Genealogy Ramblings

That Elusive Maiden Name – My Great-Grandmother was a ?

Ellen Lyons Smith - My Great-Great-Grandmother - Proof!

In the generally male dominated world of genealogy, it is much easier to find a long lost great-great-grandfather than it is to find an even more lost great-great-grandmother. Other than a marriage certificate, a woman’s maiden name is listed very rarely.  Once married, it can seem that the bride had no life before that time.  It is imperative that genealogists don’t give in to that unknown and
just, well, give up!  Pieces of information can be found in sometimes unusual places.

My mother has always bemoaned her middle name – Lyons.  I love that her name is so different.  As many Catherine’s as there are in the family, at least her middle name makes her unique!  Her mother always said she was named for one of her great-grandmothers – it was a family name.  Since I had found her other great-grandmothers I knew which one it had to be.  John Smith married Ellen Lyons – there was no proof, just my assumption.  There was no marriage certificate for them in Washington County, Kentucky, so I was sure they were married in Marion County.  In the 1860 census for this county John is listed with the children – Ellen had died in September of 1859 due to childbirth. Unfortunately the marriage records for Marion County – along with the courthouse! –  were burned during the Civil War.  Shame on you General John Hunt Morgan!   You have made genealogy research so difficult for so many!  A few years later I realized John and Ellen had lived in my home parish of St. Charles Church.  Some years previous to my discovery, when the parish removed a few trees from the cemetery, Ellen’s gravestone was destroyed in the process.  I have the information from the stone from a list made years before.  When I found out the parish had some old baptismal records I looked through them and sure enough, several of John and Ellen’s children were listed.   In the baptismal record of their son John Richard Smith his parents are listed as John and Ellen Lyons Smith.  At long last I had found my proof!  Funny how it was right under my nose for years!

2 replies »

    • Diann, It’s just the way that particular priest thought it should be spelled – all the others are listed as Lyons – and that’s the way my mother’s middle name is spelled. I believe Ellen was the daughter of Augustine Lyons, sister of Henry Lyons, of that area in Marion County.

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