Monday, July 17, 2017

Addie and the Traveling Salesman

When you engage in family history research, people come and go quickly. You "meet" a relative in some official document, perhaps a census form. From there, you discover their parents and siblings, then go on to find them a spouse (yes, you start to feel somehow in charge of their life), discover the births of their children and grandchildren, and then, sadly, find their death date and burial information.

You find yourself rooting for them in the good times and encouraging them through the bad times. Very occasionally, you discover that you want to shout out a warning like "nooooo, don't marry him, he's trouble!" And that's what happened to me with Addie, my first cousin twice removed.

Here is the very bare outline of Addie's life, as summarized by, given all my data inputs:

When Ada M "Addie" Ellis was born in 1864 in Maine, her father, Edward, was 23, and her mother, Profenda, was 21. She married William De Garmo on June 18, 1884, in Aurelia, Iowa. They had two children during their marriage. She died on March 12, 1903, in Worcester, Massachusetts, at the age of 39, and was buried in North Smithfield, Rhode Island.
Addie and her parents joined many of their relatives around Cherokee, Iowa sometime between 1880, when they were in Rhode Island, and 1884, when Addie married William De Garmo (whose occupation was listed in the Iowa State Census as "commercial traveler") in Iowa.

From Iowa Marriage Records, 1880-1937

By 1900, Edward and Fenda Ellis, together with daughter Addie Ellis (not De Garmo) and her two boys were all back east again, this time living in Worcester, Massachusetts, where many of the Ellis family had settled.

Tragically, in 1903, at age 39, Addie died what had to have been an excruciatingly painful death due to "inanition gastritis with probable stricturing of oesophagus."

Massachusetts death records list Addie as the "divorced wife of William De Garmo," although the 1900 Federal Census had listed her as a widow. Which was true?

Oddly enough, her sons were called Franklin Winslow Ellis, age 18; and Bertie Ellis, age 15--they did not go by their father's name, De Garmo.

Whatever happened to her husband, William De Garmo? Why did they all use Addie's maiden name instead of De Garmo? Stay tuned...


1. U.S. Federal Census: 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910

2. Iowa Marriage Records 1880-1937

3. Massachusetts Death Records, 1841-1915


How Addie and I are connected: 

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