Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Three Wives of Ellis H. Bickerstaff

Sources are essential but I love to have images of documents.  I know it's not always possible to find images but I always hope -- and I know it would have been impossible to get copies before 40 or 50 years ago. 

Bickerstaff researchers are plentiful:  some share sources, others don't; but none that I know of share images.  So you can imagine how thrilled I was to find images for marriage records for my great-great-grandfather Ellis Bickerstaff's second wife, and a clear copy of the marriage document for him and his first wife. 

Wife #1:  Emma P. Nelson - Emma is my direct-line ancestor.
Married September 1, 1861 in Jefferson County, Ohio
Source:  Jefferson County Ohio Marriage Records, 1850-1866, Volume 7, p. 465, No. 10580.  Found at FamilySearch:

Wife #2:  Sarah J. McCune
Married April 15, 1880 in Jefferson County, Ohio
Source:  Jefferson County Ohio Marriage Records, 1866-1883, Vol. 8, p. 673, No. 16568.
Found at FamilySearch:

Wife #3:  Lucy (Umbarger) Irwin
Married January 15, 1883 in Homestead, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Source:  Civil War Pension File of Ellis H. Bickerstaff
(I don't have a marriage certificate for Ellis and Lucy but don't feel the need since she's not my direct-line ancestor.  For me, this CWPF is sufficient.)

  • It's interesting that Emma's name is "E. P." in her marriage certificate but "Emma V." in the Civil War Pension File (CWPF).  I have no other documents to indicate which middle initial may be correct.  Ellis's granddaughter, who is my grandmother, was given the name Emma Virginia Bickerstaff.
  • From the CWPF I learn the date of Emma's death, the names of Ellis and Emma's 3 children and their birth dates, as well as that a child was born to Ellis and Lucy.
  • It's curious that in the CWPF, Ellis mentions only his first wife and his current wife but makes no mention of second wife, Sarah J. McCune.  Perhaps, because there was only space for one previous wife, Ellis chose his first wife to whom he had been married longest.
  • It's interesting how less, shall we say, attentive I am to the non-direct-line-spouses of my direct-line ancestors.
  • You gotta love an organization that gives you free images of sources that would have taken a month of Sundays to find plus at least several weeks' wait and several SASEs in the process.  Thank you, FamilySearch, for providing images of two of Ellis's marriage records, and so much more!


  1. Nancy, Family history research is like trying to solve a puzzle! And those
    discrepancies along the way are always interesting. Great sleuthing!

    1. Thank you, Dorene. I agree, except with a puzzle (at least a jigsaw puzzle) we usually get all the pieces at the same time. Part of the puzzle with family history is determining what information we need about a person/family, figuring out where we can find it, and then trying to see if it all fits in. But it sure is worth it!

  2. Just 2 thoughts on P vs V: (1) the person who filled out the form might have heard the initial incorrectly and (2) some of my ancestors have 3 names like Mary Ida Susan and Mary Etta Elizabeth - If they had to identify ONLY ONE middle initial, which would they have chosen??


I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...