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This is an update to my post from July 24, 2008, Elusive Great-Great-Aunt Rachel, where I listed information I knew and what I had found concerning my maternal great-grandmother’s sister, Rachel Blazer.  Rachel had married Maurice (or Morris – depending on the document) Given about 1897 according to the 1910 Census that lists them as married 13 years.

While I was researching one of my brick wall ancestors (Franklin Blazer – Rachel’s father – who I will post about soon!), I ran across the name “Rachel Blazer” in the Chicago Tribune for the June 20, 1897 edition.  Listed under “Marriage Licenses” that were issued the day prior, were the names Maurice Given, age 38, residence listed as Madison, Kansas and Rachel Blazer, age 29, residence listed as Anderson, Madison County, Indiana.  Ta-Da!

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This is what I consider Serendipity!  I was looking for something else – albeit Rachel’s father – and discovered more informaton on Elusive Great-Great-Aunt Rachel!

(Source: Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963); Chicago, Illinois;  20 Jun 1897)

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This time of year families migrate back together from either distant areas of the country or through forgiveness and hope for the coming year.  There are many who spend Thanksgiving alone either by choice or circumstance.  With our technology even those who are alone or too far away from loved ones, can now spend a portion of their holiday feeling not so out of touch.  You can call long distance without worrying about the extra charges – thanks to “all-in-one” phone service or cell phones with unlimited long distance built into the cost of your monthly bill.  You can talk via the computer and web-cam so Grandma and Grandpa can actually see the grandchildren telling them Happy Thanksgiving.  Or spend time instant messaging one another before the Turkey or during the game.

Abraham Lincoln was one smart man to enact legislation making Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 while the Civil War was raging.  He proclaimed the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”  And for 145 years we have done just that.  Thanks, Mr. President.

From my earliest memories, there has always been family around at Thanksgiving.  As a young girl, we’d spend the holiday at our home with grandparents and in-laws swooping in, eating, enjoying company and staying all day.  As an adult I continued the Thanksgiving Turkey and Dressing tradition with my own children.  At times we would travel to Missouri to spend the holiday at my in-laws or they would travel to our home in Texas.

As the children grew older and became close with other people, their friends would eat at least one of the Thanksgiving meals at our home.  We’ve invited families who needed a change of scenery to our house to celebrate and give thanks with us.  Ours is always a bountiful day full of family, food, noise, and (of course) the Cowboy game!

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This year we have all four of our adult children home (two who live here, one who lives close by and one who traveled in from out of state), our three grandsons will be here, our son-in-law, and a possible new addition to the family.  We’ll have turkey and all the trimmings along with four different pies and plenty of wine and spirits.  And of course we’ll be watching the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Dog Show and that at 3:30 p.m. Central Time, we’ll have the Cowboy/Seahawk game playing.

This year has brought me in touch with distant cousins including:

  • My great-aunt Rachel (Blazer) Given’s great-granddaughter
  • The granddaughter of Chase Noonan
  • House family cousins
  • Risley cousins (Julie & Becky!)
  • Stern family cousins

Through the newly found family members, I’ve also learned a bit more and was able to share what I’ve learned with them.  My experience has taught me that even though I enjoy the research and new information genealogy brings, I also need to focus on the family that is still providing history and stories for future generations.  Blink and it might be too late.

May you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving and time with loved ones!

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Before I get into the “meat” of this post, let me say that for the last few days I’ve been frantically searching for the text of this.  I knew I had written it, searched all through this blog looking for it, searched through my document files on my hard drive in case I’d written it but not posted it, and then today decided that I might have posted it pre-genealogy blog on my personal blog.  Voila!  Found it!  Most of the following was posted to Hello . . . Is This Thing On? on February 25, 2008 and is titled Searching for Rachel.

So I spent part of the weekend looking for Rachel – she is (or was) technically my great-great aunt.  My maternal grandfather’s, mom’s sister.  All I knew about Rachel is the year she was born and that at the time of my great-grandmother’s death in 1930 she was listed on the obituary as Mrs. Rachel Givens from Missouri.  No one knew what her husband’s name was and typically at that period of time if a woman is listed as Mrs. (her name) Surname – that generally means they were widowed or divorced.  Awhile back I finally found her in the 1900 census living in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband, Morris and 2 step-sons, William and Wheeler, and a 1 yr old daughter – (looked like) Shawn.  So yesterday after realizing that I was going to have to spread the net out a little trying to find her in the 1910 or 1920 censuses, I started using variations of the Givens.  Finally after I spelled it without the “s” on the end, I found Rachel and Maurice (spelled differently) in 1910 about the same place they were in 1900.  This time there were additional children.  Wheeler was now listed as Charles W., “Shawn” was no where to be found but Mary (about the same age as “Shawn” would have been) was there along with a son, Nathaniel and a son Arthur A., and twin daughters, Pearl and Mearl.  Rachel had listed that she was the mother of 6 children but only 5 were living – so somewhere in there was a child who was stillborn or died sometime between 1900 and 1910.  In fact I ran across the Missouri death certificate (thank you Missouri for digitizing the old death records!) so I now have a more complete look for this elusive branch of the family.  I found William in the 1920 census already married with children.  Now in 1920 Morris and Rachel were living in Wyandotte County, Kansas – so they hopped the state line somewhere in the 10 years previous.  I’m not sure my great-grandmother ever saw her sister after Rachel moved to Missouri from Indiana (where she was born and grew up).  So now I’m trying to locate Morris or Maurice in the 1890 census to see who he was married to before Rachel when the 2 oldest boys were toddlers.  Since Rachel grew up in Indiana, need to figure out if she was in Missouri visiting other relatives when she met Morris or if he was living in Indiana when they met.  I did find a Givens family living down the street from some of her relatives – but no Morris in the family – maybe he was visiting them (his relatives) when they met and he whisked her off to marry & mother his 2 children. 

Update on this post: When I wrote this, somehow I completely forgot that I won’t be locating the 1890 census anytime soon since almost all of it was destroyed in a fire. 

I’ve found Maurice (born September 1857) living in his parents’ household in the 1860 Census in Columbia Boro, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Parents listed are Nathaniel and Catherine Given.   Catherine’s maiden name was discovered to be Waltman as listed in Familysearch.org.  The couple was married on March 22, 1853.  They had four sons and two daughters (George, David, Maurice, William, Laura and Saloam).  The marriage ended (probably by Catherine’s death) and Nathaniel then married Sarah Emma Stout on April 16, 1867.  They had four daughters and three sons (Carrie, Florence, Grace, Annie, Franklin, Washington and Walter). 

Maurice was found in his parents home in the 1870 Census living in 8-WD Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.  He was not found in the 1880 Census even though his parents are still in Dauphin County. 

On October 17, 1887 his first son, William Albert Given, was born in Strong City, Chase County, Kansas.  According to his death certificate, William’s mother was Elizabeth Rose.  She is also thought to be the mother of Charles Wheeler Given, born December 22, 1889.  It is likely that Elizabeth died in the next few years.

Maurice went on to marry my great-great aunt, Rachel Blazer and their first child, Mary, was born in Oct. 1898 according to the 1910 Census (this is probably the child listed as “Shawn” or a misspelling of “Sarah” in the 1900 Census born Oct. 1898).  Mary is listed as age 12 on the 1910 Census which would put her birth around 1898.  The family is living in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri in the 1900 and 1910 Censuses. 

Also in the 1910 Census Maurice lists that he has been married twice and Rachel lists one marriage.  They report that they have been married 13 years putting their marriage date about 1897.  Rachel also lists that she has given birth to 6 children with 5 of them living.

The 1920 Census shows the family living in Kansas City, Wyandotte County, Kansas with their two sons and two daughters (Arthur, Nathaniel, Pearl and Mearl).  Throughout the Censuses, his first name is spelled as both “Morris” and “Maurice”.  The surname varies from Givens and Given. 

I’ve located Maurice’s death date on the Kansas Historical Society website under Fraternal Necrologies.  He was a member of the I.O.O.F. and died March 6, 1930 (which would have made Rachel a widow at the time of my great-grandmother’s death in May 1930).

William, the oldest son, died on December 17, 1946 of carbon monoxide poisoining (ruled accidental on the Death Certificate).  According to the Social Security Index, Charles died in September 1976.  There is no other information on Mary.  Arthur died in June 1959 according to the SSDI.  He was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.  His obituary lists those who survive him as his wife, Maude; daughters, Juanita and Alice; and sons, Lawrence, William, James and George.

Daughters, Mearl and Pearl, have not been located past the 1920 Census.  Nathaniel was located in news articles and died on May 1, 1984 in Topeka, Kansas.

A listing on the Missouri Birth and Death Records Database shows that Rachel (spelled Rachael) and Maurice Givens had a daughter born July 17, 1908 at 1650 Madison in Jackson County, Missouri.  This record shows Maurice was born in Pennsylvania and Rachel was born in Indiana.  Since a daughter wasn’t found on the 1910 Census born about 1908, I’ve made the deduction that this is the child that had died. 

Did Rachel ever return to Indiana to visit her mother, Malissa Goul Blazer, before Malissa died on March 7, 1907?  Did she ever see her two sisters, Katie Blazer Johnson, or Martha (Mat) Blazer Noonan Hardman, again?  Or her brothers, John and Wesley (who had moved to Champaign County, Ohio before 1900)?  Did her children or grandchildren ever travel East to meet or visit with their Blazer or Goul relatives?  And what did Rachel look like? (This mystery may be solved!  Stay tuned for a future post!)

And why does Rachel interest me if she’s just my great-grandmother’s sister?  I think it has to do more with the solving of a mystery than anything else.  I found one of Rachel’s grandson’s still living and have a letter to be sent off to him.  Possibly he can fill in some of the blanks or put me in touch with other descendents of Rachel and Maurice.

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