I know I must have read those documents at least a dozen times.
How could I have missed something so obvious?
I had unintentionally blinded myself to what was written on the paper. But now it was so apparent. I had smugly assumed that I already knew everything about my great-grandfather Schuyler Colfax Langley. Considering him “done” I started to move on to the next generation. Until…I really read the one sentence that changed everything I knew about him.
The next line was a quote from a distant cousin. “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? How could I have missed this?!
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.
Feeling the need to redeem myself, I was determined to solve the mystery of Schuyler’s mother.
So I started with what I knew. Facts for which I had solid sources and evidence.
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.
By this time, I have reached out to my cousin Ruby and we discussed the question of Schuyler’s mother. We checked 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.)
FAN Club strategy F=Friends or Family A=Associates N=Neighbors a strategy taught by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
Ruby 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 she had noticed something about the family.
In the Hutchison household was a boy named Schyler age 1! The census was taken in July of 1870, Schuyler didn’t turn 2 until November 1870.
Could it be? Is this our 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 need more information.
I needed to know more about the Hutchisons.
My next step was to find Catherine and Sarah in the 1880 census. I found them fairly easily because they were still living near their parents in the same area.
Catherine had married by this time and had a couple of children, but no Schuyler.
That left Sarah. She married Marcus Price in 1876.
She was listed on the same page of her sister Catherine in the 1880 Union County, Tennessee Census. Along with her new husband and a boy named Colfax age 12.
Now we were fairly sure this was our Schuyler Colfax and we had his mother! Thank goodness for unusual names.
Our hypothesis was confirmed when we searched our DNA results for Hutchison matches and found a long list of Hutchison and allied family matches. Sarah Hutchison was Schuyler Colfax Langley’s mother!
But what happened to William Braz? Where was he?
But…What happened to Dad?
By the time the 1880 census was taken William Braz Langley had moved to Missouri and had married Izza Browning. He and Izza become two of the founding citizens of a new town in Texas County, Missouri. Success, Missouri.
It was sometime after the 1880 census that William Braz decided to “kidnap” Schuyler and take him back to Missouri and raise him. His motive for retrieving S.C. is unknown. A deciding factor could have been the death of S.C. Langley’s 16 year-old, half sister Catherine in 1881 of typhoid fever. Perhaps fearing the well-being of his son, Braz made the decision to bring him to Missouri.
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. We don’t know what life was like for the young boy.
I wonder if 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 never know, there’s no one left to ask. But for now, I have learned a valuable genealogy lesson. Slow down, take the time to thoroughly dissect the source of information. “Flesh out” the individuals on my chart by educating myself about their time period and their family dynamic during that time. In addition, I was reminded that since new records pop up almost everyday, that one is never truly done!
****UPDATE**** Found Schuyler Colfax Langley on the 1890 Tax List in Texas County, Missouri along with his father William Braz Langley. Now we know where he was in 1890!