52 Ancestors Week 16: Out of Place

+15 votes

imageReady for Week 16 of the 52 Ancestors challenge?

Please share with us a profile of an ancestor or relative who matches the week's theme. This week's sharing prompt:

Out of Place

From Amy Johnson Crow:

Did you ever find an ancestor in an unexpected place? I recently discovered that my 3rd-great-grandmother didn't die in the county where I found her in every census. Instead, I found her living 4 counties away from there -- in the county where I currently live. She's even buried here. (I'm still trying to figure out why.) Maybe you found an ancestor in a record you didn't expect (like finding a member of a pacifist religion serving in the Civil War). Or maybe there's an ancestor who always seemed "out of place" with the rest of the family.


Share below!

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in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)
edited by Eowyn Walker

64 Answers

+19 votes

This ancestor William Holman, probably always felt a bit out of place and obviously had itchy feet, never accepted as a son by his father, or by his step-father, he traveled around, was widowed, married again, traveled to Australia with his second wife, moved around Queensland a bit, and was accidentally drowned in Townsville Harbour in 1900. 


by David Urquhart G2G6 Pilot (155k points)

I've never heard wanderlust described as "itchy feet" - hear something new every day smiley

+20 votes

Most of my ancestors within the 2x Great-Grandparents and 3x Great-Grandparents bracket were immigrants (hello, New Zealand history!), but it is actually my great-grandfather Leonard Charles Utting that I find possessed the most wanderlust.

In 1902, Charlie was serving as a Seaman in the British Royal Navy aboard the HMS Archer. The Archer was serving on the Australia Station from 1900 to 1903, and in 1902 made a voyage to Wellington, New Zealand. 

According to the official documentation, Charlie was discharged from the Navy on December 9, 1902 in Wellington "at own request". The family story goes a little differently.

According to Charlie's daughter—my great-aunt, Betty—and my grandmother (his daughter in law), he and several of his shipmates "jumped ship" while the Archer was docked in New Zealand and were "overstayers". This wasn't an uncommon scenario in Australia and New Zealand at the time; anyone who was classed as an "overstayer" was classed as Missing at Sea by the Navy as they did not want to admit that their soldiers were deserting them. Most families presumed their sons to be dead, including Charlies.

Then came the Great War.

During this time period, the British military who were in Australia and New Zealand (even though Aus and NZ technically had their own military, they were all essentially British as both countries were still British colonies) announced that any "overstayers" in Aus and NZ would be granted citizenship if they enlisted to serve during the war. 

Charlie enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force as a Linesman in the 15th Reinforcements Wireless Section, and then the 2nd Wireless Corps on 11 July 1916 before being discharged due to illness contracted in Mesopotamia on 25 January 1918.

It was actually the announcement of his enlistment in British newspapers which alerted his family in Norwich that he was still alive. Following his service, he was granted New Zealand citizenship, and he passed away in Auckland on 25 September 1965.

by Amelia Utting G2G6 Pilot (189k points)
edited by Amelia Utting
Very interesting story!
+19 votes

How does someone born in 1881 in Ohio, end up marrying a young man in Yates Co. NY? This is not a huge out of place, but enough to make one question how it occurred.

After the divorce of her parents, Edna Helen Biddle was "placed" at the Sandusky County Ohio Infirmary (also used as a clearing house for children needing homes).  Records show that Edna Biddle age 9 b. 7/22/81 b. OH was admitted 11/11/1890 and dismissed 12/19/1890 by transfer to the Protestant Orphans Home in Cleveland. She was raised by the Frank Brown Family of Jerusalem Township, Yates County, NY.  Frank Brown's wife was Seth Bishop's sister Sarah.  They lived across the street from Seth and Lorinda Bishop parents of her future husband Clarence Bishop.

In the late 1800's the Cleveland Orphans Home had over 800 foster homes all over the eastern United States.  People interested in fostering children would usually become involved through their church.  And that's how a child from Ohio was raised in a household in NY.

by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+17 votes

My out of place -

My son’s maternal GGGmother Harriet Knight is not related to his paternal Knight  family even though we were told they were.


by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+16 votes
Out of Place?  Don't know if this counts but I'll give it a go.

So Jemima Price (Price-16574) is often claimed to be a Sutton.  But records show her maiden name was Price, just like her husband Samuel Price (Price-15983).  Samuel is often said to be the son of James Price (Price-16575) because they lived close to each other, but James had a son Samuel that is well documented in an old biography on him and his children.  Well once Jemima was found to be a Price I looked into James' census records and he had 2 older daughters not listed in his biography.  Therefore Samuel was really out of place and Jemima should have been contributed to James.
by Eric McDaniel G2G6 Mach 4 (40.9k points)
+27 votes

My ancestor George Jacob Donner survived the "Donner Party" of 1847 when he was just ten years old.  He suffered the loss his parents and most of his siblings to starvation.  I think he always felt out of place.  It was written about him in the Unfortunate Emigrants: Narratives of the Donner Party that "Jacob Donner's son George could never sit down to a large family meal; abundant food reminded him of the days when there was none."  Not surprising that he never wanted to talk about the ordeal.  His granddaughter told her granddaughter (my Mom) about what happened to the Donners but it was not something that was spoken about often.  He died young at the age of 37 from tuberculous.  

by Caryl Ruckert G2G6 Pilot (192k points)
What a terrible ordeal for a ten year old child to go through, and he would be old enough to remember.
A horrific ordeal, but so glad he not only survived but lived long enough to marry and have children.
Alex and Marion thanks for your replies.  I feel that same way.  I can't imagine the horror that he endured.  I am so grateful that he survived and did get to have a family to love and to be loved by.
What an amazing family you have been born into. They were survivors at all costs. I am sure that the movies and books cannot come close to telling the true story, or capture their honest feelings at the time.

I cannot, in my wildest imagination, begin to think of the ordeal that your family went through. As for George - the nightmares this poor child must have endured. It seems that he was well taken care of by John Henry Brown, and James Reed. Whether it was lucky or not, to be able to receive money from his father and get him started in life, was a blessing after all he had been through.

I have to say, that he does have a beautiful memorial stone for everyone to see now.

Thank you for sharing all of this information.

God Bless you and your family.
Thanks Cheryl.  You are so sweet.  Honestly,  I have a hard time watching some of the movies and documentaries that have been done on them. The one with Crispin Glover was OK and I like the "Dead of Winter" from 2015.  I can take a "cannibal" joke!  My great grandma was pretty sensitive about it (George's granddaughter). She was teased about it as a kid. She was a big woman of over 6' tall and she probably would deck you if you said anything bad about her family. ;)  Seriously though I am extremely proud of their ability to survive and very grateful to be a descendant.
I would have a difficult time taking a joke about it also. You have a right to be proud of their story. And I am glad that you are proud to be their descendant. Some might be ashamed to be related to them.

I am proud of you for watching the movies. I don't know if I would have been brave enough to.

God Bless you Caryl.
It is quite a profile you've put together for him - a fine tribute to him as a survivor and a true testament to what a great writer you are.

Looking forward to starting that magazine/journal!
+19 votes

My great grandfather Alvin Porter Long must have certainly felt out of place https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Long-12113# . He was born in Indiana in 1867, and when he was only 12 his father was shot and killed one evening crossing the Missouri River bridge. Alvin’s whereabouts is uncertain until he made the 1893 Lend Run for the Cherokee Strip. He knew nothing about farming, and became ill living all alone in Oklahoma Territory.  He was nursed back to health by a neighbor lady that he soon married. His children suspected that he was associated with horse thieves, as they could hear men and horses in the night that were gone in the morning. I can only guess that by being so out of place he survived anyway he could. 

by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Pilot (530k points)
+17 votes

My choice of ancestor this week is my grandmother Mary (Lawrence) Hawkes who was born in Edmonton, London, England but like many of her contemporaries was part of a family that had migrated to London from other parts of England as a result of industrialisation and urbanisation. Her father was from Upton cum Chalvey (now Slough), Buckinghamshire but his father had moved there from Hertfordshire. Her mother was from Kent but her father had moved there from Lincolnshire.
I am sure many people growing up in London's suburbs around that time felt out of place because none of their ancestors were originally from the area.

by Ray Hawkes G2G6 Mach 5 (51.9k points)
+15 votes

Robert Henderson, my Great Grand Uncle, was out of place when he died in Ireland.  This is despite the fact that he was born in Ireland and grew up there, but once he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister he and his wife spent their working life in India as missionaries.  All five of their daughters were born in India, and their only son was born on a rare trip back to Tralee, Ireland when Robert's wife was visiting her family.

Sadly, having survived disease and hardship in India in his working life, Robert died on a later return trip to Ireland, where he drowned swimming in the sea at a seaside resort.  By that point in his life he had been living in India for thirty one years, so Ireland was no longer his home.

by Linda Hawkes G2G6 Mach 3 (37.6k points)
+15 votes

I have ambiguous information about my  Great grandfather, Peter Mahoney 's father.  Based on the fact that he and his brothers emigrated from Ireland in the 1850's and their mother, my  Great Great Grandmother, is shown in the 1860 as having emigrated from Ireland, it does not make sense that a newspaper clipping I have shows him as having been in Norwood, MA in 1840.

by Sally Mahoney G2G6 Mach 3 (38.4k points)
+19 votes

I grew up knowing that my dad's family, both maternal and paternal, was from Washington County, Ohio.  As a child, I remember going to a Thorniley family reunion at a house on the Ohio River near Marietta.  But I don't remember ever getting together with his Irwin side.  As I discovered when I began doing genealogy, the Irwins were not from Ohio, originally... they were from Hillsdale, in Indiana County, Pa.   The ONLY member of the family who left Indiana County was my Great-Grandfather, Robert Bruce Irwin.  He was "out of place" in Ohio, especially since he had married a girl who was also from Indiana County, Sarah Trimble. So I set about to discover WHY they left Indiana County.
To make a very long story short, putting together numerous records (census, birth, court, marriage) told the story:  Bruce and Sarah had an illegitimate child in 1877, (and Bruce ALSO had an illegitimate child with a different woman in 1878).  In 1879, Bruce had pulled a revolver on Sarah's mother when she would not allow him into their family home where Sarah and the baby were living. Shortly after, in 1880, Bruce was found living in a boarding house in WVa, and Sarah was living in a boarding house one county away from Indiana, while their child, Emma, remained in the old family home with the grandparents.  They married in Indiana County in 1882, and apparently moved to Ohio shortly afterwards, where their next child was born in 1884.   Emma never moved to Ohio, and remained with her grandparents in Pennsylvania, where she married, raised her children, and died.  I guess, in a sense, she was "out of place", too, since she did not grow up with her siblings.  I don't know if she even KNEW those siblings.  Wish I had known all this when my grandmother was alive.  I would have asked her all about what she knew...... it would have made for some very uncomfortable conversations, I'm sure.  LOL

by Lynn Bensy G2G6 Mach 2 (20.6k points)
edited by Lynn Bensy
This is a fabulous story about Bruce and Sarah, and they must have loved each other to move away from their families.
It's a cinch they had enough of their own "stuff" to deal with.  I guess by moving away to a get fresh start, they at least eliminated the "family" conflict.
+13 votes

Is Frances Ford Coppola available? Asking for a friend: https://arlhaverhill.blogspot.com/2019/04/52-ancestors-week-16-out-of-place.html

Summary: I found Jeremiah Felker living with his mom, step-father and half-sister in the 1850 census under the name Jeremiah Miles. Not Felker. He then changed his name BACK to Felker before he fought in the American Civil War. Didn't expect to find him there. More details at the link.

by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (519k points)
+18 votes

For 'Out of Place' I am nominating every ancestor that appears on two OR MORE census records!

Most recently discovered, my uncle Wallace was living with his sister and her toddler, but accidentally enumerated in the 1940 Census as husband and wife. Next door is another sister and her husband. In addition, Wallace is also counted on the same census, just a couple precincts over, with his mother and siblings. 

Once you find someone on a census, you think, 'alright, I've got this record, let's move on.' That just isn't always the case, however. This particular discovery was totally by accident as I was looking for the married sister next door and saw her neighbors had her family name. Upon further inspection, I realized who this "couple" was - not a couple at all, but brother and sister! 

by Patricia Ferdig G2G6 Mach 3 (34.0k points)

I had that happen too! Jean Ross was enumerated twice in 1880! 

+15 votes
My husband's great grandfather Frederick Stevens was born in Iowa in 1864. His mother died when he and his siblings were young children. His father Martin remarried a woman named Mary Ellen Stinson and they had 5 children together. The step mother hated Martin's other children and they weren't even allowed to eat at the same table. Often treated like Cinderella in the fairy tale.
When Fred was 13 his father took him and a team of mules to a small river island he owned near Platteville and told him to grow some corn. He was left alone and had to catch his own fish to eat or survive on the growing corn. In the fall, when he returned home he found that his sister Clara had been taken to Omaha and left because the step mother Mary Ellen was done with her. Clara was 11. Some random family took here in and let her live in their laundry room and do their laundry. At that time Fred left his family and walked to Omaha and searched for her. Once found, he worked for a bricklayer as a 'hob carrier'. Fred rented a small shack and took care of Clara.

Fred's sister Evie was left with their grandparents as she was only 6 years old when he and Clara were dropped off.

Later it was said that Mary Ellen didn't care for the children because their mother was an Indian.

I'm sure they felt out of place in the new family dynamic and it would have eventually driven them away if they hadn't been left behind first.
by Julie Novak G2G6 Mach 1 (10.4k points)
I'm not diggin' Mary Ellen.
It is astonishing to see the treatment of poor motherless and/or fatherless orphans. I've seen it both ways, where the mother or father remarries and the new spouse drives out the children from the previous marriage. You'd think at least the father could put his foot down and prevent it, but all too often they did nothing to stop it! I've seen censuses where the eldest sister has married some man much older than her, and has her younger siblings living with them. Sadly, I suspect some of these marriages were more out of desperation than love; a pretty young lady marrying the first man who offers to house and feed her and her siblings.

My great-grand aunt Mary McFatter Westrope murdered all her young children in 1902 (a very tragic and shocking crime) and when she was apprehended, her rationale was that she had become consumed with fear of her children being orphaned and subjected to cruel treatment. Obviously, her mind became deranged, resulting in her crimes, but this all-consuming fear had come from somewhere.
WOW!  Jessica, that's a tragically HORRIBLE story.  I looked her up. How awful!! I am just speechless................
That’s so sad! I certainly don’t think much of their father who allowed his new wife to treat his first born children in such a horrible way, and then he did the same. You can be proud that the “forgotten” children were survivors.
Lynn, yes, it was very tragic. That entire McFatter branch had a lot of issues. One cousin was in a mental institution her entire adult life, and Mary's nephew (my grandfather) murdered a man in 1926. I really wonder if there was hereditary schizophrenia or some other condition causing psychosis in this line. Mary definitely had a psychotic break when she killed her children; at first, she couldn't remember having done it, and then when she realized what had happened, she killed herself at her first opportunity.
+14 votes

My out of place person was actually my husband's grandfather. (It seems I'm always finding ways of putting him "in place", but I digress.)  

William Arthur Shaules seems to have been out of place with his birth family. In the 1870 US Census and the 1871 Canadian census (when he was 5-6 years old) he was living with his paternal grandfather and his wife. From the history we have been able to stitch together, he remained with his grandfather until his death in 1878 (when William was about 13). He was then sent back (or went back) to his natural parents. But that did not last for long as we find him in the Detroit House of Corrections when he was 15 years old for "simple larceny". After he was released from there he "went West" never having any further contact with his Michigan family. He was not a real criminal, and there is some speculation that the larceny may have been a family situation. But whatever it was, William led an exciting and adventurous life after leaving Michigan. But he was so "out of place" with his family that he told the children with his 2nd wife that he had been "found on the doorstep" and raised by strangers. The only reason we have any record of his childhood years and family is because of the persistence of one of his daughters and his grandchildren.

by Robin Shaules G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+13 votes

My mothers' maternal grandfather, George Ferris Anderson.

We knew him as Robert Harrison and that he was born in Virginia!

Recently broke through this brick wall after finding out he was going by a different name. His birthplace was actually Indiana! It was surprising to find matches to him through AncestryDNA.

by Azure Robinson G2G6 Pilot (262k points)
+14 votes

Moses Cass was clearly a very straight-laced, proper sort from Connecticut when he served in the American Revolution.  Bryan Cass posted a 1776 letter Moses sent to his wife from Fort George online (the site was on RootsWeb; the letter was also printed in The American Genealogist (article by Mrs. Gertrude Howard Smith) and can be viewed here), which, in addition to being a lovely missive from husband to wife, indicates that one thing in particular made him feel particularly out of place: "...the most that troubles me is the Continual Cursing and Swearing of the Pensylvany men which I very much hate to hear..."

by K. Anonymous G2G6 Pilot (129k points)
edited by K. Anonymous
+12 votes

My "out of place" ancestral line is through my 2nd Great Grandmother Olive Pillsbury Traver. Most of my ancestors settled in northeast Tennessee or western North Carolina before of soon after the Revolutionary War. Olive, however, was born in Vermont in 1867. Her father, John Joshua Traver, was born and lived most of his life near the border of New York and Connecticut. His father, himself, and his brothers were furnace men and moved from New York to Maryland - where he enlisted in the Union Army in 1862. After the war he traveled to Vermont, where he met and married Sarah Adeline Hodges in 1866. The family moved south to Greene County, Tennessee where Addie died in August 1869 soon after the birth of her second child. Olive told the story that her father hired someone to look after the baby, but it didn't survive. 

For awhile after her mother's death Olive lived with her step-grandfather Isaac Pillsbury in Vermont. Her father remarried and eventually he went back to Duchess County, New York and had a second family there. Olive married John Madison Smith in Carter County, Tennessee. 

The interesting connection to Olive is according to my research, her line through her maternal grandfather goes all the way back to Elder John Strong - one of the early settlers in Northampton, Massachusetts. I made this discovery just before my daughter graduated from UMass Amherst. So I was able to take my mother and aunt visiting from Tennessee to see the grave of their 10th Great Grandfather in Bridge Street Cemetery, Northampton - only 16 miles from where I now live. 

by Emily Holmberg G2G6 Pilot (118k points)
+12 votes
How about some distant-ish cousins of mine, the poor orphans of Andrew J. McFatter. His profile: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/McFatter-51

He died in 1862, leaving five children ranging in age from about eleven to an infant. The elder two where from his first marriage to Eliza Jane McCoy; young William R. and Eliza were both total orphans. The younger three boys (Daniel Riley, John Niven, and Andrew Jr.) were from his second marriage to Elmira Caroline Rasberry.

Elmira quickly remarried to Samuel G. Brown, a man with several children of his own, and they can be found on the 1870 Holmes co. MS census with his older children and their young children together... but minus her McFatter children and stepchildren. Instead of creating a sort of 19th century Brady Bunch, four of the five McFatter children were sent to live with a paternal aunt, Martha McFatter Doyle.

Daniel is nowhere to be found on the 1870 census. He does reappear on the 1880 Montgomery co. MS census, living with a family of Andersons, presumably as hired help. Two doors down is his eldest brother, William, and his own young family. Daniel and John Niven would head out west to Texas; John Niven became a lawman and Daniel farmed. As for Eliza, the only girl, I can find no evidence of her after the 1870 census. She doesn't seem to have married and appears on no further censuses, so I suspect she died in her tender years. The youngest, Andrew Jr., is the only one I find associating with his mother. He's living her household in 1900, along with his two Brown half-brothers and an adopted sister. He became a businessman and lived in New Orleans until his health failed. He died in the home of his half-brother, Edgar Brown, with his brother William's widow at his side.

As for William, he married and raised a family in Mississippi. He was a schoolteacher in 1880, and his cousin Lewis Doyle is living with his family (the son of the aunt Martha who took them in when they were orphaned).
by Jessica Key G2G6 Pilot (221k points)
+10 votes

I wrote about some out of place photos that eventually let me to a new branch of the family:


by Janelle Weir G2G6 Mach 4 (49.5k points)

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