From Baumgardner to Brown – or How to Baffle Your Descendants…

Randy Majors posted a fascinating research report a couple weeks ago detailing how he broke a brick wall caused by his ancestor having changed the family surname from Baumgardner to Brown. Mr. Majors was able to make the breakthrough by using his imagination, resourcefulness, technology, and DNA. It’s really an amazing story, and one that’s worth considering, as the techniques that Randy used can be used by any of us. I’m very pleased that he’s been willing to share the story with us. Following is a teaser.

For 130 years – from 1880 to 2010 – John Charles Brown’s past was hidden in veils of secrecy. John’s children and randymajors.comgrandchildren didn’t know who his parents or siblings were. It was the proverbial genealogical brick wall. Therefore, since this was one of my most difficult family lines I could research, I researched it.


For many years, the first confirmed record found of John Charles Brown was of his marriage to Catherine Connors on 13 April 1887 in Idaho, when he would have been 27 years old. This was followed by the 1900, 1910, and 1920 Census records, which all list him as being born in Illinois and both of his parents as being born in Pennsylvania.

John Charles Brown’s death certificate indicates that he was born in Ottawa, Illinois, on 24 December 1858, and lists his father as Michael Brown from Pennsylvania. So far, these particulars are in agreement with the above Census records. However, on the death certificate, John’s mother’s name is in error. The witness, Charlie Brown (John’s son), accidentally records his own mother (John’s wife), Catherine Connors, as John’s mother. Based on what I know now, I wonder if this really was an accident.

So we know all about John Charles Brown from age 27 onward, but where in the world was John from 1858 through 1887…his first 27 years of life?

Read the full story at Randy’s blog.

One thought on “From Baumgardner to Brown – or How to Baffle Your Descendants…

  1. Seems to be a pattern of the Baumgardners. Mine went from Baumgardner to Bumgarner to B. Garner and then to just Garner. I was lucky enough to be able to visit the 90 year old “Garner ladies” that knew of the changes.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.