The Marian was certain, but her last name was vague–maybe Lemon, perhaps Lehman?
Her goddaughter didn’t know for sure.
Marian was important to Mrs. Oswald Chambers, but we knew little about her.
I needed to find out.
This how I did it using Ancestry.com
We knew she must have lived near Woolwich, England about 1900 (see photo on right. She’s sitting beside Biddy in the original).
She probably was born about 1884 to be our heroine’s friend.
Marian traveled to Brooklyn, New York in 1908.
She probably worked as a typist or a stenographer.
Biddy visited her in 1908.
The information US immigration required of visitors in 1908 was a goldmine.
US immigration wanted to know how much money visitors carried, where they planned to stay and even took down biographical information (height, hair color, complexion, eye color, profession).
I began with Biddy’s voyage to America.
Examining her records enabled me to learn many facts.
I also discovered a name and address for where she was staying–I assumed with Marian and her uncle.
Her “friend Miss Leman” was at 41–or perhaps 71?–Columbia Heights; Brooklyn, New York.
Perfect. I just needed to find out who lived there in 1908.
A hop to Google maps showed me the apartment would have been in census district 1.
Thus began the tedious work.
I scoured the 1910 Brooklyn census, district 1–looking for a British woman born about 1884.
Brooklyn is covered in apartments even now; there were many names on the 1910 US census–but I methodically went through them hunting any Marian, born in England.
It took me several evenings of aching eyes to discover a possible woman: Marian Moore born in 1883 England who had been married for a year–to a stenography teacher!
I hunted Edward, the American husband, through the census records, available in the United States through 1940.
They moved several times and their family grew.
Ancestry algorithms can suggest other possible people, or records in which you can find the person you’re currently examining.
While exploring Edward, I discovered he had a passport application displayed on Ancestry.
There he was–even a photo!
The next passport application was Marian–and guess who she looked like!
I’d found her!
You didn’t hear the screaming that night?
A month of methodical searching turned up a woman about whom we had known next to nothing.
Now we know who she is.
When I reexamined Biddy’s papers returning to England in 1908, Marian was listed just below her–they had shared a cabin.
Marian had been there all along–I just didn’t recognize her name owing to illegible handwriting by the port agent.
Gracious family assistance
Ancestry also allows you to contact people who have provided information.
Marian’s great-grandson had signed up and when I wrote, he answered questions and filled in several puzzles.
He even sent photos of an adorable young woman who lived happily ever after in America–and who probably only saw our heroine a few times after that 1908 trip.
Because of what he told me, we know more about Marian, and can put events in Biddy’s life into context.
Marian is far more alive to me now than she was the first time I saw that photo at the top!
Diligence and primary sources unlock a mystery. Click to Tweet
The elusive Marian found in Ancestry.com. Click to Tweet
Using Ancestry.com’s algorithms for discovery. Click to Tweet