Week 5: #52 Ancestors – Branching Out
By Eilene Lyon
The genealogical aspect of family history involves sprouting branches on the family tree by adding another generation of ancestors. My tree has robust limbs, at least back to 4th great-grandparents on nearly every line, and much further than that on most.
The Putterer’s tree appears a bit scrawny in comparison. When looking at the pedigree chart, you can see that six of his 2nd great-grandparents do not have circles around the arrows that would expand to earlier generations. My efforts to find parents for these—two men and four women—is going nowhere fast.
I do have possible parents for Mary Beyer, but the evidence so far is circumstantial and I’m hesitant to add them to the tree. I can’t even positively ascertain the spelling of her maiden name. Two of her children’s death certificates give the Beyer spelling. Variants are Byer and Beyerer. Her possible parents are Anton and Anna B. Beyer(er). All three, and other people named Beyer, are buried in Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church Cemetery in Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania.
What is confusing about tying Mary to Anton and Anna B. (Barbara?) is the 1850 census. Mary was already married to Thomas Chambers and is listed with him and six children on page 4 of the Zelienople enumeration. On page 8, taken the same day by the same census taker, lists “Anton Beyerer” with presumed wife “Barbara Beyerer” and, with the same age and birthplace as Mary Chambers, “Mary Ann Beyerer.” It seems implausible that the census taker would erroneously count Mary a second time in one day, and by her maiden name, but who knows?
What isn’t surprising is that of the six who lack parents on the tree, Mary was the only one born in the United States. The other five all immigrated from Europe. Complicating matters, they all came as adults.
Mary’s husband, Thomas Chambers (hardly an uncommon name), was born in England about 1802. All we really know of him comes from the 1850 census, as he passed away in 1856. Though Mary was just 39 years old at the time, she never remarried.
Hannah Mueller (aka Miller) was born in Germany, and thanks to census records we know she came from Bavaria and arrived in the U.S. in 1850. Age 20, she lived with a family of unrelated Germans in Bureau County, Illinois, that census year. She married Henry Bower (ancestral spelling: Bauer) the following year. Accessing Illinois marriage records is challenging at best, and I have no idea if parents would be named.
Charles G. Wulff and his wife, Anna, apparently married in Germany and had at least one child there before coming to America. A child’s birth record and Charles’s death notice in the newspaper pinpoint his home village of (Little) Berlin, near Lübeck in Schleswig-Holstein. Anna, whose last name is variously spelled as Bruhn, Berhn, Bouhn, and Bruns, was said to be from Oldenburg in her obituary, which is quite a ways from Lübeck. Without even knowing her proper maiden name, she may remain a mystery.
Last on the list is Esther Forsythe, mother of Arthur Gee, whom we met recently. She immigrated from Scotland in 1856, per the 1900 census, and married widower, William Gee. As we saw, they later divorced. Because she was 27 years old when she came to America, and married a couple years later, there’s very little evidence of her origins. It’s possible that Forsythe may not even be her maiden name.
Until I can find immigration and/or naturalization records for these people, I shall probably be unable to sprout these branches on the Lyon family tree.
Feature image: The Bower family about 1880. Back row: Emma, Margaret, Elizabeth, and Lorenzo (Lou). Front row: Martin, Henry, Hannah (Mueller), Elias (Albert), and Edward. (Shared by mobeez on Ancestry.com)