Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nancy P. Taylor, Fitting Together the Pieces to the Puzzle of Her Life

This past week I was reviewing some of my husband's ancestral lines and once again came upon Nancy P. Taylor, listed with the family of John B. and Elizabeth J. Taylor in We have a copy of the family bible page that lists the children of John and Elizabeth and there is no Nancy or even room for her in the family lineup. Their second son James D. was noted to have married a Nancy, so I felt pretty sure that is how she fit into the family.

On the 1880 Census in Ashland, Jackson county, Oregon the following family members are listed:  
            John Taylor            56        Head born in Ireland
            Elizabeth J. Taylor 51       Wife born in Ireland
            Andy Taylor           21        Son born in Pennsylvania
            Lizzie Taylor          20        Daughter born in Oregon
            Ellen Taylor           18        Daughter born in Oregon
            John Taylor            16        Daughter born in Oregon
            William Taylor       13       Son  born in Oregon
            Nancy P. Taylor      21        Widow born in Oregon
            Minerva Gearhart    17        Sister born in California   
Image Source: Year: 1880; Census Place: Ashland, Jackson, Oregon; Roll: T9_1081; Family History Film: 1255081; Page: 124.3000; Enumeration District: 55; Image: 0461. Accessed 30 May 2012.

I thought that Nancy might be the widow of James D., but he did not die until 1923 and that Minerva might be the sister of Nancy, not the head of household. Both girls list their parents as being born in Missouri. Nancy, under the heading of health conditions, is listed as having consumption; so maybe her sister was there to serve as her nurse during this sickness.

At I found their marriage record indexed as:

Oregon, Marriages, 1853-1935
Groom's Name:  James Taylor
Bride's Name:     Nancy Gearheart                   
Marriage Date:   31 Jan 1878   
Marriage Place:  , Lake, Oregon                                   
"Oregon, Marriages, 1853-1935," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 May 2012)

Then I looked in the 1870 Census for the family of Nancy and Minerva Gearheart and found the following living in Bald Hills, Humboldt, California:       

            John Gearheart             49         Born in Missouri
            Rachel Gearheart          42        Born in Missouri
            John Gearheart             26       
            William Gearheart        24       
            Isaac Gearheart            19       
            Liza Gearheart             13       
            Nancy Gearheart       13          Born in Oregon
            Sarah Gearheart           10       
            Menerva Gearheart     3          Born in Oregon
            Elizabeth Gearheart        6         
            Suzan Gearheart             2Source Citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: Bald Hills, Humboldt, California; Roll: M593_72; Page: 239A; Image: 480; Family History Library Film: 545571.
Accessed May 30, 2012.

Things just did not seem to add up with the known details. The two girls do appear to be sisters, but where was Nancy's husband. So, I went looking for James D. Taylor in the 1880 Census and found them living in Sprague River, Lake County, Oregon, the same county they were married in:

            James Taylor 27 Farmer born in PA, Parent's born in Ireland
            Nancy Taylor 21 Wife, Dead, born in Oregon, parents in Missouri/ KY
            Andrew Taylor  22  Boarder (Brother), Laborer, born in PA
Source Citation: Year: 1880; Census Place: Sprague River, Lake, Oregon; Roll: 1081; Family History Film: 1255081; Page: 199C; Enumeration District: 061; Image: 0611. Accessed May 30, 2012.

 I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that Nancy was listed in the occupation column as dead. The family death record for Nancy lists her date of death as June 18, 1880. She is listed in the cemetery records in Ashland as:
 Taylor Nancy P   1859 1880 Hill-Dunn
A picture of her headstone, with the correct dates, is found at

Then I took a careful look at when these districts were enumerated. The census for John A. and Elizabeth J. was taken on June 14, 1880, four days before her death. The census for James and Nancy Taylor was taken on June 28, 1880, ten days after her death. It is understandable that a distraught husband included his recently deceased wife in the census information. His brother Andrew was with his parents for the first census and then living with his brother for the second census.

Why was it so important to clarify the details of this young woman's life? Because she is currently listed incorrectly with the wrong family in new.familysearch and this needs to be corrected. Since another person submitted the original information, I provided her the details and requested that she make the appropriate changes. It does take a lot of pieces to put together the puzzle and clearly understand the family histories that we work on. In the end if the puzzle forms a clear picture of the person's life we have accomplished our goal. As we come to work more with others in collaborating on filling in the pieces of our puzzles, we need to be patient, understanding and willing to present a reasonably documented case for the final conclusions.

I hope you enjoy piecing together the pieces of your family history puzzles. Serendipity moments can be experienced as the pieces of the puzzles fit together when we encounter information in unexpected places.

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