How likely is it that this child in the 1850 census is the famous James A. Bailey?

+3 votes
79 views

I was looking at the profile for James A Bailey of the Barnum & Bailey circus and realized that his mother might appear in the 1850 census.

James A. Bailey was born James Anthony McGinnis in 1847 in Detroit, Michigan.  His father died when he was two and he became an orphan when his mother died when he was eight.  This would place her death in about 1855.

So I went looking in the 1850 census in Detroit and Wayne County and I noticed a household where the head of household was a woman rather than a man.  Her name was Hanna McGinnis, born about 1810 in Ireland.  There are four McGinnis children listed, the older three born in New York, the youngest born in Michigan.

That youngest child is named James.  According to the census he was five years old, putting his birth year around 1845.  I've seen enough strange census records that don't quite tell the absolute truth about the people in them to believe that this might be James A. Bailey himself, with his mother as head of household.

https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MF85-JN4

This is the Census record in question.  Please look it over and give your opinions on it.  Is it plausible that this Hanna McGinnis is the mother of the famous James A. Bailey of Barnum & Bailey?

Any other additional research is also greatly appreciated.

Edit: I am creating profiles for Hanna McGinnis and her other children.  Please feel free to contribute if you want.  Please do not create a duplicate profile for James McGinnis, as I am still working on whether or not it is the same person as James A Bailey.

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Unknown-448740

WikiTree profile: James A. Bailey
asked in Genealogy Help by D. Botkin G2G6 Mach 2 (24k points)
edited by D. Botkin

New York Times mentions that he was one of four brothers

https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1906/04/12/101773989.pdf

Wow, that makes this even more likely to be true!
The article you linked mentions that his last surviving brother died in January before James did, so January of 1906.

I found an Edward McGinnis who is buried in Detroit who died in January 1906, with a photo of his death certificate present.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/90204438/edward-mcginnis

It names his parents as Edward McGinnis and Hann?? Kenna.

The source that N. Gauthier left in his answer is for an Edward McGinnis who died in Detroit in 1849, the year before the 1850 census.

What do you think about this?
the link for Hanna McGinnis doesn't work ... maybe because there is a space between the forward slashes / /

1 Answer

+2 votes
I lean toward it.

His father is supposed to have left an estate of $20,000, so there might be something in Wills & probate.

Found a death record for persons who died between 01 June 1849 to 01 June 1850. Might be his father and I wonder if we can reference the mortality schedule with the census household ?

* 1850 USA Census Mortality Schedules in Detroit, Wayne, Michigan; on ancestry.com citing NARA#T1163; roll#1; p1073; line#29 for Edward McGinnis, b: c1799 Ireland, occ: labourer, d: Jul 1849 @50 of cholera

https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=8756&h=188420&indiv=try&o_vc=Record:OtherRecord&rhSource=1561
answered by N. Gauthier G2G6 Mach 3 (33.2k points)
edited by N. Gauthier
Can you send a link to that webpage please?  I can log in to Ancestry once I'm there.  I think we're on to something.
The article RJ Horace linked in his comment mentions that James' last surviving brother died in the January before James did, so January of 1906.

I found an Edward McGinnis who is buried in Detroit who died in January 1906, with a photo of his death certificate present.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/90204438/edward-mcginnis

It names his parents as Edward McGinnis and Hann?? Kenna.

The source that you gave is for an Edward McGinnis who died in Detroit the year before the 1850 census, where Hanna McGinnis is the head of household.

What do you think about this?
Yea I saw that but what stopped me is that it says he was born in Canada, where the 1850 census says he was born in New York state. Even given that, I now lean towards it being connected.

I wonder if the son "Herm" on the 1850 Detroit census who was born in NY state, could be Hiram ? I found a Hiram McGinnis on the 1850 census of New York and wonder if he could be a brother of Edward McGinnis who died in 1849.

https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=8054&h=8661511&tid=&pid=&usePUB=true&_phsrc=bHO407&_phstart=successSource

There is also a possible father Hiram McGuinis buried in New York state ...

https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/20906/dvm_LocHist006994-00046-1/86?backurl=&ssrc=&backlabel=Return

Of course these are just leads that need research work.
Unfortunately I am not a paid member of Ancestry so I can't see your links.  Could you describe them to me?  I know that sounds odd but I'd be grateful.
1850 USA Census of Marbletown, Ulster, New York; on ancestry.com citing NARA# M432_607; image#353 p173B; family#279 included ...
37 Hiram McGinnis, b: c1813 NY
41 Hannah McGinnis
23 Louisa Shute
19 Mariah Tahoon
20 Caroline Wood
25 Michael Kerney.

===

Old gravestones of Ulster County, New York :

twenty-two-thousand inscriptions

Town of Marbletown

78. Mason, Theodore, of Brooklyn.
79. McGuinis, Esther, dau. of James and Elizabeth, Oct. 12, 1838, 29-0-6.
80. McGuinis, Hiram, Nov. 14, 1808, 1-1-8;
81. Sophia, July 25, 1829, 3-2-8: Children of Isaac and Elizabeth.
82. McGuinis, Isaac, May 20, 1839, 55-4-8.
83. McGuinis, James, Feb. 14, 1858, 77-5-19.
84. McGuinis, Elizabeth Bartholmew, w. of James, Oct. 13, 1785, Mar. 19, 1865.
85. McGuinis, Jane W., dau. of James and Mary, Dec. 11, 1844, 4-2-3.
86. McGuinis, William, A native of Ireland, Aug. 3, 1811, 77-9-8.
87. McGuinis, Elizabeth Barris, w. of William, Aug. 13, 1841, 96 yrs.
88. Meade, Juliet E., dau. of Malcolm W. and Lura, Dec. 13, 1839, 3-7-11.

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