Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday's Photo/Alma May Magoon

     Little Alma May was born January 21, 1898 in Manchester, New Hampshire.  In the 1900 census she and her two older sisters, Marian and Ruth, were living with their grandparents John and Julia Magoon as were several older children of John and Julia.  By 1910, she and her sisters had returned to the home of their parents Carl and Susan Magoon.  Or so it seemed.

     I didn't know why the girls would be living with their grandparents in 1900?   It seemed odd that all three of them would be residing there.  So I took a look at the family trees on  There I discovered Alma's father Carl was widowed in 1899, confirmed by a Family Search death record.  That must be when the girls went to their grandparents.  Since the 1910 census had given me their father's name, I took another look at the 1900 census, and there was Carl listed in the grandparent's household too.  He had taken his girls and moved to his parent's home after the death of his wife.

Death Record From Family Search

     Alma and her sister's mother was in fact May Ellison.  Susan, (Fowler), was the children's stepmother.  Alma is with Carl and Susan in 1920 also, but not in 1930.  It appears she married between those dates.  A tree with no sources says she married and had children, but that information is marked private.  It goes on to say she died in New York City in 1953.

     Several of the trees on Ancestry mistakenly claim Susan was the mother of Alma and her sisters, but the census of 1900 placing them with their grandparents is a dead giveaway that something was up with this family.  It's easy to forget, when the 1910 census tells us the child is a "daughter", that is her relationship to the head of the household only, not to his wife; and it's easy to make assumptions looking at census records. This reminds me of the genealogical golden rule, the more records one can dig up the better.  And don't believe everything you read in an online tree.


  1. What a sweet little baby, looks like she wearing her christening robe. Where did you come across the photograph Ellie?

  2. She really is a little doll. I hope her stepmother was kind to her. Photo was on Ebay.

  3. Alma was such a doll! And like you said, just one more reminder that online trees should only be used as starting points to finding real records!

  4. Couldn't agree more. Drives me to distraction when the "source" on a tree is another online tree.