Monday, April 30, 2018

Harry Evans, Margaret McCully and the Marriage that Wasn’t

A few months ago I was contacted by someone about the Frew, Wilson, Bowie, and Ross families in Appanoose County, Iowa. I looked in my family tree and found Anna Frew and her husband William Bowie. In my family tree, they were the parents of Harry Evans, who married Margaret McMully on 1 February 1906 in Appanoose County, Iowa. What? Why does Harry have a different surname than his father.

After looking at Harry and Margaret's facts pages in my family tree, it got more weird.  Margaret had married John Bowie on the same date. He was also a son of William Bowie and Anna Frew. Which one was correct?

Harry Evans

Further research indicated Harry was Henry "Harry" George Evans born on 30 March 1883 in St. Louis, Missouri, to Henry Evans and Alice Yeels.[1] Both his parents emigrated from England about the time of their marriage.  By the time Harry was 17 years old his family lived in Wayne County, Iowa, and he, his father and old brother worked as coal miners. Harry married Robena Bowie, daughter of William Bowie and Anna Frew, on 30 April 1905 in Appanoose County. They settled in Seymour, Iowa, and Harry worked as a miner for the Prairie Black Coal Company. By 1920 they moved to Centreville, Iowa, and Harry continued working as a miner. By 1930 Harry and his family lived in Milwaukee and he worked for a railroad as a mechanic's helper. He died on 18 February 1938 at the age of 54. His obituary was printed in the Milwaukee Sentinel the same day. He was interred at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Cincinnati, Iowa. Harry and Robena had two daughters, Lorene and Charlotte.

Information about Harry G. Evans (groom) on the marriage registration record
for the marriage between he and Robena Bowie; courtesy of

Information about Robena Bowie on the marriage registration record for the
marriage between she and Harry G. Evans; courtesy of

Margaret McCully

Margaret McCully was my 3rd cousin twice removed. Her great grandmother, Margaret (Semple) Scott, was an aunt of my great great grandmother, Margaret (Semple) Muir. Margaret McCully was born on 27 Nov 1883 in Oskaloosa, Iowa to Robert McCully and Margaret Wilson. Her father had emigrated from Ireland and her mother from Scotland before they married in Illinois the year before Margaret's birth. By the time Margaret was 12 years old her family moved to Appanoose County. Her father was also a coal miner. She married John Stuart Bowie on 1 February 1906 in Centreville, Iowa. John worked as a miner in Appanoose County until sometime before 1930. When that census was enumerated, they lived in Des Moines, and John worked as a watchman for a motor plant. Margaret died on 26 June 1954 and was interred at Glendale Cemetery. Her obituary was published in the Centerville Iowegian and Citizen on 30 June 1954.

Index entry for John Bowie and Margaret McCully marriage registration;
courtesy of FamilySearch

Suspect Marriage Record

On there is a marriage registration record for the marriage of Harry Evans and Margaret McCully which took place on the same day as the marriage between John Bowie and Margaret McCully. And there is no marriage register record for that latter marriage. The only record of it I could find was an index record on FamilySearch (shown above).

Information about the groom who married Margaret McCully. He should be
John Bowie; courtesy of

Information about Margaret McCully on marriage register; courtesy of

If you look closely at the witnesses on the above image about Margaret McCully, you will notice one of the witnesses was Mrs. Harry G. Evans. Several pages of the register before and after this entry are written in the same hand. I believe the compiler simply made an error regarding the groom's name. Everything else, including the names of his parents and place of birth would be correct if the groom's name were John Bowie, not Harry Evans. I have seen many marriage records with incorrect information; however, this is the first time I have seen the wrong groom! I call it the marriage that wasn't.

[1] Alice's maiden name was variously spelled Jill, Yuls, Yilde in the source documents.

1 comment:

  1. There are many records relating to many Henry Evans all over the place that are inaccurate. I have been hunting mine 2nd and 3rd great grandfather for 30 years. I know of 3 other people with connections to the Evans clan, that have similar experiences. My 2nd great grandfather never stayed in the same place twice. There is a definitely a Break in the Records during the Revolution, Civil and war of 1812 and the DNA matches highlight this even more now.