A Final Surprise About Agnes Anderson


This is the last in the series of discoveries an amazing volunteer blessed me with prior to Christmas. To sum up, I posted a query about the brick wall of my grandmother Louise Long's birth mother Agnes Anderson. A volunteer named Shelly found a second informant on Agnes's death and then set out to find out who this person was.
The previous posts detailed how we learned this informant is Robinson Peter Sparks (sometimes called Richard P Sparks or Peter Sparks). He is Agnes's uncle through her mother Amanda Sparks Anderson. I also left off saying that Shelley had one more surprise for me, and for me it's a doozy.

According to Agnes's death record her parents are Wm Anderson of Missouri and Amanda Sparks of Missouri. However, after tracking Agnes through the census records her father is actually from Sweden and her mother is actually from Ohio. By connecting Amanda to her brother Robinson Peter Sparks in 1870, I further establish she's born in Ohio. So, where would I find Amanda in the 1880 US Census? Agnes isn't born for another year and it's said she was born in Evansville, Missouri. So, would Amanda be in Ohio or Missouri?


Shelly found an Amanda Sparks in the home of  Nathaniel Pitney and Elizabeth Pitney. She’s their daughter and works doing housekeeping. 


Year: 1880; Census Place: Bonne Femme, Howard, Missouri; Roll: 690; Family History Film: 1254690; Page: 215B; Enumeration District: 092; Image: 0647; Household 212, Amanda Sparks in the home of Nathaniel Pitney

This record takes Amanda and places her in Missouri; however, the record implies that Nathaniel Pitney is her father. If he was her father, why does she have the last name Sparks? Elizabeth Jane matches the names found on Amanda's brother George's death record shown in a previous post (see it here). 

I did a quick search (and so did Shelly) and we both discovered an Elizabeth Weekly married a Nathaniel Pitney in 1876 in Licking County. When looking at the 1870 US Census once again (see it here) Jane Sparks appears in the head of household spot and no husband appears listed. If her husband was gone, then she would likely remarry. 

Thus, Amanda Sparks in 1880 is really the daughter of Elizabeth and the step-daughter of Nathaniel. The subtle detail that I didn't show in this post is that the birth places of Amanda's parents line up with what was discovered in the 1870 US Census. One was from Virginia (her father) and one was from Ohio (her mother). This is reflected on this 1880 record as well. Nathaniel was born in Ohio, not Virginia. So, the step-father theory holds.

A search of Nathaniel's background has him growing up in Licking but moving to Missouri in adulthood. Nathaniel seems to have gone back to Ohio and married Elizabeth, then moved mother and daughter to Missouri with him.

Here's the kicker. 

Are you ready?


Year: 1880; Census Place: Bonne Femme, Howard, Missouri; Roll: 690; Family History Film: 1254690; Page: 215B; Enumeration District: 092; Image: 0647; Household 207, William Anderson in the household of Daniel Nelson
Did you figure it out? 

Look at the citation.

Both of these images are from the exact same census page! Amanda's household is # 212 and William Anderson's is #207.

And guess where he's from! Yep. Sweden!!!! 

Placing William Anderson of Sweden and Amanda Anderson of Ohio in Missouri, where their daughter Agnes Anderson is born, solves the 'how would the meet' question. They were in the same community! (Let's see that happy dance video again.)

This nugget absolutely blew my mind. It made all the other pieces of the research puzzle snap into focus. I had been looking at the wrong pieces of information for so long. With a fresh pair of eyes and a huge case of curiosity, a birth parent's family was discovered and there is plenty of evidence to support it.

Bonne Femme, Howard, Missouri is 170 miles east of Evansville, Missouri where Agnes was born in 1881. In 1900, Agnes is found 300 miles east of her birth place and working as a servant in St Louis. Eventually, she moves another 450 miles east to Newark, Licking, Ohio. Agnes's migration is the reverse of her mother's track west. Her path is back towards her Sparks relatives, namely her uncle Robison Peter Sparks, When Agnes settles in the Newark area, her uncle R P Sparks is only about 8 miles away in St Louisville.

For years, I wondered why Agnes would move from Missouri to Ohio when she didn't seem to have family around. I still have not discovered what became of her parents William and Amanda and why Agnes is in St Louis, once again seemingly alone, in 1900. But now, I can surmise that she moved to where her extended family was.
With this census record, I also have a time frame for when Agnes's parents met and may have married (if they did). The marriage would likely be between 1800-1881 in Missouri. They could have married in Howard County, or near Evansville. The golden ticket is if the marriage record says William Anderson of Sweden. Then I'll know I have the right couple, given the fact that William and Amanda Anderson is not entirely uncommon. 

Eagerly, I searched online to see if a marriage record would quickly be uncovered, similar to that of Amanda's mother's marriage to Nathaniel Pitney. Alas, the luck has run out and more digging is needed. Having Ohio ancestors with easily accessible online records has spoiled me so much. Other locations require a little more grit. 

I also wish, for the bazillionth time, that the 1890 US Census was not destroyed. It might have a clue as to what happened to Agnes's parents or if Agnes has always had to fend for herself.

Posting my query in the US Midwest Genealogy Research Community paid off in a big way, right before Christmas. I immersed myself in more discoveries thanks to Shelly's help. I was on such a roll that I forgot to do much of anything else related to my blogging and personal history writing. I nearly forgot to pay attention to the family for Christmas, but finally I said... "Whoa, Nelly!" 

I'm looking forward to slowing the pace down around here so I can process all the additional discoveries I made thanks to a little help from my genie friends. I can't thank Shelley enough for her help and hope that you'll have a Shelly in your future who can help you crack open your brick wall just a bit.


By the way, if anyone's related to William Anderson of Sweden who moved to Missouri and married Amanda Sparks, or Elizabeth Jane Weekly who married John Sparks and Nathaniel Pitney, all from Licking County, Ohio originally, please let me know. Use my email form in the side bar. I'd love to meet some cousins on these new to me lines.


This is the forth and final installment of a series of posts on cracking through Agnes Anderson's brick wall. If you missed any posts, check them out here.

Previous Post
How Could I Miss That Clue for Agnes Anderson?
The Crack in Agnes's Wall Widens
The Piece That Ties It Together For Agnes Anderson

Stay tuned for the discoveries I make about Agnes and Robert. Not to mention I have more to share on my Geiszler and Townsend family line 

9 comments :

  1. Congratulations! What a roller-coaster ride. I enjoyed following along as you broke down this brick wall, brick by brick.

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    1. Thanks Marian. I couldn't have done it without the volunteer at US Midwest Genealogy Community. She pointed me in the right direction and there are more things to discover. Stay tuned.

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  2. How exciting - isn't it fun when it all comes together like that!

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    1. Elizabeth, it truly was so exciting. I know not every ancestor will stand up and take notice, but seriously, that's what makes this discovery so sweet.

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  3. What wonderful discoveries! I guess that wall came "tumbling" down! Very exciting.

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    1. BTW... Join the US Midwest Genealogy Community of Facebook and you'll find Shelly, and others, in Ohio who can be of assistance. Post your brick wall and see what can happen.

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  4. You are still missing the 1920 US Census enumeration for Agnes. It was supposed to be "as of January 1, which was months before she bought a house, gave birth and died.

    This is quite a saga, even with the loose ends. No few lessons for researchers, here.

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    1. Thanks for the heads up. I thought I caught that record but you might be right.

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