I have decided to take the "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge issued by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small. I am a bit behind, but I will try to catch up before the year is over. I will probably also include collateral relatives as well as ancestors, because they are part of my family history too.
I will start with my biggest brick wall, my great-great-grandfather James Graham. He was born about 1854, somewhere in the United States. He married Catherine Elizabeth Winters and they had two children, Kathleen (probably born Catherine) and Garfield.
He is listed in the 1881 Census of Canada, living in Hochelaga (now part of Montreal), Quebec, Canada with his wife and daughter (my great-grandmother). He was working as an accountant. I found him in the 1881, 1882, and 1883 Montreal city directories; he was a bookkeeper and lived at 110 Ontario. On 20 November 1885, his wife Elizabeth married James Mapplebeck; her marriage record stated that she was the widow of the late James Graham of Chicago. However, the family story is that James Graham had been a Catholic priest before his marriage, and eventually left his family to return to the priesthood. I am still trying to determine how much, if any, of the family story is true. But it does make me suspect that James Graham may not have been dead in 1885. Many "widows" were really separated or divorced, and people sometimes remarried without divorce.
Before coming to Montreal, his wife Catherine Elizabeth Winters (who was known by her middle name) had lived in Chicago. James and Elizabeth may have been in Canada at the time of the 1880 United States census; I could not find the family. Elizabeth's father John Bennet Winters was in Montreal by 1878 and died there in 1879. Although I do not know if James Graham was in Chicago in 1870, I thought it was a possibility, so I searched the census records for a likely candidate. There were many men named James Graham, but I at least had an approximate age. I found one that struck me as a good possibility in the household of William Graham. The family was in Chicago Ward 9 (the same ward as the Winters family), the mother was born in Canada, and James was born in New York. According to the 1910 United States Census, Garfield Graham's father was born in New York, and according to the 1920 United States Census, Kathleen (Graham) Boe's father was born in New York. Their mother was born in New York, and in at least some censuses the information about their father seems to refer to their stepfather James Mapplebeck, who raised them (he was born in Ontario, Canada). However, it is possible that they may have had some information about their father's place of birth.
I found the Graham household in the 1860 United States Census. They were living in Sandusky, Erie County, Ohio. According to this census record, the mother was born in England. I have not been able to find any earlier records of this family. I also have not found them after 1870. I suspect that this is the family of my James Graham, but I do not feel that I have sufficient evidence yet.