Herbert Augustine Preston and his wife Annie Elizabeth McNabb (my great, great grandparents) married in Washington DC on 19 October 1869. I know they had seven children because in the 1920 census, Annie reports she had seven children but only five were still alive. Hmmm… I found birth records for some of them but not all. I also found a short article in the Washington Evening Star about the death of their first-born daughter Mary Gertrude, who died of typhoid fever in 1878. But all of my searches over the past year were only coming up with six children – five girls and one boy.
This often happens when children are born and die between census years. This is why the 1920 census account of number of children born/number of children living is very helpful. It’s a lot easier to find something if you know what you’re looking for – or at least that what you’re looking for exists, even if you don’t know quite what it is.
The recent snowstorm kept me indoors and home from work for a few days so I had lots of time for my favorite genealogical activity -reading old newspapers. I also had access to the digitized version of the Washington Evening Star available from the Washington DC public library. The $20 I paid for a library card when I was there a few years ago was a great investment.
Since I had that rare commodity, time, I browsed through each of the 16,000+ records for “Preston.” Within an hour I found this bit of news from the Evening Star published on December 29, 1876:
So there was the missing child who also turns out to be the first son born to Herbert and Annie. From the gap in their children’s births (between Annie Beatrice born in 1872 and James David born in 1876), I surmised that the missing child was born around 1874. Unfortunately, this article doesn’t tell us much other than “little son” – not even his name, age or cause of death. But with a death date, the records on Ancestry.com soon generated a “hint” from the Washington DC death and burial records for a Herbert Preston who died on December 28, 1876 at age 2. My guess is that his name was Herbert A. Preston, Jr.
As for the death of their first born child, Mary Gertrude, born in 1871, who also was born and died between census years, I found this article from the Washington Evening Star on June 1, 1878.
It seems that Mary Gertrude was at her grandfather’s house to avoid infecting the rest of the Preston children. I do wonder what is meant by “their interesting daughter.” I’ve seen various weddings described as “interesting” but I wonder what that means when used to describe a seven year old?
The Preston family of Washington DC has certainly captured my attention lately so you can expect to see more posts about them over the next few weeks.