Getting to Know an Ancestor:
Starting with Ancestry and Family Search
My primary reason for genealogical research is to get to know someone, an ancestor. Often the ancestor is mine or my wife’s but occasionally the ancestor is a friend’s or, not nearly often enough, a client. Census records are a key starting point to know an ancestor. Census records also situate the individual in time and place, which then provides a context for other searching and getting to know the ancestor. Information about my presentation, “Getting to Know You: Ancestors through Genealogy” is on my website
I like to use Ancestry.com
as my baseline regarding an individual. Many of their collections include images, which make validation of the transcriptions easier. Family Search is also an excellent resource. Because of indexing quirks, sometimes you can find an ancestor on one system and not the other. Family Search also has many of the Census records images available through them at no charge. For census records that they don’t have the image for, Family Search often directs you to the images on Ancestry or Fold3. What is really cool is you can save records you find, when the image is not available from Family Search, to a personal Source Box (you need a free account with Family Search). Later, you can visit your local library, most of whom have access to the Library Edition of Ancestry.com
and/or Library access to Fold 3, access your Family Search account, then access your source box. From there you should be able to select the images you have been wanting, download them to a thumb drive and have the images you desire. Personally, I find having an Ancestry.Com account well worth the expense and I recommend getting one. If you are an AARP member and want an Ancestry.com
account, CALL Ancestry and tell them you want the one-time
AARP Member discount. If you haven’t used the discount already, you can use it for a renewal too.
I find it difficult to write about an ancestor I’ve never known, nor met in person, when there are many other people who knew the ancestor in life. With the exception of the photo, the below story of Essie Pansy Barnes Roberts is based almost entirely on what I have found on Ancestry.com
. My goal was to follow Essie through all the Censuses during her life and then fill in some details based upon stumble on finds on Ancestry (got to love those shaky leaves). Next time I’ll use what I learned here and use social media, scour newspapers, and search other sources for relevant information to fill in the texture of her life, but here are the basics of Essie’s life.
RB05 – Essie Pansy Barnes Roberts (1903-1982)
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 6
|Essie Barnes Roberts aka “Gran”
to her many grandchildren.
Photo courtesy of granddaughter.
Essie Pansy Barnes
was born on 15 March 1903 in Graysville (Turman Township, Sullivan County) Indiana.[i]
She died on 20 November 1982 in Mount Clemens (Macomb, Michigan), aged 79[ii]
She is the daughter of Joel Clinton Barnes (1857-1921), and Marada Mae Lister, (aka Marady, May, Morady, & Maranda) (1867-1932).
The 1900 Census indicates that before she was born, her mother, Marada, had three children before 1900. One was John Lister, whose father is unknown. One was an older brother, Ray, whose father was Joel Barnes. The third child was born and died before 1900. It is unclear of that child was Joel’s of if he or she had a different father. [iii]
Likewise, her father had three children by another wife, Sarah Josephine Conner. The children were Flora, Flava, and Anna/Alma. Flava was born in 1881 and died in 1882. This set the stage for Essie’s birth in 1903.
1910 Census indicates 7-year-old Essie living in Turman Township, Sullivan County, Indiana with her father, mother, paternal half-sister Anna, maternal half-brother John A, Lister, older brother Ray, and younger sister Mabel. Essie was attending school. The 1910 Census also indicates that her mother had six children, four of which were living. The implication of this is that Marada had another child between 1900 and 1910 that had died.[iv]
1920 Census indicates the 16-year-old Essie living in Turman Township, Indiana with father, mother, brother Ray, and sister Mabel Bessie. Essie was attending school.[v]
In May, 1922, Essie married Bert Allen Roberts
(1903-1949), son of Hugh Ellis Roberts
(1884-1908) and Clora D Scott [roberts] [adams]
(1884-?) in Sullivan County, Indiana[vi]
. Her marriage registration indicates that her father was dead. Subsequent research found that her father, Joel, died in 1921. The registration also indicates she was living in Graysville, which is an unincorporated community in Turman Township, Sullivan County, Indiana, the same place she was born.
The 1930 Census finds the young couple thirty miles to the north renting a home at 613 North 15th Street in Terre Haute, Indiana. Bert is working in construction as a plumber’s helper. Their oldest child Pansy is attending school. Their oldest son, Bert and their twins, Hugh and Helen, and Essie’s 63-year-old mother, Marada (“May” in the Census) round out the household.[vii]
Marada died in 1932.
Ancestry.Com’s City Directories for Terre Haute show the Bert and Essie living at 354 Chestnut in 1934 and 1936. [viii] [ix]
The 1940 Census finds the family living at 1719 Chestnut Street, Terre Haute. Because they are living at the “same place” as in 1935, it appears that they moved up Chestnut Street and didn’t have the street renumbered.
Their oldest daughter is listed in the 1940 Census as “Penny” and not Pansy. She is 17 years old and attending high school.
Bert Junior is 15 years old and also attending high school.
The twins, Helen & Hugh, are 13-years-old and are attending grade school (7th grade)
Finally, 11-year-old John is in the 5th grade.[x]
Sometime in the 1940’s the Roberts’ moved to the Detroit, Michigan area. Essie’s husband, Bert, died in a fiery motor vehicle accident in 1949.
Essie lived Ferndale (Oakland County, Michigan) sometime before 1982 when she died at Mount Clemens, Macomb County, Michigan.[xi]
The name, birth, & death of the child born before 1900 that died.
Ada Barnes was born on 21 March 1898 and died on 19 December 1899.
The name, birth, & death of the child born between 1900 and 1910 that died.
Nelson Barns was born on 14 April 1901 and died 22 November 1902.
Trace Essie oldest daughter’s name from Pansy to Penny and determine what her name actually was. It may also give insight into Essie’s middle name of Pansy.
Trace the children of Bert & Essie through the school system.
Sources: Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007 – Family Search (Other) – 1930 Census / Indiana, Vigo, Terre Haute, Page 9A – Bert A Roberts – Ancestry (Other) – 1940 Census / Terre Haute, Vigo Indiana – Bert Roberts – Ancestry.com
(Other) – 1910 Census / Indiana, Sullivan, Turman, District 178, Page 8A – Joel C Barnes – Ancestry.Com (Digitizing) – 1920 Census / Indiana, Sullivan, Turman, District 0270, Sheet 1B – Ancestry.Com (Digitizing) – U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 / Essie Roberts – 384-20-4983 – Ancestry (Other) – Michigan Deaths, 1971-1996 / Essis P Roberts (1903-1982) – Ancestry (Internet)
Source: Michigan Deaths, 1971-1996 / Essis P Roberts (1903-1982) – Ancestry (Internet)
Source: 1900 Census, Indiana, Sullivan, Turman, ED 138, Sheet 7B – Joel C Barnes, Ancestry
Source: 1910 Census, Indiana, Sullivan, Turman, District 178, Page 8A – Joel C Barnes, Ancestry
Source: 1920 Census / Indiana, Sullivan, Turman, District 0270, Sheet 1B – Ancestry.com
Sources: Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007 – Family Search (Other) – 1930 Census / Indiana, Vigo, Terre Haute, Page 9A – Bert A Roberts – Ancestry (Other)
Source: 1930 Census / Indiana, Vigo, Terre Haute, Page 9A – Bert A Roberts – Ancestry (Other)
Source: U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 / 1934 – Terre Haute, Indiana – Bert A Roberts. – Ancestry (Other)
Source: U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 / 1936 – Terre Haute – Bert A Roberts – Ancestry (Other)
Sources: 1940 Census / Terre Haute, Vigo Indiana – Bert Roberts – Ancestry.com
(Other) – U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 / 1940 – Terre Haute, Indiana – Bert A Roberts – Ancestry (Other)
Sources: U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 / Essie Roberts – 384-20-4983 – Ancestry (Other) – Michigan Deaths, 1971-1996 / Essis P Roberts (1903-1982) – Ancestry (Internet)