Saturday, August 3, 2013

Whatever happened to 2nd-great-grandma Jane?

The 2nd episode of Who Do You Think You Are?'s 4th season featured Christina Applegate trying to find out what happened to her paternal grandmother.

This reminded me of a similar mystery surrounding my 2nd great-grandmother Jane RUSSELL (born about 1853) who married my 2nd great-grandfather John Walter HOWES (1850-1933) on 3 August 1873 in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.

Marriage record for john Walter Howes and Jane Russell



They had four known children:

Havelock ("Harry") HOWES (1877-1936)
Eva M. HOWES (b. 1878, married Frank Langley, died aft 1940)
John Woodward ("Jack") HOWES (1879-1968)
Horace William HOWES (1882-1976)

John and Jane Howes immigrated to the U.S. about 1878, and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where my great-grandfather Horace and his older brother Jack were born.

But on 19 June 1894, John Howes married Ida COLE in Attleboro Falls, Massachusetts... and the natural question this produces is: what happened to Jane?

At some point between Horace's birth in 1882 and John's remarriage to Ida Cole in 1894, either Jane died or the couple divorced.

There is no record of the 1890 census (most of which was destroyed in a fire), and Massachusetts city directories in the 1880's and 1890's don't list spouses' names... meaning that I can't narrow down this 12-year span.

No possible death record for a Jane Howes in Massachusetts could be found from 1882-1894, or even beyond.

I did note from city directories that John Howes moved from Cambridge to Sommerville, MA  in 1891 or 1892 (he appears in the 1891 Cambridge city directory, and in the Sommerville one for 1892).

Could whatever happened-- whether it was death, divorce, or abandonment-- have happened at that time?

The next thing would be to see if any divorce record for the couple can be found, but back then--- before the information age-- it wasn't too unusual for men to abandon their families and start a new one in another place without being formally divorced from their first wives. Women could also abandon, of course, but that was far less common.

We'll have to see if I can't discover whatever happened to 2nd-great grandmother Jane.


No, not that Jane.


Ancestry line:


Jane RUSSELL (b. about 1853) m. John Walter HOWES
Horace William HOWES (1882-1976) m. Estelle May SIMMONDS
Henry Richard HOWES (1913-1987) m. Dorothy Elizabeth PALMER
S. HOWES (1937-1999) m. my father
Me (b. 1974)