Saturday, February 25, 2017

Grandpa Jeremiah And That Hussy Betsey

Death  of Betsey Grandy Garner,  born Sterling, NY -- died in Hastings County, Ontario, Canada
     Yesterday, instead of cleaning up my desk like I promised myself I would do, I spent the day figuring out the seeming inconsistencies in the life of Betsey Chase, the wife of John M. Grandy and then of Jeremiah Garner.  Betsey is not even related to me, but she did marry my third great-grandfather Jeremiah, so I needed to clear up a few things.  By the way, the back story of the Garner/Grandy nuptials is a somewhat sordid one that involves international borders, abandonment and bigamy, you can read it here if you'd like. 

     Although I was convinced Betsey died only a year and a half after her 1868 marriage to Grandpa Jeremiah in a foreign country, (OK, it was Canada), annoying contradictory evidence kept popping up.  One was the record in a database on the Wayne County, NY Historian's website saying Betsey Grandy married  Eugene Morris in 1874.  Did she tire of Jeremiah, return home and marry again?  Another was a pension record dated 1892, with the names John M. Grandee and his widow Betsey A. Grandee of New York.  But... Betsey died in 1869...didn't she?  Of course she did, the record of her demise is at the top of this page; I was convinced at one time and I'm not that easy to convince.  I read somewhere that while researching you should just go ahead and assume there was another person of the same name living in the same area as your ancestor.  That way you'll be extra careful before accepting the evidence you find at face value. I think it's good advice and try to keep it in mind while chasing my ancestors.
     I couldn't just assume Elizabeth Garner was Betsey Grandy even though I had their marriage record, and the likelihood of another Elizabeth marrying a Garner who was coincidentally an innkeeper like my Jeremiah, and lived in Hastings County, like my Jeremiah, and was from Sterling, NY like Jeremiah... oh heck, it's her!  I wouldn't even be questioning it if not for those nagging contrary records that turned up; in census after census my Jeremiah Garner is the only person of that name in Hastings County, or the entire Provence of Ontario for that matter.

     Still, those records did exist and they needed to be reconciled.
What if the pension referred to a different couple with the names John M. and Betsey Grandy, living somewhere in New York?  The record at Family Search didn't give a home address, just "New York State".  It did however give the next best thing, John's unit, the 10th Regiment of NY Heavy Artillery.  Unlike modern day soldiers, those of the Civil War era usually enlisted locally and served alongside their family, friends and neighbors.  Checking to see where this regiment was formed, I found the 10th was made up of soldiers from Jefferson County, far north of  Cayuga County where the Garners and Grandys lived.  Now I checked the 1850 census of Jefferson County for a John Grandy and found him in Clayton.  At age 17 he was just the right age to be a Civil War soldier.  Strangely, Ancestry had nothing at all about John Grandy, Civil War soldier; I sometimes wonder if they are transferring their military information to Fold3 which they now own?

     Family Search though, had lots on John.  Along with the above mentioned pension record they had the 1890 veteran's schedule showing John still in Jefferson County and the marriage of Daniel, a son of John M. Grandee of Clayton and (I crossed my fingers here) BETSEY Robbins!  YES!  There WAS an explanation for the pension, it was a different couple bearing the names John M. and Betsey Grandy/Grandee.  But there was still that pesky local marriage in 1874.  Now I searched the 1850 and 1860 censuses of Wayne and Cayuga Counties, because they lived in an area right on the border of the two counties, and there in Butler, Wayne, New York I found Betsey Grandy, daughter of Lewis Grandy, seven years old in 1860; she could easily have been married fourteen years later.  This must be the future wife of Eugene Morris.

     I do this all the time and I'll bet I'm not alone.  I research a subject and find what I deem to be conclusive evidence, but as years go by I move on to other lines and the memories of my fantastic finds fade. When I return to the other family I find myself doubting my own conclusions.  And that is where this blog comes in so handy, and why it has a search function.  All I have to do is check past posts and oftentimes there is an analysis of the research I've already done.  For me this is so much easier than keeping a research journal, even if no one ever read what I wrote it would be worth the effort.


  1. Canada - foreign - had to wipe the coffee off my screen it caught me so off guard - I laughed!

  2. Well, technically...
    Glad you got a laugh ;)