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When your Husband Dies on the Oregon Trail...

Jessica W.'s second great-grandfather made the trek from the midwest to Sonoma County, California in the 1850s, but why weren't his parents on any censuses? Was he an orphan? It turned out he was living with his mother all along-- she had remarried after her husband died on the Oregon Trail.

Jessica W. had arrived at a genealogy brick wall with James Doty, her second great-grandfather. James' mother, Mary, set out with her husband in 1850 for the west from Kentucky. Pregnant with her son, James, she overcame incredible hardship when her husband died in Washoe, Nevada on the way to their new life.

Mary did what she had to do: she returned to Illinois to give birth to her son James and to find a new husband to take care of the family. Some time shortly after, Mary made the trek once again, this time remarried to Samuel Orender, who had also lost a spouse in the years prior. The blended family started anew in what is today the heart of wine country in California: Sonoma.

Mary is a common name, and so the fact that James' mother was Mary and the fact that he was living in the household of a Mary nine years later did not immediately ring a bell. Instead, our investigators had to learn that this person was indeed the same Mary through careful archival research and accounts regarding the relationship between Mary Orender and James Doty.

No longer a brick wall, Jessica W. is able to trace her second great grandfather James to the Mayflower Doty's!

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