An elderly parent who lives with an ancestor’s family is genealogical gold. Even better if it’s the woman’s side of the family and you’re able to score her maiden name! New lines! New mysteries!
That is, if you’re sure that elderly person is indeed a parent.
Meet Mrs. Fanny Cornell.
Socrates and Fanny Cornell lived in Chatham, Tioga county, Pennsylvania until about 1865, at which time they moved to Troupsburg, Steuben county, New York. They had a mess of kids, including my great-great-great-grandfather, Francis Smith Cornell.
The history compilation Landmarks of Steuben County, New York calls her “Fannie Short.” We can take that at face value, or we can go looking for supporting records. The book was first published the year she passed away, 1896, and while it’s closer to her than we are, it’s not enough to prove that was her name. So the chase begins.
In 1850, the Cornells lived five doors down from Asa and Betsey Short and their crew: Francis, Charlotte, Susan, and Mary Short (plus Mary J and Chas H Conklin). This will be important later, but it’s also important now: two Francises. Onomastics in action, not that it proves anything.
Just for reference, Jonathan and Anna Stiles were already in Troupsburg by 1850.
Jonathan and Anna (Card) Stiles also appear in the 1855 New York State Census, which gives another very important piece of info: they had been living in Troupsburg for 40 years, or since 1815. In 1860, she’s living next door to her daughter Sally’s family; in 1865, she’s living with them, still in Troupsburg, and the Cornells are living close by. In fact, I found them by accident while looking for Anna.
Then, Inconveniently Enough …
By 1870, the household demographics have shifted dramatically and 81-year-old Anna Stiles is living with Socrates and Fanny, their grown sons Smith and Seneca, and a two-year-old. This record pre-dates the census question about relationship to head of household, but the ages are about right. Anna could be Fanny’s mother. It’s plausible.
However, we haven’t proven anything yet, and 1875 gets even more confusing. Here we do have family relationships listed, such as they are.
|Socrates Cornell||65||head||Schoharie county (NY)|
|Ann Cornell||26||daughter||Cortland county (NY)|
|Harry Cornell||7||grandson||Steuben county (NY)|
|Hattie Cornell||5||granddaughter||Steuben county (NY)|
|Nathan Cornell||4||grandson||Steuben county (NY)|
|Laura Cornell||3-4/12||granddaughter||Steuben county (NY)|
|Ruth Cornell||1-4/12||granddaughter||Steuben county (NY)|
Now. given Ann Cornell’s position in the chronology, her birthplace, and the fact that she’s the only viable candidate to be the mother of all those grandkids, she is clearly a daughter-in-law and not a natural child. Most other sources give her name as Rosilla and not Ann, but we see ancestors switching out first and middle names all the time.
So following that flexible logic, Anna Stiles could be Socrates’ remarried mother or mother-in-law. Although she’s been a resident of Troupsburg longer than Fanny’s been alive, we have to account for the fact that census data isn’t precise. If one stopped looking right here, one might be satisfied with the existence of Fanny Stiles Cornell.
Cue the “However” Music!
The Settlement of the Estate of Asa Short of Chatham, Tioga county, Pennsylvania records a payment to Fanny Cornell. In fact, she receives an equal portion as each of these listed under “following heirs:”
- Fanny Cornell
- Sarah D. Eddy
- Matilda Brague
- Lauryette Whitney
- Charlotte Jones
- Susan Cole
- Mary Whitney
- Francis Short
- Perry Short
Francis, Charlotte, Susan, and Mary match up with siblings living under Asa and Betsey Short’s roof in 1850 — close neighbors to the Cornells. Following the money leads to Fanny Short, not Fanny Stiles.
Why All This?
Because there’s bad information out there. Because theories and assumptions sometimes supplant facts. Because I do it, too.
So What About Anna Stiles?
She’s buried in the Allen Cemetery, which is interesting because of a quirk in the cemetery deed — you have to be related to be buried there. (Related to who or how closely, I don’t know.) Nonetheless, it’s interesting because Smith’s wife Rosilla Taggart, the erstwhile Ann, was the daughter of Ruby Allen. I think, though I haven’t yet proven, that Anna Stiles lodging with the Cornells had more to do with Rosilla than it did with Fanny.
Elderly parents living with an ancestor’s family are genealogical gold–if you’re sure they are parents! (Click to tweet this!)
Take a maiden name at face value, or go looking for supporting records? #genealogy (Click to tweet this!)
Onomastics in action! Not that it proves anything. (Click to tweet this!)
Ancestry.com. Landmarks of Steuben County, New York [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data: Landmarks of Steuben County, New York. Syracuse: D. Mason, 1896. Page 325.
Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Year: 1850; Census Place: Chatham, Tioga, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_830; Page: 149B; Image: 302.
Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Year: 1850; Census Place: Troupsburg, Steuben, New York; Roll: M432_599; Page: 270B; Image: 74.
The Stiles family in America: Genealogies of the Connecticut family. Descendants of John Stiles, of Windsor, Conn., and of Mr. Francis Stiles, of Windsor and Stratford, Conn., 1635-1894; also the Connecticut New Jersey families, 1720-1894; and the southern (or Bermuda-Georgia) family, 1635-1894. With contributions to the genealogies of some New York and Pennsylvania families … (Google eBook). Doan & Pilson, printers, 1895. Page 571.
“New York, State Census, 1855,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K639-3QJ : accessed 05 Mar 2013), Anna Stiles in entry for Jonathon Stiles, 1855.
Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Year: 1860; Census Place: Troupsburg,Steuben, New York; Roll: M653_863; Page: 751; Image: 756; Family History Library Film: 803863.
“New York, State Census, 1865,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11767-32119-95?cc=1491284&wc=9392114 : accessed 05 Mar 2013), Steuben > Troupsburg > image 16 of 48.
“New York, State Census, 1865,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11767-32553-65?cc=1491284&wc=9392114 : accessed 05 Mar 2013), Steuben > Troupsburg > image 18 of 48.
Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Year: 1870; Census Place: Troupsburg, Steuben, New York; Roll: M593_1096; Page: 460B; Image: 271; Family History Library Film: 552595.
“New York, State Census, 1875,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VNV3-TY1 : accessed 05 Mar 2013), Anna Stiles in entry for Socrates Carnell, 1875.
“Tri-Counties Genealogy and History by Joyce M. Tice.” Letters of Administration of the Estate of Asa Short of Chatham Township, Tioga County PA, transcribed by Helen Heyart; Settlement of the Estate of Asa Short of Chatham Township, Tioga County PA, transcribed by Shirely Corp and Linda Cornell Reese. Published by Joyce M. Tice. http://www.joycetice.com/document/wshorta.htm
“Painted Hills Genealogy Society.” Allen Cemetery Transcript. Town of Troupsburg, NY. Walked & Compiled by Donna & Misty Allen, 2003. http://www.paintedhills.org/STEUBEN/AllenCemetery.htm