Breaking Down a Brick Wall

William Evison and Sarah "Ellen" WickhamWhen I wrote the blog about my great grandparents, William Evison and Ellen Sarah Wickham , Ellen’s mother’s name was a mystery.

But, with the help of a Facebook friend, I was able to break down a brick wall and solve the mystery!!  What follows is the sequence of events of how that brick wall was built — and then broken down. ♥

According to the 1901 Census, Ellen Wickham was born on 19 Jul 1844 in Michigan.  So the first census that she would be listed in would be the 1850 Census.  Try as I might, I could not find that 1850 Census!!

1860 US Census - Alfred Wickham and FamilyBut I did find her in the 1860 Census 🙂  She was living with her father, Alfred, in Battle Creek, Michigan (USA) — along with her younger siblings: Almira, Elva, Alfred, Alden and Perry.  Alfred’s wife is not listed in the census, so I assumed that he was a widower.

But I had nagging doubts about whether this really was the family of “my” Ellen.  The Ellen in this census was only 14; my Ellen would have been 16 in 1860.  This Ellen was born in New York, but my Ellen was born in Michigan.

After an exhaustive search, I couldn’t find any other Ellen Wickham born in Michigan about 1844.  And I was re-assured that this was the correct family because Ellen named two of her sons, Alfred Perry and Alden, the same names as two of her brothers.

When I posted a link to the finished blog about William Evison and Ellen Wickham on my Facebook page, a friend asked me what Ellen’s mother’s name was — something I did not know. Luckily, my fb friend loves to solve a mystery and she found the “missing” 1850 Census!   The surname was written as “Hickham”, instead of “Wickham”.

1850 Census - Alfred and Nancy Wickham and familyAh ha!!  There was Ellen’s mother’s name.  It’s Nancy! And she was born in abt 1825 in New York.

A search on Ancestry yielded nothing else for a Nancy Wickham, born about 1825 in New York — so it was over to my other “go to” data base, familysearch.org.

1855 New York Census - Jonathan, Hannah and Nancy Wickham and familyVoilà!!!  I found Nancy in the 1855 Census, living with her children in Middlefield, Otsego, New York (USA), in the household of a Jonathan and Hannah Wickham.

Woo hoo!  Jonathan and Hannah are likely Nancy’s in-laws, Alfred’s parents!  So now I’ve moved back another generation in the Wickham family tree, back to my great, great, great, great grandparents, Jonathan and Hannah Wickham.

This census also gave me more important information about Ellen Wickham, my direct ancestor — that she was born in Columbia County, New York and that, along with her other siblings listed in the 1860 Census, she had a brother named Isaac.  But her age is only 9 years old.  If it were true that she was born in 1844, then her year of birth should be 1846, not 1844??

1855 New York Census - Alfred and Nancy WickhamOK, now I’ve found Alfred’s wife, his children and his parents, but where is Alfred?

Amazingly, familysearch.org also brought up an Alfred and Nancy Wickham living in St. Johnsville, Montgomery County, New York.

This is likely the correct Alfred and Nancy because the years of birth match with the previous documents that I’ve found.  But how could Nancy be living in two places?

If you look at the column titled, “years resident in this city or town” for Alfred and Nancy, it says that they’ve only been living there for one month.  The census was filled out on June 30, 1855.  When I looked at the other 1855 Census, it was filled out on the 20th of June!  So I would assume that what happened is that Alfred moved to St. Johnsville sometime before the 20th of June, leaving his wife and children with his parents.  Then between June 20th and June 30th, Nancy joined him, leaving her children behind with the in-laws until they were settled in St. Johnsville.

After all of this, two questions remained about Nancy Wickham:  what is her maiden name and when did she die?

Probate Notice - Alden AshleyI couldn’t find any documentation on Ancestry or familysearch for the death of a Nancy Wickham between 1855 and 1860, so I went over to my other favourite database, Old Fulton NY Postcards, looking for an obituary for Nancy.

Old Fulton NY Postcards is a collection of scanned newspapers from New York State. It has over 27,000,000 pages of information which is searchable!! When I searched for Nancy Wickham, I couldn’t believe my eyes when this came up!

OK–so it’s incredibly hard to read but the transcription says that this is the Probate notice for an Alden Ashley of Chatham, Columbia County, New York.  It was published in the Albany NY Journal in 1856.  In the notice, it lists the children of Alden Ashley — one of which is Nancy M Wickham, wife of Alfred S Wickham of Saint Johnsville, Montgomery County, New York!  Bingo!!

Now I know that Nancy’s maiden name is Ashley and that her father’s name is Alden.

Headstone - Rheuamy AshleyThe probate notice also lists all of Alden’s children, including the married names of his daughters.

When I entered the names into Ancestry, up popped a tree for a Brion Haley.  Brion is related to Albania Ashley Roberts, one of Alden’s daughters — and a sister to my direct ancestor, Nancy Ashley Wickham.

Yet  again, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at Brion’s tree in detail.  There was the name of Alden Ashley’s wife AND a photograph of her gravestone!!!

Alden’s wife’s name is Rheuamy and she is my great, great, great, great grandmother.  She died on 18 Sep 1869 and is buried in Association Cemetery, Sylvania, Lucas County Ohio (USA).  She was 81 years old when she died, so she was born in abt 1788.

So, with help from a fb friend, I now know the name of Alfred’s wife, Alfred’s parents and Nancy’s parents.  I’ll be writing more detailed blogs about each of them soon.

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One Response to Breaking Down a Brick Wall

  1. Pingback: Ashleys of America | In Search of My Ancestors

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