Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Pestering Ancestor

Sometimes I get tired of my ancestors, especially when they keep pestering me to find them.  While working on an individual or family line, one ancestor from a completely different family will intrude in my thoughts and refuse to leave in peace.  It's almost as if he or she is saying, "Find me.  Find my records.  Don't forget about me."  I sometimes want to say, "Oh, just go away and leave me alone.  Can't you see I'm busy?" -- in a kind and gentle way, of course.  But I don't.  I make notes, I start thinking about where else I can look, what other options and scenarios may have taken place in the life of the pestering ancestor and to which records they may lead.  And I imagine saying to the ancestor, "How about a little help?  Do you think you could point me in the right direction, give me a hint or two?"

A few months ago, with his delightful Yorkshire accent, Abel Armitage nudged me.  I took myself to the Ohio Archives and searched through Steubenville newspapers (again) for more about the suit he and his wife, Ann, filed against the City of Steubenville. 
(Results of a previous search are posted here.)  The searches this time led to these four brief articles at right, all published in The Steubenville Weekly Herald.

The first was published on Friday, February 14, 1879.

The second on Friday, March 5, 1880, under "Assignment of Cases."

The third was published on Friday, April 8, 1881.

And the last on Friday, April 29, 1881.  This newspaper article is chronologically the last "document" I've found for Abel.

He began pestering me this week.  Perhaps he's aware that Ancestry's British records will be available free of charge this weekend and determined that it was time for me to begin searching for him again (for about the fourth or fifth time in eight or ten years).  It's almost become a game of hide and seek trying to find when and where he last lived and where he died.

What could have happened to Abel after this news article in 1881?  I haven't found him (or any documents for him) anywhere in Jefferson County, Ohio, after that date.  Possibilities include
  • a return to England with his wife.  He became a naturalized citizen in 1874 but maybe he was homesick.  After collecting the $207.84 settlement money would he have had enough to buy passage to England for himself and his wife? 
  • a move to a neighboring state:  West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky.  Abel was identified as disabled in the 1880 U.S. Census and would have been 60 in 1881.  A move would probably not have been easy, whether to a neighboring state or to England.
  • a coal mine accident, considering that he may have returned to coal mining as a breaker boy.
  • death as an unidentified man.

I don't know which possibility is more likely but since Ancestry UK is free this weekend and since Abel has been nudging me, I'll see if I can find him in England.

And then maybe, just maybe, he will quit pestering me for a while again.  But then, one of my other ancestors will probably pester for attention.


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Timing is everything. I hope you find something to satisfy that pest of an ancestor.

    1. Thanks, Wendy. I hope so, too. I don't know why I didn't think of him going back to England earlier, but maybe he didn't and I'll be back to where I was before I had that idea. Who knows.

  2. Funny, I think a lot of the ancestors pester us. I often have names pop into my head that I haven't researched for a while and, sure enough, some new tidbit turns up.

    1. I'm glad to learn this isn't a phenomenon specific to me, Linda. When one pesters you, do you always respond?

  3. I love how you talk about your ancestor pestering you! I had never thought about it that way. :) I hope you are able to uncover more about Abel! (I found your post through Linda's weekly "finds.")

    1. Thanks for visiting from Linda's post and for leaving a comment, Dana. I'm hoping to find more about Abel but no luck yet!


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