Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What happened to "them"?

English: View into Depot Town in Ypsilanti, MI...
English: View into Depot Town in Ypsilanti, MI, from the Cross St bridge over the Huron River, looking down Cross Street to the River St intersection and beyond. This was taken in October 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I knew something had happened to them. At first I thought the "them" was made up of three, then after finding the youngest of the "them" alive and well as a married adult, I sighed with relief.

Only 2 of "them" missing.

I've written about the name "Alice" being used in my family before. My Gran and her mother, my "Boo", were both named Alice, and I have some cousins named Alice as well. So when I traced back Boo's father, Daniel Rook Vaughan, to the 1850 census and found him with his parents, Benjamin Brown & Susanna Vaughan, and his 2 sisters, Prudence and Alice, I thought to myself, "Huh. So this is the Alice whom everyone is named after." {The Alice who my daughter wishes I had named her after.} {And Vyla's -- one of my Boo's younger sisters -- middle name is Prudence.}

By the 1860 census, part of the family seems to fall off the grid. Daniel is living with his grandmother, Margaret Barbara Rook, a couple of aunts, and an uncle there in Ypsilanti. His older sister Prudence is living across the border in Ohio with a family that seemingly has no connection to her {I've looked. But don't you go look because I'm not done trying to figure it out. I'm stubborn like that.}, but she's about 18 miles from her uncle, her father's brother -- Harmon Vaughan.

No Benjamin. No Susanna. No Alice.

Or so I thought. I did some census voodoo and traced all of the people named Alice I could find born in Michigan in about March of 1850 with a mother born in New York and a father born in Canada. {On the 1850 census, they list her age in months.} And I found one who seemed to move around a bit because she was married to a preacher -- an aptly named man by the name of Almond Parsons --  who must have traveled a circuit of some kind in lower Michigan where Ypsilanti is located. After skippity-doo-dahing across southern Michigan, they settle in Kalamazoo, Michigan {which is almost as fun to say as Ypsilanti, Washtenaw, Michigan where Alice was born}. Finally, she is found in the 1940 census living with her daughter Nellie and family at the age of 90, and Alice Barbara Parsons passes away 4 years later in 1944. I did discover her and the Reverend's other child as well, but I'll save that story for another day. {I'm evil like that.}

So I found Alice. {Of course, that begs the question, "Who was this Alice named after?" A relative, a friend, a pet cat? I'll keep my suspicions to myself for now.}

But what happened to Benjamin Brown & Susanna (Rook) Vaughan -- Prudence's, Daniel's, and Alice's parents? I consulted The History of Ypsilanti by Harvey C. Colburn at The Clayton {Amy Coffin's nickname for the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research}, and in it I found the Hawkins family mentioned. This was an important clue because my fourth great-grandfather's second wife in Ypsilanti was a Hester A. Hawkins and they live near a Hawkins family in Ypsilanti in a couple of censuses. {And Ypsilanti is a wee town -- then and now.} I then found a John Vaughan mentioned in the book as a vestry member and as a sexton for St. Luke's Episcopal Church there in Ypsilanti which is still open today. {In fact, I started following the church's Facebook Page because there's something about following your 4th great grandparent's church on Facebook, especially since I'm Episcopalian too.}

Finding a John Vaughan mentioned as a member of the Episcopalian Church was another important clue because I had already found Benjamin's baptismal record near Iberville, Quebec in Anglican records in Caldwell's Manor (Foucault) and Christie's Manor (Noyan) naming his parents as John T. & Prudence (Brown) Vaughan. I knew my John had been an Anglican/Episcopalian. Had he remained in the same denomination after they immigrated to America?

So I emailed St. Luke's and asked where their church records for the 1800s were archived, and they said they were located at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. So I had a look-see at their website and found, at the time, all lookups needed to be in person. Then I checked the catalog on, but they hadn't been filmed. So I put it off, and then picked the trail back up when I decided to apply for Daughter's of the American Revolution membership and United Empire Loyalist membership through Daniel's maternal and paternal lines, respectively. At the same time. {There's just something about a Civil War musician's mother's line being a Patriot line and his father's line being a Loyalist line, no?}

I thought perhaps I'd need to hire someone to go through those church records because I couldn't figure out how to convince my family that a family vacation to Michigan was a fabulous idea. They tend to like the Gulf Coast beaches in the summer. Go figure.

But then I checked again -- about two years later -- and found they'd been filmed. Well, at least the parish records containing baptisms, confirmations, burials, etc., had been filmed. The vestry minutes have not been filmed. But a girl can't be picky, right? {And all of  this is why I don't really think I have too many research brick walls. Many times -- for one reason or another -- I just haven't looked everywhere yet.}

So I ordered/rented the film for St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Ypsilanti, Michigan from the FHL {Family History Library} and had it sent to my local library, MCML, {My nickname for the Montgomery County Memorial Library System.}, which recently became an affiliate of the FHL. 

Had my 4th great grandfather, John T. Vaughan, been on the vestry at St. Luke's? Had he and his family worshiped there? Had Daniel been baptized there? More importantly, would I finally have my answers to what happened to my 3rd great grandparents, Benjamin Brown & Susanna (Rook) Vaughan?

Would my answers be on that microfilm roll tucked in a little white box?

Would I find out what happened to "them"?


Note: Sources available upon request because if you think we're related, then contact me and we'll figure it out together. My email is up at the top of this blog page sort of on the right side in the Nav Bar.
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  1. So John, then Benjamin, then Daniel. Maybe. Including a move from Quebec to Ypsilanti, Michigan. You are using lots of good "hunches" plus thorough research. I hope the microfilm pays off! (Once when I ordered microfilm, I found many generations of family named in church minutes for a 100-year period.)

    Suspense! I'm waiting to see what happens in your story.

    So many of my ancestors seem to be Episcopalian, too. But so far, no surname matches with yours.

    Very thoughtful post. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Mariann! It's been fun researching it and discovering their story!

      And thanks for following along! =)


  2. The Bentley is within an hour of here. My daughter lives in Kalamazoo. There is a chance I could help with these records if needed, but timing might not be immediate. Love to hear about these border searches, since I have ancestors who didn't know whether they lived in New York or Vermont. Or perhaps they moved over and back a lot!

    1. Thanks GrannyPam! Let me see where I'm at and then I'll let you know. Thanks for the offer!

      And thanks for stopping by ~ I appreciate it! =)



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