either. The book did not shed any light as to Mary's possible whereabouts.

Mary wound up in our tree from a previous project. There were no documents to verify her in our family- the marriage was so short that she didn't even appear in the 1860 census. She is not mentioned in her children's obits, or in Daniel's. Daniel went on shortly after to marry again, only to have that result in divorce as well. The existence of their divorce decree has yet to be proven.


Daniel was very, very poor and sent his children out to work at a young age. Alexander was one of his children that were sent to live and work with a local family. He was treated very poorly and a book (Theory of War) was written from his journals. Later in life, Daniel had contact with all of his children, including Alexander, who escapes this lifestyle and worked his way out west with the railroad.


I later found what I thought may be Mary in a later census with a different last name. With her was a son, Albert Brady. A few weeks later, I received a message from a relative of Mary's seeking out what info I had on her. I shared what little information I had and contact has continued since.


It is amazing how quick things can fall together. I kept searching for that missing piece and though I have yet to find it, I am closer. The divorce record has yet to make its appearance and I am skeptical of that happening. As poor as they were, I doubt they would have spent money for a legal divorce. Daniel never owned any property- not even his own grave! He died in his daughter's home and as a result she died 5 years later of the same disease (sharing is caring!).

As far as we know, there are no photographs of Daniel or most of his children. We have one photo of Alexander as a child, and a couple from his adult life with his own family.


Oh the journeys our ancestors send us on!