Sunday, January 10, 2010

Whoops, I Did It Again!

I have often encouraged those just starting to research their families to be sure to look at all of the information contained in documents as its so easy to overlook something important. I know from my own experience in researching my Hadden ancestors that not paying attention to all of the details has lead me merrily down a wrong path. In that case, I had felt something wasn't quite right but it wasn't until I went back and re-checked the details that I found my error and was subsequently able to correct my mistake and get back on the right track.

Well, I've done it again. This time it's not as dramatic but still as eye opening. I've reported previously (see Deep Political Roots) that my wife Ellen's great grandfather, Rev. Louis Henry Wagner had officiated at the marriage of his cousin Albert Liborius Breithaupt's marriage to Lydia Louisa Anthes, a wedding at which Canada's longest serving Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King served as best man. Rev. Wagner also officiated at the wedding of cousin Melvina Breithaupt's marriage to Amos Frank Baumann. Melvina was Albert's sister. Recently, I was documenting and, in keeping with a new year's resolution, updating the source citations for the Breithaupt family in my database. This involved locating copies of the census records for the family in Canada.

The 1871 census record for the Breithaupt family (pictured in part above right) lists father 'Louis' as he was known (Philip Ludwig were his proper given names) along with his wife Catherine (nee Hailer) and their children. What I hadn't noticed for some reason in the list of household 'occupants' was the future Rev. Louis Henry Wagner, then aged 14, and his older (19 year old) sister, Catherine. The 1881 Census of Canada shows Louis Henry was still living with the Breithaupt family ten years later. The fact that Louis Henry was living with his Breithaupt uncle, aunt, and cousins solidifies the closeness of the relationship of the two families. But why were he and his sister living there? Where were their parents?

Well, their father Rev. Jacob Wagner died in April 1858 at the age of 33. The 1861 Census of Canada shows that Margarette moved herself and her children back to her live with her parents, Jacob and Margaret Hailer ( sometimes listed as Heiler). Subsequently, Margarette married Daniel Bean in April 1862 and moved to Blandford, Ontario where they started a family. I'm not aware of any family stories that might help me understand why Louis Henry and Catherine Wagner were left with their uncle and aunt but can surmise that perhaps it was due to their age and the desire to have them remain in Berlin, Ontario as Louis finished his schooling or perhaps, Daniel didn't want two grown step-children?

I may never know, but had I not, again examined the details of the record, I would have missed this important aspect of the Wagner and Breithaupt families.

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