One of the mysteries I've been working on for a while has to do with Thomas Likins--I'm pretty sure the brother of my great-great-grandfather, Peter Likins. He appears in the 1850 census a household or two away from William and Catherine (Basore) Bannon--Catherine being the mother of Peter (and Thomas) Likins (she had remarried Bannon after the death of her first husband, Richard Likins). I had learned that Thomas had married twice, first to Elizabeth Shortridge, and then second to Elizabeth Short. Apparently the first Elizabeth died, and I knew they had one son, William R. Likins, but didn't know anything about him after the 1870 census, when he appeared in the census in the household of Calder and Mary Ann (Bannon) Hiday--Mary Ann being his father's half-sister.
Anyway, today I discovered a fascinating note in the Petaluma (CA) Courier, 17 Feb. 1886:
“If William R. Likins, formerly of Hancock county, Indiana, but now somewhere in California, will send his address to Mrs Catharine J. Emerson, formerly Miss Catherine J. Likins, now of Petaluma, Cal., he will find a sister he has not seen for thirty years. Will all the county paper of Sonoma and the papers of the State please copy this notice and greatly oblige a sister seeking a long absent brother.”
So I worked on following up on this, and have concluded that this Catherine is a second child of Thomas and his first wife. She appears in the 1860 census with her maternal grandparents, William and Jane Shortridge, living in Kansas. I was able to trace her and her descendants fairly easily. But the story that emerges is that these two kids' mother died, and they were essentially separated--one going to the maternal grandparents, the other going somewhere else (haven't found him in 1860), and apparently didn't see each other again. The newspaper article is really heartbreaking: they hadn't seen each other in THIRTY YEARS--i.e., since 1856, when they were just very young children. William may have gone to California, but about the time of the newspaper notice, he seems to have been in Kansas (he was married there in 1882, and had a daughter born there in 1889). That means it is unlikely he ever learned that his sister was looking for him. And who knows if either of them ever saw their father again; he and his second wife moved to Iowa, and then to Idaho, so they may have completely lost touch. I have not yet found him after 1889. Such a sad story.