Have you ever looked back at something, only to realize you missed crucial information?
Of course you have. We all have. That is why, maybe 5 or more years later, when we spot it, we give ourselves a forehead smack and wonder how we could have missed it.
Last night I was reviewing my file on Grandma Emma. Yes, she is so special in her suspended status as a "brick wall", that I have created a folder based on her. In it is the timeline I created on her, every single bit of information ever spoken by a relative, photocopies of censuses and vital records, a research log, etc.
As I was reading the tiny, perfect writing in the 1930 census, I had to do a quadruple take.
"This column says... 'Age at First Marriage'... Ok, ok, it says... 16."
I paused and did some calculations, looked through the papers...
"She married grandpa Erastus in 1888 and gave her age as 25, even though it would have been more like 27 if the age on her death certificate is correct. Here, Erastus gives his age as first marriage as 25, which is how old he was when he married his first wife, Cora, in 1879. Right."
I was still processing the information.
"Hm, ok. Emma was 16 when she married Mr. Regan. No, this can't be right. Let me see. Ack, these lines are too tiny! I need paper... Paper."
I held a piece of paper below Emma's line to block out the other entries.
"Oh. OH MY GOSH YES! So if she was 16 when she married, then she married in 1877. At least in range between 1874 and 1879, I'd say."
Then I realized I had never considered her marrying so young. I always thought that if she was born in the 1860's, her first marriage would have come in the 1880's. In trying to find her marriage to Mr. Regan, I had limited myself to searching between 1880 and 1888 (when she married for the second time).
The first thing I did was check Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics. I did not find anything.
Then I went to the New England Historic Genealogical Society site to check Massachusetts Vital Records. Once more, I found nothing.
I also emailed the RAOGK volunteer for Portland, Maine and asked him to look in the date range of 1876 to 1878 for the marriage (why Portland, Maine? Because Emma's death certificate and obituary indicate that she was born there; she was not, however, I think it is quite possible that she married there or at least lived there before coming to Massachusetts).
Finally, I returned to the 1880 U.S. and 1881 Canadian censuses to look for an Emma (or Anna or Annie, as she was often known) Regan (or Reagan). Once more, I did not find any entries likely to be "my Emma", and I am still befuddled by her lack of appearance in these censuses. Either that, or I am overlooking something.
At least with this new bit of information, I can keep plugging away, and know that from roughly 1877 to 1888, she was the wife or widow of Mr. Regan!