Alfred Was Born Wasn’t He?

For my last Timeline Tuesday post, I was able to document the source of my 2nd great-grandparents’ marriage in November of 1874.

Early in my research of this branch of my family tree, I surmised that Elizabeth SCHMITT had been married before she married Jacob MUELLER. My supposition was based on the ages and birthplaces of her children as reported in the 1880 census.

1880 Census Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll 192; Family History Film 1254192; Page 225D; Enumeration District 093; Image 0173

Elizabeth appears on line 2 above with two children; 12 year old Ohio-born Otto and nine-month old Illinois-born Alfred. Both boys’ entries showed their father was born in Switzerland and their mother was born in France, but the age gap was puzzling. At that time in history couples generally had a child every year or so.

Soon after, I located Elizabeth [and Otto] in the 1870 census with her first husband Anton BIDENHARN. This confirmed that I was climbing the right family tree and corroborated my assumption that she had been married previously.

But let’s get back to Alfred.

Alfred’s entry on line 4 of the 1880 census shows he was born in Illinois in September of the previous year. I learned this during the early days of my family history research, so next I turned to the 1871-1916 Index to Birth Records for Cook County Illinois on (are you sitting down?) micro-fiche.

But he wasn’t there. And neither was his sister Alma who was born in 1882.

1871-1916 Index to Birth Records pg 13651 WM

1871-1916 Index to Birth Records pg 13651

My red circles above are the places Alfred and Alma should appear but don’t.

There is another page for Mueller (below) that I should explain. If a child wasn’t named before the birth record was created, the entry is listed by last name, father’s first initial and mother’s given name. As is shown on the only line circled in red below; J for Jacob and Elizabet. But the date of birth is off by four years.

1871-1916 Index to Birth Records pg 13663

1871-1916 Index to Birth Records pg 13663

So I checked other spelling variations since Mueller is frequently misspelled.

Variations like Miller with entries for Alfreds and Almas:

1871-1916 Index to Birth Records pg 13217

1871-1916 Index to Birth Records pg 13217

and Miller with J and variations of Elizabeth:

1871-1916 Index to Birth Records pg 13254

1871-1916 Index to Birth Records pg 13254

Variations like Moeller with entries for Alfreds and Almas:

1871-1916 Index to Birth Records pg 13392

1871-1916 Index to Birth Records pg 13392

Variations like Muller with entries for Alfreds and Almas:

1871-1916 Index to Birth Records pg 13701 WM

1871-1916 Index to Birth Records pg 13701

and Muller with entries for J and variations of Elizabeth:

1871-1916 Index to Birth Records pg 13715

1871-1916 Index to Birth Records pg 13715

None of the entries are good matches for the dates of birth I know to be accurate. Hmm. How is it that I “know” these dates of birth?

I reviewed my online family tree at Ancestry dot com. There are 11 items labeled as sources or alternative sources for Alfred’s date of birth including:

  • 1880 census
  • 1900 census
  • 1910 census
  • 1920 census
  • 1930 census
  • Cook County Illinois Death Index
  • Cook County Illinois Marriages Index
  • Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths Index
  • Find A Grave
  • US Social Security Applications and Claims
  • WWI Draft Registration

But why isn’t there an official birth record for Alfred (or Alma for that matter)?

Alfred was born after the Chicago Fire, so presumably the record wasn’t created and later lost. His parents lived in the city of Chicago, not a rural or remote area far from a government office where his birth could have been recorded. And if one of my alternative sources is the US Social Security Applications and Claims, Alfred must have had a Social Security number; wouldn’t the application require a birth certificate?

Whoa, whoa whoa…the application? Why haven’t I ordered Alfred’s Social Security application?

I think at this point I would like to hug George G. Morgan and Drew Smith for encouraging me (on pages 13-21 of their book Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques) to create a timeline for my great-grandfather.

So far it looks like this:

2016 09-06 Timeline Spreadsheet

But thanks to a little prompting from the Genealogy Guys, by next Timeline Tuesday it could be amazing!

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