Friday, March 2, 2012

Fearless Females – Favorite Female Ancestor

Back in 2010, in honor of Women’s History Month, Lisa Alzo created a list of writing prompts for each day during the month of March.  I didn’t participate in 2010, so I’m going to take the opportunity to participate this year, since Lisa was kind enough to resurrect her prompts for 2012.

Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

I’d have to say that my favorite female ancestor is my third great-grandmother, Sarah Norton (Webster) Coffinger Mulligan (1828-1894).  Sarah is my pivotal connection to the Webster line, as well as the reason behind the joining of my parent’s families. 

As children, Sarah’s parents, Calvin Price Webster and Betsey Parks, moved with their families to Oakland County, Michigan, where they later married.  Sarah first married Abram Coffinger, apparently in 1850 in the neighboring county of Macomb, and together they had five known children.  Abram died in 1863, so Sarah married James Mulligan (my third great-grandfather) in 1865.  James and Sarah had three children:  Edward, Sarah Jane (my ancestor), and Margaret.  At one point, James and Sarah moved to Flint, Michigan, where James later died in 1879.  By 1892, Sarah had moved to Chicago with daughter Sarah Jane (evidence suggests that son Edward was there before his mother and sister, although they may have all moved together by 1891).

Sarah’s move to Chicago, albeit, possibly not solely her decision, was what started the joining of my parent’s family.  Her daughter Sarah Jane, married James Manly Garrison on 23 January 1893 in Chicago.  Their daughter, Emma, married John Ward McMahon on 26 May 1923 in Chicago.  John and Emma’s daughter, Joan, married John Francis Cahill on 6 November 1943 in Chicago.  And finally, their only son, my dad, married my mom in 1967 in Chicago.  Most of mom’s family had settled in Chicago in the late 1880s.  Many of the families of both my mom and dad coexisted in Chicago in the same general vicinity for decades.  Then each set of my grandparents relocated to the same Chicago suburb.

It’s amazing how the decision of one person can lead to the chain of events that create our existence.  Had Sarah and her daughter not moved to Chicago, I would certainly not be here writing about it!

Read all of my Fearless Females posts.


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