An Analysis of Magdlena’s Life Events – Part I

Spelling of Magdlena’s Given Name

I have found seven instances where Magdlena’s name appears in writing including her grave marker.

The seven instances are:

Magdlena                 1860 U.S. Census

Martha                      1870 U.S. Census

Marthalena              1880 U.S. Census

Magdelena               Death Certificate of Conrad Stinogle

Magdalene               Death Certificate of John Slicker

Magdeline                Death Certificate of Mary (Stinogle) Sharrow

Magdlena                 Grave Marker of Magdlena Slicker

Various family members and census takers have chosen to spell Magdlena’s name in different ways. This is not surprising. Our ancestors were not as concerned with correct spelling as we are. As we search our family’s history, we should expect to find discrepancies in the spelling of names.

Although most, including myself, would think that the correct spelling of our ancestor’s name would be Magdalena (with an ‘a’), I have chosen to spell Magdlena’s given name as it appears on her grave marker. I believe it is the correct spelling. I do not believe the ‘a’ was intentionally left out so the name could fit on the grave marker. A close examination of the grave marker reveals enough space to have included the ‘a’. Additionally, known the grave marker would be a permanent record, it is possible Magdlena’s children consulted a family record such as Magdlena’s family Bible for the correct spelling of their mother’s name.

Magdlena is also the spelling given in the 1860 U.S. census. In 1860, Magdlena was most likely the only adult home when the census taker had visited. Although census takers varied in their ability to record data accurately and legibly, it is interesting to note that in 1860 the census taker spelled Magdlena’s given name exactly as it would appear on her grave marker thirty-two years later.

Magdalena’s Family Name

My research has produced two family names for Magdlena, Friend and Cripps. In 1921, Mary Stinogle Sharrow, who provided the familial information for her brother’s, Conrad’s death certificate, reported Magdlena’s family name as Friend on that certificate.

Mary Stinogle Sharrow died in 1942. Her son, James T. Sharrow reported Magdlena’s name as Magdeline Cripps creating a discrepancy with the name his mother, Mary, provided on Conrad’s death certificate.

Although Cripps cannot be ruled out, I give more weight to Friend than Cripps as Magdlena’s family name. It is more likely that Mary knew the family name of her mother better than Mary’s son, James.

Birth Date:

Visit Magdlena’s gravesite in the St. Mary’s Cemetery in the town of Monongahela, Pennsylvania and you will discover that Magdlena was born December 6, 1819. This is the only record I have found of her complete birthdate. While it may not be the best evidence – a date recorded at the time of her birth would be better – it is a date. 1819 as a birth year is further supported by Magdlena’s age given in the 1880 census. The census taker reported her age as sixty. The census information was recorded in the month of July. Magdlena turned sixty-one in December. Thus, the age reported in 1880 supports 1819 as her birth year. I found only two documents – the 1860 and the 1870 U.S. census – that do not support 1819 as a birth year. Magdlena’s recorded age in the 1860 census was forty-six; thus, supporting a birth year of 1814. In 1870, her age was reported as forty-nine supporting a birth year of 1821. A document recording Magdlena’s birth at or near the time the event occurred is needed to provide solid evidence of Magdlena’s date of birth.

Birth Place:

Although I am unable to pinpoint the exact location of Magdlena Friend’s birth place, I think enough evidence exists to say she was born in Germany. The 1860 and 1870 U.S. census show Magdlena’s birth country as Germany. Since Magdlena’s occupation was keeping house, she was the one most likely to have reported family information to the census taker when he visited. Magdlena surely knew where she was born.

The 1880 U.S. census may aid us in determining a more accurate birth place within Germany. For this census year, the census taker recorded Magdlena’s birth place as Byron. It helps to know that the name of the country was recorded as the birth place in census records for people born outside of the United States.

A simple search on the Internet produced zero results for a place named Byron, Germany. However, two other genealogists on two different web sites had mentioned that Byron and Baden may be one of the same. They noted from research they had conducted in the U.S. census that certain ancestors were recorded as being born in Baden in one census year and in other census years the same ancestors were recorded as being born in Byron.

Internet research shows Baden was a Grand Duchy of the German Confederation. You can read more in the post “Magdlena Friend’s Life in Germany.” Interestingly, the 1870 census shows Baden as the birth country of Eva, Magdlena’s oldest daughter. The 1880 census shows Mary, Magdlena’s youngest daughter, was born in Byron; but, the 1920 census shows Mary as being born in Bayron. The 1920 census shows Conrad, Magdlena’s oldest son, as being born in Bayron.

Based on the birthplaces provided for Mary in the 1880 and 1920 censuses, Bayron may very likely be a misspelling of Byron.

© 2017, Robin Slicker. All Rights Reserved.

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