09 October 2012

Brickwall: The Case of Oscar F. Brown; Moving Forward

Within this series, I have decided to reevaluate my evidence on Oscar Fitzallen Brown, and the theories surrounding who his father may have been. The ultimate goal is to determine the following:
  1. Has a reasonably exhaustive search been conducted? 
  2. What other resources need to be examined? 
  3. Who is the most likely candidate to be Oscar's father, based on the evidence collected and the conclusions that have been drawn from said evidence?

In the process, I have discovered some holes, which I called Action Items throughout the series. These are records or searches that need to be evaluated, conducted, ordered, etc, and I've been maintaining the list here. 

Action Item!

From Part One: Abraham Brown

  • Action Item: Try to obtain a copy of the original newspaper article for Oscar's political ticket. The copy currently held is a transcription. 

From Part Two: Talmon Brown

  • Action Item: Try to find a death certificate for Mrs. Tolman Brown. 
  • Action Item: Death certificate or other source for the death date and location of Tolman Brown.
  • Action Item: Order a copy of William H. Brown's marriage certificate, Washtenaw County, Michigan. May list parents' names.
  • Action Item: Membership to the Washtenaw Genealogical Society, and the ability to search through their annual publication, "Family History Capers", which is indexed online and indicates more information is available on Talmon Brown, a William Brown, and the Collins family. (Submitted membership 28 Sep 2012. Waiting for response from organization.)
  • Confirm death information for Tolman, and pursue probate records. 

Headstone of Oscar F. Brown and daughter, Sarah Alice.
Private holdings of author. 

From Part Three: William Brown

  • Action Item: Inquire with the Washtenaw County Clerk and/or the State of Michigan to see if the letter noted on the death record for Mary (Brown) Collins is still available; if so, request a copy. 
  • Continue to research the life and family of Mary (Brown) Collins, as well as the other siblings known to Oscar, for possible information on their mutual parents.
  • Gain more knowledge of the records created and preserved through both Washtenaw County and the State of Michigan to see what else may be available. 
  • Newspaper research on the Brown's of Washtenaw County, Michigan.

From Part Four: Unknown Brown

  • Action Item: Order copy of the marriage record between Warren Weatherby and Harriet Brown. Source currently on record is an index only.
  • Action Item: Continue to try to track the probate record for Warren Weatherby and obtain a copy. 
  • Burial records and grave site for (Harriet Brown) Weatherby.
  • Explore the potential of more records & resources available through both Michigan and Missouri. 

Also, the comments and thoughts that came in from you, dear readers, have been extremely helpful and interesting to read through.

Response from Part Two: 

Sep 30, 2012

First thing I hypothesize. Was he a preacher? If the picture is your person of interest, this would be a good lead as the apparel would suggest it. 
No, Oscar was not a preacher. I am assuming this is who you are asking about, because this is the only photo on the post of a male. He was retired military, but spent the rest of his years as a farmer and state senator. 
Second, Their would have to be a Marriage record for Tolman Brown & Mary Morvie.
This is something I have been unable to locate. The assumption is that they were married in New York, but I do not know which county. I have a few places I have tried, but so far, nothing.
Further, the history surrounding Michigan during this time period would undoughtedly coincide with Canada. Also surname "Morvie" seems off have you ever considered "Moreau", it's French and that would be extremely prominent throughout the regions at hand. I personally would play around with spellings and browse collections as a whole. Looks like you have a lot accomplished already that marriage record may give you the location that would take you to where you want to go.
This is something I have not considered, and I very much appreciate the idea. "Morvie" came from the marriage record for Oscar Brown, and of course its very possible that it was phonetic or misspelled. Thank you for this! 

Response from Part Four: 

Oct 8, 2012

This might be a good place to apply Elizabeth Shown Mill's FAN principle (Friends, Associates, Neighbors). 

If Harriet and Warren were married in MI did Warren's family live there? Working the Weatherby line in MI might lead to a closer association with the Brown family than just this one marriage. Particularly when you consider that Warren Weatherby was also born in NY according to the census image in this post. 

While Warren's probate record will be interesting in its own right it is rather unlikely to provide you much insight into Harriet's ancestors. Are there any tax rolls in MO or MI that might help you narrow down when Warren and Harriet moved? This might lead to a newspaper item or land sales that could include Brown mentions.

What was Warren an merchant of? Was this his trade in MI? A family business maybe. Something either distinct or something common enough to leave records.

Following the Weatherby family may prove just as problematic but I have had some success with this approach. I'd at least run it through your most common research protocols for any low hanging fruit. You never know what you might find.

Well said, and I appreciate the comments. I think that after I complete the items on my "Action Items" list, this approach will be next in the search. Certainly I cannot leave this out, in order to have a reasonably exhaustive search. I may already have some of this, actually, in my notes; but will have to back track to find it. Thank you, again, for the suggestions! 

I'm going to ask those questions one last time: 

  1. Has a reasonably exhaustive search been conducted? 
  2. What other resources need to be examined? 
  3. Who is the most likely candidate to be Oscar's father, based on the evidence collected and the conclusions that have been drawn from said evidence?
I think that after I finish this list, then yes, I have conducted an approrpriate search. Aside from actually traveling to New York and/or Michigan to research on site, there does not seem to be much more that I can do. Knowing as I write this, of course, that the records I continue to acquire may only create more questions, and keep the search very much alive. 

So, who was Oscar's Dad? I'm not sure I'm ready just yet to make that determination, but I still feel that Tolman is the most likely given the circumstantial evidence. Instinct, perhaps? 

What do you think? Are you ready to draw a conclusion on this case? 

Oscar F. Brown
Private holdings of author.