1910’s (Side A-4) Missing Mary & My Theory

So I’m following the side of my maternal great grandmother (Clara Harris Ringgold). This is where things get nice and complicated for me. I have reached the 1910’s and instead of logging onto and seeing that wonderful leaf shaking over my 3x grandmother I see nothing. Normally that doesn’t get me shaken up in the least bit, I do a little bit of searching and then my ancestor comes out of hiding and I move on to press my way back another ten years. Today, that was NOT the case. I searched and searched and so far still haven’t had any luck in finding her in 1910.

THE PROCESS: So I know that Mary E (Maryetta) didn’t marry Benson until 1911 which means that nine times out of ten she would have lived at home before she was married. So off I went searching for her and her family (The Johnson’s) in the 1910 census. I found a household in the 1910 Census with her father George H Johnson (I know his name from the cheat sheet) and I was also able to confirm that it was the right family by comparing other family members that lived in the household.

1910 US Census Peach Bottom, York, Pennsylvania

Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Peach Bottom, York, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1434; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0086; FHL microfilm: 1375447.

Who was in the house: ( George Johnson 45, Hannah E. Johnson 72, John F. 18, George L. 17, James M. 15, Edith R. 14, Rollo I. 12)

What I Learned: I learned that George Johnson was a widow and I learned the name of my 4th Great Grandmother (Hannah E. Johnson)! I think this is where my great grandmother (Mommom Ringgold) may have gotten her middle name which was also Hannah.

*To my GREATEST surprise, Mary E (Maryetta) was not in the home!*

My next logical step (after I stopped freaking out) was to search for Benson and see where he was in 1910. I felt that it was highly unlikely that they were “shaking up” the year before they were married, but stranger things have been known to happened throughout the course of history. However, that wasn’t the case. According to the Pennsylvania 1910 Miracode Index about Benson Harris it listed him to be living in York  county in the household of a Samuel H Smith as a Servant.

1910 Miricode Index - Benson Harris copy


Source Information: Pennsylvania 1910 Miracode Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000. Original data: Pennsylvania Miracode. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.

This was kind of a shocker to me because after looking at his pictures I never saw him as much of a domestic for some reason. Well, my search is taking me back to Enumeration district 0068 to find the Smith household to see if the details match. It may just help that Benson S Harris isn’t a common name so here’s hoping for now…

“Less than 20 mins later….”

So since I didn’t have any luck on I headed on over to my number two research site, (I love that site!) And I search for Samuel H. Smith as HOH (Head of Household) in 1910 and guess how many there are? Two of them… which was awesometastic! (Yes, I made that word up) I pulled up the census and there he was, same estimated birth year, same birthplace, same everything. It was so exciting!! Well you’ll never believe what happened next!! I let my eyes gaze down one line to the name under Bensons and what did it say!?? It said Samuel E. Harris and under that listed an Agnes J Harris – who would they be? Bensons Parents (God Bless that cheat sheet) My 3rd Great Grandparents! Living what looks to be right next door to home he worked in.

1910 US Census Lower Chanceford, York, Pennsylvania

Who was in the house: SMITH HOUSEHOLD: (Samuel H Smith 52, Rachel A Smith 46, Juliet E Smith 17, Sarah R Smith 14, Robert Smith 8, Margaret J Smith 5, Margaret A Smith 79, Lizzie I Smith 61, Sarah Gibbons 15 – Servant, Benson Harris 19 – Servant)

Who was in the house: Samuel E Harris 48, Agnes J Harris 46, Ross E Harris 18, Robert R Harris 15, Florence E Harris, John A Harris 10, Roy C Harris 8, Samuel W Gibson 2)

What I want to know:  WHERE IS MARY??!!!

MY INTERESTING THEORY….  Okay so I know this is a long shot… but here it goes… on the top line of the census above there is the Ross family listed – a family of three (Hugh Ross 36, Alice R 35, and Kathryn H 3) the fourth member of the family is their servant, a 21 year old female by the name of (you guessed it) Mary Johnson. Now this is where the theory comes into play, my theory is that the census people messed up. (a very common situation) It lists her as a white female, when looking at the census it is theoretically possible that the “W” could have been an “M” for Mulatto or miswritten altogether. The other issue that I have is that her place of birth and that of her parents all list Maryland. Every source that I have says that she was born in Pennsylvania. While I am pretty sure that this is not my Mary Johnson I have a nagging feeling that it may be here. she didn’t live in Lower Chanceford but to my knowledge (I will double check later) Peach Bottom wasn’t that far away. WHAT IF? Benson, who worked as a servant in the Smith household, met Mary as she was working as a servant in the Ross household a few houses down and they married a year later and lived happily ever after. Sooo until I find Mary that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.


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