Thanks to Steve Danko and Michelle Goodrum for inspiring me to use the Scientific Method to pursue my research this year. I closely followed Steve’s 8-part presentation in December of his question and like the idea of trying to be that disciplined in researching one of my questions. As I have confessed before, I usually am fairly haphazard in my approach, following my nose from one thought to another and collecting tidbits along the way. I also tend not to analyze the data in a methodical way, but to accept or discard without considering all I know. I do know better, but have too often been cavalier in my approach to this fascinating study. I am resolved to do better.

Here I am trying to be more methodical, and so I’m presenting my first take on using this Method on a genealogical question. This is a somewhat condensed version of what I have collected along the way.

This particular research question is related to one of my difficulties with my Boothby women. I have noted before that there are two particular places in my Boothby line where there are unresolved questions about exactly who the woman in question was. I’ve written about Elizabeth Divers and whether it was she who married the James Boothby who is my great-great-grandfather. My goal this year is to identify the parents of my great-grandmother Mary Earhart Boothby and prove that they were her parents. Mary lived in southwestern Ohio (mostly Brown County) from 1855 to 1934.

The question arises because of 2 different last names being given in the Federal Censuses and births recorded at the Brown County Courthouse. There are also variations of her first name. The information on her death certificate, given by her daughter Carrie, is that Mary E. Boothby was the daughter of John Earhart and Margaret Shotwell, born 17 Jun 1855 in Brown County, Ohio. This was the first piece of documentation I had for my great-grandmother and I assumed that her daughter’s information was correct. Silly me. As I started adding to the information pile, I discovered that there was a mystery. The first available Federal Census she shows up on (1860) lists her as Elizabeth Hockman (see below). At this point I started to see that I had a more interesting problem than merely documenting events.

Here is the first iteration of the Scientific Method.

I. Define the question: Who were Elizabeth Mary or Mary Elizabeth’s parents?

II Gather information and resources:

  • 1. Born to John Earhart and Margaret Shotwell, 1855 (Ohio Death Certificate, informant daughter Carrie)

    Mary E. Boothby death certificate info

  • 2. Living in Clark Township, Brown County, Ohio in 1860 as Elizabeth Hockman with John and Margaret Arehart (1860 Federeral Population Census), age 4

    Arehart 1860 census

  • 3. Living in Clark Township, Brown County, Ohio in 1870 as Elizabeth M. Earhart with John and Margaret Earhart (1870 Federal Population Census), age 15, “Helps Mother”

    Earhart 1870 census

  • 4. Married Alexander A. Boothby as Mary E. Earhart, 1873, in Brown County, Ohio (Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958)
  • 5. Birth of son, M.K. Boothby 1879, Scott Township, Brown County, Ohio to Alexander Boothby and E.M. Hockman (Ohio Births and Christenings, 1821-1962)
  • 6. Living in Clark Township, Brown County, Ohio, 1880 as Mary E. Boothby (1880 Federal Population Census)
  • 7. Birth of son, Ray T. Boothby, 1890, Lewis Township, Brown County, Ohio to A.A. Boothby and E.M. Earhart (Ohio Births and Christenings, 1821-1962)
  • 8. Birth of daughter, Delia C. Boothby, 1894, Lewis Township, Brown County, Ohio to A. Boothby and Mary Earhart (Ohio Births and Christenings, 1821-1962)

(The Ohio Marriages and Ohio Births and Christenings listed are indexes found on the Family Search website,

III. Form hypothesis: Mary Elizabeth or Elizabeth Mary Hockman was taken in by John Earhart and Margaret Shotwell between 1855 and 1860 and later “adopted” by them between 1860 and 1870.

IV. Perform experiment and collect data: Search for birth records in the Brown County Courthouse for 1854-1857 for both Elizabeth Mary Earhart and Elizabeth Mary Hockman. Since the earliest records I have to date show her as Elizabeth it is possible that this was the name originally given to her.

Since it was not required to register births in Brown County until 1867 there may not be any birth records available for these earlier years. Or, there may be some births recorded earlier but not all. The microfilmed records available from the Family History Library start at 1867 but do not include all births even after it was required. In this rural area of the state not all events got recorded, and some got recorded long after the fact. Therefore I should also search the guardianship and probate files.

I have already decided to send for a copy of the birth of M.K. Boothby, as well as the marriage record for Alexander and Mary. There may be more information on the original record than shows on the index. (This is a separate experiment: I have been told by Cousin Nancy that you can request photocopies of specific images or pages from microfilms at the Family History Library. I will mail my first request to them and see what I get back.)

Otherwise, it looks like I will need to take a trip out to Ohio to research in the courthouse records to see for myself. Wonder what my sister is doing this summer?

I have a couple of brick walls involving women in my Boothby line. Two of the women who married my Boothbys seem to have been born with a variety of last names. That is, I don’t yet have good evidence of exactly who they were.

The one I’m looking at here is my great great grandmother. There is general agreement that her first name was Elizabeth. However, her birth name has been variously reported as Divers, Stores, or Stewart. The first piece of information I found that named her specifically was the death certificate for my great grandfather, Alexander A. Boothby. I am lucky that this family was in Ohio from the early 1800s; Ohio is one state that has good access to digital images of death certificates and indexes for some that aren’t digitized. So I have digital copies of lots of Ohio death certificates. Including 4 of Elizabeth’s 10 children, the eldest and the youngest and two in between. I show the names of their parents from these 4 certificates below. These death certificates are where my collection of last names for Elizabeth come from. Unfortunately both James and Elizabeth seem to have died before Ohio started requiring death registration/certificates. There are also a variety of birth places listed for both Elizabeth and her husband James Boothby on these certificates. A problem for another day.

Based on my great grandfather’s death certificate, and no other good evidence, for a long time I thought Elizabeth’s name was Stores (or something like that).

Alexander Boothby's death certificate

Collins Boothby death certificate

Then I discovered that Stewart had been listed as Elizabeth’s last name¬† on Collins’s death certificate.

And he was much older than Alexander, so maybe he had passed along more accurate information.

Edward’s death certificate didn’t help (he also was older than Alexander); it listed Elizabeth with no last name.

Edward Boothby's death certificate

Finally, I found the death certificate for Mary Jane, the eldest child (that I have found so far) of James and Elizabeth. Her certificate said E. Divers.

Mary Jane B. Fiscus death certificate

This fits with information I got from a number of people on Ohio listservs that either said it was Elizabeth Divers or at least suggested it.

The documentation I can put together so far looks like this:

Maryland Marriages 1655-1850 lists a marriage for William Divers to Elizabeth Hanna, 12 Apr 1803 (, accessed and printed 3/14/10).

The Methodist Circuit Riders Registry for Harford Co., Maryland (found in Google books) lists a number of children born and baptized to parents William and Elizabeth Divers, children born from 1804 to 1813, including Elizabeth Hanna born 12 Feb 1810. This is the right age for our Elizabeth Divers, based on ages and that she is listed as born in Maryland in every federal census found that named her. She is also listed as Elizabeth H. in at least one of the censuses.

11 Oct 1827 A James Boothby marries Elizabeth Divers in Brown Co., Ohio. Certificate of her parents filed; oath and presence of Josiah Boothby. [Therefore, it appears that both were underage to marry and that James is the son of Josiah. This information came to me from Lois Derrough, obtained on her trip to Ohio, June 2002] If she was born in 1810, Elizabeth would have been 17.

On the Divers side these are questions I am currently considering:

Did the Divers family migrate from Maryland to Ohio between 1813 and 1827 or was the certificate of her parents agreeing to her marriage sent from Maryland (see 1830 census)?¬† If the family didn’t migrate how, when, and why did Elizabeth Divers get to southwestern Ohio?

If the 1830 federal census of Harford Co., Maryland I find is William and Elizabeth, he was born between 1751 and 1760 (only adult man); the woman between 40 and 50 is the right age to be Elizabeth; there are 2 children in the household, one boy and one girl, both both in the age 10 to 14 range so born between 1816 and 1820. There is also an 1840 federal census for Harford Co. that includes a William Dever and two females: one woman the right age range to be Elizabeth and a girl age 15 to 19, who could be the girl from the 1830 census. These suggest that the Divers parents stayed in Maryland. at least through 1840.

On the 1850 federal census, an Elizabeth Courts (age 68 born in MD) lived in Ohio with James and Elizabeth Boothby and their children. She wasn’t living with them at the 1860 federal census, or in the 1840 one. Could this have been Elizabeth’s mother, Elizabeth Hanna Divers remarried and widowed? Her birthplace of Maryland fits with this possibility.

So it is possible, perhaps even likely, that my great great grandmother was Elizabeth Divers. But there are many questions remaining and nothing primary yet linking the James and Elizabeth Boothby who were my Alexander’s parents to Elizabeth Divers and a specific James Boothby (there was more than one in the area at about the same time).

Death Certificate Summary:

Mary Jane Boothby Fiscus d Jun 7, 1917, age 85 7 mo 21 days. Father James Boothby, born in Clermont Co. Mother E Divers, born in Maine. Informant James C. Fiscus (of Oxford, Ohio, ?relationship). Buried Oxford Cemetery.

Collins Boothby d Nov 12 1926, age 88 1 mo 28 day. Father James Boothby, born in PA. Mother Elizabeth Stewart born in ME. Informant Chas Boothby (?son). Buried Georgetown.

Edward R. Boothby d Mar 20, 1928, age 78, 9 mo 24 days. Father James Boothby, born in Pennsylvania. Mother Elizabeth, born in Ohio. Informant Mrs. JF Butts (?dau). Buried Mt. Zion Cemetery.

Alexander Boothby d Jun 5, 1922, age 70 4 days. Father James B. Boothby, born in Main. Mother Elizabeth Stores, born in Penn. Informant John Boothby (?son). Buried Bethel Cemetery.