I have been known to haunt an antique mall, and other events like Brimfield’s Antique Markets. My psychologist says that I am buying back my family’s past. My mother says I was just buying up junk. So they are both right.
When I was 15, following my grandfather’s death, I witnessed his estate auction. Having spent much of my childhood in his house, it was traumatic. So I do go looking for the detritus of life that I remember him having in the house. And our has a few items of his. They are my touchstones to the past.
A friend who loves going to antique malls as much as I do went to an antique mall in Central Ohio about a year ago mailed me this picture with the note: “This is your family, right? I mean you’re related to the Monnett’s, right?”
Yes, I am.
When the envelope arrived I opened it with great anticipation. Here was a carte d’viste photograph of a well presented woman, dressed in a well made dress of the 1860s. Hair in good care. And her hands told me that she was not one involved in hard work. Sometimes, women who did work and hands that showed that hard work would wear gloves to cover the condition of their hands, but this woman looked as if she kept her house, and if she worked, she did so in a position that didn’t involve harsh labor.
So then I flipped it over and read the back. And it says “Caroline Throne, nee Monnet Sister.” and then some stock numbers.
So I get out the ten pound family history written by my great grandfather’s cousin in 1911, when he tracked down every living and dead Monnett in Ohio and went to the index.
She wasn’t there.
Now the picture was taken in “Circleville, Ohio” – in Central Ohio parlance we call it “Roundtown” because the original downtown was laid out in a circular street pattern which proved to be impractical – and Circleville is the county seat of Pickaway County, Ohio. And yes, we who are descended from the Monnett family do have a geographical connection to Pickaway County. But in the 18-teens and beyond, there were a lot of people named Monnett, Monnet, Monet etc. and all their allied families living and scurrying about down there.
So after checking every known variation in the book, and finding no “Throne” surnames, either, I came to the conclusion that this woman was something other than a Monnett cousin from way back.
So I did find her on the 1860 and 1870 census, married to a butcher in Pickaway County. So she just wasn’t passing through. But what of the surname?
When confronted with something in handwriting that isn’t what I think it is, I put a pencil in my hand, a sheet of blank paper on the desktop and use my eyes to follow the original and then guild my hand to see what comes out.
And what came out wasn’t Monnett. It was Morvet the first time and Morret the second and Morrit the third. So I started search and what I found was a Caroline MORRET married Jacob Throne, a butcher in Pickaway County Ohio. According to the census, they had no children.
By 1880, Jacob and Caroline had moved to Minnesota, where again he is listed as a butcher. By 1900, Jacob is dead, but has evidently left his widow with enough for her golden years. She owns her own house and has a servant in the form of a young girl, most likely a foundling who performs light chores for room and board.
In 1910, she has moved to Muncie, Indiana where she is identified as living with her brother and his family. And she doesn’t appear on the 1920s Census. So then we move to the Indiana Death Certificates and there we find Caroline Throne, nee Morrett with a death date of June 23, 1917.
Now, since I was doing this on my own, and not getting compensated – and trust me I love working on a good logic puzzle like everyone else – I felt that since the census records were consistent, and the death certificate confirmed the maiden name, and that she was buried with the William S. Morret family, that the match was a solid one IF the person who wrote the name on the back of the image was correct in the first place. All things considered, without opening up a cold case film, I am pretty confident that this picture is Caroline Morret Throne.
So now, what to do with the picture? I scanned it, applied it to her Find A Grave Listing, and tomorrow it is going in an envelope to the Pickaway County Historical Society. I know that they will care for the image, and perhaps a “Morret” researcher will find it one day.