Mystery Monday

Gramma Holmes

This is a puzzling picture from the Ehle side of the tree.

My husband’s grandmother labeled this picture as “Gramma Holmes, the mother of Jane Holmes Smith.” Gramma said she was called “Smith Holmes Smith” – as in she was married twice. The problem is that Jane Holmes Smith isn’t Jane HOLMES Smith, she is Jane WILLIS Smith.

Jane Willis was born in Whitechapel, Middlesex, England 22 February 1821. She married John Edward Smith 17 October 1841 in Rotherhithe, Surrey, England. According to the marriage certificate, Jane’s father was Thomas James Willis, a trunk maker, but no mother was listed. I don’t know of any siblings for Jane, so I am at a bit of a dead end for her.

The Smith family emigrated to the US in 1851 and settled in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. John died in 1858. To my knowledge, Jane did not marry again. I have found her on census records from 1855 to 1880 and she was widowed with no name change. Jane died in 1890. The family is buried in Forest Home in Milwaukee, WI.

I am left with the questions:

Is Gramma Holmes supposed to be labeled Gramma Willis?

Was Gramma Holmes married after Thomas James Willis? She certainly appears aged in the photo so she looks like she lived to advanced years.

Is Gramma Holmes really the mother of Thomas James Willis, and not his daughter Jane? The woman is quite old, and the clothing style looks to be from the 1850s/1860s(?), so could she be of a generation earlier than Jane’s parents? In other words, is she possibly Jane’s grandmother and not her mother?

If this story sounds familiar to anyone, or if by some miracle someone recognizes her, please contact me!

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