Friday, February 18, 2011

The problem with Louisa Watson Webb is that she is from Nebraska

Louisa Watson is a conundrum. I cannot find her anywhere and right now she is my biggest brick wall. As I was browsing through my tree a few days ago I noticed one of my many dead ends. You know the kind, you look at a pedigree and it just stops...while it's fellow lines continue on. Well I despise those dead ends, especially when I am at my wits end to resolve them.

The problem with Louisa is that she is from Nebraska. Nebraska is a beautiful state and I especially love Peony Park (is that still there?). But I don't like the issues I am having with early record searches there. I found Louisa on her daughter's death certificate and that was the first, and the last, time I saw her in print. Her daughter was Ella Caroline Webb, born 1864 in Wahoo, Nebraska (according to her death certificate). Ella's death certificate states that her father's birthplace is Kentucky and her mother's was Wahoo, Nebraska. The problem with being born in Wahoo, Nebraska is that it did not exist when Louisa was born, which I'm conjecturing was between 1840-1845. In fact, Wahoo didn't exist until 1870, long after Ella was born as well.

I know Ella's father was Charles M. Webb, who was actually born in Indiana. I have been able to track Charles through census records from age 10 to 86, except for 1860. In 1850 he was living with his mother in Indiana and in 1870 he was in Ray County, Missouri with 6-year-old Ella. Apparently, a lot happened to him in those 20 years. He never remarried and his death certificate lists him as widowed, a good indication that he and Louisa were actually married...but you never know. Nebraska is not on the route of travel between Indiana and Missouri, so what led Charles there? And more importantly, where is Louisa?

Here is what I have tried:
  • I contacted the Saunders County Museum and Historical Society, where Wahoo is located and they were unable to find any record of a marriage for Charles and Louisa. Because Saunders County was formed from Cass County, they suggested I try there.
  • I contacted the Cass County Historical Society, but they found no record of Louisa's headstone or anything about her in their newspaper indexes. Of course, the newspaper for the area didn't begin printing until 1865 so that may not have helped anyway.
  • I contacted the Cass County Clerk, who would have had any early records for the county, but she found nothing. She suggested I contact the state archives, but they only maintain birth records from 1904/1909 to present.
  • I also sent an email to the Nebraska Historical Society to see if they had any early records for Cass County, Nebraska. I have yet to hear back from them.
  • Looked at and found no microfilm options for Cass or Saunders Counties that were helpful. A search of Nebraska marriages came up empty handed as well.
So now what? Louisa's maiden name was Watson and I have found several Watsons in the Saunders County area, but there is no way to determine if they are her ancestors. Her husband, Charles, left a document trail of censuses, but not much more, so I found nothing on Louisa there. I'm at a loss and looking for tips. Any help is appreciated!


TCasteel said...

I believed that Wahoo would be what it was called when the person died - it's current name at the time of death. I am not familiar with Nebraska and it's county history. Find out what the area of Wahoo was called in the time frame you are researching and be sure you are researching in the historically correct county for that time period.
Good luck!
Theresa (Tangled Trees)

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Theresa- That is a good point to figure out what they called the area during that time (if something other than just the county). It was a part of Cass County at the time, but they don't have any records on the family. Such a brick wall!