Telling my family's stories
A second possibility for Albert Moorehead’s mother that we’ve seriously entertained for quite some time is that Jane Harris = Jane Moorehead, daughter of Robert and Hannah Moorehead.
Now, neither Robert nor Hannah mention Albert (for example, in their wills!!), and I don’t know what this means. It certainly would’ve made life simpler if one of them had said “to my grandson Albert” but of course they didn’t. It could be that since he was being raised by Thomas and Margaret they felt he wasn’t their responsibility anymore. It could be that this is an indication that we are on the wrong track.
Anyway, the story would be that Jane came up to visit her cousin (or otherwise relative) Thomas, and met some Harris guy. They get married (hence the name change), Mr. Harris dies, and Albert is born; Jane is left a widow and single parent. Jane and Albert, along with Thomas and Margaret and their family, travel out to Jo Daviess county to reunite with Jane’s parents – this story actually gives Thomas Moorehead and his family a reason to move to Jo Daviess. Albert lives with Thomas and his family; Jane gets remarried to Michael Farris.
Comparing this theory to the “Jane Skinner” theory, we see that this story doesn’t — so far! — tell us anything about Mr. Harris: other than Jane’s name as Jane Harris on the 1855 census, we have no clues to his identity. The connection between Thomas Moorehead (adopted father of Albert) and Jane Moorehead is also less defined than that between Margaret Skinner and Jane Skinner. They are almost certainly not siblings, since Jane has an established (and distinct) brother named Thomas — but they are likely cousins, both coming from County Monaghan in Ireland.
Like the “Jane Skinner” model, we would assume Jane is married/widowed on the 1855 census. However, this story is consistent with Albert’s mother being identified as from Ireland (on the 1880 census) and Jane Harris being from Ireland (on the 1855 census).
One big gap is that we don’t know where Jane went between 1855 and ~1873, when she married Michael Farrell, which is a big gap: nothing on either the 1860 or 1870 census that I have been able to find. I haven’t been able to find Robert and Hannah on the 1860 census, so that is one possibility (that she’s living with them). There’s a Jane living with them in 1870, in Hanover, Illinois – but based on the age and other people in the household, I think this Jane is Robert and Hannah’s widowed daughter-in-law.