Margaret Hepler was the mother of my husband's grandfather. The only info I had about her was her name and that she had married John Milton Negley. I found them in the 1880 Census living in Elizabeth, Allegheny, Pennsylvania. It gave her age as 33, suggesting she was born in 1847. It gave Pennsylvania as place of birth. Research showed a Tobias Hepler in Butler County, PA who had a daughter, Margaret, born about 1847. I determined that Butler was adjacent to Allegheny County and that John Milton Negley had two Uncles and their families living in Butler County. But how could I be sure that Tobias was Margaret's father? I sent messages to two people on Ancestry who had Tobias in their trees. One of them sent me a link to Tobias' will. Here's what I found:
" I give and bequeath my sons and daughters Elizabeth Burtner wife of John Burtner, Mary Titus wife of John Titus, John Hepler, Joseph Hepler, Margaret Negley wife of John Negley, William Hepler, Catharine Hepler after expenses are paid divided equally among the Seven above named..." written in 1879.
So I had found her parents. I was able to find her in the 1950, 1860 and 1870 Censuses after this. This also led me into discovering in her ancestry a line of French Canadians that goes back to Quebec in 1652!
I still don't know much about her, though. She and John lived on a farm in 1880, they had three children. She died in 1890. I don't know the exact date of her birth, marriage or death. I think her death had a profound effect on the family as in 1900 John is living in Pittsburgh working as a Street Car Conductor while the three children are living on the farm in Elizabeth. I wish I knew more about her!
What this does tell me is the importance of wills in family history research and the value of communicating with other researchers!