Puzzling Out The Paisleys (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks)

February 10, 2014 in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, Mason

I got it wrong at first. I had the right mother for the husband of Caroline Mason, my 1st cousin 2x removed, but I had Elizabeth “Lizzie” Paisley’s family wrong. It took an email from another researcher in my Lemon line to set me straight and point out the problem.

Caroline Mason, the daughter of Mary Ann Lemon and John Mason, died of cancer of the uterus when she was 35 years old. She left behind a husband, Bert Eugene Sitlington, and a daughter, Gladys Irene. It took me awhile to find her death record because the doctor who filled out her death certificate put her name as “Mrs. Caroline Sill”, which made it difficult to find the certificate on the seekingmichigan.org site, which is a wonderful resource for finding death certificates of those who died in Michigan between 1897 and 1920, but if the name is transcribed incorrectly, or the person’s name is misspelled on the certificate itself, it can involve hours of going through the images one by one. A tedious task, but well worth it.

I’d found Caroline’s and Bert’s marriage record on Familysearch.org. and it listed his parents, but I couldn’t find them for a long time. Sitlington is a challenging name for census takers. And then I found Bert’s mother, or so I thought, in the 1900 census, living in Detroit with her brother (again, I thought). The census record said she’d been born in England in June of 1850. Well, okay, I thought. That’s her. I documented the source and then gave up trying to find anything else about Bert’s parents because I couldn’t find anything on them after that. Years went by and I worked on other members of the family. I tracked Bert through census records and found he’d remarried and had another daughter. I haven’t been able to find anything more on Gladys, Bert and Caroline’s daughter. The last she’s seen is in 1930 living with her father, her stepmother and half-sister.

Then Joe Tiffin wrote me on the 4th of this month asking for clarification on Bert’s mother. Joe had traced the 1900 Elizabeth Sitlington through the census records and discovered she was married not to John Sitlington, but to a man named George Oliver Sitlington. She was not the mother of Bert. After receiving Joe’s email, I went back to searching. I knew Bert had been born in Brockway Center in St Clair County, Michigan, on the 31st of July in 1881; I had found his birth record. So I went through the 1880 census records for Brockway, and there I found Bert’s parents. His father, listed as John Sittington, was born in Canada about 1858. His parents were born there, too. Elizabeth is listed as “Lizzie”, born in Michigan about 1861. Her father was born in Scotland and her mother in Maine. That was interesting. Thus started the search for Elizabeth “Lizzie” Paisley’s family.

I started looking for any Paisleys born in Scotland and living in Brockway, Michigan. I found a Jerry Paisley with wife Josephine in 1900. He said his father had been born in Scotland. Hmmm. So I started a Paisley tree and started tracking him through census records. I found he was the son of Andrew Paisley, but I had the wrong Andrew at first. I still don’t know if that Andrew Paisley is related to the Andrew Paisley who was the father of Jerry. It’s possible, as that Andrew Paisley was born in 1802 in Scotland, making him the right age to be Jerry’s Andrew’s father, and the 1802 Andrew died in St Clair County, so he was in the same vicinity. That will take more digging. When I did find Jerry Paisley’s father, Andrew G. Paisley, I discovered he’d died in Andersonville Prison in Georgia, a Union soldier in the Civil War. I found over 60 pages of documents pertaining to his widow’s application for a pension from the US government for her husband’s Civil War service and they told the whole story.

Hulda Beale was born in Maine and moved to Michigan with her family after 1850. According to the pension application, Huldah married Andrew Paisley in Speaker, Sanilac County, Michigan on the 2nd of July in 1856. The couple had 3 children in Speaker before before Andrew enlisted in the Civil War in August of 1862. When he left Michigan, Huldah was pregnant with their 4th child, who would be named Andrew and who was born in April of 1863. Andrew Sr. died in 1864. The documents on Fold3 give the dates of birth for all 4 children with affidavits of women present at the births. Two of the births were attended by Tabitha Beal, Huldah’s mother. Huldah herself died in 1867, leaving all 4 children orphaned. They continued to receive their father’s pension until they were 16. A guardian was appointed and two of the children, Elizabeth and Jerry (Jeremiah Beale), lived with their guardian in Brockway, and the other two lived with Tabitha in Sanilac County. In 1887, son Andrew petitioned the US government stating he’d not gotten all of his father’s pension payments. In one of his affidavits, he says his sister, Elizabeth, had married a man named Sitlington and died in 1885. There was the document linking Bert Eugene Sitlington to the Paisleys. Mystery solved, and another two families to research, which is really the best part of genealogy, in my opinion.