Sunday, January 31, 2010

Madness Monday: Austis Button, wife of Kenyon Larkin

No ancestor has driven me more mad than great-great grandma Emma.

However, I have written enough about her (twice - here and here).  For now. So on to another difficult-to-find woman.

Austis Button

One of my husband's maddening ancestors is the woman who appears in most online family trees and censuses as Austis Button.

Austis is the wife of Kenyon (aka Kinney) Larkin, son of Edward Larkin and Hannah Parker, who was born 21 June 1783 in Richmond, Washington County, Rhode Island (found in Arnold's book or online at NEHGS), and died 3 October 1865.  He is buried in Munyan Cemetery in Putnam, Windham County, Connecticut.

Sometime around 1803, he married Austis.

The discovery of the cemetery in which they are buried was only a recent one. This family never resided in Putnam, so I would never have expected that to be their final resting place.

Censuses & Clusters

As for Austis, her name also appears as Austress in the 1850 census, in which she is 64 years old.

The problem seems clear: this is not her first name. More than likely, it is her middle name.

In 1860, she is listed as "Sarah", age 70.

I have cluster genealogy and the 1870 census to thank for adding another clue. Normally I would not trace anybody but direct ancestors. However, when a problem ancestor (a brick wall) is presented, one must exhaust all possible research avenues.

We only know for certain of 3 daughters of this marriage (but the 1820, 1830 and 1840 censuses tell us there must be more, and I have been researching those possibilities; I have yet to locate the family in the 1810 census - they may have been living in another household; also, there seem to have been no sons born to this family). 

In following daughters Rebecca and Susan (my husband descends from their older sister, Irena, who married William Wilcox, 15 July 1821 in Griswold, New London, Connecticut), I found Austis in the 1870 census in Glocester, Providence County, Rhode Island.

Another Name Possibility

At first, I was confused because Austis didn't show up as Austis in 1870.

Who was this "Susan Larkin", age 85 (born about 1785) and listed as the "housekeeper", living with Susan (Larkin) Place, age 43?

The lightbulb went on over my head. Clearly this was Austis, wife of Kenyon, now his widow, living with their daughter and son-in-law. 

The daughter, Susan, had a middle initial of "A." It only took a moment to realize that Austis's full name was probably Sarah or Susan Austis Button.

So we have 3 different names for Austis in 3 different censuses, yet most online family trees or data regarding this couple tend to give no further information than "Austis Button."

Looking for a Death Record

Upon locating the information about where she was buried, finding that she died in 1870, and knowing she was living in Glocester for the 1870 census, I wrote to the town in hopes of obtaining a death record.  Unfortunately, they did not have one. They suggested I write to the town of Putnam, since she is buried there.

And so I shall in the very near future.

Meanwhile, I wonder if she is this Sarah Button in Rhode Island Vital Records:

1785 BUTTON BUTTON Sarah, of Samuel, Dec. 28, 1785. Member

Then again, this could very well be Samuel's wife, as there was a Samuel Button in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, whose wife was Sarah Lamb. That couple had daughters named Sarah and Susan, so it is possible that Samuel and Sarah (Lamb) Button are "my" Austis Button's parents.

Plenty of research remains to be done, but somewhere out there is the answer to the question: Who are the parents of Susan Austis Button, born about 1785 in (perhaps Hopkinton, as per the 1850 census) Rhode Island?


  1. I don't think there is anyone who has done family history research that hasn't gone through a situation like the one you described. It is, indeed, maddening! Good luck with your search!

  2. I am sure you will have all the answers one day, just keep on plugging away at it. Goo dluck and all the best in your search