Discover your inside story with AncestryDNA®

March 26, 2011

Update on the Search for Susan (a Step by Step Analysis part 2)

A few days ago I wrote  A Step By Step Analysis of a Genealogy Search outlining my search for Susan, the grandmother of my aunt Marge Cahoe. 

Several readers commented on that post and thanks to them, new ideas and clues arose.

Taking a Second Look

So I decided to take a closer look at a marriage I had found, but dismissed. The marriage was for Annie Angelina Gavin to John Mason in 1881. Those who have read my first post may recall that there was a 3 year old Angelina Gavin living with a mother Susan in 1871, and a 14 year old Amy or Annie Gavin with mother Susan in 1881. But I could not say with certainty that this was the same Susan with daughter born circa 1868.

Annie's marriage record was found but the record stated she was born in Guelph (location was right) to parents William Gavan and Susan Hambridge. So I dismissed Annie Angelina as being Annie, the daughter of "my" Susan.

But could Angelina the 3 year old in 1871 be Annie the 14 year old in 1881? Were they the same Susan? I was puzzled by the 1871 census since Susan's daughter Elizabeth born circa 1861 should have been there with them. I also thought Susan's maiden name was Cowan (or Gowan) and that she married John Gavan. So John Gavan should also have been with the family in 1871.

Reader to the Rescue!

Then a reader found the birth of an illegitimate daughter named Georgina Lillias (Lillian?) to Susan Gavan in 1873 in Eramosa. Aha! The wheels in my head were turning.. was Susan ever married to anyone called John Gavan??

Another Look at the Death Record Image Leads to a New Theory

I took another closer look at the image for Susan's death in 1926. What I had read as Cowan a reader pointed out was almost certainly Gowan but on a very close inspection I realized the name could actually be (drum roll please) GAVAN! 

So Susan was never married to a Gavan. The births of her first two daughters were too early for Ontario Civil Registrations so I couldn't use that method to verify my new theory. But I'd also found a Susan of the right age living in the right place with parents John Gavan and Martha in 1851. I theorized she was "my" Susan. 

Surprising Findings re Annie Angeline Gavan

I looked again at Annie Angelina Gavan who married John Mason in 1881 in Ottawa. I found her death in Ottawa in 1896. She was listed as Annie A. Gavan (odd that she wasn't listed under her married name of Mason) she died at the age of 29 years and was born in Rockwood Ontario. Rockwood is very near Guelph. Again, the right area for birth, the right age and the right last name. Unfortunately parents' names are not noted on death records for that time period so I really wasn't any further ahead. 

Then I remembered that burial records for Beechwood Cemetery  in Ottawa are online on .  I had a search through them and there she was, listed as Mrs. Annie Angeline Mason. Best of all the burial records give parents' names! Her mother was given as "Susan Gavan" and father's name was left blank. Susan Gavan! That added more weight to my new theory - that Susan never married a Gavan but was a Gavan (not Cowan or Gowan) by birth. 

Questions, Questions and More Questions

Why Annie Angeline Gavin's  mother's name appears as Susan Hambridge in her 1881 marriage, but as Susan Gavan in Annie's 1896 death is a mystery. Perhaps the minister blinked when transcribing the marriage record to the sheet to hand in to the registry? Perhaps he mixed up the surnames and the father is William Hambridge with mother Susan Gavan? Perhaps Annie was too ashamed to admit she didn't know who her father was?  I don't know the answer. But I do know that Annie Angeline is "my" Susan's daughter. 


Here's a summary of what is known  about Susan and what I theorize. You'll see that there are many discrepancies!

1851 Eramosa: Susan Gavan age 14 with parents and siblings

1861 Eramosa (Misindexed as Gueris on Ancestry): Susan Gavin age 23 with what looks like a daughter Mary E. possibly age 3 (hard to read) and parents and sibling.  I suggest that Mary E. is the Elizabeth Gavan who later married James Swindlehurst in Guelph in 1881

1871 Eramosa: Susan Gavan age 28 with daughter Angelina 3. I suggest that missing 10 year old daughter Elizabeth is living with other relatives or as a servant in another home

1873 Eramosa: Susan Gavan has an illegitimate daughter Georgiana Lillias (Lillian?)  born in Eramosa. No father's name given. 

1881 Guelph. Susan is now Susan Kehoe living with husband William Kehoe and 3 Gavan daughters Elizabeth, Annie, Teno [Tina? Gina?]

1881 Guelph. Elizabeth Gavan marries James Swindlehurst. She gives her parents' names as John Gavan and Susan (no maiden name). In reality John Gavan is Susan's father's name. Did Elizabeth think John was her father? Did she know John was her grandfather? Or was she confused, or too ashamed to reveal she didn't know who her father was? 

1891 Guelph. William and Susan Kehoe are found with children Amy/Annie age 22 and Norman age 7. Both children listed with Kehoe surname

1891 Ottawa. Annie Angelina Gavan marries John Mason. Parents' names given as William Gavan and Susan Hambridge. 

1896 Ottawa.  Annie Angeline Mason dies. Mother's name given as Susan Gavan

1900 Detroit Michigan. Sally [sic] age 51 and son Norman Cahoe born 1883 living Detroit. Susan says she bore 4 children but only 2 are alive. This agrees with what we have found so far - 3 illegitimate Cavan daughters named Elizabeth, Annie Angelina and Georgina  and a son Norman Cahoe. Elizabeth and Norman marry and have children. Annie Angelina dies in 1896. I have not discovered what happened to Georgina and do not know if Annie Angelina had children before her death.

1910 Border Crossing Canada to USA: Susan Cahoe age 60 and son Norman age 28 say they have been at Susan's daughter Elizabeth Cahoe Swindlehurst's home in Canada and are going to Detroit Michigan

1911 Guelph. Susan Cahoe age 58 and son Norman age 25

1926 Guelph. Susan dies. Her son Norman is informant. He gives her parents' names as John Gavan and Mary Thompson. I suggest Mary Thompson is the wife Martha recorded in 1851 and 1861 census of Eramosa with her husband John Gavan and  daughter Susan living with them. 

Brainstorming Welcome!   

I've found CAHOE recorded as KEHOE, KEHO and KEOGH. CAVAN has also been found as CAVEN, CAVIN. There may be more varieties in spelling that I haven't yet discovered. 

I neglected to point out that Guelph is a city in Guelph Township, Wellington County. Eramosa is a township in Wellington County (quite close to Guelph) Rockwood is a small town near Guelph. Ottawa is some distance away but finding that John Mason was a carpenter born in Ottawa helped explain why Annie Angelina would move so far away from her home.  

I would love to hear readers thoughts, comments and critiques of my theory and my findings.



Anonymous said...

A couple of other things

It's Georgina Lillias - Lillias is a Scottish name.

Elizabeth was Mary Elizabeth according to the birth reg of her son William Thomas Swindlehurst

Don't know where the Hambridge name came from either - but it appears there were lots of Handbidge/Hanbidge/Handbridge/Hambridges in the Guelph/Eramosa/Rockwood area.

Genealogy Blogger said...

Good to know about Mary Elizabeth, one question solved :-)

I also found last night that Susan's sister Mary Jane is probably the Mary Gavan who married John HAMBRIDGE and had at least 10 children in the Eramosa ara. So there's the Hambridge-Gavan connection

Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember that now - I think Mary Jane died in Toronto