While I was doing my census record sweep I came across a tiny clue that led me to believe that I was missing a child of one of my ancestors, William Wesley Alderson and his wife Isadora Winders Alderson. The clue came from the 1900 census where one of the questions asked by the enumerator was how my children were living versus how many total. The answer for Isadora was 3 of 4, hinting to the existence of a child born after the 1880 census that died before the 1900 census. There was also a pretty distinct gap in the ages of the living children.
I was unable to find any helpful information on the internet and made a point to look for the missing child while I was in Utah at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Time was short at the library and I had multiple things I was looking for, but I was by chance (though probably not really chance at all, just not somewhere I would have logically looked so early in the game) I was able to find the cemetery record for the Aldersons and the Winders (Isadora’s parents). Turns out this was a classic case of the cemetery being just across the county line, not in Marion County, Illinois where I knew the family to have lived and died and had come up empty in the Marion County cemetery records, but in Clay County, Illinois right next door to the East.
Clay county happens to be a county where one of my very elusive ancestors, George Daniels born in England (if you know anything about him, please oh please let me know!) lived and presumably died before 1880 in Oskaloosa, Clay, Illinois. Anyway, while we were looking at the cemetery records for Marion County my mother suggested we look in Clay county for good old George. The books happened to be close to each other on the shelf so I picked up the book Cemetery Inscriptions of Clay Co. Illinois (977.3795 V3t). This book turned out to be a gold mine though not for George Daniels (alas he will have to continue to wait).
Thank goodness for INDEXES! Without them we would never have found my missing Aldersons and the Winders. We found EIGHT of my ancestors buried in Parker Cemetery in Songer Township, Clay, Illinois (just across the county line from Omega, Marion County, and multiple pieces of information that I did not know!
Alderson, W. W. Apr. 10 1858 (my great great grandfather)
Isadora-his wife-June 7, 1859-Nov. ?, ???? (my great great grandmother)
Alderson, Estna M. Apr 5, 1885 d. Oct 14, 1958 (daughter of William and Isadora Alderson)
Daniels, T. Arthur 1875-1958 (my great grandfather)
Ellen O. 1878-1957 (my great grandmother, daughter of William and Isadora Alderson, wife of Arthur T. Daniels)
Winders, Wm. W. b. Oct 25 1824 d. July 26 1877 (my great great great grandfather)
Sarah wife of Wm. b. Dec 15, 1826 d. Aug 16, 1901 (my great great great grandmother)
Ethel L. dau of Wm W. and Dora Alderson b. June 14, 1883 d. July 1, 18??
Tada! There she is, my missing child, Ethel! (With sisters named Ellen, Estna, and Elva. Oh my.) Unfortunately her death date is not complete, apparently the transcriber was unable to read the death year, BUT I will take what I can get. She fits in exactly where I thought she would. She is buried with her grandmother, who lived with the Aldersons after her husband died. I didn’t have birth or death dates for Sarah or William W. either and was very surprised and happy to see them in the Parker Cemetery too. Talk about one of those moments when you want to stand up and do a jig in the library (don’t worry I restrained myself to a low five).
Well, my point is to never ignore even the smallest of clues and follow those little urges to look somewhere you didn’t think about initially (thank you, mother!). Doors can open and ancestors can be found. It is an amazing thing to be a part of.