Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: MRUA

Randy Seaver asks in this week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun :

“Who is your MRUA – your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor? This is the person with the lowest number in your Pedigree Chart or Ahnentafel List that you have not identified a last name for, or a first name if you know a surname but not a first name.”

I have to admit, I needed to check Legacy’s help file to see exactly how to go about creating an Ahnentafel report to answer this question. 190 pages later, I had my report and was ready to find my MRUA.

The winner is: Elizabeth ? , wife of John Summers.  John and Elizabeth are my 4th great-grandparents. Both John and Elizabeth (according to the 1850 census) were born in MD – John in 1790, and Elizabeth in 1791.  John died 18 Feb 1856, at which time Elizabeth was still living.  As of 16 Jun 1860, she was still living and enumerated inthe 1860 Short Creek Twp, Harrison, OH census.  I have no further record of her – not even a date of death.  John Summers is buried in the M.E. (Alley) Cemetery in Harrison County, OH – based on an older reading of that cemetery. When I was there in 2008, I could not find the stone – and in fact almost all of the stones there were unreadable. Elizabeth is presumably buried there also, although that is only an assumption.

I’ve checked death records for Harrison County (OH death records don’t begin until 1867), all probate indexes – even Common Pleas indexes, all with no luck. I have also checked the same in Noble County, where son Reuben Paul Summers lived with no luck, either. There was a daughter living in Belmont County, OH in the time frame Elizabeth would probably have died, and I have not checked records there for her.

As far as marriage records, I don’t know where to begin looking.  According to the History of Noble County, son Reuben was born in either Greene or Fayette County, PA in 1818 and the family came to Harrison County, OH about 1822.  Since both Elizabeth and John were born in MD, it would seem reasonable that they were married there rather than in PA. However, I have no idea in which MD county to begin the search.

I’ve only been to the Harrison County Historical Society once,  so I would like to determine for sure that records for the church that corresponds to the Alley M.E. Church are non-existent.  I will also check the Belmont records for any mention of Elizabeth. I could try and locate tax records to track them in PA, although I don’t know what township/county to look in as I cannot find them in either the 1810 or 1820 censuses. After that, I might be out of resources besides a blind search through MD.

As the bumper sticker says: “Too many ancestors, not enough time!”

Thanks, Randy!


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2 Responses to Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: MRUA

  1. avatar Randy Seaver says:

    A classical problem, well put. We all have these, sooner or later.

    Have you checked death records of all of her children? One or more may list the parents’ names.

    Havbe you check newspapers for obituaries for Elizabeth and all of her children? They may list her parents names.

    Have you checked the probate records themselves for mention of heirs, especially daughters named Elizabeth Summers? Either in the Ohio and Pennsylvania counties or back in the Maryland county.

    This is hard work! But it’s how problems like these are solved and then written up in NGSQ!

  2. avatar Staats Chris says:

    It certainly was an interesting question, and I had no idea which ancestor was going to be the MRUA until I created the report.

    In answer to some of your additional questions:

    I did do a limited search through Harrison County papers for Elizabeth Summers. However, I quickly gave up that search since I had no idea (other than after 1860) when she died.

    Her son’s obituary (Reuben) in 1899 stated he was born in 1818 in Greene County, PA – but didn’t name parents. I haven’t worked with the tax records in Greene County, so I don’t know how many townships there are and how many reels of film it would entail, but it would probably be the starting point to at least confirm that a John Summers was in that county as well as when he shows up and leaves. I’ll have to double check, but I think I have checked the deed indexes already with no luck.

    The oldest daughter of John and Elizabeth died in 1849 – before deaths were recorded. I checked for an obit in two of the area papers of the time with no luck.

    I seem to have made an oversight in this case, which your response pointed out to me. I don’t have a copy of son Reuben’s death record. I have his probate file and obit – but do not have a copy or source listing for the actual entry in the Noble County Register of Deaths. Parents, if given, are listed in that register. I’ll have to double check that, as I have that film on permanent loan at my local FHC.

    Also, as I mentioned, I’ve not done any work with the youngest daughter and her death in Belmont County, OH. Looks like it’s back to the FHC to order some more microfilm :)

    Thanks for your response, and I’ll drop you a note if I make any progress!