Friday, April 15, 2011

The enigma of the "Perhaps" ancestor

I have a title for many ancestors in my tree: the "Perhaps" ancestor. This title is awarded to those ancestors that may or may not actually be related to me and that I may or may not have any substantial information on. These "Perhaps" ancestors really drive me crazy because I just can't bring myself to coin them full-fledged ancestors without better proof.

One such ancestor is Robert Cutler. Robert may belong to my Cutler line, that first appears in America around the 1850s in Richland County, Ohio. My known ancestor is James Cutler, but I have not been able to find much on him, other than a few census records that indicate his birth in England in 1815. Knowing that James Cutler immigrated from England, I did a search for arrivals to the United States born in 1815. I came across the manifest below, which indicates that a Robert, James and Bartha (?) Cutler arrived in May 1833 on a ship named Eliza.

The age fits James, and the closeness in ages of the other two leads me to believe they were related in some fashion, perhaps brothers or cousins. I call this the "perhaps" manifest. So I looked for a Robert Cutler in Richland County, Ohio...and eureka, there was one! Also from England, I might add. I can only find this Robert on the 1850 census in Ohio. I also found a declaration of intent for a Robert Cutler in Richland County in 1859; it states that he immigrated in May 1834. That is pretty close to the "perhaps" manifest I found. The 1850 census I found states that Robert is married to Esther and has one daughter, Sarah.

In searching for more records on my "perhaps" Robert, I come across a death record from Morrow County, Ohio. It lists the following information:
Name: Cutler, Robert
Birth Place: Wheatacre Parrish, Norfolk co., England
Birth Date: Aug 1808
Spouse: Esther Evarts
Marriage Date: 1837
Marriage Location: Belleville, OH
Children: Sarah
Death Date: After 1880
Death Location: Morrow co., OH
Other Notes: Spent his twenties as a bookkeeper on the Chiswick estate in St Thomas, Jamaica/ became absolutely disgusted with the slavery system

Belleville, Ohio, their place of marriage is in Richland County, Ohio. And Esther's maiden name, Evarts, also appears in Richland County. The information and many of the dates fit my "perhaps" Robert. Could this Robert Cutler be related to my James Cutler? If they are indeed brothers, was James born in Wheatacre Parrish as well? Perhaps.


Debi Austen said...

I love the term "perhaps" ancestor. If you don't mind, I think I'll adopt that in my tree :-)

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Debi- Perhaps...of course you can!

FrustratedSue said...

Heather, I too love the term. My second blog was about a "perhaps" great grandfather. Of course, I know I have one — I just don't know anything about him, so that all the data I've gathered is "perhaps" data. I'm adapted that name for all the "perhaps" information we have in both my line and in my husband's line.
And here's hoping we all can turn many of these "perhaps" connections into known one.

zelsersk said...

Love the "Perhaps" term for our mystery/not certain ancestors! I too will borrow that from you if you don't mind. :-) Also, have you tried to find your James Cutler in an England census? He might be there. England has great records. I found some people that I was looking for very easily. I wish that worked the same in Ireland. Good luck with those "perhaps" relatives!

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

I have not done very much browsing in the English records because I don't know anything about James while he lived in that country, so I won't be sure if it is "my" James. But there is no time like the present to give it a shot!

Marian Burk Wood said...

You have a way with words! I have some "perhaps" ancestors that might or might not fit into my family tree, just like you. Seems like genealogists are really detectives in disguise, because we're always looking for clues.