52 Ancestors Week 13: Nearly Forgotten

+16 votes

Time for the next 52 Ancestors challenge!

52 Photos and 52 Ancestors sharing bacgesPlease share with us a profile of an ancestor or relative who matches this week's theme:

Nearly Forgotten

From Amy Johnson Crow: I remember early on in my research when I discovered that my great-great-grandmother lost two infants between censuses. With the exception of their death records, there was no other trace that they existed—no tombstones, no obituaries, not even birth records (likely because they died soon after they were born). Who in your research has been nearly forgotten? Another angle you could take: using a record that was nearly forgotten. Feel free to be creative with this prompt!

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in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
edited by Eowyn Langholf

This was supposed to be an answer, not a comment, but I can not figure out how to convert it.

My poor half-aunt, Peggy Hughes ( https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Hughes-20504 ) (1911-194) was both unwanted and forgotten.  In all the family autobiographies (by her aunt, her brother, and her niece) there is no even an indirect mention. (And her aunt and her brother definitely knew  of her existence).

I only found out about her in my mid teens, when my visiting grandmother (then in her 80s) was wandering around the house in the middle of the night saying "where's Peggy?" and "you can't leave a baby alone in its bed" over and over again.  So of course I asked "who's Peggy?"

I didn't find out until the next morning.

Her parents' marriage had fallen apart shortly after she was conceived, and they separated.  Meena (her other) definitely didn't want Herbert's child, and tried to get an abortion, but it failed.  The baby was born very sickly, and Meena still didn't want to have anything to do with her (Meena was never a very good mother, even to her two sons whom she DID want).  Eventually Herbert's parents, in Belfast, took her in, where she died at age 3 from pneumonia. 

It seems that lots of people in the family had heard rumors about her, but nobody had any concrete information, until another cousin and I started digging into the digitized genealogy data. (That cousin was another family surprise - she did not know who her real father (my half uncle Pat Hughes) was until she had grown children of her own.  And of course we knew nothing about her either.)

My great-grandmother wasn't the oldest daughter as always thought — she had an older sister (as well as the older brother we knew about).  We have never found a birth registration, nor a death registration, so we don't know when, or where, she was born and died.  The only way we know she ever existed is because she is listed as deceased on Great-Gran's birth certificate.  (This makes me believe she died within minutes, or an hour or so, of birth, because if she were stillborn that would be noted.)

My other great-grandmother never mentioned that she had had a younger sister, who died the day she was born.  Chances are she never even knew, as that sort of thing wasn't discussed.

I have found numerous babies and children who were totally unknown to their siblings — even among the aristocracy (moreso if the deceased infant/small child were female, because the girls didn't count as they couldn't inherit titles etc (unless they were only children .. and then only in certain circumstances, which was why many titles passed to collateral branches).)

40 Answers

+19 votes

I'm sure that all of us, in looking for ancestors, have found children that died young that have been nearly forgotten. Sometimes we know they were born, but we can't even find them in census records. My husband's grandmother, Eunice Hennen, was such a sweet person that she probably did not want to talk about the tragedy of losing her younger sister, Florine, to diphtheria in 1913. None of us knew about Florine until I did genealogy. This is a badly worn obituary that I found in an envelope among Eunice's things.

by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Pilot (168k points)
It's always so sad to read the obituaries of children.  I'm glad Florine wasn't forgotten.
Thank you K for your very kind comment.

My 3x-great-grandfather William Lilborn Watson seems to have had a daughter who died young. The only evidence of her existence is an obituary for "Miss Noley Watson, daughter of W. L. Watson", in 1892 at the right place. She does not appear on the 1880 census and was probably born after, but of course the 1890 census was destroyed. The only other thing I know about her is that her parents must've loved her enough to commemorate her death in the newspaper.

Thank you Jessica for your comment. Guess all we can do in genealogy is to work with the little clues we have—when it comes to children that died. Glad you were able to find something about Miss Noley.
+17 votes

When my father had terminal cancer in 2002, he reminded me of a story he had told many times when his great uncle Freddie Meredith had loaded up his family into a Model-T Ford and left Edmonson County, Kentucky for Mountainview, Arkansas. Most of the family had forgotten about Freddie and his family, but not my father. He was reminded of them every time he saw the opening sequence of the Beverly Hillbillies on television. He also admired Freddie's eldest son, Lloyd Meredith, who was handsome and dashing. They were all very close to my great grandmother, Janie before they left. Before my father passed away, I discovered that Lloyd had served in WWII, but tragically had died in a car accident at the age of 40, with no children. However, I was able to reconnect with children of two of Lloyd's brothers, Floyd and Stoy. I am friends with several of Floyd's descendants today, and blessed by having reconnected with a forgotten branch of our family. 

by Bill Vincent G2G6 Pilot (107k points)
edited by Bill Vincent
+17 votes

Little Theda Loraine Rogers, was born, lived 22 months and died in a tragic accident. She was badly burned when she fell into a tub of hot water.  Her grave is unmarked and has disappeared due to changes in the cemetery fenceline long ago and lost cemetery records. Only one of her siblings is still alive to remember hearing about Theda. We do have 3 pictures of Theda. Thanks to newspapers, we have a report of her death. Here she is in her brother Nathaniel’s handbuilt car. 

by Lyn Sara Gulbransen G2G6 Mach 2 (26.5k points)
Lyn, thank you for sharing dear little Theda. Her profile was very thought provoking--with the doctor giving her mediation. Also this is a wonderful photo of her sweet face in the interesting car.
A sweet picture. I wonder who's idea it was.
Some time ago, I was doing research using the medieval English coroner's rolls, and I was astonished to see how many children died in household accidents, especially catching on fire from wandering too close to a fire. Lots of people, including children, drowned while swimming and bathing in lakes and rivers. Even if one can swim, if you're not a strong or confident swimmer you might panic, and panicking will kill you in the water.
+13 votes

My ancestor Octavia Jane Maynard was nearly forgotten in my genealogical research.  Her family had moved away from the area where most of her family were from and it made it difficult to find any information on her.  In fact, it was a brick wall for many, many years and I couldn't find out who her parents were until I focused on her siblings and that was how I was finally able to identify her parents.

by John Williams G2G6 Mach 1 (18.2k points)
+14 votes

My grandmother always celebrated her birthday on the 8th. When we started doing the genealogy we got a copy of her birth certificate and it showed a date of the 14th. She insisted that they always celebrated her's on the 8th. When we pointed out that the 8th was her dad's birthday and her parents likely just combined the birthdays into one party, she insisted that the birth certificate was wrong :) Marge

by David Grawrock G2G6 Mach 1 (15.1k points)
Birthday humor!
+11 votes
I have 2 nearly forgotten relatives.

Noone in my direct ancestry is forgotten - at least not by me!!

But there are 2 siblings for whom I have very few details and who are seldom if ever mentioned.

One is the brother of my great grandfather and the other is the half brother of the same great grandfather.

My great grandfather John Thompson - he who was born in Hobart Tasmania and came to NZ as a baby.

He had 2 older brothers - one full and one half brother.

William Adamson - the older half brother


And Joseph Thompson - the older full brother


John Thompson also had an older half sister as well - Jean Adamson aka Granny Hayes - but she married John Hayes and had 16 children. I doubt that SHE would ever be forgotten!! LOL
by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (722k points)
edited by Robynne Lozier
+16 votes
I have a very vivid recollection of being "nearly Forgotten".

I was about 7 years old ... so about 1948 ... I was traveling with some family members ... for a weekend vacation.

My grandmother, Oma M Allison-Rammel (1895-1995) was driving.  We stopped at a gas station.  While the car was being gassed up, I went to the restroom (it was out back in those days in that area).

When I came back to the front the car was gone ... they had forgotten me.  The station owner was very kind and watched out for me.  He even gave me some candy and soda to get me to quit crying.

It took about an hour ... but the car finally returned ... so guess I was "Nearly Forgotten" ... grandma was very good to me the rest of the trip!!
by Bill Sims G2G6 Mach 5 (59.9k points)
I remember this story! Has it been reported elsewhere? Or am I crazy? :)
I sure don't recall telling the story on WikiTree before ...
I have a nearly forgotten story  as well.

Back in the late 1960s or maybe 1970, my family and another family all went to the beach. The kids were in and out of each other families cars so when it came time to go home, we all assumed that the youngest 2 kids were in the other car. It was not until after 1 to 2 hours of driving, when we stopped for a break, did we realise that the 2 youngest children were missing. So we had to drive all the way back to the beach, where we found the kids happily playing in the sand building sandcastles and feeling fine, but hungry. As far as I can tell, they never knew we were gone.

The youngest child from my family was my younger sister and the youngest child from the other family - he died in a plane crash sometime before 2010.
Charming story, Bill!  I once got lost in a department store when my mother had taken me shopping at a very young age (maybe three or four years old).  Recently I have wondered if she was as traumatized about it as I was!
Loved your happy ending story of being almost forgotten. Did it drive you to being into details?
+11 votes
I don't have very many nearly forgotten people in my tree.The closest would be my cousin who recently died and we did not hear from her for a while.
by Jennifer Robins G2G6 Mach 3 (34.3k points)
+13 votes
While working on my husband's family I found a record for a great-aunt that no one in the family realized existed. As far as my mother-in-law or anyone else in the family knew, her father had only had one brother.  I found a single death index record for their only sister, born after the two boys, but baby Edith only lived 2 days. It seems sad somehow that no one knew about her.
by Saphyre Rogers-Berry G2G6 Mach 1 (14.9k points)
+12 votes
My 2nd-great-grandparents, Edward and Mary (Smith) Crossley, lost one of their children in infancy.  This child can't be found in censuses or birth records.  If there is a family Bible, I have never seen it.  All the same, Mary would go to the cemetery frequently, even into extreme old age, to pay respects to this child, ensuring that, despite being nearly forgotten by records, wouldn't be so in the family.
by K. Anonymous G2G6 Pilot (103k points)
+12 votes

My almost forgotten ancestor is Hannah Treadway Thomas, https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Treadway-496  Hannah is forgotten in that her birth record,  first marriage record, and death record are apparently lost, never to be found.  While she had 16 children, her name is never mentioned in their birth records.  I found only one of her children whose death record even gives her first name, and none give her LNAB.  I once went all the way to SLC to get a reference to an obscure self produced genealogy that gave her surname as Treadway.   It lead me to an individual who stated that while he has the manuscript, he wasn't going to share it, because the person who produced it is deceased, and didn't leave good notes.  

Curses!  Foiled again!  It is as though somebody wants her to be forgotten.  But I won't.  I have been working on this for 40 years.

I do have some good clues, like the fact so many of her granddaughters are named Hannah.  And how close she lived at one point to someone I think is her brother, Jonathan Treadway -343, to whom her husband sold real estate back in Lebanon CT, 25 years before.   I also have documentation and shocking information about a second marriage, to a man who drank too much, was abusive, and was a bigamist.  Someone testified to it in a pension dispute, calling her the Widow Thomas. There was the suggestion some of her kids got her out of this debacle, and she went back to Vermont, never to be heard of again.

 This is my current theory.  Hannah wanted us to forget about this.  It wasn't her finest hour.  She would rather be remembered for her 16 children.  


by Carolyn Adams G2G6 Mach 3 (31.3k points)
+7 votes
I'm srill looking for the parents of John Browne II (Browne-259) and his brother Thomas (Browne-4289).  Their grandparents are Robert Browne and Anne Gardner.  I need legitimate sources with dates  Their father should be John Browne I.
by David Hughey G2G6 Pilot (766k points)
+11 votes

Family members who never marry and couples who have no children are sometimes forgotten. You might assume they will not be useful for research but think again.
As an example, a while ago I was researching Isaac Mann, a farmer from County Antrim, Ireland. Isaac married Maria Hill and they had at least 8 children. Their descendants were fairly easy to research but both Isaac and Maria were brick walls because they were born and married at a time in Ireland when records are not available.
However, I discovered that Isaac Mann had a brother David who married twice but had no children. David Mann's will mentions his brother Isaac, two nephews and a niece which helps to prove family relationships that were otherwise forgotten. David's second marriage was after the start of civil registration in Ireland so there is a marriage record that names his, and therefore Isaac's father.
Similarly Maria Hill had a brother Thomas who married but had no children and his will also mentions several siblings, nieces and nephews which helped to confirm some family relationships and break through a brick wall.
by Ray Hawkes G2G6 Mach 4 (43.6k points)
+8 votes
It seems that a lot of what I do is documenting the lives of people who are otherwise forgotten. I'll choose [https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Solomon-1547 Samuel Solomon], who wasn't a relative but a dear friend of my parents. He never had children, nor, I believe, did his step-daughter. He was a national expert on American state governors, as well as an extremely funny person. I have a lot of photographs and copies of his articles from my parents, which are meaningful to me but won't be to my children. I made a profile for him (as well as for his wife and much of her family until I got them connected to the tree) precisely so that he would not be forgotten.
by Richard Heritage G2G6 Mach 2 (27.6k points)
+10 votes
I will not answer for just my line but rather my cousins and their cousins. In Lycoming County, PA there are tons of tiny baby stones all over (as with all around the world) and they sit in our cemeteries with little to no care. I am keeping a list of babies in the area so that I can do something so they are not forgotten as their families die. These little angels may have never gotten a long life on this planet but someone cared for them a long time ago and we should keep this up.
by Christine Preston G2G6 Mach 3 (30.3k points)
I am also at 13 of 13 !
+9 votes


52 Ancestors Week 13: Nearly Forgotten

My second great-grandfather, James Fountain Floyd, was born March 1, 1825. He was married with four children. He was a farmer in 1861 when the civil war broke out and he was called to action. 

James ended up a Prisoner at Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois. Camp Douglas in Chicago. Conditions were horrible and it is reported that 1 in 5 prisoners within those walls died. Punishment by officials and guards was unusually cruel. Confederate soldiers starved to death as food rations were withheld and many, being deprived of blankets while living in tents, froze to death in the severe weather. None of my family members were award of the fact that our grandfather died while in prison.

I believe that today, people have forgotten the confederate soldiers that fought in the Civil War. The monuments of the Civil War generals are being destroyed. Soon the confederate soldiers will not be nearly forgotten, but all history of their serving will be totally destroyed.

by Cheryl Hess G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
This is my 13th week participating in this 52 Ancestor challenge. Thank you.
So sorry to hear about your 2 X gr-grandfather.  So many atrocities during a war.  But I agree with you -- history is history, whether we like it or not.  Thank you for sharing this.
Thank you Robin. You are always so kind, my friend.
Thank you for sharing your story. I read some more about this on Wikipedia. I had never heard of it.
Shirley,  I hope you found the information interesting. There is also a stone with the soldier's names on it that died while they were in Camp Douglas. My second great-grandfather's name is on that stone.
Thank you Cheryl for sharing your second great grandfather James Floyd with us, and it is so very sad that he died in a prison camp, and it is terrible that many of these soldiers will be forgotten.
Thank you Alexis. You are very kind.
+8 votes

Let's talk about why it's important to share all of the pictures you find: https://allroadhaverhill.blogspot.com/2020/03/52-ancestors-week-13-nearly-forgotten.html

by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (300k points)

Excellent story and good advice, cousin Chris. 

Love your take on the prompt! And great story, too.
+9 votes
I have an older brother, born in 1958, one year before me. My parents say he was stillborn, but my grandmother swore that he lived for a few hours. My mother could not bear to give him a name. He is buried in an unmarked grave next to my great-grandparents. History has no record of him. I haven't even found a birth/death certificate.
by Gary Christopher G2G6 Mach 1 (10.9k points)
So sorry for this sadness in your life.
+5 votes

My nearly forgotten relative is the sister of my third great-grandmother and I just found her!  Joshua Thornton, my 4th great grandfather died between August 13, 1795 when his will was written and September 12, 1795 when the will was probated, naming in his will his wife Elizabeth and his three daughters, Nancy, Polly (Mary) and Salley(Sarah).   His wife Elizabeth married Avington Williams two years later.  In my research I found two probate files for Joshua; one under his full name and one under J Thornton.  

Reading the actual documents, I came across one that states: “ Return for the years 1796-97-98-99 and 1800 of the expenses against the Estate of Joshua Thornton dec’d for the supporting and raising of Judah Thornton which was born April the 17th 1796 and was not provided for by the will of the Dec’d...” Signed by Avington Williams, July 23, 1801.

Joshua and Elizabeth did not appear to know that she was expecting at the time of his will and subsequent death.  Little Judah was almost forgotten in the tragedy of her father’s death.

+7 votes

John & Hanora Wren's 3 youngest children — George, Katie and Edward — almost didn't get noticed. 

The 1880 census, citing older brothers & sisters, took place before they were born. 

The 1890 census is non-existant. 

Their mom died in 1894. 

Their dad shows up in the 1900 census, married again, with two other young children. 

But one day, I spotted all three of them — Kate, George and Edward — in a household headed by their older sister Anna in 1895. In the same household  were brothers Joseph and Lewis, as well as another sister, Mary Jane.  

In 1900 all three were still under Anna's roof.

That's the only proof so far that they are John and Hanora's children.

by C Ryder G2G6 Mach 5 (59.8k points)
edited by C Ryder
C Ryder, I can relate to that.   We have been reearching 75 years to prove a link to the Penn Colony which we have but the second & 3rd gen went to NC and the ONLY way we can tie them together is finding all the documents of each one of the first several generations and how they connect with another generation in other states, Bless Quaker Records!.  The sources I have found are miraculous, too, starting with my  1833-1894 gg uncle! I just hope folks accept the derivative result as accurate (DNA is in there too)
As you say, Barbara, bless Quaker records. I've got some too in my tree. Paper is paper, DNA is DNA, good research is what makes it all work.

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