Sunday, August 2, 2015

Mystery Monday - Died on Voyage

I've mentioned before that I've been working hard during the periods when I'm not in school to get through my family tree and attempt to cite and/or correct the information in there. I was rather sloppy in citing my research when I first started this addiction called genealogy about 15 years ago. While I know I'm not the only one that starts out this way it can be very frustrating when trying to clean that mess up.

So I was reviewing a post on Eugene Villers' tombstone and I included the names of his children in that post. I actually have dates of birth of each of those five children...with no citation for where I got that information. If I only had a time machine I could go back and give my younger self a piece of my mind. I have no idea where I got these dates. None. I can't recreate any search that would give me the information on Ancestry and I know that's where I would have gotten it. I did find the passenger list on the Trumbull in 1856 and it listed most everyone I had in my family tree. It did, however raise a few questions that I hope someone can help me answer.

Trumbull passenger list - Departed Antwerp, Belgium. Arrived New York, New York 22APR1856

You can see where the Eugene Villers family begins at line 113. His wife's name looks something like "Felix" but I'm actually not hung up on that. I've seen other passenger lists from Belgium where the mother's name was given as her maiden name and one where every child had it's mother's maiden name next to it. I'm not concentrating on that today though. I see Martin on line 115 and then two Maries/Marias (apparently twins and they did have different middle names), but no son for Eugene...named I have in my tree.

Now if you look closely squeezed in between line 119 and 120 is another Eugene Villers. At the end of the row for the person above him it says "died on the voyage." My mystery is did they squeeze this other Eugene Villers in there because they missed him by his parents? According to the unsourced information I have Eugene was born on January 19th, 1855 so he would have been an infant on the trip from Belgium. So if they were squeezing him in there and not by his parents was it because he too died on the voyage?

According to the manifest the Villers family's destination was Wisconsin, but so far I haven't been able to find them in the 1860 census. I'm certainly going to keep looking, but so far...nada. In the 1870 census this Eugene wasn't listed with his mom and dad and he would have been around 15. Mom and dad both died in the 1880s and so far the only obituary I could find for daddy-Eugene was a blurb saying he died. Only about two sentences long. I'm not hopeful about finding any other detailed obituary, but miracles do happen.

The other thing about this passenger list is that Pierre Louis Villers is missing. The unsourced information I have has his DOB being November 1853. Could Louis and Eugene be one and the same person? I'm thinking they could be especially since I did such a bang-up job in failing to cite my sources. Louis is in the other census records and they were close in age. Someone could have mistaken them for two different people...or they could have been two different people (sigh).

Either way, little-Eugene seems to have disappeared after the voyage and Louis appears. If this Eugene did die on the ship were death certificates created? If they where would they be found? Eugene (jr) isn't a direct ancestor for my husband and children, but it's still a mystery and researching lateral lines can lead to important breakthroughs...and my OCD side doesn't like a mystery. What do you think?