Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Prequil: An Ah-Ha! Moment

So, I learned a few days ago that my great-great-grandmother Fanny McCune, whom I had been unsuccessfully looking for the last seven years, actually was Fanny Marcum — which explains why I couldn't find her! Technically her name was actually Francis Thacker. Her mother, Clarinda Thacker, had Fanny (or Francis) four years before her marriage to Enos Marcum.

My family had discovered the McCune name from her daughter's death certificate. Having recently purchased “Evidence Explained,” I was being a dutiful family historian and adding my huge backlog of death certificate information to my software database.

I had done about three of these, when I came to the death certificate of Lizzie Cope Smathers, Fanny's daughter. Hmm, I said to myself, looking at the record under 200% magnification, that McCune doesn't look very clear.

So, I went to take a quick confirming look at the death certificate of Lizzie's brother — John Ceope. (No, that's not a typo; this family started adding an extra “e” to their name — no doubt just to confuse me.) John's daughter, Claudia, had been the informant and she had listed the name Fanny Marcum for the mother of John.

Now, I'd like to say that this was the “AH-HA!” moment for me, but no, it wasn't. Because instead of thinking Ah Ha, I was thinking — Hmm, the granddaughter didn't realize that her grandmother's last name was McCune.

So, I set aside Lizzie's death record, and went on to the next one. A little while later all that putting sources and citations into my database was getting a bit old, and I was itching for a reason to stop. So, on a whim, I went onto and typed in “Francis Marcum,” and as I expected no viable candidates appeared in the search results. Not wanting to end my little break quite that quickly, I then typed in “Fanny Marcum” and once again, as expected, no match for my Fanny.

Still not ready to face the large stack of death certificate input that lay ahead of me, I typed in “Francis Markum,” and there she was aged 16 in the 1880 census. Some simple searches on, a cross check to the Vinton County Web site and some more searching on Ancestry and things that hadn't made sense before now suddenly did.

So about 45 minutes after I should have had my “AH HA!” moment, the light bulb finally went on. Funny to think that if I hadn't gotten “Evidence Explained,” hadn't been taking care of database housekeeping matters, hadn't had online access to Ohio Death Certificates, hadn't subscribed to and hadn't been looking for an easy distraction, it might have taken another seven years for me to solve the riddle of Fanny McCune/Marcum. Sometimes, genealogy is just like that.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, January 25, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

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