Conflicting information from original documents can be troublesome, which means it is always wise to use more than one document when proving family connections. Take the case of Bessie Endy. Or, was she Bessie Laing?
According to her baptism record, Bessie was born on 5 July 1882 in Berks County, Pennsylvania, to John and Emma Endy. The record of her marriage to Charles Robishaw in 1917 also verified that Bessie’s parents were John and Emma. Although Bessie never appears with her parents on census records, I was perfectly content to believe that Bessie was the daughter of John and Emma.
At some point Bessie and her husband moved to Mt. Vernon, Ohio. While trying to identify death information for Bessie, I came across a funeral record for Josephine Laing. Listed on the record was Mrs. Charles Robishaw, identified as a child of Josephine. I knew that Josephine was the sister of John Endy, which means she would be Bessie’s aunt. But, why was she listed as a child of Josephine? To make matters more confusing, Josephine’s obituary listed Bessie as her child. At this point I had two records which identified Bessie as John and Emma’s child and two records which listed Josephine as her mother. It was time to do more research concerning Josephine and her husband.
Thomas Laing was identified as the husband of Josephine. Unfortunately, Thomas died in 1912 after a long illness. His will and probate records listed Bessie as a Laing and an Endy. It was his obituary which shed light on the parents of Bessie. The last two lines of the obituary stated, “He is survived by his widow, Josephine (nee Endy), and two adopted daughters, Bessie and Sallie.
While this bit of information cleared up the question of Bessie’s parentage, why was she adopted? As mentioned earlier, Bessie was born in 1882 and both of her parents were alive. Her father died in 1913 when she is thirty-one. She was the third of eight children. Did John and Emma feel there were too many mouths to feed? Did Bessie go to assist her aunt with housework? Was Bessie a difficult child? Thomas and Josephine had no children of their own, so did John and Emma let them borrow a child?
The questions may never be answered, but the use of multiple records helped establish the real parentage of Bessie.