For our GRIP course we were asked to describe a research problem for discussion with the class. I wrote up the basics of what I knew about Mary/Elizabeth Earhart (or Hockman) Boothby. I included the information I have posted here before.
The fun part was having everyone in the class read my problem and then ask questions and make suggestions about what to do next in my search for Mary’s true parents. At the time I wrote it up, I basically had all of the places she appeared in the Federal Census, the information about her marriage to Alex Boothby, the registration information for some of her children, and her death certificate information. Her youngest daughter, my grandmother Carrie, was the informant on the death certificate so not a primary source for any of the information I was interested in (like her parents or her date of birth).
The consensus of the GRIP class was that I needed to do a timeline of some sort to help me decide whether there was truly a second Elizabeth Hockman of about the same age (as it appears at first blush on the census records I had). This turned out to be quite easy once I was back home and had access to all my documents and saved records. The first census I found Elizabeth Hockman on, in the John Arehart family, was the 1860 census and she was listed as 4 years old. This census was taken on 28 June 1860. The one showing a David Hockman family which included an Elizabeth Hockman aged 5 was taken on 9 June 1860. So they could have been the same child in two different places at two different times. The 1870 census, however, showed the two families on the same page 5 households apart, one Elizabeth M. Earhart and one Elizabeth Hockman. This argues that there were two different girls. Lastly, on the 1880 census, Elizabeth E. Hockman was still living in her mother’s household (census taken 4 & 5 June 1880) while Mary E. Boothby was married and living with her husband and three sons (census taken 7 & 8 June 1880). It seems unlikely that first Elizabeth was at the Hockman’s using the last name of Hockman and 3 days later at home using her married name of Boothby.
The next set of suggestions were ways to look for who this Elizabeth Hockman of mine might be. Did her father have sisters who might have left a daughter? Did her mother? Was her older brother married when he died? This wouldn’t really explain the Hockman name. Then there is the possibility of finding probate records showing a guardianship or the death and will of a possible father. Once home, I also decided that I need to look into the death of Tilford Earhart, her older brother, who served in the Civil War. Margaret Earhart, their mother, applied for and seems to have been granted a pension based on Tilford’s service and death. I am now trying to find out if this pension file has been digitized by Fold3 and if I can get the pension file that way. I also need to add Tilford to the list of probates to search for.
At this point I come to several conclusions. The David Hockman family that had an Elizabeth was not the family that Mary/Elizabeth Hockman Earhart was born into. Although the two families lived in the same small area of Brown County, Ohio, for much of their lives, making it more confusing to figure out, Elizabeth daughter of David and Delitha Hockman was not the same person as Elizabeth/Mary Hockman Earhart. The John and Margaret Earhart family seems to have included 2 biological children and 2 “adopted” children. Since the censuses did not list relation to head of household until 1880, it is difficult to be sure which of the children were which. Tilford was born within a little more than a year of their marriage, suggesting to me that he was a biological child. William S. Earhart and Elizabeth Mary were born within a couple of years of each other, and John Charles followed 8-10 years after them. The only clue so far is the 1900 census which shows Margaret Earhart living with John C. and his wife Emma, listed as mother of head of household, and reporting that she was the mother of 2 children, 1 of them living. Since we know that Tilford was dead by 1900 and that Elizabeth Mary was still alive, and William S. was also still alive (at least based on later censuses showing him in Wyoming), this suggests that John C. was her son and that the middle two children were adoptees.