Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A twisted tree

Charles Moulin aka Fred Branch

     Back in 2012 I found four different family trees on Ancestry.com and realized I might be the only one who could tie the trees together. Their owners apparently had no idea they were all researching the same family.
     The cause of the confusion - a radical name change. Not just the surname, but also the given name. Charles Moulin changed his name, "reason unknown," to Fred Branch.  
     Charles was baptized in Buffalo, Erie County, New York, on 29 August 1853, son of Isadore Moulin and Marie Mang, and he died as Fred Branch in Almena, Barron County, Wisconsin, in December 1925.  He married in Williamsville, Erie County, on 13 September 1869 Mary Rupp, who was born in Tonawanda, Erie County, in 1853, daughter of John Rupp and Genovefa Sutter, and died as Mary Branch in Almena after 1920.
     In 1880 the Moulins were residents of Buffalo. Probate files of Mary’s father, brother, and mother recorded subsequent residences of the family, and her new surname (unfortunately misspelled Brauch). In June 1883 and September 1891 Mary Moulin was in Davison Station, Genesee County, Michigan; and in June 1903 Mary Brauch was in Redfield, Spink County, South Dakota. Mary's mother would not have been found in the Surrogate’s index, unless one knew she had remarried and died as Genovefa Ortner. It was her probate file and a note to me from a descendant of one of Mary’s siblings that revealed the name change.
     Searches for Charles and Mary Brauch were unsuccessful, despite using a variety of parameters. Until I realized that the letter “u” could be misinterpreted as “n,” nothing turned up. I never found Charles Branch, but I found a Mary Branch in the 1900 census with the appropriate description in the right location. This Mary was married to Fred Branch, whose description matched that of Charles Moulin.
Moulin-Branch tree, Ancestry.com
     Success at last! Finally, I was able to fill in the Rupp genealogy with details about my husband’s great aunt Mary and her family. Further research turned up the four trees mentioned above. I felt obligated to clarify the identity of Charles Moulin, aka Fred Branch, for his descendants. It wasn't easy, especially citing sources, but I put the Moulin-Branch tree on Ancestry.com.
     There are now several more trees, some with Charles Moulin, some with Fred Branch. None identify the Moulin-Branch connection, although some come close - they say Fred's father was Isadore Branch or Isadore Moulin Branch.