I absolutely adore those unexpected finds, don’t you?! During my two week hiatus I decided I’d try to solve a John Duer (1801-1885) mystery. I wasn’t able to do that yet but I have made some tremendous progress and want to share how I came to put the pieces together to answer my question – Why is it written on Mary Jane Morrison Duer’s 1866 tombstone “Wife of John Duer” when John was married to Margaret Ann Martz Searight Duer at the time of Jane’s death? I have never found a marriage record for the 2nd marriage nor have I found a divorce record for the first wife. Was there more than one John Duer? (Yes, there are many!) Was John polygamous? (Could be but I haven’t found that in the Duer line. They were Quakers, Presbyterians and then Independent Christians.)
John and Jane are my paternal third great grandparents. No one ever mentioned them but in all fairness, I was not close to my father’s side of the family so I never got much family information about anyone. Duer cousins I have connected with have no information, either.
I love researching the Duers for several reasons – 1. They are complex in that they reuse the same names every generation – John, William, Thomas, and they all have large families so separating who is who is a wonderful mind puzzle. 2. Records are scarce – they don’t leave many records and they just disappear in thin air. 3. Somehow, every time I go back to working on those lines a strange event occurs to help me find the information. That kind of happened again Christmas night which I think was the most perfect gift I received.
The week before Christmas I re-analyzed all the information I had on the family and began to sort out some anomalies. I discovered that a Find-A-Grave memorial for a John Fred Duer is in error. I’ve written to my distant cousin to have it corrected. The mistake was in plain site on the page and I’m embarrassed I didn’t catch it years ago. The memorial shows that the man was 102-3 when he died – possible but unlikely. Looking at the individual who requested the tombstone, I realized that two Johns – John Fred and John B. had been merged. The birthdate for John B. was entered with the death date for John Fred. The tombstone does not provide a birth date.
John B. was John and Jane’s son; John Fred[eric] was the son of Charles Edward and Almeda Buckmaster Duer. Charles Edward was the son of John and 2nd wife Margaret Martz Duer. John Fred’s mother had requested the military tombstone for her son who had served in World War 1. John B. was dead before World War 1 and too old to serve.
I can understand how the mistake happened – most of John and Jane’s children are buried in Kessler Cemetery, Mercer, Ohio. John B., however, is not – he is buried in Backestro Cemetery, Adams, Indiana. John and Margaret lived in Adams, Indiana so you would think they would be buried there but Margaret, Charles Edward and John Fred are buried in Kessler. No one knows where John, husband of Jane and Margaret, was buried. My guess is Kessler in an unmarked grave. I’ve checked with those who oversee the cemetery and there is a depression next to Jane’s grave that was possibly an interment. My guess is that the family didn’t pay for a tombstone. More on that in another blog sometime.
My working theory is that some of John and Jane’s children were not wild about his second marriage to Margaret. Hence, they would put the “wife of John” on Jane’s tombstone to validate their mother’s marriage to their father. I wanted to narrow down the time period of when the couple split and try to determine how John met Margaret since she was in the next state. I’ll write more about that another time, too.
My thought was to check out, in detail, all of the players – meaning looking more closely at all of the children of the two couples and their spouses. I used Excel to list all of them, the date and the place where I had a record they could be found. I realized there was a lot I did not know. I’ll be writing in the next few weeks about some of the interesting and sad finds I made but for now, back to the Christmas night find.
I was using FamilySearch.org image feature which I highly recommend. If you haven’t used it you must because almost all of the wonderful information I have compiled lately on this family is from this unindexed, convoluted place. You must try it! Images do not mean pictures as in photos. Images mean they are a picture of a document. They look just like the other microfilmed documents that are indexed on the site. The images are not always orderly, meaning you might find a death record next to a marriage consent. You must take it slow, examine closely and click away.
To use images, sign into Familysearch.org, on the ribbon click “Search” and the “Images.” Under “Place” type whatever area you are researching. In this case, I was looking for a deed record for Mercer County, Ohio because John and Jane were last found together there in July 1860 in the US Federal Census. I entered in Place “United States, Ohio, Mercer” and clicked Search Image Groups. When I try to duplicate that search today, however, it will only let me enter Ohio, United States. Don’t know why it’s been changed but no worries! On the left hand side of the screen “Places Within” is a drop down so I will scroll to Mercer [County]. There are 321 record types to look at – woo hoo, that’s a lot of info that may or may not be relevant.
The 1860 US federal census showed John and Jane living two residences away from their married daughter, Maria Duer Kuhn, in Liberty Township, Mercer, Ohio. Liberty Township should have been where I was looking for a record of the deed for the property but I didn’t find that township specifically. (I first tried the Mercer County, Ohio property appraiser site and did not find the record there). With the options limited, I clicked on FamilySearch.org on Celina, Land Record 1834-2003, etc. I was thinking that Celina was the county seat and that’s where the deed may have been recorded.
Remember, these images are not indexed so I decided I would open the page to as full a view as possible (meaning I clicked the > on the right hand side and was just mindlessly clicking image after image zeroing in on the years 1850 (when I last knew the family was in Killbuck, Holmes, Ohio based on the census and 1866 when John and Margaret had their first child together and Jane died. Sometime in those 16 years perhaps there was a deed in Mercer and I wanted to know which wife was on it.) Turns out that wasn’t correct but that’s another story…
It was a very good practice that I had first become familiar with children and their spouses. After just a few minutes, on image 130 of 1112, I discovered the record at the top of the page. Look at the second from last entry above for Grantees Ceraldo, John F. & Mary Ceraldo.
John and Jane’s daughter, Mary Ann, has been elusive and here I found a deed record for her and her husband in 1887. I about jumped out of my chair!
All I knew of Mary was that she had married twice, to a James Furman in July 1875 and to John L. Ceraldo in April 1879, both in Mercer County, Indiana. I can’t find her in the 1860 or 1900 census. There is a child, Daniel, listed with the couple in 1870 US federal census, however, it must be from a previous relationship of John’s. That is the only record for the child I could find. No marriage record for a possible first wife. No burial records. Nada!
John Ceraldo was a naturalized citizen having been born in Mexico and serving in the cavalry for the Union during the Civil War. He could not read nor write so his name is spelled in multiple ways in the few records found. The couple eventually ended up in Michigan where Mary died in 1909. Sadly, John, the informant, knew John Duer was Mary’s father but did not mention Jane as her mother. The mother space is recorded as Unknown. Jane, having died in 1866, probably never met John but why didn’t Mary ever talk about her? This seemed to be a pattern with the younger children of John and Jane as James William and Angeline’s death certificates list an incorrect first name or record unknown. More Duer mysteries! Why was Jane forgotten by her youngest children?
What was so awesome about this find was that I wasn’t looking for it. I also was able to place the couple in Ohio as they had not yet relocated to Michigan. The gap between 1880 and 1900 is large so any find in that period is just wonderful. I also discovered they continued living in Jefferson Township, since at least 1870, and not Liberty Township where siblings had settled.
I don’t know the relationship of Daniel Webster, also listed as a Grantee, is to the couple. That’s another clue I have to pursue.
I’m looking forward to more Duer finds this year. Since my top 10 blogs from 2020 showed that my readers love the unexpected, I thought you might enjoy the following article in the Washington Post (3 Jan 2021) Near the End of life, my hospice patient had a ghostly visitor who altered his view of the world, by Scott Janssen, originally published in Pulse – Voices From the Heart of Medicine. If only John or Jane would give me a visit!