Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday's Stories, 52 Ancestor Weeks, Week # 8, Joseph D. Reynolds, Real or Fictional?

Copyright 2014, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

This is week 8 of my participation Amy Johnson Crow's, once a week challenge to blog about one ancestor a week, tell their story, biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on that one ancestor. More about the challenge can be found at her Blog, No Story Too Small.

Today we examined Joseph D. Reynolds, Physician.  Maybe.  Yes, indeedy folks, we have another brick wall ancestor.  Below is his marriage record, to one D. Ella Trumbo.

Let's take a closer look at Joseph's information, place of residence, age, occupation, place of birthday and parents names.

So, the record reads, Joseph D. Reynolds, residing in Buffalo, New York, age at next birthday 40, occupation - physician, born Steuben County New York, father's name - - Wm. T., mother's name - - maybe May G. Buren.

By the way, the information on our bride, D. Ella Trumbo, is correct, living Washington D. C., father - Benj Trumbo, mother - - Cynthia A. Riddle, born Brock's Gap.  We have much of Ella's story and history, even though we doubt that she always told the truth.  We don't call her Elusive Ella for nothing, eh??

But, for the moment, let's zero in on her groom.  I have been snooping around the internet for him for some time, here, there, everywhere.  I repeat the searches as new information and new data bases are added.

I have not found a Joseph on the 1850, 1860 or 1870 United States Federal Census that makes any sense to me.  Unless, the birth place of New York is reported in error on the marriage record.

I found a Joseph in 1880 United States Federal Census as a boarder in a home with others, including one Samuel Reynolds.  The 1880 reads (extracted): Joseph Reynolds, living New York City, New York, New York, age 32, a carman.  Well, this is still 7 years before the marriage to Della, but, a carman and a physican are just not the same, eh?  (Other 1880 offerings were dismissed on this go around of research.)

I checked several of the New York state census indexes, nadda.  Again, nothing that makes sense with the current known facts, questionable known facts.

Next I went in search of anything that might give me a lead on that physician information. I found this data base:
The Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929 data base (From shows:
Name Birth Date Death Date Death Place
1. Joseph M. Reynolds 1847 15 Oct 1923 Redfield, AR
2. Joseph W. Reynolds 25 Nov 1909  New Bridge, MD
3. Joseph Hervey Reynolds 28 Sep 1911 Belleville, PA
(sorry the spacing is lousy on cut and paste)

I examined each entry and found this one interesting:
Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929 
Name: Joseph M. Reynolds
Birth Date: 1847
Death Date: 15 Oct 1923
Death Place: Redfield, AR
Type Practice: Allopath
Practice Specialities: Redfield, AR, Aug 31, 1911
Licenses: AR, 1903, IL, 1883
Practice Dates Places: Redfield, AR, Aug 31, 1911
Medical School: Kentucky School of Medicine, Louisville: Transylvania University Medical Department, 1882, (G)
JAMA Citation: 81:1624
Cause of Death: senility

So, over to FamilySearch I went:
Joseph M. Reynolds, "Arkansas Death Index, 1914-1950"
Name: Joseph M Reynolds
Event Type: Death
Event Date: 15 Oct 1923
Event Place: Jefferson, Arkansas
Age (Original):
Birth Year (Estimated):
Certificate Number: 546
Page Number:
Volume Number: 67
Affiliate Film Number: 19141923

Yep, that is a physician, birth year comes close, the middle initial is not correct, and there are no images online to look at. I did not search any further for the death for the two that died in 1909 or 1911.

So, next I turned to the reported father.  Census examination/snooping turned up nothing that I could say was even close to conclusive.

I found a William Reynold, in the data base "New York Deaths and Burials, 1795-1952" at Family  Here is the full information presented in the index entry:
Name: William Reynold
Gender: Male
Burial Date:
Burial Place: Buffalo, N.Y.
Death Date: 15 Apr 1871
Death Place: New York, New York
Age: 63
Birth Date: 1808
Birthplace: New Jersey
Marital Status:
Spouse's Name:
Father's Name:
Father's Birthplace:
Mother's Name:
Mother's Birthplace:
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: B07500-7
System Origin: New York-EASy
GS Film number: 1671687
Reference ID: p 79

So, is this Wm T. Reynold, reported father of Joseph D. Reynolds?  Conclusion - - totally inconclusive.

I did not even attempt a search on the reported mother of May G. Buren.

So, so far, surfing in and out of a number of our favorite genie web sites, except for that death of a physician in Arkansas with a initial that does not match, I have ZIP.

See, here is the thing.  This is the almost the only time in our many family records that we have this name Joseph D. Reynolds.  Note the date January 2, 1887.  On May 4, 1887 Dorothy gives birth to a son, and names another man as the father.  She names the father as Riley J. Bliss, NOT Reynolds.  She names the child Frank R. Bliss.  Frank believed for many years that his middle name was Reynold(s).  And, family members report Frank's birthday as October 4, 1887, NOT May 4, 1887.  Frank's death certificate states he was born on October 4th.

Here is the index entry for Frank's birth:
"New York, Births and Christenings, 1640-1962" (
Name: Frank R. Bliss
Gender: Male
Christening Date:
Christening Place:
Birth Date: 04 May 1887
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA
Death Date:
Name Note:
Father's Name: Riley J. Bliss
Father's Birthplace:
Father's Age:
Mother's Name: D. Ella Trumlo Bliss
Mother's Birthplace:
Mother's Age:
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: C00411-9
System Origin: New_York-ODM
GS Film number: 1322221

We do have references to J. D. Reynolds and D. Ella Reynolds in some court papers in Rockingham County Virginia.  (I do not personally have copies of these court records.  Cousin Rebecca does.)

If you are not confused yet, I am amazed.  Those of us researching Joseph D. Reynolds, Frank Bliss, Riley J. Bliss and Dorothy (Ella) Trumbo and all those connected to her are constantly confused.  See, Ella, well, she fibbed about stuff.  Frequently.  We suspect she was trying to hide or cover up something.

The question remains what happened to J. D. Reynolds, the physician?  OK, I'll fess up, I have my doubts he really was a physician.  I have nothing to base those doubts on, I just don't buy it.

Some of us think that Joseph D. Reynolds WAS in fact, Riley Jay Bliss, the stated father of Frank R. Bliss.  And, that story is even more confusing and convoluted.  See, Riley Jay Bliss was married, at least a couple of times other than his relationship with D. Ella Trumbo.  And, one of those other wives, was D. Ella's first cousin, Emma Jane Hess.

Wish list for Joseph D. Reynolds.  Anything!  Oh, and since I am spinning wishes, dear Riley J. Bliss, just where did you go on that train and what happened to you?  Ah, a story for a future post I suppose.

Ahhh, the tangled webs we weave.

* Additional source data can be obtained by contacting me, see the right hand column for a yahoo email address.

** 52 Ancestors Weeks Button courtesy of Amy Johnson Crow.

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Karen said...

Perhaps Mr./Dr. Reynolds he made a career change in those seven years after being a carman. Our Henry J. Seeman worked as a mechanic in 1898, and was a licensed as a physician by 1901. He sneaked in medical school in the years in between. Can you contact the medical schools he allegedly attended? I did that with Henry and got photocopies of their attendance books for those years.

Carol said...

Can look into that Karen, see if the school is still there, etc. Have not, as this information was just discovered yesterday.

Liberty Bison said...

Dr. Reynolds and Riley Bliss are definitely 2 different people. October is 9 months from January, the family changed the month to prevent embarrassment. Bliss may be the father but there is a small chance there could be a mistake where the informant was listed as the father. You'd have to examine a copy of the original birth record to be sure that is not the case.

Carol said...

Thank you Liberty for your comments and input.

Cousin has a copy of the birth record in question, she does not report any conflicting information between the indexing and the actual record. I am working on obtaining a copy.

I will continue to wonder if there is in reality a Dr. Reynolds until I can find proof positive that he actually existed. I have researched several cases of men who disappeared, I can tell you that in this time frame it is easy to just walk away and/or fib/lie about who you are.

I gladly accept any help proving Dr. Reynolds, it would sure give some closure to descendants who walk around confused and needing the "real" story.