Tuesday, March 1, 2011

National Women's History Month - Day 1

Today's Assignment: March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

There are many women in my tree that I'd like to learn more about, but the one who has been the most elusive is my greatgrandmother, Theresa (Curran) Adams (1886 or 1890 -1957).  

I don't know much at all about Theresa and her son, my grandfather, Walter Adams. Walter and my grandmother divorced when my mother was very young and she only saw her father a handful of times in her life and doesn't know much about him.  My aunt did visit his grave once and Theresa's grave is right next to his - that's how I learned her age and date of death.  Using that information, I found a birth record in MA Vital Records for a Theresa Curran born in 1886 in Boston.  I know for sure that her maiden name was Curran because it was on my grandfather's birth certificate.

I've only found one record that proves she actually existed.  Here she is in the 1930 census, living with my greatgrandfather and grandfather at 103 Brookline Avenue in Roxbury, MA.  Through street directories, I learned that she lived at that same address until her death in 1957. In several of those directories, she is listed as Theresa C. Adams.  How did she support herself for those 20 years after her husband's death in 1937?  She had to have worked somewhere but I can't find any record of her.  She's not in the SSDI. 

According to this census, she was 40 years old in 1930, making her date of birth 1889/1890 - but that conflicts with the age on her headstone.  Another interesting thing: according to this census, her age at her first marriage was 15 and my greatgrandfather was 17.  Thing is - he was married once before to a 22-year-old Katherine Quinn in 1904.  I've never been able to find any record of a divorce or of Katherine's death.  I also have never been able to find a record of Theresa Curran and William Adams' marriage online.    

Could Theresa have had a previous marriage?  Or has the information been misinterpreted?

I have a couple of theories.  The first is that whoever supplied the information at her death gave the wrong age and she really was born in 1890.  The second is: could the Katherine Quinn who married Walter Adams actually be Theresa Curran?  Was the record transcribed incorrectly?  Theresa did use the middle initial C.  Maybe Catherine was her first name and she went by her middle name, Theresa.  If these theories are correct, then she would have been 15 if she was the 'Katherine Quinn' who married Walter Adams in 1904.  BUT Katherine Quinn was 22 when she married Walter Adams.  Did she lie about her age?  

My goal is to find definitive birth information for Theresa and from there, hopefully find that she had siblings who may have passed down pictures and/or information to their kids.  My next step will be to order Theresa Adams' death certificate.  Hopefully, that will clear up this mystery!  I also plan to visit the cemetery this spring and if I can, take a look at her burial record.  To my knowledge, my grandfather was her only child so he would have been the one to sign paperwork.  That would be great to actually see his signature - I've never even seen a picture of him.

Thanks for reading!     


  1. You go girl. I would love to see those documents.

  2. Good luck in your search for your great grandmother.