Declared Dead Before His Time, Frank D. Clough, 52 Ancestors – Week #10

No Story Too Small has issued a New Year’s Challenge: “Have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

My genealogical journey began in 2008, with my g-grandmother Georgianna Hall (her married name), who died in 1964, at 82. All that was known of her was that she was born in Rome, Oneida, New York, about 1882.  New York did not require birth registration until 1882, and full compliance was not reached until 1915. The Municipal Archives believes that up to 25% of pre-1910 births were never registered.

I hired a professional researcher in New York, but no birth record was found;  her 1904 marriage record does place her birth about 1882 in Rome, NY and names her parents as Kitty Perry and Frank D. Clough.

Georgianna marriage

Her Social Security Application (SS-5), completed in her own handwriting, 58 years later, offers a  birth date of 13 Oct 1881, and names the same birth place and parents [except mom is Kittie E. vs Kitty].


Her obituary, published in the Malden Evening News, after her 12 Feb 1964 death, concurs.


Things began to fall into place.  I easily traced the Welsh origins of her mom, Kittie Perry,  locating hundreds of records & ancestors through the guidance of cousins, who I met through the online tree message service.

But her dad, Frank D. Clough, was a mystery and my first “brick wall”.

Kittie and Frank’s marriage was registered in Frankfort, Herkimer County, New York on 18 Feb 1889 [anybody thinking, that is seven years after Georgianna’s reported birth? – I will admit, as a genealogy “newbie”, I didn’t, it was my first experience contacting a town clerk, and I was excited to get a response with the information I was seeking –  Frank’s place of birth and parent’s names!!! – other details were insignificant].  

* When you order a vital record from a town clerk’s office, many times they transcribe the information from the original books on to a form. These days, I always ask for a copy of the original, town clerks are human and can make transcription errors (especially when it comes to interpreting old handwritten records).  In this case, I ordered the record in 2009 and hadn’t known to ask for the original. Thanks to Gina Bellino, at the Frankfort, New York town clerk’s office, for taking the photos below with her iPhone.

Frank was listed as a mechanic and resident of Frankfort, born in Bath, New York to R.C. Clough and Ellen Colburn about 1858. “Number of marriages” was left blank.

Frank and Kittie marriage record


He was listed in the 1899 Frankfort City Directory as a Carpenter.

city directory 1889

My next discovery was a notice published seven years later in the Lowell Sun [Massachusetts] dated Saturday, 14 March 1896:


To the Honorable Justices of the Superior court within and for the County of Middlesex: Respectfully libels and represent Kittie E. Clough of Lowell. In said county, that she was married in form of law not in legal effect to Frank Clough now of Seattle, Wash., and there afterwards your libellant and the said Frank Clough lived together as husband and wife afterwards until she learned and was informed that said Frank Clough at the time he married your petitioner had another wife living from whom he was never divorced, thus rendering his marriage to your petitioner void. Wherefore your petitioner prays that, a decree be entered declaring said marriage between her and said Frank Clough null and void from the beginning.  Dated this first day of November A.D. 1895.  


Back in 2009, I emailed Elizabeth Bouvier, Head of Archives, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, seeking more information.  She responded “Kittie filed a libel #1706 at Middlesex County Superior Court in 1896, it was continued to Dec 27, 1897 and dismissed on call without prejudice, I checked the Indices up to 1910 and there is no further entry”.

Dead end.

On, I located an unnamed child, born 11 Sept 1856, in Bath, New Hampshire [not New York as the marriage record indicated]  to R. Clement Clough and Ellen Colburn and recorded in 1906 [50 years after the  birth].  I suspect this is the record of Frank’s birth.

frank birth

In 1860 & 1870 Frank was enumerated in Bath, New Hampshire as a member of the family of Richard Clement and Ellen Clough. He is not with them in 1880.  He appears to have had four brothers Eugene, Squires, Harry and Richard Clement Jr.

1860 and 1870

Turns out, prior to 1880, Frank, a House Carpenter, had married Lucy Elizabeth Chase, daughter of Moses Chase and Sarah, and was living nearby in Bath. I have not located a marriage or divorce record.


On 23 July 1880, Lucy gave birth to their first child, Bert Squires Clough.  The second child, Ira “Harry” Moses Clough followed on 16 June 1882.

That’s when it hit me.  It’s unlikely that Frank was the father of Georgianna, born 13 Oct 1881, in Rome, New York if he had children in 1880 and 1882 in Bath, New Hampshire, 270 miles away, in an era before the automobile!  Then I realized Georgianna was seven when he married Kittie!

Sure enough, Kittie was previously married. The 11 Aug 1880 edition of the Herkimer Democrat reports that on 4 Aug 1880, Kitty Perry, of Rome, married John Hughes of Ilion, at the residence of officiating clergyman Reverend Albert F. Lyle, in German Flatts.

Georgianna was enumerated in the 1892 New York State census as Georgia A. Hughes, age 11, living in Frankfort with her grandmother and step-grandfather James and Ann (Jones) Perry Evans.

1892 census

She appears in several newspaper articles as Georgianna Hughes [W. C. Perry is Kittie’s brother, Kittie May Palmer is Kittie’s niece, daughter of her sister Cordelia]:

  • Utica Morning Herald, August 24 1896: Miss Georgiana Hughes of Frankfort, who has been visiting her mother at Lowell, Mass., has returned, and accompanied by Miss Kittie May Palmer of Frankfort, is a guest of Mr. and Mrs. W[illiam] C. Perry of 414 West Dominick Street [Rome].
  • Rome Semi Weekly Citizen, September 1, 1896: Miss Georgianna Hughes of Lowell, Mass., and Miss Kittie M. Palmer of Frankfort, NY , are visiting their uncle, W. C. Perry, 414 West Dominick street.
  • Rome Daily Sentinel, October 1, 1902 – Mrs. Georgianna Hughes who has been visiting at the home of W.C. Perry has returned to her home in Boston.

Something didn’t add up.  On 1 October  1902, Georgianna is still using the surname Hughes, a few days before Kittie married her 3rd husband Frank Shipman, so presumably, Clough is long gone from their lives.  But in 1904, Georgianna reports her maiden name as Clough when she marries.

What became of her father Hughes [death or divorce?]  If Clough was a bigamist, and no longer with Kittie, why would she begin using his name long after the break up? If she wanted a new surname, why not Shipman?

Kittie’s bigamy/annulment case of 1896 was dismissed. I have been unable to locate Clough in the 1900 census.  Frank’s first wife remarried William C. Austin in 1886.  In 1900, the pair was residing in Bath, with Frank’s sons Burt and Ira, and two daughters fathered by Austin. Frank’s parents were still in Bath.  His mother, Ellen, reported that she had given birth to five children and that three were living. Siblings Squires and Harry were deceased, so technically Frank should be alive.  I searched city directories across the US.  Nothing.

I made my first genealogy trip to Bath (a charming town with one of New Hampshire’s few remaining covered bridges).

bath covered bridge

Frank’s parents and brothers are all buried in Bath, I found their graves (my first FindAGrave posting).  No Frank.  I did learn from the town clerk that Clough is pronounced “Cluff” in Bath [note that in other parts, some do pronounce it as “Clow”].  When I returned home, I searched the various databases again using Cluff and Cl*u* (Cl*u* should pick up Clough and Cluff in databases that use a “*” as a wildcard symbol).  I searched online death records between 1896 and 1900.  Nothing.

I found Kittie in Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1900, living with several male boarders (her soon to be third husband among them), reported as “widowed”.

Ignoring all conflicting information, I used this one fact to conclude that Clough had died between 1896 and 1900, perhaps on the West Coast, as Kittie’s 1896 case claimed a Seattle residence. The death just wasn’t available in indexes or records online.

His son Ira married on 28 April 1900.  Frank was listed as father and a Carpenter, but his residence was left blank [the residence of the three remaining parents was identified].

Ira's Marriage

My theory was that Frank and Kittie reconciled, she dropped the case, then he died tragically, leaving her  a widow.  His parents and children were perhaps unaware, which is why his mother reported him to be living in 1900 and Ira left his residence blank on the marriage record.  I surmised that Georgianna took the surname Clough as a gesture of remembrance and respect (since she likely never knew her birth father).

It bothered me that I hadn’t located  the death record, but it could have occurred anywhere! I added the note to my tree, and 650 other folks promptly copied the death range and added my theory as “fact” to their own trees [okay so I am exaggerating a little].  “Case Closed”  – 5 years ago.

Then I decided to take on the “52 Ancestors Challenge”.  I had planned my ancestor of week #10 to be Kittie (Perry) Hughes Clough Shipman.  As I began to write, I realized how many details were missing.  As part of the process, I reopened my “Frank Clough file”.

I began by emailing Elizabeth Bouvier, at  the Supreme Judicial Court again, this time requesting copies of the actual documentation related to Kittie’s case in Middlesex County. The response was shocking! “Kittie filed a libel at Essex County Superior Court on grounds of desertion – 1902 divorce final.

What? I knew Kittie moved to another county, but I never thought to search Essex County for a divorce, I just assumed all records were held in Middlesex, their residence when Frank disappears!  In any case, you don’t divorce a dead guy!  She presumed Frank was living in 1902!

I reviewed the records I had collected.  In 1902, when Kittie married Shipman, she specified it was her 3rd marriage.  I didn’t notice the “(D)” on the record indicating she was divorced.  The register header instructed the registrar to record those divorced or widowed. All  individuals with more than one marriage, were marked with either “(W)” or “(D)”. Of course she would tell the 1900 census enumerator that she was a widow.  Divorce/abandonment was embarrassing and none of his business!

shipman marriage

I follow the Legal Genealogist’s blog (, and now I realize the importance of understanding the terms used in our ancestor’s records. The case regarding the annulment was “dismissed on call without prejudice” – “without prejudice” means that Kittie could reopen the case at some point in the future.  If Frank were dead, the option wouldn’t be necessary, right? The case would have been “dismissed on call with prejudice”.

I searched for a Frank Clough/Cluff  born between 1850 and 1860 in New Hampshire, in the 1860-1900 censuses, vitals, the online city directories and other records.  There were at least 8 individuals of the same name, but one stood out. Frank D. Clough, a carpenter, born in Sept 1858/9 in New Hampshire, with parents born in New Hampshire.

This particular Frank D. Clough, born about Sept 1858, married around 1892, possibly in San Francisco, California [according to a son’s marriage record], Frederika “Freida” Martins/Martens born about 1862 in Germany.  No marriage record has been found there or elsewhere, using online sources.  Many San Francisco records were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire. While some were rerecorded at a later date, names similar to Clough/Martens were not located in online indexes, the pair likely had relocated to New Jersey.  (

The couple had two children, said to be born in Jersey City, New Jersey, John Martin/Marten Clough born 29 Aug 1895 and George Clough born about Jan 1898.

Findings include (from unless noted otherwise):

  • 1895 Jersey City, New Jersey, City Directory – Frank D. Cluff, carpenter, 840 Bramhall av, Jersey City.
  • 1895 Birth Record, DELAYED filing, (email from the New Jersey State Archives), Child: John Clough;  Date of Birth: Aug. 29, 1895;  Place of Birth: Jersey City, Hudson County Parents: Frank Clough & Friedericke Martens. [The delayed birth record states that his parents were married in San Francisco, CA.]
  • 1898 Jersey City, New Jersey, City Directory – Frank D. Cluff, carpenter, 43 Myrtle av,  Jersey City.
  • 1899 Jersey City, New Jersey, City Directory – Frank D. Cluff, carpenter, 164 Fulton av,  Jersey City.
  • 1900 census – Frank Cluff, 703 Ave D, Bayonne Ward 2, Hudson, New Jersey, born Sept 1859, married 8 years, carpenter born Massachusetts (parents born Massachusetts) living with wife Freda (37; born Germany; immigrated about 1881; has given birth to two children, both living), sons John (5) and George (2). They rent a home.
  • 1901 Jersey City, New Jersey, City Directory – Frank D. Cluff, carpenter, 154 Fulton av,  Jersey City.
  • 1910 census – Frank D. Cluff, boarder at 1541 Broadway, Oakland, California; age 52; widowed; self employed carpenter (houses, etc.); born New Hampshire (parents born New Hampshire). The next two entries are boarders John (14) and George Cluff (12) born New Jersey (parents born New Hampshire/Germany).
  • 1920 census – Frank Clough, First Street, renters above the bakery, Bandon, Coos, Oregon; age 63; widowed; self employed house carpenter; born New Hampshire (parents born New Hampshire). Living with son George (22) who is a cook is a restaurant; born New Jersey (parents born New Hampshire/Germany).
  • 1923 Marriage Record  (email from the New Jersey State Archives): John M. Clough to Dora H. Drewes:  Date of Marriage: 10 Oct. 1923;  Place of Marriage: Jersey City, Hudson Co. Parents: Frank D. Clough & Frieda Martens.
  • 1930 census – Frank B. Clough, Riverside Drive, Bandon, Coos, Oregon; age 72; widowed; no occupation; owns the home valued at $1,250; born New Hampshire (parents born New Hampshire).
  • 1940 census – Frank D. Clough, Riverside Drive, Bandon, Coos, Oregon; age 82; widowed; attended school to 8th grade; no occupation and “unable to work”; owns the home valued at $50; born New Hampshire; lived in the same place 5 years ago.  Frank himself spoke with the census taker [the 1940 census specifies which household member spoke to the enumerator, likely meaning the information is correct].
  • 1941 Death indexes – Frank Clough, death date 18 Mar 1941, Coos County, Oregon.
  • 1941 – Obituary originally copied from the Western World by Paul and Jewell Shelton and shared here courtesy of the Bandon Museum and Historical Society.

Obituary Notice

Western World

March 20, 1941

Seated in his favorite chair by the store, with his glasses on, a book on his lap, his pipe lying alongside on a table, and his radio going full blast, Frank B. Clough, 82, was found dead by his son, George, at 8:30 Tuesday night.

The aged man lived alone in a small cabin on Riverside Drive, near the entrance to the More Mill.

He had not been seen by his near neighbor, Gus Johnson, since the night before, and it is believed that he had been dead 10 hours or more before being found.

Death apparently came without a struggle according to Charles E. Schroeder, who took charge of the body, for if he had moved at all he would have fallen out of the chair.

Clough was born at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, September 5, 1858. He came west as a young man locating in California. He came to Bandon about 30 years ago and engaged in carpentry work, which he followed until he retired.

Deceased is survived by two sons: George Clough of Bandon and John Clough of Jersey City, New Jersey.

Funeral services will be held at the Presbyterian Church on Thursday, March 20, at 2:00 pm. Rev. E. E. Rosenkilde to officiate. Interment will be in the Odd Fellows Cemetery.

  •  1941 Burial:  Frank B. Clough, Father, IOOF Cemetery, Bandon, Coos County, Oregon, USA

66882206_130077531783 (1)

  • 1946 Death Record  (email from the New Jersey State Archives): Deceased: John Clough;  age: 51 yrs;  Date of Death: Nov. 8, 1946;  Place of Death: St. Barnabas Hospital; Newark, Essex Co. Parents: Frank D. Clough & Fredericka Marten, Burial: Rosehill Crematory, Linden, NJ

There are a few inconsistencies.  The 1900 census offers a Massachusetts birthplace (perhaps the informant knew he had relocated from Lowell, Massachusetts and assumed it to be his place of birth).  The obituary lists a birthplace of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on 5 Sept 1858 [vs. 11 Sept 1856] .  The obituary is a transcription.  The birth record was created 50 years after the birth.  Either could be mistaken. Frank was deceased; the writer may not have known the correct birth date and place. This same Frank, in 1940, self-reported a New Hampshire birth place. Whomever spoke with the census taker in 1910, 1920 and 1930 (likely Frank) reported New Hampshire. The gravestone and obituary lists a middle initial of “B”, many other records concur that his middle initial was “D”.

Then there is still the mystery of Georgianna reporting a maiden name of Clough.  In speaking to professional genealogist, Georgianna may have used the name Clough simply to gain a job and avoid discrimination.  Clough was more “American” than Hughes.  She may have been trying to separate herself from the family, attracted a better husband or job.


People in Story

Now what….
(1) Wait two weeks for the dismissed annulment and divorce case files (from Elizabeth Bouvier) – hopefully there are more clues to Frank’s whereabouts!

UPDATE – “No file has been found for the Clough divorce – grounds of desertion.  You may want to search the local Lynn newspapers for a notice of the case.  Katherine would have had to file a notice in the local paper three times (December 1901) notifying Frank – whose residence was unknown – of the divorce libel.  Then she would have gone back to court with the proof of the 3 notices and been granted the divorce — which was in January 1902.”

(2) Search for a marriage between Frank D. Clough and Frederika “Freida” Martins/Martens, around 1892, possibly in New Jersey, California, Washington or Oregon; locations with which I am not familiar; Cyndi’s List ( and the Family Search Wiki (  and A Genealogy Guide to Death Indexes ( will hopefully point me to the right direction. If Frank’s parents are named on the record, that will confirm he is “our guy”.

(3) Request a copy of Frank’s original obituary from the Bandon Museum and Historical Society (to ensure it was transcribed properly); perhaps they have additional information.

(4) Order a copy of Frank’s death certificate from Coos County, Oregon (I suspect the informant may not have known his parents names and birth location – but you never know). He was buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery, implying he may have been a member of the Odd Fellows – I need to contact the cemetery as well as the local Odd Fellows Chapter to request historical records. The Presbyterian Church mentioned in the obituary may also be a source.

UPDATE – the death certificate arrived and offers no additional information, the informant (who may not have known) reported a Pennsylvania birth.

(5) Contact the Bath, New Hampshire town clerk to discover why the birth returns are dated 1906.  Likely there are original record books that were transcribed 50 years later. If the original books exist, perhaps they could look to see if the transcription of the birth date is correct. Remember that the name on the birth record was blank.  Unlikely, but Ellen may have had a sixth child, who coincidentally was born in September, two years earlier, and died soon after death (when reporting the number of children born to the census taker, children who died within a few days were sometimes not reported).

UPDATE – The bath Town clerk had no further information.

(6) Locate Frederika “Freida” Martins/Martens death certificate (likely between 1900-1910).

(7) Seek out additional city directories to place Frank in the years from 1890-1920.

(8) Look for land deeds and probate records for Frank (likely Georgianna is not named, but you never know).

(9) Find descendants of Frank’s sons – one East Coast and one West Coast and compare their DNA.

UPDATE – I am seeking an East Coast descendant of  Frank’s sons Bert Squire Clough or Ira “Harry” Moses Clough or one of his uncle Henry Dearborn Clough or Carleton H Clough.  Frank’s g-grandson on the West Coast agreed to test and his results are back!  The 37 marker Y-DNA test matched several Clough testers with a genetic distance of 2-4 (likely not close enough to confirm that the same Frank fathered the East and West Coast boys).  


The closest match (genetic distance of 2), shared his tree with me here.  If this tree is correct, the match is Thomas Clough born 29 May 1651 in Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts, a son to John Clough (read of him here) who was the first to come here from England. It seems that Frank Clough who died in Oregon also descends from Thomas.  This doesn’t “prove” that East Coast and West Coast Frank are one in the same, there could be two Franks born about the same year in New Hampshire who both descend from John, but it doesn’t disprove my theory!

Frank D Clough tree

UPDATE 10 April 2017

As there appears to be no male East Coast descendant of Frank, who still holds the surname Clough, I turned to Autosomal DNA. I currently have two testers:

The first, Ken W., a great grandson of Frank D. Clough and Lucy Elizabeth Chase (the Frank born in Bath, New Hampshire).

The second, Robert C. a grandson of Frank D. Clough and Fredericka “Frieda” Martens (the Frank who died in Oregon).

If my theory is correct, Ken W. and Robert C. would be Half 1st cousins 1x removed.  The ISOGG Wiki claims that with this type of relationship, they would be expected to match in the range of 75-360 cMs (centimorgans) or 212.50 cMs on average (3.125%) of their DNA (

The results are in, and Robert and Ken share 286 cMs!!  This is well within the range. Of course there is always the possibility that they are related on a different ancestral line, but given that they were born and reside on opposite coasts, unlikely.

Neither tester matches me or my uncle, thus offering credence to my theory that although my g-grandmother Georgianna used the surname Clough, Frank Clough was her stepfather and not bio-father.

Clough comparision.png

cgh dna.png

Lessons Learned

(1) When looking at a new record, transcribe it –  notice and question every detail. Remember that all records may have misinformation because of a clerk error, someone remembering something wrong or intentionally lying to protect themselves or their privacy.

(2) If you don’t understand something on a record (like “dismissed on call without prejudice”), figure out what it means –  consider the year it was utilized – the 1882 definition may differ from the 2014 definition.

(3) I only looked for Frank in the 1900 census.  I never considered looking for him in 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940, since I assumed he was dead. At RootsTech a few weeks ago, Tom Jones advised us to look at the censuses for our ancestors in the census year before their birth (to place their parents)…in this case I should have searched records after 1900, since I had no direct evidence of death.

(4) Always request the “original record”.  In this case, Frank and Kittie’s marriage record was transcribed by the town clerk correctly, but that is not always the case.  Transcriptions may be incorrect or incomplete.

(5) Periodically review all the records you have for your “brick wall” ancestors.  As your genealogy skills evolve, you will notice things that you hadn’t thought of 1, 2 or 5 years ago.

(6) Keep a research log for each ancestor, so you recall where you looked and where you didn’t and when, so that you do not duplicate efforts or miss a record set that may name your ancestor.

(7) Don’t just copy “facts” from other online Family Trees unless a source is attached.   All those folks who copied Frank D. Clough’s death between 1896 and 1900 from my tree have it wrong! What are the chances that they will return and see my revised tree or this blog post?

(8) Write about your ancestors; join the “52 week challenge” even if you do not post your story online.  It is easy to collect records.  Writing forces you to correlate, develop new theories and think about what you might be missing.

Happy Hunting!!

6 responses to this post.

  1. […] – “Declared Dead Before His Time, Frank D. Clough” by Linda on Passage to the Past’s […]



  2. […] Common together for a few years.  Kittie, in early 1902,  divorced Clough, (read his story  HERE) on the grounds of desertion, and married Shipman on Saturday, 4 October 1902; her […]



  3. […] Read Frank Clough’s story here:… […]



  4. Posted by Lars Henriksen on July 1, 2016 at 4:54 PM

    A postcard destined for above mentioned Frank Clough of Lowell Massachusetts depicting the Titanic and sent merely a week after the ship went down, is for sale at public auction in Denmark – please see this link:



  5. Did you ever find out who was the biological father??



    • I believe that Georgianna’s biological father was John Hughes of Illion, New York. Unfortunately the name is quite common and records sparse, so I haven’t learned if he died or if he and Kittie divorced. I hope that someday DNA will uncover the answer!!



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