One of the great things about online genealogy is connecting with cousins who may have pieces of information that you may or may not be looking for. I had the pleasure of meeting online, and later in person, one of Edgar Douglas White‘s descendants from New Zealand. (For purposes of privacy here, I will refer to him as “my cousin”.) My cousin is the fortunate custodian of many letters from the White family in Lynn to far-away Edgar. He shared with me the first letter dated January 3, 1869 that Edgar received from Job, which includes the following:
I have been in Lynn about six months. I am doing pretty well. I board with Fannie. She is married here well off. Your mother and the family will be here in the spring. Joseph lives in Glosseter [sic]: 30 miles from here.
This was my first inkling that another son named Joseph even existed! What else could I find out about him? And how would this impact my previous conclusions about the family?
My first stop would be the 1870 Census. Since I had a name and a location, it was easy to find Joseph: he boarded at James Bennie’s house in Gloucester, Essex County, MA and worked as a laborer. The census confirmed that his birthplace was Nova Scotia and his age was 22, putting his year of birth about 1848. This fits in with the timeline of births in the family.
Joseph’s existence changes my narrative about his older brother, John. Since Joseph was living by the 1870s, he would have been the one enumerated on the 1861 Canada Census rather than John. This would mean that John probably died no later than about age 15.
Judging by Job’s letter, it seems that at least Fannie was in the United States before Job, and I suspect that Joseph might have been as well. It would have made a lot of sense for a single woman to travel with her brother, and they could help take care of each other in their new homeland. Once Fannie married Harmon Burns in 1868, Joseph was free to live on his own, as he was by 1869.
I’ve found a few stray records that mention a “Joseph White” in Massachusetts at about the same age, but the information is so scant and the name too common to confirm that it would be this Joseph. The only other information I have is that Joseph “went West” sometime before May 3, 1872, according to another letter that my cousin transcribed. The letter stated that the family had not yet heard from Joseph, so I don’t know if they ever did, or where in the “West” he went.