The Washerwoman’s Genes

June 27, 2006

Washboard: Facts do a wild dance

Filed under: Washboard — by WWG @ 4:14 pm

Jannette’s birth was in Milton, Ulster County, New York, according to Elsie, wife of Jannette’s son Elisha James, who died in 1912. Elsie, a non-blood-relative, would not be a particularly reliable informant—although women do tend to be more attentive to such details than men. (Jannette’s grandson, son of William, put down her last name as Quimbo on his father’s death certificate.) Also, Elsie shared the same last name: I haven’t figured out this mystery but her father may have been a cousin (hopefully not a brother!) of her mother-in-law. Elsie therefore may have been an especially reliable informant—or not, if she just put down Jannette’s birthplace as the same as her husband without knowing if it were so.

Milton, a hamlet in the town of Marlborough, Ulster County, is a place where there were Quimby families in the early 1800s, so it is a plausible birthplace. The death certificate mistakenly sent me by NYC when I requested that of Elsie’s father, John D.,–was for a John L., born in Marlborough also (and therefore possibly a relative, or even perhaps my man, father of Elsie, if my notion of his middle initial is incorrect.)

Here’s the new problem. The New York State censuses I just read all take information on birthplace county in New York. In all three, Jannette’s birthplace is Sullivan County! I have to presume this is correct: it’s her self-report over three decades. How to reconcile it with Elsie’s report? I don’t know. Possibly, Jannette was born in Sullivan County but the family soon moved to Milton. Or, she was adopted by the Milton family from her original one, a situation which, of course, puts her last name and her heritage in question.

Or, Elsie was just wrong.

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