Tuesday, February 14, 2023

A brick wall breakthrough for Granny Wallace

granny wallace

The lady in the photo above is my great-great grandmother, or "Granny Wallace," as my great aunt used to call her.

We didn't know much about Granny Wallace. She was born in the 1830s or 1840s. She moved around, living in 3 or 4 countries over the course of her life. She married twice.

I recently made an unusual major brick wall breakthrough, thanks to FamilySearch's database of free genealogy records. I typed in my great-great grandmother's maiden name in the basic records search. There were only three results, but one of them was pure genealogy gold!

It was Granny Wallace's 1891 marriage record from what is now Niagara Falls in Ontario. It showed her second marriage, and confirmed a story that my great aunt had told me decades ago - that after Granny Wallace's first husband died, she married the brother. Indeed, the marriage record showed that she married the younger brother. She was 50 at the time, and her new groom, himself a widower, was 41.

Crucially, the record confirms the birthplaces of the newlyweds. It also contains the names of both sets of parents, which I had not known. It further lists their religions - she was Baptist, he Presbyterian. It's enough information for me to dig further back in time on both lines over the winter.

It was an unusual find because I have searched FamilySearch hundreds of times for my great-great grandmother. She never turned up under her maiden name. But one of the wonderful aspects of FamilySearch is the regular addition of new records from all over the world. The 1891 Canadian marriage record must have been added in the last year or two.

The lesson for family historians: For genealogy brick walls, the passage of time can loosen the mortar. Re-check online databases and family trees to see if any new information has turned up since the last time you looked!

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