Monday, June 14, 2010

Madness Monday: The Search for Peter Morrison

Brenden's great grandpa, Peter Buchanan Morrison, immigrated to the United States from Scotland in 1903. Through a contact in Scotland, I was able to find him in the 1901 and 1891 Census of Scotland in Falkirk, Scotland. Through Ancestry, I was able to find him in the 1930 U.S. Federal census in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio, and also found him on a passenger list in 1903. I also found him in the Naturalization index in Cleveland, Ohio on Ancestry in 1907, and also found him in some of the city directories in Joliet, Illinois and Aurora, Illinois where he eventually moved to after 1930. I also found his marriage record to Gladys Olga Wagner in the Cuyahoga County Probate Court Historical Marriage Index and was able to request and receive the record from Cuyahoga County (for free!).

Where is Peter from the time of his naturalization in Cleveland in 1907 and his residence in Cleveland in 1930??? Peter was proving to be quite elusive in the 1910 and 1920 federal census.

That was until I received Peter's marriage record. I was surprised to learn he had been married previously. I had always been looking for Peter as a single male. No mention of Peter's first marriage was ever mentioned to the family. It made sense, him and his second wife were over 10 years apart in age. The date of his divorce was listed on his marriage record, so I contacted the Clerk of Courts Office in Cuyahoga County to request a copy of his divorce record. At the time, I did not know the name of Peter's first wife.

While waiting for the divorce record, I decided to look for Peter once again in the 1910 and 1920 census. There were two Peter Morrison's in Cleveland, Ohio in 1910. One record showed a Peter Morrison born in Scotland, but with a birthdate that was pretty far off, and was a carpenter. The other record showed a Peter Morrison born in Pennsylvania, a lodger, with a birthdate in the correct year, and a salesman. Both Peter's were married. We knew Peter had been a butcher. The record of Peter as a carpenter wasn't looking right, but the Peter as a salesman could be him. I still couldn't find him in the 1920 census, so I decided to look into the two wives listed on the records. I found carpenter Peter and his wife....that record helped prove it wasn't the right Peter. Then, I found salesman Peter and his wife....but it took a little creative searching. His wife in the 1910 census was listed as Olive. The wife listed in 1920 was Oline, and the last name of Manison. When I looked at the actual census record, I discovered a transcription error. It was Olive Morrison and Peter B Morrison! Looking at the occupation, it showed Peter as a butcher, born in Scotland, immigration in 1903! (although, the birthdate was incorrect, about 6 years off) With the spelling inaccuracy and the incorrect birthdate, no wonder I could never find him.

What shocked me even more, was that the record showed Peter had two kids in his first marriage, Margaret and Olive Morrison. The four children from Peter's second wife had never known he had other children. I wanted to find more about his two children and first wife, so I looked on Ancestry and found that his first wife had gotten remarried, his two kids were both married twice, and all three are deceased. Through their obituaries, I discovered his two children both had children....that are still alive.

The questions have changed from where was Peter between 1907-1930, but now.....should we try to contact Peter's newly found grandchildren? After all these years, do they want to know about their four half siblings? Why did Peter leave his first wife? Why didn't Peter mention his two children to his other four children?
I don't know if we'll ever have the answers, but maybe the divorce record will help. Until then, the madness continues.......

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