Monday, July 28, 2014

Mystery # 19: Why did Francis and Flora, residents of Cleveland, Ohio go to Michigan to get married?

One of the many mysteries related to Francis A. Reed, MD is that, soon after graduating from medical school in 1890, he married a woman named Flora M. Pierce. Francis and Flora were identified in the marriage document as residents of Cleveland, Ohio (where Francis had attended medical school). The marriage took place in Detroit, Michigan. The witnesses to the marriage were Charles E. and Cora B. Fuller, also living in Cleveland. I initially surmised that Cora might be Flora's sister, but found no possible matches in census records. A marriage record indicates that Cora's maiden name was Garrett. The 1900 Census shows that Charles and Cora took in boarders - perhaps that's how Francis and Flora met.  But, why did Francis and Flora go to Detroit to get married? Were there no relatives of the bride and/or groom in or around Cleveland?

In the marriage record, Flora's father is listed as Albert Pierce but the box for mother's name says "unknown." Methinks - how can a mother be unknown? She gave birth to the child. Isn't it more likely that there would be an unknown father? Why no official birth record?

I searched available records for an Albert Pierce in Ohio. I found a Civil War veteran named Albert Pearce (aka Pierce) as a resident in the disabled volunteers' home in Dayton, Ohio. He was admitted to that facility in October of 1871 and died in December of that year. His birth location is listed as Henry County, Ohio.

The 1850 census records show an Albert Pearce, age 3, as the youngest of six children of Maria Pearce (widow) in Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio. The family group, reduced by the absence of the older children, was still living at that location in 1860.

I found several girls named Flora born in the same time frame, but none could be linked to the Flora I was looking for. There is a Flora M. with a John and Mary Pierce of Concord, Miami, Ohio in the 1870 census. The name of the head of household was different but it was possible that the girl could be living with relatives of her father. She was the right age, being 2 at the time. However, Ohio death records indicate that Flora M. died on 16 August 1876. There were no other girls named Flora listed in the Ohio Births and Christenings who were of the right age with the right father.There is a Flora, age 3, living with Albert's oldest brother, Josiah,  in Indiana in the 1870 census. However, her birth record indicates that she is the natural daughter of that couple. Another Flora Pierce with a similar birthdate was found with a Francis and Eliza Pierce in Millgrove, Indiana, identified as a niece - an interesting possibililty. In the 1880 census, she is living with a different family. Later records indicate that she married a James Graves and lived until 1956, dying in Florida.

Next, I concentrated on Albert's closest siblings. Brother Edward, who was 7 years older than Albert, married and moved to Breckenridge, Missouri. His other brother, Lewis,  age 6, two years older than Albert, was in La Salle Township, Michigan in the 1880 census. I looked up LaSalle on google maps and found that there is now a direct route from Cleveland through LaSalle to Detroit. Could that be the reason the couple went to Michigan to get married? Maybe Flora's uncle Lewis had no way of getting to Cleveland to attend a ceremony. That would have been a 256 mile round-trip journey for him. Although Lewis is not listed as an official witnesses at the marriage, the wedding party could have reasonably stopped there to pick him up. I wonder what type of transportation they used in 1890? Horse and wagon? Train? It's 175 miles from Cleveland to Detroit - quite a distance in those days.

Since I was unable to find any birth record for Flora M.and never found her anywhere in the 1870 or 1880 census, this mystery may never be solved. We do know that Flora M. Pierce Reed gave birth to one child, Calvin Albert, who lived only one year, and that Flora also died before 1900. Dr. Reed was enumerated as a widower in the 1900 census.

Do I have the right Albert Pierce (Pearce)? Only time will tell.

"Michigan, Marriages, 1868-1925," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 Jul 2014), Francis A. Reed and Flora M. Pierce, 26 Aug 1890; citing Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, v 4 p 522 rn 6708, Department of Vital Records, Lansing; FHL microfilm 2342489.
"Ohio, Marriages, 1800-1958," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 Jul 2014), Charles E. Fuller and Cora B. Garrett, 23 Dec 1876; citing Lorain, Ohio, reference 2:3JNRVFL; FHL microfilm 0378293. U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: Historical Register of National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1749, 282 rolls); Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
The National Cemetery Administration;  Dayton National Cemetery, Burial Ledger, c. 1800-1993. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Year: 1850; Census Place: Napoleon, Henry, Ohio; Roll: M432_693; Page: 6B; Image: 539.
Year: 1860; Census Place: Napoleon, Henry,Ohio; Roll: M653_985; Page: 342; Image: 204; Family History Library Film: 803985.
Year: 1870; Census Place: Concord, Miami,Ohio; Roll: M593_1244; Page: 323B; Image: 202; Family History Library Film: 552743.
Year: 1870; Census Place: Washington, Hendricks, Indiana; Roll: M593_322; Page: 518B; Image: 514; Family History Library Film: 545821.
Year: 1870; Census Place: Millgrove, Steuben, Indiana; Roll: M593_359; Page: 108B; Image: 222; Family History Library Film: 545858.
Year: 1880; Census Place: Columbia, Martin, Indiana; Roll: 298; Family History Film: 1254298; Page: 304D; Enumeration District: 151; Image: 0211. Florida Death Index, 1877-1998 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.
Year: 1900; Census Place: Cleveland Ward 21, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: 1255; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0097; FHL microfilm: 1241255. Web: North Dakota, Find A Grave Index, 1850-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: Find A Grave. Find A Grave. accessed 18 January 2013.,+OH/La+Salle,+MI/Detroit,+MI/@41.8284951,-83.1501634,9z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m20!4m19!1m5!1m1!1s0x8830ef2ee3686b2d:0xed04cb55f7621842!2m2!1d-81.6943605!2d41.49932!1m5!1m1!1s0x883b7b0281daec3d:0xfcd450f278fbdff2!2m2!1d-83.4750241!2d41.863368!1m5!1m1!1s0x8824ca0110cb1d75:0x5776864e35b9c4d2!2m2!1d-83.0457538!2d42.331427!3e0

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