In honor of Women's Equality Day, I thought I would honor one of the pioneer women of Armour, South Dakota - my 2nd great grandmother, Eliza Bourke Lanctot, and give her an equal opportunity to be the focus of my frustration.
This may be a topic for a show on A&E or one of those other cable channels.
Let me explain.
Every time I find some clue about my 2nd great grandmother, Eliza (Bourke) Lanctot, I end up with more questions than answers. I received her death certificate in the mail a couple of weeks ago and I was even more confused than before it arrived. Either she was born a bunch of times or something's wrong.
- 2 Feb 1859 - written on her death certificate
- 2 Feb 1860 - calculated using the age at death - 70 years, 10 months, 20 days - and subtracting from the date of death - 22 Dec 1930
- 1861 - if you believe the 1880 federal census
- Feb 1861 - according to both the 1900 and 1910 federal censuses
- 1862 - calculated according to the 1920 federal census
- 1861 - according to the 1930 federal census
- 2 Feb 1861 - the transcribed obituary lists this date.
For the record, I have not been able to find her original obituary. The one I have is a transcription from a cousin and doesn't list the name of the paper or the exact date the obituary was published. I am also still trying to get my hands on a birth certificate for her. Unfortunately, I can't seem to get a straight answer about WHERE she was born, either!
- Michigan - according to the 1880 federal census
- Illinois - according to the 1885 territory census, and the 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 federal censuses
- Michigan - so says her death certificate
- Greenbush, Michigan - her transcribed obituary even pinpoints the town of her birth
So, do I put more stock in the information contained in the 1880 census, when she lived with her parents - who likely would have remembered where she was born? Or do I simply request her birth certificate from both states and see who has it? Second problem - Michigan didn't start keeping official birth records until 1867, and Illinois didn't start until 1916. I vented some of my frustration in an earlier post here. It hasn't gotten any better.
One of the items on my list of things to do is to find a history of Armour, South Dakota to see if she is listed there. It's a longshot (because she's a woman), but she was one of the state's few women to own and manage a hotel by herself - Armour House - so, maybe.
Now on to the really bizarre stuff in her death certificate.
She is listed as a white, widowed female ... so far, so good.
Birthplace: Michigan. Okay, whatever.
Father's name: Zenophile. Wait, what?
Mother's name: Eliza Burke. Umm ...
Do you ever feel like you're being punk'd? Or look around looking for hidden cameras, expecting Allen Funt to jump out of a closet or something? Welcome to my world.
The only thing I can come up with is that Art (Arthur) Lanctot, Eliza's son, was the informant for the certificate. I can only imagine that he either misunderstood the questions, and thought the form meant HIS parents - and put Zenophile and Eliza down. I just can't come up with another explanation. In any case, not such a big help, Art.
I am so completely and totally open to suggestions at this point. I just want one straight answer. Someone? Anyone? Beuller?