Well, This Is A Mess! Ruth Howard Cornwell (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks)

January 19, 2015 in 52 Ancestors 2015 Edition, Maiden Name Project

A woman is counted in every census since 1850. In that year she’s in New York with her parents, Daniel and Phoebe Howard. Daniel and Phoebe have 7 children in that census: Chester, Aseneth, Olive, William, Amanda, Ruth and Winfield. Daniel was 53 and Phoebe was 31. In 1860 they’re still in New York and they’ve added to their family; they now have Mary, Priscilla, Emma, and Ida. According to the 1900 census, Ruth marries Hiram Cornwell in New York, as that is where their first child, a son, is born. There may have been babies that were born and didn’t survive, because the next child found isn’t born until 1872. Ruth and Hiram are found in 1870 living in Michigan with just the one son. In 1880 they a daughter. In 1900 they have another son with them, Hiram Jr., who looks like he might have been a “change of life” baby for his mother. He’s 14 and she’s 54. Ruth is found again in 1910 with Hiram Sr., then in 1920 she’s listed as a widow; Hiram Sr died in 1917 at the age of 73 from a fall off the roof of a barn 25 feet up in the air.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The next record I found was a Find A Grave memorial with a photo of Ruth’s headstone which has her date of death as 1921, and the snippet of an obituary published in the Grand Rapids Press:

Mrs. Ruth Cornwell, an old Lakeview resident, died at the home of her granddaughter, Mrs. Arthur Smith, near Hinton church.Grand Rapids Press

Great,  I thought,  I can find the transcription of her death certificate and be sure Howard is her maiden name! Yeah. Not so much:

Name: Ruth Ann Cornell
Event Type: Death
Event Date: 22 Jan 1921
Event Place: Hinton, Mecosta, Michigan, United States
Gender: Female
Age: 75
Marital Status: Widowed
Birth Date: 05 Apr 1921
Birthplace: New York
Birth Year (Estimated): 1846
Father’s Name: Howard Winfield
Mother’s Name: Alice Winters

She was married in New York, where access to vital records online is next to impossible. She only had 3 children. The first child, William W. Cornwell, doesn’t have a marriage record online that shows his parent’s names. Thankfully, the second child born, a daughter, has a marriage record online that lists her mother’s maiden name:

Name: Charles A. Morris
Age (Expanded): 21 years
Birth Year: 1875
Birthplace: Ohio
Spouse’s Name: Ella M. Cornwell
Spouse’s Age (Expanded): 20 years
Spouse’s Birth Year: 1876
Spouse’s Birthplace: Mich.
Event Date: 05 Feb 1896
Event Place: Stanton, Montcalm, Michigan
Father’s Name: Geo. Morris
Mother’s Name: Jemima Hookhaus
Spouse’s Father’s Name: H. Cornwell
Spouse’s Mother’s Name: Ruth Howard

I have no idea where the name “Alice Winters” came from for Ruth’s mother’s maiden name. Perhaps, and it’s entirely possible, Phoebe was Daniel Howard’s 2nd wife, his first dying after the birth of Ruth. But Howard Winfield?? That’s her brother’s name backwards! And in every single record I’ve found Ruth in, her birth year is given as 1846, or only one year off. 1821?? I’m thinking it was the granddaughter who gave the information for the death certificate. I’d love to be able to see the actual image.

Ruth Howard HS