One of the first mysteries I solved when I started doing research was finding my ex-husband's great-grandfather, Homer Ingles. It wasn't that I was such a fabulous sleuth, but great timing and even better luck that made it possible. (Not for poor Homer, but for me!)
There wasn't a great deal of info about this family to go on. Homer was the father of a set of twin boys, Percy (my ex's grandfather) and William Ingles, with his wife Annie. I knew that Homer and Annie had died when they both were fairly young, but no one knew the details. They just knew that the twins were ultimately raised by their maternal grandmother, Mary Jukes, and a slew of maiden aunts in Cumberland, Maryland.
I didn't find squat in any census in Maryland of Homer or Annie.
So my hunt for their story began at the Cumberland church the Jukes attended. There I found burial records for the baby Earl Raymond Ingles, and Mary & daughters, but not Annie or Homer. There were transfers for Mary et. al. from churches in Wheeling, WV and Mt. Savage, MD, and confirmation records for the twins. Not enough to go on.
Counties in Maryland did not start keeping death records until 1898, but on a lark, I requested one for Homer and damn if it wasn't there, in the county where the twins were living! I dashed down to Baltimore to claim my prize.
Now that I had a date (& parents' names), I trotted off to the Pratt Library to find an obituary on their microfilmed newspapers. Voila! The Cumberland paper told the tale:
That gave me his hometown, so I called the Uniontown Library and a fabulous lady looked at the cemetery records for the area and found not just Homer, but his wife Annie buried together in the Hopwood Cemetery! (And a slew of other Ingles.)
The newspaper in the Ingles' hometown ran the following obit too:
Since I found the cemetery and burial record, I had a death year for Annie and searched for her obituary through that great librarian...and found it:
These poor families! First Annie dies 10 days after giving birth to Earl, leaving Homer with 3 small sons. Then baby Earl dies before he reaches 2 months old. Lucky for them all, Annie's mother and sisters step up to care for the twins while Homer goes away to work (one of Annie's brothers worked with him.) He must have been ill with his kidney disease for a while to have died so suddenly from it.
What incredible timing for him to have been in Maryland at his death (and during the first record-keeping year) or I may never have found any of them!
I took a road trip to Cumberland to visit the church and cemetery there, then headed to Mt. Savage for the church that Mary and her family had attended, and finally to visit Homer & Annie in Uniontown, PA. Here are the unfortunate couple's graves.
Annie was apparently moved from her original burial place to Hopwood to be with Homer by his family.
My first taste of victory solving a family mystery was SWEET (and addictive!) Somewhere I have a photo of me kissing Homer's grave LOL