Sunday, January 12, 2014

52 Ancestors: #2 Susan Day Stevens

This week we're looking at Susan Elizabeth Day, my 3rd great-grandmother who married Thomas K. Stevens.

At the moment, she's the end of the line. I don't know who her parents were. However, from Canada's 1871 census and the US Federal Censuses in 1880, 1900 and 1910, I've determined that Susan was born in September 1843 in Nova Scotia, Canada. Death records for her children revealed her maiden name was Day.

1866 Birth Record - Thomas H Stevens
Unfortunately, Nova Scotia didn't begin keeping civil birth records until 1864. Furthermore, I haven't had any luck finding her in Canada's 1851 census because it appears that only heads of household were listed (like pre-1850 US Federal censuses).

However, I did locate a curious Nova Scotia record. It's the birth record for her first child, Thomas H. Stevens, born on September 18, 1866.  

The father is listed as Thomas Stevens (Thomas K. Stevens) and the mother is Susan Stevens (flagrantly disregarding the record's stipulation to provide the mother's maiden name). Here's the real kicker: the birth record says the parents' marriage took place June 21, 1866 in Halifax. Apparently, Thomas K. Stevens and Susan Day wedded when she was about six months pregnant. I've not been able to locate a separate marriage record in the Nova Scotia vital records. This is the only written documentation of their wedding date. Perhaps they were married only in the church, but never registered with the state?

The record also shares a tantalizing clue about Susan's family. The informant of the birth is listed as Margaret Day. Is this Susan's mother or a sister? Frustratingly, no relationship is given. I've tried searching the civil birth and death records for a clue. However, as unfortunate luck would have it, Nova Scotia made the brilliant decision to quit keeping civil vital records between 1878 and 1907. A huge swath of time is lost. 

There is hope for an answer to Susan's parentage. She and Thomas moved in the late 1870s to Colorado. According to the inscription on her tombstone, she passed away January 30, 1919. The state of Colorado kept death records at this time. I've requested a copy of her death certificate. I'm now crossing my fingers that 1) it exists, and 2) that it lists her parents' names. Knock on wood with me! Come on, knock, knock...

*Update* I received a copy of Susan's death certificate in today's mail. Her father's name is given as John Day, and her mother is "unknown". Curiously, the cause of death is listed as "acute insanity". I sure hope that doesn't run in the family!


  1. Thanks, cosmokids, I appreciate you stopping by and your comment.

  2. Who was the informant on the death certificate?

    As for Margaret Day, I'd look into who typically reported. What was the usual custom of the day? That probably won't give you an absolute answer, but you might pick up a clue.

  3. The informant was Susan's daughter. Thanks for the suggestion on looking into who typically reported. Good advice. I appreciate it, Wendy.

  4. Unusual for a father to be named without the mother, I would have thought. Usually the other way round. Presumably Margaret must be related to John Day. Have you traced them on the census ?

  5. Thanks for stopping by, Simon. I'm trawling through the Canadian census records for a John and Margaret Day in Nova Scotia. I haven't yet landed on a compelling record. But the search continues.