August 26th, 2012

A Man Named Elizabeth

My paternal grandmother has three male first cousins who were born somewhat later than her (by about a decade); three of them are, I believe, still alive. I've been working on tracing relatives (ancestors, siblings, everyone's descendants etc.) of the women they married. In many places, this would involve travel, microfilm and/or sending a lot of requests by snail mail. However, this is all in and around Washington State, so the Washington Digital Archives have a ton of useful information. The Seattle Times has also digitized a lot of their old papers. I have, in the past, paid to access this archives; currently, I'm getting it via a subscription to genealogybank.com. When I signed up with Genealogy Bank, I figured it would get me the Seattle Times and hopefully other useful papers; in practice, it's mostly only gotten me the Seattle Times. *shrug*

Anyway. This is all by way of explaining why I was researching on Brinley W. Bethel, which is a fantastic name. Brinley is amazingly easy to find in census records, but the first one I took a close look at was really odd. The "Head" clearly had "M" for "Sex" in the record, but the "M" was not transcribed. The next name was Martha, wife, F; that's clear, then Brinley, Son, M. But "Head" was "Elizbeth", which is probably why the transcriber balked at putting that "M" in, even tho it is as clear as clear can be.

Well, _this_ seemed solvable. The census-taker obviously got an incorrect name, or we've got a man named Elizabeth. The son made it easy to find the family in other census years and in immigration records. While Brinley, and his sister Violet were born in the United States, their parents came over from England, or Wales, as the case may be. "Elizbeth" proved to be Levi James Bethel, and a very well documented man: a birth record, three census records before immigration and every census thereafter (he came over after 1890), until his death in 1942, which is in the old form Washington Death Record, conveniently relatively completely filled out including his mother's maiden name.

On the one hand, it would have been cool if there _had_ been a man named Elizbeth, or a lesbian couple brazenly raising a son in 1900. But there wasn't. There was a guy named Levi James who probably had a really, really strong Welsh accent.