The prompt for 52 Ancestors this week is First.
When researching family history everyone comes across brick walls, those ancestors that we can’t find anything or much about. My first brick wall was the parents of my great-grandmother, Martha ROGERS/RODGERS HEISER (1860-1947).
Martha was married to my great-grandfather, Joseph Henry HEISER Sr. (1861-1945). Getting to Joseph was easy enough. Records are available like census, city directories, newspaper clippings, and his death certificate. Through those records I easily found Martha, too. That was where the line stopped, though.
According to her death certificate, Martha A. was born 13 Feb 1860 in Mt. Airy, Maryland. Mt. Airy is located in Frederick and Carroll Counties. It also says her father’s late name was RODGERS. There is no information about her mother.
Martha was nowhere to be found in the 1860 census. If she was born in Feb 1860, she should be in the census records for Frederick or Carroll County because their census taking was started in the spring. But she wasn’t that I could find.
I went next to the 1870 census. There is a Martha J. ROGERS, age 9, living with a man named Upton STONER and his wife, Elnor. Could they be her grandparents? Elnor was married before Upton, and she had two daughters who were the right ages to be Martha’s mother. But I was able to track down both of those girls, and I didn’t see any evidence that either was Martha’s mother.
I researched Upton STONER next. Upton Stoner was a wealthy retired farmer in Frederick County. Looking at other census records for Upton STONER, I found he and his wife often had children living with them that were not their own. From other things I read, I came to the conclusion that Upton and his wife were charitable people who provided a home to some needy children. Did the children do domestic and farm work while living with them? Highly likely, but they had a home and weren’t left to their own devices.
The 1880 census shows a Martha E. ROGERS, born about 1860, working as a domestic for a Dr. Sappington and his family in Frederick County, Maryland. I believe this is my Martha ROGERS.
In the 1900 census, Martha is married to my great-grandfather, Joseph HEISER. According to the census, they were married in 1881. The census gives her birthday as September 1864. It also says she was born in Maryland as were both of her parents. Later census records show her birthplace as Maryland. Mostly the same for her parents on the ones where it’s asked.
I’ve used newspaper records and other records, too. I’ve found nothing about her parents except that they were likely born in Maryland and that her father’s last name was ROGERS or RODGERS.
I haven’t given up on Martha’s parents. I’m sure there are records in Maryland that I haven’t looked at, but for right now they are still one of my brick walls.
What was your first brick wall? Have you broken through it? Please comment below.
Copyright © 2019 Nancy H. Vest All Rights Reserved
Linda Stufflebean says
Are there any court minutes for 1860-1870 available? Many times, children like Martha did live with a family, but it wasn’t all charitable. The county paid the family a small amount for the child’s upkeep. I’ve never found whole files, but have some across the payment of $X to so-and-so for the upkeep of whatever persons. I’ve even found lists of such payments posted in the local newspaper after the court term. Good luck with your search.
Nancy H. Vest says
Thank you, Linda! Those are great suggestions. I will look into them both.