Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Still Looking for Herbert

Every so often, I will check the "web" for Dr. Herbert D. Percival. He was my great-grandfather's older brother. Herbert went to the University of Cincinnati and graduated with an M.D. He lived with his Uncle Jabez Percival and Aunt Catherine Bush Percival in Covington, Kentucky, but I get the feeling he lived in the shadow of his cousin, Dr. William Bush Percival. William graduated with honors, his parents were wealthy and Herbert scrimped, saved and borrowed money from his younger brother, who had a job. I don't think Herbert and his brother John "Henry" Percival were very close, only one letter to Henry exists, and that is from the time that Herbert was a railroad Doctor in Devil's Lake, Dakota Territory in the mid 1880's.

Herbert married Catherine Gray "Kate" and they had one child who died in his first year. After Devil's Lake, Kate and Herbert made their way to California and eventually joined Jabez and his family which included sons William and John Philip and daughters Ellen "Nellie" and Olive. Herbert practiced his medical profession, again in the shadow of his cousin, William.

The family story, passed on to our side of the family from my dad's cousin, says that Herbert about 1895,went out to collect fees from some of his patients and was never seen again. Foul play was suspected, but as far as I can tell, no sign of him was ever found. In 1897, Herbert's widow Kate, married his cousin William. I have never been sure whether it was from expediency or what. William's first wife, Susie, died in 1884 and for the next 13 years William raised his children alone, or possibly with the help of his Mother.

I've always thought it would have been very simple for Herbert to disappear, and lacking a death certificate, obituary or any news article to the contrary, it does make one wonder.

Copyright 2010, ACK for Gene Notes

1 comment:

  1. I knew a John Percival (born abt. 1904-09); he lived south of Dayton OH (Centerville, I believe) and was a research chemist for National Cash Register. I don't have 'genealogical' information about him, only great stories. If he is part of your clan and you are interested in the stories, you can email me at I love your description of OCGD moments! Keep up the good work.