Searching for the McNairs

The Starting Point ...

As I mentioned in The Mystery of Miles, the deeper the dive in researching online records, the more mysteries bubbled up about the man and his family. Having pulled together a loose timeline of nearly a century, most success in my online research has been with Grace Elizabeth (who inspired the name of this blog). 

I truly cannot wait to share more about Grace, but I also want to get my arms around the McNair family itself, share my findings so far, and perhaps other enthusiastic mystery solvers and historians may help in cracking some clues.

So with my digital investigations hitting dead ends, and painting a conflicting timeline for Miles, I decided to put on my big-girl-pants, and visit the Greenwood Cemetery to see if I could perhaps piece together a more coherent picture of the McNair Family and the timeline f their history.

However ... my visit to the cemetery only raised more questions ...

The Family ...

When I found the family plot within the cemetery, I was surprised to discover names I had not found in my online research. 

The site has four large marble grave markers showing "Father," "Mother," "Grace," and "Grant."

Between these larger gray marble markers, are older looking white marble markers with the names of "Phoebe," "Mary H," "Elizabeth," and "Laura A."

As I inspected the markers, I noticed two were turned in an opposite direction from all the others ... the markers belonging to Phoebe and Mary H. Something in me was sparked, and discovered them to be on cement foundations, so I turned them to face eternity with the rest of the family.

The Dates ...

The obilisque has information on some family members, but not the man himself ... Miles.

As much of the information on the obilisque is quite worn from time and the elements, I traced the information with my hands to decipher the information, and this is what I found ... 
  • Elizabeth, Wife & Mother, died March 29th, 1858
  • Laura A died 1877
  • Phoebe Cull died March 25th, 1856
  • Mary H died 1854

The Questions ...

Early on, I became suspicious of the digital genealogical footprint of Miles McNair because he was born in 1824, and found an obituary naming him as pallbearer at a funeral in 1903.

It struck me that either Miles was a notably agile septuagenarian in the turn of the century, or there was a trail of two Miles McNairs intertwined in history ... perhaps a senior and junior?

I found information on Grace McNair, but nothing on Grant. Perhaps Grant's given name was Grant, but he went by his middle name of Miles?

Grace McNair was born in 1866, eight year's after Elizabeth's death ... who was the woman who was her mother? Elizabeth is noted as her mother on all her college records, so all evidence is pointing in the obvious direction as to ...
  • Did Miles have a second wife named Elizabeth?
Only the names on the obilisque corresponded to the white marble grave markers ... the dates for Phoebe, Mary H, Laura A, and Elizabeth.
  • Are these markers for Mile's first wife and daughters?
  • Is the white marble marker for his first wife, Elizabeth, and his second wife is next to him marked by the newer gray marble one?
  • Is the assumed Elizabeth marked by Mother, mother to Grant and Grace?
  • Why does the obilisque say Phoebe Cull? Is Cull her middle name? A clue to Elizabeth's maiden name?
  • What about spouses and children of this family?
    • Did Grace not marry or have children?
    • Did Grant not marry or have children?
    • Is this why there is so little trail and legacy of the McNair family in Brodhead, that they didn't have children ... or their children moved away?

    The Reflection ...

    It has struck me since moving here, that generational families who have stayed in Brodhead, naturally have well documented genealogy, and their names and heritage are well intact here with the use of their family names on businesses and memorials.

    Was it instinct and familial pride that preserved the history of those who stayed?

    What about the McNair family?

    The McNair's history, home, and hearts are clearly rooted here in Brodhead due to their family plot in Greenwood Cemetery. So how can a man who had such a presence in the Village, and eventually City, have so little known genealogy or memorials?

    Next Steps ...

    Taking these questions to heart, and the new clues from the unexpected mysteries my visit to Greenwood Cemetery raised, it appears my next step to be far more analogue. 

    The pandemic challenges access to physical public records and historical documents ... so stay tuned for shares from my next big dive into the McNair Family history ...

    *as Lap of Legends documents ongoing research, please utilize the post "tags" for the most recent and accurate information