Friday, January 17, 2014

52 Ancestors: #3 - Alfred Wilson Long (1864-1937)

This week I thought I should expand my 52 Ancestors Challenge pool to include ancestors of my children ... but on their father's side.  This ancestor has been both frustrating and fun to work on, and I hope you enjoy some of my findings.  So without further adieu ... Let me introduce you to ...


Circa 1931-32
Running for County Commissioner in Wisconsin

Unfortunately this is a scanned copy of a photocopy of an original photo
that was in the possession of Robert Charles Long prior to his death.
This photocopy is in my possession, I am not sure what happened to the original.

Alfred Wilson Long, is my first husband's maternal great grandfather. The majority of my initial information on Alfred came from interviews I had over time with his son Robert Charles Long in the early 1990s. Robert told me that his father was born in England and died in Arizona, that Alfred's first wife had died leaving him with several small children, so he married Robert's mother Adelaide Harcourt (who also had children from a previous marriage) and they had nine additional children together.  Robert was the youngest of eighteen total and that being the youngest, he never had much (if any) interaction with his older half siblings, but he sure had several childhood stories to share about his siblings closer in age to him. :o)

Decidedly there wasn't a lot to go on, and after a few years of unsuccessfully searching for a birth record for Alfred, Robert let me in on a little family secret.  Alfred's last name at birth was actually Longbottom, but sometime during the 1910s or 1920s, Alfred shortened the family name to Long.  With this new information in hand, I was finally able to track down a birth record in February 1997.

Now as most genealogists learn after they've been doing research for a while, it is important to validate all facts and cite all sources as you go along.  But unfortunately when I first started this process I wasn't very good about either.  And since then I have discovered problems in my data, and lots of information that I am not sure where I found the information originally.  So before I go much further, I want to remind my readers that the following information reflects how this person is currently input into my Family Tree Maker software, but that as go through the process of cleaning up my data and going back to cite my resources on this branch, data will likely change.  So please don't take any of this information as set in stone. :)

Alfred Wilson Longbottom, was the son of William Longbottom and Elizabeth Ackroyd Longbottom. He was born on January 21, 1864 in Bradford, England.  I believe his parents were about 28 years old when he was born, and I have information on nine siblings (three brothers and six sisters).  Alfred married Elizabeth Evans on July 25, 1884, in England and to this marriage at least 4 children where born (two boys and two girls).  Robert heard that she died in a fire, perhaps with a child and that Alfred moved to the United States soon after.  Sometime between 1902 and 1906, Alfred met Adelaide Harcourt (widow of John McKean Watson ... though it is possible they were divorced or separated).  Adelaide and John Watson had approximately six children together, and after she married Alfred they had nine children together between 1906 and 1918. Alfred died on February 3, 1937, in Williams, Arizona, at the age of 73.

In the spring of 2011, on a family vacation in Arizona I dragged my poor family about 50 miles out of our way to visit the Williams cemetery where Alfred was buried.  With nothing other than the name of the cemetery, a Google map with directions from Mesa and an scanned black and white image of a 1971 photgraph of the headstone sent to me by another researcher (Regina Gualco) I figured how hard could it be to find.  ??? Boy was I wrong.

First the cemetery was a lot larger than I expected it to be, and secondly there wasn't an office on site to just pop in to and ask.  So we parked in the middle of an area that appeared to have older stones in it, my husband and my children spread out and wander around a couple rows in each direction in hopes of stumbling across the headstone. But after several fruitless minutes of searching it was beginning to look like we would be leaving without finding it and I was trying not to cry.  Then my future son-in-law Tyler suggested that we look for the huge monument in the background of the scanned photo I brought ...

Photo Courtesy of Regina Gualco, obtained 2011
Talk about Duh! why didn't I think of that ... and within seconds I was standing at the stone.  It was an amazing feeling that still brings up the emotions.

I have learned several things during my research of the Longbottom/Watson family.

First off, families come in all different forms and it takes a lot of work on everyone's part to keep things together.  Unfortunately sometimes they don't work out like we expected and relationships fall apart ... BUT they don't have to stay that way.

Secondly, have patience with yourself and others as you go through the research process.  Everyone sees the same story from different perspectives.  Family history reminds me a lot of the story about the blind men describing an elephant, each from the perspective of where they were standing in relationship to the elephant.  your job is to gather and compile all stories from all participants to put together the best possible WHOLE picture you can.

And last, be sure to involve your children whenever possible in your research processes.  It is so very important to help them feel connected to their heritage.  Life can be messy and complicated at times, and knowing that their ancestors survived and even succeeded sometimes under difficult circumstances may help them someday when they need that extra confidence boost to push on through their own trials and keep their shoulder to the wheel.

Four and Five Generations Later ... Here we are. :0)

Thanks for stopping by.  See ya next time.

Love & Aloha,

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