Writing Family History Sample: Sherman’s Wife

Writing family history shouldn’t be too difficult when you see how others do it. In this sample, I share the section of Sherman Lewis Brown marrying Emma Virginia Townsend. Be inspired!

Sherman Brown’s wife Emma

Emma Virginia Townsend was born on 15 Jan 1880 in the village of Valley Crossing, located in Marion, Franklin County, Ohio.

Emma is the eighth of ten children born to William James Townsend and Mary Claybaugh of Franklin County, Ohio. At the time of Emma birth, her oldest sibling, Nancy Elizabeth, was 15, and the seventh sibling, Harry Augustus, was three. Her father was a farm laborer, and her mother kept house. Five months later, Emma and her family appeared in the census in 1880 in Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio.2

This information was recorded in her personal bible. The pages with this information have been torn out and preserved in a plastic of some kind. The full Bible was discarded long ago. (I need to find a map of this area as these villages and townships no longer seem to exist). 

Over the course of ten years, a host of other things happened in Emma’s family. When Emma was four, her brother Samuel Leroy Townsend was born on 8 Jul 1884. Emma would later name her second son Samuel Leroy, so she must have been very fond of him. 

On 14 Nov 1885, Emma’s sister Ida Jane married Loren H Sanborn. In August 1886, Emma became an aunt at the age of six as her nephew Albert Sanborn was born. The following year, her youngest sister Ethel Mae was born on 10 Nov 1887. Her oldest sister Nancy Jane married Dorwin Isiah Miller on 11 Oct 1888.

Sometime during the year 1889, Emma’s father William died. Where and exactly when he died is still unknown to me. However, he was buried in Obetz Cemetery in Franklin County, Ohio. His stone indicates that he served in the Civil War with the Ohio 133 Regiment, Company K and had the title of Pft. Hopefully, a search of Civil War records will help me find out more about William.

Emma married Sherman Lewis Brown in 1895. The 1900 US Census3indicates that Emma is the literate mother of one living in a rented home on Jackson Street. She’s been married for five years. (Both of her parents are from Ohio). This son is named Eugene.

Sherman, Emma, Harry, and Lewis Brown

Sherman and Emma Brown, c1922
Harry Mingus and Lewis Sherman Brown

What no census ever mentions is that Emma stood only 4’11”. When her four boys grew up, they would tease her about how short she was. Her son Lewis would stand up, hold his arms out parallel to the ground. Emma would then walk underneath his arms to show just how short she was. Lew was five foot eight!

When Sherman died in 1937, Emma went to work as a shoemaker to support herself. Radio soaps were her popular pastime when not working. 

Emma Townsend Brown
Emma Virginia Townsend BROWN
c. 1942, after a stroke left her invalid

Emma’s youngest son Lewis and his bride Louise lived with her after the couple was married. Emma was an invalid at this time, after suffering a stroke previously. She died on 26 Jun 1943 at the age of 63 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. Emma was buried beside her husband Sherman on 29 Jun 1943 in Obetz Cemetery.4

Gravestone of Sherman and Emma Brown
Photo by Devon Lee 
Find A Grave Memorial # 64801742

That’s about all I know specific to Emma. I wish I knew more about her and her Townsend family. Hopefully, someday I’ll know more.

In any case, this week I’m going to focus on what little information I know about Sherman’s wife, Emma Virginia Townsend. Hopefully, a Townsend relative might have more information. Most of the descendants of Emma and her husband Sherman know even less about Grandma Emma than I have gathered. Bummer.

1. Emma Virginia Brown, loose pages from her personal bible, dates range from 1826 to 1945, Brown Family Bible (publisher unknown); privately held by  Devon Lee. 

2.  “U.S. Census Population Schedule, 1880” database, FamilySearch; (http:/familysearch.org). Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: 1015; Family History Film: 1255015; Page: 188A; Enumeration District: 9; Image: 0479.

3. Ancestry.com, 1900 United States Federal Census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Columbus Ward 4, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: T623_1267; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 57.

4. Emma Virginia Brown, death certificate No. 37378 (1943), State of Ohio, Department of Health, State Vital Statistics Unit, Columbus, Ohio.  

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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