All genealogists have one: a brickwall. Alright, there may be a lucky
few upon whom the Gods of Genealogy have smiled who don't have a
brickwall. These are probably the same people who got A's on their
trigonometry finals. But the rest of us, we have brickwalls, ancestors
whose names, or places of birth, or parents elude us. Finding the
missing information and smashing through that brickwall to the
ancestors beyond it is the Holy Grail of genealogy. And sometimes
we have more than one brickwall to breakdown.

In my case, I have several, the big one of course being the enigma
that is the Elusive John Cutter West. (Yes, I meant to capitalize
Elusive.) But there's another that nags at me for my attention when
I look at my family tree:

What was the name of my 5x great grandfather Caleb Coburn's wife?

Now I admit that I've been fairly lucky with the majority of my female ancestors.
There are only a few whose maiden names I don't know. But in the case of Caleb's
wife, I don't even have a first name. Everything I've seen online so far about him
makes no mention of the woman who gave birth to Moses Coburn, my 4x great
grandfather. (I mean, I'm pretty sure Moses didn't come into being from
spontaneous generation or cloning, so he had to have a mother.) None of the
queries I posted to discussion groups for the Coburn/Colburn family have
been successful, either.

The other day I thought I might finally solve the mystery. I found a copy of the book
"Genealogy of the Descendants of Edward Colburn/Coburn" online. The book was
published in 1913, only sixty-six years after Moses' death and co-written by Silas
Coburn. Surely this might have the woman's name. I looked through it in much the
same way as Wile E. Coyote goes through the latest Acme Catalogue. And there
on page 48 I found:

"Caleb Coburn(Moses 3 Joseph2 Edward1) was born in Dracut December 12, 1738;
he married ________ ____________; they dwelt at Tyngsboro." followed by
an entry about their child Moses.

Now I'm wondering if there was some reason the name is unknown. Could there
have been some family scandal that removed any mention of Caleb's wife's name
from the Coburn family history? Or was she so forgettable a person that nobody
remembered her name?

So she still remains a mystery, along with my other brickwalls that I keep
trying to break down, because that's what genealogists do. Like Wile
E.Coyote, we keep chasing after our elusive Road Runner ancestors.

Anyone out there have an Acme Genealogy Answers Catalogue handy?

Views: 41

Comment by Troy Jordan on April 1, 2011 at 1:48pm

Hi Bill,

If there is any comfort in numbers, I am also looking for the same mysterious "Mrs Coburn".  While no direct relation to me, I am helping a friend discover her ancestral heritage.  So, you do not stand alone at this brick wall and we can all comiserate together.  On with the search....

Comment by Randall Griffin on July 20, 2011 at 9:10pm
My "brickwall" is the founding Griffin who appears in Salisbury MA around 1645 with wife, Agnes (called Ann?) alongside.  There he had three children, Hannah, Mary and John, and off to NH and Maine (well, you know, northern MA). Philip is killed by lightening in Scarborough in 1667 (welcome to Pine Point, Mr Griffin) and the wife wisely took the kids back to Massachusetts before the indians razed the settlement.  Later, John's children headed north and many become founding families throughout Maine. But where did Philip come from?  Three choices.... 1) Wales is the family story (one of 3 or 5 brothers -- all unnamed, of course).  2) From France my sister would tease me, or 3) A distant cousin offered this bad option: that Philip named himself after the ship "Griffin" he jumped on.  NOOOOOOO!  Well, thanks for coming, Phil.  America has been great for us!   Clues and better options welcome.


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