Monday, September 21, 2015

Featherstone Family Times Two

In 2010 when the census was being taken I had two homes. It isn't a situation I recommend, but there I was moving out of one and into the other, trying desperately to sell the old one. Like a lot of people at the time it didn't work out like I planned; that's a story for another day. As luck would have it I was approached at the new house by a census taker, and my wife met another census taker at the old one. Both of us gave the information we were asked to give. When we compared notes later that week we realized that we would end up in the census twice. As it turns out I'm pretty sure I'm not the first person to have that happen.

I was working on the family of William & Rosalie Featherstone who were diligent members of the Memphis Branch of the Church in about 1915. Featherstone isn't a common name, and I thought perhaps I might find a connection to a General Authority of the same name (no luck there).

William Samuel Featherstone was born on 7 February 1869 in Watseka, Illinois to Ralph Featherstone and Sarah R Young. On 26 January 1899 he married Rosalie Britton. Rosalie was born on 3 Auguest 1879 in Shady Grove Tennessee to Edward T. Britton and Elizabeth J Barnes. As fortue would  have it, Rosalie's mother had joined the Church on 30 October 1889[1] probably while she was living in Shady Grove, Tennessee.

The details of the Featherstones conversion are lost to history. Rosalie was baptized first on 3 June 1906, William was baptized on 10 February 1907. For both of them it was probably in Indiana. It appears that the family moved to Memphis in 1910, though perhaps in stages, with William going first and the others following once he had a place established.

And here is something you don't see every day. William is is two places at once. First he appears in the 1910 census (on the 15th of April) in Evansville, Indiana. He is there as the head of household with his wife, four children, his widowed mother-in-law, and his wife's divorced sister and her four children. He also appears in the same census five days later (on the 20th April) in Memphis as a boarder. All the details are the same. Same age, race, married (for the second time) the same number of years, born in Illinois, parents born in the same places. Even the trade is the same: slater (i.e. works with slate for roof tiles, etc.)

My first thought was that it was a coincidence. But the more I looked the more I found evidence that these two families were the same one.
  • In 1918, a 17 year old boy named Harry Featherstone died in Memphis. His parents were William and Rosalie Featherstone. His death certificate lists Indiana as his place of birth.
  • The 1920 census shows the whole family living in Memphis, with the exception of Harry, with the right ages and the right sex.
As for the Featherstone's activity in the branch I'll give these two samples from Church Newspapers.
On the 31st of March 1915, a branch of the LDS church organized at Memphis. The President is Connie P. Maynard, the second Counselor is H. L. Stewart, and the second counselor is William S Featherstone. Brother Featherstone served in several capacities including Sunday School Superintendant, and Branch Clerk. His wife Rosalie Featherstone served as an Organist, though not the only one.
"Brother W. S. Featherstone, clerk of the Memphis Branch, sends in the following report of the four local elders in that branch, for April. Meetings held, forty; non-members visited 112, members 105. Spent 16 hours tracting, 152 hours study of the Gospel, 180 hours gospel conversations, distributed 250 tracts and sold 1 Book of Mormon and two small books. This is a very good report when we consider that these brethren perform their labors after working hours."

[1] I don't trust the date, which comes from a transcribed record book. The missionaries' names were George H Carver and Martin Garn, whose service only overlapped between  June 1879 & February 1880. I think the date was transcribed incorrectly and that the right date should be 30 October 1879. In support of this I do find in the journal of Hyrum Belnap who a record of their visiting a Brother Britton in Shady Grove in May 1880

1 comment:

Michelle Ganus Taggart said...

Thanks for your real life example that it really does happen. It's always a little unnerving to run into such a thing when researching, but I too have found people in two different places. What a great find in the newspaper.