Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mary, Mary, Mary? Part One = Will the real Mary Shirkey please step forward

Normally, my problem with female branches of the family tree is a missing maiden name. In the case of Mary Shirkey, wife of John Shirkey of Liberty Township, Seneca County, Ohio the problem is just the opposite. Mary has too many maiden names. She has been given three identities!

I came across Mary when I was doing research on my ggg grandfather, Joseph Good. One of her three identities was Mary Good, sister to Joseph. Imagine my surprise to find her also listed as Mary Beam and Mary Armes Thompson – all three with Virginia roots.

Though my goal had been only to do research on Joseph, Mary and her three identities nagged at me. How would I feel if 200 years from now, some descendent assigned someone else as the mother of my children instead of me? Not only would that wipe out my relationship with my children, but also my children’s relationship with my parents, and both of my grandmothers, all of whom played important roles in their childhood.

So, I decided to take a closer look at each of Mary’s claimed identities, hoping to find a winner in the “Who is Mary” sweepstakes.

Today you will see a summary of my findings and conclusions of two of Mary’s personas. Tomorrow I will conclude with the final identity. If you see any holes in my logic, please feel free to let me know. My concern is that I may have let my own bias creep into my deductive reasoning process. After all, my true goal is to put the correct Mary with her correct children, not add another relative to the family tree.

Identity No. 1 - Mary Armes Thompson of Botentourt County, Virginia and daughter of John Thompson.

1. John Shirkey of Seneca County was probably of German extraction, as several marriages and deaths of the family were reported in the German Language Newspaper, The Fremont Courier, in neighboring Sandusky County.

2. There are two distinct and separate Shirkey families in Virginia in the late 18th century and early 19th century. One Shirkey family was of Irish descent – some would later use the name Sharkey, and one was of German speaking descent.

3. The Irish-speaking group lived in Botentourt County, Virginia and it is into this family that Mary Arms Thompson married on September 9, 1821.

4. The 1850 Census finds John and Mary with a number of their children living in Botentourt County, District 8 visit 772 at this same time John and Mary Shirkey are listed as living in Seneca County, of Ohio in Liberty Township.

5. Sometime between 1850 and 1860 the family moves to Victoria County, Texas - John dies and in the 1860 Census, Mary and several children are found in Victoria County, Texas, Victoria City, visit 207.

Conclusion: Mary Armes Thompson is not Mary Shirkey, wife of John Shirkey living in Seneca County, Ohio.

Identity No. 2 - Mary Beam of Rockingham County, Virginia.

(The information stating that Mary Shirkey was Mary Beam was found on World Connect. I contacted two different researchers to find the basis for their information. This led me to the “original” researcher who was the “source” of their information.)

1. The source originally appeared to be a bible found by Daisy Shirkey Rearick. However, upon questioning of information, I found the source to be another Shirkey researcher who had been looking at both Irish and German Shrkeys and had in the 1980’s been in contact with Jo Shirkey Holbert.

Mrs. Haubert had employed a genealogist in Virginia. The genealogist had found a John Sherfy married to a Mary Beam of Rockingham County. It was felt by this genealogist that Shirkey might be a corruption of the Sherfy name. Jo had passed this information to the Shirkey researcher and along with the finding of a family bible, and the two pieces of information were erroneously conjoined and said to be the proof that Mary Beam was Mary Shirkey.

It is possible the genealogist was referring to Mariah Beahm, daughter of Abraham Beahm who married John A. Sherfy. This family relocated to Tennessee where Mariah is said to have died in 1839. John went back to Rockingham to choose a second bride, Catherine Garber. Mariah’s sisters, Catherine and Margaretha also married into Sherfy family.

2. The date given for Mary Beam’s birth was from Mary Shirkey’s tombstone or the transcribed copy of the tombstone located in Crissa/Andrews cemetery. A date of birth for the supposed Mary Beam was not given or found in the family bible.

Conclusion: Uncertain whether Mary Beam is or is not Mary Shirkey, wife of John Shirkey living in Seneca County, Ohio.

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