Monday, April 8, 2013

Mystery # 17: Three fathers, two mothers and two birth years?

During the past year, I have been researching a person of interest named Dr. Francis Albert Reed. According to two marriage records and a biography, Francis was born in Hartford, Connecticut on March 28,1863 (or 1867), son of Calvin Reed and Mary (or Katherine) Ward. A third marriage record indicated birth in New York State with his father being Joseph Reed (mother Mary Ward).

Francis does not appear in any census record until 1900, when he was living and practicing medicine in Burton, Geauga, Ohio, near Cleveland. That census shows March 1863 as his birthdate and Connecticut as his birthplace (

In the book, "History of Lake County" Dr. Reed is identified as born March 28, 1867, son of Albert E. and Mary A. Reed. His father is identified as a prominent physician in Hartford, Connecticut who bought property on the St. John's River, about 20 miles south of Jacksonville, Florida and built a "show place" winter estate there. Nothing has been found about such an estate. And, no such Dr. Reed could be found in census records in Connecticut or in Florida. The closest option was a John Reade, physician/clairvoyant in Hartford in the 1860 census ( According to the biography, Dr. Reed attended Leavenworth Institute and Hahnemann College. (Leavenworth Institute is located about 220 miles from Hartford, in Wolcott, New York near Lake Ontario.) His name was not found at two websites about that school. As for Hahnemann College, he is not listed as a graduate. Dr. Reed did indeed graduate from Cleveland Medical College in 1890 and was admitted to the Ohio Medical Society in that year.

So, where was Francis between 1863 and 1890? He is not enumerated in Connecticut or in New York State in 1870 or 1880 census records. One family story is that his father died and his mother remarried and that he left the home because he did not get along with his stepfather. But, who was his father? Was it Joseph, Calvin or Albert? It is likely that his mother's name was Mary, since three of the four documents agree there.

To be continued.

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