Many years ago, as I built my husband’s tree, I puzzled over his grandmother Dorothy (LeBlanc/White) Little.
You see, in 1920 and 1930 Dorothy was living with Herbert and Annie White in Lynn, Massachusetts and listed as “daughter”. By 1940, she resided at the same address as Herbert and Annie, and was listed as “wife” to David Little. Dorothy’s first three children, also enumerated, were named David, Dorothy and Herbert, and in all three censuses, Dorothy’s birthplace was listed as Massachusetts.
Herbert White’s Naturalization papers name a daughter Dorothy, born 12 June 1912.
Yet, I couldn’t locate Dorothy’s birth in the Massachusetts indexes or vital record collections on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org or AmericanAncestors.org. Frustrated, I wrote to the Lynn Town Clerk. Within a week, I had a transcription of Dorothy’s birth record. The transcription offered the same birth date, named her father Herbert LeBlanc (note that White is a common Americanized version of LeBlanc) and mother Annie Brown.
Hmmmm, I thought, “the birth must be misindexed in every online database”.
I couldn’t find a marriage record for Herbert and Annie under White or LeBlanc between Herbert’s 1908 arrival from Canada and Dorothy’s 1912 birth. Perhaps they returned to Canada (where Herbert was born), married and had the baby there? Or was that misindexed too! Sigh.
Although I had plans to visit the Massachusetts Vital Records office in Dorchester to view Dorothy’s marriage and death records, it just hasn’t happen. I built out my husband’s tree and have Herbert Leblanc descending from Daniel LeBlanc who died in Acadia about 1695. Ironically, my mother also descends from this family, thus I am Herbert’s 6th cousin 3x removed. My husband and I are cousins!
I did make it to the Essex County Courthouse. Dorothy died about 10 years before her father; she left six children and those children received not a penny when Herbert died in 1974! His sister Agnes’s five children were named as sole heirs to his $19,000 estate. He must have disowned Dorothy’s children (I blogged about it here)! This came as no surprise. I won’t go into detail, but my husband’s father (now deceased) was a despicable human being who literally should have spent his life in prison.
I haven’t looked at this line in about four years. This morning, I tracked down a number of Agnes’ grandchildren on Facebook, introduced myself as a cousin and asked if they knew why Herbert might have disowned his grandchildren. The response? SHOCKING!
It went something like:
Here is a picture of Herbert and his wife Annie. But, as far as we know, Herbert didn’t have children or grandchildren.
He married a woman named Annie who already had a baby named Dorothy. He helped raise her, but it wasn’t his baby.
WHAT? But I have a Naturalization and birth certificate that name him as her father!!! She named a child after him!
Then, I took another look at the Lynn birth records for 12 June 1912.
There it was…
…”Chambers”, born to Frank Chambers and Annie Brown in Lynn, Massachusetts.
Then, in the 1910 census…. a Frank Chambers was enumerated as a boarder in the home of Annie Brown, in Lynn (http://tinyurl.com/jz5daj3).
Next, a marriage on 20 Aug 1911 between Frank Chambers and Annie Brown in Lynn.
And last, (double sigh)…a marriage dated 12 June 1916 in Lynn between a Hubert LeBlanc and a divorced Annie Chambers, daughter of William Brown.
Oops, I did it again!
I explained away inconsistencies by making them fit my story.
I did not do an exhaustive search. I still don’t have Dorothy’s marriage and death records (perhaps they do name Chambers as her father). I did not look for Herbert and Annie’s marriage after Dorothy’s date of birth.
I trusted that the birth transcription from Lynn was accurate. I did not carefully look at all the births registered in Lynn on that date (there were only three).
I do have another case where my g-grandmother named her step-father as her father (first when she married and then when she applied for social security), I’ve been through this, yet clearly I missed the lesson!
So my husband has a new tree and we are not cousins (at least through this line). Annie Little was born Annie Chambers and her father of Irish descent, not French Canadian. But…I am thrilled to have a photo of Herbert and Annie. And although Herbert will always be part of our story having raised Dorothy and being my distant cousin, I am glad to have been able to correct the error vs. passing it to future generations.
And the new tree looks something like this:
UPDATE: I contacted the Lynn Town clerk and they seem reluctant to send me a photo of the original birth record. They claim there are no anomalies (i.e. erasures, margin notes or the entry being written years after the birth) and could not explain the discrepancy between their entry and the state record, but offered to call vital records and will get back to me…..
Meanwhile, one of Herbert’s nieces, who I met on Facebook, has DNA tested with Ancestry.com. The niece’s matches are with Acadians (many in common with my 50% Acadian/50% Lithuanian mom), many of them LeBlanc.
The niece uploaded her results to GEDMATCH for me (since hubby tested on 23andme) and my husband matches 56 cMs on 21 segments with the largest being just 5.2cM’s. Certainly not indicative of a 2nd cousin once removed (who should share on average 106.25 cM’s – see the ISOGG Wiki – here). Lots of smaller segments likely indicate that they have many distant Acadian matches (my husband is perhaps Acadian through his maternal brick walled LeBlanc line – he, my mother and the niece have a few hundred common matches in “People who match both kits”).
The divorce paperwork arrived. The Annie M. Chambers who married Samuel F. Chambers on 20 Aug 1911, filed for divorce on the grounds of abuse, 30 March 1915. She asks for custody of the 2 year, 9 month old minor child, Dorothy E. Chambers, who was “born of the said marriage”.