Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Mysterious Jennie Whitford Faulkner (52 Ancestors #1)

Jennie M Whitford is my 2nd great grandmother on my paternal side. She, like many female ancestors, is hard to research. I have made a few discovers, but she remains largely a mystery.

Jennie was born about 1835 in either Ohio or Michigan depending on which U.S. Census  you are looking at. She first appears in the 1860 census recorded as being born in Ohio. The 1870 census lists Michigan for her birthplace and the 1880 census again lists Ohio as her birthplace.

She married Harrison Faulkner, my 2nd great grandfather, on May 1, 1856 in Grass Lake Michigan. From the Jackson Citizen Patriot dated May 15, 1856: "Faulkner, Harrison and Miss Jenni M Whitford, both of Grass Lake, m. in Grass Lake, May 1, 1856, by Rev. C. R. Pattison."

Mrs. Harry Faulkner of Faribault
So, I know she was living in Michigan in 1856. I have not been able to find any record of her prior to this wedding announcement. Her parents remain a mystery. How did she get to Grass Lake? I can find no other Whitford's listed in the early Michigan census' at this time.

By 1860 she and Harrison are living in Faribault MN with their first child, Arthur, who was born in MN in 1859. (Second son Lloyd, b. 1862 and third son Louis, b. 1864, in Faribault as well. I can find no record of any other children born to this couple.) Interestingly, in this census there are listed two additional household members. Sarah Woodford age 16 and James Nichols age 10. Both born in MI. The children's relationship is not noted. I have always wondered if Sarah might be Jennie's younger sister. And if that is true then which surname might be correct? And who is James Nichols? Neither Sarah nor James appear in the household after the 1860 census.

On May 29, 1878 Jennie is granted a divorce from Harrison. Why? I'd love to know!

By 1880 Jennie is employed as a tailoress, still living in Faribault with her three teenage sons.

In 1885 she has moved to St Paul, MN and is listed in the city directory as Jane Faulkner (wid Harrison) residing with her three sons. Harrison, apparently following his family, is found living several blocks away.

Jennie died Feb 29, 1888 in St Paul. She was only 53. Her middle son, Lloyd, had become a successful doctor by this time and she was living with him at the time of her death. There is a record of the obituary in the Dalby Database, but I have been unsuccessful at finding either the actual obituary or the death certificate. It is claimed she was buried in Faribault MN, but that has yet to be discovered. Several other family members were cremated and I suspect that Jennie was too.

Interestingly, shortly after Jennie's death Harrison returned to Faribault where he remained until his death in 1905. The three sons remained in St. Paul.


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  2. Re the b OH vs b MI issue, have you looked at the history of the Michigan-Ohio War, sometimes called the Toledo War? There was a disputed area of land that was claimed for some time by both Ohio and Michigan, in the NW Ohio area.
    Birth in 1835 would be about perfect for her being born in 'MI' but in an area that was now 'OH'. Stating both from time to time would be natural.
    This also might help focus on the area of MI/OH she was from. I think this was primarily Lucas and Wood Counties, OH, but you would have to check on that.

    1. Linda - I did not know that! Thank you! I'm on it! Fingers crossed .....