Ossian Salisbury: An Ocean of Possibilities (52 Ancestors #03)

Ossian Salisbury has been a very tough woman to track down.  Part of the reason she’s been so tough to research is because she didn’t live very long.  She was born in 1835 and died sometime between 1860 and 1866.  The other reason she’s been so difficult is because her name is different on almost every record on which she appears.  I’ve come across Ossian Salisbury, Ocean Landsbury, Ocean Stansberry, Osia Ann Sausberry, Ocean Sauelsbury, and Oceanna Browning.  My grandmother told me before that she had also seen OssiAnn as a variant given name and Saulsberry and Lounsbury as variant surnames.  I have yet to find those.

I don’t know much about Ossian’s origins.  She was born in Illinois.  Her mother was Elizabeth Burns (or maybe Barnes).  She had a stepfather named Bevis.  I don’t know if Burns/Barnes was Elizabeth’s maiden name, or Bevis’ surname.  Or, Bevis could’ve been his surname and then I don’t know his given name.  I know nothing about Ossian’s birth father.

Here are the facts:

1.  Ocean Landsbury married Daniel Browning on June 30, 1852 in Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky.  She was seventeen and he was twenty one.  Ocean was born in Illinois.

Kentucky Marriages, 1852-1914, p.2, Ancestry.com

Kentucky Marriages, 1852-1914, p.2, Ancestry

2.  Ocean Stansberry married Daniel Browning on June 30, 1852 in Jefferson County, Kentucky.  Her mother was Elizabeth Burns.

Kentucky Marriages, 1785-1979, FamilySearch.org

Kentucky Marriages, 1785-1979, FamilySearch

3.  Mary Francis Browning was born on December 29, 1856 in Jefferson County, Kentucky to parents Daniel Browning and Osia Ann Sausberry.

Kentucky Births and Christenings, 1839-1960, FamilySearch.org

Kentucky Births and Christenings, 1839-1960, FamilySearch

4.  In 1860, Daniel (28) and Oceanna (25) Browning are living in 2nd District, Jefferson County, Kentucky with their children:  Harriet A. (7), Lydia F. (6), and Joseph (3).  Oceanna was born in Illinois.

1860 U.S. Federal Census, 2nd District, Jefferson, Kentucky, p.101, Ancestry.com

1860 U.S. Federal Census, 2nd District, Jefferson, Kentucky, p.101, Ancestry

5.  In 1870, D. (39) and Nancy C. (30) Browning are living in Boston, Jefferson County, Kentucky with their children:  George B. (3) and Mary C. (1), and his children from a previous marriage, Harriet A. (17), Lydia F. (16), Joseph (13), and Clara E. (9).

1870 U.S. Census, Boston, Jefferson, Kentucky, p.11, FamilySearch.org

1870 U.S. Census, Boston, Jefferson, Kentucky, p.11, FamilySearch

6.  Frances L. Wiseheart was born on June 14, 1853 to parents Daniel Browning and Ocean Sauelsbury.

Floyd, Indiana Deaths, CH-33, p.55, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

Floyd, Indiana Deaths, CH-33, p.55, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

7.  In a postcard to Sanford Wiseheart (Ossian’s grandson), Marie de la Montange says that his grandmother’s record needs to be corrected.  Her name is Ossian Salisbury.

Postcard from Marie de la Montange to Sanford Wesley Wiseheart, 12 Feb 1938

Postcard from Marie de la Montange to Sanford Wesley Wiseheart, 12 Feb 1938

8.  Clara Emma Browning was born on December 15, 1860 to parents Daniel Browning and __________ Salisbury.

Jefferson County, Kentucky Deaths, 1911-1961, Vol. 51, certificate 25121, Ancestry.com

Jefferson County, Kentucky Deaths, 1911-1961, Vol. 51, certificate 25121, Ancestry

Why did I choose Ossian Salisbury as the correct spelling of her name?  I’ll start with Salisbury.  I believe it is Salisbury because it appears that way in two documents, whereas every other spelling only occurs once.  In addition, Sauelsbury and Sausberry would both sound similar to Salisbury when spoken.  I can’t account for Stansberry without seeing the actual record, but I’d be wiling to bet this is a transcription error and that the name actually is Salisbury, Sauelsbury, or some similar sounding variant.  Landsbury is very different, however, I’ve examined a lot of early handwriting firsthand, and I can tell you that cursive capital “S” and “L” do look very similar.  I also believe that Marie de la Montange, who was a long time friend of the family, would be more likely to know the spelling of her name than any clerk would be able to guess from someone speaking it.

As for Ossian, Salisbury/Landsbury and Burns/Barnes are English or Scottish surnames.  Ossian (or Oisin) was a popular legend in both Scotland and Ireland.  Also, Ossian was born in Illinois.  Ossian M. Ross settled in Illinois in 1821 and founded Lewistown.  He was a Major in the War of 1812.  This name would’ve been popular in Illinois around the time of her birth.  I can’t account for why a female child was given a name that is traditionally male, but it isn’t unheard of for that to happen.  And, again, I do believe Marie de la Montange would’ve known.  The pronunciation of Ossian is similar enough to Ocean that it would be easily mistaken if it were only spoken and not written.

Of course, there are far too many variables in all of this for me to set anything in stone.  I just had to have something to call her in my pedigree chart and something to work with.  I continue, on a regular basis, to search for every variant of Ossian that I can think of with every combination of surnames sounding or looking similar to Salisbury or Landsbury that I can think of.  My greatest hope is to find her in the 1850 Census with her mother and stepfather.

One thought on “Ossian Salisbury: An Ocean of Possibilities (52 Ancestors #03)

  1. Pingback: Recommended Reads | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

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