Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of Branches, Twigs, and Roots!

As you know, this e-zine features a different individual in each issue, who is a road block to me in my research. Some are from my own family tree, and others are from research I have done for other individuals.

Today's edition features Marian Rosetta James, a complete enigma as far as her early life is concerned. I hope you enjoy reading about her!

To comment on the contents of this e-zine, click 'Reply', or send an e-mail to Branches_Twigs_Roots@familyhistoryalive.com. I look forward to receiving feedback from you!

Who is Marian Rosetta James?

Marian Rosetta James' early life is a complete mystery. According to her death certificate, she was born about 1852 in Wales.

Family legend states that Marian's father died when she was quite young, and that, as soon as she was old enough, she went to London, England, to work.

In any event, the first time that Marian appears in the records - at least, that I have been able to discover - is in February of 1875, when her five-month-old son, Joseph Henry James, born September 6, 1874, was christened in Battersea, Surrey.

The next record is her marriage, on May 21, 1876. On that date, in the Chelsea St. Luke parish church, she married Joseph P. Clarke (1831 - 1916), a mariner old enough to be her father.

Old Joe does not appear in the UK census documents, although his mother and sister, both named Naomi Clark, do. Naomi the mother is listed as a 'fisherman's wife'.

Joe's sister Naomi married Richard George Baker. In the early 1870s, the Baker family moved to Canada, minus some of the older children. Richard and Naomi's eldest, also named Richard George, married to Elizabeth Pemberton, remained in Battersea. Joseph Henry's christening record indicates that Marian and her son Joey were staying with Richard and Elizabeth Baker when Joseph Henry was christened. Richard and Elizabeth's first-born, again named Richard George, was christened on the same day in the same church.

In the 1880s, old Joe was set to retire from the sea. He and Marian decided to move to Canada, to be near Joe's sister. They agreed that Joe would go on ahead and find a place for them to live, and then would send money for Marian and Joey's passage to Canada.

It appears that Joe arrived in Canada in 1883, if the census documents are to be believed. Marian and Joey, in London, England, waited in vain for the money to arrive for them to join him in Beaverton, Ontario. Marian eventually managed to scrape together enough money for their passage, and she and Joey sailed for Canada in the autumn of 1884, on the Sardinian.

When they arrived in Beaverton, Marian, noted for her mercurial, fiery temperament, and no shrinking violet when it came to confrontations, demanded an explanation of Joe. He responded that he had, indeed, sent the money. It seems that he was illiterate, and thus had given the money to his sister Naomi, to take to the postmaster, or whoever it was that handled overseas money transfers. (The story goes that Naomi was fond of the bottle, and would sell anything she could get her hands on to buy alcohol.)

Marian, of course, next confronted Naomi, who denied knowing anything about the money. I gather there was quite the scene!

Marian died on July 3, 1895, in Beaverton, Ontario, aged 43 years, of an aneurysm. The attending physician indicated on the death certificate that she had been treated for this condition for the previous six months.

The Road Blocks

Marian's date of birth, her birthplace, and the names of her parents are a mystery. She told Joey that her parents were William and Jane James, and that she was Welsh. However, I can find no family groupings with those names, in which the daughter Marian does not appear in the UK records as of the 1891 census.

(That is, Marian Rosetta James Clark left for Canada in 1884. The last UK census she would have appeared in, then, is the 1881 census. If I find a Marian James, daughter of William and Jane James, but she is still listed in the census and other UK documents, under either a maiden or married surname, as of 1891 and later, then, I can reasonably conclude that this is not the right Marian James.)

I have yet to find her in the census records under her maiden name, for 1861 and 1871, or under either her maiden or married names in 1881.

Further, while there is a small chance that the tale about her father having died when she was quite young is true, it sounds to me more like a cover-up for the lack of a father in her life. It is quite possible she was illegitimate. Or, she could have lost her father, and her mother remarried and had more children to the new husband. If that were the case, James might have been the step-father's name, and her birth would have been registered under a different surname. It is difficult to say.

However, hope springs eternal! About six months ago, I had my DNA tested through 23andMe. While I was able to make some progress in finding the common ancestor in a few cases, without other family members tested, I was unable to tell which side of the family a match was on. One of my aunts recently agreed to be tested, and where we both match a particular individual, I know that the match is on her side of the family.

One fellow in particular stands out. He matches to my aunt, and not to me. He states that his family tree is nicely split right down the middle, with Swedish on one side of his family, and Welsh on the other. I jumped on that one, as there is no known Swedish ancestry in the family, so the only possibility was a match to Marian's line!

I have replicated the family tree which he had posted, with the dozen or so names on the Welsh side, and am attempting to flesh it out to fill in collateral lines and siblings, in an effort to see where there might be a tie to Marian and her family.

How I would love to solve this one! I would very much like to bring Marian, up until now a shadowy, elusive figure, into the light, and discover more about her family. Did she have siblings? Was she disowned when she became pregnant without benefit of marriage? Were her parents still alive when she married old Joe? Were they around to get the news that she had died, in 1895? Are there any descendants of siblings or cousins who can fill in some details of her life?

I'll continue hammering away at this stubborn brick wall! Hopefully, it is about to break down and yield at least some of its secrets!

Announcements this week

Seems it's Webinar Week - there are no less than FOUR webinars this week! And they're chock full of great goodies for us all! Here are the details:

  • Tuesday, Feb 14, 21:00 EST - "Cool Tools for Publishing", with Lisa Alzo. She will explore popular online tools and methods available for writing and publishing a cutting edge family history. For more details and to register, click here
  • Wednesday, Feb 15, 2 pm EST - "Ten Brick Wall Tips for Beginners", with Marian Pierre-Louis. Go to Legacy Family Tree Webinars for more details and to register.
  • Wednesday, Feb 15, 9 pm EST - "The Keys to the Courthouse", with Jana Sloan Broglin.

    For registration information: Click here

  • Thursday, Feb 16, 4 pm EST - "African American Genealogy: Migrations & Manuscripts", with Jim Ison and Deborah Abbott. Click here to register

  • A note to adoptees searching for birth parents or families, and wondering why they were put up for adoption: take heart! As this story illustrates, it is not always the mother's choice to put the child up for adoption!

    Click here for the story!

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