Telling my family's stories
My theories about Albert’s parentage aren’t linked in any particular order – I don’t necessarily think this is the most likely scenario, but it’s one I’ve been re-combing over the last couple of days, so I thought I’d put it out there.
Jane Elizabeth Skinner was the youngest daughter of Alexander and Elizabeth (Armstrong) Skinner, and a younger sister of Margaret Skinner who married Thomas Moorehead and became Albert’s adopted mother. If Jane was Albert’s biological mother, then he would have been adopted by his maternal aunt and uncle, which would have been one of those quiet family adoptions and would explain why there was no to-do about it in Albert’s mind.
According to a genealogy of the Skinner family, as well as cemetery records, Jane was born 30 June 1830 in Washington County, New York.
On the 1850 census, she is living with her family in Argyle, Washington county, NY with her brother William and his wife, her mother Elizabeth AND, most interestingly for our purposes, a 19-year-old man named John Harris:
By 1855, both John Harris and Elizabeth Skinner are missing from the NY census for Washington county. However, we do have a Jane Harris (as we saw in yesterday’s post). And who lives next door to Jane Harris in 1855? David Miller, who had already married Jane Skinner’s sister Susan and been widowed, and who would, in 1859, marry Jane Skinner:
David and Jennie E on the 1860 census (in Ft. Edward, NY):
Jane died 6 October 1875, and is buried in South Argyle cemetery; a picture of her gravestone can be seen on Find-A-Grave here. Jane and David had three daughters that I know of: Susan A, Mattie E., and Jennie.
There are several aspects of this hypothesis for Albert’s mother that make it very strong to me. One is the closeness of the relation that I mentioned above: Albert would have been adopted by his aunt and uncle. Another is the tie between Skinner and Harris (via the 1850 census) and Harris and Morehead (via the 1855 census). It’s circumstantial, but the people fit together pretty strikingly. The ages match.
The part that doesn’t match are the birthplaces of Albert’s biological parents. On the 1880 census, as Jeff pointed out, Albert’s parents are listed as being from New York (father) and Ireland (mother). We already know this doesn’t match his adopted parents, since Thomas Morehead came from Ireland and Margaret was born in New York. So it stands to reason these refer to Albert’s birth parents. But under the Jane Skinner/John Harris theory, we still have a problem, since Jane Skinner like her older sister Margaret, was born in New York, and John Harris (like Thomas Morehead) was born in Ireland. I don’t know how to reconcile these.
I’ve tried looking for any evidence that Jane (Skinner) (Harris?) Miller had another marriage or child, but so far haven’t turned up anything. It looks like there isn’t anything in the probate records from her death, unfortunately. Maybe one of her descendants knows something? It’s a long shot, but I keep hoping! (As for John Harris — I don’t even know where to start. NOT an easy name to track!)