I have spent the last several weeks coming through 2500 photos of people in the Master Tree and trying to normalize the names presented in the photos.
I recently posted about how cumbersome that is, but something else has struck me that I’d like to share. On a recent trip to Lake Travis near Austin, TX a friend was sharing a story about his future son-in-law coming to his house to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage. I thought this was sweet, but another person in the car had a different take.
He thought it was an outdated tradition that took women’s power from them and placed it into the hands of a man. He went on to say that two men shouldn’t decide if a woman should get married and that it made her feel more like property than an equal.
In my mind, these days, the woman still has the final say, but should the father say “NO” what happens next? Does the groom go forward and ask the potential bride? Or does he simply walk away?
This has haunted me as I stare at thousands of pictures of women that have no last name in history. Not because they didn’t have one, but because it wasn’t important enough to record it. So many women were just Mrs. Sew and Sew.
So, I’m working to reassemble both the Maiden and Married names of these women to record as much information about them as possible. History has not been kind to these women and I spent a good bit of time trying to figure out who Mrs. Graham was. She was the mother of the wife of Theodore “Dot” Adolphus Babb who was captured by the Comanche Indians as a child and went on to great fame and published a book about his experience that is still being reprinted today.
This fame is the only reason we know of a good bit of Dot’s family. In the book he includes this picture which is titled only as Mrs. Graham, Dot’s Mother.
I struggled to find her at first because Dot’s birth mother is Elizabeth Ann Jenkins, who of course married a Babb (or we wouldn’t be having this conversation). I went on to discover that Dot’s wife’s full name was Emma Patricia Graham. Even Emma Patricia’s Headstone shows this disregard for her identity and only lists her as Dot’s wife Pattie.
So, it seemed apparent that Mrs. Graham was Emma Patricia’s mother. But how do you find a record that proves her name when all you have is two names when neither of them is hers? This was the challenge I had.
Fortunately, I’m a crafty researcher and I managed to find a Death Certificate for Emma Patricia (Graham) Babb which lists her fathers full name of Robert H Graham and her mother’s as M. A. Hauks. This gave me a portion of the story with a last name to work from. It also gave me Emma’s first name which also wasn’t encapsulated in the book.
From there I was able to find an 1860 Census record which lists her as Minerva A. Babb. Combining the two I have reconstructed most of her full name as Minerva A Hauks.
This sequence has played itself out dozens of times over these last few weeks and made me more determined than ever to reclaim these women’s identities. After all they represent half of our collective ancestry and deserve equal time.
There isn’t a perfect solution to this as it is impossible to tell if the woman adopted her married name or not (which is quite common these days). But going forward I will endeavor to reference every woman by both her Maiden and Married names. This will be most evident in Photographs and will certainly help sort out the vast number of Mary and Sarah’s in our tree.
Thus it is taking me longer than expected to go through this exercise, but I believe it is well worth it to provide a voice to these women and to tell their stories properly. So, Mrs. Graham is now: Minerva A (Hauks) Babb.
I hope you enjoy the last 10 days of Women’s History Month. This is our history and I’m so glad that we are able to finally start telling the story of these amazing women!