Written in stone

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I like that for so many relatives you can trace their history simply by following the census. It shows how they either moved from one place to another or set down roots and lived surrounded by family. You can watch their families grow, age, move out and even move back in, families and all.

 My mother’s grandmother is a fascinating combination of contradictions. Mary Elizabeth Collins Letts Oakley had been married twice and had six children, three by each marriage. The fascinating thing about Mary was her stand, so I am told by my mother, on her lack of patience for lying. It simply was not tolerated. I ended up working backwards on Mary to locate her in the different censuses.  She died in 1951, which meant that I could start finding her in 1930, with what was available on line.

There she was in 1930, in Bradford, married to George Oakley. She was 55 that year, just 2 years older than George, which meant she was born about 1875.

In the 1920 census she appears to be 48, 5 years older than George and born about 1872.

In 1910 she appears to be 36, 3 years older than George and born about 1874.

In 1900 Mary was married to Frank Letts, it states that she was born in 1871, was 28 and was 5 years younger then Frank. They lived in Olean, New York and had been married for 9 years.

In the 1880 census, Mary shows with her family. She is 16 years old, placing her birth year about 1864. I read this twice and went looking for the 1870 census. She was there, born in Jul of 1863.

I told my mother about what I had found and her first reaction, once she stopped laughing was, “No wonder she always looked so OLD”. Frankly she was old; she was in her late 40’s when she had my grandmother. I asked mom if she knew what was on her grave stone. Mom took a special trip out to the cemetery see what it said – 1874.


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