Assumptions In Research Are Tricky

While working on one of my Richardson family in Lincolnshire, England, I came across an Ancestry Tree that had a newspaper clipping that was associated with one of the wives of my relative. It didn’t make sense to me. I decided to do a bit more digging and it resulted in multiple “surprises” and wrong assumptions. It’s turned out to be a great lesson in always double checking all of your information, no matter how cut and dried it seemed. More importantly, I learned not to quickly make assumptions.

The questions raised by the newspaper article, revolved around the second wife of Robert Richardson of Waltham, Lincolnshire. Robert had 9 children with his first wife, Jane Surfleet. Jane died in 1843 and Robert married his second wife, Mary Dawson Parker.

In 1851, Robert, Mary, along with five of Robert’s children from his first marriage and two of Mary’s children from her first marriage, lived in Waltham, Lincolnshire.

In 1861, Robert was living on his own in Waltham and listed as a “widower”. His daughter, Rebecca, age 21, and two younger children, Moses, age 2, and Fanny F, age 2 weeks, were living with him. Moses and Fanny were listed as being the son and daughter of Robert. The information in this census led me to believe that Mary was the mother of Moses and Fanny, and that she probably died giving birth to Fanny.

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Harry Wallace Burnham and His Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

H W Burnham

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I love finding these interesting stories that help round out what can be very boring genealogy research. In my current project of double checking and expanding my past Burnham research, I was looking in to the family of Wolcott H. Burnham who was born in Vermont in 1820 and whom moved his family west. Wolcott settled in Wisconsin, however, his son Col. William A. Burnham settled in South Dakota. William’s son, Harry, is the subject of this amusing tale.

Harry was married around 1890 to Edna Dean Foster. They lived in Groton, Brown, South Dakota where Harry was in the “Druggist” business with his father. They had two children, William Audley Burnham, b. 1891, and Marie, b. 1894. On July 4, 1894, while Edna and the children were away visiting in Wisconsin, Harry made the horrible decision to run away with a 17 year old girl. Harry and the two Hayes sisters (they never name either sister) checked in to a hotel in Aberdeen, South Dakota as “Mr. H. Wallace, wife and sister, Minneapolis”. Supposedly, the younger sister drove the carriage back to Groton. The article goes on to describe both fathers heading out in search of the couple. The term “fire in his eyes” is used. Continue reading