Category Archives: Blyther

A Thought About Missing Marriage Records

Recently, I have read several family stories where the writer commented that he/she has been unable to find a marriage record, but that the couple in question married “before (whatever year), when their first child was born.”

I’d like to share three examples of having to spread the parameters far and wide when searching for marriage records in my own family history journey.

1. FamilySearch has now indexed baptismal and marriage records for Copenhagen, Denmark, but just a few years ago, I had to do the same search by hand, reading rolls of microfilm for the various parishes. Johannes Jensen, my long time brick wall, was married to Johanne Elisabeth Molin and was the head of a household with the two adults plus three young children. The oldest, Wilhelmine Amalie, was born in July 1840 in Copenhagen.

I had no marriage date or record for Johannes and Johanne so I searched parish records through 1840, looking for their marriage. Nothing was found. However, there was a gap in births between Wilhelmine and Emilie, born in May 1843, also in Copenhagen.

The neighborhood in which they lived was in the old section of Copenhagen and records for this family were found both at Trinitatis Church and Garnison’s Church. I decided to search baptismal records at both churches for an infant who might have died young between 1840 and 1843. There was a record for another child found in the records at Trinitatis Church:

Last Line “Stillborn”

The last line of this cropped page is dated 8 May 1842. In the commentary to the right, it identifies mother Johanne Elisabeth Molin and the REPUTED father, Johannes Jensen!

I then searched up to 1845 for a marriage record. None was found at Trinitatis, but Garnisons Church, where their other children were all baptized, had their marriage record. This couple didn’t marry until 31 August 1842. Lesson learned to keep searching for the record in a date range that is after the birth of the first child.

2. Dave’s Abraham Dulworth has been a bit difficult to pin down in many records, too. His eldest child, Matilda Jane, was born about 1867 probably in Cumberland County, Kentucky. It took a while before I found her living with her mother and grandmother in 1870 – not with her father. Mary Jane Adams was her mother. She and Abraham apparently had somewhat of an up and down relationship through the years. They had ten children born between 1867 and 1894, but, again, for the longest time I could find no marriage record.

When I searched anew many years later, I found a marriage record for them in Clay County, Tennessee, where they had sometimes lived. They married on 1 February 1883, after the births of at least four of their children.

3. A collateral line includes Helen Marr Blyther born in Calais, Washington, Maine in 1842. I found a marriage record for her to Charles Henry Wright in Providence Rhode Island on 17 June 1887. However, this seemed odd because Charles was the father of her two children, born in 1877 and 1884, both in Boston, Massachusetts. They were both born in Maine, so they moved around a fair number of times. I knew very little about Helen Blyther, aside from the census records in Maine. I knew the family had ties to New Brunswick so I turned to one of my favorite websites, the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (PANB).

Blyther is an uncommon name in that area of Maine and Canada and I soon found there was a bit more to this story. Helen had apparently married a Mr. Merrill sometime between 1870 and 1875, when a legal notice was published announcing that she was reverting to her former name of Helen Blyther. There was also a marriage announcement in the St. John newspaper in May 1876, when Helen married Charles Wright there. Now I had two marriages for Helen, both to the same man. The puzzle was quickly solved when the next newspaper notice, filed by Mrs. Charles Wright (not Helen!), announced that he was a bigamist and legally married to her!

I found no other resolution to this problem, but Charles and Helen remained together, as far as I can tell. I’ve wondered if Charles was never divorced from the first Mrs. Wright and that the 1887 marriage in Providence was triggered by the death of that Mrs. Wright. I have not been able to determine exactly who wife #1 was or when she died.

The moral of the story here is to think outside the box when looking for elusive marriage records. You never know what you might find.

Defective, Dependent & Delinquent Census Schedules

Exploring the 1880 Defective, Dependent & Delinquent Schedule was a new experience for me. A search of family surnames, both in the Stufflebean line and the Sabo line yielded only one distant relative result and that was for Benjamin Blyther of Machias, Washington County, Maine. I believe he might be the son of Benjamin Blyther of Calais, Maine, who was the second husband of my ancestress, Rebecca Jones Crouse. Rebecca and her first husband, Peter Crouse, are my direct line. However, that has not been proven.

In the case of Benjamin Blyther, not only was he listed as a pauper, but his wife, Charity, and two youngest children, Joseph and Henry, were dependent upon public charity. They were found in the “Pauper and Indigent Inhabitants in Institutions, Poor-Houses or Asylums, or Boarded at Public Expense in Private Houses” schedule.

However, no reason is given for the family’s need. Benjamin’s and Charity’s sons were 19 and 17, so certainly of an age where they could be out working, particularly if their father was unemployed.

The 1850 census of Machias, Maine shows Benjamin with his young family:

Benjamin Blyther, Machias, ME 1850

Benjamin likely married Charity about 1838 or 1839, as the oldest child in the house in 1850 was Mary A., aged 10. Also in the home were Benjamin D., aged 8, John W., 6, Andrew F., 5 and George S., aged 1 year old.

The family is split onto two pages in 1860, but adds daughters Naomi, born about 1851, Martha, born about 1855 and Sarah, born about 1868 to the household.

In 1870, Benjamin Blyther Jr. was living in his own household next door to his parents and siblings. Benjamin Sr. and Charity had two more children, Joseph, born about 1861 and Henry, born about 1863. In this census, neither of the Benjamins had any value listed under real estate or personal estate, although others on the page had entries in these columns.

Benjamin Sr. died sometime between the 1880 and 1900 censuses. Widow Charity is enumerated next door to her son, Benjamin, still in Machias in 1900.

Charity reported in 1900 that she had given birth to eleven children, with seven still living in 1900. There is no occupation listed for either her or Benjamin Jr. Instead, Benjamin’s column says “WG 022” and Charity’s column says “NG 002.” I have no idea what those codes mean.

It is always a good thing to explore a new resource, so even though I didn’t find any people directly related to Dave’s family or my own, it was a learning experience.

Blyther – New Update

Since I posted about the Blyther family, I have been in touch via U.S. mail with a descendant. She didn’t know much about the family history, but she did have a book, she said, about the family, and she mailed me several pages from it.

It turns out that Inez Parker Wright compiled a short history of the family. In it was a death date for Helen Marr Blyther Parker, which I didn’t have. She was last found in Rye, New York in the 1925 state census. By 1930, Inez was back in California. Helen died 16 Jan 1930, so I checked the California death index on line and found that she died in Alameda County, CA.

I also discovered that Barbara Blaisdell Parker did marry and had two sons, who are living today. More cousins to hunt!

Finally, the 1920 census listing for Robert and Ruth Blyther Campbell in California showed a brother-in-law, James Hannah, age 80, living with them. I had no idea who he was, but as I went searching, I found he married Mary Elizabeth Blyther in 1864 in Boston, MA. Here was the missing Mary Elizabeth Crouse/Blyther who disappeared after the 1850 census! The marriage record showed her as Elizabeth Hannah marrying James Hannah, but I suspect that might be a clerical error since it gave her parents as Benjamin and Rebecca Blyther and her birthplace was given as Calais, Maine. Benjamin was the only father she knew, but I still tend to believe that she was a daughter of Peter Crouse because the 1850 census lists her birthplace as Canada, rather than Maine. However, with no marriage date for Benjamin and Rebecca, I can’t be positive.

The record also states that this was a second marriage for Elizabeth; I can’t find a record for her marrying a Hannah before James so the name of her first husband is unknown for the time being.

James and Mary Elizabeth Hannah followed the path of the other Blyther sisters and went to California. James and Mary E. are enumerated in the 1880 census of Oakland, CA. He is 41 and she is 44; there are no children in the household. Since their oldest child would be only 14 or 15, based on date of marriage, it appears they had no children. Mary E. Hannah died in Alameda County, CA on 2 June 1893. James survived her by many years, dying on 24 June 1921, also in Alameda County, CA. I have not found their burial places yet, but James’s death certificate might give me that answer.

With the exception of Elmer Ford’s three daughters, I have been able to account for most of the Blyther descendants! A few more leaves have been added to the empty branches.