What’s in Your Closet?
I feel the need to warn you that when you start researching your ancestors you WILL find a skeleton in the closet. More than likely you’ll find several.
I’m going to drag one of my skeletons out, dust him off and introduce him. Although none of what happened was his fault.
I’d like you to meet Schuyler Colfax Langley, my maternal great grandfather.
According to the records found in the family bible, he was born in Tennessee in 1868 and he was the son of William Braz Langley and Issa Browning.
I also found a cryptic note in the same bible stating that “Schuyler Colfax was living with his mother in Kentucky and William Braz wanted him to live in Missouri with him and his wife Issa. So he went to Kentucky found Schuyler and took him back to Missouri.”
Wait, back up, Issa wasn’t his mother? Who was?
The story further went on to say that William Braz made Schuyler cross the river by himself so no one could accuse him of kidnapping him!
Hillbilly soap opera.
I was determined to solve the mystery of Schuyler’s mother. So I started with what I knew. Schuyler was born in 1868 in Tennessee.
That would make the 1870 census the first census he would be listed in. I start in Tennessee where he was born.
I look for Schuyler Langley in the 1870 census in Tennessee. Nothing.
Then I look for his dad, William Braz Langley. Bingo! He’s living in Union County, Tennessee with his parents, he’s 24 and he’s single without children. ??? Totally confusing, I thought I would find him as married with one son around age 2. But there he is still living with his parents and single.
I Joined the FAN Club.
So I decided to use the FAN Club strategy F=Friends A=Associates N=Neighbors. I check out the neighbors. (Back in the early days our ancestor’s world was very small, primarily consisting of only their family and nearby neighbors. They tended to stick together for protection and socials.)
I found a family listed on the same page as William Braz and his parents. They were the Hutchisons. The name meant absolutely nothing to me. But I noticed something.
In the Hutchison household was a boy named Schuyler age 2!
Could it be? Is this my Schuyler?!
Along with Schuyler, the Hutchison household consisted of a John and Sarah in their 60’s, and Catherine, 40 and Sarah, 31.
The Hutchison parents were too old for childbearing so Schuyler had to be either Catherine’s or Sarah’s.
Furthermore, William Braz was living next door. Coincidence?
I needed to know more about the Hutchisons.
My next step was to find Catherine and Sarah in the 1880 census. FAN club comes in handy again because I easily found them because they were still living near their parents.
Catherine had married by this time and had a couple of children, but no Schuyler.
That left Sarah. She had married and had three children and one of the children was Colfax age 12!
Now I was sure this was my Schuyler Colfax and I had his mother! Thank goodness for unusual names.
My hypothesis was confirmed when I searched my DNA results for Hutchison matches and I found a long list of Hutchison matches. Sarah Hutchison was Schuyler Colfax Langley’s mother.
But what happened to William Braz? Where was he?
But…What happened to Dad?
William Braz had moved to Missouri by the 1880 census and married.
It was sometime after the 1880 census that William Braz decided to “kidnap” Schuyler and take him back to Missouri and raise him. Unfortunately, due to the loss of the 1890 census, we don’t see Schuyler again until 1900 when he is married with children and living in Lamar County, Texas.
****UPDATE**** Found Schuyler Colfax Langley on the 1890 Tax List in Texas County, Missouri along with his father William Braz Langley. Now I know where he was in 1890!
I wish I knew what happened to this young boy. Did Schuyler’s mom try to find him? Did she try to get him back? Did she ever see him again? Did he want to be with his dad? I’ll probably never know, there’s no one left to ask.
But for now, I could fill in the blanks on my ancestry chart! I was so proud of myself for solving the mystery of Schuyler’s mother! Almost sprained my arm patting myself on the back.
I would love to hear the genealogy research tricks you’ve used and found to be successful. Share in the comments below. Thanks!
Keep on searching!