Jan 15, 2015

A Cousin Finds a Coffin!

One of the wonders of genealogy is finding awesome cousins!  I, of course, have the best cousins!  Recently Cousin Eileen from Wisconsin was having trouble with her e-mail and, not finding my e-mail address, went to my blog to locate me.  Seeing my Coffin mystery, she put her awesome sleuthing skills to work and came up with Aunt Sybil!!  Thank you, Eileen!!  Here's how it turned out for Sybil Coffin, born September 1867 in Michigan to Isaac and Jeanette (Richardson) Coffin.  She married my 2d great uncle, John Washington Burrill, in Minneapolis in 1889.  John Wesley Burrill was born to them in 1891.  After a move to California, participating in the Yukon Gold Rush, John was killed in a cable car accident in 1898.  He is buried in Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.

With an 8 year old son, Sybil married on 20 Sep 1899 John William McDonald in Colusa, California.  John was a widower with three sons, William Andrew who was 13, John Lovett who was 6, and Royal Rozell who was 5.  They lived in Arbuckle, Colusa, California where John was a laborer in a warehouse.  The marriage did not survive.  Sybil filed for divorce, the divorce being final in March of 1906.  Sybil became a housekeeper for a farmer by the name of Alonzo B. Metsker as shown in the 1910 U. S. Census.  In 1911 there is a news notice of real estate transfers of property from Sybil and her son to an Ella Feize of San Francisco property on Edinburgh Street.

And this is where Cousin Eileen comes in.  She located a marriage of Sybil McDonald to Clifford  Clarence Martin on 1 Dec 1913 in Vancouver, Washington.  Sybil had relatives in Oregon and may have moved north after 1910.  Clifford Martin was 31 and a native of Oregon, and Sybil was 46 at the time of their marriage. They lived in Brownsmead, Clatsop, Oregon, where it appears they had 43 somewhat uneventful years until Sybil's death on 24 Sep 1956.

I trust that Sybil's years with Clifford were happy years for the two of them.  The Grim Reaper came to visit and disrupt those happy years on 12 Feb 1916 in Boring, Clackamas, Oregon when Sybil and John Burrill's son, John Wesley Burrill, died of pneumonia, one day shy of his 25th birthday.

One mystery remains to be solved.  In the 1910 census while Sybil is a housekeeper for Alonzo Metsker, there is a Lawrence H. McDonald living with them, age 3.  He is noted as a "ward."  His age would indicate he was born about 1907, possibly making him a son of Sybil and John William McDonald.  He was not related to Metsker which may be why he was enumerated as a "ward."  I've not yet found Lawrence in later documents, making him the unsolved part of this puzzle.

To sum up Sybil's life, she lost a husband in 1898, her mother in 1900, her father in 1906, went through a divorce also in 1906, and lost her firstborn son in 1916.  I try to remember Sybil's trials when I think I am feeling bad!!

According to a FindaGrave entry, Sybil is buried in Twin Oaks Memorial Gardens in Albany, Linn County, Oregon.  Thank you, Eileen, for your awesome sleuthing in putting the final pieces of this mystery together!

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