You’d like to think that when you come across a first name like Chambers, that you’d be rejoicing in the fact that it’s easier to trace than a John or William, wouldn’t you? Throw in a middle initial like O, and it should be a cinch, right?In this case, you’d be wrong. More accurately, I’d be wrong.
From information passed out at McGinnis family reunions in the 70s, we know that Chambers O. McGinnis was the second son of James McGinnis and Elizabeth Moore, born 10 Aug 1855 in Pine Twp., Armstrong, Pennsylvania. That same information indicates that he died 27 Feb 1885. That’s a pretty exact date, and has left descendants of James McGinnis wondering for decades 1) where the information in the handouts originally came from, and 2) what the rest of Chamber’s story is. All I have been able to find of Chambers is census entries in 1860 and 1870, and the family information from the handouts. Information gleaned from descendants of his older brother, William McGinnis, indicate that like several other members of the James McGinnis family, Chambers headed west, which is where he met his end. According to stories passed down, foul play may have been involved.
As much as I hope to eventually learn more about his fate, I am hoping even more (or Moore), that his unusual name will eventually help me solve the mystery of his mother’s identity. All family information indicates that James McGinnis married Elizabeth Moore on 20 Aug 1849 in Mosgrove, Armstrong, Pennsylvania. Indeed, her tombstone also lists the Moore surname. She was born 10 Mar 1831. I’m guessing she probably had two parents, but so far they’ve eluded me. Moore is not an uncommon name, but thus far, I’ve been unable to place her with any of the Moore families in that time and area of Pennsylvania.
Enter the “Chambers O.” clue. Again, you’d think that a name like that was probably passed down through the family, named after someone important to the family. And it probably is. Find Chambers Moore, hopefully in the 1850 census– one year after Elizabeth’s marriage– and I’m on my way to finding her birth family, right? However, it’s astounding how common the name Chambers is in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania in 1850. There are not only 27 people named Chambers with various surnames, but there are two named as “Chambers O.” If you add in the fact that where the McGinnis/Moore family lived in Armstrong County was close to Westmoreland, Indiana, and Jefferson Counties, you get many more Chambers and many more Moores. There’s only one Chambers Moore, and he’s in nearby Clarion County. There are several more recent Chambers Moore, including a couple Chambers O. Moores, but so far those families have not panned out.
I guess it’s good to have a plan. Hopefully that plan will pan out in 2017. Stay tuned.