Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking For Lenora - Part 3

In Part 2 of my search for Lenora I said I intended to forge ahead in my search for documentation about Lenora (Webber) Lebroke.  I've done just that, forged ahead. But I may have gotten a little ahead of myself, perhaps even taken a wrong turn or two. I started eagerly and with the best of intentions but reliable documentation has proven to be a scarce commodity in this search.

My documentation base as described in Parts 1 and 2 is, I believe, pretty strong, including my grandmother's memoirs, a 1925 newspaper clipping, and the 1930 and 1940 Federal Census reports providing me a good start on building a profile of Lenora. But further searches on revealed very little more to build on. So I moved on to outside sources to see what info could be developed.  Using both Lenora's and her husband Ezra's names I plugged into different websites in search of clues. was employed first to see if there were newspaper articles about either of them that might be helpful. I struck out.  Next I went into New England Historic Genealogical Society website and searched both names again. I found zip. Both are subscription websites just like and have frequently been very helpful in other searches in the past.  But on this search there was to be no return on my subscription investments. Last I went to which is a free website with burial info provided by volunteers and found nothing on Lenora.  But this time I came up with a hit on Ezra. He is buried in Oxford County, Maine in Bisbeetown Cemetery. I also searched Findagrave to see if any Webbers were buried there but found none. If Lenora is buried near Ezra she certainly is not in the same plot and if she's in the same cemetery she might be there under a different surname.

Findagrave entry for Ezra H LeBroke

Every other document I've seen on Ezra spelled Lebroke with no capitalization on the "B" but on his headstone his surname is engraved with the upper case as "LeBROKE." Not sure what difference it makes but will keep that in mind on future computer searches. The stone is also engraved as follows:
"His wife, Abbie Cummings, 1851 - 1882" which supports my suspicions from the 1930 census category of "age at first marriage" that both Ezra and Lenora might have been married previously to other spouses. There was no Webber listed on the Findagrave list of interments in Bisbeetown Cemetery so it appears Lenora is buried elsewhere. So at this point I've sort of run into a dead end on Lenora. But dead ends in genealogy research can sometimes be opened up for access by side stepping to connecting avenues. In this case, I hope to find more information on Lenora by exploring deeper into the profile of Ezra H Lebroke who I now believe is buried in Bisbeetown Cemetery in Oxford County Maine with a previous wife named Abbie Cummings.

Back on I try to find out more information on Mr. Lebroke who, according to his gravestone, was born in 1854 and died in 1950. There are sources of information to be sifted through, some acceptable as probable and others doubtful. One source that attracts my attention right away is's hints linking to other member family trees. There were some linked to Lenora too but they were exact duplicates of my profile on her. That leads me to suspect that the other family trees listing Lenora probably just copied off mine, a procedure available on the website as long as the tree your pulling info from is set up as public as opposed to private. Public trees share their info with anyone who wants it. The family trees linked to Ezra were fairly extensive listing his date and place of birth, parental and sibling names, and of most interest to me, spouse information and marriage dates. One precaution important to me is to take info from other family trees with a grain of salt. The website lets you see the profile of the tree owner and their sources of documentation for the profiles they construct in their tree. The owners' frequency of logging on, the longevity of membership, and their self described proficiency, beginner, intermediate, or expert, all together can give you a good idea of how reliable the information may be. It can be a big guessing game sometimes, especially when another tree owner is working from family history files instead of official source documents like census records and certificates. Nevertheless, there are times when you just have to make an educated guess on the info you find and do the best you can to back up "borrowed" info with certifiable documentation.

A family tree on Ezra "Hicks" LeBroke (only had the middle initial "H" up until now) indicated he had three wives, the first of which was Abbie M Hamlin Cummings which should be the same Abbie listed as Ezra's wife on his gravestone. The tree listed a marriage date of 1881 but sadly, per the gravestone Abbie passed away in 1882. The same tree lists a second marriage to Marilla Jane Paige in 1884, and a third to a Nora E Abbott on April 7, 1923. Only the third marriage is backed up by a source, Maine Marriage Records, 1892 - 1996.  The computer matched the 1923 marriage to Egra H Lebroke, replacing the "z" with a "g" apparently a transcription error. When I pulled up the name Egra Lebroke on Lenora's profile page the Maine records again listed the 7 April marriage date but listed the bride as Nora E Webber. So it looks to me like I'm closing in on some good info here. Unfortunately, the website offered transcripted info on this marriage but if I wanted a copy of the marriage certificate itself I would have to pay a fee to a third party to get me a copy from state of Maine Records Dept. Even though I knew better, I went ahead and applied for the copy of the marriage certificate. I knew they would require documentation of my relationship to Lenora but I was hoping the fact that both were born nearly 150 years ago and the marriage was 85 + years ago would exempt me from showing proof of relationship. I was wrong. There's another investment down the drain but I figure sometimes you just got to give it your best shot. Some win, some lose, and some get rained out. So below is what I've got on the 1923 marriage:

From this I will try to pursue a record of Lenora as named above, Nora E Abbott. I hope to build a profile with documentation of her with the married name of Abbott and see where that investigation takes me. So my search for more info on Lenora goes on.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Looking For Lenora - Part 2

There's not a lot of info on my grandmother's sister, Lenora Webber, but I feel like I've got some solid info to establish she existed and hope to build a profile of her through my website. My Part I blog included a photo of Lenora's profile page on the website that included two sources of documentation that I already had added to her profile page.  Both were Federal Census reports, one from 1870 when she was 7 years old and the other from 1930 when she was 67.  The 1870 census record from the town of Oxford, Maine included my one year old grandmother and her older sister born in 1863.  Records separated by sixty years leaves a lot of room for information to fill in if I'm to succeed in constructing a more complete picture of Lenora's life but you've got to start somewhere.  Two other sources available to me were my grandmother's memoirs wherein she listed the names of her siblings in the household she was born to in Oxford, Maine and a newspaper clipping from 1930 describing my grandmother's silver wedding anniversary and a listing of the friends and relatives attending that celebration. The article identified a "Lenore Lebroke, (of) North Waterford, Maine."  Despite the newspaper spelling Lenore with the last letter "e" and my grandmother's memoirs ending her name with an "a"  I'm pretty sure we are talking one and the same person. Not proven without a doubt but I'm comfortable it is a fairly reliable educated guess. So my plan is to accept both sources as documentation of Lenora and proceed with my search.

With the married name of Lebroke established by the newspaper clipping my search started with census records sorted by surname alphabetically in The 1930 Federal Census report lists a "Nora" Lebroke, wife of "Ezra H. Lebroke" residing together in Waterford, Maine. Waterford is located in Oxford County and not too far from the town of Oxford where my grandmother was born.   Ezra is listed as 76 years old while "Nora" is recorded as 67 which would make her birth year around 1863.  Their ages and the first name of "Nora's" spouse from this 1930 record are the source data I used to update Lenora's profile page on (as pictured on the first blog). If any data is subsequently found to be different I can always update it later.  Before I accepted this census info to be accurate, however, I wanted to make sure there was no separate census report for North Waterford, Maine as the newspaper article described her residence. Waterford Town is posted on the census report I found and there was no separate record for a town called North Waterford. I also scrolled through all fifteen pages recorded for Waterford Town just to make sure there was no other Lebroke recorded with a different given name that could possibly be Lenora's husband instead of Ezra. I did find one Lebroke named Samuel L Lebroke residing with a wife named Ella. Samuel was recorded as 75 years old and Ella 74 so Ella would have been born around 1856. Both Lebroke couples were recorded with Maine as place of birth for themselves and their parents. So other than ages the only other descriptive data to differentiate them from each other on the 1930 census was the category, "Age at first marriage." Ezra and Nora were recorded as 28 and 17 respectively, approximately 11 years different. Samuel and Ella's first marriage ages were 24 and 23, one year difference, just like their ages in 1930. Ezra and Nora's first marriage ages with an eleven year gap don't quite reconcile with their stated ages on the census differing by nine years. None of these age categories proves anything toward the identity of Lenora but at this point I believe multiple marriages for either Ezra and/or Nora are quite possible.  For the time being I'm going to stay with the link to Ezra as her husband but keep Samuel on the back burner as an alternative data source. And at this point I want to go back to the other ancestry hints provided by the website to see what else we might find out about Lenora.

The two historical record hints are Federal census reports, one for 1940 in Waterford again and the other from 1900 in Lisbon, Maine in Androscoggin County. For no other reason than hoping the later census record might be more informative than the earlier one, I reviewed the 1940 record first. On this one the wife of Ezra is recorded as "Elnora." Elnora sure seems to me to semi-match the 1930 "Nora" tag and a lot closer to Lenora than Ella. Moreover Ezra and Elnora are still in Waterford Town and even though "Nora" and "Elnora" are not exact matches they are similar enough to each other to make me think Lenora is the subject of  both records and quite possibly used the nickname of Nora. There is no record of Samuel and Ella Lebroke on any 1940 census records I could find so it may be that they did not survive to their mid eighties in age. If they did, apparently they no longer resided in Waterford. So at this point I have added the 1940 Federal Census report for Waterford Town with Ezra and Elnora to my profile page. And moving on, the 1900 census was next up for review. This record of the inhabitants of Lisbon, Maine listed a "Fred W. Webber" and his wife, "Elmira."  Born in 1862 and 1863 respectively, Fred and Elmira resided with a fourteen year old son and a twelve year old daughter. Both parents and in turn, their parents were born in Maine. So there's no information on this record so far to disqualify it from being a legitimate source of documentation for Lenora. But keeping in mind that the accuracy of all census reports depends in large part to the accuracy and proficiency of the enumerator that recorded the information, including their spelling ability as well as strength of attention to detail, sometimes such records are not all they seem. The computer obviously picked up on a possible match to Lenora on this 1900 record with source data of state (Maine), surname (Webber), birth year (1863), and given name Elmira which is sort of close to Lenora. hints are offered with no guarantees. They are just hints. It's up to the researcher to determine if the hint information actually applies. In this case, I think not. And my main reason for setting this hint aside is my doubt that Lenora would be married to a husband with a surname the same as her maiden name. Not impossible, just not likely. So setting this record aside along with the 1930 record of Samuel and Ella just means I'm not committing myself to accepting them as source documents detailing the life of Lenora Webber. I can always go back to them to reconsider if I run into stone walls in my research going forward.

If indeed there are stone walls looming in future research, there's no better way to run into them than to forge ahead with my research. And to that end, my search goes on.