“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes

By Gerry Roe


I am approaching small hint because of the small amount of information about the one person in my family tree I continue to search for knowledge of her existence.

Harriet Bell Gifford; my maternal great-grandmother is she an illusion?

What I know is she was the first wife of my great-grandfather William R. Fowler. They were married December 25, 1880 in Henry County, Tennessee. I have a copy of the marriage license. She was listed as Miss Harriet B. Gifford and a resident of Henry County.

I know they had three daughters together; the youngest my grandmother Lillie Bell Fowler. My grandmother was born February 8, 1887 in Danville, Tennessee. Harriet apparently died later in 1887.

In my possession is the death certificate of Cora Francis Fowler O’Bryan born November 16, 1885. One of the of Harriet’s three children with W.R. Fowler. Harriet Giffort (with a t) is listed as her mother and born in Henry County, Tennessee. On my my maternal grandmother Lillie Bell Fowler Isaacs death certificate Harriet Bell Gifford Fowler birthplace listed as Illinois.

Those are the only facts I am sure of.

These are what has been passed down but unable to verify.

Harriet was adopted. She was born in Illinois near Cooperstown, There is another Gifford family with a Harriet B. I am able to follow her to her death after 1900 in Nebraska.

William remarried on June 11, 1891 listed as widower to Ellen Todd.

Lillie Bell Fowler is shown as a daughter to James W. Herington on 1900. He is listed as 62 and a widower In Gilbertsvillie Marshall County, Kentucky. Census under her is William? Fowler and Maggie with different house numbers. Could Lillie have been listed incorrectly or could she have been given to this family as an infant?

Florence and Cora both showing an 1885 birth on some family trees: no mention in past of them being twins. Actual birth months different November 16 for Cora and 12/25 for Florence.

Where I have searched My Heritage and Family Search as well as Ancestry. My DNA matching trees.

I have exhausted my available sources and now will reach out to Professional Genealogist, Melissa Barker who was very helpful recently with another family mystery.

Harriet, the illusive great-grandmother where can more information be found? More information on her would lead to more information about her parents. This inquiring great-granddaughter wants to know.

Harriet Gifford marriage license to WM Fowler 1880
Harriet’s daughter Cora death certificate
Lillie Bell death certificate

#52ancestorsin52weeks #52ancestorsin52weekssma..

2 thoughts on “Small

  1. Good luck on your quest for knowledge. I think you hit on something here. I think it can be said that we all have at least one hard to find ancestor. . Mine is my great great grandfather. If the documents I have are correct he seems to have disappeared from South Dakota more than a year before my great grandfather was born, which is quite confusing but is very also interesting.


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