Harry C. Ostrander- Who Are you?!?!

John Mohler and Family

John Mohler and Family- Adella, Harry and Edith are on the far left (Harry is holding baby Edith)

So lately I’ve been working on my family history. Particularly for my paternal line- the Kinsels.  My ggGrandfather Harry Ostrander has been a big mystery and has been by far the biggest research challenge this novice has come up against.  Here is his story so far:

Harry married my ggGrandmother, Adella May Mohler, on 24 Dec 1896 in Henry, Ohio.  They had one daughter, Edith Ostrander- my gGrandmother.  Adella died in 1899.  The family story is that Harry moved back east to New York or Boston to “teach at a University”.  After her mother died when she was 2, Edith only met her father once, but she did know his brother, Uncle Roy.

Edith was raised by her Grandparents, John and Caroline Mohler.  I found her in the 1900 Census (on Ancestry.com) living in Monroe, Henry, OH with them and again in 1910.

So, research-speaking, Harry “disappeared”.  There are many, many Henry Ostranders out there.  I had nothing on him except the snippet of time that he was married to Adella.  Though the help of more experienced researchers that I found on the Ostrander mailing list on RootsWeb.com, I was able to piece together a bit more.  I found him in a tree that was submitted to Family search and it gave me a birth year-1897.  Someone pointed me to an index/transcription of the marriage licence for Adella and Harry.  It includes a note that says “On App of G.W. Ostrander”.  This was likely a relative-like a parent, so that led me to George Washington Ostrander who in the 1880 census, had 2 sons- Harry and Leroy (among his other children).  The dates matched- I had found young Harry!

So I turned my attention to figuring out what happened to Harry after his wife died and he left his daughter with his in-laws.  This is where things REALLY get interesting…

I have two possible Harry Ostranders and I’m not sure which one is “mine”.  Both are listed in the Census records as Harry or Henry C.  Both have approximately the same birth years.  Both have the same birth state and listed parent’s birth states (which Match George W. and Helen Rouse).  Both are married and their oldest child is older than my gGrandmother.
One Harry C. married an Ella and lived in Toledo, Lucas, OH- where George lived, and near where Harry and Adella were married and lived. This is the Harry that is listed as the son of George and Helen in the Ostrander Big Book- a very comprehensive genealogical history of the Ostranders. (BTW- the big book doesn’t mention Adella or Edith at all).
The other Harry C. is found in the census records as being a border in New Jersey in the 1910 census records with occupations at a local College and as married to a Mamie in New Jersey in 1920 and 1930 with similar “college” occupations (administrator, etc.). His only child also is much younger than Edith (like almost 20 yrs).

So the first Harry could be mine because a) it makes sense that he may have stuck around Ohio where his parents lived. b) The Ostrander Big Book (who was researched by people WAY more adept than me) lists this Harry as the son of George Washington.  But the Big Book could be wrong- it doesn’t even mention Edith and Adella.

The second Harry could also be mine because he fits the “gone back east (New Jersy is near New York, right?) to teach at a university or college). It also seems to make sense that a man who is newly single and living as a boarder far away wouldn’t get around to seeing his daughter much.

Both Harry’s are possiblities and I don’t have any clue how to figure out which is the “real” Harry.  I think about him a lot- what must it have been like for him to have his young wife die (how?) and be left with a small baby. It wasn’t like now when it was as acceptable to be a single Dad.  Did he leave thinking he’d establish himself and come back for her? Why did he not have contact with her- maybe there were letters?

I just keep praying that I can be guided in the right direction to “sort” him out.  Help has been coming slowly, but it must be divine because it comes in bursts- I’ll be fiddling around on Ancestry and say “Hey, I’ll try looking for Harry again…” and find new things all the time- even though I think I’m doing the same searches I’ve done before.  I also know that I’ve been guided to the kind people who have been able to help me so far 🙂


July 17, 2008. Tags: . Uncategorized.


  1. Jane replied:

    This is good. Glad you are doing it for all of us.

  2. Jane replied:

    Keep up the good work.

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