Today’s blog is from the other Putnam Sister. I am really happy to be sharing this space with my sister. This is a first in a series she has planned for you on,

Brick walls:

In approximately 1986 my sister asked me to help her with a genealogy project for our parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Sounded ok. I knew nothing about genealogy and thought we would talk about my grandparents and their families. My other sister organized an ingenious re-enactment of some of our deceased ancestors by choosing look-a-likes, or nearly so, descendants. I cannot say I was too pleased to be chosen to play my paternal grandmother who was short, fat and not terribly attractive, but then I do resemble her in all those ways. Those darn genes!
I had no idea what I was in for!! The journey has been oh so fun.
Now 30 years later- yeah gads has it been that long-I am now like many of you a long line of ancestors, some going back to the 1066 English invasion by William the Conqueror and a pile of bricks and brick walls.

It has been a great journey. My sister and I decided she would research the maternal side and I would research the paternal side.

It took me several years to follow my paternal grandfather’s mother, Ida May Clough. After forks in the road and stumbles, we often invented what we thought were plausible explanations, but were really fanciful stories. For instance, we had conflicting information that Ida was born in California (from her death certificate), Illinois (from a 1860 census) and New York (her brother and grandparents were there in 1855 census).  Ida, according to her death certificate, was born 29 December 1854 in California. I, at the time, could not find Orson and Julie.  I did find an announcement of their marriage in Buffalo in Oct of 1851. So where are they? William (Uncle Billie) is five in the 1855 census with Orson’s parents Benjamin and Lydia Clough, so is Julia pregnant when they marry? Or as is often the case, is the census incorrect about William’s age? William (Uncle Billie) is another story, but do not know his birth date.  I discovered William and Ida May’s father, Orson Clough, came to early California for the Gold Rush, and ended up having a saw mill, a mine and a ranch in Amador Co., California, part of Gold Rush country.  I could not find Julia at that time after what I thought was thorough research, so we made up this great story,

Orson goes to California before 1854 with the gold rush, Julia goes with him, but leaves William behind with Orson’s parents.  In California she becomes pregnant with Ida, dies in childbirth and Orson has this small child, whom he has raised by Almira Surface.

Ida is in the 1860 census with Almira and no sign of Orson.  DARN.  I traced Orson and his parents to Hamburg, NY.  I have him in the 1850 census with his parents Benjamin, age 65, Lydia age 63, Orson 22, Abner Amsdale 90, whom I now believe to be Lydia’s father, and interestingly, Julia Marsh. Who is listed on Ida May’s death certificate as her mother.  Plus I have the marriage evidence for Julia and Orson. On one census lots of information and clues.  But I could not prove my fantasy scenario, DARN. (click on images to enlarge)

1850 US Census Erie New York
1850 US Census Erie New York

In 1860 US Census I have not located Orson.

In the 1870 census, Volcano, Amador, California  I found Orson (47) with Abner Clough(63) and his wife Caroline (61) and Abner and Caroline’s daughter Jennette Wooster (40) and Jennette’s children.  A local Amador historian thinks Abner is Orson’s brother, also could be an uncle or cousin.  So hey where are the children, William and Ida, and does this confirm that Julia is dead?  Ida is supposedly 16 now and William is supposedly 20.  I am loosing 15-20 years of info on my family DARN.

Orson Clough Photo curtsey of
Orson Clough
Photo curtsey of fredsownline on Ancestry.com

Return next week for the continuation of the Clough Brick Wall.

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