“It’s A Small World After All”

January 10, 2015 in Allied Families

My three daughters-in-law couldn’t be more different from each other. One is a working mother, has worked since she was a teenager, and hates to cook. Another is a stay at home mom who home schools her children, is deeply religious, and loves cooking and baking. The third is a para-professional, loves to cook, and has a deep ethnic background. I’ve been researching two of my sons’ wives families. I was researching the third, but she told my son that I was being nosy, so I stopped. They don’t have any children together, so if her family history isn’t important to her, it’s not important to me (or so I tell myself).

Linda’s family name is Parker. I’ve written about her family–it includes the Pecks, who have finally left me alone. Chastity’s family name is Keck. That family started in the south and I’ve researched them as far as I can go, so I started on the other side of her family, the Nichols, and I leared that almost without a doubt, Linda’s family and Chastity’s family knew each other. There is a township in Kalkaska County, Michigan, named Clearwater. That’s where the Pecks settled when they moved from New York and Pennsylvania. It’s filled with Pecks and Rattrays, and Browns, all related to Linda’s mother’s side of the family, the Moores.

Chastity’s 3rd great grandparents on her father’s mother’s side were Charles Chambers and Melissa Oliver. They had at least 8 children. One of them, Charles H. Chambers, born about 1911 here in Montcalm County, where I live, died in Clearwater, Kalkaska, Michigan, at the age of 13 in 1924. That’s kind of odd because the first record of the Chambers family I have is that of 39 year old Charles marrying 19 year old Melissa Oliver in Stanton, Montcalm County, Michigan in 1892. The marriage record listed both sets of parents for the couple: George Chambers and Irene Crawford, and Henry Oliver and Melissa Welch. Knowing her parent’s names allowed me to find a census record for Melissa Olive from 1880 when the family was living in Gratiot County, Michigan. Melissa Oliver was born in Canada, and I was able to find a 1871 Canadian census record that shows her and her family living in Malahide, East Elgin, Ontario, Canada.

As I’m prone to do, I followed all members of the Oliver family to see where they would take me. Oldest child Cornelia disappears after that 1880 census record. I can’t find a marriage record for her in the state of Michigan on Family Search. Abraham, 2nd child born and only son of Henry and Melissa Welch Oliver, is hard to find, but I found him in 1930 living in South Boardman, Kalkaska county, all by himself. I checked a page before and a page after the one he’s listed on and didn’t see any likely candidates for other family members. I found him again in 1940 and this is why it’s so important to follow all members of a family; he was living with his sister, Melissa Oliver Chambers Bierce. I’d been unable to find Charles and Melissa after a 1920 census record that had them living with their daughter, Mabel Chambers Clyde, and her family. So either Melissa and Charles Chambers got divorced or Charles had died and Melissa remarried. From the 1940 census record, I determined that Melissa had remarried a man named Edward Bierce. What they were doing in Kalkaska is anyone’s guess, and I can’t tell that part of the story because Abram, as he was called, disappeared after 1880 and then reappeared in 1930. There were only 3 Oliver children: Cornelia, Abram and Melissa, all 3 born in Canada. I’d found a record of Melissa Welch Oliver’s death in 1891 in Montcalm county, Michigan, but nothing about Henry after that. I’d thought he’d gone south to Lenawee county and married an Emily M. Wright, but following them I decided it wasn’t him, because I found a 1916 death record for Henry Oliver, filled with “unknown”s regarding his place and date of birth, his parents and their places of birth. In fact the only information the death certificate shows is that Henry died in Kalkaska, Kalkaska, Michigan in 1916 of cancer of the face and bowels. His burial place is listed as simply “Kalkaska”, which could mean anything.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

I’ve choosen to believe this is the father of Cornelia, Abram and Melissa Oliver because of the proximity of other family members in that area around that time. The other Henry Oliver, who was married to Emily M. Wright, died in Lenawee county in 1905. Can’t find a death record for him, but found him buried with Emily in a Lenawee county cemetery.

I just find it intriguing that two of my daughters-in-law had families that probably knew at least of each other, if not knowing them personally. It is a very small world.