Sunday, April 3, 2011

So How Did You Two Love Birds Meet?

I love stumbling upon those little unexpected clues that get our speculation wheels a turning! I was going over some census records of family that lived in a certain area. Not direct ancestors, but peripheral siblings. Unfortunately, I oftentimes skip looking up the siblings when I research because it seems they had so many of them! But this is another reminder of why complete family group research is the best method - you never know what you will learn!

This particular 1900 census was for that of my great great grandfather's sister and her husband:
In 1900, the family of George and Cora (Cox) Quinlan consisted of the two of them, plus one small child (Frank), Cora's widowed father, Barton Cox, and a servant, Lizzie Mickabe (Mockabee/Mockbee). The reason I know how to spell Lizzie's surname correctly is because I recognized the servant immediately. She was the sister of my great great grandmother. My great great grandparents were Lavega Cox and Oleva Mockbee/Mockabee. I also know that Oleva's sister Lizzie, from above, went on to later marry Lavega's brother Jerry Cox. As a result, two sisters married two brothers from the same family.

This was not an uncommon alliance in small rural communities, but it made me think back and wonder, how did these couples meet? Did Lizzie begin working there in George and Cora's household before my great great grandparents met? Or did she start working there because her sister married Cora's brother? Since family/social gatherings were so very important for these small communities, I enjoyed thinking about how the attractions began. After a little digging, it turns out that the age difference suggested that it might have been Oleva and Cora (along with the other many siblings?) that did a little matchmaking over the years.....perhaps over a cup of tea? Here is a visual representation of the couples as they got together:

Oleva Mockbee and Lavega Cox were the oldest of
the couples and married first in 1880.

Cora, Lavega's sister and George Quinlan married next and
were about 10 years younger than couple number one.

Lizze Mockbee, Oleva's sister was quite the baby
(yet spinster material) at 25 when
she was working in the Quinlan household
during the 1900 census. But then, she was only 2 years
younger than Cora's husband (Cora was 4 years
older than her husband). So, was this a friendly
matchmaking set-up since Jerry and Lizzie
married the next year in 1901? Or was Cora jealous
of the age similarity between Lizzie and George?
I love speculating a little when it comes to family dynamics. I think we have a tendency to give our ancestors the benefit of the doubt and always think the best of their choices and outcomes. But lately, I've discovered some really questionable things about another family group - which has me turning a more suspicious eye on the activities of our ancestors. A recent conversation with another researcher had us laughing about this very thing: it turns out our ancestors were not the spotless, honorable people we automatically consider them to be - sometimes, they were a bit scandalous and reckless, just like today's generation - people really haven't changed. Each generation is fundamentally alike, it is only our perceptions that change over time.

P.S. Lizzie and Jerry's life together was very short lived. Lizzie died in 1903. She had one child, a boy, named Frank - which is the same name as the son had by Cora and George.....hmmmmmm :-)



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