Wednesday, August 20, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #23 ~ Peter Zaugg

Written for Amy Johnson Crow's Challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. (click on the icon in the sidebar for details at Amy's blog)

First just the facts:

Name: Peter Zaugg
Born: 22 Aug 1839, Eggiwil, Bern, Switzerland
Married: 15 Apr 1862 to Mary Catherine Sorgen, Wayne County, Ohio and then to Louise Wable (?) sometime after 1864 possibly in Adams County, Indiana
Died: 25 Apr 1926 Wayne County, Ohio

Here are the few things I know about Peter:
  • He arrived with the rest of his family on 30 May 1853 at Castle Garden. 
  • By 1860 he is living with his parents in Salt Creek Twp, Wayne County, Ohio. 
  • A few years later he marries Mary Catherine Sorgen, also in Wayne County, Ohio.

Here is the theory I currently have about what happens after that:

Shortly after his marriage he moved to Indiana, most probably Adams County, where his oldest sister, Lizzie, and an older brother, Daniel, were already living. Their first child, Mary, is born there and his wife dies shortly thereafter. He then marries a widow (?) named Louise Kohler nee Wable who has three children. At some point prior to 1869, when Aldine/Aline is born, they have return to Ohio. As listed in the 1880 census their children are:  Aline 11, Peter 7, Ida 5, Alfred 3, Albert 1.  The Zaugg book lists another daughter, Louisa.  It's possible she was born between Aline and Peter.

 I believe that Mary, Peter’s first child would have come with them back to Ohio because by 1880 I find a couple that matches the information in the Zaugg book – a Mary and Robert Shanklin. Peter divorces Louise sometime prior to the 1900 census when Peter is living with his brother Frederick. Of interest are several other families listed on the same census pages living close by. They are mostly Zaugg relatives and include the Mary & Robert Shanklin that I believe to be Peter’s daughter and son-in-law. 

Louisa moves back to Indiana with her 3 children from her first marriage as well as the children from her marriage to Peter. In the 1900 census I find her in Adams County with the following Zaugg children: Peter, 22, Ida 20, Alfred 19 and "Alla" (son) 15.  (The ages seem out of whack, but the other children from her first marriage are there as well and line up better.)  I find Peter in the 1910 census living with his sister Barbara and her husband David Shifferly. And finally, I believe he died in 25 Apr 1926 as this death record fits with everything else I know about Peter.

Here are just a few of the problems and/or inconsistencies with this theory.

  • In 1880 Mary’s birthplace is listed as Ohio. However in 1900, 1910 & 1920 it is listed as Indiana. It is possible that her husband provided the information in 1880 and just didn’t know. That would be especially true if Mary lived in Ohio for most of her life. 
  • The census listings for this Mary & Robert Shanklin don’t match any of the children in the Zaugg book. This is not a deal breaker as there are other notable mistakes in the book. However I’ve yet to find a family that is totally wrong. 
  • Mary’s parents are always listed as being from Germany rather than Switzerland. This seems an odd “mistake” to make living in a community that was so filled with Swiss immigrants. My only thought here is that, again, Robert gave the information and I don’t see that he was Swiss or German. Maybe all he knew was that his in-laws spoke German.

This brings me to my issue. Here is yet another black hole of research that is not in my direct line, Peter being my my 3rd great grand uncle. I KNOW I should just back away slowly and then turn and run. However when I look at the theory and the issues there are just so many things I could look for – and most probably find – that would clear up some of the weak parts of the theory.  But I really need to move on - at least for right now.

At this point I’m going to finish with the children in the original family – one more to go – and then go back to my direct ancestor, Jacob. My plan will be to circle back around and work on validating/sourcing/citing/generally cleaning up everything related my direct line from me back to Jacob. I think I will also put together at least a semblance of a research plan for the other children based on what holes I turned up in my blog posts. That way as I’m working on my direct line if I’m trawling through say Wayne County marriage records I can quickly see if there are others I need and grab them while I’m at it.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!  (until I spot that first shiny object on Ancestry...)

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