I suppose the best analogy for my genealogy research is that if you pound your head against a brick wall hard enough and enough times; eventually a brick may fall out. But before I talk to you about the brick, let me go back a bit and tell you about the process of hitting the wall.
Frances Bolton is my 3rd great grandmother and is the only 3rd great grandparent born inside the U.S. whom I don't know anything about her past, namely who her parents were. Fittingly enough her husband and my 3rd great grandfather, Joseph Baker, is someone whom I have written about exhaustively on this blog but because he wasn't born in America, he falls into the category of 3rd great grandparents born outside America and whom I don't know anything about their past. Only two other 3rd great grandparents fall into this category. I tell you this because of goal of mine has been to fill out my ancestry chart completely out to my 6th great grandparents, a process that is about 38% done at the 6th great grandparent level and until recently 88% done at the 4th great grandparent level. If you do the math, that means that out of my thirty-two 3rd great grandparents, I knew the parentage of all but four of them. So I find myself repeatedly hitting my head against the same brick walls trying to uncover leaded on the three holdouts, Frances Bolton being one of them.
For the longest time, I only had one confirmed record of her, the 1880 Federal Census Record when she lived in Parkersburg, Iowa. Then, in a discovery that I blogged about here, I found out that she had eventually remarried, perhaps given some of her children up for adoption and then disappeared again off the census records at a ripe old age, presumably dead. Since the only newspaper records during the timeframe of her death were on microfiche, I bided my time waiting for a chance to get up there to search them to try and find when she died and where she was buried. Most importantly, I wanted to find an obituary in the off chance it listed her parents and provided more information to where she was born other than Wisconsin. I had a census from 1850 in Willow Springs, Wisconsin that I thought might be her with one sister and her mother but couldn't find any of them between 1850 and 1880 census records to prove it. Again, the brick wall.
So on an inspired hunch, I posted her name and known information on a genealogy forum in the county where she had lived for 40 years before I theorized she died, and asked if anyone could locate when she died, where she was buried and an obituary in the local paper there. A week later, some Good Samaritan had given me all three answers. Turns out, Frances (Bolton) Baker Heppenstall had died on 22 January 1927 and was buried in the same cemetery as Joseph Baker and my 2nd great grandfather John Henry Baker. She doesn't have a gravestone but records point that she is there just the same right in-between her daughter Lena and second husband Thomas Heppenstall and her grandson Leslie and his wife Lily. Best of all, the Good Samaritan took the time to search the microfiche and sent me a copy of her obituary.
Sadly, no parents were listed but her birth was listed as being in Darlington, Wisconsin, which is just a few miles from Willow Springs where I have a census that I believe, lists her name. If this is indeed she along with her mother Mary and older sister Selina, where did they go? I can't find them in the 1860 census or any other census. By 1870, Frances Bolton was already married to my 3rd great grandfather Joseph Baker and living in Illinois making babies though that census record doesn't exist either. It wasn't until 1880 that Frances finally shows up in Parkersburg, Iowa but Salina and Mary are never seen again. According to a couple separate sources, Mary's husband is John Bolton and yet he doesn't show up in the 1850 census. No record of him being buried in Willow Springs or anywhere else in the area exists so where did he go. Again, more of the brick walls I've been facing. However on my most recent bout with the wall, a brick popped out...