Monday, July 18, 2011

Mystery Monday-Desperately Seeking Susan

I have several brick walls in my research, but this one bothers me the most. I really am not well prepared to assemble this information for this post, so I hope I don't mess it up too bad. I really need to get it out here in the chance someone out there can help me. But from what I can tell, I am the only person alive trying to find Susan.
Susan is my gr gr grandmother Duncan, mother of my great grandfather Albert E. Duncan. Her name appears to have been Susan Trammel (many other ways that could be spelled). The big mystery about her is where she came from and where she went. I cannot find record of her outside of her marriage to William Duncan, with the possible exception of a possible marriage to a John A. Dougherty (Daugherty).
Crazy already, huh?
Let me start with William, since that is where I started.
Everything I have seen about William Duncan's birth indicate he was born in New York, 1808 some things I have seen online say, Genesee. I have yet to see proof of his birth place. Supposedly his parents were Robert Duncan and Lucy Boyles (Broyles), Robert is said to have come from Scotland. I do think Robert may have actually moved on to the Indiana area later, with his sons, my William and (I think Robert was the other son).
William may have been married 4 times, but for my records, 3 times. I have found a record in Ancestry for a William Duncan having married a Mary Eslinger September 28, 1828 in Martinsville, Indiana. If this is my William, then the marriage didn't last for some unknown reason, because he is recorded as marrying Amanda Hutsell June 15, 1837 in Martinsville, Morgan County, Indiana.  I'm warning you right now, this will get complicated, because Amanda is also my ancestor, my gr gr gr grandma! I hope I can explain this clearly by the end of the post.
Amanda Hutsell was born September 20, 1815 in Fayette County, Kentucky. She was the daughter of John Hutsell and Rebecca Troutman. William and Amanda had 4 children together; Thomas R., Peter Hutsell Duncan (my gr gr grandfather), Giles Mitchell Duncan and Jesse H. Duncan. Amanda died November 22, 1847 in Martinsville, Indiana. Her and William were only married 10 years when she died.

William then married Sarah Catherine Hines. I believe she was born  April 19, 1826 (I have also seen 1823), in North Carolina, though some say Murphysboro, Jackson County, Illinois. Sarah was the daughter of Philip Hines and Mary M. Shuford. William and Sarah had 5 children; Mary Ann, Darius B., Sarah Katherine, John S., and William Robert. 
Some of these children were named in a  deed  for Sarah's uncle Solomon Shuford. It reads:
Catawba Co. N.C. Deed Indexes 1837-1926. Deeds v. 1-2 1842-1880 (FHL film 593,287) 2-380: 24 Jan 1871, William Duncan of Jackson County, IL, guardian of Mary Duncan, Darius Duncan, Catherine Diuncan and William Duncan Jr., appoint A.G. Corpening of Catawba Co, N.C. attorney to collect all money due said Mary Duncan, Darius Duncan, Catherine Duncan and William Duncan Jr.  from the estate of Solomon Shuford decd and to reciept the same, etc.; no wit. Authorization by Catwba Co, N.C. Probate Court to Jackson County, IL. probate court, 1 March 1871 to take acknowledgement of William Duncan, guardian; done., 31 March 1871; recorded 27 April 1871
I did a little digging on the Hines/Shuford line to make sense of that. When I first found that record I had no clue who Solomon Shuford was, and why he was naming William's children in a court record. Apparently they inherited part of Solomon's estate when he passed away.
Sarah died August 13, 1864 in Murphysboro, Jackson County, Illinois.

William next married Susan Trammell on November 2, 1864. The marriage record I found online (Illinois Statewide Marriage Index 1763-1900) has her name as Susan Dougherty. They were married in Jackson County Illinois.
(I paused here to figure out what I would write next. I realized I had not done a few things in my records I normally do. I like to make a list of the census records each of my ancestors appear in and somehow skipped doing that for William. So I did that and decided to do the same for Land records I have found him in. I recently found actual copies in Ancestry of certificates where he bought quite a bit of land in Jackson County, Illinois, 321 acres actually! Then I had stumbled across some transcriptions online of Pike County, Missouri records including some land records for William and his wife Amanda and also involving a relative of Amanda's, Giles Mitchell. Anyway, I just now got looking at that info closer and need to try to track down a book about Southeast Missouri. I checked Google Books, and the one I want is not available online and few libraries have it, none near me. This seems to be the book I want to see. See? This blog is already helping me find holes in my research! ya! This puzzle has lots of loose pieces, I have to get them together!)

Now, I have William Duncan in the following census:
1830 Morgan County, Indiana 
1850 Morgan County Indiana. Here he is 41, listed as a mechanic and says he was born in NY. His wife is Sarah and children listed in the household are:
Thomas R. Duncan age 11 born in Ia (but I believe it's supposed to mean Indiana)
Peter Duncan age 8                    "
Giles M. Duncan age 6               "
Jesse D. W. Duncan age 2         "
also listed are Isaac C. Baker 22, mechanic, b. Ky and David Hine, 21, (mechanic?) b. NC. I suspect David is Sarah's brother.
1870 DeSoto, Jackson County, Illinois.
William is now 61 and listed as a farmer, but this time it says he was born in Mo. (I'm guessing they asked someone who didn't really know). Susan is now listed as his wife, she is 29 and keeping house. She is listed as being born in Indiana. (there will be contradictions to this, too). The children now listed living with William are:
Jessee, age 23, working on farm, b in Indiana
Darris, age 17, b. in Indiana
Catherine, age 14, b. in Illinois
Wm II age 8, b. in Ark
Candas, age 8, born in Illinois
Joseph, age 5, b. in Illinois
Edward, age  9/12 (nine moths old, born in September) b. Illinois

That's it. So far those are the only census I have found William in.
I did recently find a William Duncan in the 1860 census for Washington Twsp, Dearborn County, Indiana. This William is listed as age 50, a farmer with a real estate value of $2,100 and person estate value of $300, and says he was born (hard to read, but looks like it says Irelands). Also listed in the household with him is
Catherine age 48; Jeremiah (laborer), age 16; Wm, age 13; John, age 11; Catherine, age 7; James, age 6; and Semperonce (?) A., age 3. I have not yet decided if this is the same family.

 Seems William died January 5, 1879. I believe Susan brought some children to this marriage too. But I can't say for sure they were from her marriage to John Dougherty.

The 1880 Census for Somerset Twsp, Jackson County, Illinois is like this:
Duncan, Susan age 39, Farmer, b. in Missouri, (father b. in Kentucky, mother b. in Missouri)
Dougherty (which has a line through it), Kansas (daughter) age 18, at home, b. in Arkansas (father b. in Virginia  mother b. in Missouri)
Duncan (which has a line through it), Joseph, (son) age 13, at home, b. in Illinois (father b. in New York, mother b. in Missouri)
_____(meaning Duncan?), Eddie, (son) age 11, at school, b. in Illinois (father b. in New York, mother b. in Missouri)
_____(meaning Duncan?), Scott, (son) age 9, at school, b. in Illinois (father b. in New York, mother b. in Missouri)
______(meaning Duncan?), Albert, (son) age 7, at school, b. in Illinois, (father b. in New York, mother b. in Missouri)
______(meaning Duncan?), Sarah C. (step-daughter), age 24, at home, b. in Indiana (father b. in New York, mother b. in Missouri)
_____(meaning Duncan?), Jessee. (step-son), age 33, at home, b. in Indiana (father b. in New York, mother b. in Missouri)
_____(meaning Duncan?), Darius, (step-son), age 27, at home, b. in Indiana (father b. in NewYork mother b. in Missouri)

I believe William and Susan's children together were Joseph S., Edward H., James Scott, and Albert E. Albert is my great grandfather.
I don't find Susan on anymore census with the children. It's like she vanished. I have seen some researchers say Susan died about 1890, but I have not seen any record of that. NO death records, no grave, nothing. Poof, She's gone.
The next I find my great grandfather Albert Duncan in the census is in 1900, at age 26. He listed as a farmer, alone, in Mineral Springs Township, Barry County, Missouri.
Then Albert is in 1910, married to my great grandma, Viola Ellen. living in Mineral Ward 1, Jasper County, Missouri. Two children are listed ages 2 and less than a year, but it is hard to read the writing for their names.
1920 Mineral Twsp. Barry Co, MO census has Albert and Viola with children Grace, George (my grandpa), Lavonne, Alberta and his brother in law Robert B. The 1930 census again finds Albert and Viola in Mineral, Barry County, Mo. with children Grace, George, Lavonne and Alberta.

I found a photo copy of Albert's death certificate on line through Missouri records, and my uncle sent me a copy of an obituary he had for Albert. Both name Albert's mother as Susan Trammel. The obituary for Albert's brother Edward also names their mother as Susan Trammel.

I just cannot be sure if Trammel is her maiden name or if it was a married name she took after William died. Since I can't find any record of her after the 1880 census, I don't know if she died, remarried or what.
The 'lore' I have found repeated almost word for word in a few other researcher's records and passed down through our branch as well, says this:
"Viola married her cousin Albert. Albert was the grandson of William Duncan and his third wife. Albert's parents died when he was young and he was raised by a doctor in southestern Missouri. Albert and Viola met with some family opposition when they married "

I have not been able to figure out who this doctor was who is said to have raised Albert, but have determined, the best I can, that he was not the grandson of William,  but the son. Viola Ellen, who Albert married, was a granddaughter of William and Amanda. Viola's father, Peter Hutsell Duncan was a half brother to Albert. Thus making Albert and Viola more like half niece/uncle. Though I can see why saying they were cousins was an easier way to explain things, but it's apparent the story got slightly confused quickly. This does explain why Albert was young when his parents died, sort of. William was a great deal older than Susan. Estimating from census records, Susan was born 1841. If William was born in 1808, and died in 1879, then William was 66 when Albert was born (1873) and Albert was about 6 years old when William died. But Susan would have only been about 49 if /when she died around 1890. (one researcher even gives a date for her death as January 10, 1890). How and where she died, remains to be discovered. I have not found an actual death record for William, or a grave, or burial record of any kind. The fact that he is no longer on the census with his family in 1880, supports his death date being before that, even though Susan is not specifically listed as a widow.

Also where Susan was born and what she did before she married William is a mystery. The best I could almost figure out, though not positively about where she came from, may be found in Missouri.
Going with the idea Susan was born in 1841 in Missouri I searched census records and found a Susan Trammel in District 92 of Scott County, MO. with her mother, Mary, age 40 (Mary is recorded in this record having been born in Indiana). Susan is 10, and has 3 sisters, Francez age 14, Lavina also was she a twin? and Louisa, age 6. I did find where a John Trammel bought land in the same county in 1841, but he is missing from the 1850 census. No clue what happened to him. I could find no other record on John.

 I did all kinds of searching, took all kinds of notes, and frankly, it's more like a rat's nest. Every time I try to research Susan, where she came from and where she went, I just keep hitting the same dead ends. I get frustrated and stash away my notes, hoping some day I'll just stumble on the right piece of information to open things up again.
My most recent discovery of info doesn't seem to help yet, and that was discovering land records for William in Pike County, Missouri, which seems to be just across the state line from Jackson County, Missouri.

Well, I hope some of this makes sense. The more I try to dig out the info, the more my brain wants to shut down. I had a long day in the hot sun today and this is taking all day to finish because of the delay.
If anyone has any questions, please don't be afraid to ask, I'll provide what I know, if you have any info that might help PLEASE let me know! I tried to add extra names in here to attract more possible leads from researchers.
To end on a good note I'll add a copy of a photo that was shared with me, of Albert, Viola and their children.
Back row left to right is Grace, George (my grandpa) and Lavonne
Front row left to right is Bertie Albert and Viola Ellen


  1. That is more than a brick wall, it is an entire fortress. Have you tried making a time line? You have done a lot of research and it will take a lot of work to sort it out.

    I also have a person that I have no information from 1874 till 1900 when she shows up married with children. This one for me is about 1/100 as complicated as your line.

  2. HI! I have tried to make lists, similar to a time line. I haven't really done much with time lines, Just trying to file the separate families of William is a challenge. Other researchers made it more confusing. I started with this branch so it really gave me a lot of brain squeeze as a beginner. Other researchers would list the wives in opposite order, and not try to check dates to determine which children were from which wife. I'm not good at math, so the calculator came to my rescue. Just realizing that William was Albert's father, not grandfather, was a major breakthrough! Hopefully a timeline will help get my thoughts on it all in more order too. Thanks for the suggestion. I'm really thinking, now, a time line for this puzzle will have to try to include activity of the rest of the family too, since Albert had siblings so much older than him.

  3. Now MY brain hurts. I know that we are connected two different ways.
    My 5th great grandpa and your 2nd great grandpa is Rev. John Allen McCluer. John's and Clarinda's daughter Sarah Ann McCluer married William Robert Duncan and Amanda Hutsel's son, Thomas Robert Duncan...your great grandpa's brother!

    -Rachel McDowell