Field Notes from our Washington Correspondent
From time to time, our Washington correspondent will share his experiences as a Ruby One-Name Study volunteer. Mark starts with Ruby families who first appear in the 1900 Census as a resident of Washington. As Mark describes in his post, people do not stay within state boundaries. Find out how the Washington researcher became a Pennsylvania researcher! It also highlights how a one-name study differs from researching your own line - there are no clues from family stories and knowledge to help you along the path.
My first Ruby tree started out with James Ruby, a middle-aged bachelor logger living in 1900 in the Cascade Mountains foothills southeast of Seattle. James was born about 1852 and came west from York County, Pennsylvania, certainly sometime after the 1870 census and possibly before the 1880 census, in which I was unable to locate him (Washington didn't gain statehood until 1889, but was included as a territory in the 1880 census). He may have been the only person in his immediate family to have left Pennsylvania, and was probably one of the few to leave York County (still checking on that). It isn't clear if he made a direct line from Pennsylvania to the Seattle area, or whether he may have wandered for a piece between 1870 and 1900. James apparently died without marrying and without issue ( there is a Washington death certificate for him).
I was able to trace James back, with fair assurance, to his family in Pennsylvania - he was fairly unique among James Rubys of his age born in Pennsylvania. Obtaining a full list of his siblings proved to be a challenge, because the census entries omitted expected names from one census to the next. There seemed to be a couple of inconsistencies - for example, older and younger daughters both named "Catherine". With a careful longitudinal family group study across the censuses and with the considerable assistance of Pennsylvania death certificates ( which started to be kept around 1900 and which provide not only birth and death dates, but also the names of the father and mother-including the mother's maiden name), I was able to piece together the list of siblings. The only two that I was not able to get birth and death dates for were James and the younger Catherine: James presumably because he went west. I suspect the younger Catherine may have been a cousin. If I have my accounting straight, then James was one of 10 children - he had 2 brothers and 7 sisters.
Tracing James' line back to his grandfather ran into a brick wall of the 1840 census, which only provides the name of the head of household, not of any other residents. There were a plethora of Rubys living in the same general area in York County, Pennsylvania. A careful study of ages listed in the census tallies provided some clues to the identity of James' grandfather, but no clear answers. The question seems likely to find resolution only with the assistance of records such as a will or a family bible. A little scouting around in online record sets and family trees left the impression that these Rubys probably came from a venerable line of Pennsylvania patriots. I marked James' father, Peter Ruby, at the root of the tree and proceeded to work downstream among James' siblings.
I've since worked through James' older sister Susannah, who first appeared in the 1850 census indexed as "Sarah", her husband, and their children. I'm currently working through the line of James' older brother Benjamin. Benjamin's wife seems to have died young, leaving behind a single son as offspring, and Benjamin never remarried. Benjamin's son, Edward William Ruby, had 8 children. I've assembled the list of their names and am currently working my way through them.
Cheers from the other Washington,