Brick Wall Case Studies #22: Finding an Indiana man's family when he hadn't been found with them in the census

Jesse did not have a birth record and he hadn't been found with his family in the census records. His obituary and studying the families in the area where he was born led to the family to whom he belonged.

What We Knew

  • According to his tombstone, Jesse Clinton Grove was born 12 March 1853 and died 14 November 1936. He was buried in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana.
  • Jesse's death certificate listed his birth place as New Castle, Henry County, Indiana. His parents were not named.
  • A marriage record index had been located for Jesse Groves to Mary M Burdett in Indianopolis, Marion, Indiana on 4 December 1880.
  • Birth records were not kept in Indiana during this time period, so no birth record had been found.
  • Jesse had been located with his wife and children in the census records in 1900, 1910, and 1920. His age was listed differently on each census record, making his birth year 1853, 1855, or 1852. The birth place of his parents was listed differently on each census as well. In one it was listed as father born in Pennsylvania and mother in Maryland, once with father born in Holland and mother born in Maryland and once listed as both parents born in Indiana.
  • Jesse hadn't been located in any census record previous to 1900.

Records We Located

  • We located an obituary for Jesse. His birth place as New Castle, Henry County, Indiana but his parents and siblings were not named.
  • We looked for a marriage record for the marriage document for Jesse and Mary since only the index had been found. The marriage document listed only the names of the couple, the date, and the name of the justice of the peace who performed the marriage.
  • Since Jesse's obituary named his birth place as Henry County, Indiana, we looked in the 1860 census records for Groves families living in Henry County, Indiana. There was no Jesse Groves listed in the 1860 census in this location. But there were several Grove/Groves families in the area.
  • We examined the Grove families in Henry County in the 1860 census. We looked at who the parents and children were as well, as their ages. We examined probate records of the fathers and grandfathers and we discovered that all of the families were related to each other. But Jesse wasn't listed in any document connected to any of them. We also looked at obituaries of several of the family members and Jesse was not listed in any of their obituaries either.
  • We then looked at the 1850 census for Henry County. There was a family in the 1850 census living in Henry County with parents listed as Reason/Resin and Malinda Grove with several children. Jesse had named one of his sons Reason so this seemed to be a possible family. Jesse wasn't listed because he wasn't born yet. Reason Grove was not enumerated in the 1860 census. But he did appear in the 1870 census in Henry County. In the 1870 census, there were more children in the family, including a youngest son, age 13, named Jesse. We had missed Jesse in our earlier searches because this time his birth year was listed about 1857, different than the other years he had previously listed for his age. Reason Grove was listed as born in Pennsylvania.
  • We found a marriage record for Reason Grove to Malinda Higgins in Rush County, Indiana, in 1843. We located all of their children as well.
  • Now we knew that Jesse had a brother named Lewis. He found Lewis in the 1880 census living in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Jesse C Grove was living with Lewis. This time Jesse's birth year was listed as about 1851 so we had missed him in this record also due to the birth year being quite different. All of the information for Lewis and his wife was correct, so we knew this was our Jesse. Jesse also got married in Indianapolis a few months later, so it appeared that he was born in Henry County, had moved to Indianapolis to live with his brother, and married his wife and settled there.


The parents of Jesse Calvin Grove were Reason Grove and Malinda Higgins The documents and sources we gathered are found on the person page of Jesse Calvin Grove and his family members in the FamilySearch Family Tree, ID 934Y-JV4.

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