When you set the theme for a blogging challenge as “Plowing Through,” you might be tempted to focus on a farmer in the family tree. That’s what I had in mind when I set that as the theme for Week 5 of 52 Ancestors. However, I discovered an ancestor for whom I have just plowed through with my research… and missed clues along the way.
Mary Vaughn, my 4th great-grandmother, married John McKitrick in Belmont County, Ohio on 25 September 1836.1)John McKitrick and Mary Vaughn marriage, Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997, FamilySearch.org; digitized image of Belmont County, Ohio marriage volume 4, page 255. In 1850, John was living in Monroe County, Ohio; Mary was not in the household.2)John McKitrick household, 1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Franklin Twp., Monroe County, Ohio, p. 483b, nos. 183/183.
In 1979, Fred L. McKitrick published The McKitricks and Roots of Ulster Scots (Baltimore: Gateway Press). In it, he discounts some earlier McKitrick works and gives at least some specific documentation. He states that Mary died 25 April 1850 and is buried in Mt. Tabor M.E. Cemetery.3)Fred L. McKitrick, The McKitricks and Roots of Ulster Scots (Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1979), p. 94.
Here’s the part that I plowed right through. If Mary died in April 1850, she should be on the 1850 Mortality Schedule. True confession time: I didn’t look for it until this week. <facepalm>
Sure enough, Mary “McKiterick” is listed in Franklin Township, Monroe County, Ohio.4)Mary McKiterick, 1850 U.S. Census, mortality schedule, Franklin Twp., Monroe County, Ohio, not paginated. She was 32 years old, female, born in Maryland, and died in April (1850). Her cause of death is listed as “unknown” and the length of illness, “sudden.”
Ohio did not keep civil death records in 1850, so there is little chance that I will be able to determine what killed Mary at such a young age. However, I do have a theory. Living with John in the 1850 census was 2-month-old Mary. Although the census was actually taken on 21 October 1850, it appears that the census taker did his job correctly and recorded the information as of the official census date of 1 June 1850. If so, baby Mary was born in late March or early April 1850. My theory is that the “sudden” unknown illness that killed 32-year-old Mary was complications from childbirth.
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|1.||↑||John McKitrick and Mary Vaughn marriage, Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997, FamilySearch.org; digitized image of Belmont County, Ohio marriage volume 4, page 255.|
|2.||↑||John McKitrick household, 1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Franklin Twp., Monroe County, Ohio, p. 483b, nos. 183/183.|
|3.||↑||Fred L. McKitrick, The McKitricks and Roots of Ulster Scots (Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1979), p. 94.|
|4.||↑||Mary McKiterick, 1850 U.S. Census, mortality schedule, Franklin Twp., Monroe County, Ohio, not paginated.|
Impressive research and deduction! Thank you for sharing this.
Oh! (Did you just see the light bulb that went off above my head?!) I always make sure to note when the census was taken as written at the top of the page, but never, ever considered that the census taker was asking about information at a certain point in time. [sigh] I feel like I should have known that after 30 years of searching. One certainly does learn something new everyday! Thank you for pointing that out so clearly.
Your lightbulb looks a lot like mine did when I realized I hadn’t looked for Mary in the 1850 mortality schedule! You’re smart to note the date the census was actually taken. Although the enumerators were supposed to record the info as of the official census date, they didn’t always. It’s good to have the “recorded” date in mind, too.
That actually helps to explain why information may have been erroneous when asking about how old someone was on a previous date, especially if they were talking to someone other than the actual heads of the household.
I have found a few of my family members on the mortality schedules, but it is likely I’ve missed some, too! Thanks for this reminder to watch those dates of death.
Ohhh … I have a lightbulb above my head, too! Now I’m plowing back through to check dates on one of my female ancestors who died “suddenly” and left a youngster behind. Thanks for waking my brain up!