Saturday, April 24, 2021

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Tell Us about One of Your Elusive Ancestors

We have a fairly open-ended exercise for tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver.

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

(1) We all have "elusive ancestors" whom we cannot find a name for, or one that absolutely eludes us, but we know some details about the person's spouse and/or children.

(2) Tell us about one of them.  How are you related?  What do you know about him? Where did she live?  Etc.

(3) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status post.  
Please leave a link in a comment to this post.

For this post I didn't want to talk about my ever popular great-grandfather Mr. X (especially since I haven't done any more work on him), so I poked around my tree for a likely candidate.  It didn't take too long to find someone else who is pretty elusive.

An ancestor about whom I still know almost nothing is my 3rd-great-grandmother.  I don't have any idea what her name was.  She was (presumably) married to Franklin Armstrong (about 1825–after July 11, 1870).  My 2nd-great-grandfather Joel Armstrong was born about March 1849, so she was born about 1828 or earlier, almost definitely in New Jersey, probably in Burlington County.  She does not appear in the census enumeration of 1850; Franklin is shown as living with his parents and with his son, Joel, who was a year old.  That is the only child I know of for Franklin, and he does not appear to have remarried based on my research.  I have also found him in the 1860 and 1870 censuses.

My first hypothesis is that she died before the census, as divorce was not common at that time.  I haven't yet confirmed Joel Armstrong's death date, so I don't know if his death record includes his mother's name.  I have found some onoline family trees that state Joel died in 1921, but no documentation was included, and since I know that at least three Joel Armstrongs of about the same age are in the right area of Burlington County, I don't know if the one who died in 1921 is mine.

I found a Joel Armstrong in 1910 who was on his second marriage according to the census.  My 2nd-great-grandfather Joel and my 2nd-great-grandmother divorced, so he was a possibility.  I obtained the marriage record.  It did not include Joel's mother's name.  I was not happy.

I admit I have not worked on this particular puzzle in a while.  If Joel's birth record exists, it probably would include his mother's name, but I haven't found it yet.  I have looked for a marriage record for Franklin but have not discovered it yet either.  That would probably be the best record to solve this.

I am sure I found the record of Joel's marriage to my 2nd-great-grandmother, but I can't figure out where it is at the moment.  It also should list parents.  I may have to search for it again.


  1. NJ isn't an easy place to research with the lack of vital records and lost censuses. My husband has lines in that area of NJ, too. Unless a church record pops up, results won't be easy.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. I know I've had problems finding Joel's birth record and Franklin's marriage record, but I was holding out some hope.

  2. What a tough problem. Good luck. Perhaps there are newspaper records?

    1. Thank you for bringing that up! I forgot to include newspapers in the list of records I have searched, although it has not been an exhaustive search. I've searched in online databases, which I know are not complete. But nothing there are either. ;(


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