Brick Wall Case Studies #16: Finding a woman's family who had moved from Ohio to Australia

Annie's marriage record and death record listed her parents as unknown. A ministerial directory, death record, death notice in the newspaper, and census record gave more information about who were her biological parents.

What We Knew

  • Annie J Gardner married her husband, David Alexander Bain, in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia in 1888. Her parents' names were listed as "Unknown". Her birth place was listed as Cincinnatti, Ohio, USA. The minister was Reverend John Jenkins.
  • Annie died in 1891 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia but her death certificate and her parents were not listed. Her birth place was listed as Chicago, Illinois, USA.
  • Annie was buried in the Williamstown Cemetery, Victoria with a woman named Elizabeth Edwards. Elizabeth Owen Edwards was the mother of Jane Edwards Jenkins, wife of Reverend John Jenkins who had married Annie J Gardner to her husband.
  • In the 1880 census Annie was listed as living in Wayne County, Ohio, with the John Jenkins family. Her birthplace was listed as Ohio. Annie was listed as a servant in the household. She was listed as 16 years old.
  • A passenger list to Australia was located in which the John Jenkins family travelled to Australia. Annie travelled with them.
  • A book of ministers listed the that Reverend John Mortimer Jenkins was ordained as a Prebyterian minister at Lane Theological Seminary, in 1871, and served at the Cincinnati 6th Church 1871-1874. He was later in Wayne County where he was living in the 1880 census.

Records We Located

  • We located the ministerial directory for John Jenkins. It lists that John Jenkins was in Cincinatti at the 6th Presbyterian Church from 1871 to 1874. He was then transferred to Orrville, Wayne County, where he was living as listed in the 1880 census.
  • We searched for Annie in the 1870 census in Cincinatti. We located Anna Gardner with parents James and Margaret Gardner in the 1870 census in Cincinatti. Annie listed as age 6 and as born in Illinois. The birthplace in Ohio matched her death record that listed her as born in Chicago, Illinois.
  • We located a death notice in the Cincinatti newspaper for James Gardner who died in 1877 at the age of 34.
  • We were not able to learn more about James and Margaret Gardner other than their ages and birth places.
  • It appears that Annie's parents knew Reverend Jenkins when he was a minister in Cincinnati, Annie's father died in 1877, and then she went to live with the Jenkins family.
  • It's possible that DNA may provide more clues as to who the families of James and Margaret were.


Annie's parents appear to have been James and Margaret Gardner of Ohio. Her father died in 1877 and she went to live with the John Jenkins family. The documents and sources we gathered are found on the person page of Annie J Gardner and her family members in the FamilySearch Family Tree, ID K2V3-M12.

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