Friday, May 4, 2012

Slight progress on Sarah Jane Elson

Henry Prince and Sarah Jane Elson are my 4x great grandparents, and I can't seem to get any further back than them, particularly on Sarah's side. So, I'm trying to find ways of gaining any bits of information about them I can, in hopes of one day having a breakthrough. So today, I focused on a woman named Mary, who I believe is Sarah's mother.

I have two censuses records for Sarah Jane Elson: 1871 and 1881. In the 1881 census, there's a 75 year old woman named Mary Elson living with Henry and Sarah and their family. It's very likely that this is Sarah's mother. Today, it occured to me that she is not living with Henry and Sarah in the 1871 census, so I decided to search for her there.

When I searched the 1871 census for Mary Elson, I found this person, who is about the right age. She is a widow, living with the Flint family (the wife's name is Ann). So I searched for Ann Elson with a spouse whose last name is Flint (because I couldn't quite make out his first name). Right away, I got a birth record for a girl whose parents are Perney Flint (which definitely appears to match the census record!) and Ann Elson. So, if this Mary Elson is Sarah Jane Elson's mother, Ann would most likely be her sister. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a marriage record for either of the Elson girls, which might provide the names of the parents.

For some time, I've also had an 1852 census record sitting around that might be Sarah Jane and her family. It's starting to look more promising now. Her mother is Mary Elson, and she has a sister named Ann. One major downside to the 1852 census, is that it doesn't separate family groups, and doesn't state relationships between family members. The Elsons are listed right after a man named Thomas Gooderham, who is around the same age as Mary. So, he could be her husband, Sarah's father, but that would mean that for some reason the children were given their mother's name. Or, he could just be the guy next door, and Mary is a single mother. (She's awfully young to be a widow, but it is certainly possible.)

Update: I looked at the original image, and Mary Elson has a W in the residence field, which most likely means she was a widow, despite being only 29 years old. So Thomas Gooderham is probably unrelated. Imagine being 29 and widowed, with 4 children! :(

More to come on these two, since they frustrate me so!


  1. Another possibility is that Thomas Gooderham was Mary's brother, or a cousin. It wasn't uncommon for widows to go keep house for their unmarried male relatives, or to have their own household on a brother's land.

    1. I hadn't thought of that possibility. Thanks for the tip!

      I just wish they'd separated households on the 1852 census! It would have saved so much uncertainty.