May 30, 2011

Mystery Man

Edward William Click is my most elusive ancestor. He appeared, seemingly out of thin air, 16 Jul 1881, when he married Margaret Rebella "Bella" Parks (1861-1940) in Todd county, Minnesota. From that time forward, he's well documented, but his past is still an enigma. I know when he was born, which is mostly consistent in the sources, but not where. He's listed on several censuses, but the birthplace is inconsistent:
  • 1885 MN Census: 30, New York
  • 1895 MN Census: 40, California
  • 1900 US Census: Jan 1853, 47, Minnesota
  • 1905 MN Census: 52, Minnesota
  • 1910 US Census: 56, Minnesota
To top it off, his death certificate says he was born 14 Feb 1852, in Wisconsin. His children's listings in subsequent censuses give their father's birthplace as Wisconsin, probably reflecting the information on his death certificate. I know nothing about his ethnic ancestry. Messages on various online forums claim Click is an anglicized surname of German, Dutch, or Jewish origin. His family eventually settled in Elmdale township in Morrison county, near the town of Upsala. Most of his neighbors there were Swedes. The censuses that list his parents' birthplaces are equally unhelpful:
  • 1900 US Census: father Ohio, mother Pennsylvania
  • 1905 MN Census: father Kansas, mother Kansas
  • 1910 US Census: father US, mother US
On his death certificate, the names and birthplaces of his parents simply say unknown. His wife of 32 years reported the information, so I'm guessing he either didn't know his parentage, or else didn't want anyone else to know. There is some family lore that says he was raised by Native Americans, but you know how those stories go. The only other clue I have is a scrap of paper in my grandparents' papers:
Ed. Click. born in Okla. adopted lived by family Brown. Baptist cemetery Upsala, white church on hill.
Ed, Bella, & Bert Click
Both his sons are buried in that cemetery, but Edward either didn't have a headstone, or it's long since been covered up by soil and grass. And there were probably hundreds of Brown families in Oklahoma territory, and thousands elsewhere. I know, because I've probably looked at every Brown family with an Ed born around the right time period in the US Census from 1860 to 1880. (The only relevant, surviving census from Oklahoma is 1860, listed under Arkansas.) I've also found a few Ed Clicks, and several William Clicks in those censuses, but most of them can be followed in subsequent censuses in the same area. Plus, there's nothing to connect any of them with this Ed Click. Besides, I have no idea of the provenance of that information. It's quite possible Click wasn't even his real surname.

Ed and Bella had ten children, but only eight survived to adulthood, and neither son ever married or had children. That rules out a Y-DNA test, which would have been the most helpful to find paternal relatives. Autosomal DNA tests can find relatives from any branch, and I've already had one. But since he was my great-great-grandfather, I probably only inherited about 6.25% of my DNA from him. And absent another relative from that branch testing, so we can triangulate, there's no way to tell if any of my matches are through him.

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