I had a nice little win a few nights ago. I've been struggling to make some headway on my husband's Dunn side. I knew that his gg grandfather was married to a lady named Rebecca sometime around 1848. I knew that Rebecca remarried and according to her marriage registration, her father was a carriage maker named William Henry Woods and her mother was named Catherine Wood. In 1901 her immigration year was recorded as 1861. Armed with this information, I quickly found William Henry Woods carriage maker in the 1861 Census in York with a daughter Rebecca, a number of siblings and a wife named Charlotte.
I made an assumption that this was the correct William Henry and that he possibly remarried or that Rebecca's mom was actually Charlotte.
Rebecca's 2nd husband's mother's name was Catherine and I thought it might have been recorded in error. Under this theory I proceeded to research this Woods line in Ontario.
I left the line alone for more than a year and the other night decided to research obituaries for Dunn ancestors on the Toronto Star's Pages of the Past website. I have an account with the Brampton Public Library and I'm able to access the website from home, for free.....
After finding a few Dunn obits I decided to give the Woods line a try. I already had Charlotte's 1916 death registration so I looked her up. To my surprise there was a writeup on her as well as a picture. In the obit it stated that she was a pioneer of Toronto, immigrated with her husband and young family in 1850, married at 17 and was the last surviving member of a family of 23. It also stated that when they came to Canada they lived on the site of the current post office located on Toronto Street and that she leaves 200 descendants. Sure enough it proceeds to list out the names of all of her children one of them Mrs Whittaker. Rebecca's second husband was Robert Whittaker. To remove all doubt that Mrs Whittaker is in fact my Rebecca, the article goes on to give the names of her 2 great grandsons who were serving in WWI, both brothers and Rebecca's grandsons.
After I did my happy dance, I decided to turn to England. I found Charlotte in the 1851 Surrey census with Rebecca and her sister. The husband, a carriage maker was not at home at the time. I looked a bit more and actually obtained a copy of Charlotte and William Henry's 1849 marriage record at Newington Holy Trinity. Both father's were named and Charlotte's dad Nicholas was a bookseller. With a bit more research, I've found Charlotte in the 1841 census with her dad Nicolas, wife Jane a brother Henry and his wife and children as well as a sister Ann and her husband.
With a little more work I hope to find Rebecca's baptism record to confirm that her mother is in fact Charlotte and also that Jane in turn is Charlotte's mother.
Obits can be such an important piece of the puzzle that I don't think people consider enough. I got lucky this time because the image was online but I've also done the leg work to manually look up newspapers at the local archives with in one case similar results that have allowed me to successfully narrow down my research of people with common fore and surnames in England.