52 Ancestors: Ada Barnum Douglass no. 38

This week’s 52 Ancestors theme is “Unusual Sources.” Most of the sources I’ve referenced have been what you might call “usual.” Census records, birth, marriage, and death certificates are all commonly used by genealogists to confirm evidence. Many people have family bibles where their older relatives have recorded family events. Not many of my ancestors did that unfortunately.

What we do have is a sampler created by my 3rd Great-Aunt Mary when she was about ten years old. She carefully embroidered the names, birth dates, and birth places of all her immediate family members and my family managed to preserve it since its creation in 1847. It is now kept by a cousin in a protective frame.

The sampler with information on the Douglass family. Photo by Deborah A. Barber, 2017.

Ada Barnum Douglass was born July 4, 1834 in Gorham, NY to George and Eliza (Metcalf) Douglass. Sometime between the 1850 U.S. census and the 1855 New York state census, the family moved to Rochester, New York, reportedly because of the educational facilities.1 By 1860, Ada was living with her new husband Ogden Seward on his family’s farm in Dutchess County, NY and the rest of the family had moved to Elgin, Illinois. In 1862 Ogden died of tuberculosis, leaving Ada to raise their two children in Elgin. Fortunately, the rest of the Douglass family was there to help her as she also succumbed to tuberculosis in 1873.

We are very fortunate to have this sampler still with us, both for genealogical reasons (it’s the only birth date source for this family I have found so far) and for the window into history it gives us.


1. Charles Henry James Douglas, A collection of family records, with biographical sketches, and other memoranda of various families and individuals bearing the name Douglas, or allied to families of that name (Providence, R. I.: E.L. Freeman & co., 1879), 195; digital images, Internet Archive (https://archive.org/stream/collectionoffami00doug : accessed 17 July 2018).

1 thought on “52 Ancestors: Ada Barnum Douglass no. 38

  1. How lovely! Sad that she died young, though. Those poor children.

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