• Brigette Cook Jones

Little Orphant Annie's Little Sister Update


Mary Alice Smith - who is the real Little Orphant Annie - had three half siblings. You can read more about her two older siblings in an earlier post from this year. However, this particular post will focus on Mary Alice's youngest sister - Susan V. Smith.

Prior to writing this - I did not know a lot about Susan. I knew that she was the daughter of Mary Alice's father, Thomas, and his second wife, Melvina. I know that she was born in 1860 probably in Putnam County. However, birth records were not required by the state of Indiana until 1882 - so there would be nothing to document her birth unless it was done in a family Bible (which I don't have) or in some church records somewhere. I know that Susan was in the 1870 census with Thomas and Melvina when they moved to Clay County; however, when they were in Hamilton County in 1880 - she was not present.

My reason for trying to document Susan Smith's history is I need to determine if the report that Thomas made upon entering the Soldiers Home in Lafayette in the mid 1880's was true - - all of his children were dead. I had determined that his oldest daughter by Melvina - Ellen was dead. His son, John, also looks to have died even though I have not been able to document that with any paperwork. The family history of the life of his son - describes that he was raised an orphan by his maternal grandparents. So it sure looks that way -- but not for certain. Then there was Susan - I was unable to find what had happened to her - or at least what direction she possibly took in her life until now.

I had always assumed that she had married in Clay County or possibly Putnam County because this is where the family was living in 1870 (Clay) and 1860 (Putnam). But, could find no record of a marriage. Then, I thought possibly that she died. But, could find no record of that either - which really doesn't mean much - because the state of Indiana didn't keep death records up until 1882. So I decided to take a different approach - and looked for her in Hamilton County - - which is where Thomas, Melvina and John were living in the 1880 census. And, I did find a marriage for a Susan Smith (sometimes with a middle initial of U - but I think it should be a V) and a Jesse Ira Marlnee in Hamilton County on August 31, 1879. The name of Marlnee if very unusual - and should make it easy to track. in fact, Ancestry.com did have Jesse Marlnee pop up in some family trees online - and had some other interesting documents attached to them.

Jesse Ira Marlnee was born in Ohio in 1859. He was the son of Jacob and Elizabeth Marlnee. Jacob it seems was killed in 1864 during the Civil War. His mother would marry a James Gill in 1867, but he would only live until 1870. I could not find Susan or Jesse in the 1880 census until I started looking at Jesse's mother.

Elizabeth Marlnee Gill would be present in the 1880 census also in Hamilton County, Indiana. However, in looking at the 1880 census - there is a Jesse M Gill listed as a son living with Elizabeth who was listed as 21 (the right age for an 1859 birth), and a Susan M Gill listed as a daughter also living in the same residence. Her age was given as 20 - the right age for a person born in 1860. Since both Jesse and Susan have an "M" in their name - - this is "M" for Marlnee. Why the census taker added the last name of Gill to their names I do not know?

So at least I now know that Susan got married - and was living in Hamilton County in 1880. However, I still do not know her fate.

Jesse Ira Marlnee died in Fairfield Tippecanoe County, Indiana in 1883, and is buried there. He pops up in a death index from that county - and incorrectly identified with a last name of "Marlin." So it would seem that the Marlnee's or at least Jesse immigrated to Tippecanoe County - along with other members of the Smith - Rittenhouse - Gray family. **Wonder what was going on in Lafayette to draw them all to this location? Was it the building of Purdue University?? Anyway - he died. I don't know anything else about his death - - and cannot seem to find Susan there as well.

So it is possible that she died - between 1880 and 1883 - and was either in Hamilton or Tippecanoe counties.

So if you are reading this and could shed any additional light on the fate of Susan V Smith Marlnee - I sure would appreciate it. However, at least I know she did marry - and possibly followed family up to Lafayette, IN.


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