Amy Johnson Crow introduced the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge on her No Story Too Small blog in 2014. This year she continued the challenge, but also added a weekly theme. This week the theme was: Oops. An ancestor who made an “oops,” or one that you made while researching one of them. (We’ve all done it, believe me!).
Although I’m sure my ancestors made plenty of “oopses” in their time, none spring to mind. So, I’ve decided to write about one of my own.
I decided to write about the mistake I made for the eldest son of my 3x great grandfather, Garrett John Russell. The earliest information I had for the family was Garrett’s death certificate, which listed his eldest son as Charles Edward Russell. Since Garrett, and his son (my 2x great grandfather Thomas Henry Russell) had come to Australia from Cork, in Ireland, I had assumed the rest of the family came to Australia as well, so I looked for entries on the birth, death and marriage indexes in Victoria for the family.
I had found birth entries for the children of a Charles Russell and Mary Ann McLev(e)y in Smythesdale. Smythesdale is not far from where Garrett was living at Buninyong, so this seemed to me to be a likely candidate as Garrett’s son.
There was one glitch: I hadn’t found an entry for a Charles Russell, son of Garrett John Russell and Susan Greene, on the death indexes. Garrett’s death certificate had listed the following children:
- Charles Edward age 37
- Martin age 35
- John William age 34
- Thomas Henry age 33
- Susanna Maria age 28
- Edward age 25
- Robert Frederick age 23
- Francis Richard age 21
I was able to find the rest of his sons on the death indexes:
- Martin Bedford Russell died 1883 at Shurst, age 42, father Garrett Jno mother Susan Green, registration no 12540
- Thos Hy Russell died 1892 at Hoth E, age 48, father Garrett Jno, mother Susan Greene registration no 14162
- Edw Russell died 1898 at Newstead, age 46, father Garrett Jno, mother Susan Green registration no 9079
- Robert Fredk Russell died 1917 at Hawthorn, age 64, father Garrett Jno mother Unknown registration no 5081
- Francis Richd Russell died 1918 at Melb E, age 63, father Garrett Jno mother Susan Green registration no 5913
- Jno Wm Russell died 1924 at B Marsh age 82, father Garrett, mother Susan Green, registration no 12746
But there was no entry for Charles. Of course, the best way to have found out whether the Charles who married Mary Ann McLevy was Garrett’s son would have been to obtain the marriage certificate, but the cost of obtaining certificates meant I put off doing that. Searching newspapers was also a more time consuming process at that time. Without a specific date within a year as a guide, I didn’t relish going through all the papers for a whole year. At this time, I tended to only use newspapers for death notices, where I could use death and burial date from cemetery indexes. So, I left Charles and Mary in my tree.
It wasn’t until 2001, when I was contacted by a distant cousin, that I found out that Charles had not come to Australia with the rest of the family. Another branch of the family had letters that Charles had written to the family in Australia, which gave information about his time in the army in Britain, and later when he became a minister like his father, and lived in England with his family. This meant I now had to prune off that incorrect information, and add the correct information instead. I also learned that Charles had used two different middle names during his life: on his father’s death certificate he was listed as Charles Edward Russell, but on his mother’s death certificate he was listed as Charles Martin Russell.
In 2001, I still had limited access to overseas records, so it has taken a while to find records to confirm the information sent to me, as well as find additional records for the family. I still haven’t found Charles’s death, although I think he died in Argentina.