In an earlier post I wrote about my great-grandma Louise. She has always been the subject of some consternation in my extended genealogical family for several reasons: She was a second wife, marrying a man twice her age who was widowed and had two smallish sons. Between the time of his first wife's death and the remarriage, he had placed both boys with other families in the farm community to care for. The present day family believes that Louise was the one who farmed the kids out. It still makes them mad.
Another reason is that she WAS very young when she married and this didn't set well with them. She was born in 1863 and married in 1878, which made her 15, although a few days after she married she turned 16. Apparently she was not a perfect stepmother and tended to favor the son she had with her husband over her stepchildren ... at least if you believe the remnants of stories the present day family tells.
A third problem grew out of whether or not she wrote a book about Caldwell, Kansas. Her husband said she did, but the present family believes, in spite of a letter to the contrary from her husband, that he himself wrote it. This book's writing was slammed beyond belief by a local professor, and I have always wondered why the present day family wants to claim it if it is so horrible -- purple prose, this fellow calls it!
Anyway, given that this condition exists, there is also a strictly genealogical problem that has been around as long as I have been researching this family. From early on, new genealogists are told to prove every fact. It is easy to think that a death certificate is proof, and often "newbies" use that as their proof. But as an example, the informants who give the information put on death certificates often are simply wrong about what they put down. They may believe it with every fiber of their being, but that still doesn't make it so. My issue with Louise "Lou" Hall has been her birth year.
The earliest year she shows up on a Federal census is in 1870. At that time she and her family were living in Warrensburg, Missouri. Here is what the family looked like at that time: