Saturday, June 3, 2017

My Father's Ancestors: The Midwest Connection

When I asked my mother in the late 1950s about my father's family, she wrote out a sheet that explained what little she knew about them. There was an "Ellice" in Maine, and there was my father's grandmother, "Ellen" whose maiden name was unknown.

And there was a note about a midwest connection, which I always thought referred to my paternal grandfather, Albert Harris. As it turns out, it may well have referred to the family of my paternal grandmother, Eva Ellis Harris.

There wasn't a lot to go on, but my mother's information was the springboard for my research on my father's family. I eventually found my great grandfather Oscar J. Ellis (see Finding Oscar, which appears elsewhere on this blog).

Oscar's father, my great great grandfather, Robert Winslow Ellis (1821-1876), was born in Maine and married a Maine girl, Eleanor Ruth Rankins (1822-1914). Their ten children were all born in Maine, but some time after the birth of the youngest, Robert C., in Dec. 1867, they moved to Cherokee County, Iowa, where they appeared in the 1870 U.S. Census on June 8: Robert, Eleanor, and their five youngest children, Helen, Henry, Cora Bell, Ellsworth, and Robert. (See Robert and Eleanor's family chart in the Notes at the end of this post for clarification of who is who).

1870 U.S. Federal Census, Willow Township, Cherokee County, Iowa

Of their five oldest children, two--Isaac and Anna--had died young in Maine. Thomas R. (1848-1910) apparently stayed in Maine. My great grandfather, Oscar J. Ellis (1852-1907) and his brother Edward (1841-1916) went from Maine to Rhode Island to Massachusetts. Oscar's daughter was Eva Ellis Harris, the mother of my own father, Daniel Harris, who was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1907.

With Robert Winslow Ellis, I now had a midwest connection for my father's family! Of course, in family history research the answer to one question just generates even more questions. How did exactly the Ellis family get to Cherokee from Rome, Maine? Which route did they take? What means of transportation were available? Did they travel alone, or did others make the journey from Maine with them? And what did they find when they arrived at their new home?

Next time: How they got from Rome to Cherokee


1. How Robert is connected to me:

Robert Winslow Ellis (1821 - 1876)
2nd great-grandfather

Oscar J. Ellis (1852 - 1907)
son of Robert Winslow Ellis

Eva Josephine Ellis (1888 - 1943)
daughter of Oscar J. Ellis

Daniel Lawrence Harris (1907 - 1972)
son of Eva Josephine Ellis

Clair Marie Harris
That's me, the daughter of Daniel Lawrence Harris

2. Robert and Eleanor's family:

1 comment:

  1. What does one do when the old handwritten census forms are written by someone with bad handwriting that's ilegible? Do you think that the census-takers were screened for penmanship? Because the handwritten documents you've found generally tend to be very legible.


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