My Top Genealogy Problem

Okay, if anyone is looking for a tough genealogy problem to solve, here it is:

Puzzle Piece #1:

My grandfather’s name is Leon Eugene Barber. His father is named Alden Burt Barber. Leon has a brother, Harold, and a sister, Anna. Leon was born in Batavia, Genesee County, New York. This is all proved by the following sources:

  • 1900 US Federal Census, connecting the family unit.
  • 1910 US Federal Census, connecting the family unit.
  • Leon’s WWI US Navy death records, indicating parentage of Alden to Leon.
  • The fact their graves are in the same, Fairmount Cemetery, in Signal Mountain, TN

I feel like theses facts are pretty solid.

Puzzle Piece #2:

The father of Alden Burt Barber is named, Henry Barber. Alden has sister named Kate. Sources for Alden are as follows:

  • Death certificate for Alden lists Leon as the Informant and Henry as the father of Alden.
  • 1860 US Federal Census lists “Henry Barber” as the head, “Lucy A Barber” as the wife and Kate and Burt as the children. All living in Batavia, Genesee County, NY.
  • 1870 US Federal Census lists “H. R. Barber” as the head, Lucia as the “wife” and Kate and Burt as children. All living in Batavia, Genesee County, NY.
  • 1880 US Federal Census list “Henry R. Barber” married to “Lucy A Barber” and living in Darien, also in Genesee County, NY. Looks like the kids had moved out, which matches up with the belief that they all moved south, at this point.

I think we’re still on firm ground here.

Puzzle Piece #3:

Here’s where the puzzle is missing a piece or two. There is a grave stone in Batavia Cemetery for a “Henry R. Barber.” All the sources listed above, for Henry, have an approximate date of birth as 1826 or 1827. We’ll say 1826. This date matches what is on the grave stone in Batavia Cemetery. There is also a grave stone in Riverside Cemetery in Plattsburgh, Clinton County, NY. The stone seems to be a family stone and has the name, Henry Ransom Barber, along with all of his siblings and parents.The birth date, for Henry Ransom Barber, on this grave stone, is “1839.”

Now, it has been and is widely believed, by my family and others, that this “Henry Ransom Barber”, in Riverside Cemetery, is the Henry referred to in Puzzle Piece #2 above. The reasons I DON’T believe this are as follows:

  • Not considering the two separate grave stones, the birth dates are too far off and the numbers too different for this to be typo within written records.
  • There are, in fact, two different grave stones in two different cemeteries. This must be two different people.
  • The birth date for Henry R. Barber, in Batavia Cemetery, NOT Henry Ransom Barber, matches the approximate birth date listed in the census sources above (1826).
  • The grave stone, for Henry R. Barber, not Henry Ransom Barber, is located in a cemetery within the same town as the sources above (Batavia).

My conclusion is that “Henry R. Barber” in Batavia Cemetery, born in approximately 1826, is my ancestor, not Henry Ransom Barber, in Riverside Cemetery.

Puzzle Piece #4:

Assuming I am correct about my conclusion about Henry R. Barber, all I know about him is the following:

  • He is buried in Batavia Cemetery, Batavia, Genesee County, New York.
  • The census record, from the 1880 Census above, lists his father has being from Vermont
  • There is an obituary which names his daughter, “Mrs. S. E. Spaulding”, his son, “Burt Barber” and a brother “Carlos M. Barber.” This obituary is from the March 15, 1898 edition of The Daily News, in Batavia.
  • The death date, listed in this obituary, matches the grave stone in Batavia Cemetery.
  • There is a grave stone for a Daniel Barber and an Anna Barber, in Batavia Cemetery. Both have dates on them that might suggest possible parentage of Henry.

Problems halting my research:

  1. I cannot find a birth record for Henry R. Barber, though census records and the grave stone indicate he was born in New York, around 1826.
  2. I cannot find records, definitively, connecting Henry to parents of any kind. I only know his father was from Vermont.
  3. I cannot find records connecting Henry to Carlos or a sister, other than the obituary.
  4. Investigation of Daniel and/or Anna, listed above, as potential parents of Henry, yielded nothing.


  1. Allan Higgins July 10, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    I assume you dug through all of the Civil War records for Henry Barber? Any idea if he applied for a pension?

    Have you dug through land records on FamilySearch ( If you can find him in a land record, that would tell you he is at least 21 years old.

    Do you have an Ancestry account? I see there are several records out there like State Census records.

    • Andy Barber July 25, 2018 at 10:25 pm

      I have seen the Civil War records. Unfortunately, they don’t contain information about Henry’s parentage. I haven’t dug much into land records, but have found will and probate information for Henry’s wife. However, there is only information connecting her to him and their children. I do have an ancestry account. There are several records about him, but again, nothing indicating parentage. The closest thing I have to connecting him to a parent of any kind is Federal census record that states his father was from Vermont. Additionally, I have a listing of all Barbers in the Batavia Cemetery in Batavia, NY. There is another Barber, buried nearby, named Daniel. Daniel is of the correct age to possibly be Henry’s Father, but again, nothing solid connecting the two. I think I may just have to leave the trail of Henry and start looking into Daniel Barbers from Vermont. Maybe I’ll stumble onto something. The listing from the Batavia Cemetery also has some other leads that are probably worth pursuing further, but so far, have just led farther from the trail. Thanks for looking at this!

Comments are closed.