Solving a Genealogy Mystery.

In my last post about my great grandfather’s autograph book, I pondered a mystery. My great grandfather’s sister Francis Adele Means died October 29th, 1871. Her date of death was recorded on the back of the 1924 Grace Means photo collection and in the 1913 Means family book.

But, there in the autograph book, is a lovely saying and signature.

“I’ve looked these pages through and through. To see what others have written to you. And now I write to thee. These simple words. Remember me.” Francis A. Means. February 28, 1878.

I wrote in the post:

“Could Grace have made a mistake in her mother’s date of death? Anything is possible. It’s unlikely there is another Francis A. Means in the family at the time.So it is possible that Francis Means lived at least seven years longer than I previously thought. I will need to do a search of death certificates.”

I even doubted Grace Means memory of her mother’s death. Ok. Ok. I was wrong. There WAS another Francis A Means at the time and the evidence was at my fingertips. I had seen the name before but it never clicked. My great grandfather William Means’ eldest brother was Andrew Fuller Means who married Francis A Sawyer in 1864. It never clicked that Francis A Sawyer became Francis A Means when they married.

So Andrew Means and his wife signed the autograph book on a visit to Maine from Boston.

What a blunder. But, a mystery is solved, at least one of many.

Many thanks to Deana Burchfield who pointed out Andrew’s wife had the same name in a comment on the post. She also noted that Andrew Fuller Means and his wife Francis A lived in Boston, with their son Harry and his wife, one boarder in the household, recorded in the 1900 census.

I add one more note, contemplating the autograph book.

“Grace A Means. South Boston. Celebrated Case. February 16, 1877,” she writes.

Grace Means stated in the photo collection that she was raised by her grandparents, Otis and Elsie Means in Machias. Her mother Francis was born in 1844 and died in 1871 when Grace was small. According to the Means family book, Francis married JJ Drew in Machiasport (no date recorded). Yet, Grace retained the Means name and she doesn’t mention her father’s existence anywhere. Perhaps Otis and Elsie adopted Grace or she simply reverted to her mother’s family name.

A Maine vital records search reveals nothing. I do not know Grace’s date of birth or death, the ultimate family historian seems to have nearly disappeared in family history herself.

In February 1877 when Grace signed the autograph book, she lived in Boston. I estimate her date of birth between 1864 and 1870. The photo of Grace dated 1894 looks as though she is about 20 to 25 years of age, possibly 30. So she was young in 1877, a teenager, at most, 13 years of age. I know there is family in Boston at this time. Perhaps she was attending school there? This question begs more research.

Grace Means 1894.



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