I recently wrote about Nancy Malinda (Pool) Napier (1872-1945), daughter of Stephen P. Pool of Christian County, Kentucky. Her experience as a Gold Star Mother provided a window onto events with more general societal implications than is usual in stories about our ancestors. Here, I return to an account with more strictly genealogical research implications. The story of my efforts to locate the birth family of Nancy Malinda’s mother, Ellen, shows how evidence based on the “FAN Club” approach and repetition of an unusual forename brought closure to the search for Ellen’s origins.
Stephen P. Pool was born in Halifax County Virginia about 1819, the son of Seth(5) Pettypool, whose estate was probated in Trigg County Kentucky on September 22, 1835. Seth was one of the pioneer settlers in this part of Kentucky. He and his descendants were, however, only one of a large group of Pettypool men who came west from Virginia to Kentucky in waves of post-Revolutionary migration.
This joint migration of many inter-related Pettypool families has produced tangled lineages and many descendants whose often similar naming patterns and use of common forenames in successive generations continue to confound family historians trying to produce accurate pedigrees. Stephen’s family has not been immune to these confusions, including the elusive origins of his wife, Ellen.
Ellen joined the Pettypool family on December 23, 1869 when she and Stephen were married in Christian County, Kentucky. She obtained the marriage license using the name “Ellen Ladd” when she married the much older Stephen (age 50 at this marriage, which appears to be his first).
Appearing in the 1870 in the Christian County, Kentucky federal census, the newly married Ellen indicated that she was 22 years old and that her birth state was Tennessee. These bits of information, which prompted my first unproductive detour, led me to several hours of fruitless searching for potential Ladd families for Ellen’s parentage in the 1850 Tennessee federal census returns.
Having exhausted the 1850 census for evidence of her lineage, I pursued successive federal census enumerations for Stephen and Ellen. By 1880 Stephen and Ellen had moved west to Hamilton County, Illinois. They are found there with three Pool children: [Nancy] Malinda, a female (age 7), Canarie, a female (age 5), and Stephen, a male (age 1).
This was my introduction to “Canarie,” and I was puzzled by the name. In many years of census research, I had never before encountered anyone, male or female, with that name or anything similar. Upon first exposure I assumed the census enumerator had either misheard and/or misspelled some more common name, even though I didn’t have a good guess as to what that name might be. As often happens, having come this distance in researching Stephen’s family, other events interceded, and I put aside study of that branch for a few years.
I once again took up research on Stephen’s family when I had begun researching my own Missouri “Bootheel” relatives more intensively and had come across death certificates for other “Bootheel” Pool individuals who were clearly Stephen’s children and their descendants. Even though I have, until today, been unable to establish death dates or death locations for Stephen and Ellen, the death certificates for four of their five children unanimously designated their mother’s maiden name as “Ellen Steel(e).”
This was the lead I needed. I began a search for Steel(e) families in Tennessee in the 1850 federal census and immediately found a candidate family for Ellen. The Nathaniel and Elizabeth Steele entry in Sumner County, Tennessee in 1850 contained 3-year-old Ellen, youngest of the ten children residing at that time in the Steele household. This was a great find, but how could I gain evidence to prove my speculation that the Nathaniel Steele family was the family of the Ellen who married Stephen Pool in Christian County Kentucky in 1869?
Enter the “FAN Club” approach. I decided to trace forward members of Ellen’s putative family of origin in order hopefully to capture any additional fragments of information that could clarify Ellen’s movements between 1850 and her emergence in Christian County in 1869 as wife-to-be of Stephen.
As already mentioned, in the 1850 Sumner County, Tennessee census enumeration Ellen was the youngest of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Steele’s large family, which consisted of the following other children: Levi (age 20), Mary (age 21), Joseph (age 19), James (age 17), Andrew (age 14), Nathaniel (age 12), Malinda (age 10), and twins, John (age 6) and Nancy (age 6). Moreover, living next door to them with a young family of his own, was a William Steele (age 25), also of an appropriate age to be either another son or a much younger brother to Nathaniel.
When I moved forward to the 1860 census, it became apparent that Nathaniel and Elizabeth must have died between 1850 and 1860. They were not to be found, neither in Tennessee nor in Kentucky, where several Steele individuals from the 1850 census had migrated prior to 1860 and were found scattered in various locations at the time of the census enumeration. The following relevant Nathaniel Steele family members have been identified in Kentucky in 1860:
- William, the putative eldest son (or brother) of Nathaniel was head of a household in Christian County, Kentucky.
- One of Nathaniel’s elder sons, 29 year-old Levi, also was head of a household in Christian County, Kentucky that included a wife, Susan, three children (identified by initials only) and his two younger twin siblings John L. and M. E. (called Nancy in the 1860 census) Steele.
- Malinda, another older sibling of Ellen, had married Anderson Morgan in Christian County, Kentucky on 6 October 1859, and they also were living in Christian County in 1860.
- Ellen Steele, the youngest sibling at age 13, was not living in Christian County in 1860. She was found in Butler County, Kentucky, in the household of Green L. Clark. Clark had married Ellen’s eldest sister, Mary E.
Based on this accounting of the whereabouts of the majority of Ellen’s siblings, many of whom had found their way to Christian County, Kentucky, it made sense that Ellen might also have eventually made her way there as well. For the moment, however, no evidence has come to light about why or when she made such a move (if she ever did before her marriage) nor when or where she married the Ladd individual whose name she carried at her marriage to Stephen.
After tracing and correlating the movements of relevant Steele family descendants in Christian County by means of the 1860 census, I was already reasonably certain that I had identified Nathaniel and Elizabeth as the parents of the Ellen who became Stephen P. Pool’s wife. The following information, turned up with a bit of additional digging, confirmed my conviction:
- At Stephen and Ellen’s marriage in 1869, one of the two witnesses was Anderson Morgan, the husband of her putative sister, Malinda.
- Ellen named her first daughter Nancy Malinda, presumably after the two sisters in her putative birth family who were closest to her in age.
- As described earlier, Stephen and Ellen gave their second daughter the quite distinctive name Canary. When I traced the movements of the family of Ellen’s putative older brother, Levi, it became apparent that his family, too, had migrated to Hamilton County, Illinois. In the 1880 census, Levi’s widow, Susan, was heading a household located only a few farms away from Stephen and Ellen in Flannigan Township. Also in the Susan Steele household was evidence of a daughter named “Canary.” Even without the other clues suggesting relationship between the two families, the likelihood that two “Canarys” would appear by chance in such close geographic proximity is remote, thereby almost surely denoting a close relationship between these two. Born approximately 1860, Canary Steele must have been the namesake for her younger cousin, Canary Pool.
What is the moral of the story? If traditionally available vital records don’t immediately yield genealogical answers, tracing the movements and transactions of associates and near relatives of the target individual may solve the problem. In the present case, an apparently early but undocumented marriage of Ellen Steele to a man named Ladd obscured easy detection of her family of origin. Only by the process of correlating a series of hints from records suggesting a likely candidate family for Ellen, along with study of that candidate family’s descendants and their associates, was the evidence discovered to confirm Ellen Steele P. Pool’s lineage.
- “FAN” is an acronym for “Family & Friends, Associates and Neighbors.” It describes a concept introduced by Elizabeth Shown Mills encouraging the use of knowledge of an individual’s “FAN Club,” that is, the use of his or her context and community in order to prove identity, origin and parentage. See Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 11: Identity Problems & the FAN Principle,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-11-identity-problems-fan-principle: accessed 3 Apr 2017). ↑
- Carolyn S. Hartsough, “The William Pettypool Family of Southside Virginia: Lineage Reconstruction Based On Current Review of Evidence,” p. 20, available from the Pettypool Family One-Name Study website, www.pettypool.com. ↑
- A message to the Pool-Family History & Genealogy Message Board in 2006 seeking information about the Christian County, Kentucky Stephen P. Pool was answered with a helpful response indicating that Ellen had been attached in error to the respondent’s same-name ancestor, the Stephen P. Pool from a Breckinridge County, Kentucky Pettypool family. (https://www.ancestry.co.uk/boards/surnames.pool/744.1/mb.ashx, accessed 2 Apr 2017). ↑
- Cordelia C. Gary, Marriage Records, 1851-1900, Christian County, Kentucky, v. 2, no publisher, 1970, p. 227: Stephen P. Pool – Ellen Ladd marriage. ↑
- U. S. Census Bureau, U. S. Federal Census: Christian County Kentucky, 1870, population schedule, NA N593_455, Hopkinsville, Scates Mill Prec., p. 13, dwell 94, family 94, line 18. ↑
- U. S. Census Bureau, U. S. Federal Census: Hamilton County, Illinois, 1880, population schedule, NA T9_210, Flannigan Prec., p. 10, ED24, dwell 85, family 85, lines 20-24. ↑
- “Missouri Bootheel.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. last modified 2 Apr 2017 (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_Bootheel , accessed 4 Apr 2017.) The Missouri Bootheel is the southeastern-most part of the state of Missouri. It extends into the state of Arkansas at this point and is so called because its shape resembles the heel of a boot. ↑
- Missouri Digital Heritage, Missouri Death Certificates, 1910-1965 [on line database], County: Pemiscot; Certificate Number: 24608, death of Nancy M. Napier; Missouri Digital Heritage, Missouri Death Certificates, 1910-1965 [on line database], County: Pemiscot; Certificate Number: 31592, death of Stephen Douglas Pool; Missouri Digital Heritage, Missouri Death Certificates, 1910-1965 [on line database], County: Pemiscot; Certificate Number: 65-036530, death of John Henry Pool; Missouri Digital Heritage, Missouri Death Certificates, 1910-1965 [on line database], County: Pemiscot; Certificate Number: 41301, death of Arthur Pool. ↑
- U. S. Census Bureau, U. S. Federal Census: Sumner County, Tennessee, 1850, population schedule, NA Film M432_897, Dist. No 19, dwell 151, family 151, line 16. ↑
- U. S. Census Bureau, U. S. Federal Census: Christian County, Kentucky, 1860, population schedule, NA Film No. M653_362, Page 90, Hopkinsville, dwell 597, family 597, line 23. ↑
- U. S. Census Bureau, U. S. Federal Census: Christian County, Kentucky, 1860, population schedule, NA Film No. M653_362, Page 9, Hopkinsville, dwell 59, family 59, lines 10, 14 and 15. ↑
- Cordelia C. Gary, Marriage Records, 1851-1900, Christian County, Kentucky, v. 2, no publisher, 1970, p. 260: Malinda Steele – Anderson Morgan marriage. Also, U. S. Census Bureau, U. S. Federal Census: Christian County, Kentucky, 1860, population schedule, NA Film No. M653_362, Page 14, Hopkinsville, dwell 94, family 94, line 2. ↑
- U. S. Census Bureau, U. S. Federal Census: Butler County, Missouri, 1860, population schedule, NA Film No. M653_358, Page 18, Quality Valley, dwell 124, family 124, lines 12 and 15. ↑
- Cordelia C. Gary, Marriage Records, 1851-1900, Christian County, Kentucky, v. 2, no publisher, 1970, p. 227: Stephen P. Pool – Ellen Ladd marriage witnesses – Spencer and Anderson Morgan. ↑
- U. S. Census Bureau, U. S. Federal Census: Hamilton County, Illinois, 1880, population schedule, NA T9_210, Flannigan Prec., p. 11, ED24, dwell 92, family 92, line 16. The 1880 federal census enumerator listed Canary with a notation “Dec’d” for the “Occupation” entry and then lined through the entire entry. The mortality schedule associated with the 1880 federal census explains the reason for the correction. Canary Steele had died of Pneumonia in December 1879. See Ancestry.com. U. S., Federal Census Mortality Schedules Index, 1850-1880 [database on-line]. Provo, Utah, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010, NARA_T1133; Archive Roll Number: 62; Census Year: 1879; Census Place: Flannigan, Hamilton County, Illinois. ↑