Fearless Females Challenge: March 20 – Elusive or Brick Wall Ancestor

The following post continues the month long Fearless Females Challenge by Lisa Alzo, author of The Accidental Genealogist blog, which is focused on “celebrating and honoring ‘fearless females’ in our family trees” to mark National Women’s History Month, which is the month of March, with a post responding to unique prompts for each day of the month. (Note: Because I started this challenge late, I will be continuing it beyond March 31.)

Prompt for March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

Anyone who undertakes to research their family history will inevitably run into brick walls. My research is no exceptions. I have several brick walls with immigrant ancestors, including female immigrant ancestors such as Martha Rose (Sheridan) Kiernan (ca. 1797-?), my 4th great grandmother, and Roza Mari (Peto) Sebok (1871-1937), my 2nd great grandmother. With these female ancestors the brick wall comes from difficulties tracing their line in other countries, which seems it will only change with an increase in access to records in these countries. In addition to these brick walls, I have two female ancestors that are brick walls in my ancestry. These brick walls, however, come from difficulties in tracing their line in the United States.

The first of these female ancestors is Cemantha (Broadway) Lapham (ca. 1813-1846), my 4th great grandmother. I know few facts with certainty about Cemantha. According to available accounts, Cemantha was born in about 1813 in New York and died in about 1846 in Springfield, Wayne Co., Michigan. These facts, however, have not been confirmed by records. The only confirmed record I have uncovered so far is Cemantha’s marriage to Benjamin Lapham (1807-1860) on May 17, 1834 in Cuyhoga Co., Ohio. Two records for this marriage shows Cemantha’s maiden name as either “Broadway” or “Bradway.” Research into these variations, and variations in spelling of her first name, have not revealed any clear matches. Presently, my only lead is a Broadway family that also ended up in Wayne Co., Michigan at the same time, which originated in Somerset, England. However, I have not been able to link Cemantha to them.

Benjamin Lapham and Cemantha Broadway Marriage Record
Benjamin Lapham and Cemantha Broadway Marriage Record

The second female ancestor I have that has become a brick wall is Lucretia “Lucy” (Catlin) Heldman (ca. 1829-1873), my 3rd great grandmother. As with Cemantha, I knew few facts about Lucretia, particularly prior to her marriage to Johann “John” Adam Heldman (ca. 1809-1883) on July 11, 1851 in Richland Co., Ohio. According to available records, Lucretia was born in about 1829 in either New York (according to the 1860 U.S. Census record), or Connecticut (according to the 1870 U.S. Census record), or  Massachusetts (according to the “Ohio Deaths and Burials, 1854-1997” Index). It is unclear why these three records differ regarding her birth location. The lack of clarity on this fact has made tracking her parents difficult. If she was born in New York, there is a Lucretia Catlin/Cotalin living in Chesterville, Morrow Co., Ohio in 1850 in the household of Dr. Moses De Camp. The De Camp family were living in Mansfield, Richland Co., Ohio in 1860 and 1870. It is, however, unclear if this my Lucretia or the Lucretia Catlin who married James F. Millard in 1862 and died in 1907 in Cuyahoga Co., Ohio. If she was born in Connecticut, there is a large number of Catlins in that state (particularly in Litchfield County), all of which seem to descend from Thomas Catlin (c1612-1690) who was from Kent, England, came to Hartford, Connecticut prior to 1646 and died there in 1690.

J.A. Heldman and Lucretia Catlin Marriage Record
J.A. Heldman and Lucretia Catlin Marriage Record

With both of these brick wall ancestors, I have a lot of research still to do; and hopefully I will uncover a lead that will turn out to be a breakthrough.

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