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19 October 2010

Tuesday Tales: Mary's Uncooperative Ancestor

Mary Mettler sent one more installment of her adventures on the road. Anyone out there have some clues about Oren PARKER?

Some ancestors just don’t want to be researched, and they let you know it! In 2008, I drove out to Westford, Vermont, which is in the middle of nowhere. My second great grandmother, Sylvia Parker, was born there, the daughter of Oren/Orin/Orrin and Lavina (Farnsworth) Parker. The Farnsworths have rarely been a problem, as they reported births, marriages and deaths to the various towns in which they lived in New England. Oren, however, left few “footprints.” I dug into the dusty town records and found very little. From other sources, I found that he and extended family moved to what was then Antioch Township, now Lake Villa, Lake County, Illinois in the late 1830s.

Over the next year, my cousin Aimee Miller and I did more digging. In the Westford census, Oren lived next door to an Aaron Parker, who was the same age as he was. Perhaps he was a cousin? Later censuses all reported that Oren had been born in Massachusetts. We searched and searched and came up with nothing! Other researchers provided possible fathers; however, land, probate and family records disproved them all. In Antioch records, we discovered that Oren was buried in Angola Cemetery, which was on his original land. Of course, he had no tombstone; however, the sextant reported the place of his burial. I was in Indiana on my way home, so, I decided to go to Antioch to dig some more there.

I waited until after rush hour to take on the formidable Dan Ryan freeway in Chicago. That’s when Oren started giving me fits! I struggled through bumper-to-bumper traffic, major construction, and closed freeway exits. When I finally reached the cemetery, I gathered up all of my camera gear for the various Parker and Farnsworth tombstones and, of course, the empty spot which was Oren’s burial plot. As I stepped out of the car, a huge rainstorm began! Okay, I just hopped in my car to go to the Lake Villa library. Halfway there, the rain stopped. Ha, I’ll fool Oren and sneak back to the cemetery. As soon as I stepped out of the car, the rain began again in earnest! So, back and forth I went until I just gave up and took pictures in the rain.

Later at the library, I discovered that Oren and his two brothers, Abel and John, were some of the founders of Antioch. But, to this day, Aimee and I have been unable to find Oren’s birthplace and his parents. We will continue to search and look forward to whatever tricks Oren might have to block our research!

– Mary Mettler 

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library