There should be some laws that our ancestors have to obey —such as:
1. Leave a note at your old place as to where you are removing to and where you will be stopping for awhile along the way
2. Indicate which Thomas, Richard or Harry is your namesake
3. Red flag all family legends and myths
4. Keep a journal or diary
5. Reveal who is inheriting the family Bible
6. Prepare a list of the nicknames of all of your children and if you call any of them by their middle name, rather than their first name, say so
7. Leave a will and spell out all names and relationships therein
8. Don’t even think about marrying two (or more) women with the same given name
It is Rule No. 8 that has me in a tizzy and working furiously updating files and alerting cousins about a problem. No wonder genealogies are never completed. There are those thoughtless husbands like Alexander Harmon Baird (1804-1884) who come along, perch upon your family tree, but don’t follow the rules. As a result I have recorded the wrong wife buried beside him. How dare him marry two women named Nancy!
I dutifully tracked Nancy Vanderpool, finding her 1826 marriage record to Alexander Harmon Baird in Ashe County, North Carolina and followed them through the various censuses, other records, and eventually to the Baird Cemetery in Valle Crucis in Watauga County, North Carolina. They died about a year apart or so I thought. The probate records indicated that the widow, Nancy, was to receive so much for a year’s support allowance. It was a small estate and all their children were then grown. In fact, only four of them were still living when Alexander died — two daughters were left in North Carolina, one son was in Tennessee, and another son was off “somewhere in Kansas.” This family lost three sons during the Civil War.
Earlier, the only indication I had had was that there might be something amiss in this genealogy was in the 1860 census when Alexander and Nancy were not enumerated together. He was listed as “widowed” but a few pages later I found a Nancy Baird of about the correct age with other family members and assumed (the fatal error of genealogists everywhere) that the couple might have been separated for whatever reason. When they don’t leave notes, it is difficult to be sure what is going on. In the 1870 and 1880 censuses, Alexander and Nancy were back together and all appeared well.
Recently a cousin sent me a copy of an obituary for Alexander Harmon Baird from an 1884 newspaper in which it noted that his first wife, my Nancy Vanderpool, had died in 1851 and in 1870 he had remarried — to a Miss Nancy Brown. She must be the Nancy buried next to Alexander in 1885. So where did he bury his first wife — my Nancy Vanderpool (1805-1851) and why didn’t he leave me a note?