Ah, those elusive ancestors can cause a great deal of anxiety when we are trying to put together a family group sheet. With persistence and knowledge of record availability, they can be found. For example, consider the interesting case of Lovina Heck.
William and Sarah Ann Heck lived in Berks County, Pennsylvania, with their five children: Hester, Elias, Jacob, Sarah Tansom, George, Lovina and Samuel Michael. William generally worked as a day laborer, finding employment when it was available. Sarah Ann died in her early forties, leaving William to raise the children. About five years after Sarah’s death, William died in 1879 at the age of fifty-one. At the time of William’s death, Samuel Michael was the only minor child. What happened to the children after the deaths of their parents?
Hester married late in life to Jacob Ely in 1890 and had no children. Elias married and became the father of five children. Jacob and his younger brother Samuel Michael died in prison in the 1880s. Sarah Tamson married Levi Conrad; they farmed in Alsace Township, Berks County. George, who lived in Lebanon County most of his life, married twice and had one child. So, what happened to Lovina?
The obituary for Elias revealed that Lovina had married an individual with the surname of Anthony and moved to St. Louis, Missouri. But, what was the full name of her husband and did she have any children?
Berks County marriage indexes, which begin in 1885, did not indicate a marriage for a Lovina Heck married to an Anthony. Numerous census records were searched, trying many combinations, with the same negative results. Since the information listed St. Louis as her residence, a search of the Missouri death index was conducted again with negative results. It was time to move on to another problem.
Some years later, while searching church records for a marriage record, I came across an 1879 record of marriage for Franklin Sylvester Anthony to “Laura” Heck. Could this Laura be the elusive Lovina?
Census searches for the 1880, 1900, 1910 and 1920 revealed that Franklin and Laura lived in Pennsylvania, then in Chatham County, Georgia, next in Anderson County, Texas, and finally back in Pennsylvania. While each census year never had the same exact information, one thing helped to identify this couple, Franklin’s occupation. He had worked as a mechanic for the railroad all those many years. But, it was still not known if Laura and Lovina was the same person.
Property records revealed that in October 1920 the widower Franklin sold his house. Since Laura was listed in the January 1920 census, this meant that she had died between January and October of 1920. The estate index revealed that Franklin had died on 2 June 1922. His obituary listed where he was buried and that his wife had died a few years earlier. The records for the cemetery where Franklin was buried are not online, nor could they be found in any repository. There was nothing left to do but search the 1920 newspaper day by day. By searching the death notices for every third day, I found the obituary for Laura Anthony, and it listed as her surviving siblings, Hester Ely, Sarah Conrad and George Heck. Laura indeed was Lovina.