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June 18, 2015

Twists and Turns Can Lead to Great Genealogy Surprises

 Unraveling Samuel Butler & Anna Jane Maria Peer

1861 Census Samuel Butler
“Sadie Butler Pue's Marriage Certificate lists her mother as Anna Jane Peer, Carolyn Hubbard (granddaughter) speaks of her grandmother as Jane Peer but Sadie Pue's death certificate lists her mother as Jean Duff” [source:]

Those simple words caused what I call the light bulb effect in my head. A quiet “Bingo!” escaped my lips. I was positive I now had the answer to what has long been an extremely convoluted genealogy puzzle.

As any genealogist knows, a new clue can spark great excitement. I could hardly wait to open my genealogy program and check my notes for the woman I now believed was Sadie Butler’s mother. If I was correct, the woman found in the 1861 and 1871 census for Nassagewaya Township, Halton County Ontario as wife to Samuel Butler and mother to six children, was the daughter of my great-great-grand uncle Alphaeus Peer. Since we believe that this Samuel Butler may be the missing brother of my husband’s 3rd great-grandfather, that would link our two families together. 

The Butler children were:
Angeline Butler 
Henrietta A. Butler
Caroline Helen aka Carrie Lena Butler
Elizabeth Victoria aka Sadie Butler
Samuel F. Butler
Margaret Ellen Butler 
I knew who Jean (aka Jane) Duff was! Anna Jane/Maria Peer born circa 1833, daughter of Alpheaus Peer and Mary Young, had been a challenge to find in my original research of the Peer family of Nassagewaya. Anna was born in Stratford Ontario according to a Chatham Kent County marriage record dated November 1881. 49 year old Anna was listed as the Mrs. Jane Baker and her father’s name was given as Alphaeus Peer. Her spouse was Robert Duff.

I had previously found another marriage record for Anna in November 1911 to Robert McDonald. Here she was recorded as Anna Jane Duff age 57 with parents Alphaeus Peer and Mary Young. Her residence was Bothwell Ontario.

I’d never found a marriage to this mysterious “Mr. Baker” nor found them on any pre-1881 census record. But I did find Anna Jane in 1881 with her husband Robert Duff. There were several children listed with them, all born before 1881 and all with the surname Duff so I’d assumed that they were all children of Robert by his first marriage. But I was wrong.

A check of my genealogy program showed that in the 1881 census Anna Jane was recorded as Anna Jane M. Duff with these children in the family:

Angeline Duff,  Caroline Duff, Elizabeth V. Duff, Jennie Duff, Christina Duff ,  Robert A W Duff, Richard Christofer Duff. Those first three names were Anna’s Butler children using their step-father’s surname! The last four would be children by Robert Duff’s previous marriage. That explained Sadie Butler’s death certificate statement that her mother was Jane Duff.

There is a great deal more to this story of Samuel Butler and Anna Jane Maria Peer (and many more sources found to substantiate my findings) and I am still searching and putting more pieces of the genealogy puzzle together.Thanks to a tiny clue found in an online tree, I was able to take a huge step.


Dana Leeds said...

What a wonderful breakthrough! I was able to use a 'small clue' on someone's tree last week & I'm still sorting out all the puzzle pieces. I will add more than 50 new members in my family including several direct ancestors! It's the craziest puzzle I've ever put together, but it'll be worth it.

Enjoy those twists & turns!

Anna Matthews said...

That's great, congrats!