January 10, 2010

A Lost Sister

Thomas Edson Barnum and his sister Margaret Millicent Barnum….who they called Madge.

Himself: Looked for cars and jobs. Ate too much but that was ok too, worked at the museum, and munched after dinner. Beard coming along nicely.

Herself: Wrote, ate too much breakfast but didn’t finish it, very pleased to have finished scanning the album noting no Lenora baby pictures, searched Google for MM’s of any last name in the MI and WI areas. By the end of this day, I think I’m going to live…cough, cough.

Reading: Google.

Balance: Sci Fi downstairs.

I have two pictures of Margaret Millicent…Madge. She died at age 10. I note that no data base has her name in it anywhere that I can find in the early morning hours. The Alden data base has her father, mother, and brother listed. The Barnum genealogy has everyone up to my mother listed….and another Barnum genealogy has even me listed. Not a Madge anywhere.

I played for a while putting her names and variations of her names into Google. There was even a family friend named after her who showed up on Google in 1927 doing an art exhibition in Detroit. Not a Madge anywhere.

Listed at the turn of the century, I found Whital’s, Rhoad’s. Carburay, Hunt’s, and Hyde’s with her first two names. That’s a long way for one nice, old fashioned name to spread. No Madge.

I thought it a very sad thing that this child who was so very loved cannot be found by a simple search. She should not have been lost and forgotten. So I wandered into ancestry.com and after signing up, changing my password, cursing a bit, find that I have been a member since 2005. How nice. But they charge to access a book I have downstairs. No book. Maybe it’s behind the Christmas Tree.

Back upstairs I find that none any other of the free links work.

The Michigan free database death records don’t go back far enough. Google has a book on St. Clair County which tells me that my great grandfather was president of a bank, married, had one living son and a daughter that died age 10. That’s something.

As my curiosity grew, I kept scanned city directories, business directories, and a handful of other databases this time for Hartson Gillette Barnum, Madge’s father. He’s here as a cashier, as a bank president, as a member of the Shriners, of the Elks, living here or there, but only the one mention of his daughter. Looking for Gimpa, the first thing I found was a stained glass window at Grace Episcopal Church donated by my great Grandmother and Gimpa along with the Wells family. No mention of Madge.


…I find….

“A Full Genealogical History of their Descendants to the end of the Nineteenth Century.


Joel Munseli's Sons, Publishers.


321 Thomas Edson, b. May 17, 1872, at Port Huron, m.

Mary B. Harrington, at Chicago, June i,
1898. He entered the University of Michigan
at sixteen, took degree of B. S., in electrical
engineering, 1892; then a year's expert course
in the "Thompson-Houston Works," at Lynn,
Mass; went first to Chicago, but subsequently
to Milwaukee, where he is now chief engineer
at the " Cutler Hammer Co.," high grade
electrical appliances. He possesses good in-
ventive ability, which has been of consider-
able benefit to him already. He has a strong,
well-balanced character, is a faithful, active
churchman, a lovely man in his home, where
his bright, happy-tempered wife does her part
equally as well.

321 Margaret, b. Jan. i, 1877, d. May 22, 1887. A beau-
tiful, loving, winsome little girl, the idol of all
the family.”

For some reason, today I really appreciate the flowery, Victorian language that Harriette Hyde Wells used to describe this little girl who died too young. I've searched enough today.


  1. You are quite the expert on this database thing. I did not realize so much was available from your desk. I love that pose of the young man in the photo as well and at least you knew she was loved by that quote.

  2. Amazing that it was so challenging to find even a mention. Does the library have more resources available, I wonder?

    Glad you are thinking of her, looking to find her.

  3. I love how those flowery comments leave you with a fuller impression of what the man was like (though I can appreciate that much about his character may have been left out for various reasons), but it certainly does whet the appetite to keep scrounging around. I love a mystery. Shall we write up Madge's story to suit ourselves? There's an idea for no less than a short story in there!


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