Check The Children

One of the skills we learn in genealogy is to revisit information we’ve gathered from before. Looking at information in my tree that has been there for awhile, or even recent finds with a fresh eye is essential. One group of information I’m guilty of overlooking (frequently) is the birthplaces of children of people I’m researching. From time to time I use the birthplaces to create timelines so I get a clearer picture of where to look for someone in records. I did this with James Henry Myers a long time ago. Then forgot it was there. Now that I realize I have only one census record for him because all the ones I had before belonged to someone else, I have to start fresh looking for him.

On Twitter the other day I asked Crista Cowan if it was likely that someone could spend 80 years in the US and only appear once in the census from 1860-1930. She said it was close to impossible…that he was probably some place I didn’t expect him to be. Not that I planned to write about this guy again any time soon, but I’m intrigued by what I found and wanted to share it. What I get is that when I find anything at all that seems to confirm this new set of parents I found for him, I’m so astonished by it that I need to write about it to make it seem real.

I revisited the timeline I created for him and right off realized I didn’t know where his first known child was born.

Marietta Myers Grant Hughes
Marietta Myers Grant Hughes

Marietta Myers was born in Kansas in 1890, according to all the census records I’ve found for her. For the longest time that was all I knew about her birth place. Kansas isn’t that difficult to get death certificates from, so I thought I’d order hers to see if I could learn just where in Kansas she was born. I remember that I always wondered what were James and Elisa Myers doing in Kansas at that time?

I saved myself the expense of ordering the death certificate by digging through the Ancestry Family Trees that I had attached to her way back when. One of the families with her in their tree listed her place of birth, plus a photo I’d never seen before. I got the sense that this was a family who knew more about Marietta than me (not hard to do), so I decided to accept the place of birth at face value for now: Jamestown, Cloud, Kansas on 15 (or 13) Dec 1889. What on earth were James and Elisa doing in Jamestown, Cloud, Kansas in 1889?

It would seem that family might have had an affect on their temporary migration to that rural area. Just like when I discovered that the birthplace of their third known child (my grandmother) in Putnam County, Missouri was significant, Jamestown has a Myers family connection as well.

Branscomb, Emily 1915 Kansas census cropped

Here’s James’ half-sister Emma (Emily) Branscomb neé Myers 25 years after Marietta was born, living in that same small but resilient town in 1915. The Branscomb family lived many places in Cloud County, Kansas over the years, and Emma is buried in Jamestown.

Emily Myers Branscomb
Emily Myers Branscomb

Could there have been close ties between James and his half-sister? Is this why his third known daughter is named Emma? I’m inclined to say yes on both counts.

So far this hasn’t helped me locate James in any more census records (my original intent), but it does give a plausible reason why Marietta was born in Jamestown, Kansas. Added bonus: another data point proving the relationship of James to his father Jacob.

Next up, I suppose, is to ponder why the family then moved briefly to Union, La Grande, Oregon where Amarilla was born on 5 July 18911. Gold maybe?


1 Oregon, Births and Christenings, 1868-1929, Index, FamilySearch.


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