I am writing this as a placeholder in the web in case someone someday decides to search for Frances E. Bolton. She was my 3rd great grandmother and holds the distinction of occupying the shortest branch in my ancestral lineage. I am here so I know that the branch goes further but after several attempts to track her down, I have yet to do so. I have three other branches that are the same length but all of them stretch across the ocean where I will have to wait for a future day to investigate. This branch however ends in 1848 in Willow Springs, Lafayette County, Wisconsin. In a sense, that is the beginning.
The only concrete evidence I have on Frances Bolton comes from the 1880 Census when she and my 3rd great grandfather Joseph Baker resided in Parkersburg, Iowa (a place half wiped off the map a couple years ago by a giant F5 tornado) with three of their kids. Oddly enough, my 2nd great grandfather John Henry Baker whom I have wrote about before here, here, here and here was not there at the time of the census and I have been unable to locate his where abouts at the time of the census. From that census, I know that Frances was born in Wisconsin and both parents emigrated from England. The census lists a middle initial of A.
During a previous search, I had found a Frances N. Bolton living in Wisconsin at the age of 1 with her mother, who was 25 at the time, Mary Bolton in the 1850 census in a town called Willow Springs. Frances N. Bolton's parents were also listed as immigrants from England and all the details matched except for the middle initial. The census lists them as living in the residence of an Elias and Elisabeth Pilling, both near 50 years of age along with their assorted children. I would suspect that the Pillings are related to Mary Bolton but in what way I can only guess for now. Frances N. Bolton had a sister listed by the name of Salina Bolton age 4 but searches of subsequent census's have failed to turn up any traces of either Frances her sister Salina or mother Mary.
For the longest time this was a dead end and just all conjecture until a few weeks ago when I found an obituary for one of the grandsons of Joseph Baker and Frances Bolton. Doing a quick search of the surviving children names, I discovered one of them living not to far away and found an email address for her. So I sent off an email asking if she knew any information about our common ancestors, her great grandparents and my 3rd great grandparents Joseph and Frances Baker. She sent me a reply saying that she didn't know much about them except that one of them came from Willow Springs, Wisconsin. This seemed to clinch the information that I had only suspected as being a possibility and turned it into an almost certainty. Her niece is the family genealogist and will be sending me more information from some family albums kept by my 2nd great aunt now deceased. There is hope perhaps.
I do know from these to pieces of information that my 3rd great grandmother Frances married my 3rd great grandfather Joseph Baker sometime in the late 1860's judging from the fact that their first child was born about 1869 in Colchester, McDonough, Illinois. My 2nd great grandfather John Henry Baker was also born on 3 February 1871 there though I have not been able to track down a birth certificate or other confirming information via either Internet or phone. I hope to make a trip there someday though I have been told the records don't exist by parties that sounded uninterested in my search.
Joseph Baker died a short while later two years after the 1880 census and I have visited his grave in Cedar Falls, Iowa. However, the only information the cemetery had was his name and plot number, no record as to whether his wife Frances Bolton was buried with him.
The only other pieces of information that I have come from the Iowa Census of 1925, which unlike other census records also, listed the names of the parents of adult children. Of the four children of my 3rd great grandparents, I have been able to find two of them in Iowa in 1925. His brother Charles W. Baker was in Iowa in 1925 but the spot for his mother's name was blank. My 2nd great grandfather John Henry Baker has his mother listed as Fanny with no last name, a common nickname of Frances.
I have hit numerous dead ends and can't seem to locate this family outside of the 1880 Census. I have tried all the tricks and tips I know to filter through the census data to try and locate them and I never can. Partly because Baker is a very common last name, especially in the states of Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa where they lived and died, or perhaps they were just very adept at not getting tallied. They were only in Wisconsin and Illinois briefly and spent much of their lives probably around Parkersburg where the F5 tornado supposedly took care of a lot of the records at the courthouse.
One other researcher on this person has her full name as Frances Elton Bolton and though I have heard Bolton as her maiden name in our family oral history and have seen her name listed as Bollen in a marriage announcement of her son, I have never seen or heard anything listing her middle name as Elton. Her first-born daughter was named Frances Ellen Bolton, which leads me to suspect that Elton is incorrect. They sound similar when spoken aloud and was probably transcribed incorrectly. Ellen is also a more common middle name than Elton, which I have never heard of outside of Elton John the entertainer.
The last tidbit that I have was a search on the immigration record for Mary Bolton. I turned up only one hit that had a Mary Bolton arriving in the U.S. before the 1850 Census when she was recorded as living in Wisconsin. That Mary emigrated with husband Joseph Bolton on 6 June 1844 aboard the ship Joseph Cunard from Liverpool, England landing in New York. This of course assumes she didn't marry another immigrant once in the U.S. and thus immigrated under a different last name.
I'm not sure what I can do to further this pursuit at this time other than to wait for some distant cousin who may or may not have anything that I can use and may or may not allow me to obtain a copy anytime soon. Like I said, I want to head over to Colchester but I have to be prepared for that fact I may not find anything there. Ditto Parkersburg, Iowa. What I really would like is to find all those missing census records but it will take a better searcher than me to skim through the billions of records and come up with some that I feel are possible matches. Perhaps someday, someone will come across this page and know the answers and be willing to write me an email, assuming it still works. Whatever happened to you Frances Ellen Bolton?