Monday, July 6, 2015

Mystery Monday - Meredith or Godwin?

I've posted about this census record before, but I'm taking another look at it in light of some new information.

1850 US Census, 3rd District, Queen Anne's County, MD
In the 1850 census for Queen Anne's County, MD, there are several people with different surnames living in the same household. Samuel and Susan Sparks are my 2x great-grandparents and they have a newborn named Martha Ann. Every tree I've ever seen for the family has Samuel and Ann Godwin as the parents of Susan Godwin, and Susan Godwin as the wife of Samuel Sparks.

There are a couple of marriage records to support this. From the marriage records for Queen Anne's County available on the Maryland State Archives site, Samuel Godwin married Ann Davis on March 23, 1824 and Samuel Sparks married Susan Godwin on July 16, 1849. There is a Rebecca Davis living with the family who is 6 years younger than Ann Godwin, so that indicates there could be a relation to the Davis family. There are also two Meridith children living in the household.

The new to me information is from the death certificate for my great-grandmother Arianna Sparks. I knew that Arianna was the daughter of Samuel and Susan Sparks and had thought that Susan's maiden name was Godwin. The death certificate says that Arianna's parents are Samuel Sparks and Susan Meredith! It's interesting that one of the Meridith children living in the Godwin household is also named Arianna, so it does seem like there is a relationship between the families.

 I can think of several possibilities for the difference in last names for Susan:
  • The death certificate could be wrong. The informant was Arianna's daughter Ruby and perhaps she got the name confused with her other grandmother, Mary Ann Meredith, wife of Francis Councill.
  • The death certificate could be correct and Susan's maiden name really was Meredith. That raises the question of why the Sparks and Merediths were living with the Godwins? I couldn't find any Queen Anne's marriage records for a Susan Meredith
  • Susan could've remarried to a Meredith after Samuel Sparks died. This can be ruled out since Samuel died in 1899 and Susan's estate was filed in 1902 under the name Susan A. Sparks.
  • Susan Meredith could've married a Godwin before her marriage to Samuel Sparks. I couldn't find any evidence to support this in the Queen Anne's marriage records.
For now, I'm leaning towards a mistake on the death certificate, although it's possible there was a marriage for Susan in another county. Investigating the Meredith children might shed some light on the relationship to the Meredith family, so I'll follow up on that in a future post.