Sunday, May 27, 2012

Desperately Seeking Susan

Susan ? (?-?)

My second great grandmother

me --> Bruce Albert Buchanan --> Robert Amos Buchanan --> John Buchanan --> Susan

Desperately Seeking Susan
When I was about 12 years old, I asked my mother to help me fill out my pedigree chart for the first time. Even then I had a love for learning about my ancestors.  I still remember how I felt when my mother told me that we didn't know how to spell my great grandfather's mother's name.

Only that it sounded like "Boo-jean."

and that she was from France.

I couldn't believe that my Buchanan line ended so abruptly.  How can my dad not know the name of his great grandmother?

Thus began what has turned out (so far) to be a life-long quest to find Susan.  I have taken genealogy classes, visited countless family history centers, and ordered or tried to order court documents.  And yet all these years later (30 to be exact) Susan's information remains the same on my chart.

Here's what I know:
John had parents.  (This seems obvious but frankly there have been times when I've wondered if he was dropped off by aliens at the turn of the 20th Century)
John says he was born in Highland, Madison County, Illinois (I have never found any official documentation proving this.)
John says his parents names were Nathaniel and Susan.  His mother was from France; his father, Kentucky.
John says his birthday is October 18, 1869.
John worked on the railroad as a locomotive engineer.
Family tradition says he left home at the age of 14 and spent time in Mexico.

Here's what I've discovered:

John was married before he married my great grandmother, June Miller Eckstein Buchanan.
Her name was Catherine Shepler.
They married on December 31, 1898.
They were living together in Pueblo, Colorado in 1900.
She sued him for divorce on January 27, 1905 for desertion and non-support in Pueblo, Colorado.
John could speak French, Spanish and English.
My grandfather told my father that we are French, not Scottish.  This makes me wonder if Buchanan is an American version of "Boo-jean" and John took his mother's not his father's name.

The paper trail ends there.  But I have found something that looks promising.

This is the only Susan from France that I have ever found living in Madison Illinois around the same time as John's birth.  She's listed as living as a servant for a family also from France the Eismons.  The reason why this census record looks promising is because her last name is Bogin.  Sometimes census takers would write down the person's name based on what they heard and was not necessarily how it was spelled.

I have spent many long frustrating nights trying to find even the smallest of information about John's mother.  But I wouldn't trade this journey for anything.  This quest has developed in me a deep love for all of my ancestors, not just the Buchanan line.  In looking for Susan, I have found literally hundreds along the way.

So I no longer consider myself desperately seeking Susan.  Just seeking Susan.  She'll appear when it's time.
Update:  I found her on March 22, 2103.  Read about it here. 

Disclaimer:  I do not think I'm related to Madonna.

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