Fact or Fiction ??

+7 votes

We have an intriguing question in our family – who was the real mother of my grandfather AND how do we find out?


We know what the records say:

  1. He, William Constantine Webster, was born in Saline County, Nebraska in 1875 and his father was William Webster, born in Newbiggin, Yorkshire, England about 1850.

  2. The records indicate his mother was Harriet Rebecca Webster (nee Horne or Horn) born around 1854.

  3. His parents, both born in England, were married in Saline County, Nebraska, USA on 27 October 1873 and we have details of the parents of the groom and bride.

  4. Records also show he had two sisters – Hannah, born in Nebraska in 1878 and Rachel born in Carperby, Yorkshire England 4 years later.Presumably the family, with or without William Constantine, moved back to England at some point before 1882 when Rachel was born.

  5. We know both William and William Constantine travelled to New Zealand sometime after the England and Wales Census of 1901 as they were both living in Bradford, Yorkshire (West Riding) at that time and after late 1903 as that was when William Constantine married Alice MacLean

  6. When and how they came to New Zealand is not known as we cannot find dates or immigration details.

  7. We do know that William Constantine married Alice MacLean in Malton, Yorkshire, England in the Oct, Nov, Dec quarter of 1903.

  8. William Webster died in Auckland on 26 Sept, 1919 and is buried in the Albany cemetery Row D, plot 15.

  9. William Constantine died in Auckland on 23 June 1941 and is buried in the Albany cemetery Row D, plot 16.

What the records do not say:

  1. My older brother Denis was told by my mother, William Constantine’s daughter born in New Zealand 20 May 1909, that the above is the “sanitised” version of events created by William Webster.At that time illegitimacy was bad enough but to a Native American from a supposed “war-like” tribe was something to be ashamed of and not really spoken about. Denis is convinced the story is true because why would mum put herself through that if it were not true!

  2. The story goes that William Constantine’s birth mother was a Native American from the Sioux Nation (Santee-Sioux) who later assumed the family name of Webster – we have found that details of this birth are impossible to find though there is a record in the 1890 US Census Nebraska 1890 Indian Roll of a Julian Webster (nee Wasteyadan) and son William Webster – although it has to be said the dates are a few years out.

  3. The story also goes that William Constantine, or William, was offered a job as a scout for Wild Bill Hickok but William refused to allow this to happen and left the USA.

  4. Credence is given to this story by the family going back to England even though his wife’s parents lived in Nebraska and subsequently coming to New Zealand in search of a new life.

Question – how do find out what really happened? Where to from here?

  1. It should be noted that my DNA shows zero Native American ancestry. Maybe the Native American was not a full blooded Sioux!

in Genealogy Help by
retagged by Liz Shifflett
Could you please tag this message with the surname(s) and or places. It will help identify your request for help. Thanks,

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I added some tags.

2 Answers

0 votes
Thank you Liz,


I am a member but did not understand the significance of tags.


Barry Moss
0 votes
by Jamie Nelson G2G6 Pilot (367k points)
Also in England in 1881 https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKX5-GGS8 so probably not the one in Nebraska in 1891.
Wild Bill Hickok died a year after William Constitine was born so 3 seems to be fiction. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Bill_Hickok
Here is Alice Webster on a passenger list from 1906 and if you look at the image it says W. C. Webster above her. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QJDF-N59L

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