Monday, January 6, 2014


Map of U.S.

Today I was looking….again, for some information on my great grandfather, Robert Lee Bowden.  He is one of the many brick walls in our family tree. 

He is the father of my maternal grandmother.  She is my source for a lot of family information.  She’s the one who kept the journal from which I take various recipes from the early 1900’s for, not only food, but how to curl hair and how to make shampoo.  I’ve posted some of these treasured, handwritten items and you can view them here:  HOW TO MAKE COMPLEXION CREAM   HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE FUDGE  HOW TO MAKE SHAMPOO  HOW TO KEEP YOUR HAIR CURLED

Here are things I know about Robert Lee BOWDEN.  He was reported to have been born 8 Feb 1863 in White Sulphur Springs, Greenbrier, West Virginia.  He married my great grandmother, Florence HUNTER on 10 Mar 1887 in Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio.  I have their marriage record. They had two daughters: my grandmother, Florence Lenora born 31 Jan 1888 and Edna Mabel born 1 Jan 1890.  He worked for a railroad company, possibly as a brakeman.  He and my great grandmother divorced in 1899.  I have those records.  He may have married again in 1900 to Bertie KEARNEY.  According to my grandmother (his daughter), he died on 9 Oct 1906.

Between myself and my brother, John, we have not been able to locate any record of his death or burial.  We have been looking for about 7 years.  As experienced genealogists we have explored many sources to try and locate a record.

TIP:  One thing we do all the time is revisit records we have previously viewed.  You never know when a new record will be added, so keep going back.

Today I decided to look for a birth record for Robert Lee Bowden.  I’ve done this many times, but I never give up.  As I was looking through West Virginia birth records in I suddenly came across a record for FLORENCE L. BOWDEN.  That is my grandmother, daughter of Robert L. Bowden.  BUT, she was born in Kentucky.  

Why would there be a birth record in West Virginia?

Up to this point, I didn’t have a birth record for her.  What I did have was an Affidavit of Birth that was filed in 1940.  She must have needed proof of her birth and wasn’t able to provide it.  So, she filed the affidavit with the help of her Aunt, who states that she can verify the facts of the birth. 

This affidavit was filed in KENTUCKY. 

BOWDEN_Birth Affidavit signed in 1940-pg 1             
As you can see the affidavit gives her date of birth, her parents names, their places of birth, ages at her birth etc.  A LOT of great genealogical information. 

However, no where on this form do I see an actual place of birth for my grandmother, Florence L. Bowden.

Click on any image to enlarge it.

 I had always heard that my grandmother was born in Covington, Kenton, Kentucky.

I clicked on the record I saw in the index on Family Search and this is what I saw:

West Virginia Births, 1853-1930
Florence L. BowdenTitles and Terms:    
Event Type: Birth
Event Date: 01 Jan 1888
Event Place: Ashland, Kentucky, United States
Gender: Female
Father's Name: R. L. Bowden
Father's Titles and Terms:    
Father's Birthplace:    
Father's Age:    
Mother's Name: Florence Bowden
Mother's Titles and Terms:    
Mother's Birthplace:    
Mother's Age:    
Additional Relatives:    
Registration Date:    
Registration Place:    
Reference ID:     v 1 p 169
GS Film number: 559300
Digital Folder Number: 004014156
Image Number:     00185

That is definitely my grandmother.  I believe the transcriber made an error and listed the date of birth as the 1st of January instead of the 31st.  But, otherwise the information for her year of birth and her parent’s names are correct.  The birthplace is Kentucky, but instead of Covington, it’s Ashland. 

Let’s take a look at the actual image. 

BOWDEN_Florence_Register of Birth_31 Jan 1888 from AshlandKY

Admittedly this record is difficult to read.  Thank goodness for our computers and their ability to zoom in.  She is listed on line 16.  Here is a close up of that line (best as I could zoom in on it).

BOWDEN_Florence_Register of Birth_31 Jan 1888 from AshlandKY_cropped

Based on this record I am changing my grandmother’s place of birth to Ashland, Boyd, Kentucky.

However, I can certainly see why, if she was looking for her birth record in Kentucky, she didn’t find it.   It was listed with West Virginia births.  I wonder why, don’t you?

The parents, according to her birth affidavit, lived in Ashland, Kentucky. 
  • Was the doctor from West Virginia? 
  • Were there no county offices in Ashland and the nearest courthouse was in West Virginia?
Kentucky and West Virginia are located next to one another.  There is a river that runs along the border of Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.  I’ve actually been to the counties in Ohio and West Virginia that border the river.  To get from one state to another you just drive across a bridge.

ashland ky

Back in the late 1800’s you would have had to take a ferry to cross the river.  But, I know that people did this all the time. 

I may never know how it came to be that my grandmother was born in Ashland, Kentucky but her birth record was recorded in West Virginia.  The important thing was that I found that record today.

REMEMBER:  Always go back to records you have searched before and look again.  Never assume you know everything about your ancestors. 

I feel very good about this day of research.  I may not have located what I set out to find, but I found something very important and that’s good enough for me.

Happy hunting,

Michigan Girl

Copyright © 2014 Diane Gould Hall


  1. Very interesting post. I love the way you write ~ very conversational and easy to follow but informative at the same time.


    PS. Brother John is very helpful as well.

  2. Ces - Thank you so much for the compliment. I appreciate all the readers that take their valuable time and visit my blog. I'll continue to try to write relevant and informative posts. I certainly enjoy the other bloggers who inform and teach me all the time.

  3. This is an excellent post! What an interesting discovery in an unlikely place. Thanks for writing this.

    1. Miss Peggy - Thank you for visiting my blog and the lovely compliment. Can you see me smiling?

  4. Thanks for the different blogs that you have here on this web site. I am learning a lot!! Thanks. I wanted to share that just last night I was working on one of my "twigs" (this is people that I am in no way related to but are 2 or three times removed from some one closer to me -- does that make sense?) and I found that on his death record (he worked in the oil fields in the early 1900's) that he died in KY but his record is recorded in WV. He is buried in WV beside his wife. That was a first for me. I have not gone through the KY archives to see if he is listed there yet. is the website I use and it has been very helpful to me. Thanks again Betsy

    1. Betsy,
      That made my day, reading your comment. The site is amazing. Can't tell you how many of my family records I've found on it. Course finding my grandmother, who was born in Kentucky, was one that came as a big surprise. Glad my posts have helped you and I hope they will continue to. I really appreciate you reading my blog, it's people like you that make it worth writing.



I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.