Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Fresh Start: Katherine "Kate" Skinner

Happy New Year!

The word of the year for me is "Focus". For genealogy, I am going to focus on what I've found which may lead to answers. Or at least a historical document or two!

It is a fresh start for 2015 (and hopefully some fresh eyes!) in filling out my family tree.

I am somewhat obsessed with my Dad's Dad's side of the family. I have gone back many generations on other lines, but this side only goes back 2 generations and I am stuck. Hopefully writing out what I have could lead to some more answers.

Katherine "Kate" Skinner is my 2nd Great Grandmother on my Dad's side. She was married to William Rose and lived in Jennings and Decatur counties. Family lore was that William was married to a Katherine Burdan and had a mistress named Katherine Skinner. As I untangled this web, I found out that this was not true. She was the same person!

I am not sure where or when Kate was born, I am guessing somewhere around 1849 in Indiana.

The first record I have of Kate is her marriage to William Rose. She is listed as Kate Burdan. Kate and William were married on March 7, 1868.

In the 1870 Federal Census, Kate is listed as being 21. She is the spouse of William Rose and they have 2 children. Harry who is 1 and Ada who is 5.


Ada is 5? William and Kate were just married. Ada would have been born about 1865.

Well, in researching Ada, she lists in a marriage license that her parents were Eugene D'Birddoon and Katherine Skinner. Ada's death certificate also states she was born in Richmond, Virginia.

So it looks like Kate's maiden name was Skinner and her  married name was D'Birddoon (or Burdan) and Ada's father was not William.

In the 1880 Federal Census, Kate is listed as being 27. She lives will William, Ada, Harry, Everett (8) and Rhedonia (3 months).

Within 10 years, Kate only aged 7 years. Something doesn't add up in those census records. Since both Kate and William could not read or write, I would imagine she really didn't know her true age. I am going to guess she was born around 1849, this would put her at age 18 when she had Ada. I could be wrong....

I also  know that Kate had two other children: Bertha born in 1883 and died in 1887. And Clarence, my Great Grandfather, born in 1885.

I believe I have also found Kate's obituary. It does not list her full name, only Mrs. Rose, and initially states she is "colored". This was corrected in a follow-up a few days later. The date in the paper in Decatur County, Indiana is the same date that William lists as the death of Clarence's mother when he was admitted into to Sailor's and Soldier's Orphanage.

On February 5, 1890, The New Era newspaper in Greensburg, Indiana reported:
On February 8, 1890, The Saturday Review in Greensburg, Indiana reported:
On February 15, 1890, The Saturday Review in Greensburg, Indiana reported:

I have inquired at the Jennings County Courthouse and the Decatur County Courthouse for a death certificate for Kate, but none were found. I also have not found any record of her burial in Vernon, IN. I did find our that her daughter Bertha was buried in a cemetery in Vernon in a pauper's grave. I would assume Kate is also buried in a pauper's grave.

What I would like to find out:
1. Who are her parents
2. Where was she born
3. When and where did she marry Eugene.
4. Where is she buried

Hopefully 2015 is the year for the answers!


  1. I enjoyed reading your post -- I have many Indiana ancestors who lived in both Jennings and Decatur Counties also! In fact, one was also probably buried at a potters field in North Vernon, Jennings County. It seems that before the 1900's, Jennings County didn't keep very good death and burial records.

  2. I agree! I haven't been able to trace death certificates or burial records. I went to the library in North Vernon over the summer and there are a lot of documents to look at, just didn't have enough time. I will tell you that the people I met in North Vernon were very helpful! Good Luck!