Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Grave Matter

Rhoda's married name is incorrectly recorded on
her gravestone in Crooksville Cemetery.
Photo by FAG contributor "MissT"
My great-great grandfather Andrew Jackson Wilson of White Cottage had 19 children by two wives (and possibly one mistress, but that's another story). Topping my list of 2018 genealogy to-dos is to link each of the children to Andrew, to a mother, to a spouse, and to as many of Andrew's grandchildren as possible at Find-a-Grave. Most of these individuals already have memorials created by other Find-a-Grave contributors. Establishing links requires sending an edit request to that contributor, the only person who can make changes to the memorial.

A number of Andrew's children relocated to Crooksville in Perry County as adults, and the cemetery there is filled with Andrew's off-spring. Among them is a grand-daughter, Rhoda May Wilson, who married Wilson W. Winter in 1905. The couple had twin sons, and moved to Fredericksburg in Wayne County, where Rhoda died at the age of 34 of autointoxication (toxemia resulting from something going awry in the digestive tract). Her body was returned to Crooksville for burial.

The Crooksville newspaper incorrectly
recorded Wilson's surname
Wilson W. Winter (b. 1884) isn't buried with Rhoda, or anywhere in Crooksville Cemetery, but there is a Wilson Winter (1851-1936) in the mausoleum, where several of Andrew's children are interred. A generation older than Rhoda and Wilson W., I assumed this was a relative of Wilson W., probably---since they shared somewhat unique given names---his father. Someone had incorrectly linked the mausoleum Wilson Winter to Rhoda as her spouse.

I began searching Find-A-Grave for the correct Wilson Winter (Wilson W. Winter to be precise), but found only Wilson W. Winters, buried in a Fredericksburg cemetery. His father's name was Nicholas B. Winters, and his mother was Lydia Whorey. He was linked to another spouse. I admit that I hadn't, up to this point, paid close attention to Rhoda's husband; these folks were only collateral kin. Time to do some more research if I hoped to get Rhoda properly linked to the right spouse---and to get her unlinked from the wrong Wilson Winter, that guy in the niche.

The Fredericksburg newspaper
correctly reports the surname
          At Ancestry, I found a birth record for Wilson W. Winters born in Wintersville, Jefferson County, Ohio in 1884 to Lydia Whorey and Nicholas B. Winters. And then I found the record of Rhoda's marriage to Wilson W. Winters, stating he was born in Wintersville to Nicholas and Lydia Whorey Winters. The guy in the niche to whom Rhoda had been linked at Find-a-Grave, was definitely not her husband, nor even, apparently, related to him. Adding to the name confusion were the news articles about Rhoda's untimely death. Rhoda's hometown paper called the family Winter, but the newspaper in the town where Wilson W. and Rhoda lived correctly called them Winters.

        This matter of a missing "s" at the end of a surname might not seem like a big thing at first glance, but it made quite a bit of difference. After all, someone had already linked Rhoda not only to the wrong person, but as a result, to the wrong family. Like that person, I made a common genealogical mistake by assuming, based on a unique name, a connection that didn't exist. Although I knew the Wilson Winter in the mausoleum was not Rhoda's husband, I did think he was a father-in-law. Fortunately, since Rhoda is not in my direct line, my mistake did not cause me to bark up the wrong family tree and screw up my ancestor chart. But if she had been....
The Perry County, Ohio marriage record for
Rhoda Wilson and Wilson W. Winters

        The story ends well, but not without a brief struggle with the manager of Wilson W. Winters' memorial. For the first time ever, an edit I suggested was rejected, although the manager did offer to reconsider if I could provide some evidence. After all, one look at the photo of Rhoda's gravestone, compared to Wilson's, and it appears we're talking about two separate families. A link to the marriage record at Ancestry led to my edits being accepted. Despite being buried as "Rhoda Wilson Winter", Rhoda Wilson is now linked to her rightful spouse, Wilson W. Winters, and forget about that guy in the niche.

The gravestone of Wilson W. Winters
and his second wife
Photo by FAG contributor "Names in Stone"

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